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La Roche, Estienne de [Villefranche]

1. Dates
Born: Lyon, c. 1480
Died: fl. Lyon, c. 1520
Dateinfo: Flourished (two dates give known period)
Lifespan: N/A
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
It is known only that his family owned a house in Lyon on Rue Neuve and some property situated above Villefranche.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: No University
He may have been a pupil of Nicolas Chuquet. There is no evidence that he attended a university or that Chuquet taught at any university.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (assumed)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
His fame rests solely on his Larismetique published in 1520. This work introduced into France the Italian knowledge of arithmetic and useful notions of powers and roots. In 1880 Aristide Marre published Chuquet's Triparty which only existed in manuscript form and suddenly La Roche was a plagiarist. Recent scholarship, though agreeing that parts of the Triparty were blatantly copied and other parts suppressed or curtailed in La Roche's Larismetique, has emphasized the audience that La Roche was trying to reach with his work. At worst La Roche can be accused of patching together the works of three authors, Luca Pacioli, Philippe Frescobaldi (a banker in Lyon), and Nicolas Chuquet, whose works were inaccessible to the average French merchant. La Roche simply made their information available to a previously neglected audience.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Schoolmastering
He taught arithmetic for twenty-five years in the commercial center of Lyon. He was called the "master of ciphers."
8. Patronage
Type: None
He apparently possessed the manuscripts of both Chuquet and Frescobaldi, but I see no reason, without more information, to chalk this up as patronage.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Applied Mathematics
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Graham Flegg, Cynthia Hay, and Barbara Moss, (eds.), Nicolas Chuquet, Renaissance Mathematician, (Dordrecht, 1985). QA32 .F57 1985 Cynthia Hay, (ed.), Mathematics from Manuscript to Print 1300-1600, (Oxford, 1988). QA23 .M28 1988 There is not a great deal of information about La Roche.
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
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