Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Portrait of Johannes Kepler, copper engraving circa 1620. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff
"THE TREASURES HIDDEN IN THE HEAVENS ARE SO RICH THAT THE HUMAN MIND SHALL NEVER BE LACKING IN FRESH NOURISHMENT."

Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), mathematician and astronomer, optician and astrologist, came from a modest family in the town of Weil. Today, he is considered the founder of modern science. His laws of planetary motion are still applied today.

Model of five nested platonic solids. Town of Weil, Johannes Kepler's birthplace. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Even at a young age, Kepler had a zeal for maths.

WHAT WAS KEPLER'S CHILDHOOD LIKE?

His family circumstances were difficult. His father deserted the family when Kepler was five years old. Kepler himself had smallpox as a child and suffered from poor eyesight throughout his life as a result. At 13, he attended the monastic school in Adelberg, after which he graduated to Maulbronn Monastery. It was the new Württemberg school system that enabled his access to such higher education. He successfully completed his three-year education here, despite his poor health.

Detail from a star map by Johannes Kepler. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Kepler carried out groundbreaking work in astronomy.

WHAT WAS HIS CAREER PATH?

Kepler began studying theology in Tübingen in 1589. However, in light of his exceptional mathematical aptitude, Kepler decided to study natural sciences instead. He accepted various teaching positions and became the royal mathematician and court astronomer for Rudolf II of Prague in 1600. From 1612 until shortly before his death in 1630, Kepler worked as a mathematician in Linz. In 1615, his mother, Katharina, was accused of witchcraft and Kepler undertook her defense.

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