Person: Pascal, Étienne
Étienne Pascal was a French lawyer and amateur mathematician. He was the father of Blaise Pascal.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Étienne was trained in law in Paris, receiving his degree in 1610.
- It was a time of revolt by the French peasants and officials loyal to the government, such at Étienne Pascal, were in some danger of assassination.
- Of course Blaise Pascal is the famous mathematician and philosopher who has a major biography in this archive.
- Étienne Pascal served as a tax assessor, then in 1625 was made president of the provincial division of the Cour des Aides, the board of excise which was responsible for financial matters and taxation.
- Richelieu was three years older than Étienne Pascal and employed a rather different route to power in France.
- In 1634 Étienne was appointed to a committee set up by Cardinal Richelieu to judge whether Jean-Baptiste Morin's scheme for determining longitude from the Moon's motion was practical.
- Roberval communicated to Pascal his first discoveries concerning the cycloid and intervened on his side in the debate concerning the nature of gravity.
- At the beginning of 1637 Fermat wrote his "Solution d'un problème proposé par M de Pascal".
- Étienne is famed as the discoverer of the curve the Limaçon of Pascal.
- In a letter (see Lettre d'Étienne Pascal et Roberval à Fermat, samedi 16 août Ⓣ(Letter from Etienne Pascal and Roberval to Fermat, Saturday August 16th)1636) he actively argued in favour of Fermat's De maximis et minimis Ⓣ(On maxima and minima) in opposition to Descartes who viewed the work in a very negative light.
- In 1635 Étienne Pascal had used the money he had received from the sale of his position in Clermont to invest in government bonds.
- There were widespread protests from those who had lost fortunes, and Étienne, despite his support for the government, joined the protests.
- Governments, however, do not like protests and Étienne Pascal was threatened with imprisonment in the Bastille.
- Jacqueline Pascal was fourteen years of age by 1639 and she had become a talented poet and actress.
- Certainly Jacqueline must have had great charm, for Cardinal Richelieu did not just do the minimum to please Jacqueline - he appointed Étienne to the post of chief tax officer in Rouen, the capital of Normandy.
- Étienne took up the post in April 1639 and it proved a very demanding position.
- Hard work and great skill on the part of Étienne saw him tackle unrest in the people brought about by bad harvests, high taxes, and an outbreak of the plague.
- In early 1646 Étienne broke a leg after falling on some ice.
- Étienne Pascal retired from his official position in Rouen in 1648.
- In August 1648 Étienne went to Paris, returning to the Auvergne in May 1649.
Born 2 May 1588, Clermont (now Clermont-Ferrand), Auvergne, France. Died 24 September 1651, Paris, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive