# Who was Guillaume Maran?

This week I visited the Capitole de Toulouse, where probably the most famous statue for us math people is Pierre de Fermat. But I found another statue of a mathematician: Guillaume Maran. He must be important, at least at that time, to be memorialized in the city hall. But all information I can find online says that he was a lawyer in Toulouse. I don't know if this is the same person as the statue. I can't find his date of birth/death or any of his work. Do you know anything about him?

UPDATE: I went again and took a picture of Emmaneul Maignan. But I don't understand the description under his name:



• @darijgrinberg I found the same page too. Or mathematician=lawyer at that time? :) – YCC Jul 1 '17 at 10:45
• Fermat was a lawyer too (and a councillor in the parliament)... so this may be the actual pattern. – darij grinberg Jul 1 '17 at 10:57
• Thanks @fedja and CarloBeenakker for the google books hint; that's quite a useful trail. Here's his opera omnia: play.google.com/books/… . But it looks like law as far as the eye can see. Can anyone verify whether this is a full collection of his works? Also, a somewhat tangential but more useful question: How do you download a freely available book from Google Books? – darij grinberg Jul 1 '17 at 12:07
• the inscription under E. Maignan's buste refers to the monastic order of the Minimes, where Maignan had a function as "prior general"; this agrees with what is said on his Wikipedia bio, where he is referred to as a "Catholic Minimite theologian". – Carlo Beenakker Jul 2 '17 at 15:12
• one tangent comment that may be relevant: the statues are rather recent, from 1892, since the original ones from 1674 were destroyed in a fire; it may well be that knowledge of "who is who" had faded a bit by that time. – Carlo Beenakker Jul 3 '17 at 7:44

For an authoritative answer, I contacted the professor of history at the University of Toulouse, Jacques Krynen, who has written a biography of Guillaume Maran. His response [*] to the puzzling inscription on Maran's statue in de Salles des Illustres strengthens the case that it was an error. My (unsubstantiated) guess is that this happened when the 17th century statues were reconstructed in 1892 after having been destroyed by a fire a few years earlier (as described here).

[*] Il y a bien longtemps que je ne me suis pas rendu salle des illustres... en tout état de cause Guillaume Maran était professeur de droit. Pas mathématicien! (I have not been to the hall of celebrities for quite some time... in any case, Guillaume Maran was professor of law. No mathematician!)

Guillaume Maran was a lawyer but not a mathematician. See this page from the Bibliotheque nationale de France for some of his work.

But there should be a mathematician/physicist/theologian bust in the gallery: Emmanuel Maignan. The presence of the bust is mentioned in that source and in the book mentioned by Fedja.

So may be the similarity of the names of the two great men have contributed to attributing the virtues of one to the other.

• this explanation seems strange; the local authorities must have deliberated extensively on whom to place in this hall, and with what honorary titles to designate their heroes; a mixup of names seems so unlikely to me, it must have been a deliberate decision – Carlo Beenakker Jul 1 '17 at 13:08
• As a french person, those names sound really different so I can hardly see how the city hall could mistake one for the other. – Maxime Ramzi Jul 1 '17 at 13:10
• @Max They're different enough that, even with my bad French accent, if I said "Maran", you'd never think I'd said "Maignan" or vice-versa. But the names are similar enough that, if we spoke about Maran and Maignan in the morning, it wouldn't be surprising if I'd forgotten which was which by dinner time. – David Richerby Jul 1 '17 at 17:29
• the fact that Maignan's buste refers to him as a Catholic Minimite Prior, seems to rule out a simple mixup of inscriptions... – Carlo Beenakker Jul 2 '17 at 15:16
• Unfortunate Maran? In that he wasn't a mathematician? I should think fortunate in that now many will remember Maran as one. Gerhard "Embrace And Accept The Confusion" Paseman, 2017.07.05. – Gerhard Paseman Jul 5 '17 at 21:38

The "minimes" was a particular religious order that existed at the time, and is frequently mentioned in 17th century sources. It seems that he was a religious authority (prieur is somewhat less than an abbé (abbot) for the order.

• I am not sure why Maran is referred to as a mathematician. On the other hand many clerics at the time also dabbled in mathematics. A jesuit friend of Fermat's named Lalouvere did some work related to the cycloid (and even got in trouble with Pascal over this). – Mikhail Katz Jul 2 '17 at 16:19
• the complete works of Maran are here --- I went through them, it's all law, nothing even remotely related to the natural sciences or to math. – Carlo Beenakker Jul 2 '17 at 16:20
• Since Maran was at Toulouse it is possible that he was friendly with Fermat and perhaps even taught mathematics, which may have led to him being described as a mathematician. @CarloBeenakker – Mikhail Katz Jul 2 '17 at 16:28
• Maran died when Fermat was 14... – Carlo Beenakker Jul 2 '17 at 16:31
• The BNF entry lists among his works a text on the necessity of re-establishing the university. His personal page refers to him as "professeur at Toulouse" but I am not sure if this has the meaning of "professor" or not. Also, according to the traditional dating Fermat was 20 at the time. @CarloBeenakker – Mikhail Katz Jul 2 '17 at 16:37