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, will be presented on March 3 at the National Library, Lisbon.

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 (1531-1596) 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 was published on Oct. 8. Vol. II will be published in a few months.

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.

3 March 2016. New book
Luana Giurgevich e Henrique Leitão, Clavis Bibliothecarum: Catálogos e Inventários de Livrarias de Instituições Religiosas em Portugal até 1834 (Lisboa: Secretariado Nacional para os Bens Culturais da Igreja, 2016). Book presentation at Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisbon, 18h00.

14 December 2015.
Bernardo Mota and I were awarded the Prémio de Tradução Científica e Técnica em Língua Portuguesa 2015 (FCT-FLUL) for our book: Obras Matemáticas de Francisco de Melo. See also the news at the Biblioteca Nacional site. This is great news !

19 October 2015. Colloquium: Relembrando Abraão Zacuto (1452-1515) nos 500 anos da sua morte. Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa, sala 5.2.

8 October 2015.
Francisco Malta Romeiras e Henrique Leitão (eds.), Obra Selecta do P. Luís Archer S.J.vol. I: História e Filosofia da Ciência (Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2015) 474 pp. ISBN: 978-972-31-1566-6 

Book presented during the Colloquium: "Da Genética à Bioética: A vida e obra do P. Luís Archer (1926-2011)", Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisboa.

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 e 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].

Recent and next speaking engagements:

12 January: "Cultura Artesanal e viagens oceânicas: as práticas que modificaram os saberes do século XVI", Invited lecture at Academia de Marinha, Lisboa.

Subpages (1): Old Stuff