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Cassini, Gian Domenico [Cassini I]

1. Dates
Born: Italy, 1625
Died: France, 1712
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 87
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italy
Career: Italy, France
Death: France
4. Education
Schooling: No University
Studied at Vallebone, then at Jesuit college in Genoa and at abbey of San Fructuoso.
Later tutored by Jesuits Giovan Battista Riccioli and Francesco Maria Grimaldi.
I gather there was no university and no B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (assumed).
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astronomy
Subordinate: Optics, Hydraulics, Cartography
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academic, Governmental Position, Personal
(see his marriage listed under patronage).
Secondary: Patronage.
1648-69, observed at Panzano Observatory.
1650, Professor of Astronomy at Bologna.
1669- , supported by Académie des Sciences at the Paris Observatory.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristocracy, Court, Ecclesiastical
The Marquis Cornelio Malvasia, senator of Bologna, an amateur astronomer who calcualted ephemerides for astrological purposes, invited Cassini to work at his observatory at Panzano, because of the latter's great knowledge of, though not belief in, astrology.
1650, the senate of Bologna, at Malvasia's instigation, designated Cassini to chair at Bologna.
Dedicated his work on the comet of 1652-3 to the Duke of Modena.
Dedicated his Specimen observationum Bononiensium... (1656) to Queen Christina of Sweden, then in exile in Italy. Later he dedicated another book, on the comet of 1664-5, to her also.
Turned down request of Pope to take holy orders, see 8. But he had other favors from the Pope.
1667, Colbert offered Cassini membership as regular correspondent of the Academie Royale des Sciences.
1668, Colbert suggested to Cassini that he come to Paris for a limited period to set up the Paris Observatory. He offered, and Cassini accepted, 9000 livres salary, free lodging, and 1000 ecus travel allowance. The senate of Bologna and the Pope authorized the trip, and continued their salaries, presumably only for the year he was supposed to be away. He never returned, became a French citzen in 1673.
Married Genevieve de Laistre, daughter of the lieutenant general of the compte of Clermont, whose valuable dowry of landholdings included the chateau de Thury in the Oise.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Hydaulics, Civil Engineering, Military Engineering, Cartography
An official expert during the negotiations between Bologna and Ferrara on the flooding of the Po. He composed several memoires on the flooding and how to avoid it.
1663, named by the pope as superintendent of the fortifications "du fort d'Urbain."
1663, defended views of the papal authorities before the Grand Duke of Tuscany in the controversy regarding the regularization of the Chiana river.
1665, returned for the same purpose with the title of Superintendent of the waters of the ecclesiastical states.
While in Rome he reinforced a bridge across the Tiber.
Deeply involved in French mapping endeavors.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Académie Royal des Sciences
Member of the Académie des Sciences, participated in certain meetings of the Accademia del Cimento.
  1. A. De Ferrari, "Cassini, Giovan Domenico," Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, 21 (Rome, 1978), 484-487. [ref. CT1123.D62 v.21] B. Fontenelle, "Eloge de J.D. Cassini" in Histoire de l'Academie royale des Sceinces [see Q141.F579 (1981) 2, 34-77]
  2. F. Arago, Notices biographiques, 3, (Paris, 1855). [Q141.A72 v.3, 315-318]. M. Prevost, "Cassini (Jean-Dominique)," Dictionnaire de biographie Francaise, 7, (Paris, 1956), cols. 1330-1331.
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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