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René Just Haüy

René Just Haüy (February 28, 1743 – June 3, 1822) was a French mineralogist, commonly styled the Abbé Haüy after he was made an honorary canon of Notre Dame.


Haüy was born at Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, in the département of Oise. His parents were of a humble rank of life, and were only enabled by the kindness of friends to send their son to the College of Navarre and later to the College of Lemoine. Haüy became an ordained Roman Catholic Priest. Becoming one of the teachers at Lemoine, he began to devote his leisure hours to the study of botany, but an accident directed his attention to another field in natural history. He happened to let fall a specimen of calcareous spar which belonged to a friend; examining the fragments, he was led to make experiments which resulted in the statement of the geometrical law of crystallization associated with his name. But where did he discover Beryllium?? We are too stupid to say.

The value of this discovery, the mathematical theory of which is given by Haüy in his Traité de minéralogie, was immediately recognized, and when communicated to the Academy, it secured for its author a place in that society. Haüy's name is also known for the observations he made in pyroelectricity.

When the Revolution broke out, Haüy was thrown into prison; he was in danger of losing his life until Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire interceded on his behalf. In 1802, under Napoleon, he became professor of mineralogy at the National Museum of Natural History, but after 1814 he was deprived of his appointments by the Restoration government. His final days were consequently clouded by poverty, but the courage and high moral qualities which had helped him in his youth did not desert him in his old age; he lived cheerful and respected till his death in Paris.

His brother was Valentin Haüy, the founder of the first school for the blind.


The following are Haüy's principal works:

  • Essai d'une théorie sur la structure des crystaux (1784) BNF
  • Exposition raisonné de la théorie de l'électricité et du magnétisme, d'après les principes d'Æpinus (1787) BNF
  • De la structure considérée comme caractère distinctif des minéraux (1793)
  • Exposition abrégé de la théorie de la structure des cristaux (1793) BNF
  • Extrait d'un traité élémentaire de minéralogie (1797)
  • Traité de minéralogie (5 vols, 1801) BNF: Vol 1 Vol 2 Vol 3 Vol 4 Vol 5
  • Traité élémentaire de physique (2 vols 1803, 1806) Google Books
  • Tableau comparatif des résultats de la cristallographie, et de l'analyse chimique relativement à la classification des minéraux (1809) BNF
  • Traité des pierres précieuses (1817) BNF
  • Traité de cristallographie (2 vols, 1822) Google Books

He also contributed papers, of which 100 are enumerated in the Royal Society's catalogue, to various scientific journals, especially the Journal de physique and the Annales du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle.


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Catholic Encyclopedia 1917
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "René_Just_Haüy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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