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. I am presently Head of the Department for 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.

In the past years I got more and more interested in problems in the history of cartography. I have been doing this work with Joaquim Gaspar. A few years ago we investigated the origins of the Mercator Projection -- and got some remarkable results; more recently we looked into the first charts with visual depictions of magnetic information, namely isogonic lines. Here are some of our papers: Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Henrique Leitão, "Squaring the Circle: How Mercator constructed his Projection in 1569", Imago Mundi, 66 (2014) 1-24; Henrique Leitão and Joaquim Alves Gaspar, "Globes, rhumb tables and the pre-history of the Mercator projection", Imago Mundi, 66 (2014) 180-195; Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Henrique Leitão, "How Mercator Did it in 1569: From Tables of Rhumbs to a Cartographic Projection", Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society, nº99 (March 2016) 44-49. More papers are submitted and will appear later this year. 

I am working with José Madruga Carvalho on the history of the Gregorian Reform of the Calendar in Portugal. The 1582 reform promoted by Pope Gregory XIII is a fascinating but sometimes very technical topic. There is an interesting body of documents on the correspondence between Portuguese astronomers and Roman authorities in the 16th century, but this was never studied in detail. A couple of years ago I traced unknown documents and we are now putting everything together and writing a book that we wish will become a reference work for the Portuguese reader.

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] was published last year and got the most prestigious prize in Portugal for academic translation. We are now working on volume II [Commentary and studies], which we plan to publish in late 2017. See here for more information.

Luana Giurgevich and I have been engaged for some years on a wide 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 needed. We ended up examining in detail the contents of hundreds of old libraries; the result was our recent book: Clavis Bibliothecarum: Catálogos e Inventários de Livrarias de Instituições Religiosas em Portugal até 1834 - an exhaustive list of nearly 1.000 catalogues of ca. 400 ancient libraries plus hundreds of related documents. (This book was awarded a "Menção Honrosa" of the Prize "Lusitania - História", Academia Portuguesa da História, 2016). We are now researching the educational activities around these libraries and these ecclesiastical institutions.


5 February 2018.

I now have an Academia.edu page where you can find my papers, books and other texts. Here:

14 December 2017.

O que é realmente uma carta náutica? -- conference, Joaquim Gaspar e Henrique Leitão, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, 11h30, room 8.2.04

November 2017. New book.

A. J. Barros Veloso (coord.), A. J. Barros Veloso, Luiz Damas Mora, Henrique Leitão (eds.),
Médicos e Sociedade. Para uma História da Medicina em Portugal no século XX
(Lisboa: By the Book, 2017).
863 pp. ISBN: 978-989-8614-56-8

October 2017. New paper and new site.

June 2017
Francisco Malta Romeiras e Henrique Leitão (eds.), Obra Selecta do P. Luís Archer S.J.vol. IV: Bioética, 1998-2007 (Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2017) 599 pp. ISBN: 978-972-31-1566-6

May 2017. Some recent papers:

Henrique Leitão and Antonio Sánchez Martínez, «Zilsel’s thesis, maritime culture, and iberian science in early modern Europe», Journal for the History of Ideas, 78 (2017) 191-210; Thomas Horst, Bernardo Herold e Henrique Leitão, «A “História Natural de Portugal” de Leonhard Thurneysser zum Thurn, ca. 1555-1556», Ágora. Estudos Clássicos em Debate, 19 (2017) 305-334; Henrique Leitão, «A brief note on the power of mathematics: Pedro Nunes and the retrogradation of shadows», in: Jorge Nuno Silva (ed.), Proceedings of Recreational Mathematics Colloquium V - G4G (Lisbon: Ludus, 2017), pp. 45-52; Henrique Leitão and Antonio Sánchez, «Too much to tell: narrative styles of the first descriptions of the natural world of the Indies», History of Science, 55 (2017) 167-186.

December 2016.
Thomas Horst, Marília dos Santos Lopes, Henrique Leitão (eds).,
(Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2017). 245 pp. ISBN: 978-3-631-68113-8.

Recent and next speaking engagements:

15 November. "Temas de história da ciência do século XVI", talk at the Departamento de Física, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

24 November. "Sobre a Reforma gregoriana do calendário em Portugal", at the conference: As Academia em diálogo com a Ciência e a Cultura. O passado e o futuro. Museu do Oriente, Lisboa.

14 December. "O que é realmente uma carta náutica?" -- conference, Joaquim Gaspar e Henrique Leitão, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, 11h30.

Subpages (1): Old Stuff