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.

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 needed. We ended up examining in detail the contents of hundreds of old libraries - Luana's archival research has been truly outstanding. The result is 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. 

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 2016. See here for more information.

I am working with José Carvalho on the history of the Gregorian Reform of the Calendar in Portugal. The 1582 reform promoted by Pope Gregory XIII generated many discussions in Europe; this is a fascinating but sometimes very technical topic. There is a considerable body of documents on the correspondence between Portuguese astronomers and Roman authorities in the 16th century, but this was never studied in detail. 

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. In the past months we looked into the first charts with visual depictions of magnetic information, namely isogonic lines. This is a very important topic and we are reaching some startling conclusions. (Our papers on the origin of the Mercator projection: 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.) 


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.

28-30 April 2016. Workshop: Artisanal Knowledge: material and Epistemic Cultures in the History of Science, Faculdade de Ciências, Lisboa. See Complete Program here.

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 atBiblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisbon, 18h00.

More information about the book, Table of Contents, and online orders: here.

1 March 2016. Now in print: 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. 

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.

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.

Recent and next speaking engagements:

15 March: "Entre mathématique et miracle: Pedro Nunes et la retrogradation de l'ombre", invited lecture at the Observatoire de Paris.

1 April. "New worlds and new practices: The epistemological changes in early modern maritime world", Invited talk at the Seminar on Historical Epistemology, Dipartimento di Filosofia, Università degli Studi di Milano.

28 April. "Artisanal knowledge and practices in long distance oceanic voyages", talk at the Workshop Artisanal Knowledge: Material and Epistemic Cultures in the History of Science, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa.

26 May. "Private tastes and collective duties: Maria de Sousa on Science and Scientists", at the session in honour of Professor Maria de Sousa, at the Symposium Landscapes of Lymphocyte Itineraries, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon.

3 June. "Moving beyond borders: from the history of cartography to the history of science", opening lecture at the 2016 ISHMap SymposiumEncounters and Translations: Mapping and Writing the Waters of the World, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisboa.

4 June. Talk [with Joaquim Alves Gaspar], "Luís Teixeira, c. 1585: the earliest known extant chart with isogonic lines", at the 2016 ISHMap Symposium, Encounters and Translations: Mapping and Writing the Waters of the World, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisboa.

15 June. "Práticas Artesanais na História da Ciência", conference at Sociedade Portuguesa de Estudos de História da Construção (SPEHC), Museu de Engenharia Civil, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisboa.

25 June. "Fracções continuadas, antyphairesis, e a matemática do calendário", lecture at Conferência Ludus, Museu de História da Ciência, Lisboa.

28 June. "Demasiado para contar: mundo natural e modos narrativos nos textos ibéricos do século XVI", talk at the Colóquio Literatura e Ciência: Diálogos Multidisciplinares, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Subpages (1): Old Stuff