Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787

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Rudjer Josip Boskovic was a mathematian and natural philosopher. Croation by birth, he spent most of his life in Rome and Milan, but also lived briefly in Paris and London.

From the description of Papers, [ca. 1730-1786]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 173466252

Italian mathematician and natural philosopher.

From the description of Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich papers, 1711-1787. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 84912805

Biographical Information

Rudjer Josip Boscovich, Yugoslavian mathematician and natural philosopher, was born in Dalmatia at Ragusa on May 18, 1711. In 1725, at the age of fifteen, he entered the Society of Jesus, beginning his studies in mathematics and physics at Collegio Romano, the preeminent Jesuit college. After completing his novitiate in 1740, Boscovich was appointed professor of mathematical science at the Collegio where he continued to teach for twenty years, publishing many dissertations on topics such as sunspots, the Aurora Borealis, the effects of gravity, and the transit of Mercury.

He soon became well known all over Europe and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. His prominence as a mathematician earned him commissions from Pope Benedict XIV in 1742 to reinforce the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica and to survey the meridian of the Papal States. It is widely believed that it was due to Boscovich's influence that the same Pope removed Copernicus from the Index of Forbidden Books.

He is credited with developing the first description of atomic theory, which was published in his principal work: Philosophiae Naturalis Theoria redacta ad unicam legem virium in natura existentium, or A Theory of Natural Philosophy Reduced to a Single Law of the Actions Existing in Nature.

Boscovich was appointed chair of mathematics at the University of Pavia in 1764. While still holding this position, he was invited by the Jesuits in Milan to erect an observatory at their college at Brera, where he eventually became director. In 1769 the London Academy offered to send Boscovich to lead an expedition to California to observe the transit of Venus, but the Suppression of the Jesuits by enemies of the church in Europe made this an impossibility.

In 1772, he was invited by King Louis XV to become director of optics for the navy in Paris, a position he held for over ten years. Although he had become a naturalized citizen of France, he returned to Italy in 1783 continuing his scientific and literary work. Boscovich died in Milan in 1787.

From the guide to the Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich papers, 1711-1787, (The Bancroft Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787. Scientific lectures given at the Collegio romano for the academic year 1758-59 : [Rome, Italy?] : ms., 1758-1759. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Giovanni Valentino Mattia Fabbroni papers, ca. 1770s-1875, Circa 1770-1875 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787. Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich papers, 1711-1787. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787. Rudjer Josip Boskovic letters. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Guerlac, Henry. Henry Guerlac papers, 1922-1981. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787. Autograph letter signed : Bassano, to Leonardo Stecchini, 1784 Mar. 5. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787. Papers, [ca. 1730-1786]. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Wellcome Historical Medical Society. Selected letters, 1731-1871, relating to American medicine. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Hill, Elizabeth, 1900-1996. Symposium : Dubrovnik : typescript, signed, 1958. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Letters of scientists, 1655-1973. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787. Document. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
creatorOf Voltaire, 1694-1778. Autograph letter signed : Versailles, to Father Boscovich, 1746 Aug. 21. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Ruggero Giuseppe Boscovich papers, 1711-1787 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Fabbroni, Giovanni Valentino Mattia, 1752-1822. Papers, ca. 1770s-1875. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Boswell's Life of Johnson : including Boswell's Journal of a tour to the Hebrides and Johnson's Diary of a journey into North Wales, edited by George Birkbeck Hill, extra-illustrated, 1464-1897 (inclusive), 1724-1874 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Frisi, Pietro Aloysio,. Phÿsica : a me clerico Petro Aloÿsio Frisi conscripta in Universitate Alexandrina lectore patre D. Maria Copellori ex congnregatione (sic) clericorum regularium D. Paulli adiecto indice propositionum et rerum omnium notabilium locupletissimo. Anno 1756 : manuscript, 1756. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Henry Guerlac papers, 1922-1981 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Boscovich, Ruggero Giuseppe, 1711-1787. Letter, 1774 May 16, Paris [to] Lorenzo Selva, Venice. Loyola University of Chicago, Cudahy Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Beccaria, Giovanni Battista, 1716-1781. person
correspondedWith Boswell, James, 1740-1795 person
associatedWith Collegio romano. corporateBody
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Fabbroni, Giovanni Valentino Mattia, 1752-1822. person
associatedWith Fontana, Felice, 1730-1805. person
associatedWith Frisi, Paolo, 1728-1784. person
associatedWith Frisi, Pietro Aloysio, person
associatedWith Guerlac, Henry. person
associatedWith Henry Guerlac. person
associatedWith Hill, Elizabeth, 1900-1996. person
associatedWith Jesuitica Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith La Condamine, Charles-Marie de, 1701-1774. person
associatedWith Lagrange, J. L. (Joseph Louis), 1736-1813. person
associatedWith Lalande, Joseph Jérôme Le Français de, 1732-1807. person
associatedWith Liesganig, Joseph. person
associatedWith Manuscript Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith Maskelyne, Nevil, 1732-1811. person
associatedWith Morton, Charles, 1716-1799. person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Priestley, Joseph, 1733-1804. person
associatedWith Selva, Lorenzo, ca. 1716-1800. person
associatedWith Stay, Benedetto. person
associatedWith Stecchini, Leonardo, person
associatedWith Voltaire, 1694-1778. person
associatedWith Wellcome Historical Medical Society. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Electricity--Early works to 1850
Physics--Early works to 1800
Optics--Early works to 1800
Manuscripts, Latin--Specimens
Astronomy--Early works to 1800
Hydraulic engineering


Birth 1711-05-18

Death 1787-02-13









Ark ID: w6mg7r57

SNAC ID: 70393741