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Leibniz's "Kepler Project"

by David Shavin
February 2016

This discussion document from August 2014 is posted here as an addendum to ”This Week in History February 8-14, 2016 The Birth of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (1766)”.


*Three hundred years ago, on August 12, 1714, with the death of Queen Anne, the Hanoverian succession organized and arranged by Leibniz was put into play. The succession had been arranged thirteen years earlier. The spectre of Leibniz as the guiding hand, not only of Hanover, but of England, haunted the "Venetian Party" in the City of London, and Montagu's Bank of England. That spectre became a nightmare for these imperialist-wannabe's when Leibniz, by 1712, was placed in parallel positions in Russia and Austria.

*Leibniz's grand strategy for Western civilization included designing a "Kepler project" to boldly redirect the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

*In a certain sense, those developments that came to a head in 1714 significantly shaped the 'Napoleon vs British Empire' matrix of 1814, the world war of 1914... and the strategic showdown of 2014.

* A hint as to new items:

  1. Leibniz's project to publish the collected works of Kepler
  2. The mind of Kepler as an epistemological singularity, and as the cutting edge for taking over the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (This is not dissimilar to Leibniz's crafted design in locating for Peter the Great, Russia's singular role for linking the best of European and Chinese cultures - in terms of Leibniz's "analysis situs" of the political-strategic situation, and his compositional choice.
  3. Behind the synthetic-Newton, we unravel for the first time (aside from Conti) a team of spidery figures: Spanheim, Bonnet and Robethon - leading to Marlborough, Venice, and, generally, the Dutch/'William and Mary'/'Glorious Revolution' crowd.


"Let the book await its reader for a hundred years; God himself has waited six thousand years for his work to be seen."

Johannes Kepler (1618) on his Harmonices Mundi

"A singular fatality seems, indeed, not only to have accompanied that wonderful man through life, but to have attached itself even to his works after death."

Edgar A. Poe (1845) on the fate of Kepler's works



In 1718, one hundred years after Kepler made the bold statement (cited above), the first volume of his Collected Works was published.[FT1] It would be more than another hundred years before the second volume was published. In January, 1712, Leibniz became the Imperial Privy Counsellor to Emperor Charles VI. It was a high point in Leibniz's influence throughout Europe. Previous to this, Leibniz had arranged the succession to the English throne for his Hanoverian patroness, Sophie, and he had an escalating role of strategic consultations with Peter the Great, Czar of Russia. In 1711, he had been appointed a Privy Counsellor to Peter. In Berlin, Sophie's daughter, the Prussian Queen, had already established Leibniz's first national Academy. Now, in 1712, Charles VI was being won over to Leibniz's strategic outlook, and had brought him to Vienna to build the Empire's Academy. Beyond the obvious benefits of promoting scientific inventions, infrastructure development and higher cultural and skill levels, Leibniz would propose to the Emperor that he put an edge on the grand strategy - by publishing the collected manuscripts of Johannes Kepler.

A century earlier, the 'high water' mark of the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been Emperor Rudolph's sponsorship of Kepler's astronomical projects. In 1612, exactly one century prior to Leibniz's 1712 appointment by Emperor Charles VI, Emperor Rudolph had died and Kepler had departed Prague. Kepler's astronomical work had always been a unique study as to how the mind, a relative 'infinitesimal', lawfully unpacks the macro-cosmos, a relative infinite. The honesty of soul necessary to allow one to seriously unpack the Creator's compositional method is, itself, a singularity. It is this that is reflected in Kepler's dialogue with God, with the harmony that he had established with his Maker, and within himself, in his sympathy with the sovereign processes that had created the universe. Kepler knew that he was opening the eyes of mankind to a marvelous creation that had lain hidden for millenia.

Kepler's unique and distinct character is elaborated in those precious manuscripts - manuscripts that include both unpublished scientific works and correspondence... and which had almost been lost in a suspicious fire back in 1679. Leibniz recognized, beyond any correct astronomical model, the singular nature of Kepler's activity, the radical honesty of his soul, and the value of that soul to his projects for the development of civilization to a new transfinite level in its social order. Now, Leibniz was in position to play the Kepler card, in an act of grand strategy.


Here, the story of Leibniz's "Kepler Project" is told through that of the precious manuscripts. However, his "Kepler Project" also included his self-conscious development of Kepler's physical astronomy, best located in his 1688 "Essay on the Cause of the Celestial Motions" (referred to here by the first word in its Latin title, "Tentamen"). Prompted by Newton's 1687 Principia, and its obvious attempt to "Euclidian-ize" Kepler - that is, to do to Kepler what Euclid did to the physical astronomy of Plato, Archytas, Theaetetus and Menaechmus - Leibniz applied the fruits of decades of work on what can be called the 'Kepler specs' for a calculus. A stretching of the ability of language, of mental concepts to express rigorously the causal relations of the solar system - for this, a scientific metaphor was required. In 1672/3, Huyghens had briefed Leibniz on his work, and the key role of Pascal's 1657 powerful and general treatment of cycloids - or, actually, not just the cycloid, but turns upon turns (Pascal's "roulettes"). Pascal's work pointed to his father's scientific grouping of the 1630/40's, including notably Fermat, Roberval and Desargues. None of these developments were as explicitly 'Kepler-ian' as those of Jeremiah Horrocks' grouping in the 1630's; however, beyond being explicitly based upon, in particular, Kepler's New Astronomy and his Rudolphine Tables, they certainly were coherent with the thrust of Kepler's "Harmonice Mundi" and his "Epitome".
These Kepler-inspired developments of the 1630's-1670's were alive and well for Leibniz; and his own powerful developments of the 1672-77 period, his stunning 1684 "New Methods" essay, and, in 1686, his necessary critique of the sophistries of Descartes, all preceded his explicit development of Kepler in his "Tentamen". This part of Leibniz's "Kepler Project" is not the subject of the following history, nor, for that matter, is Leibniz's post-"Tentamen" development (1689-1697) of the transfinite curves. It is simply noted here in passing.


