Gregory Brown
513 Agnes Arnold Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3004

Leibniz's Work Room
Leibniz's Folding Chair

On the left is a picture of Leibniz's work room (rearranged) at Schmiedestraße Nr. 10,  in his last residence in Hanover (1698-1716), which also housed library rooms. The court library, settled in the palace (although not readily accessible) under duke Johann Friedrich (1625-1679) and then also under duke Ernst August (1629-1698),  and moved out in 1688,  increasingly came to be Leibniz's reference collection and can often be scarcely separated from his private library. On the right is a picture of Leibniz's folding chair, which he took with him when traveling.

And speaking of chairs:  For the last twenty years of his life, Leibniz was greatly afflicted with the gout. He eventually developed a limp, and his secretary, Johann Georg Eckhart, observed that by 1714 his feet, hands, and shoulders had become so compromised by the advanced state of his condition that Leibniz could no longer work without interruption, as had been his previous practice. Later Leibniz developed open sores on his right leg, a condition that, according to Eckhart, implicated both Leibniz's chairs and his working habits:

"Normally he first went to bed at one or two in the morning. Often he just slept in his chair, and would be awake again and ready to go at six or seven in the morning. Sometimes he would remain several days in his chair. I believe that this is what led to his having an open sore on his right leg. This caused him difficulty in walking; he tried to remedy it, but only by putting blotting paper on it.

"Later, to reduce the pain and to make the nerves insensitive he had a number of wooden clamps made, and these he screwed onto himself wherever he felt pain. I suspect that by doing this he so damaged his nerves that eventually he could no longer use his feet and had to stay in bed." [Guhrauer.II.336; as translated in Mates, p. 29]


  • Heinekamp, Albert  and Isolde Hein. Leibniz und Europa (Hanover: Schlütersche, 1994).
  • Mates, Benson. The Philosophy of Leibniz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • Guhrauer, G. Gottfried Wilhelm Freiherr von Leibniz: Eine Biographie. 2 vols. Breslau, 1846. Reprinted Hildesheim, 1966.