The Cosmographie Universelle of F. de Belleforest was published in a shared edition by Nicolas Chesneau and Michel Sonnius. The objective of the two partners was to reprint Sébastien Münster's Cosmographie in French. Münster's work, published in Basel from 1544, had indeed been a great success and had known multiple reissues. It had been published in French in 1552, but Chesneau and Sonnius, noting that Münster had mainly treated his own country, Germany, wanted to satisfy the tastes of their compatriots more.
They appealed for the text of the work to François de Belleforest (1530-1583). Belleforest probably helped Chesneau and Sonnius in their quest for new city plans.
Belleforest's Cosmographie is presented in two parts, the first of which is divided into two volumes; each of the three volumes has its own title. Some copies bear the imprint of Chesneau, and others that of Sonnius.
Of the 163 plates in the Cosmographie, only 49 are copied from the work of Sebastian Münster.
Little is known about the engravers of the Cosmographie. The name of Cruche appears only once, at the bottom of the plate of Paris. Raymont Rancurel is the second known engraver in the Cosmographie.
In 1572 appeared the first volume of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum of Braun and Hogenberg. Twenty of these plates were copied by the Cosmographie of Belleforest. The later volumes of the Civitates, on the other hand, borrowed eleven cities from Belleforest's work.
From the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of Abraham Ortelius (1570), Chesneau and Sonnius have retained more modern maps than those of Münster. Other plans have been copied from the Plantz and Pourtraitz by Antoine Du Pinet or from the small maps of Camocio.