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Schott, Gaspar

1. Dates
Born: Koenigshofen, near Wuerzburg, Germany, 5 Feb. 1608
Died: Wuerzburg, Germany, 22 May 1666 (If it matters, Sommervogel puts his death in Augsburg.)
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 58
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Koenigshofen, near Wuerzburg, Germany
Career: Sicily (i.e., Italy), Germany
Death: Wuerzburg, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: Würzburg; Religous Order, D.D.
1627, entered the Society of Jesus and was sent to the University of Wuerzburg, where he studied philosophy under Athanasius Kircher. (I'll leave this in, but I suspect, especially from the presence of Kircher, that Schott was in a Jesuit college there.) The Swedish invasion (1631) forced teacher and students to flee. Schott may have accompanied Kircher to France at first.
He completed his studies in theology, philosophy, and mathematics at Palermo. I am convinced that Schott studied at the Jesuit college there, not in the university. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent. As an ordained Jesuit professed of the fourth vow, he would have had a doctorate in theology.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He joined the Jesuit order in 1627.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Physics, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy
His books were largely compendia of reports he received or books he read. He did repeat experiments, but is said to have done no original research.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
He remained in Palermo for twenty years, mostly teaching in the Jesuit school at Palermo, although he spent two years in Trapani.
1652-5, he was sent to Rome for three years to collaborate with Kircher on his research.
1655-66: He returned to Germany. He went first to Mainz, then to Wuerzberg, where he taught mathematics and natural philosophy. I am convinced that he taught always in Jesuit colleges.
He visited Rome in 1661 and applied for a post to teach mathematics there, but was instead offered the position of head of the Jesuit college at Heiligenstadt, which he declined.
8. Patronage
Types: Scientist, Eccesiastic Official, Aristrocrat, Court Official
He always revered Kircher as his master. Presumably Kircher was involved in summoning Schott to Rome in 1652. Someone always stood behind an academic appointment, even within the Jesuit order; I assume here that it was Kircher. Schott dedicated part of his Magia universalis (1658-9) to Kircher. He dedicated the work as a whole to the Bishop of Bamberg.
Schott dedicated his Technica curiosa (1664) to the Elector of Mainz (who was the Archbishop).
He dedicated his Thaumaturgus physicus, 1659, to the Archduke (I don't know of what) Charles Joseph.
He dedicated Cursus mathematicus, 1661, to Leopold I.
He dedicated Physicua curiosa, 1662, to the Elector Charles Leopold (of Mainz, I think).
He dedicated Schola Steganographica, 1666, to Ferdinand Maximilian of Baden.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Mechanical Devices, Instruments
Schott is most widely known for his works on hydraulic and mechanical instruments. A treatise on "chronometric marvels" contains the first description of a universal joint and the classification of gear teeth.
He developed a leveling instrument for use in surveying.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
As a result of his compendium, Mechanica hydraulico- pneumatica, he became the center of a network of correspondence from other Jesuits as well as lay experimenters. He received letters from Guericke and Huygens, and was the first to make Boyle's work on the airpump widely known in Germany.
  1. Edmond R. Kiely, Surveying Instruments, (New York, 1947), p. 131.
  2. G. Duhr, Geschichte der Jesuiten in der Laendern deutscher Zunge, 3, (Munich-Regensburg, 1921), 589-92.
  3. A. de Backer, Bibliotheque des ecrivans de la Compagnie de Jesus, K. Sommervogel, ed., 7, (Paris, 1896), 904-12.
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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