17th Century Intellectuals & Academics

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Find out more about the greatest 17th Century Intellectuals & Academics, including John Locke, Voltaire, René Déscartes, Thomas Hobbes and Francis Bacon.
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 1 
John Locke
(English Philosopher and Physician, Popularly Known as the ‘Father of Liberalism’)
John Locke
12
Birthdate: August 29, 1632
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wrington, Somerset, England
Died: October 28, 1704
John Locke, also known as The Father of Liberalism, was a prominent Enlightenment Age philosopher. A qualified physician, Locke postulated the theory of mind, empiricism, and the idea of tabula rasa. His ideas influenced the social contract theory, the works of Kant and Rousseau, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
 2 
René Déscartes
(French Philosopher, Mathematician and Inventor of ‘Analytic Geometry’)
René Déscartes
7
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Descartes, France
Died: February 11, 1650
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the Cartesian coordinate system being named after him. His Meditations on First Philosophy is still taught at many universities.
 3 
Francis Bacon
(Philosopher, Statesman and Lord High Chancellor of England)
Francis Bacon
10
Birthdate: January 22, 1561
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Strand, London, England
Died: April 9, 1626

Francis Bacon was a Renaissance philosopher and author who was known as the Father of Empiricism, because of his belief in the scientific method and theory that scientific knowledge can only be created through inductive reasoning and experience. He was later knighted and served as the first Queen's counsel.

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 4 
Thomas Hobbes
(English Philosopher and One of the Founders of Modern Political Philosophy)
Thomas Hobbes
11
Birthdate: April 5, 1588
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Westport, Wiltshire, England
Died: December 4, 1679

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher. Widely regarded as the co-founder of modern political philosophy, Hobbes is best known for his influential book Leviathan. Apart from political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes also contributed immensely to various other fields, such as ethics, theology, geometry, history, and jurisprudence.

 5 
Blaise Pascal
(One of the Greatest Mathematicians of All Time Who Invented the Mechanical Calculator)
Blaise Pascal
6
Birthdate: June 19, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand, France
Died: August 19, 1662

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. A child prodigy, Pascal's work on projective geometry, at the age of 16 is commendable. He is one of the earliest inventors of the mechanical calculator, which he did when he was still a teenager. His work on probability theory influenced the development of social science and modern economics.

 6 
Baruch Spinoza
(One of the Most Important Philosophers of the Early Modern Period)
Baruch Spinoza
6
Birthdate: November 24, 1632
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: February 21, 1677
Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza is best remembered for his rationalist ideas and his posthumously released book Ethics. He opposed Rene Descartes’s ideas and believed that God was an abstract entity. He was later expelled from the Jewish society, while his books were banned by the Catholic Church.
 7 
George Berkeley
(philosopher)
George Berkeley
4
Birthdate: March 12, 1685
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: County Kilkenny, Ireland
Died: January 14, 1753

George Berkeley was an Anglo-Irish philosopher who is credited with popularizing a theory called immaterialism, which claims that material substance like tables and chairs can't exist without being perceived by the mind. Berkeley influenced several philosophers like David Hume. Also remembered for his humanitarian work, George Berkeley worked towards creating homes for abandoned children in London.

 8 
Miyamoto Musashi
(Japanese Swordsman and Philosopher Who Became Popular Through His Unique Double-Bladed Swordsmanship)
Miyamoto Musashi
4
Birthdate: 1584 AD
Birthplace: Harima Province, Japan
Died: June 13, 1645

Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, writer, strategist, and philosopher. Widely regarded as a Kensei, Musashi became famous through his stories of bravery, which involves his undefeated streak of 61 duels. He is also credited with founding the Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship. His life has inspired several films, TV series, stage plays, and video games.

 9 
Gottfried W. Leibniz
(German Mathematician Who Developed the Present Day Notation for the Differential and Integral Calculus)
Gottfried W. Leibniz
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1646
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: November 14, 1716
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a significant logician, mathematician, and philosopher of the Enlightenment era. He laid down his own concepts of differential and integral calculus. He was behind the invention of the mass-produced mechanical calculator and modified the binary number system. He also laid down a separate library cataloging system.
 10 
Robert Hooke
(Philosopher)
Robert Hooke
7
Birthdate: July 28, 1635
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Died: March 3, 1703

Scientist Robert Hooke, also called England's Leonardo, initially gained recognition as an architect, conducting surveys following the Great Fire of London. He also taught geometry and was part of the Royal Society. He assisted Robert Boyle and eventually developed his own microscope, thus becoming the first to visualize micro-organisms.

