Person: Maior, John
John Maior was a Scottish mathematician who worked in Paris and St Andrews where he taught logic and theology.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Maior was 22 years old in 1491, so it seems likely that he attended university in Scotland before studying at Cambridge.
- The claim by many historians that Maior must have attended St Andrews University seems out of the question since he states plainly that in 1510 he still had never visited the city.
- After studying for the academic year 1491-92 at Cambridge, Maior went to Paris where he enrolled at the Collège de Sainte-Barbe.
- Jan Standonck became Master of the College in 1483 and he filled that position when Maior began his theology studies there.
- In 1499 Standonck was forced to leave Paris and Noël Béda and Maior, both Standonck's students, took charge.
- However Maior soon left to move to the Collège de Navarre leaving Béda to maintain the position of the Collège de Montaigu as one of the leading theological colleges of Paris.
- Maior became a doctor of theology in 1506, while at the Collège de Navarre.
- The College was frequently required to give opinions on important ecclesiastical and theological issues and at the time Maior taught there it made the final decisions as whether translations of sacred texts should be accepted or banned.
- The time Maior spent in Paris was not only the most productive of his life, but also the most influential.
- The Spanish members of Maior's school returned to Spain to form the "calculatores" who studied mechanics, being particularly involved with numerical examples, and using as their main tools the elements of proportion theory and infinitesimal arithmetic.
- Lax was a student of Maior in Paris, who returned to Spain to be a leading calculatores.
- Maior also had an outstanding reputation as a prolific author and an outstanding teacher.
- Maior returned to Scotland to become principal of Glasgow University.
- Of course 'Historia Majoris' is a pun on Maior's History.
- In June 1523 Maior took up an appointment at the University of St Andrews.
- After five years teaching in Paris, Maior returned again to Scotland and in particular to St Andrews.
- He continued to tutor, however, and one of the students he taught during this period was John Knox, the main instigator of the Reformation in Scotland.
- Rather strangely Maior had also taught John Calvin, who became the leading French Protestant Reformer, during his second spell in Paris.
- Certainly the fact that Maior taught two major Protestant Reformers should not make one think that Maior was anything but totally conservative on Roman Catholic doctrine.
- Maior wrote important commentaries on works of Aristotle.
Born 1469, Gleghornie (near Haddington), Scotland. Died 1550, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
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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