Institute and Museum of History of Science, Florence, ITALY

                      The main characters                   
Raffaello Magiotti (1597-1656) Valeriano Magni (1586-1661) Emanuel Maignan (1601-1676)

Born in Milan, he lived from early childhood in Prague. In 1602, he entered the order of the Capuchins, immediately gaining a huge reputation for his talent in preaching. After teaching briefly at the university of Vienna, Magni began a series of pilgrimages in Central Europe, with various motives, political, religious and cultural (he was also a Professor at Prague). In this context, we often find him at loggerheads with the Jesuits, with whom he was openly hostile. Perhaps due to these conflicts, he was charged with heresy and imprisoned in Vienna in 1655. The Emperor intervened to secure his freedom. He moved to Salzburg and remained there for the rest of his days.
Magni's notoriety is closely linked to the experimental determination of the existence of the vacuum. In mid-1647, he presented, at the court of Wenceslas VII, in Warsaw, an experiment designed to show the presence of an empty space in a mercury-filled tube. The tests conducted by Magni were exact replications of the barometric experiments carried out by Torricelli. As soon as news of the experiments spread - due mainly to Magni's publication of a volume called Demonstratio ocularis - the Capuchin was accused of plagiary. He defended himself by claiming that he was unaware of Torricelli's studies, admitting that he had been inspired by Galileo.
The Demonstratio ocularis is, in any case, important, as the first printed record of the barometric experiments. Along with the tough polemic on his presumed plagiarism, went his noteworthy contribution in diffusing the new perspectives connected to Torricelli's discoveries to the European scientific community.





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