Welcome to my web site.
I am a historian of science working at the Centro Interuniversitário de História das Ciências e da Tecnologia, at the University of Lisbon (CIUHCT-UL), and I teach at the Master Program in the History and Philosophy of Science.

Here you'll find information on my research, my papers, books and other topics. I have a number of ongoing projects with students and collaborators and will post some information here.

Research that's keeping me busy:

The edition of Pedro Nunes's Works (Obras de Pedro Nunes), by the Lisbon Academy of Sciences and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is still my most absorbing project. The first six volumes are published: that is, ALL printed works by Pedro Nunes are now available in a modern, annotated edition. They can be bought at the Bookshop of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The volume on Nunes' manuscripts (vol. VII) is nearly completed; it should be ready in a couple of months. I am already working hard on vol. VIII (biographical materials and documents). See here for updated information.

I am working with Bernardo Mota on the edition of Francisco de Melo's mathematical works: Francisco de Melo: Obras Matemáticas. Melo (ca. 1490-1536) was a fine mathematician, perhaps the best Portuguese mathematician in the generation before Pedro Nunes. Volume I [Latin text and translation] is already published. We are now working on volume II [Commentary and studies], which we plan to publish in 2016. See here for more information.

Luana Giurgevich and I have been engaged for some years on a major research about old libraries in Portugal. Our initial objective was to study the circulation of scientific books in Portugal but we soon realized that a broader approach was necessary. We ended up examining in detail the contents of hundreds of old libraries - Luana's archival research has been truly outstanding. Our book - Clavis Bibliothecarum: Catálogos e Inventários de Livrarias de Instituições Religiosas em Portugal até 1834 - an exhaustive list of nearly 1.000 catalogues of ancient libraries plus related documents, is scheduled to appear in 2015.

Together with Thomas Horst (a post-doctoral researcher at our group) I have been investigating the circulation of scientific and technological knowledge between Portugal and Germany in the early modern period. The topic is not completely new, of course, but we are working with new documents, in particular an important and recently re-discovered manuscript by Leonard Thurneysser (1513-1595/6) written while at the house of the famous Portuguese humanist Damião de Góis. Prof. Bernardo Herold is also working with us and we are collaborating with the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

My work with Joaquim Gaspar (a brilliant expert on cartometry at our group) is now published in two papers: Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Henrique Leitão, "Squaring the Circle: How Mercator constructed his Projection in 1569", Imago Mundi, 66 (2014) 1-24, and Henrique Leitão and Joaquim Alves Gaspar, "Globes, rhumb tables and the pre-history of the Mercator projection", Imago Mundi, 66 (2014) 180-195. Joaquim and I are now looking in detail into other maps and will publish more in the near future.

Rui Magone (in Berlin) is one of my best friends and an expert sinologist. I am working with him on the edition of the Tianwenlüe 天问略 [Epitome of Questions on the Heavens], a very important astronomical text written in China in 1614/15 by the Portuguese Manuel Dias. The text contains the first report of Galileo's telescopic discoveries (of 1609-1611) to appear in Chinese. You can check the blog where we discuss our progress. See here for more information.

Together with Samuel Gessner (a former post-doctoral researcher at our group, presently a collaborator) I have been studying the mathematical/scientific imagery in eighteenth-century glazed tiles (azulejos) in Portugal. Some of our research has already been published in two papers and more will appear soon. See: Henrique Leitão and Samuel Gessner, "Euclid in tiles: the mathematical azulejos of the Jesuit college in Coimbra", Mathematische Semesterberichte, 61.1 (2014) 1-5; and Samuel Gessner and Henrique Leitão, «Una tribus ratio : Ikonographie der Wissensvermittlung und Selbstdarstellung der Jesuiten im Thesensaal des Kollegs in Lissabon», Mathematische Semesterberichte, 62 (2015) 1-6. 

