Person: Savile, Sir Henry
Henry Savile was an English mathematician who founded professorships of geometry and astronomy at Oxford.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Savile introduced his students to the new ideas of Regiomontanus and Copernicus.
- In the introduction to the lectures Savile gives his views on why students should study mathematics.
- The study of mathematics, argues Savile, turns a student into an educated, civilised human being.
- It is worth noting, however, that twenty years later, when Savile was trying to make sure his subject received proper funding, he argued for mathematics because of its practical uses.
- It is interesting to read Savile's comments in these lectures on why he felt that mathematics at that time was not flourishing.
- Students did not understand the importance of the subject, Savile wrote, there were no teachers to explain the difficult points, the texts written by the leading mathematicians of the day were not studied, and no overall approach to the teaching of mathematics had been formulated.
- Of course, as we shall see below, fifty years later Savile tried to rectify these shortcomings by setting up two chairs at the University of Oxford.
- In 1578 Savile set out on a major European tour.
- However Savile is most famous for founding two chairs at Oxford in 1619.
- Savile gave the first geometry lecture himself to a large number of students with the first holders of the chairs in his audience, and again we shall spend a moment looking at its contents.
- It also contained what Savile saw as his own contributions to the subject, the most important of which he considered was his demonstration that Euclid, the author of the Elements, was distinct from Euclid of Megara.
- Savile did not found these chairs so that those appointed could follow their own ideas.
- Although this sounds a very classical course, this was not the attitude that Savile took.
- Outside the area of mathematics Savile is best known for his contributions to the preparation of the King James Version of the Bible.
Born 30 November 1549, Bradley (near Halifax), Yorkshire, England. Died 19 February 1622, Eton, Berkshire, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive