P. Gaspar Schottus, 1657


P. Gaspar Schottus, 1657

Gaspar Schottus (1608-1666) was born in Bad Königshofen, in German Bavaria, and was a Jesuit trained in hemathematical physics. At the age of 19, Schottus entered the Society of Jesus, a religious order of the Catholic Church, and studied philosophy at the University of Würzburg, Germany. In 1631, Würzburg was invaded by the Swedes, and Schottus moved initially to the Jesuit seminary in Tournai, Belgium, and later to Italy, specifically Sicily, where he continued to study theology. In 1637 he became a priest and taught for fifteen years as a teacher in Jesuit colleges in Italy. In 1652 he began working as assistant to the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher in Rome until 1655, when he was transferred to Würzburg to become professor of mathematics in Augsburg. Schottus published many books on various subjects, such as mechanics and cosmology, and edited several of Kircher's books. While in Augsburg he was asked by Otto Von Guericke, a German scientist and inventor, to describe Otto's experiment, the Magdeburg hemispheres, and his sketch was used for centuries in physics books.

One of Schottus’s most famous work was Mechanicahydraulico-pneumatica, published in Latin in 1657 in Augsburg, Germany. This treatise on hydraulics contains some of the earliest analyses of vacuum, including Guericke's experiments and mechanical devices driven by water or wind. It is divided into two sections. The first part is theoretical and contains four introductions (propositio). The second part is practical (declaratio) and contains explanations on machines that are made by expulsion force, hourglass, new polyphony sources, Antlia constellation pneumatics machine, and much more.

A representation of Schottus work can be seen in a tile work at University of Evóra, Portugal. The tiles represent the experiment of the Magdeburg hemispheres (on vacuum) carried out in 1654 by Otto von Guericke and explained by Gaspar Schottus at Mechanicahydraulico-pneumatica.

The treatise can be found at the National Library of Portugal (BNP) in Lisbon, the Public Library of Braga in Portugal, the National Library of Spain (BNE) and at the University of Valencia in Spain.

Editions & translations

The book was first published in 1657 in Augsburg, Germany, and was written in Latin.


[1] Rota, D. (n.d.). "Kircheri vestigijs insistens" Caspar Schott e la "Magia acustica".

[2] Unverzagt, D. (2000). Philosophia, historia, technica. Berlin:

[3] DOI 10.1007/s10202-011-0090-1