Govaert Wendelen (Vendelinus)
Sketch of the moon with handwritten annotations, s.d.
State Archives in Liège, archival holding of the Mercy-Argenteau family, documents of the astronomer and humanist Govaert Wendelen,
©National Archives 4065, folio 432


Govaert Wendelen (Vendelinus) was born in Herk-de-Stad in June 1580. At the time, Herk-de-Stad was part of the county Looz and the principality of Liège.
Vendelinus studied at the Jesuit College of Tournai and at the University of Leuven. In 1611, he earned a doctorate “in utroque jure” from the University of Orange.
He became priest at Geetbets (1620-1633) and later at Herk-de-Stad (1633-1650). Meanwhile, he was also appointed capitular of Condé. In 1648, he was appointed as head of the ecclesiastical tribunal of Tournai. Two years later he was given a canonicat and half a prepend (eccelesiastical revenues) from the cathedral of Tournai. Vendelinus died in Ghent in 1667.

Humanist and astronomer Vendelinus tested Kepler’s laws with regard to Jupiter satellites and calculated the parallax of the sun.
In Tournai, he published a study about comets entitled “Teratologia cometica” in which he defends heliocentric astronomy.

His records are conserved at the State Archives in Liège in the Fonds Mercy-Argenteau and comprise three folders. They contain handwritten letters, numerous calculations of astronomical or purely mathematical nature, notes (in Latin or Greek) and documents (diplomas, nominations, etc.).

The volume on display (no. 4065) contains notes, schemes (among others parts of the Tables atlantiques – tables with astronomical laws he finished writing in 1662), data from astronomical surveys for the years 1643 to 1653, and his manuscript about lunar eclipses titled “Eclipses lunares ab anno MDLXXIII ad MDCXLIII observatae” and published in Antwerp in 1644. The binding was made in the modern times, probably from the 18th century.

Other works of Vendelinus conserved at the State Archives in Liège are:
Other works of Vendelinus conserved at the State Archives in Liège are:

  • A “Chronicque tres exacte depuis la Création du monde jusques à la présente année MDCXXXV, du monde 5603”, s.d. [1635],

  • A “Brieve chronicque des choses les plus remarquables depuis l’an 1500 jusques à present”, s.d. [1625] in which he mentions Charles V., Martin Luther, the Council of Trent and the construction of the Willebroek channel;

  • A “Brieve chronicque des choses les plus remarquables qui sont arrivées en ce pays despuis les Troubles jusques à present”, s.d. [1630] ;

  • A short paper on astronomy in Spanish.

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