Henricus Reneri

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Writing by Henricus Reneri

Henricus Reneri or Renerius (1593, Huy – 20 March 1639, Utrecht) was a Dutch [1] philosopher.

Huy Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Huy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege. Huy lies along the river Meuse, at the mouth of the small river Hoyoux. It is in the sillon industriel, the former industrial backbone of Wallonia, home to about two-thirds of the Walloon population. The Huy municipality includes the sub-municipalities of Ben-Ahin, Neuville-sous-Huy, and Tihange.

Utrecht City and municipality in the province of Utrecht, Netherlands

Utrecht is the fourth-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands, capital and most populous city of the province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and in the very centre of mainland Netherlands, and had a population of 345,080 in 2017.



Reneri was born at Huy in the Prince-Bishopric of Liège in 1593. He studied liberal arts at the University of Leuven and attended the Grand Séminaire of Liège. After his conversion to Calvinism in 1616 he went to the Dutch Republic. He studied theology at the Collège Wallon at Leiden, but he broke off his studies in 1621. The following ten years Reneri worked as a private tutor to the children of several Amsterdam merchant-regents, including Adriaan Pauw. In the meantime he studied medicine at Leiden University. In 1631 he found a position as professor of philosophy at the illustrious school of Deventer, the Illustre Gymnasium. From 1634 he held the same chair at the newly founded illustrious school of Utrecht, which was raised to the status of university in 1636. He died only three years later, at the age of 46.

Prince-Bishopric of Liège ecclesiastic state of the Holy Roman Empire

The Prince-Bishopric of Liège or Principality of Liège was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries, situated for the most part in present Belgium, which was ruled by the Bishop of Liège. As a prince, the Bishop held an Imperial Estate and had seat and voice at the Imperial Diet. The Prince-Bishopric of Liège should not be confused with the Bishop's diocese of Liège, which was larger.

Old University of Leuven Studium Generale Lovaniense

The Old University of Leuven is the name historians give to the university, or studium generale, founded in Leuven, Brabant, in 1425. The university was closed in 1797, a week after the cession to the French Republic of the Austrian Netherlands and the principality of Liège by the Treaty of Campo Formio.

Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to server as clergy, in academics, or in Christian ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions.

Reneri mainly taught scholastic logic and natural philosophy. Apart from his professorship, he worked on a method of his own in the Ramist tradition. This method met especially with much enthusiasm within the Hartlib circle, the European network around the English pansophist Samuel Hartlib. Furthermore, Reneri was engaged in experiments and inventions in the fields of optics, thermometers, water clocks, alchemy and natural magic.

Second scholasticism

Second scholasticism is the period of revival of scholastic system of philosophy and theology, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The scientific culture of second scholasticism surpassed its medieval source (Scholasticism) in the number of its proponents, the breadth of its scope, the analytical complexity, sense of historical and literary criticism, and the volume of editorial production, most of which remains hitherto little explored.

Samuel Hartlib or Hartlieb was a polymath of German origin who settled, married and died in England. He was an active promoter and expert writer in many fields, interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics, and education. He was a contemporary of Robert Boyle, whom he knew well, and a neighbour of Samuel Pepys in Axe Yard, London, in the early 1660s. He studied briefly at the University of Cambridge upon arriving in England.

Alchemy ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscientific tradition

Alchemy was an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscientific tradition practiced throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, originating in Greco-Roman Egypt in the first few centuries AD. It aims to purify, mature, and perfect certain objects. Common aims were chrysopoeia, the transmutation of "base metals" into "noble metals" ; the creation of an elixir of immortality; the creation of panaceas able to cure any disease; and the development of an alkahest, a universal solvent. The perfection of the human body and soul was thought to permit or result from the alchemical magnum opus and, in the Hellenistic and Western mystery tradition, the achievement of gnosis. In Europe, the creation of a philosopher's stone was variously connected with all of these projects.

Reneri was one of the best friends of René Descartes and an admirer of his philosophy. They met during the winter of 1628-1629 and Descartes followed Reneri to Deventer and Utrecht. Reneri is reported to have read the Discours de la Méthode and the accompanying Essais (including La Géométrie) publicly in his classes. [2] Nevertheless, Reneri is not to be regarded as a Cartesian philosopher, since his works show little Cartesian influences. [3]

René Descartes 17th-century French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. He is generally considered one of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age.

<i>Discourse on the Method</i> book by Descartes

Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences is a philosophical and autobiographical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. It is best known as the source of the famous quotation "Je pense, donc je suis", which occurs in Part IV of the work. A similar argument, without this precise wording, is found in Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), and a Latin version of the same statement Cogito, ergo sum is found in Principles of Philosophy (1644).

<i>La Géométrie</i> mathematical appendix to Descartes Discourse on Method, published in 1637

La Géométrie was published in 1637 as an appendix to Discours de la méthode, written by René Descartes. In the Discourse, he presents his method for obtaining clarity on any subject. La Géométrie and two other appendices, also by Descartes, La Dioptrique (Optics) and Les Météores (Meteorology), were published with the Discourse to give examples of the kinds of successes he had achieved following his method.

What survives are an inaugural address, several disputations which were presided by him, and a correspondence of more than sixty letters with leading scholars, philosophers, theologians, diplomats and poets from the Republic and abroad, such as André Rivet, Constantijn Huygens, Pierre Gassendi and Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft.

André Rivet French theologian

André Rivet was a French Huguenot theologian.

Constantijn Huygens Dutch poet and composer

Sir Constantijn Huygens, Lord of Zuilichem, was a Dutch Golden Age poet and composer. He was secretary to two Princes of Orange: Frederick Henry and William II, and the father of the scientist Christiaan Huygens.

Pierre Gassendi French philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, priest, and scientist

Pierre Gassendi was a French philosopher, priest, astronomer, and mathematician. While he held a church position in south-east France, he also spent much time in Paris, where he was a leader of a group of free-thinking intellectuals. He was also an active observational scientist, publishing the first data on the transit of Mercury in 1631. The lunar crater Gassendi is named after him.



  1. Reneri was born at Huy in the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, but half of his life he lived in the Dutch Republic. Furthermore, he is included in The Dictionary of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Dutch Philosophers. Bristol: Thoemmes Press, pp. 824–826.
  2. Letter from Claude Saumaise to Ismaël Boulliau, 7 March 1638. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery. ed. (1996). Oeuvres de Descartes. Paris: Vrin, vol. 10, p. 557.
  3. Ferdinand Sassen. (1941). Henricus Renerius, de eerste "Cartesiaanse" hoogleraar te Utrecht. Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandse Uitgeversmaatschappij; Robin Buning (2010). "An Unknown Letter From Henricus Reneri to Constantijn Huygens on the Thermometer and the Camera Obscura" In Lias 37:1, p. 99.

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