Francois Viete


Francois Viete

Francois Viete was born in in the city Fontenay-le-Comte, in
the province of Poitou which is now the province of now Vendée,
in the year 1540.  Viete died in Paris, on February the 23rd in 1603.
Viete’s father worked as a lawyer and a government official.  
Viete’s father was Etienne Viete, as a lawyer worked in Fontenay
France.  He also worked as a notary in Le Busseau.  Viete’s
grandfather worked as a merchant in the town of Foussay in
Lower region of the province Poitou.  Viète’s mother was the first cousin to , the President of the Parliament de Paris under the
League, Barnabé Brisson.  He did his first studies of law in his
home town of Fontenay, in 1555, before moving on to study at
the University of Poitiers where he later earned his
bachelors degree in 1560, at that time he also got his  law
practicing license.  Francios Viete was a Catholic but since he served Huguenot clients his enemies had him banished from court, and from mathematical work from  between 1584 and 1589.    Another reason for his banishment from court and mathematical studies, especially his ideas on algebra was political intrigue.  
The first scientific work he ever did is from this time period, which involved things that would occupy him for the rest of his life,  most of the work he did do was in math.  In 1571 Viète published his books, Canon mathematicus, seu ad triangula cum appendicibus, which is Mathematical Canon with an Appendix on Trigonometry.  He wanted to use this to form a preliminary mathematical piece of a study on the Ptolemaic
astronomical model.  In 1595 he started writing to and
receiving letters from Adrianus Romanus about a problem he
noticed in 1593.  Adrianus liked Viete’s solution so much for the
45th degree equation that Adrianus went to Fontenay to meet
Viete.  After going home to Fontenay from  the University he
worked for Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1561, Marie Stuart in 1564,
the Queen of Navarre, and Henri de Bourbon.  After working as a lawyer from 1560 through 1564 as a lawyer, Francois Viete quit working  as a  lawyer.  In 1564 he acquired the position of secretaire particulier to Antoinette d'Aubeterre, and was also given the responsibility to tutor her daughter, Catherine de Parthenay.  Francios Viete’s service to Catherine's family bought him to La Rochelle  ,France, and then to Paris.  Viète became a friend of Catherine during the time he spent tutoring her, and he became her loyal and trusted adviser for the rest of his life.  Viète was a very serious teacher, he prepared discussions for many different topics one of which was science.
from 1570 to 1573 he worked for the Parliament of Paris.  In 1573 King Charles IX made him counselor of the Parliament of
Brittany, at Rennes.  For six years, from 1574 to 1580, he was
often away on business of King Charles IX who had him do various
tasks.  In 1589 Henry III called Viète back to serve as counselor to the parliament, which Henry had relocated to Tours.  After King Henri III died, Viète worked for King Henri IV in the war with Spain, Francois Viete decoded letters that had been
intercepted.  After that he worked as maitre des requetes and he
was member of Henri's privy council.  Also during that time he was
a member of the Parliament of Paris.  Except for between the
years 1584 and 1589 he was in favor of King Charles IX, King
Henri III, and King Henri IV.

Works Cited

Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Encarta, 96 Encyclopedia, copyright 1993-1995

Grolier Electronic Publishing Inc., copyright 1993

Great Mathematicians, W.  Walsh, Portland, 1980

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