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From cartography of conquest to cartographic cooperation: Cassini de Thury's geodetic contribution to the Ferraris maps

Soetkin Vervust (UGent)
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Abstract
At the end of the 18th century, empress Maria-Theresa of the Habsburg Empire commissioned a large-scale map of the Austrian Netherlands, one of her dominions that coincided more or less with the current territory of Belgium. The artillery corps of the Austrian Netherlands, under the guidance of its director-general, count de Ferraris (1726-1814), carried out this mapping project between 1770 and 1777. Its end products were twofold: first, a very detailed manuscript map (1:11,520), entitled Carte de cabinet, which was reserved for use by the imperial cabinet; second, a smaller-scale engraved map without military details (1:86,400), known as the Carte marchande, which was intended for sale to a wider public. Although the Habsburg government in Austria commissioned the mapping project, the part the French played in its execution cannot be overlooked. Some thirty years earlier, in 1744, French troops had invaded the Austrian Netherlands as the Bourbons and the Habsburgs were fighting on opposite sides during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). French military engineers were charged with the task of systematically surveying the newly conquered territory. To assist them in their mapping endeavours, the French minister of War sent Cassini de Thury (1714-1784) to the Austrian Netherlands in April 1746. This famous French cartographer, best known for his map of France on a scale of 1:86,400, performed a geodetic survey, resulting in a carefully measured triangulation network covering the northern part of modern Belgium. When the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in 1748, which marked the end of the War of the Austrian Succession, France had to withdraw its troops from the Austrian Netherlands. However, peace would not last long. A decade later, Europe was at war once more, but at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), a reversal of longstanding diplomatic alliances resulted in the French and Austrians fighting on the same side for the first time ever in the European struggle for power. This new-found cooperation still persisted when count de Ferraris started his mapping project in 1770. He intended to take full advantage of the situation by drawing on the vast French cartographic knowledge of the Belgian region as much as he could. This presentation focuses on Cassini de Thury’s contribution to Ferraris’s maps, by investigating what inspired Ferraris to want to use Cassini’s geodetic data, what proofs survive of their collaboration and how Ferraris incorporated the obtained information in his new maps of the Austrian Netherlands. This research offers an answer to the long-standing question of the modus operandi of Ferraris’s artillerists for conducting their survey, but also allows a more well-founded assessment of the maps’ geometric accuracy in comparison with the results of previous studies. Within the larger context of European mapmaking, the story is a reminder that cartography was not merely something that different nations were involved with individually in the 18th century, but a cross-national affair. It offers a perfect example of how the alternation of competition and cooperation between states could impact the production and transfer of cartographic knowledge in the Age of Enlightenment.

Citation

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MLA
Vervust, Soetkin. “From Cartography of Conquest to Cartographic Cooperation: Cassini De Thury’s Geodetic Contribution to the Ferraris Maps.” History of Cartography, 25th International Conference, Abstracts. Helsinki, Finland: Cartographic Society of Finland, 2013. 90–91. Print.
APA
Vervust, S. (2013). From cartography of conquest to cartographic cooperation: Cassini de Thury’s geodetic contribution to the Ferraris maps. History of Cartography, 25th International conference, Abstracts (pp. 90–91). Presented at the 25th International conference on the History of Cartography : The four elements, Helsinki, Finland: Cartographic Society of Finland.
Chicago author-date
Vervust, Soetkin. 2013. “From Cartography of Conquest to Cartographic Cooperation: Cassini De Thury’s Geodetic Contribution to the Ferraris Maps.” In History of Cartography, 25th International Conference, Abstracts, 90–91. Helsinki, Finland: Cartographic Society of Finland.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Vervust, Soetkin. 2013. “From Cartography of Conquest to Cartographic Cooperation: Cassini De Thury’s Geodetic Contribution to the Ferraris Maps.” In History of Cartography, 25th International Conference, Abstracts, 90–91. Helsinki, Finland: Cartographic Society of Finland.
Vancouver
1.
Vervust S. From cartography of conquest to cartographic cooperation: Cassini de Thury’s geodetic contribution to the Ferraris maps. History of Cartography, 25th International conference, Abstracts. Helsinki, Finland: Cartographic Society of Finland; 2013. p. 90–1.
IEEE
[1]
S. Vervust, “From cartography of conquest to cartographic cooperation: Cassini de Thury’s geodetic contribution to the Ferraris maps,” in History of Cartography, 25th International conference, Abstracts, Helsinki, Finland, 2013, pp. 90–91.
@inproceedings{4224836,
  abstract     = {At the end of the 18th century, empress Maria-Theresa of the Habsburg Empire commissioned a large-scale map of the Austrian Netherlands, one of her dominions that coincided more or less with the current territory of Belgium. The artillery corps of the Austrian Netherlands, under the guidance of its director-general, count de Ferraris (1726-1814), carried out this mapping project between 1770 and 1777. Its end products were twofold: first, a very detailed manuscript map (1:11,520), entitled Carte de cabinet, which was reserved for use by the imperial cabinet; second, a smaller-scale engraved map without military details (1:86,400), known as the Carte marchande, which was intended for sale to a wider public. 
Although the Habsburg government in Austria commissioned the mapping project, the part the French played in its execution cannot be overlooked. Some thirty years earlier, in 1744, French troops had invaded the Austrian Netherlands as the Bourbons and the Habsburgs were fighting on opposite sides during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). French military engineers were charged with the task of systematically surveying the newly conquered territory. To assist them in their mapping endeavours, the French minister of War sent Cassini de Thury (1714-1784) to the Austrian Netherlands in April 1746. This famous French cartographer, best known for his map of France on a scale of 1:86,400, performed a geodetic survey, resulting in a carefully measured triangulation network covering the northern part of modern Belgium. 
When the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed in 1748, which marked the end of the War of the Austrian Succession, France had to withdraw its troops from the Austrian Netherlands. However, peace would not last long. A decade later, Europe was at war once more, but at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), a reversal of longstanding diplomatic alliances resulted in the French and Austrians fighting on the same side for the first time ever in the European struggle for power. This new-found cooperation still persisted when count de Ferraris started his mapping project in 1770. He intended to take full advantage of the situation by drawing on the vast French cartographic knowledge of the Belgian region as much as he could. 
This presentation focuses on Cassini de Thury’s contribution to Ferraris’s maps, by investigating what inspired Ferraris to want to use Cassini’s geodetic data, what proofs survive of their collaboration and how Ferraris incorporated the obtained information in his new maps of the Austrian Netherlands. This research offers an answer to the long-standing question of the modus operandi of Ferraris’s artillerists for conducting their survey, but also allows a more well-founded assessment of the maps’ geometric accuracy in comparison with the results of previous studies. Within the larger context of European mapmaking, the story is a reminder that cartography was not merely something that different nations were involved with individually in the 18th century, but a cross-national affair. It offers a perfect example of how the alternation of competition and cooperation between states could impact the production and transfer of cartographic knowledge in the Age of Enlightenment.},
  author       = {Vervust, Soetkin},
  booktitle    = {History of Cartography, 25th International conference, Abstracts},
  isbn         = {9789529325078},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Helsinki, Finland},
  pages        = {90--91},
  publisher    = {Cartographic Society of Finland},
  title        = {From cartography of conquest to cartographic cooperation: Cassini de Thury's geodetic contribution to the Ferraris maps},
  year         = {2013},
}