Johann Hevelius made a point of acquiring Kepler's manuscripts (from Kepler's son), in the years after Hevelius had published the work of Kepler's best student, Jeremiah Horrocks. In 1674, Hevelius announced to the British Royal Society that he would be publishing the collected works of Kepler.

The 1679 fire that nearly destroyed all of Kepler's manuscripts culminated several years of suspiciously nasty behavior by the anti-Kepler faction at the British Royal Society - in particular, the history of actions by Hooke and Newton against Hevelius, and against Wallis's collaboration with Hevelius to promote the main English proponent of Kepler, Horrocks. (Wallis was the leader, from 1658 to 1679, amongst the founding scientists at the Royal Society, in promoting a) Pascal's cycloidal curves, and the roots of such in Cusa, and b) the collected works of Horrocks, and the roots of such in Kepler.) After the fire of 1679, as Hevelius reconstituted his observatory, he turned away from the Royal Society and decidedly toward Leibniz.

In 1682, Hevelius contributed (his "Eclipsis lunae totalis cum mora") to the inaugural issue of Leibniz's science journal, the Leipzig-based "Acta Eruditorum". (Leibniz's contribution to that initial issue was his "De vera proportione circuli ad quadratum circumscriptum in numeribus rationalibus".) Hevelius went on to make five more contributions to the journal through that year. In 1684, when Leibniz offered his groundbreaking "Nova Methodus" (of investigations exploiting the conjoined relationship of the maximum and minimum, Hevelius announced the discovery of the new Scutum constellation (actually what Hevelius named, "Scutum Sobiescianum" - named after his supporter, the Polish king, Sobieski). For Hevelius' last four years, the "Acta" was his main outlet. The grouping around the "Acta" - centered around Leibniz and his collaborator, editor Otto Mencke - is key to the story of the preservation and transmission of the Kepler manuscripts.

When Hevelius died in 1686, the manuscripts were inherited by his daughter, Catherine Elizabeth. It was dear Catherine, who, when only thirteen, had courageously rescued them from the 1679 fire. They became part of her dowry when she married Ernst Lange. It is not clear whether they had active plans to publish the manuscripts. Lange was, at some point, in the Danzig Senate. By the late 1690's, he had allied himself with the Mennonites and Pietists. In 1711, having turned 61, he composed 61 Pietistic hymns, to give thanks for the end of the 1710 pestilence; and some of these hymns ended up in Freylinghausen's 1714 "Neues geistreiches Gesang-Buch". (Curiously, Bach - who had his own connections to Kepler and Leibniz, was certainly aware of this Freylinghausen hymnal, prior to his own special development of hymnals in the 1736 "Schemellis Gesangbuch".)

One of Hevelius' students, Gottfried Kirch, certainly had access to the papers while they were in Lange's possession. Back in the mid-1670's, when Hevelius thought he would be publishing Kepler's manuscripts, Kirch had attempted to found a "Teutschland" Astronomical Society, based out of Frankfurt. Among other things, they would co-ordinate the observations of eclipses and transits. Kirch joined Hevelius in publishing in the "Acta" in 1684. Kirch moved on to Coburg, but, by 1686, he had re-located to Leipzig. On the occasion of the transit of Mercury (January 31/February 1, 1690), Kirch organized (in what was said to be a "quasi-military fashion") the sightings.[FT3] Following Horrocks and Hevelius, the idea was that real astronomical work itself, including the testing of various astronomical ideas based upon the observations of the transits (and/or eclipses), would force the scientific community toward Kepler's methodology. By no later than the late 1690's, Leibniz and Kirch are known to be directly collaborating. Leibniz had Kirch appointed in 1700 as the first astronomer of Leibniz's newly-founded Prussian Royal Society.

Kirch had a young collaborator, in the later 1690's, in the astronomical research involved in calendar reform. This Ulrich Junius would, later, edit the first published volume drawn from the Kepler manuscripts, a rather narrow selection of mathematical material. This De principe mathematoricum Jo. Kepplero in scriptis Editis atque ineditis appeared in 1711, in Leipzig. In it, Junius would refer to Kepler's Epitome as a "treasure of immeasurable and not yet drained erudition." However, back in 1697, Junius had calculated the results from various observations of the transits of Mercury (including those of 1631 and of 1690). He used Kepler's tables, and compared the results with seven other tables. Junius wrote to Leibniz in 1700 (and, possibly, also earlier), regarding his comparisons of the Mercury transits.

In that same year of 1697, Junius had taken up advanced studies with the professor of mathematics at the University of Leipzig, Christoph Pfautz - which leads us back to Leibniz's "Acta" grouping. Pfautz was a long-time collaborator of the editor of the "Acta", Otto Mencke. They had studied at the same collegium, and Pfautz had married Mencke's sister, Catharina. Pfautz had been a correspondent of Hevelius, and might well have put Hevelius in touch with Mencke and Leibniz after the 1679 fire. In 1684, Pfautz and Mencke travelled together to England and met with the increasingly-isolated Keplerian, Wallis.

Possibly of some note, it was just at this time (1684) in England that Halley recruited Newton to an inverse-square, mathematized substitute for Kepler. Newton's Principia appeared three years later, in 1687. The "Acta" published a careful and extensive (13-page) summary review of Newton's Principia in 1687, almost assuredly written by Pfautz. It was this review that Leibniz saw in 1688 in Vienna, while away from home on his three-year trip to Austria and Italy (1687-1690), and which occasioned his response for the "Acta", the historic, 1688 Tentatem de motuum coelestium causis. This essay on the cause of the celestial motions defended Kepler's physical astronomy, and applied Leibniz's newly-developed "higher analysis" (the calculus). Pfautz would also correspond with Leibniz on his famous 1691 challenge on the catenary curve.

