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Maignan, Emanuel

1. Dates
Born: Toulouse, 17 July 1601
Died: Toulouse, 29 Oct. 1676
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 75
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat, Government Official
Maignan came from a prominent Armagnac family. His father was an advisor to the king and a senior member of the Chancelry.
While it is nearly impossible to imagine that the family was not wealthy, I find no explicit reference to their financial status and prefer to list it as unknown.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French, Italian
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order
He was educated at the Maison des Pensionnaires by the Jesuits. He entered the order of Minims in 1619. He first studied philosophy under the renowned peripatetic, P. Ruffat. Later his interests turned to mathematics in which he was self taught. From his career it appears he must have had the equivalent of a B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He entered the order of Minims in 1619, and devoted much of his energy to the administrative and religious work of his order as well as to the education of the youths of Toulouse.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Physics
Subordinate: Optics, Instrumentation
He participated in Rome in the important experiments which helped to establish the possibility of artificially creating a void space in nature and which influenced the work of Torricelli and others. His Cursus philosophicus (1653) provides one of the fullest accounts of these researches. His work in optics, instrument making and design, and various branches of physics is in need of reevaluation. His Perspective horaria (1648) is an extremely detailed and almost exhaustive discussion of sundials.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
He taught philosophy and theology at the Minim convent of Monte Pincio in Rome from 1636 to 1650. He was elected Corrector of Santa Trinita shortly after his arrival. His time in Italy was devoted mostly to teaching and experiments rather than to administrative duties.
He was appointed by his superiors to a chair of mathematics in Rome.
In 1650 he returned to Toulouse, where he spent most of the remainder of his time, devoting much of his energy to the administrative and religious work of his order. After his return to Toulouse, his superiors elected him provincial of Aquitaine.
8. Patronage
Types: Government Official, Aristrocrat
In 1648, Maignan dedicated his Perspective horaria to Spada, the "protecteur" of his order.
Berthier, de Feubert, and Donneville, all three presidents of the Parlement of Toulouse were "protecteurs" of Maignan.
Later in his life, Maignan was visited by King Louis XIV. The king was so impressed with the work Maignan carried out in his cell, which was a cross between a workshop and a lab, that the following day he sent Mazarin with an offer of a court post. Maignan was content with his simple life in Toulouse and wanted to avoid "crainte d'etre attaché". Perhaps Maignan was afraid his work would be compromised if he set up residence at court.
Maignan did get to Paris, but not for a court appointment, rather to visit the salon of Montmor.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Instruments
Maignan and Berti constructed an apparatus to demonstrate that a bell ringing in a Torricellian tube becomes inaudible when the air is removed.
Maignan's Perspective gives a clear and full account of how to make the instruments for constructing dials and buffing instruments and the necessary steps in polishing lenses.
Sun dials.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Maignan met Mersenne and was visited by him in Toulouse.
Later in life Maignan visited the salon (or académie, as it is ofter call) of Montmor.
  1. Henri Louyat, "Emmanuel Maignan," Comptes rendus du Congres National des Sociétés Savantes, Section des Sciences, 1 (1971), 15-29. Q46.C74.
  2. Michaud, Biographie Toulousiane, (Paris, 1823), 2, 4-7. (entry under Raymond Maignan) DC 801 .T726 L2 "La filosofia de Emmanuel Maignan," Revista de filosofia, (Madrid), 13 (1954), 15-68. B5.R43
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. J.Saguens, De vita ... Emanuel Maignani, (Toulouse, 1703).
  2. F.Sander, Die Auffassung des Raumes bei Emanuel Maignan und Johannes Baptiste Morin, (Paderborn, 1934).
  3. "La vida, obras e influencia de Em. Maignan," Revista de Estudios Politicos, 46 (1952) 111-149.
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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