The Galileo Project
site map

Auzout, Adrien

1. Dates
Born: Rouen, 28 Jan. 1622
Died: Rome, 23 May 1691
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 69
2. Father
Occupation: Government Official, Aristocrat
A clerk of the court in Rouen. I list this as a governmental position. The Dictionnaire de biographie francaise says that the father was also Viscount of Rouen.
Since Auzout was apparently able to live on his own means both before and after the brief time in the Académie, the family must have been at least affluent.
3. Nationality
Birth: Rouen, France
Career: France, Italy
Death: Rome,Italy
4. Education
Schooling: No University
No information.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (assumed)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics
Works and letters on astronomy, physics, and mathematics. His published works are reprinted in Mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences, depuis 1666 jusqu'à 1699 (Paris, 1729).
Many Physical experiments and systematic astronomical observations.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Personal Means
Secondary: Government, Estate Administration
I stumbled upon a letter written in the summer of 1648 to Mersenne by Hallé de Monflaines, an abbé and a native of Rouen apparently of the same generation as Auzout and Pascal, which stated that Auzout was about to leave Paris for the service of the abbeé de Saint-Maixent (in Poitou), one Jacques de Crevant de Brigueil. Combine this with the information about his apparent service with M. d'Elbene mentioned below.
He was a member of the Académie des Sciences briefly, from 1666 to 1668. He was also a founding member of the Royal Observatory. He engaged in a dispute with M. Perrault, a physician who was the client of Colbert. Perrault produced a flawed translation of Vitruvius which Auzout criticized severely. This may have been the cause for which he was forced to resign from the Académie.
He left Paris for Italy, where he lived in Rome until his death, except for the period 1676-85. There seems to be no information about his means of support during these final twenty years. It seems to me that the absolute silence has to mean that he had personal resources on which he lived. Note as well the general silence about how he lived before the appointment to the Académie (the apparent service with the abbeé and with M. d'Elbene being all we know), and note as well that he apparently did not attend a university, which was not for the upper classes. Recall that his father was an aristocrat.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, Eccesiastic Official, Court Official
Auzout was a friend of M. d'Elbene and so greatly increased the revenue of one of d'Elbene estates that d'Elbene gave him 20,000 francs.
He dedicated his Ephémérides du comète de 1664, (1665) to Louis XIV, urging the establishment of a public observatory in the dedication. As mentioned, he was a founding member of the Royal Observatory.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Instruments, Cartography
He made a significant contribution to the final development of the micrometer and to the replacement of open sights by telescopic sights.
He wrote a memoir on the measurement of the earth in which he advised the attachment of telescopes to surveying instruments.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Académie Royal des Sciences
According the the Dictionnaire de biographie francaise he collaborate with Etienne Pascal in Rouen and following him to Clermont in 1647.
Withdrew from Academie des Sciences in 1668.
Collaboration with Picard and Gilles Personne de Roberval.
  1. Robert McKeon, "Auzout" in Encyclopaedia universalis AE25 .E3
  2. Robert M. McKeon, "Le recit d'Auzout an subject des experiences sur le vide" in Acts of XI International Congress of the History of Science, Warsaw, 1965, Sec.III.
  3. Robert McKeon, "Le debuts de l'astronomie de precision," Physis, 13 (1971), 225-88; 14 (1972), 221-42; especially 13, 246-54 270-83, and 14, 231-3.
  4. Harcourt Brown, Scientific Organizations in 17th Century France (1620-1680), Baltimore, 1934 Nouvelle biographie générale, 3, 804.
  5. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 4, 807-8.
  6. P. Humbert, "Les astronomes françaises de 1610 à 1667," Bulletin de la Société d'études scientifiques et archéologiques de Draguignan et du Var, 42 (1942), p.20.
  7. Condorcet, Éloges des académiens, (1773), 153-5.
  8. Blaise Pascal, Oeuvres compltes, (Paris, 1970), 2, 627 and 631.
  9. It is surprising how sparse the biographical information on Auzout is. Additional sources just repeat the same meager budget. I stumbled by accident upon the reference to his service with the abbeé de Saint-Maixent in the Oeuvres of Pascal.
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
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.