baroque

Alain-René Lesage and The Devil upon Two Sticks

Alain-René Lesage and The Devil upon Two Sticks

On November 17, 1747, French novelist and playwright Alain-René Lesage passed away. Lesage is best known for his comic novel The Devil upon Two Sticks (1707, Le Diable boiteux), his comedy Turcaret (1709), and his picaresque novel Gil Blas (1715–1735). Youth and Education Lesage was born in Sarzeau, a commune in the Morbihan department of Brittany in north-western France, located on the Rhuys peninsula between the Gulf of Morbihan and the Atlantic…
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Jean de La Bruyère and the Power of Money in a Demoralized Society

Jean de La Bruyère and the Power of Money in a Demoralized Society

On August 16, 1645, French philosopher and moralist Jean de La Bruyère was born. La Bruyère is best known for one work, Les Caractères de Théophraste traduits du grec avec Les Caractères ou les moeurs de ce siècle (1688; The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus), which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of French literature. “Life is a tragedy for those who feel,…
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Marcello Malpighi – The Father of Microscopical Anatomy

Marcello Malpighi – The Father of Microscopical Anatomy

On March 10, 1628, Italian biologist and physician Marcello Malpighi was born. Malpighi is referred to as the “Father of microscopical anatomy, histology, physiology and embryology“. In developing experimental methods to study living things, Malpighi founded the science of microscopic anatomy. After Malpighi‘s researches, microscopic anatomy became a prerequisite for advances in the fields of physiology, embryology, and practical medicine. Youth and Education Marcello Malpighi was born at Crevalcore near Bologna, Italy,…
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Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

On May 26, 1667, French mathematician Abraham de Moivre was born. De Moivre is best known for de Moivre‘s formula, one of those that link complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on the normal distribution and probability theory. He was a friend of Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, and James Stirling. De Moivre wrote a book on probability theory, The Doctrine of Chances, said to have been prized by gamblers. He…
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Johann Joachim Becher and the Phlogiston Theory of Combustion

Johann Joachim Becher and the Phlogiston Theory of Combustion

On May 6, 1636, German physician, alchemist, precursor of chemistry, scholar and adventurer Johann Joachim Becher was born. He is best known for his development of the phlogiston theory of combustion, in which all flammable objects were supposed to contain a substance which was released when the object burned, and his advancement of Austrian cameralism. “The chemists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their…
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John Graunt and the Science of Demography

John Graunt and the Science of Demography

On April 18, 1674, English herberdasher and statistician John Graunt passed away. Graunt is considered by many historians to have founded the science of demography as the statistical study of human populations. For his published analysis of the parish records of christenings and deaths, he was made a charter member of the Royal Society. John Graunt was born on April 24, 1620, in London, the eldest of seven or eight children of Henry Graunt,…
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Abraham a Sancta Clara – “Very Eccentric but Popular”

Abraham a Sancta Clara – “Very Eccentric but Popular”

On December 1, 1709, Abraham a Sancta Clara, Austrian divine, court preacher and author passed away. Born as Johann Ulrich Megerle, he has been described “a very eccentric but popular Augustinian monk” and had earned great reputation for pulpit eloquence, the force and homeliness of his language, the grotesqueness of his humor, and the impartial severity with which he lashed the follies of all classes of society and of the court in particular.…
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Georg Ernst Stahl and the Phlogiston Theory

Georg Ernst Stahl and the Phlogiston Theory

On October 22, 1659, German chemist, physician and philosopher Georg Ernst Stahl was born. Stahl developed the phlogiston theory of combustion and of such related biological processes as respiration, fermentation, and decay. Combustible objects, he said, were rich in phlogiston, and during combustion is lost. The remaining ash, now having no phlogiston, could no longer burn. Until the late 18th century his works on phlogiston were accepted as an explanation for chemical…
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Giovanni Battista Morgagni and the Science of Anatomy

Giovanni Battista Morgagni and the Science of Anatomy

On February 25, 1682, Italian anatomist Giovanni Battista Morgagni was born. His works helped to make anatomy an exact science. Thus, he often is celebrated as the father of modern anatomical pathology. Giovanni Battista Morgagni was born at Forli, in the Romagna and received a decent scientific education from early years. Already at the age of 14, Morgagni managed to read verses of his compositions and take part in debating philosophical questions at the…
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Nicolas Steno and the Principles of Modern Geology

Nicolas Steno and the Principles of Modern Geology

In January, 1638, Danish Catholic bishop and scientist Nicolas Steno was born. He was both a pioneer in both anatomy and geology, and seriously questioned accepted knowledge of the natural world. Importantly he questioned explanations for tear production, the idea that fossils grew in the ground and explanations of rock formation. By some he is considered the founder of modern stratigraphy and modern geology. “Beautiful is what we see, More Beautiful is what…
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