The Galileo Project
site map

Schooten, Frans van

1. Dates
Born: Leiden, ca. 1615 (Nieuw Nederlandsch Biographisch Woordenboek does not insert the "ca.")
Died: Leiden, 29 May 1660
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 45
2. Father
Occupation: Academic, Engineer
Frans van Schooten (the elder), professor at the engineering school connected with Leiden. The father was also a military engineer.
No clear indication of financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Dutch
Career: Dutch
Death: Dutch
4. Education
Schooling: Leiden
Enrolled in Leiden in 1631. No source says anything about a degree, and given the tendency always to mention one, I assume then that Schooten did not persevere to one. He travelled to Paris and London about 1637, and there met the leading mathematicians. He was back in Leiden in 1643.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Calvinist
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
He was trained in mathematics at Leiden, and he met Descartes there in 1637 and read the proofs of his Geometry.
In Paris he collect manuscripts of the works of Vičte, and in Leiden he published Vičte's works.
He published the Latin edition of Descartes' Geometry. The much expanded second edition was extremely influential.
He also made his own contribution (modest, everyone agrees) to mathematics, especially in Exercitationes mathematicae, 1657.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Schoolmastering
1643, he became the assistant to his father.
1645, upon the death of his father, Schooten succeeded him in Leiden. He trained DeWitt, Huygens, Hudde, and Heuraet. In the 1640's (at least) he gave private lessons in mathematics in Leiden.
1644, he considered moving to The Hague to teach mathematics. Descartes recommended him to Constantijn Huygens as the tutor to his sons. However, since the Huygens boys were coming to Leiden, Schooten decided to remain there.
8. Patronage
Types: Scientist, Government Official, Aristrocrat
Descartes' introduction opened to Schooten the circle of natural philosophers and mathematicians around Mersenne in Paris. Descartes also recommended him to Constantijn Huygens to tutor his sons in mathematics, replacing Stampioen. Schooten tutored Christiann Huygens for a year. Descartes and Constatijn Huygens supported him for the position vacated by his father's death.
In some respects Schooten does not seem to have been as keyed in to patronage as most; thus he dedicated his edition of Vičte to his teacher Gool. However, he dedicated this Exercitationes to Chanut, Descartes' friend and the French ambassador to Sweden.
He dedicated the first edition of the Latin Geometry of Descartes to Elizabeth van de Palts.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Schooten maintained a wide correspondence, especially with Descartes.
First in Paris and then in London (1641-3) he made the acquaintance of mathematical circles, with which he maintained a correspondence that is now lost.
  1. J.E. Hofmann, "Frans van Schooten der Jüngere," Boethius, 2 (1962).
  2. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biographisch Woordenboek.
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.