FYI July 12, 2021

On This Day

1790 – The Civil Constitution of the Clergy is passed in France by the National Constituent Assembly.
The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (French: “Constitution civile du clergé”) was a law passed on 12 July 1790 during the French Revolution, that caused the immediate subordination of the Catholic Church in France to the French government.[1]

Earlier legislation had already arranged the confiscation of the Catholic Church’s French land holdings and banned monastic vows. This new law completed the destruction of the monastic orders, outlawing “all regular and secular chapters for either sex, abbacies and priorships, both regular and in commendam, for either sex”, etc. It also sought to settle the chaos caused by the earlier confiscation of Church lands and the abolition of the tithe.[2] Additionally, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy regulated the current dioceses so that they could become more uniform and aligned with the administrative districts that had recently been created.[3][page needed] It emphasised that officials of the church could not provide commitment to anything outside France, specifically the papacy (due to the great power and influence it wielded).[3][page needed] Lastly, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy made bishops and priests elected.[3][page needed] By having members of the Clergy elected the church lost much of the authority it had to govern itself and was now subject to the people, since they would vote on the priest and bishops as opposed to these individuals being appointed by the church and the hierarchy within.[3][page needed]

The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed and some of the support for this came from figures that were within the Church, such as the priest and parliamentarian Pierre Claude François Daunou, and, above all, the revolutionary priest Henri Grégoire, who was the first French Catholic priest to take the Obligatory Oath. King Louis XVI ultimately yielded to the measure after originally opposing it.



Born On This Day

1879 – Margherita Piazzola Beloch, Italian mathematician (d. 1976)
Margherita Piazzolla Beloch (12 July 1879, in Frascati – 28 September 1976, in Rome)[1] was an Italian mathematician who worked in algebraic geometry, algebraic topology and photogrammetry.

Beloch was the daughter of the German historian Karl Julius Beloch, who taught ancient history for 50 years at Sapienza University of Rome, and American Bella Bailey.[1]

Beloch studied mathematics at the Sapienza University of Rome and wrote her undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Guido Castelnuovo. She received her degree in 1908[1] with Lauude and “dignita’ di stampa” which means that her work was worthy of publication and in fact her thesis “Sulle trasformazioni birazionali nello spazio” (On Birational Transformations In Space) was published in the Annali di Matematica Pura ed Applicata.[2]

Guido Castelnuovo was very impressed with her talent and offer her the position of assistant which Margherita took and held until 1919, when she moved to Pavia and the successive year to Palermo to work under Michele De Franchis, an important figure of the Italian school of algebraic geometry at the time.[1]

In 1924, Beloch completed her “libera docenza” (a degree that at that time had to be obtained before one could become a professor) and three years later she became a full professor at the University of Ferrara where she taught until her retirement (1955).[1]

Scientific work
Her main scientific interests were in algebraic geometry, algebraic topology and photogrammetry.

After her thesis, she worked on classification of algebraic surfaces studying the configurations of lines that could lie on surfaces. The next step was to study rational curves lying on surfaces and in this framework Beloch obtained the following important result:[3] “Hyperelliptic surfaces of rank 2 are characterised by having 16 rational curves.”

Beloch also made some contributions to the theory of skew algebraic curves.[4] She continued working on topological properties of algebraic curves either planar or lying on ruled or cubic surfaces for most of her life, writing about a dozen papers on these subjects.[5]

Around 1940 Beloch become more and more interested in photogrammetry and the application of mathematics, and in particular algebraic geometry, to it. She is also known for her contribution to the mathematics of paper folding:[6] In particular she seems to have been the first to formalise an origami move which allows, when possible, to construct by paper folding the common tangents to two parabolas. As a consequence she showed how to extract cubic roots by paper folding,[7] something that is impossible to do by ruler and compass. The move she used has been called the Beloch fold.[8]



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