Nicolas de Nicolay

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Nicolas de Nicolay, Sieur d'Arfeville & de Belair, (1517–1583) of the Nicolay (family) was a French geographer.


Born at la Grave in Oisans, in the Dauphiné, he left France in 1542 to participate in the siege of Perpignan which was then held by Emperor Charles V of Austria.

in 1547 he sailed to Scotland where his intervention ended the siege of St Andrews Castle. In 1548 he returned to Scotland to take away Mary, Queen of Scots from Dumbarton Castle, sailing around the west coast of Ireland.[1] He travelled around Germany, Denmark, England, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey and served in the armies of most of these countries. On his return to France, Henry II made him Geographer Ordinary and Valet to the Chamber.

Around this time, he appears to have made a terrestrial globe that provided the model for the Oterschaden globe of c.1600.

In 1551, Henry II ordered him to follow Gabriel d'Aramon, envoy and ambassador to the Grand Turk Suleiman the Magnificent. In the course of the voyage, his unofficial mission was to survey the places visited, including Istanbul.

In 1583, he died in Soissons, where he was Commissioner of artillery, after a stay at the royal castle of Moulins.

Works and maps[edit]

Illustration from Le navigationi et viaggi nella Turchia, 1577

He wrote several books:


  • Voyage en Orient au XVIe siècle de Nicolas de Nicolay, Dauphinois, par Honoré Pallias, 1857. [1]
  • [2] Description du Berry et diocèse de Bourges au XVIe siècle par Nicolas de Nicolay Dauphinois, géographe et valet de chambre du roi Charles IX [...] avec une notice sur l'auteur par M. Victor Advielle, Paris, A. Aubry et Dumoulin, 1865.
  • R. Herve,"L'oeuvre cartographique de Nicolas de Nicolay et d'Antoine de Leval, 1544-1619", Bulletin de la Section de Géographie du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques (Paris), LXVIII (1955), 223-63.
  • Roger Hervé, L'Œuvre cartographique de Nicolas de Nicolay et d'Antoine de Laval (1544–1619), Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1956.
  • Franz Wawrik, “Der Erdglobus des Johannes Oterschaden”, Der Globusfreund, Nos.25-27, 1978, pp. 155–167.


  1. ^ E. Bonnar, 'The recovery of St. Andrews Castle in 1547, French diplomacy in the British Isles', in English Historical Review, (June 1996), 578–598