What did France look like in the 17th century?
A French atlas from the mid-1600s can show much about how people of the time understood and represented their surroundings.
TASSIN, Christophe. Les plans et profils de toutes les principales villes et lieux considérables de France Ensemble les Cartes de chacune Province & les particulières de chaque Gouvernement d’icelles. Paris, Melchior Tavernier & N. Bercy (tome II), 1638-1644.
17 parties en 2 volumes in-4 oblong relié plein vélin souple de l’époque, titre manuscrit au dos. Edition originale du tome I et nouvelle édition du tome II.
We recently acquired this 2 volume work for our collections. It is one of the earliest French atlases, and bears the name of Christophe Tassin (sometimes mistakenly called Nicolas Tassin), who was a royal engineer, geographer, and print seller. Tassin was the creator of other cartographic works, and is primarily known for his work documenting France's coastline, which was dedicated to Richelieu. His background as a military engineer, as well as the importance of defense for towns, shows in the many maps highlighting fortifications. Tassin's work contains topographic maps either made on site or composed from firsthand sketches by military engineers, or sometimes taken directly from other mapmakers, such as Chastillon. This work contains over 400 engravings of early modern France, including views, city plans, chateaux and monuments. They are arranged by province and contained in two volumes.
This example is a mixed set, with the first volume from the first edition, and the second from a later edition. Tassin initally held the privilege on his work, rather than the publisher as was common, but he soon delegated it to certain booksellers and so the work appeared under several publishers, including Berey (this copy).
For more information on early French atlases, see: