A former pupil of an eminent German scholar and educationist Valentin Friedland, Martin Helwig went on to study at the University of Wittenberg, where as a student of Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon he earned the academic degree of Magister. In 1552, he became Rector of St. Maria Magdalena School in Breslau (now Wrocław, in Poland). Equally proficient in mathematics and geography as well as classical languages, he produced the first woodcut map of Silesia made on the basis of surveys and data collected from local inhabitants, which he published in 1561 under the title "Silesiae Typus", and dedicated to Nicolaus II. Rehdiger, a wealthy Silesian merchant, banker, philanthropist, governor and patron of the principality of Breslau (Wrocław) who sponsored the map. Martin Helwig's map went on to receive acclaim in a public writing by Caspar Peucer, an eminent German scholar at the University of Wittenberg, and was later republished in several versions of Abraham Ortelius's pioneering world atlas, "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum".
The first map of Silesia by Martin Helwig constituted until the middle of the 18th century the main model and source of information for the cartographical presentation of this region of Europe on the maps of the most famous cartographers and publishers of those times.
Notes and references
- Martin Helwig Map of Silesia 1561 - first woodcut map of Silesia made on the basis of surveys and data collected from local inhabitants - published 1561. Utrecht University; Utrecht Studies in the History of Cartography, vol. 6 
- University of Wroclaw, Maps Department - History of the collection - lost due to war events first copy of woodcut map of Silesia by Martin Helwig from 1561. 
- Helwig Martin  biography in Zedler's Great Complete Encyclopedia of All Sciences and Arts, Volumn 12 (H-He), Leipzig 1735, column 1328, (in German).
- Martin Helwig in the German National Library catalogue
- "Martin Helwig", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 11, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1880, pp. 718–
- "Entry". Zedlers Universallexikon. 12. p. 687.
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