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Re: About Thaddeus Hajek
Rene Zandbergen wrote:
> It is worth mentioning that the Czech historian Zdenek Horsky
> suggested Brumbaugh that he should consider Hajek when looking
> for the history of the VMs. (Part of the below is in fact from
> Horsky.) The same suggestion was made to Stolfi and myself
> by Lubos Antonin when we were in Prague.
As a newcomer to this list, may I "buy my way in" with some more
information on Hajek. It comes from _Ottuv slovnik naucny_
vol. 10 (Prague 1896) - which is still the best reference on
all things Czech (last time in Prague I saw advertisments about
its fcsimile reprint). There is also a nice Web page on him at:
This site also has similar articles on other mathematicians
from Charles University of the time(all in Czech).
Tadeás Hájek z Hájku [Thaddaeus Hagecius ab Hayek, Th. Nemicus]
born 1 Oct 1525 in Prague, died 1 Sep 1600 in Prague,
son of Simon Hajek (died 1551) from an old Prague family.
Nobilitated in 1554 by Ferdinand I, knighted in 1571
by Maximilian I, later made knight of the HRE by Rudolf II.
Had 3 wives, 3 sons and 1 daughter.
1548-49 studied medicin and astronomy in Viena
1550 received BA in Prague and 1551 MA "in artibus"
1554 studied medicine in Bologna and went to Milan the same
year to listen to lectures of Girolamo Cardano but
soon returned to Prague
1555 professor of mathematics at Prague University
1566-1570 served as army doctor in Austria and Hungary
(war with Turkey)
His voluminous writings in Latin were mostly concerned
with astronomy and many regarded him as the greatest
astronomer of his time. Hajek corresponded with many
scientists throughout Europe and was responsible for
bringing Tycho Brache and later Kepler to Prague
(his correspondence with Brache is published).
I believe that his contacts with Dee may have been
the result of their common interest in Euclid and
geometry. In 1557 Hajek published _Oratio de laudibus
geometriae scripta et recitata in academia Pragensi
sub initium lectionis Euclideae XII. Februarii die
(a m. Th. Nemico Haykone ab Hayek) anno MDLVII_.
He also triangulated the area around Prague and
co-authored a map of it (1563, now lost).
Throughout his life he also published numerous
astrological prognostics in Czech and that is
why he was until recently viewed as an "occultist"
rather than a great scientist (which was also
the case with Dee and others).
Another interesting work of his was _Aphorismi
Metoposcopici_ (1561) dealing with divination
and diagnosis by interpreting moles on one's body.
Of special interest in the context of VMs is
his translation of the herbal by Andrew Mathiol
(I am not sure of the original name), with
illustrations of plants.
In 1564 he received the Emperor's priviledge stating
that no astrological prognostication can be
printed in Prague before Hajek sees it.
Finally - and interestingly for VMs - there is a short
statement in _Ottuv slovnik naucny_ that "besides his work,
Hajek eagerly collected manuscripts, especially those
One of the craters of the Moon is named after him in
recognition of his astronomical discoveries.
In 1584, when Dee and Kelley arrived in Prague, Tadeas Hajek
was already almost 60 - a great age at that time - and
of European fame.
It is certainly doubtful he would have produced VMs
himself - but he may have picked it up as a collector.
Stronger arguments are needed, however, as just the facts
that he was a famous astronomer and astrologer, and
that he translated a herbal is too slim foundation
to build on.