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Audio notation.  An angry man, a shocking childhood, but the crater of the moon is named after him: this is Wendelin (Herk de Stadt)

Audio notation. An angry man, a shocking childhood, but the crater of the moon is named after him: this is Wendelin (Herk de Stadt)

Herc de Stad

A crater on the moon is named after him. Descartes and Newton were highly regarded by him. Astronomer, scientist, and omniscientist of his era Jovart Wendelin (1580-1667) is the fifth Limburger in our podcast series about The Ten Greatest Limburgers.

Govart Wendelin, aka Godfried, born in Herck de Stadt the son of a mayor, was a bookworm. He was eleven years old when he noticed his first of many lunar eclipses at home in the garden. He was not yet thirteen when he wrote the first Latin verses. His later library as chaplain in rural Geetbets is certainly impressive. The inventory still testifies to this. But with book literacy, he doesn’t make himself famous on Geetbets:Turn off the phone or let it burn. He is as charming as every man knows.

Later portrait of Jovart Wendelin, Limburg scholar and omniscient.

Later portrait of Jovart Wendelin, Limburg scholar and omniscient. © Photo by Justus Sustermans

the earth is moving around the sun

“Thinking is the best activity,” would be his life motto. Wendel’s time is the time of the Counter-Reformation, a time when the Catholic Church retreats from the blows of the Protestant Reformation and to confront or catalog new scientific knowledge that does not conform to what the Bible says. However, after several observations, Wendelen will stick to his position. And precisely with what Copernicus first hypothesized: the sun does not revolve around the earth, the earth revolves around the sun. By the way, this fact, proven by observations, will be the starting signal for modern natural science. If a comet passes in 1652, it will be inside Teratology Cometica Openly defending Copernicus’ controversial position at the time. Now also on paper.

still a priest

However, and this is the great contradiction in his life, Wendelen will become a priest at the age of forty. Does he earn his daily living in an organization that often goes against scientific progress? The motive is also supposed to be physical. Wendelen wants financial security, in part to update his library. His encyclopedic knowledge in many areas will earn him the respect of the greats of his time. It corresponds to Constantijn Huygens, among others. Descartes wrote that Wendelen is one of the few who understand his mathematics. Isaac Newton knows his work and builds on it.

Wendelen will be the first to observe and describe sunspots. First, it will calculate the exact duration of a year except twenty seconds. Contemporaries were shocked when he stated that the distance between the Earth and the Sun is 243 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. “Very large?” In fact, the distance will become greater, that is, 390 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Only Wendelen would not pour many of his discoveries and proposals into a comprehensive physical law. Otherwise, Limberger of Herc de Stadt would have been of the order of Descartes and Newton in the history of science.

Episode 5 in De Tien Grootste Limburgers is about Govaart Wendelen and can be listened to via hbvl.be/podcastvia a QR code or through your favorite podcast app.

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