The Galileo Project
site map

Reyneau, Charles René

1. Dates
Born: Brissac (diocese of Angers), 11 June 1656
Died: Paris, 24 Feb. 1728
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 72
2. Father
Occupation: Physician
His father was a surgeon.
As always, I assume affluence at least.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order
Before 1676 nothing is known of Reyneau's life. He studied at the Oratorian college in Angers. In 1676 he entered the Maison d'Institution (Instruction?) in Paris, and was sent to the Collège de Toulon in 1679 by his superiors. Partly in view of this and partly in view of his subsequent career, I assume the equivalent of a B.A.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He entered the Maison d'Institution in Paris in 1676, and was ordained a priest at the Collège de Toulon in 1681.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
He is important historically as the author of a textbook, Analyse demontrée (Paris, 1708), which was designed to provide instruction in the new mathematics developed at the beginning of the 18th century. The book was written upon the request of Malebranche. Reyneau began working on the book in 1698 with two other Oratorians, Louis Byzance and Claude Jaquemet. Reyneau was very interested in the debates on the differential and infinitesimal calculus provoked by Rolle's work, but Reyneau had difficulty assimilating the new material.
Reyneau's lesser known works are La science du calcul, 2 vols., (1714-35) and a treatise on the art of navigating, Traité de la marine ou l'art de naviguer.
In 1705, he came into possession of Byzance's papers and aside from those lost by Montmort he was able to preserve the manuscripts of the group surrounding Malebranche.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Church Life, Government
In 1679, he was sent to Toulon to teach philosophy. Immediately following the completion of his duties at Toulon, Reyneau's superiors sent him to Pezenas to teach.
From 1682-1705, he replaced Prestet as professor of mathematics at the University of Angers. In 1705, he resigned his chair at Angers and left for Paris.
He spent the rest of his life in Paris, at the Oratorian house on rue Saint-Honore.
He was named to the Académie in 1716.
8. Patronage
Type: Government Official
Besides his very close friend, Malebranche, Reyneau counted the Chancellor among his close friends. I have to believe that this was a relation of patronage. Something has to explain the appointment of a rather mediocre mathematician to the Académie.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Navigation
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Académie Royal des Sciences, 1716-28
He was named associé libre of the Académie in 1716.
He taught with such success at the Angers that the newly formed academy of this town asked Reyneau to join (1694). There is no mention as to whether Reyneau officially joined this group.
  1. Fontenelle, "Eloge du Pere Reyneau," in Histoire de l'académie royale des sciences pour l'année 1728, pp. 112-16. Q46.A16
  2. 1728 pt.1 Pierre Costabel, "Deux inédits de la correspondence indirette Leibniz-Reyneau," Revue d'histoire des sciences et de leurs applications, 2 (1949), 311-32.
  3. Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale, (Paris, 1857-66).
  4. Michaud, Biographie générale.
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.