 11 
John Dee
(Mathematician, Philosopher)
John Dee
4
Birthdate: July 13, 1527
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tower Ward, London
Died: February 29, 1609

Anglo-Welsh mathematician, occultist, astronomer, teacher, astrologer and alchemist John Dee is best-remembered as advisor to Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Dee coined the term British Empire and advocated its formation by founding of English colonies in the New World. He had one of the largest libraries in England at the time and wrote on astrology, geography, trigonometry, navigation and calendar reform.

 12 
Robert Boyle
(Founder of Modern Chemistry, Boyle's Law)
Robert Boyle
4
Birthdate: January 25, 1627
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ireland
Died: December 30, 1691

Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish chemist, natural philosopher, inventor, and physicist. Regarded as the first modern chemist, Boyle is often counted among the founders of modern chemistry. One of the pioneers of the scientific method, Robert Boyle is also remembered for his books, including The Sceptical Chymist, which is viewed as a keystone book in chemistry.

 13 
Juana Inés de la Cruz
(Mexican Writer, Philosopher, Composer and Poet of the 'Baroque Period')
Juana Inés de la Cruz
5
Birthdate: November 12, 1648
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tepetlixpa, Mexico
Died: April 17, 1695

Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz was one of the finest authors of the Latin American colonial era. Initially the lady-in-waiting of Mexico’s viceroy, she later took her vows. She built a huge library and penned masterpieces such as the poem Primero sueño and the religious drama El divino Narciso.

 14 
Roger Williams
(Theologian)
Roger Williams
4
Birthdate: December 12, 1603
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1683 AD

Roger Williams was a 17th-century Puritan minister and theologian. He founded Providence Plantations, which later became the US state of Rhode Island. He advocated for fair dealings with Native Americans and believed in religious freedom. He disapproved of perpetual chattel slavery. After being expelled by the Puritan leaders, he founded the First Baptist Church in America. 

 15 
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
(Economist, Politician)
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
4
Birthdate: August 29, 1619
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Reims
Died: September 6, 1683

Born into a merchant family in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert grew up to hold various administrative posts. Patronized by Cardinal Mazarin, he became affluent and later became one of the most efficient administrators during the regime of Louis XIV. He also established the French merchant navy.

 16 
Hugo Grotius
(Dutch Lawyer, Philosopher and Diplomat Known for His Significant Philosophical Contributions to the Field of International Law)
Hugo Grotius
4
Birthdate: April 10, 1583
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Delft, Netherlands
Died: August 28, 1645

Best known for his iconic book De jure belli ac pacis, or The Rights of War and Peace, Hugo Grotius was a Dutch humanist and author, who had also been a jurist. Due to his involvement in the Calvinist debate, he was exiled to France, where he penned most of his significant works.

 17 
Richard Baxter
(British Puritan Church Leader, Poet, Hymnodist, Theologian, and Controversialist)
Richard Baxter
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1615
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rowton, Shropshire, England
Died: December 8, 1691

Richard Baxter was an English poet, theologian, hymnodist, controversialist, and Puritan church leader. He was one of the most influential and important leaders of the Nonconformists. Today, he is commemorated in the Church of England with a feast day on 14 June.

 18 
John Amos Comenius
(Czech Philosopher and Pedagogue Regarded as the 'Father of Modern Education')
John Amos Comenius
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1592
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nivnice, Moravia, Czech Republic
Died: November 15, 1670

John Amos Comenius was a Czech philosopher, theologian, and pedagogue. Regarded as the father of modern education, Comenius is credited with introducing many educational concepts and innovations such as education for women, equal opportunity for poor children, and universal and practical instruction among other innovations. He also led schools and served as an adviser for governments across Protestant Europe.

 19 
Giambattista Vico
(Italian Philosopher Best Known for His 'Verum Factum' Principle)
Giambattista Vico
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1668
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
Died: January 23, 1744

Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico is regarded as a pioneer of what is now known as cultural anthropology, or ethnology. He brought together history and the social sciences in his work Scienza nuova. A poor bookseller’s son, he studied by candlelight but grew up to be a major Counter-Enlightenment figure.

 20 
Richard Hooker
(Theologian)
Richard Hooker
3
Birthdate: March 25, 1554
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Heavitree, England
Died: November 3, 1600
 21 
Jakob Böhme
(German Philosopher and Theologian)
Jakob Böhme
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1575
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stary Zawidów, Poland
Died: November 17, 1624

German mystic and philosopher Jakob Böhme is best remembered for his works such as On the Election of Grace and Mysterium Magnum. While he was initially a shoemaker’s apprentice, he later focused on studies on mysticism and free will. He inspired both German idealism and romanticism greatly.