And now, finally, Michael Gottlieb Hansch enters the scene. Born in Hevelius' Danzig, in 1683 (at the peak of Hevelius' collaboration with Leibniz and Mencke), Hansch appears to have spent his adolescence there. It is possible that his father, Michael Hansch, a priest, would have known the Danzig Senator, Ernst Lange, possessor of the Kepler manuscripts. Hansch studies at the University of Leipzig at least between 1702 and 1707, pursuing a doctorate in theology. He seems to be in touch there with Leibniz no later than 1706. In 1707, Leibniz has read a work of Hansch's on Platonic enthusiasm.[FT4] It is in 1707 (according to Murr's 1770 report and Frisch's 1845 report) that Hansch acquires the Kepler manuscripts from Hevelius' son-in-law, Lange. (Some say he paid 128 florins, some 100 guilders.) It is Hansch who binds the manuscripts into twenty volumes, labelled "Manusc. Kepplerianorum". Leibniz thinks Hansch worthy of the editing project, and Hansch gets the permission of his ruler, August the Strong, to interrupt his theology studies and to prepare for the editing of the collected works, by pursuing astronomy and mathematics in Italy, France and England. However, others at the University of Leipzig object, insisting that Hansch first finish up his work there. August subsequently revoked the permission, representing yet another delay in publishing Kepler's manuscripts.

Finally, with a doctorate from Rostock in 1709, Hansch returns to Leipzig, and lectures there in 1710/11. Hansch writes to Leibniz (August 6, 1711) alluding to his "Scriptorum Keplerianorum" project. Leibniz encouraged him to move forward with it, and also responded to Hansch's questions on matters of theology and divine justice.[FT5] Over the course of the next year, Leibniz will allude to Hansch and the Kepler papers in eight different letters with Christian Goldbach and F S Loeffler. In yet another letter to Hansch, April 19, 1712, Leibniz alludes to his arrangement with Hansch - that Hansch is to do all the editing work, while Leibniz is glad to be the apparatus by which the publishing is to be accomplished.[FT6] (This notable letter is written five days before Newton has his verdict on Leibniz's guilt read to the Royal Society!) Leibniz goes much further. Agreeing with Hansch that the manuscripts certainly are much too great to be allowed to perish, he underlines that Kepler's value goes beyond the astronomical results, to address the lofty matter as to how the creative mind works. It cannot be later than this point that Leibniz has formulated the Kepler manuscript project and its importance in bringing the Austro-Hungarian Empire into a higher mission... as it were, beyond its destiny.


This brings us back to Leibniz's appointment, on January 2, 1712, as the Imperial Privy Councillor to Emperor Charles VI. Leibniz's patron, the Duke Anton Ulrich, was instrumental in Leibniz's "Grand Alliance" strategy. The rulers that Leibniz most directly worked with, since around 1680, were from the House of Brunswick-Lueneberg; and that house had two main branches that concern us. The Hanover branch of Leibniz's patroness, Sophie, was the one that Leibniz arranged to come to rule in England, after Queen Anne. (Sophie's mother was Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I. Her father Frederick V of Bohemia was the "Winter King" - forced to abdicate from Prague in 1618 at the beginning of the Thirty Years War.) The nearby Wolfenbuettel branch came to be headed by Duke Anton Ulrich. Leibniz and Anton Ulrich were involved in various ecumenical projects over the years, based upon the Westphalian principle. There were several proposals and initiatives to get European powers to look to higher principles, and to avoid religious factions. (Consistent with this, Leibniz also sought to strengthen the individual language-cultures. (For example, in 1696, dissatisfied with the peasant-level of spoken German, he promoted Anton Ulrich to lead the Wolfenbuettel German Society.) From 1699-1701, Leibniz was successful in securing the future rule of England for Sophie and her descent, and Sophie assigned Leibniz to be her political agent to her son, the Elector Georg Ludwig (the future King George I of England). From 1704-08, Leibniz spent great effort to address the painful inadequacies in the ideology being foisted upon England around the 'Glorious Revolution' of the Netherlands' William of Orange; and, in particular, to address John Locke's 'blank slate' view of the human mind in his Essays Concerning Human Understanding. In this regard, Leibniz's New Essays Concerning Human Understanding was a careful, passionate and thorough gift for the English world.[FT7]

Anton Ulrich and Leibniz had included, amongst their various projects, one to recruit the future Emperor, Charles III; and in 1704, Leibniz's student, Princess Caroline of Ansbach, had been slated to marry Charles. However, when she refused to convert to Catholicism, she married, instead, Sophie's grandson, the future King George II of England. Charles was immediately engaged to Anton Ulrich's grand-daughter, Elizabeth Christine [FT8] Shortly after their 1708 wedding in Spain, Leibniz made a secretive mission to Vienna, in preparation for the day that Charles would become Emperor. This was enough to make Leibniz 'political enemy #1' in the eyes of the Venetian Party of London. Of this, more below. However, Anton Ulrich and Leibniz arranged for a second political marriage, that of another of Anton Ulrich's grand-daughters, Charlotte.

In October, 1711, Leibniz attended the festivities[FT9] where Charlotte married the son of Russia's Peter the Great, the Czarevitch Alexei. Leibniz, of course, was a key part of the deal! He received the title, "Russian Privy Counsellor of Justice" - and Peter the Great would refer to Leibniz as his "Solon". Leibniz was commissioned to promote math and science in Russia, and his discussions with Peter the Great during the wedding week included their plan for observations throughout Russia of magnetic declinations. Leibniz also proposed that Russia should accept the unique and historic role, as the intermediary between Europe and China on science and art.[FT10]

Then, in short order, and in this context, in the winter of 1711/2, Anton Ulrich, grandfather of the Empress, also secured from the new Emperor, Charles III, the appointment of Leibniz as Imperial Privy Counsellor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - to officially begin January 2, 1712.[FT11] Leibniz's new position included the responsibility of establishing a national scientific academy, along the lines of what had created for Sophie's daughter, Sophie Charlotte, Queen of Prussia. Leibniz's would examine all the warts and blemishes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and seize upon the Keplerian high point of a century before, as the key to putting Emperor Charles III upon solid footing. But first, the role of Leibniz at the center of policy for Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Prussia, and possibly France and England, was simply too much for some to bear.


