An Italian guide to war
This beautifully hand-colored book is a 1588 translation of Niccolò Tartaglia’s Quesiti et inventioni diverse, which offers practical advice on the technology of war.
Niccolò Tartaglia. Three bookes of colloquies concerning the arte of shooting in great and small peeces of artillerie . . . now translated into English by Cyprian Lucar. London, [Thomas Dawson] for John Harrison [the elder], 1588. Folger call number STC 23689 copy 3.
While Elizabethan England lacked much firsthand experience in ground combat, its Continental neighbors endured a series of wars that led in turn to advances in military science. For the English, therefore, European texts became the primary source of knowledge about emerging methods of warfare. This beautifully hand-colored book is a 1588 translation by Cyprian Lucar of Niccolò Tartaglia’s Quesiti et inventioni diverse, first published in Venice in 1546.
Much of Tartaglia’s text offers practical advice for the gunner, such as the type of gunpowder to use. He also uses mathematical principles to explain trajectories. These pages instruct the reader in how to aim a mortar to shoot “fireworks or great stones” over a wall or other obstacle. For greater clarity, the scenario is depicted first as a realistic drawing at left, and then diagrammatically at right.
A mathematician and a natural philosopher, Tartaglia was himself wounded as a boy during the 1512 attack on Brescia, and was left with a permanent speech impediment and the self-assigned nickname Tartaglia, “the stammerer.” Although he translated Euclid’s Elements and published two treatises on mechanics by Archimedes, he is best known today for his writings on the technology of war.