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Fabri [Fabry], Honoré

1. Dates
Born: Virieu-le-Grand (Ain), 5 Apr. 1607
Died: Rome, 8 Mar. 1688
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 81
2. Father
Occupation: Lawyer
Fabri came from a family of judges.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French, Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order, D.D.
Following his studies at the institut in Belley, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Avignon in 1626, remaining until 1628. In the fall of 1628 he went to the Collège de la Trinité in Lyon, where he completed his course in Scholastic philosophy in 1630 under Claude Boniel. From 1632 to 1636 he studied theology in Lyons.
The Collège certainly sounds like a standard Jesuit college, which was not a university. He would have had the equivalent of a B.A. and, as a full Jesuit, a doctorate in theology.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Entered Jesuit novitiate in Avignon in 1626. became a priest in 1635.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Physics, Astronomy
Subordinate: Optics
In his principal mathematical work, Opusculum geometricum, Fabri approached, through the functional reinterpretation of Cavalieri's concept of indivisibles by means of a dynamic concept of fluxus, ideas similar to those of Newton. The book originated in connection with the controversy over cycloids and Pascal's challenge.
In natural philosophy, his noteworthy achievements included the constant use of the static moment, an attempted explanation of tidal phenomena based on the action of moon, and investigations on capillarity.
According the DBF Fabri discovered the circulation of the blood independently of Harvey in 1638. I am dubious enough about this not to list physiology.
He discovered the Andromeda nebula and disputed with Huygens about the rings of Saturn.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
1630-2, regent of grammar in Roanne.
1636-1638, professor of philosophy at the college in Arles.
1638-1639, professor of logic at the college in Aix-en- Provence.
1640-1646, professor of logic and mathematics at, and the dean of, the Collège de la Trinité.
All of these are Jesuit colleges, and I am listing such positions under Ecc.
1646-1680, member, and finally Grand Inquisitor, of the Penitentiary College (the Inquisition). He finally became rector of the college of penitents.
Fabri was accused of Cartesianism, and he was involved in many polemics. Hence his call to Rome in 1646.
He travelled to France in 1668-9. Upon his return and the publication of his Apologeticus (Lyon, 1670), he spent some time in the pontifical prison.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Eccesiastic Official
In Rome, Fabri became acquainted with Michel Angelo Ricci, who recommended him to the Medici Grand Duke, Leopold II. The Grand Duke made him a corresponding member of the Accademia del Cimento. When he was put in the prison, the intervention of the Grand Duke secured his release.
He had a strong influence on Pope Clement IX through Cardinal Albizzi. I assume that relations of this sort involved favors in return.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He was a corresponding member of the Accademia del Cimento. (I need to say that from my reading of the records of the Accademia I do not remember any reference to him. I am not listing this.)
When he was teaching at the college in Aix-en-Provence (1638-1639), he was leader of a sort of circle, that brought him the acquaintance of, and a long lasting correspondence with, Gassendi.
His students at the Collège de la Trinité included Pierre Mousnier, Francois de Raynaud, Jean-Dominique Cassini, and Philippe de la Hire. Claude Dechales and Berthet were also members of his circle. Among these scholars and the two Huygenses, Leibniz, Descartes, Mersenne, and others an active correspondence developed. In 1660, with an anonymous work, Fabri opened the controversy with Huygens over Saturn's rings which , after five years and a great expenditure of energy, was decided in Huygens' favor.
  1. Carlos Sommervogel, Bibliotheque de la Compagnie de Jesus, 3, (Paris-Brussels, 1892), pp.512-522.
  2. Dictionnaire de biographie Française, 13, 432-4.
  3. 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), pp. 5-72.
  4. Emil A. Fellmann, "Honoré Fabry (1607-1688) als Mathematiker--eine Reprise," in P.M. Harman and Alan E. Shapiro, eds. The Investigation of Difficult Things: Essay on Newton and the History of the Exact Sciences in Honor of D.T. Whiteside, (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 97-112.
  5. Not consulted: E. A. Fellmann, "Die mathematischen Werke von Honoratus Fabry", Physis (Florence), 1-2 (1959), pp.6-25, 69-102. Q54 .P57.
  6. P. de Vrégille, "Un enfant de Bugey--le père Honoré Fabri, 1607- 1688," Bulletin de la Société Gorini, 3 (1906), 5-15.
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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