Person: De Bouvelles, Charles
Charles de Bouvelles was a French priest who wrote works on geometry and philosophy.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- De Bouvelles was educated in Paris.
- There he was a student of Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (1455-1536) who was a famous humanist, theologian, and translator.
- Ordained a priest, Lefèvre taught philosophy in Paris from about 1490 and it was about the time that de Bouvelles came to Paris.
- Lefèvre was, of course, from d'Etaples so like de Bouvelles he came from Picardy.
- Lefèvre had considerable influence on his student de Bouvelles, who went on to improve on the methods of his teacher.
- In 1495 the plague hit Paris and de Bouvelles left without, it appears, taking a degree.
- In 1501, while trying to solve this problem, he introduced the hypotrochoid (although he did not use this name) which is the curve traced by a point PPP on a circle of radius bbb which rolls round inside a fixed circle of radius aaa.
- Using this curve, de Bouvelles was able to give a mechanical means of squaring the circle.
- It was after he completed work on his book that de Bouvelles set out travelling first to Switzerland, and Mainz in Germany.
- After being a canon at St Quentin, de Bouvelles became a canon at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Noyon, north-northeast of Paris and still in the Picardy region.
- The Bishop of Noyon was Charles de Hangest and he was very pleased with his canon de Bouvelles, granting him much free time to undertake his studies of mathematics, philosophy and theology.
- In particular Bishop de Hangest had a country estate which provided the peace and quiet that de Bouvelles needed to concentrate on his studies.
- In 1509 he published a philosophy book De Sapiente in which de Bouvelles presented a dualism between the observer and the observed.
- no longer part of the universe but as its eye and mirror; and indeed as a mirror that does not receive the images of things from outside but that rather forms and shapes them in itself.
- This work would have considerable influence on Descartes who took de Bouvelles' ideas still further.
- In 1510 de Bouvelles published another work on mathematics.
- It is not a particularly deep work and some of the properties that de Bouvelles gives are left unjustified.
- We noted that Geometricae introductionis was first published in Latin but the work proved quite popular and so translations were in order.
- De Bouvelles remained in Noyon for the rest of his life, teaching philosophy but seldom celebrating mass.
Born 1471, Soyecourt, near Amiens, Picardy, France. Died 1553, Noyon, Picardy, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive