Excerpts from the Fourth Edition of Varenius' A Complete System of General Geography

Biographical information 

Varenius' role in Geography 

Varenius' interpretation of geography (this link not always functional)

Vermeer's "The Geographer"- Varenius is rumored to be the model for this painting, but evidence points to Anthony Van Leeuwenhoek, another contemporary, as the model. 
 


NCGIA's new project is named for the 17th century scientist, Bernhard Varen (latinized as Varenius) who wrote the first introductory textbook in general geography, Geographia Generalis, published first by Elsevier Press in 1650.  Bernhard Varenius was born in Hannover, Germany in 1622 and died at age 28 in Amsterdam in 1650 or 1651.  To Varenius, geography was a field of mixed (or applied) mathematics which considered the quantitative states of the earth including its shape, size and motion and the distribution and characteristics of land, water, mountains, woods, deserts and the atmosphere. In a review of Varenius' work, William Warnz concluded "Clearly, general laws and that which could be demonstrated from them or described with reference to them were of paramount concern to Varenius" [1]. Geography, geometry and graphics make up an important element of this textbook, published in a number of annotated and revised versions, including some edited by Sir Isaac Newton. It was a required text in Cambridge at the time of Newton. This work was very much a part of the debate between the Cartesian and the Newtonian scientific systems and thus provides a philosophical foundation for research to advance the science of geographic information.

Reference
[1] W. Warntz, 1989. "Newton, the Newtonians, and the Geographia Generalis Varenii,"
Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 79(2):165-191.

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