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Sigüenza y Gongora, Carlos de

1. Dates
Born: Mexico City, 20 August 1645
Died: Mexico City, 22 August 1700
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 55
2. Father
Occupation: Schoolmaster
The father was tutor to Prince Balthazar before going to New Spain. This is difficult, but in accordance with other practice I'll categorize it under Schoolmaster.
No specific information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Spanish colonial
Career: Spanish colonial
Death: Spanish colonial
4. Education
Schooling: Mexico
Sigüenza's father was tutor to Prince Balthazar before going to New Spain.
Sigüenza entered the Jesuit Colegio de Tepozotlan at about the age of 15 and took his first vows in 1662.
He continued his studies at the Colegio del Espiritu Santo at Pueblo, but in 1667 either he was expelled for disciplinary reasons (as some contend) or he withdrew from the order voluntarily.
In the following years he was a student at the University of Mexico. Apparently he never took a degree.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic.
Though not a Jesuit, he remained a secular priest his whole life.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astonomy, Cartography
Subordinate: Mathematics
Though a professor of astrology, he was strongly opposed to it.
In 1681, wrote on comets to calm fears aroused by the great one of 1680-1. This work led to an exchange with a Jesuit, and ultimately to Sigüenza's Libra astronomica (1690), a book which showed his strong mathematical background.
As royal cosmographer, he drew charts, including the first map of all New Spain, a map of the valley of Mexico, and later one of Pensacola Bay.
As royal cosmographer, he published almanacs which included astronomical observations. He observed the solar eclipse of 1691, and he attempted to determine the longitude of Mexico City.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Living, Academic
Already as a student at the university he was chaplain at Amor de Dios Hospital. He continued in this position through his whole life; it provided income and lodging.
1672: appointed to chair of astrology ands mathematics at the university; held the chair for more than 20 years, until about 1693. Note that there was a competition for this chair.
8. Patronage
Types: Aristocracy, Governmental Official
The Inspector of the Royal Funds, Don Sebastien de Guzman y Cordova published Sigüenza's Libra astronomica at his own expense.
Sigüenza was close to a succession of viceroys, but especially Conde de Galve, who sent him on the expedition to Pensacola; he received a salary, and members of his family who were dependent on him received support while he was on the expedition. Sigüenza christened the bay with de Galve's name. Sigüenza was de Galve's official historian, and his works mention orders from de Galve to write things.
His manifesto on the comet of 1680 paid compliments to the wife of the viceroy;, whom he called his patroness.
He was appointed royal cosmographer by a special decreee of Charles II. Although this had to have been arranged from Mexico, it seems proper to consider it courtly patronage.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Cartography, Hydraulics, Military Engineering
His map of the valley of Mexico was drawn in connection with work on the drainage problems of Mexico City.
He also was appointed Examiner of Gunners, and he helped with the fortification of the coast.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Sigüenza corresponded fairly widely with European men of science.
He spoke of an "insatiable desire" to communicate with other men learned in the sciences (Leonard, p. 56)
  1. José Maria Lopez Piñero, et al., Diccionaria historico de la ciencia moderna en España, 2 vols. (Barcelona: Ediciones Peninsula, 1983). Irvin A. Leonard, Don Carlos de Sigüenza y Gongora, (Berkeley, 1929).
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Francisco Perez Salazar, Obras de Carlos de Sigüenza y Gongora, (Mexico City, 1928).
  2. B. Santillan Gonzalez, Don Carlos Sigüenza y Gongora, (Mexico City, 1956). Carlos Sigüenza y Gongora, Libra astronomica y filosofica (1690), ed. B. Navarro, Presentacion de J. Gaos, (Mexico, 1959).
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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