Sophie Charlotte, the Queen of Prussia and daughter of Leibniz's patroness, Sophie, died in 1705. Leibniz's Theodicy could properly be called a literary memorial to the garden discussions that he had shared with Sophie Charlotte in Charlottenburg. (The discussions as to how nature's laws were governed by a higher law, the principle of the best, also had major inroads into the French court.) With her death, the Prussian court, as we shall see, turned more and more against Leibniz and his Academy. By 1710, without being consulted or even notified, Leibniz was replaced as head of the Academy by a dutiful Minister, Ludwig von Printzen. The Academy went into a long decline.

In England, between 1703, when Newton was installed as head of the Royal Society[FT12], and 1712, when the Royal Society disgraces itself publicly in their assault upon Leibniz, submissiveness to Newton's ideology and personality takes over. Despite Newton's claim that he had no knowledge of the incident, on November 3, 1708, Newton presided over a session of the Royal Society, where John Keill read a paper, which included his ideological attack upon Leibniz as one who had simply copied Newton's calculus. This attack was approved for publication in the "Philosophical Transactions" and was printed in 1709. Between 1708 and 1711, the Newtonian epigonoi pull together the documents that will appear in the 1712 judgment against Leibniz. A hallmark of this transformation of the Royal Society is their physical transfer, in 1710, out of Gresham College. They set up for business in the actual City of London, the heart even then of the empire's financial community.

Keill's is an illustrative case in this 1708-1712 period of the Royal Society. John Keill had been passed over for academic appointments at Oxford in 1704 and 1708, and decided that he'd pursue advancement through 'government service'. His willingness to put his name on a silly public attack against Leibniz was perhaps the first shot of that new career. Keill then received an appointment to administer a fund to help Protestant refugees who had fled from the Rhenish Palatinate during the French invasion (the War of the Grand Alliance, 1689-97). The fund helped those who wished to settle in England.[FT13] This administrating over the fate of such refugees, allowed the selection and control of the most radicalized (anti-Louis XIV) Protestant elements.[FT14] In 1711, Keill was offered a post (as a mathematician) in the Republic of Venice. Instead, he accepted an appointment, within the British government, involving secret codes. (This certainly does not mean that he had rejected working for the Republic of Venice.) Finally, in 1712, after the Royal Society report against Leibniz, Dr. Keill is rewarded with the very job that he'd been refused in 1708, the Savilian Professorship of Astronomy in Oxford.

Shortly after Leibniz was unceremoniously dumped (November, 1710) as the head of the very Prussian Academy that he had founded, an accusation is raised against Leibniz in Berlin (February, 1711) that he was a Hanoverian spy against Prussia. This provides amusement to Hanover's Georg Ludwig, who is also amused over a nasty fall that the 65-year-old Leibniz had recently suffered. While bedridden, Leibniz first runs across Keill's 1708 plagiarism charges in the "Philosophical Transactions", and in March, 1711, he wrote to the Secretary of the Royal Society, Hans Sloane. He calls for an official retraction from Keill, and assures Sloane that Newton knows Keill's charges to be false.[FT15] Keill doesn't retract anything, but writes in May that Leibniz derived the principles of the calculus from Newton's 1670's letters to Oldenburg... or, at least, that Leibniz could have derived the principles from them. It has since been shown that Newton composed the letter that Keill signed.

It is only after Leibniz is appointed as Peter the Great's Privy Counsellor (October, 1711) and Emperor Charles III's Imperial Privy Counsellor (January, 1712) that Newton's Royal Society is cheeky enough (March 6, 1712) to appoint a private committee to investigate Leibniz's plagiarism of Newton - a committee actually headed up by Newton himself. (Here we have a case where one and the same operation exemplifies both the "Invisible Hand" and the mysterious "Action at a Distance"!) Prior to that, Newton, it would appear, was content to solidify his authority within England without 'going out on the limb' with a public, European-wide case.[FT16] After all, scientists (and political leaders) on the continent had been impressed by Leibniz's qualitatively 'new methods' for three decades; and Newton's own Principia had displayed no evidence of an advanced calculus. The committee is largely Newton's epigonoi, and no attempt in the 'investigation' is even made to evaluate Leibniz's work; rather, a key component of the fraud was to simply assert that Leibniz's 'higher analysis' was simply an extension of the prevailing (1630's-1660's) infinitesimal methods, e.g., of Cavalieri. (This was a summation that would much more accurately be put against Newton.) On March 27, 1712, three weeks into the committee's 'work', the Prussian ambassador to England, one Mr. Bonet, is added to this 'scientific' investigation. Mr. Bonet, it turns out, has a special qualification: he was the source in Berlin of the previous year's "Hanover spy" rumor against Leibniz! The unsigned report, finished by April 24th, and known to be authored by Newton himself, consists of a) an assertion that Newton was the prior inventor; b) a chronology of contacts that Leibniz had with Newtonians; and c) the statement that Keill had not injured Leibniz. It was published anonymously on January 8, 1713 as "Commercium Epistolicum".


The members of the Royal Society's committee were, by and large, members in agreement with, or sufficiently cowed by, Newton's ideological actions of the 1703-1712 period, so as accept their role as rubber-stamps for Newton. Not so, in the case of Mr. Bonet, added to the committee from outside of the Royal Society. Mr. Bonet is actually Andre-Louis-Friedrich Bonet de St-Germain. (He is referred to as "Friedrich Bonnet" in Leopold von Ranke's diplomatic history, but "Andre" distinguishes him from his elder brother "Friedrich".) Around 1700, Andre became the Prussian ambassador to England, succeeding his older brother, who had been placed, in 1685, as a spy upon the English Parliament, on behalf of the upcoming (1688/9) takeover by William of Orange. Andre's link to Isaac Newton is not one of subservience. Quoting Ranke on Andre's 1700-20 posting to England: "He pays particular attention to the money-market, to trade, and to the trading companies. We have nowhere such good information about the two East India Companies, and their rivalry, as in the reports of these brothers. The younger one [Andre] devoted much attention to the economical condition of the country [England], and in 1711 [the same time as Andre's accusations of Leibniz as a "Hanoverian spy" against Prussia] sent a memoir to the [Prussian] Elector, now become King Friedrich I, laying stress on the points [of managing the money-markets] which were worth imitating in Brandenburg." Would Andre's fascination with the money markets have any connection to the Master of the Mint's financial actions?

Newton's prime occupation during this 1711-17 period, as Master of the Mint, was to master what is politely called "bi-metallism" - due to Newton's somewhat famous 1717, or third, report. His specialty was to track the differentials between different countries' valuations of gold and silver, so as to be able to exploit the short-term differentials. However, Newton's first (and lesser known) report on such money games was March 3, 1712 - precisely three days before the initiation of his committee to finish off Leibniz![FT17] No historian seems to inquire as to what united Newton and Bonet on either the 'arbitrage/hedging' theory of national economy, or the underlying purpose of the Royal Society committee's investigation; but it does not require a vast conspiracy theory. Suffice it to say, that neither were spending their time investigating Leibniz's developmental of the transcendental curves, nor of transfinite ideas, nor of the power of the human mind to revolutionize physical capacities of mankind, and so scientifically develop national economies.


Leibniz met with Peter the Great in November, 1712, in Prague. The Czar commissioned Leibniz to prepare proposals on law and justice in Russia. (It was at this meeting that Peter referred to Leibniz as the "Russian Solon".) Anton Ulrich had planned with Leibniz to organize an alliance of Russia and the Empire (an alliance that included the marriages of his two grand-daughters) and to bring the war with France to an end. Peter and Leibniz undoubtedly discussed Leibniz's plans for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When Leibniz arrived in Vienna the next month, there was a memorandum for the Emperor to sign, making official - and retroactive to January, 1712 - Leibniz's appointment as Imperial Counsellor. His first known meeting with the Emperor is in mid-January, 1713. We may infer some of what they discussed from what ensued. For the next two months, Leibniz prepared memoranda for
a) the new Academy (called "a Society of Sciences"), for b) the prosecution of the war (the 1701-1714 War of Spanish Succession), and for c) a cartographic survey of the Empire. Though it is likely that Leibniz's Kepler project was proposed to Charles VI in that January meeting - as it had to be key for the Academy project for Vienna -this author has not seen the pertinent Leibniz memorandum. However, of note is that Leibniz did write to Hansch on March 15, 1713,[FT18] regarding the Kepler petition being presented to Peter the Great by Ferdinand Ernest, Graf von Herberstein; so if the project had been presented earlier to Charles VI, it apparently had not yet been acted upon.

By February, 1713, the Emperor has received from Georg Ludwig in Hanover, a warning: Do not appoint Leibniz. George's ambassador to Vienna, one G. E. Huldeberg, delivered the warning and, afterwards, wrote (February 25, 1713) that the Elector's warning was that Leibniz was "not in the least a suitable person for the office." This message to Vienna is arranged at the same time as Newton's verdict against Leibniz has been published (January, 1713) and is being circulated to selected individuals in Europe. (It makes one wonder whether Newton also composed Georg Ludwig's letter to the Emperor!) Regardless, it is clear under what conditions Georg Ludwig is going to be accepted by the Venetian Party in London. Perhaps unaware of the extent and co-ordination of these operations again him, Leibniz dutifully wrote the Hanoverian minister, von Bernstorf, requesting the permission from the Elector, Georg Ludwig, for Leibniz to formally accept the title of Imperial Privy Counsellor. Of course, the Elector granted his permission with one hand, all the while he was stabbing Leibniz in the back with the other.

In March, 1713, Peter the Great was impressed with Leibniz's alliance proposal, and came to Wolfenbuettel to meet with Anton Ulrich. The Czar offered 20,000 troops to aid Austria, and told Anton Ulrich to have this conveyed to the Emperor specifically through Leibniz. Within weeks, Britain and Holland deserted Austria and Russia, in favor of a separate peace with France, conducted at Utrecht. When Prince Eugene of Austria, leading the alliance, was undercut by Marlborough (read "Churchhills"), Leibniz prepared a strategic briefing for him, his "Paix d'Utrecht inexcusable", a defense of the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. Despite all this, Leibniz wrote to Sophie, in May, that the envisioned triple alliance was in sight: Sophie in England, the Emperor in Vienna, and Czar Peter in St. Petersburg.

As of this 'high-water mark', Leibniz had still not seen Newton's April, 1712 ruling in favor of Newton. In a June 7, 1713 letter, Johann Bernoulli briefed Leibniz on the "Commercium epistolicum", then being circulated. He described it as a case of the court plaintiffs also being the judges. Bernoulli adds that he does not like "this hardly civilized way of doing things." (It is this letter of Bernoulli that formed the basis of the "Charta volans" document, circulated that summer in defense of Leibniz.) These Royal Society actions to 'shun' Leibniz simply foreshadowed the 1714 banning of Leibniz from assuming his role with the court of Hanover, when George I accedes to the British crown. The situation in England continued to devolve, as the consequences of the brutal, "hardly civilized" actions of 1712 play out. And all that is left around the Royal Society are a) those who work to plug holes in Newton's Principia and b) those who attempt to grab what they can of Leibniz's results and attempt to artifice 'work-arounds' - e.g., Brooks Taylor's number games with infinite series, a curve-fitting substitute for Leibniz's actual rigorous analysis of the higher-order curves (e.g., catenary, brachistochrone, tractrix). Today's calculus textbooks are replete with such as "Taylor's Theorem".


