Heinrich Scherer (1628-1704)

Heinrich Scherer was a Jesuit priest and polymath, teaching university courses in grammar, philosophy, rhetoric, ethics, mathematics, and Hebrew. His life’s work was the Atlas Novus, completed shortly before his death. It was a seven-volume guidebook to geography, containing maps more to illustrate the text than the other way around. It includes all contemporary knowledge on the subject, but remains highly bound to Church doctrine: Copernicus and Kepler are not acknowledged, for instance, and when in doubt he would present the views of various scholars without contributing his own if it risked contradicting the Church. Religious themes dominate many aspects of the atlas: he notes down ancient bishoprics and missionary locations; non-Catholic territories are marked with dark shading; and a section is dedicated to holy sites associated with the Virgin Mary. These religious themes make the Atlas Novus one of the first printed compilations of thematic maps. The Atlas Novus additionally provides world maps from the perspective of the poles, world maps that place east Asia rather than Europe in the center, and world maps that anticipate Rigobert Bonne’s heart-shaped projections about twenty years later.

This exhibit contains one map associated with Scherer: