Traite du mouvement des Eaux et des autres corps fluides

Mariotte, Edme (1686)

Edme Mariotte (1620-1685) was a French priest, physicist, and a founding member of l'Académie des sciences de Paris (1666). The early life of Edme Mariotte is almost unknown. He may have stayed most of his life in Dijon, or he was prior of St Martin sous Beaune. His title of "Sieur de Chazeuil" was probably inherited from his older brother, Jean. From 1654 till 1658 he worked as a physics teacher, but what drew attention from Jean-Baptist Colbert (minister of finances from Louis XIV) to join the Academy was a discussion of Claude Perrault’s theory of the vegetation of plants where the academy asked for both to do more experiments. In 1668, Mariotte published Nouvelle Dé couverte touchant la vue, a treatise dedicated in finding the blind spot of the eye, and in 1670 he moved to Paris to dedicated himself in the activities of the Academy.

Mariotte's interests were among the widest variety: he dealt with solids and fluid mechanics, optics, hydrodynamics, vision, colors, weather forecasting, and published several treatises on these topics. He is most known for the blind spot of the eye, the Boyle-Mariotte's Law (at constant temperature, pression and the volume of the gas are inversely proportional), and his experiments with pendulums (Newton’s pendulum). But his most famous treatise was posthumous: he died 1684 and the Traité du mouviment des eaux et des autres corps fluides was published in 1686 in Paris, in French. A second edition in French was published in 1700, by Philippe de La Hire. In 1723 a third edition was published in Braun and translated to German by Johann Christoph Meinig. Whereas, the first English translation was published in 1680, with the title A treatise of the motion of water and other fluid bodyes, and a German translation appeared in 1723 entitled Des Weyland vortrefflichen Herrn Mariotte. Grund-Lehren Der Hydrostatick.

The Traité du mouviment des eaux et des autres corps fluids is a hydrostatics treatise, divided in five parts. The first one is about properties of fluid bodies, the origins of fountains and the causes of winds; the second is about the balance of fluid bodies; the third, deals with the measurement of running and gushing water; the fourth is about the height of the jets; the last and fifth part is about the water pipe and its resistance.

In the historical context between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Baroque style was emerging in Europe. Among the various treatises available, the works of Edme Mariotte were very important for understanding the movement of water, which was essential in Baroque gardens. In Portugal, some examples of Baroque-style structures can be encountered in the Palace of Queluz, the Palace of Estói, the Garden of the Episcopal Palace in Castelo Branco, the Convent of Santa Cruz do Buçaco and many others.

Mariotte's treatise can be found at the Portuguese National Library (BNP) in Lisbon, the Spanish National Library (BNE), the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), and the University of Barcelona (Spain).

Editions & Translators

  • A further English-language edition was published in 1718 in London by J. Senex at the Globe in Salisbury-Court.
  • A new edition of the French original was published in 1718, in Paris, by Claude-Jombert.


[1] Costabel, P. (1986). Mariotte, savant et philosophe, 1684. Paris: Vrin.

[2] Baigrie, B. (2001). The Renaissance and the scientific revolution (1st ed.). New York: C. Scribner's Sons.

[3] Andrzej G. Pinar A. Edme Mariotte (1620-1684): Pioneiro da Neurofisiologia. Pesquisa de Oftalmologia. Julho-agosto de 2007; 52 (4): 443-451.