In 2016, Hannover will focus on an outstanding achiever in every conceivable sector: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. 2016 will be the 300th anniversary of the death of the last universal genius, who lived and worked in Hannover for 40 years. Leibniz was born in Leipzig on 1 July 1646 and died at the age of 70 years in Hannover on 14 November 1716. He designed the first calculator for the four basic arithmetical operations and described the binary system of the digits 0 and 1, which paved the way for computers. Leibniz’s spirit is reflected in the freshly renovated main building, because he laid the foundations for the library by setting up the original ducal library. As legal advisor and councillor of the Guelph dynasty he was also a prolific correspondent and his letters – which fill 200,000 pages – have been inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Leibniz corresponded with 1,100 people from 16 different countries.
The great respect accorded to Leibniz is also evident from the fact that shortly before he died aged 70 in November 1716, he was visited by the Russian Czar Peter the Great and George I, Elector of Hannover and King of England. Polyglot Leibniz believed it was essential to learn from other nations, rather than to fight them. He is regarded as a pioneer of the Age of Enlightenment, who used reason to combat prejudice and superstition. There are many things throughout Hannover which remind us of Leibniz, from Leibniz University right through to Leibniz cookies – although they were not one of his inventions.