 22 
William Brewster
(English Pilgrim Who Arrived in America in 'Mayflower' Ship in 1620 and Became Leader of the Plymouth Colony)
William Brewster
4
Birthdate: 1566 AD
Birthplace: Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England
Died: April 10, 1644

William Brewster was an English official. He was among the passengers that traveled in Mayflower from England to the New World. When the ship landed at Plymouth Colony, William Brewster was accepted as the senior elder and hence became the religious leader of the colony. Eventually, he ended up serving as an adviser to Governor William Bradford.

 23 
Isaac Watts
(Theologian)
Isaac Watts
3
Birthdate: July 17, 1674
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Southampton, Kingdom of England
Died: November 25, 1748
 24 
Hans Sloane
(Physician, Naturalist and 13th President of the Royal Society (1727 - 1741))
Hans Sloane
3
Birthdate: April 16, 1660
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Killyleagh, Ireland
Died: January 11, 1753

British doctor Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica as a personal physician of the 2nd duke of Albermarle and was soon engrossed in the natural species of the region. He documented his collections, and they eventually helped form the British Museum. He is also known as the inventor of drinking chocolate.

 25 
Maria Sibylla Merian
(German-Born Dutch Naturalist and Scientific Illustrator Known for Her Contribution to 'Entomology')
Maria Sibylla Merian
3
Birthdate: April 2, 1647
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Free City of Frankfurt, German
Died: January 13, 1717

German-born Dutch naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian is remembered for her drawings of insects and plants. She also contributed to the development of entomology through her detailed work on insects and her documentation of a butterfly’s metamorphosis. Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium is her best-known work.

 26 
Jakob Ammann
(Tailor)
Jakob Ammann
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1644
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Erlenbach im Simmental
Died: April 22, 2017

Swiss Elder Jakob Ammann gave rise to what is now known as the Amish branch of Anabaptism. While he had initially joined the Anabaptist movement, Ammann, a hard-liner, later branched out because of his belief in the strict doctrines of Anabaptism, such as social avoidance.

 27 
John Law
(economist, banker, statistician)
John Law
3
Birthdate: April 21, 1671
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: March 21, 1729

John Law was a Scottish economist best remembered for his work as Controller General of Finances under the Regent of the Kingdom of France, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. Law is credited with founding Banque Générale Privée, the first financial organization to pioneer the use of paper money. Law is also credited with originating ideas like the real bills doctrine.

 28 
Athanasius Kircher
(German Jesuit Scholar and Polymath Known for His Work in the Fields of Comparative Religion, Geology, and Medicine)
Athanasius Kircher
3
Birthdate: May 2, 1602
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Geisa, Germany
Died: November 28, 1680

Known as the last Renaissance man, Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit priest who taught at the Roman College for 4 decades. He was also obsessed with Sinology and Egyptology, and studied everything from fossils to microbes. He was also interested in medicine and invented machines such as the magnetic clock.

 29 
William Laud
(Archbishop of Canterbury (1633–1645))
William Laud
3
Birthdate: October 7, 1573
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Reading, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom
Died: January 10, 1645
 30 
Robert Bellarmine
(Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church)
Robert Bellarmine
3
Birthdate: October 4, 1542
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montepulciano, Italy
Died: September 17, 1621

Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit and cardinal of the Catholic Church. One of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation, he has been named a Doctor of the Church. He has also been canonized as a saint. He was a  professor of theology at the Roman College and later became its rector. He became Archbishop of Capua in 1602. 

 31 
Elena Cornaro Piscopia
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1646
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: July 26, 1684
 32 
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
(philosopher, scientist, poet, science fiction writer)
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
3
Birthdate: 1623 AD
Birthplace: Colchester, England
Died: December 15, 1673

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish was an English poet, philosopher, playwright, fiction writer, and scientist. Margaret, who had the audacity to publish her works without using a pen name at a time when female writers remained anonymous, was ahead of her time. Not surprisingly, she was considered eccentric and earned the nickname Mad Madge. Her works gained popularity in the 1980s.

 33 
Matthew Henry
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1662
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Flintshire, Wales
Died: June 22, 1714

Born in Wales, to a Church of England cleric who had been ejected by the Act of Uniformity, Matthew Henry grew up to be a Nonconformist minister. He is best remembered for his iconic work Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, a six-volume commentary on the Bible.

 34 
Nicholas Barbon
(British Economist, Financial Speculator and One of the First Proponents of the Free Market)
Nicholas Barbon
3
Birthdate: 1640 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1698 AD

The son of a preacher, economist Nicholas Barbon actively participated in reconstructing London following the Great Fire of 1666 and then launched his own insurance company, pioneering fire insurance. As an economist, he penned significant works on the free market and division of labor. He was also a qualified doctor.

