The Galileo Project
site map

Grandi, Guido

1. Dates
Born: Cremona, 1 Oct. 1671
Died: Pisa, 4 July 1742
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 71
2. Father
Occupation: Laborer
The father was a laborer. The word is "operaio," workman, and I have no idea what precisely Tenca (who used it) referred to. The father could well have been a minor artisan of some sort.
In my view, to say laborer in the late 17th century was to say poor.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order
Grandi studied initally at the Jesuit school in Cremona. In 1687, after joining the Camaldolesan order, he studied philosophy at their monastery in Ferrara. In 1693 he moved on to their monastery in Rome to study theology, and there he also took up an interest in the history of the order. I have come to feel I must count extended education within one of the religious orders as the equivalent of a B.A. I suspect that there was also the equivalent of a D.D., but I did not find mention of such.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He enterd the religious order of the Camaldolese at the age of sixteen.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
Subordinate: Mechanics, Hydraulics, Astronomy
As a collaborator in the publication of the first Florentine edition of the works of Galileo, he contributed to it a "Note on the Treatise of Galileo Concerning Natural Motion", in which he gave the first definition of a curve he called "versiera". His reputation rests especially on the curves that he named "rodonea" and "clelia."
On a more general level, his treatise on quadrature of (1703) marks the introduction of the Leibnizian calculus into Italy. He was also the author of several noteworthy and popular texbooks.
He also did successful work in theoretical and pratical mechanics. His studies in hydraulics evoked considerable interest from the governments of central Italy. He published a small amount on astronomy.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Church Life, Patronage
Secondary: Government, Engineering
He entered the religious order of the Camaldolese in 1687,and was appointed teacher of philosophy and theology in his order's monastery in Florence in 1694. It was at this point, as he struggled to come to terms with the new philosophy, that Grandi took up serious study of mathematics. In 1700 he was named professor of philosophy at Rome, but the Grand Duke, who was determined to keep Grandi in Tuscany, named him professor of philosophy in Pisa. In Pisa he remained for the rest of his life. In 1707, he became mathematician and theologian to the Grand Duke. In 1714 he became professor of Mathematics at Pisa.
After Viviani, Grandi became superintendent of water in Tuscany. He was also appointed Pontifical Mathematician to deal with issues of hydraulics in the Romanga, and he helped to carry out an extensive survey of the Po system. I feel that I need to list Engineering as one aspect of his support.
I find it impossible to weigh his various sources of support adequately. Suffice it to say that Grandi also functioned as the Visitor General of his order, and that he bore the title of abbot.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Aristrocrat, Eccesiastic Official
Cosimo III de' Medici. When in 1700 he was called to Rome, Cosimo de' Medici encouraged him to stay in Tuscany, by making him professor of philosophy at Pisa. In 1707 he became mathematician to the Grand Duke. Inevitably he dedicated some of his books to the Grand Duke and to his son and successor, Prince Gian Gastone.
He named a curve the clelia after Countess Clelia Borromeo, dedicating to her the work (Flores geometrici, 1728) in which it was published.
I certainly treat his service to the Pope on issues of hydraulics in the Po valley as involving a dimension of patronage.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Hydraulics, Mechanical Devices
He was superintendent of waters for Tuscany and was involved in projects such as the drainage of the Chiana Valley and the Pontine Marshes, and in the whole system of the Po valley, including the perennial issue of diverting the Reno into the Po.
He experimented with a steam engine of his own design.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Royal Society
Named to the Royal Society in 1709 on a visit to England.
Voluminous scientific correspondence (now in the library of the University of Pisa) with the mathematicians of the day. Tenca has published about his correspondences; see the bibliography to Tenca's Physis article.
  1. Gino Loria, Storia delle mathematiche, 2nd ed., (Milan, 1950).
  2. QA26.L8 SW L. Tenca, "Guido Grandi matematico e teologo di Granduca di Toscana," Physis, 2 (1960), 84-9.
  3. P. Riccardi, Biblioteca matematica italiana, 1, 617-27.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. A. Agostini, Padre Guido Grandi matematico, 1671-1742, (Pisa, 1943). L. Tenca, "Guido Grandi matematico cremonense," Istituto lombardo di scienze e lettere, (Milano, 1950).
  2. _____, "Epistolario di Guido Grandi," in Convengo del gruppo italiano di storia delle scienze, (Firenze, 1950).
  3. _____, "La corrispondenza epistolare tra Tommaso Ceva e Guido Grandi," Istituto lombando di scienze e lettere, (Milano, 1950). _____, "Corrispondenza tra Guido Grandi e scienziate dello studio padovano," Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, (Venezia, 1953).
  4. F. Palladino and L. Simonutti, eds., Celstino Galiani - Guido Grandi, Carteggio (1714-1729), (Firenze, 1989).
  5. Guido Grandi and Jacob Hermann, Carteggio (1708-1714), ed. Silvia Mazzone and Clara Silvia Roero, (Firenze, 1992).
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.