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Girard, Albert

1. Dates
Born: St. Mihiel, France, c. 1595
Died: 's Gravenhage, 8 Dec. 1632 (Bosmans and Vosterman make it 1633)
Dateinfo: Both Dates Uncertain
Lifespan: 37
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: Dutch
Death: Dutch. The first solid information about him shows him settled in the Netherlands.
4. Education
Schooling: Leiden
De Waard states that he inscribed himself in Leiden on 28 April 1617 as a student of mathematics. No. B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist.
It appears that he fled to the Netherlands as a religious refugee.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Primary: Mathematics, Engineering
Subordinate: Optics, Music
He published extensively on mathematics.
He translated a treatise on fortification from Flemish into French, and Marolois's treatise on fortification from French into Flemish.
He worked on the law of refraction.
He mentioned a completed work on music, although it was never published.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Musician, Engineering
Originally he was a musician, specifically a lute player.
Gassendi mentioned him, in a letter, as an engineer with the Dutch army. De Waard ways that this could not have been before about 1626.
His grave marker called him an engineer.
De Waard cites a passage from Girard's edition of Stevin in which he complained of being in a foreign country without a maecenas and burdened with a family. He said that he had to postpone the publication of his mathematics until a time when the pursuit of the sciences would be more highly esteemed than it was at that time.
8. Patronage
Type: Court
Despite his complaint of living in a foreign country without a patron, he dedicated his edition of Stevin's Arithmetic (I have 1625) to Prince Maurice and his translation of Marolois's Fortification (1627) to Prince Frederik Hendrik.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Military Engineering, Cartography
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He appears to have had informal contact with the circle of Dutch mathematical scientists. Thus his edition of Stevin. He was a friend of Snel.
  1. H. Bosmans, an article divided into six short sections in Mathesis, 40 (1926).
  2. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biographisch Woordenboek.
  3. Paul Tannery, "Albert Girard di Saint-Mihiel," Bulletin des sciences mathematiques et astronomiques, 2nd ser. 7 (1883), 358-60. (Also in Tannery's Mémoires scientifiques, 6, (Paris, 1926), 19-22. G.A. Vosterman van Oijen, "Quelques arpenteurs hollandais de la fin du XVIe et du commencement du XVIIe siecle et leur instruments," Bullettino di bibliografia e di storia delle scienze methematiche de fisiche, 3 (1870), 323-76 (esp. 359- 62).
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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