Charles VI, as of 1714, has not yet agreed to fund the Kepler project. At this point, Hansch issues a prospectus for the publishing of the complete works, to be done by subscription of interested parties. Leibniz would be involved in an attempt to organize private support for this. Meanwhile, Leibniz has to deal with a series of setbacks. In March, Duke Anton Ulrich writes a final letter to Leibniz, explaining that he would soon be in a better world, one where "he would find a complete knowledge of all the sciences that he knew only imperfectly on earth" - a beautiful version of Corinithians 13, and one that says quite a bit about their relationship. He passed away three weeks later. By May, Sophie is fed up with the nastiness and behind-the-scenes activity in England around Queen Anne's last days, but she informs Leibniz that she is "wonderfully well in the circumstances". Then, on June 6th, having received a nasty letter directly from Anne herself, she tells her close friend, the Countess von Bueckeburg, that "the affair would make her ill and that she would die of it." Two days later, while taking an after-dinner walk, she conversed with Leibniz's last royal student, Caroline, over the upcoming situation with England... and, in mid-conversation, she collapsed and died.

Not long before Sophie's death, an intelligence operative, the Scotsman, John Ker - who seems to have wanted a stable Great Britain to emerge from the succession - sought out Leibniz, still in Vienna. Leibniz had Ker write to Sophie about organizing support in England for the Hanoverians, and about related matters. After Sophie's death, Ker travelled back to Hanover, with letters from Leibniz to Caroline, to George, and to Bernstorf, the chief minister. Ker then reports back to Leibniz that "Baron Bernstorf desired me to draw up a Memorial, with the Substance of the Papers I sent the late Electress."[FT19] He reports that Bernstorf seemed appreciative of the memorial.

Then, on August 12th, Queen Anne died. Leibniz was still in Vienna, involved in putting the Society of the Sciences on its feet. A year earlier, Charles VI had made Leibniz the President of the Society. Leibniz had been organizing the Prince, Eugene, on the project, and on his methods - including telescopes for the heavens, microscopes for the infinitesimally small, and magnetic measurements for the human-scale on earth. However, a year into Leibniz's Vienna work, the Kepler project was not yet a reality.

On August 25th, Ker writes Leibniz that there is scheming afoot to keep him out of the English government: "It will be much for the King's Service, and the Happiness of Great Britain, that you instantly leave Vienna, and make Haste to Hanover... [Y]ou are fully entitled more than any Man in the World to be his chief Counsellor... I am sorry to tell you that I also find the Hanoverian Ministers altogether unacquainted with our Country Affairs; that even Bernsdorf himself is led by the Nose in these Matters by an ignorant Fellow, called Robatham, who has nothing to recommend him but his own private Interest, Party Rage, and Insolence enough to do too much Mischief at this critical Juncture, upon which all our future Happiness depends." Leibniz knew this "Robatham" by the name of one John de Robethon; and from the time, in 1705, when Robethon first became the confidential secretary to the Elector, Sophie's son had been increasingly out of any control or influence from Sophie or from Leibniz. Almost immediately after receiving the letter, Leibniz departs for Hanover on September 3rd. However, before departing, he left a request that the Imperial Chancellor von Sinzendorf convey to the Hanoverian court that the Emperor wanted Leibniz to return to Vienna when possible. Sinzendorf's letter, sent the next day, went to two of the three ministers who had some control over George's court, Bothmer and Goertz. It was not sent to Bernsdorf.


So, who is this John de Robethon? In July, 1714, Leibniz's colleague, Count (and General) Schulenberg had written to Leibniz from Hanover, that "Robethon is able, but his violent passions and party spirit sometimes make him drive on the wrong side... [All are against him] with the exception of Bernstorff, who supports him." Jonathan Swift described Robethon as a malicious gossip for hire: "There was likewise at the elector's court a little Frenchman, without any merit or consequence, called Robethon, who by the assistance and encouragement of the last ministry [Marlborough's], had insinuated himself into some degree of that prince's [George's] favour, which he used in giving his master the worst impressions he was able of those whom the queen employed in her service, insinuating that the present ministers [Swift's grouping] were not in the interest of his Highness's family, that their views were towards the Pretender, that they were making an insecure and dishonourable peace, that the weight of the nation was against them, and that it was impossible for them to preserve much their credit or power." Elsewhere, Swift says that Robethon, for the right amount of money, would change his positions; and that he was "the channel through which all the ideas of the dispositions and designs of the Queen, the ministers, and the whole British nation were conveyed" to Hanover.

The "assistance and encouragement of the last ministry" refers to Marlborough (Winston Churchill's famous ancestor), who provided significant monies to Robethon for intelligence - including when Robethon had been installed, in 1705, as George's confidential secretary.[FT20] In brief, Robethon was a French Huguenot exile, who first, in the 1680's, attached himself to the Prince of Orange. He came with William to England, and was vetted under William's longtime favorite, William Bentinck. (Previously, Bentinck had arranged the political marriage of William with King James II's daughter, Mary; and he also handled the 1688/89 military invasion of England.) Robethon was then (1698) handed over to William, as the King's personal secretary, drafting his personal correspondence. When William died in 1701 (and after Leibniz's organizing had secured Sophie as the successor of Anne), Robethon was deployed to the Hanoverians, as a paid agent of Marlborough. Robethon acts to poison the Hanover court against both Swift and Leibniz.

Further, Robethon is said to have had an ongoing correspondence in this period - which this researcher has not located - with Ezekiel Spanheim, the uncle of the two Bonnet brothers met earlier. But Ezekiel was not just any uncle. He had inserted his nephews into their roles as spies on behalf of the Dutch accession of William. Apparently, Spanheim was on a higher level than either of them. So, in sum, Andre Bonnet, the financial speculator who joins Newton's secret committee to judge Leibniz, was an asset of some sort, of the collaborator of Robethon, the man assigned to keep the future George I away from Leibniz, and to keep Leibniz out of the English government! More work here may well be fruitful.


