The Galileo Project
site map

Faulhaber, Johann

1. Dates
Born: Ulm, 5 May 1580
Died: Ulm, 1635
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 55
2. Father
Occupation: Artisan
His father Samuel, was a weaver. His family had been vassals of the abbot of Fulda from 1354 to 1461.
They are said to have been poor.
3. Nationality
Birth: Ulm, Germany
Career: Ulm, Germany
Death: Ulm, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: No University
He was taught mathematics by David Saelzlin, a resident of Ulm.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Luthern (assumed)
The references to dangerous theological views are too vague to interpret.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Military Engineering
Subordinate: Alchemy.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Schoolmaster, Military Engineer
He was trained to be a weaver like his father.
After he had shown his ability in mathematics, the city of Ulm appointed him town mathematician, standards master, and surveyor. As far as I can tell, he retained this position for the rest of his life. He founded a school in Ulm in 1600, and from 1604 he was paid a salary of 30 gulden.
He did a great deal of work on fortifications for Basel (1622), Frankfurt (1630), Randegg, Schaffhausen, Fuerstenberg, Memmingen, Lauingen, and other cities.
He entered the service of Landgrave Philipp of Butzbach as an advisor for a few months (1618-1619), but continued to reside in Ulm.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristrocrat, City Magistrate, Court Official
The municipal council of Ulm held sway over his career for his entire career. They reprimanded him repeatedly for his dangerous theological views and prognostications, controlled his publications, and on at least one occasion ordered him to write an annual almanac. They also forbad him to divulge his work on fortification to Landgrave Philipp of Butzbach.
His alchemical dabbling brought him into contact with Duke Johann Friedrich of Wuerttemberg, from whom he obtained permission to teach his arts and sciences freely in the duchy in 1619.
Landgrave Philipp of Butzbach held him in service and consulted with him.
Through his fortification work he did work for Duke August of Brunswick-Lueneberg; Duke Johann Friedrich of Wuerttemberg; the Bishop of Olmuetz; Cardinal Franz, Prince of Dietrichstein; King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden; Landgrave Philipp of Hesse (same as Butzbach?); Count Wratislau of Fuerstenberg; and Princes Heinrich Friedrich and Moritz of Oranien, from whom he received his image in gold.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Hydraulics, Military Engineering, Instruments, Cartography
Weights and Measures: At the command of the city of Ulm, he collaborated with Johannes Kepler on the gauging bucket of Ulm (1627).
His fortification expertise was widely sought.
He improved some of the mills and waterwheels of Ulm.
He improved mathematical and surveying instruments, especially those he used in his military engineering.
I am taking his position as surveyer for Ulm seriously here.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He had contact with Maestlin, Kepler, van Ceulen, and Descartes, who attended his school.
  1. Gottlob Kirschmer, Neue deutsche Biographie (Berlin, 1952- ) 5, 30a-30b.
  2. Hoechstetter, Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 6, 581-583.
  3. Not consulted: Hermann Keefer, "Johannes Faulhaber, der bedeutendste Ulmer Mathematiker und Festungsbaumeister," Wuerttembergische Schulwarte 4 (1928), 1-12.
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.