The Viennese Jesuit court astronomer Maximilian Hell was a key figure in the eighteenth-century circulation of knowledge. He was already famous by the time of his celebrated 1769 expedition for the observation of the transit of Venus in northern Scandinavia. However, the 1773 suppression of his order forced Hell to develop ingenious strategies of accommodation to changing international and domestic circumstances. Through a study of his career in local, regional, imperial, and global contexts, this book sheds new light on the complex relationship between the Enlightenment, Catholicism, administrative and academic reform in the Habsburg monarchy, and the practices and ends of cultivating science in the Republic of Letters around the end of the first era of the Society of Jesus.
Per Pippin Aspaas, PhD, with a thesis on Maximilian Hell (2012), is senior academic librarian at UiT The Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø). With a background in classical philology as well as the history of science, he has published on various branches of early modern science and the uses of neo-Latin.
László Kontler, PhD (1996), is professor of history at Central European University (Budapest/Vienna). He has published on intellectual history, the history of political thought, translation and reception, and scientific knowledge production, including
Translations, Histories, Enlightenments: William Robertson in Germany, 1760–1795 (Palgrave, 2014).
Acknowledgments List of Illustrations Bibliographic Abbreviations Introduction 1 Enlightenment(s)
2 Catholic Enlightenment—Enlightenment Catholicism
3 The Society of Jesus and Jesuit Science
4 What’s in a Life?
Shafts and Stars, Crafts and Sciences: The Making of a Jesuit Astronomer in the Habsburg Provinces 1 A Regional Life World
2 Turbulent Times and an Immigrant Family around the Mines
4 Professor on the Frontier
Metropolitan Lures: Enlightened and Jesuit Networks, and a New Node of Science 1 An Agenda for Astronomic Advance
2 Science in the City and in the World: Hell and the
A New Node of Science in Action: The 1761 Transit of Venus and Hell’s Transition to Fame 1 A Golden Opportunity
2 An Imperial Astronomer’s Network Displayed
3 Lessons Learned
4 “Quonam autem fructu?” Taking Stock
The North Beckons: “A desperate voyage by desperate persons” 1 Scandinavian Self-Assertions
2 The Invitation from Copenhagen: Providence and Rhetoric
3 From Vienna to Vardø
He Came, He Saw, He Conquered? The Expeditio litteraria ad Polum Arcticum 1 A Journey Finished and Yet Unfinished
2 Enigmas of the Northern Sky and Earth
3 On Hungarians and Laplanders
4 Authority Crumbling
“Tahiti and Vardø will be the two columns […]”: Observing Venus and Debating the Parallax 1 Mission Accomplished
2 Accomplishment Contested
3 A Peculiar
Disruption of Old Structures 1 Habsburg Centralization and the De-centering of Hell
2 Critical Publics: Vienna, Hungary
3 Ex-Jesuit Astronomy: Institutions and Trajectories
Coping with Enlightenments 1 Viennese Struggles
2 Redefining the Center
Conclusion: Borders and Crossings
Appendix 1Map of the Austrian Province of the Society of Jesus, with Glossary of Geographic Names Appendix 2Instruction for the Imperial and Royal Astronomer Maximilian Hell, S.J.
Anyone interested in eighteenth-century Central Europe and Scandinavia, in the production and circulation of knowledge in the Enlightenment, in enlightened absolutism, in Catholicism and the Society of Jesus in the eighteenth century, in the history of astronomy and related subjects, and the history of comparative linguistics and its ideological implications.