Leibniz arrived in Hanover September 14th, and discovered that George had departed for London three days earlier. Ker is still part of the court, accompanying George to England. On that trip, he presented a 2nd Memorial, now more on the elevated level of his discussions with Leibniz back in Vienna. Ker reports to Leibniz that he had described to George the harm of the Tory/Whig factions; the need to not be played by them; and the importance of "the regular Administration of Justice, the increase and encouragement of Trade, and the Manufactures of the Kingdom, etc. That it was the King's Interest to go into those Measures with these People last mentioned, upon which the true Interest of the Country depended; and by these Means he would make the Body of the Nation his Friends... [Further] That he should entertain some Men [that is, Leibniz] Eminent for Knowledge and Integrity, to inform him, in Private, of every Thing he ought to know; whereby his Ministers [particularly, Robethon], finding he understood Mysteries by other Hands than theirs, durst not venture to impose upon him... I added, That he should, by all Means, discourage Bribery at the Parliamentary Election, and Distinctions of Parties, and factious Divisions; but more particularly, he should endeavour to extinguish the odious Names and Characters of Whig and Tory, which is to be done by preferring Men of Merit only, without regard to one Party more than another."

Caroline, now the Princess of Wales, delayed her move to England, remaining in Herrenhausen that Fall, where she had Leibniz stay near by. Evidently, her father-in-law, George, had assured her that Leibniz would come, but only after he had officially been crowned king. Leibniz reports to Charles VI that Princess Caroline thinks she is taking Leibniz to England with her. Then on October 8th, he writes to Ker, who is in London: "I resolved to come to London, but whether with the Princess, or at some other Time, I cannot be Positive... I am glad you have discharged your Duty to your King and Country so faithfully, having read a Copy of the [2nd] Memorial you sent with great Pleasure. I am entirely of your Opinion, and so was the late Electress: I hope nothing will divert his Majesty from following what is so much for his Interest, nor make him concern himself with the Party Quarrel of Whig and Tory; but to employ People of Merit and Worth in his Service... [As such, we'll produce an] Assembly of Men of Honour and Worth; who will have nothing but the general Good of the Nation... I shall be glad of a constant correspondence with you."

Yet, it appears that there are even orders out not to communicate with Leibniz. The next sentence continues: "Dr. Brandenshagen, an honest German, will receive your Letters, and forward them to me under his Cover; you may safely trust him: I wish I may hear good News from you..." Four days later (October 12th), Caroline departed Hanover for England. It wasn't until December 3rd that Leibniz received a letter from Bernstorff explicitly ordering him not to come to London. Austria, Russia and France all beckoned, offering proper respect for Leibniz's talents, but King George ordered Leibniz to remain in Hanover and take no journeys.

Throughout 1715, the attempts by the combined courts of London and Berlin to break Leibniz continue. In April, the Berlin Academy strips him of half his salary. When Caroline intervenes into the English court, with her attempt to publish an English translation of Leibniz's "Theodicee", she is put into the hands of George's chaplain, one Clarke, a Newtonian stand-in. At this point, the Venetian agent in London, Conti, writes to Leibniz as the 'soft-cop' who thinks that Leibniz is not being treated properly, offering his arbitration in a review of the case against Leibniz. Newton wants any review to be restricted to the documents contained within his "Commercium Epistolicum" (CE). Instead, Leibniz responds in character, sending to Conti (12/6/1715) a challenge problem on developing the calculus (this one on orthogonal curves). These two tracks - the Leibniz-Clarke letters initiated in late November, 1715, and the Conti-mediation on the calculus - ran simultaneously during Leibniz's last year.

Baron von Kielmansegg, speaking for the ambassadors doing the review, informed Newton that his documents simply were not sufficient, and that Newton would have to write to Leibniz directly, stating his case. In March, 1716, Newton's communication to Leibniz was simply a shortened version of the anonymous review that he had composed, of the anonymous CE that he himself had written - but this time, he did sign his name. Leibniz acknowledged that Newton had at least ceased using the front-men (or what he called, Newton's "lost children"). However CE's material were "all about series, with glosses voicing baseless suspicions, but irrelevant to the real issue". Newton still avoided any real issues, and avoided the instructions from Kielmansegg. As Conti has accompanied Newton's communication, with his own preface, Leibniz realized that Conti had gone along with the narrow legalisms of Newton, telling Caroline that Conti was a chameleon.[FT21] It was undoubtedly at this point that Leibniz composed his marvelous "History and Origin of the Differential Calculus". It would not see the light of day until 1846.

As late as the fall of 1715, Leibniz was still organizing to get subscribers to Hansch's projected 'Collected Works of Kepler'. But, finally, on March 14, 1716, Leibniz addresses Charles VI's Grand Chancellor, Wenzel von SInzendorff, regarding the Kepler proposal; and it would appear that it was in the Spring of 1716, when the Emperor granted Hansch 1,000 ducats for the project, along with an annual stipend of 300 florins. In June, 1716, Peter the Great visited nearby Bad Pyrmont and had Leibniz come to meet with him there. Leibniz produced memoranda on magnetic observations, the interplay of arts and sciences, and the role and functioning of government ministries. Shortly after this, in July, King George visited Hanover and had a dinner meeting with Leibniz. Caroline wrote that she wanted the King to bring Leibniz with him on his return. But during his several months in Hanover, George is unrepentent; so Leibniz informs Vienna, in September, that, when George leaves for England, he will return to Vienna. However, Leibniz's final illness forces him to bed, and by November, to a grave.

It was Caroline who gave the world the Leibniz-Clarke letters, publishing them in 1717.

The first volume of Kepler's Collected Works was published in 1718. However, with Leibniz no longer on the scene, the Emperor Charles abandoned Hansch's stipend and abandoned the Kepler project, hardly begun (then less than 5% done). Hence, Poe's comment in 1845 (on the occasion of the announcement of the renewal of the project to publish the volumes) regarding the seeming fatality involved in the history of Kepler's manuscripts.


