René Descartes devised a Theory of Vortices which postulated that the space was entirely filled with matter in various states, whirling about the sun!
Descartes attempted to figure out the enigma of gravity and the necessity of a medium in space for any function to happen (including gravitation!) with the "Vortex" Theory of colliding particles which hypothesized that the collisions supply the force that pushed the planets towards the Sun. His theory might have been disproved later, but his philosophy and the attempt at a solution were very influential for further research in the later part of the seventeenth century.
Matter and motion were used by Descartes to explain every natural process by means of mechanical models, even though he did not put a stamp of finality on his theory. They provided merely the "most likely models" which seemed quite plausible if you try to apply basic laws of nature!
Armed with matter and motion, Descartes attacked the basic Copernican theories. Bodies once in motion, Descartes argued, remain in motion in a straight line unless and until they are deflected from this line by the impact of another body. All changes of motion are the result of such impacts. A ball thrown up from a ship falls on the deck because some matter (and hence a force) is preventing it from moving along in the same direction as the ship. Planets move around the Sun because they are swept around by whirlpools of a subtle matter filling all space. Similar models could be constructed to account for all phenomena! The Cartesian matter and motion will go on endlessly, propelled by nature!. The Cartesian cosmos, as Voltaire later put it, was like a watch that had been wound up at the creation and continues ticking to eternity!
He assumed that the universe is filled with matter which, due to some initial motion, has settled down into a system of vortices which carry the sun, the stars, the planets and comets in their paths. Despite the problems with the vortex theory it was championed in France for nearly one hundred years even after Newton showed it was impossible as a dynamical system.
The Cartesian System was so entrenched at that time because none could admit the idea that the great masses of Planets were suspended in empty space and they were held in their orbits by an invisible influence! So there must be a matter and a force!
Descartes believed that God created the universe as a perfect clockwork mechanism of vortical motion that functioned deterministically thereafter without intervention.
"I hope that posterity will judge me kindly, not only as to the things which I have explained, but also to those which I have intentionally omitted so as to leave to others the pleasure of discovery."