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Ozanam, Jacques

1. Dates
Born: Bouligneux (principaltiy of Dombes), 1640
Died: Paris, c. 1717 (Nouvelle biographie générale says 3 April 1717; Index biographique says 1-6 April 1718.)
Dateinfo: Death Uncertain
Lifespan: 77
2. Father
Occupation: Gentry
His father was a rich landowner. The family was illustrious, having held many positions in the Parlements of the provinces. (This certainly sounds like what I call gentry.) Jacques was the youngest son; the law required that all the inheritance go to the eldest. Thus he was educated for the church.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: No University
He was educated for the clergy (no university is mentioned), but chemistry and mathematics interested him more than theology. Except for a tutor who may have helped him slightly, he taught himself mathematics. After the death of his father, he abandoned preparation for the clergy. 5.Relgion: Cth, Jew.
He came from a Jewish family the had converted to Catholicism long before.
5. Religion
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Cartography
Ozanam's contribution consisted of popular treatises and reference works on useful and practical mathematics, and an extremely popular work on Mathematical recreations, Recreations.
In addition to many purely mathematical works, Ozanam wrote Méthod de lever les plans et les cartes de terre et de mer, Traité de la fortification régulière et irrégulière (1691), Méthod facile pour arpenter et mesurer toutes sortes de superficies (1699), La perspective théorique et practique (1711), La géographie et cosmographie qui traite de la sphere 1711).
7. Means of Support
Primary: Schoolmastering, Government
He taught mathematics at Lyon, without charge until the state of his finances led him to take fees. (Nouvelle biographie générale puts it otherwise; it says that he was destitute when he started teaching in Lyon.)
Later he taught mathematics in Paris, where the teaching brought him a substantial income.
From 1701, when the War of the Spanish Succession forced many of his students to leave Paris, his income became small and uncertain, and he turned to the Académie, which he was able to enter.
I don't get the impression that he was every very rich from teaching mathematics. Hutton says that teaching brought him "a considerable income," but Ozanam spent it prudently, which may have been the crucial factor.
He married a woman of no means, who died in 1701.
8. Patronage
Types: Government Official, Aristrocrat
The sovereign princess of Dombes once called him "l'honneur de sa Dombes." Mere words don't count as patronage, however.
According to Nouvelle biographie générale, Ozanam once loaned two strangers fifty pistoles, without a note of any kind, to enable them to get back to Paris. Their report of his kindness so impressed M. Daguesseau, the father of the chancellor, that he urged them to invite Ozanam to Paris with the promise of favor from him. Although it is not stated, perhaps this relation could explain his appointment to the Académie.
He did one horoscope for a Count of the Empire.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Cartography, Military Engineering
See above under disciplines.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Académie Royal des Sciences
He was admitted as an élève in 1701, élève géometre in 1707, and associé mécanicien in 1711.
  1. Nouvelle biographie générale, 38, 1017-18.
  2. Index biographiques (Académie des sciences), p. 388.
  3. Charles Hutton, Philosophical and Mathematical Dictionary, 2, (London, 1745), 184-5.
  4. Fontenelle, "Éloge," Histoire de l'académie, 1717, pp. 111f.
  5. Not consulted: Heinrich Zeitlinger, ed., Bibliotheca chemico-mathematica, (London, 1921), 1, 171; 2, 643.
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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