Double Portrait: M.-F. van Langren, engineer and astronomer
Michiel-Florent van Langren, royal cosmographer of the Spanish King in the Southern Netherlands, is best known for his publication of the first lunar map with a topographical nomenclature (1645). As an astronomer, he was well received in intellectual circles, as can be seen in his correspondence with Puteanus, Della Faille and Boulliau. Yet, with respect to his immediate environment, he complained of a lack of recognition and obstruction to his work. He engaged in endless controversies over engineering projects, in which he referred to his status as astronomer and mathematician to counter the arguments of the court engineers. These polemical writings allow to assess Van Langren’s double identity as astronomer and engineer, and his attempts to find a place for himself among the learned astronomers and mathematicians of his age. Further - more, the example of Van Langren suggests that in the intellectual world of the Spanish Netherlands a social or epistemological antagonism existed or was constructed between academic science and practical knowledge.