Part two, to include:
The travails of the manuscripts, whereby manuscripts are pawned and disappear in 1721, reappear in 1760's, to St Petersburg in 1773, published by Stuttgart professor Christian Frisch, 1858-1871. Cast of characters: Murr, Kaestner, Euler, Pfaff, Gauss, Frisch, Llotsky, Poe


1. Kepler's Harmonices Mundi actually found a willing and apt reader in 1639, Jeremiah Horrocks. Ironically, Jeremiah and the Harmonices were both 21 years old. However, he was dead within the year. Twenty years later, his manuscripts were revived and published by Hevelius - who was inspired to acquire, and plan to publish, Kepler's manuscripts. See:
3. One of Kirch's collaborators in the Mercury transit project was Christopher Arnold of Leipzig. His apprentice, the 20-year-old Maria Winckelmann, became Kirch's second wife in 1692. When Kirch died in 1710, Leibniz supported Maria to assume Kirch's position but Leibniz himself was being pushed out of the leadership there, and the Prussian Academy also rejected Maria.
4. Leibniz's 7/25/1707 letter to Hansch on Plato has been translated into English, and is in the Loemker collection.
5. The actual four-page correspondence is in Pittsburgh. See:
6. The appropriate passage reads: "Gaudeo tantum esse Keplerianorum MSct. apparatum, quantum non exspectabam. Tecum sentio, pleraque omnia Kepleriana tanti esse, ut perire non debeant... Itaque non miror jam, ab Hevelio minorem eorum rationem habitam fuisse, quam 5 per erat, quia Hevelius non nisi Astronomiam, eamque practicam maxime spectabat, sed Keplerus aussurgebat altius, ac sese latius diffundebat."
7. Leibniz's New Essays were not published until 1765, by Munchhausen and Raspe. They would prompt a trip by Benjamin Franklin to Hanover, to meet with them, and discuss Leibniz's conception of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".
See: ... nessA.html
8. Elizabeth Christine, in turn, would become the grandmother of Mozart's Emperor, Joseph II.
9. The wedding was in Torgau, and the ceremonies were hosted by August the Strong, Elector of Saxony - the same one who, in 1707, had first agreed to sponsor Hansch's studies in preparation for the editorship of the Kepler manuscripts.
10. It was about this time, November, 1711, that Prince Ernst August, the brother of the future King George I of England, pronounced Leibniz to be a fool.
11. However, it appears that Anton Ulrich only informed Leibniz of the appointment on February 3, 1712. (When the Emperor made the appointment official, he 'back-dated' it to January 2, 1712.)
12. In 1703, Isaac Newton is installed as the head of the British Royal Society; even though he'd spent most of the previous decade in withdrawal from any pretense to scientific activity. In brief, he'd suffered a mental breakdown in 1693, and, after he 'recovered his equanimity', he was given the post of the Warden of the Mint - where he developed a strange passion for executing counterfeiters (e.g., the Chaloner case). The 1704 Optics was largely a pulling together of work from 30-40 years before, occasioned by his installation in 1703.
13. Many wished rather to settle in North America and Keill accompanied a party there in 1710. John Logan, who followed Leibniz's "Acta" for decades, recalled of Keill: "...[W]hen at New York [in 1710] ... he showed himself an intolerable Debauchee...".
14. In these first two steps, Keill's career had some resemblance to that of Fatio de Duillier, whose curious relationship with Newton might have triggered Newton's 1692/3 breakdown. First, in 1699, Fatio became Keill's sole predecessor in publicly charging Leibniz with plagiarism; and second, in 1707 Fatio was the likely controller - or "recording secretary" - of rioting millenialists, convinced that the end of the world was nigh, and that Louis XIV was the anti-Christ. So, for Fatio and Keill, their modus operandi was, first charge Leibniz with plagiarism, and then accept a 'special ops' position, as the case officer for the latest group of manipulable souls.
15. Things are a little hairy in London that March, as exemplified by the attempted assassination of Robert Harley, by a former employee of the Marlboroughs. Since the Marlboroughs will be found to be neck-deep in operations against Leibniz, an investigation may reveal some light upon the naked boldness of the Newton operation against Leibniz.
16. Newton later protested that he had not known of Keill's attack (despite the fact that he had presided at the initial reading that approved it). He would claim that he was angry at any such attack upon Leibniz - that is, until Keill convinced Newton as to how Leibniz looked down upon Newton's paper, "De quadratura". There may be an element of truth in Newton's recollection, to the extent that he had to be goaded into going forward with the public attack.
17. And what should we make of yet another 'coincidence'? The following month, on April 17, 1712, one week before the committee's report is read to the Royal Society, the Treasury books show: "My Lord Treasurer has received from Monsieur Bonet, the Prussian Minister residing here, an account by which he demands 146,1666 guilders 9 stivers in arrear to the Prussian Corps in the Netherlands for account of forage." In his twenty years in London, Mr. Bonet's name is only entered in the Treasury's Warrant book two other times - initially in 1711 in regard to affairs for the Prussian ambassador to Venice, and in 1715, on a list for whom Newton is to provide two medals from his mint. The only time Bonet presents a bill to the British Treasury in his twenty years is during his five-week service on Newton's committee. Perhaps good timing.
18. "Amicus quidam Domini Comitis de Herberstein tuum ad Caesarem libellum supplicem ostendit, Keplerianorum edendorum caussa." It would be Russia's Catherine the Great, who, sixty years later, played a role in rescuing the much-abused Kepler manuscripts.
19. The memoirs of John Ker, of Kersland in North Britain, Esq: containing his secret transactions and negotiations in Scotland, England, the courts of Vienna, Hanover and other foreign parts; with an account of the rise and progress of the Ostend company in the Austrian Netherlands (1726).
20. See Coxe's {Life of Marlborough
, but note: Most of the correspondence between Robethon and Marlborough is found under the name of Adam Cardonnel, Marlborough's secretary.
21.Caroline then told Leibniz that Clarke, Conti and, sometimes, even Newton spent many hours on her case, attempting to de-program her, and arguing that space was simply a void. Leibniz sent her a separate letter, undoubtedly - as he had years earlier punned with Huyghens - suggesting that she should avoid the void.