Deconstructing the Ferraris maps (1770-1778): a study of the map production process and its implications for geometric accuracy

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis


In the 18th century, what is now Belgium formed part of the Habsburg Empire as the Austrian Netherlands. Between 1770 and 1774 this territory was subjected to a large-scale military survey, carried out by the artillery corps of the Austrian
Netherlands under the command of its director-general, count de Ferraris. By the end of 1777, this exercise had resulted in two maps: the manuscript Carte de cabinet (1:11,520) and the printed Carte marchande (1:86,400).
The importance of the Ferraris maps as cartographic heritage is undeniable. Improved digital access to the maps in recent years in combination with enhanced computation, visualisation and spatial querying capabilities are now offering new ways to study the historical information contained in the maps, be that their geographical content or the techniques used to gather and display it. A thorough reappraisal of the maps themselves and the way they were made therefore seemed justified. Consequently, this dissertation aims to dismantle the maps to reveal their individual components, be that input from field surveys,
existing geodetic data or other maps, and to gain insight into which external factors influenced how all this potential input was combined to form the end products, that is, the maps. This is done by studying archival sources and by performing analyses on the maps themselves to, among other things, determine their geometric accuracy.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Ghent University
  • De Maeyer, Philippe, Supervisor, External person
Award date27 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


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