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Aguilon, Francois d'

1. Dates
Born: Brussels, 1567 I am accepting the date in Ziggelaar. Several sources (de Backer, Biographie nationale, Moreri) say 1566. DSB has a misprint here--1546.
Died: Antwerp, 20 March 1617
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 50
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat
The family was a distinguished Spanish noble family. The father, Pedro Aguilón, was secretary to Philip II during an embassy to France.
Nothing is said about the economic status of the family. It had to have been affluent at the least. Note that he was probably a self-supporting novice in the Jesuit order, living outside the crowded house in Tournai.
3. Nationality
Birth: Brussels,Belgium
Career: Belgium
Death: Antwerp, Belgium
4. Education
Schooling: Douai, Salamanca; M.A., D.D.
He studied three years in the Jesuit Collège de Clermont in Paris (clearly secondardy level for Aguilon).
He then went to Douai for two years, and having completed the course in humanities, he began to study philosophy. (This would be the beginning of university level study.) After eight months this course of study was interrupted in 1686, and he was sent to Tournai for his novitiate. He returned to Douai in 1588 to study philosophy and mathematics (probably under Laurent Delepré, S.J.) M.A. in 1590.
He completed theological studies in Salamanca in 1592. I interpret this to mean a doctorate in theology, as would be standard for a Jesuit.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He was a Jesuit. He took his vows in 1588 and was ordained in 1596.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Optics, Math
Only work: Opticorum libri sex, (Antwerp, 1613).
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
Secondary: Personal Means
He became a Jesuit in 1586. After having taught syntax and logic, and then theology, he was charged with organizing the teaching of the exact sciences in Belgium.
1590-1: taught philosophy at Douai; professor of philosophy there in 1596.
1598: left Douai to be confessor to the Italians and Spaniards in Antwerp.
1598-1608: procurator (treasurer) of the Jesuits in Antwerp.
1600: counsellor to the rector (of the Jesuits) in Antwerp.
1605: "admonitor" to the rector.
1611: vice-rector.
1614-16: rector of the Jesuits in Antwerp.
During the years in Antwerp Aguilon may have substituted occasionally as a teacher, but teaching was by no means his primary duty.
1591-2: Aguilon returned to Spain to settle the family affairs. We know that he had an argument with his brother about the inheritance, but we do not know how much Aguilon received. In 1599, in accordance with his vows, Aguilon had to renounce his possessions and the right to inherit them. At that time he gave 300 ducats (considered a large sum) to the Jesuit College at Pamplona.
8. Patronage
Type: Government Official
Aguilon dedicated his Opticorum libri to Inigo Borgia, the commander of the Spanish fortress at Antwerp (and I gather governor of the Spanish Netherlands). Inigo Borgia was the great grandson (this is what it says) of St. Francisco de Borgia, the third General of the Society of Jesus.
Within the order, Aguilon's immediate superior, Carlo Scribani, the son of an Italian noble, was Aguilon's friend and may have led the way to Aguilon to succeed him as rector. After some hesitation, I am not listing this as a form of patronage, although it obviously verges on it.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Architecture
It appears that Aguilon was the originator of St. Ignatius (later St. Charles) in Antwerp, perhaps in cooperation with a lay brother, Peter Huyssens, an accomplished architect. Aguilon was certainly responsible for the first phases of construction. He worked on other architectural projects.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. E. Quetelet,"Aiguillion" in Biographie Nationale, I, pp. 140-2, (Brussels, 1866).
  2. L. Moreri, Dictionaire historique, (Paris, 1749), I, p. 190.
  3. Augustin de Backer, Bibliothéque des écrivains de la Compagnie de Jésus, 2nd ser., 2 (Liége, 1854).
  4. Joseph MacDonnell, Jesuits Geometers, (Vatican City, 1989).
  5. August Ziggelaar, Francois d'Aguilon, (Rome, 1983), esp Chapter II, "The Life of François de Aguilon." This is easily the best source on Aguilon.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University
Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.
©1995 Al Van Helden
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