Fermat and His Correspondents
Fermat’s outwardly uneventful life is soon told. He was born into a prosperous middle-class family in Beaumont de Lomagne, a little town in the south of France, not far from Toulouse in the province of Languedoc. His mother Claire de LONG belonged to the “noblesse de robe”, which means that her family had been ennobled through one or more of its members holding a magistrate’s office. He was baptized Pierre FERMAT on 20 August 1601. Before 1631 he spent some time, perhaps some years, in Bordeaux. On 14 May 1631 he was received into the “parlement”, i.e., the provincial High Court of Judicature, in Toulouse, with the title of councilor, an office which he held until his death; in virtue of it he was thereafter styled Monsieur de Fermat, and is so referred to by his contemporaries. On 1 June 1631 he was married to Louise de LONG, a distant cousin of his mother’s. They had two sons and three daughters; the elder son Samuel became a magistrate, and, like his father, a councilor in the Toulouse High Court; his brother took orders and became a canon in the cathedral church in Castres; one daughter got married, two became nuns. Fer-mat’s professional life was divided between Toulouse, his main residence, and Castres, which was the seat of the “Chambre de l’Edit” of the Toulouse High Court; this was the judicial instance concerned with the relations between the catholic and protestant communities of the province1. Fermat died in Castres on 12 January 1665 during one of his turns of office there.
KeywordsNumber Theory Rational Point Prime Divisor Diophantine Equation Quadratic Residue
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