Between the 1670s and 1680s, the French King Louis XIV's evolving vision for the fountains of the Versailles gardens challenged the knowledge and abilities of his hydraulic engineers. The supplying of water to Versailles and achieving the desired effects with water jets posed major problems. Since solving them required an understanding of hydrostatics and the principles of natural motion, the work was well-suited to the expert members of the Académie des Sciences. Indeed, some members had been working on the motion and properties of water in connection with theories of mechanics and simple machines since the Académie's beginnings in 1666. This article focuses on the related work of these academicians, especially Claude Perrault, Christiaan Huygens, and Edmé Mariotte. It discusses how they saw a challenge such as the Versailles fountains as an opportunity to produce practical knowledge driven by natural philosophical principles.


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pp. 1108-1128
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