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The first few big scientists like Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo are not British. Then comes Newton. And since then it seems that the British start dominating science.

What was the social and political reason for this change?

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    $\begingroup$ But not only Newton: Gilbert, Harvey, Thiomas Hariot, Henry Briggs, Isaac Barrow, John Wallis, Christopher Wren, Hooke, Robert Boyle. $\endgroup$ – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 2 '17 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ This view of history is too selective. In addition to British scientists before Newton (as far back as the 14th century Oxford Calculators) there were plenty "big" non-British ones during and after: Huygens, Leibniz, D'Alembert, Euler, Lagrange, Lavoisier, Gauss, Laplace, Fresnel, Carnot, Helmholtz, etc. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Apr 2 '17 at 19:46
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"Then comes Newton". You forget John Napier, a.k.a. Marvellous Merchiston, who invented logarithms and decimal representation of real numbers. He was a contemporary of Brahe, Galileo and Kepler. His inventions revolutionized mathematics and astronomy. And he was not alone: Henry Brigs was another British mathematician who cooperated with Napier. There is no doubt that their discovery was the greatest mathematical discovery of that time.

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Before Newton, French physics was dominant. The medieval physicists before Galileo and Newton who made the biggest contributions to physics (e.g., Oresme and Buridan) were Parisian, although there there were British ones like Bradwardine.

On the relationship between French and English physics, see pp. 55ff. of Duhem's Aim & Structure of Physical Theory or his article "The English School and Physical Theory." This article discusses the transition of physics manuals before Newton, which focused more on Cartesian physics (with his vortex theory, etc.), to those that discussed Newtonian physics.

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