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Wilhelm IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel

1. Dates
Born: Kassel, Germany, 24 June 1532
Died: Kassel, 25 Aug 1592
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 60
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat
The previous Landgrave. I don't have a category for rulers; call him aristocracy.
Obviously wealthy.
3. Nationality
Birth: Kassel, Germany
Career: Kassel, Germany
Death: Kassel, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: No University
He was tutored at the court in Kassel by Johannes Buch and Nicholas Rhoding.
In astronomical subjects he was taught by Rumold Mercator.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran
Wilhelm was important for his effort to close the schism between various protestant sects. More globally, between Calvinsim and Lutheranism, and more specifically between the liberal followers of Melanchton and the more conservative Lutherans.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Botany, Astronomy
7. Means of Support
Primary: Personal Means
1547, while his father was imprisoned by the Emperor, Wilhelm was placed in charge of the government of Hesse. When his father was released, he stood down.
Thereafter he was charged with many important duties: he represented his father at the election day at Frankfurt (1562), the negotiations with the Huguenots, and the conference with Duke Christoph von Wuerttemberg (1565).
1566, married Sabine, daughter of Christoph von Wuerttemberg.
1567, his father died. The division of property among his sons did not leave a powerful enough state for Wilhelm to carry on the kind of important foreign policy his father did, so he concerned himself with Hesse-Kassel, where he had become Landgrave. He also shared control over the University of Marburg with his brother Ludwig, Landgrave of Marburg-Kassel.
8. Patronage
Type: None
Wilhelm supported a number of scientists. He gave stipends to the botanists Joachim Camerarius (1534-98) and Carolus Clusius (1526-1609). For a short time (1558-60) the astronomer Andreas Schoener stayed at Kassel. Wilhelm used the Marburg instrument maker Eberhardt Baldewein (1525- 1592).
He brought two major figures to his court at Kassel, the instrument maker and mathematician Joost Buergi (1552-1632), and the astronomer Christoph Rothmann (c.1550-c.1605).
Wilhelm gave instruments to the Elector August of Saxony and the Emperor Rudolf II.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Instruments
To facilitate his new star catalogue, Wilhelm had Buergi make him a number of instruments: an azimuthal quadrant, a sextant, clocks, and mechanical computing devices.
In addition, Wilhelm was himself capable of designing instruments. On the design of Apian's system of rotating cardboard disks, Wilhelm constructed a system of gear-driven metal plates, which contributed to the design of the great Wilhelmsuhr. He also discussed design and made suggestions to Baldewein (and presumably Buergi) when constructing instruments.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Connections: Wilhelm had a wide correspondence dealing particularly with botanical, but also with astronomical matters. His most notable astronomical correspondent was his good friend Tycho Brahe.
  1. Wulther Ribbeck, "Wilhelm IV," Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 43 (Leipzig, 1898), 32-9. [ref. CT1053.A4 v.43]
  2. Bruce Moran, "Wilhelm IV of Hesse-Kassel: Informal Communication and the Aristocratic Context of Discovery," in Thomas Nickles, ed., Scientific Discoveries: Case Studies (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1980) [Q175.B66 v.60]
  3. , "German Prince-Practitioners: Aspects in the Development of Courtly Science, Technology, and Procedures in the Renaissance," Technology and Culture, 22 (1981), 253- 74. [HPS reading room]
  4. Ludwig Zimmermann, Der Oekonomische Staat Landgraf Wilhelms IV (Veroeffentlichungen der historischen Kommission fuer Hessen und Waldeck, 17:1) (Marburg: Elwert, 1933) [DD491.H7 Z7]
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. S. Schulz, Wilhelm IV, (1941).
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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