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A page from Simon de La Loubère :
Du Royaume de Siam.
Illustration from the English edition (1693).

Simon de la Loubère (1642–1729) was a French diplomat, writer, mathematician and poet.


Mission to Siam

Simon de la Loubère led an embassy to Siam (modern Thailand) in 1687 (the "La Loubère-Céberet mission").[1] The embassy, composed of five warships, arrived in Bangkok in October 1687 and was received by Ok-khun Chamnan. de la Loubère returned to France onboard the Gaillard on 3 January 1688, accompanied by the Jesuit Guy Tachard, and a Siamese embassy led by Ok-khun Chamnan.[2]

Upon his return, de la Loubère made a precise description of his travels, as he had been requested by Louis XIV, published under the title Du Royaume de Siam:

"It was by the orders, which I had the honours to receive from the King upon leaving for my voyage to Siam, that I observed in that country, as exactly as possible, all that appeared to be the most singular."
Du Royaume de Siam, Simon de la Loubère.[3]

French career

A description of the Siamese method for creating magic squares, in Simon de la Loubère's 1693 A new historical relation of the kingdom of Siam.

De la Loubère was elected member of the Académie Française (1693–1729), where he received Seat 16, following the 1691 publication of his book Du Royaume de Siam.[4]

De la Loubère was a friend of the German scientist Gottfried Liebnitz, and once wrote that he had "no greater joy than (to discuss) philosophy and mathematics" with him (22 January 1681 correspondance).[5]


Magic square

De la Loubère also brought to France from his Siamese travels a very simple method for creating n-odd magic squares, known as the "Siamese method" or the "de la Loubère method",[6][7][8] which apparently was initially brought from Surat, India by another Frenchman by the name of M. Vincent, who was sailing on the return ship with de la Loubère.[9]

Siamese parachute

Simon de la Loubère is also famous for making one of the earliest account of a parachute following his embassy to Siam. He reported in his 1691 book that a man would jump from a high place with two large umbrellas to entertain the king of Siam, landing into trees, rooftops, and sometimes rivers.[10][11][12]


  • Du Royaume de Siam, 1691 Full text
  • Traité de l'origine des jeux floraux de Toulouse (1715)
  • De la Résolution des équations, ou de l'Extraction de leurs racines, 1732 Full text

See also


  1. ^ Smithies, p.2
  2. ^ Smithies, p.3
  3. ^ Distant Lands and Diverse Cultures: The French Experience in Asia, 1600-1700 By Glenn Joseph Ames, Ronald S. Love Page 181 [1]
  4. ^ Smithies, p.59
  5. ^ Distant Lands and Diverse Cultures: The French Experience in Asia, 1600-1700 By Glenn Joseph Ames, Ronald S. Love, Page 194 [2]
  6. ^ Mathematical Circles Squared" By Phillip E. Johnson, Howard Whitley Eves, p.22
  7. ^ CRC Concise Encyclopedia of Mathematics By Eric W. Weisstein, Page 1839 [3]
  8. ^ The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars By Clifford A. Pickover Page 38 [4]
  9. ^ A new historical relation, Tome II, p.228
  10. ^ Parachuting: The Skydiver's Handbook Dan Poynter, Mike Turoff p.86
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of military technology and innovation Stephen Bull p.200 [5]
  12. ^ A system of aeronautics John Wise p.57

Further reading

  • Smithies, Michael (1999), A Siamese embassy lost in Africa 1686, Silkworm Books, Bangkok, ISBN 9747100959
Preceded by
François Tallemant l'Aîné
Seat 16 of the
Académie française

Succeeded by
Claude Sallier


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