Francisco Romeiras and I are editing the Obra Selecta do P. Luís Archer, S.J., to be published by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. This will be a 4-vol. publication of the work of this celebrated geneticist and expert in bioethics. The first volume is ready and will be presented at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Oct. 8.

Translation of ancient scientific texts: with a group of colleagues (Bernardo Mota, Armando Martins, Samuel Gessner, Carlos Sá, Helena Avelar, Joaquim Gaspar), I have been working on the translation of Latin scientific texts. See here for more details.


I am at the «Editorial Board» of HoST: Journal of History of Science and Technology. Be sure to check the latest issue.

I am at the «Consejo Asesor» de Asclepio, Revista de Historia de la Medicina y de la Ciencia.

I am at the «Editorial Advisory Board» of LIAS -Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture and its Sources.
Take a look at it.

Member of the «Conselho de Redacção» of Revista Brotéria.

8 October 2015. New Book!
Presentation of vol. I: "História e Filosofia da Ciência", of Obra Selecta do P. Luís Archer S.J., edited by Francisco Malta Romeiras and Henrique Leitão (Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2015). 

11 September 2015: The exhibition "360º - Science Discovered" (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2013) won one more prize: Prémio Pádua Ramos de design de interiores (Secretaria de Estado da Cultura / Ministério da Economia) was attributed to Mariano Piçarra, who led the team in charge of the exhibition's design. 

April 2015. Now in print: Samuel Gessner und Henrique Leitão, «Una tribus ratio : Ikonographie der Wissensvermittlung und Selbstdarstellung der Jesuiten im Thesensaal des Kollegs in Lissabon», Mathematische Semesterberichte, 62 (2015) 1-6.

12 March 2015:
Bernardo Mota and Henrique Leitão, Francisco de Melo: Obras Matemáticas. [vol. I: Texto Latino e Tradução] (Lisboa: Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, 2014) 506 pp [ISBN: 978-972-9376-31-3]. 

22 December 2014. My research Unit (CIUHCT), led by Ana Simões, was one of the 11 research units in Portugal that got the rate of "Exceptional" (25/25) in the international evaluation process commissioned by the Portuguese agency FCT and carried out by the European Science Foundation (ESF). I am absolutely delighted. [FCT site with national results].

12 December 2014. The exhibition "360º - Science Discovered" that took place at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2013 received two prizes of the "Associação Portuguesa de Museologia" (APOM): the prize "Best Exhibition", and the prize "Best museography". I was the Curator of the exhibition, but here are some of the names of the superb team I was privileged to work with and that really deserve it: Francisca Moura, Mariano Piçarra, Teresa Carvalho, Luís Moreira, Joana Nascimento, and many others. 

12 December 2014. I was awarded the Prémio Pessoa 2014. It is an immense honor and an even greater responsibility.  

Recent and next speaking engagements:

13 July. [with Joaquim Alves Gaspar], "Revisiting Mercator’s world map of 1569. An assessment of navigational accuracy", paper at the 26th International Conference on the History of Cartography, Antwerp. 

4 September. "Geometria e óptica no trabalho de Francisco de Melo (ca. 1490-1536), plenary session at the Escola de Verão 2015 - SPM, Aveiro.

26 September. "O De revolutionibus: Sobre as revoluções das esferas celeste, de Nicolau Copérnico", public lecture at the series: “Um objecto e seus discursos”, Biblioteca Pública Municipal do Porto. 

21 October. Opening lecture at the 12º Congresso BAD [Bibliotecários. Arquivistas. Documentalistas], Teatro Garcia de Resende, Évora.

31 October. Plenary lecture at CiEMeLP 2015, Coimbra.

5 November. "Que história é a História da Ciência", seminar at the series "Novas Perspectivas em História Moderna", ISCTE, Lisboa.

18 November. Presentation of the book: The Global City: On the Streets of Renaissance Lisbon, ed. by Annemarie Jordan Gschwend and K. J. P. Lowe (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2015), at Michael Backman Ltd, London.

Subpages (1): Old Stuff