 35 
Nicolas Malebranche
(Philosopher)
Nicolas Malebranche
3
Birthdate: August 6, 1638
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 13, 1715
 36 
Christian Wolff
(Philosopher)
Christian Wolff
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1679
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: April 9, 1754
 37 
Baltasar Gracian
(Spanish Jesuit and Baroque Prose Writer and Philosopher)
Baltasar Gracian
3
Birthdate: January 8, 1601
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belmonte de Gracián, Spain
Died: December 6, 1658

Spanish baroque author and philosopher Baltasar Gracian was a leading proponent of the conceptismo style. Inspired by his priest uncle, he took Jesuit vows. His notable works include Subtlety and the Art of Genius and the three-part novel The Critick, with the latter written under a pseudonym.

 38 
William Petty
(British Economist, Philosopher and Physician Known for His Methods of Political Arithmetic')
William Petty
3
Birthdate: May 26, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Romsey, Hampshire, England
Died: December 16, 1687

Initially a physician and anatomy professor, William Petty also taught music. However, he later established himself as a noted economist and became famous for his works such as Treatise of Taxes and Contributions. He was a surveyor under Oliver Cromwell and was a pioneer of political arithmetic.

 39 
François Fénelon
(Catholic Archbishop and the Author of 'The Adventures of Telemachus')
François Fénelon
3
Birthdate: August 6, 1651
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sainte-Mondane, France
Died: January 7, 1715

François Fénelon was a French writer, poet, theologian, and Catholic archbishop. He is best remembered for his book The Adventures of Telemachus, which was published in 1699. François Fénelon also served as a tutor of Louis, Duke of Burgundy, guiding the character formation of Louis, Grand Dauphin's eldest son.

 40 
Giambattista della Porta
(Scholar, Polymath)
Giambattista della Porta
3
Birthdate: November 1, 1535
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vico Equense, Italy
Died: February 4, 1615

Giambattista della Porta was an Italian scholar, polymath, and playwright. He was active in Naples at the time of the Scientific Revolution and Reformation in the 16th century. He was knowledgeable in different fields, including occult philosophy, astrology, meteorology, alchemy, mathematics, and natural philosophy. In his later years, he collected rare specimens and grew exotic plants. 

 41 
Jean Meslier
(Priest)
Jean Meslier
3
Birthdate: June 15, 1664
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mazerny, France
Died: June 17, 1729
 42 
Marin Mersenne
(Mathematician)
Marin Mersenne
3
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oizé, France
Died: September 1, 1648
 43 
Francisco Suárez
(Leading Theological and Philosophical Light of Spain’s Golden Age)
Francisco Suárez
3
Birthdate: January 5, 1548
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Granada, Spain
Died: September 25, 1617

Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian Francisco Suárez was born to an affluent lawyer and had initially studied law. However, he joined the Jesuits later, following which he taught philosophy and theology. Known for writing Disputationes Metaphysicae, he was a prime figure of the School of Salamanca movement.

 44 
Pierre Gassendi
(Philosopher, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor, Astrologer)
Pierre Gassendi
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champtercier
Died: October 24, 1655

French Catholic priest and astronomer Pierre Gassendi is remembered for his efforts to reconcile atomism with Christian ideals and for his anti-Aristotelianism. His studies included research on Epicurean philosophy. Apart from observing the transit of Mercury, he also studied the speed of sound and horizontal momentum.

 45 
Tommaso Campanella
(Philosopher Known for His Work 'la Città Del Sole' an Important Early Utopian Work)
Tommaso Campanella
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1568
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stilo, Italy
Died: May 21, 1639

Tommaso Campanella was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, astrologer, and poet. His heterodox views often brought him into conflict with the authorities, and he was imprisoned for several years. In prison, he wrote The City of the Sun, a utopia describing an egalitarian theocratic society. He also defended astronomer Galileo Galilei in his first trial. 

 46 
Antoine Galland
(Archaeologist)
Antoine Galland
3
Birthdate: April 4, 1646
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rollot, France
Died: February 17, 1715
 47 
Elisabeth of the Palatinate
3
Birthdate: December 26, 1618
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Heidelberg, Electorate of the Palatinate
Died: February 11, 1680
 48 
Pierre Bayle
(Philosopher)
Pierre Bayle
3
Birthdate: November 18, 1647
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Carla-Bayle, France
Died: December 28, 1706
 49 
James Prinsep
(Antiquarian)
James Prinsep
3
Birthdate: August 20, 1799
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: County of Essex, England
Died: April 22, 1840
Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
3
Birthdate: September 27, 1627
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: April 12, 1704