Francisco de Melo and the Euclidean Tradition in Portugal

Francisco de Melo - his life and work

Franciscus de Mello, (* Lisbon, 1490; † Évora, 27 April 1536)



Melo studied arts at the University of Lisbon and became a magister. Afterwards, he studied mathematics and theology at the University of Paris from 1514 to 1521. After his return to Portugal he became a teacher of the king’s children. He participated in the Junta de Badajoz-Elvas (1524) and may have been the instigator of a geographic survey of continental Portugal, carried out in 1525. In 1529 Melo became a Counselor of King João III and the Director of the Studium Generale in Lisbon (until 1533). He was appointed Bishop of Goa in January 1533, but died in April 1536, before his departure.

Read more:

  • Suzanne Daveau,
    Um Antigo Mapa Corográfico de Portugal (c.1525): Reconstituição a partir do Códice de Hamburgo
    Lisbon, Centro de Estudos Geográficos, 2010.
  • Luís Miguel Ferreira Santos,
    D. Francisco de Melo. Biografia e escritos
    Universidade de Coimbra, 2007;
  • A. Moreira de Sá,
    "Anotações", in André de Resende, Oração de Sapiência (Oratio Pro Rostris),
    Lisboa, Instituto de Alta Cultura, 1956, p. 106 f.[online]
  • António Ribeiro dos Santos,
    "Memoria da vida e escritos de Don Francisco de Mello", in: Memorias de litteratura da academia das sciencias de Lisboa,
    vol. 7, Lisboan, 1806, p. 237-249 [online]


Known manuscripts of Melo's text on Euclid's Optics and Archimedes' On Floating Bodies

  • ms. COD. 2262, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisboa [online]
  • ms. HS 0767, Stadtarchiv Stralsund, Stralsund [catalogue, search for 'Mello']

Melo's commentaries include three studies in Optics and a small study in Statics:

  • First part: introduction to the theory of vision
    Francisci de Mello de uidendi ratione atque oculorum forma in Euclidis perspectiuam corollarium
    c. 20 folia, 20 propositions, 18 diagrams
  • Second part: a commentary on Euclid's Optics
    Perspectiua Euclidis Cum Francisci de Mello commentariis
    c. 35 folia, 56 propositions, 101 diagrams
  • Third part: a commentary on Euclid's Catoptrics
    Francisci de Mello in Euclidis Megarensis speculariam Commentaria
    about 40 folia, 31 propositions, about 89 diagrams
  • Fourth part a commentary on (pseudo) Archimedes de Incidentibus in humidis
    Archimedis de Incidentibus in humidis cum Francisci de Mello comentariis
    8 folia with 19 diagrams [this part is edited in: Marshall Clagett, Archimedes in the Middle Ages: The Fate of the
    Medieval Archimedes
    , Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1978, volume 3, pp. 146 ss.]

Samples of Melo's 1521 text:

  • Francisci. De Mello. de videndi Ratione atque oculorum forma in Evclidis perspectiuam corollarium. [sample]
  • Euclidis Megarensis Specularia Bartholomeo Zamberto Interprete [sample]
  • Perspectiva. Evclidis. Cvm Francisci.De.Mello. Commentariis [sample]
  • Archimedis de Incidentibus in Humidis cum Francisci de Mello Commentariis [sample]





Updated: 18 January 2014