Erasmus Reinhold (engl.)


Erasmus Reinhold Senior (1511-1533)

  • He was born in Saalfeld on October 22nd, 1511. His father, Johann Reinhold, was first privy secretary of the last abbot in Saalfeld, Georg von Thüna, later both steward of the former Bededictine monastery (which became secular property in 1534) and alderman in the town council of Saalfeld.
  • After attending the Saalfeldian town school Erasmus Reinhold was enrolled at the University Wittenberg for the winter term 1530 to study mathematics.
  • There the academic degree master of science was bestowed on him and in 1536 he got a professorship.
  • In 1540 he became dean of the philosophical faculty and taught based on antique knowledge geometry of Euklid, arithmetics, the science of the circle and Ptolemy’s geography. He was on friendly terms with Philipp Melanchton.
  • The studies in mathematics became the basis of his astronomical research. In 1540 he used the camera obscura for observation for the first time and proved, that the moon’s orbit was not circular, but elliptic.
  • In 1541 he published a manuscript on the horizon; in 1542 a work on the planets by the master of astronomy Georg Purbachwas edited, completed with Reinhold’s remarks and drawings.
  • After decades of research Erasmus Reinhold’s most important work „The Prussian Tables of Coelestrial Motion“ was printed in Tübingen, in which he as a supporter of Copernicanism published calculations of the movement of the planets and the to be expected solar eclipses.
  • In 1549 his results obtained were appreciated by reelecting him dean of the philosophical faculty. In the winter term 1549/50 he was even invested with the duty of the rector.
  • In summer 1552 he returned to Saalfeld in order to recover from physical and private buffets of fate at his parents‘. Here he died on February 1553, aged 42 years.

Erasmus Reinhold Junior (1538-1592)
  • He was born in Wittenberg on January 20th, 1538.
  • At that time his father, Erasmus Reinhold senior, was professor of sciences at the university there and in his parents’home he experienced humanism and got into contact with outstanding scholars of that era, especially with Philipp Melanchton, who, after his father’s death, patronized the talents of the boy und supported his education.
  • In 1555 Erasmus Reinhold junior started studying mathematics, but in 1556 he changed to the studies of medicine, which he continued in Jena in 1558, after already being bestowed with the academic degree of a doctor.
  • After finishing his studies he was employed as a district medical officer in the Upper Palatinate till 1564, then moved to Saalfeld where he worked as a district medical officer, too.
  • Besides his profession he was engaged in astronomy as his father had been. He published the so-called „Practices“or „Almanacs“, calendars for which he used the latest discoveries in the fields of astronomy and astrology.
  • Tycho Brahe, at that time the most famous Danish astronomer,became attentive to him, when Erasmus described a new star, a so-called supernova, in his 1574 calendar. He visited him in Saalfeld.
  • After finishing his work as a physician in the middle of the 1570iesthe local mining became another field of his scientific investigations.
  • With his treatises about surveying and underground surveying which appeared in Erfurt in 1574 he acquired the reputation of an outstanding specialist in the field of mining, so that he was appointed mining supervisor for the mining industry and metallurgical engineering in Saalfeld.
  • In 1575 he decisively participated in drafting the Saalfeldian Mines Act, put new life into gold mining near Reichmannsdorf and in 1585 he invented a new smelting technique for silver mining.
  • Because of his poor health he was dispensed from his function of a mining supervisor in 1578. He died in Rudolstadt on November 30th, 1592.

Heidi Walther