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MONTE, Guidobaldo del (1545–1607)

MONTE, Guidobaldo del (1545–1607)

Mechanicorum liber. Guidobali e Marchionibus montis Mechanicorum liber. Pisauri apud Hieronymum Concordiam. M. D. LXXVII. Cum licentia superiorum.

Pesaro: Girolamo Concordia, 1577
Folio: [maltese cross]–2[maltese cross]4(blank 2[maltese cross]4) A–2K4 (–2K4 blank), 139 of 140 leaves, ff. [8] 130 [1], errata and colophon on 2K3, wanting the blank 2K4. Roman letter, double rule border to each page, a fine series of woodcut initial letters and 265 woodcut diagrams in the text. There is a cancel slip pasted to f. 82.
Condition: 325 x 225mm, a large copy with a few deckle edges showing; light foxing and soiling to the title and here and there in the text; tears in the lower margins of leaves A4, B3 and D1 mended with old paper, the first and last touching the rule borders; light
Binding: Contemporary Spanish limp vellum with contemporary or early bold MS spine lettering ‘Mechanicor. Guidi. Ubald[i]’, the end of the title obscured by an old paper shelf label with MS number 84, overwritten with another shelf-mark, ‘I.B.I.G.’ Front endleaf
Provenance: 1. Probably a student of Julio Cesar Ferrufino (c. 1535–1604) at the Real Academia de Matemáticas de Madrid, contemporary inscription on front free endleaf ‘Don felipe tercero de Austria’ (Lord Philip III of Austria) / ‘Protector eres de la fe divina’ (Hereditary protector of the divine faith). The first line is used as the key to an alphanumeric code with sequential numbering 1–25 beneath the letters of the first line; the second line is then used as a plaintext with the numerical ciphertext written below; substantial marginal annotations in same hand on some 20 leaves, including corrections to text and diagrams, calculations, etc; annotator’s monogram or paraph on dedication leaf [cross]2r (twice), signing an emendation to an annotation referring to Ferrufino on 126v and, perhaps a different mark, at end of text on 130v. 2. Unidentified library, bookplate removed, shelfmarks on spine. 3. Sotheby’s New York, 11 December 2009, lot 202.
First edition. An Italian translation was published at Venice in 1581.
Bibliography: EDIT16 CNCE 16711; Adams U7; Roberts and Trent pp. 228–9; Riccardi II, 178.

The most important treatise on mechanics since Archimedes and one which had a significant influence on Galileo’s science. This is a fascinating and revealing copy of a book known to have been used at Spain’s first scientific academy; the extensive annotations are those of a student under the instruction of Julio Cesar Ferrufino (c. 1535-1604), the academy’s Professor of Mathematics.

Guidobaldo’s Mechnicorum.Writing after the restoration of Archimedes by Commandino in 1558 and 1565, Guidobaldo ‘had before him a pattern of the most fruitful method conceivable of reasoning mathematically about physical matters’ (Drake, p. 46). He rejected the medieval traditions of Jordanus and others and has been criticised for an overzealous dedication to classical methods: ‘But if, in his treatment of simple machines, he fell short of a principle that would unify statics and dynamics, his Mechanics was nevertheless the first truly systematic attempt at a rigorous treatment of the field, and it paved the way for Galileo’s synthesis of all the traditions that influenced mechanics in the sixteenth century’ (Drake p. 48).
‘The most valuable and original section of the work [which was adopted by Galileo] deals with the analysis of pulley systems. It is not only correct in method and (to the best of my knowledge) original with Guido, but is inherently productive in that it shows how one simple machine (the pulley) may be reduced to another (the lever) which superficially does not resemble it.’ (Drake p. 47). The woodcut illustrations are equally innovative, setting figurative illustrations of the machines next to abstract diagrams, not only showing their inner workings, but more importantly allowing for geometrical reasoning and analysis of their operation.
‘From the time of its publication in 1577 Guidobaldo’s Liber mechanicorum was indeed recognised as the most authoritative treatise on statics to emerge since antiquity, and it remained preeminent until the appearance of Galileo’s Two new sciences in 1638. It marks the high point of the Archimedean revival of the Renaissance. Not only did Guidobaldo establish statics on the rigorous mathematical procedures of Archimedes, but he also introduced an historiography of mechanics which was designed to legitimise the Archimedean revival’ (Rose p. 222).
Guidobaldo (Guido Ubaldo), Marchese del Monte, was born at Pesaro in 1545 and entered the University of Padua in 1564 (where his companions included the poet Torquato Tasso). After university he continued his studies under Federico Commandino at Urbino. In 1588 Galileo wrote to him with some theorems on centres of gravity asking for an opinion, and so began a correspondence which lasted until Guidobaldo’s death in 1607. It was through Guidobaldo’s influence that Galileo got the chair of mathematics at Pisa and later a better post at Padua.

Ferrufino and the annotations.
The extensive annotations make clear that this copy was used by a student close to the Spanish crown, perhaps even by the future Philip III, under the instruction of Julio Cesar Ferrufino, a professor at the Real Academia de Matemáticas de Madrida and key figure in Spain’s scientific community. The annotations, mostly in Latin but occasionally in Spanish, refer to ‘Doctor Ferrufino’ and we can assume that the student’s annotations record the master’s mathematical comments, demonstrations, emendations and corrections to Guidobaldo’s text and diagrams.
The key to an alphanumeric code is written in a contemporary hand on an endleaf: ‘Don Felipe tercero de Austria’, that is the future Philip III of Spain (1578–1621). Philip III succeeded to the throne of Spain on the death of his father Philip II (1527–1598) in 1598. The use of Philip III’s name as the key to a code suggests that this copy belonged to someone close to the court. Philip is known to have studied mathematics and astronomy and the Real Academia would have been the natural venue for such study.
The Academy was founded by Philip II in 1582 with Juan de Herrera as its first director. It was to serve not only the needs of Empire, working closely with the Council of the Indies on matters such as improving navigational techniques, artillery, fortifications, etc., but also as a leading centre of serious science, outside of the universities and free of religious control. In Juan de Herrera’s foundation document, Institucion de la Academia Real Mathematica en castellano, (Madrid, 1584), it was proposed to make the Academy a multi-disciplinary institute where all the sciences were brought together. The curriculum was founded upon mathematics and cosmography, and the works of Euclid, Apollonius, Ptolemy, Hero, Archimedes, and Boethius were the principal ancient authors studied, while ‘modern’ authors included Pacioli, Nunes, Clavius, and Tartaglia. In addition, the Sphere of Sacrobosco was taught in a Spanish version. The annotations are consistent with this being a textbook of such a curriculum, and this is confirmed by Barreno citing a letter written in 1599 to the Jesuit mathematician Christoph Clavius on behalf of the Academy and Ferrufino in particular, which states that amongst the texts taught by Ferrufino were the Liber mechanicorum of Guidobaldo and the theory of proportions, including Clavius’ commentary on Euclid, but with a different interpretation than that given by Clavius.
Julio Cesar Ferrufino (or Ferrofino) (Milan c. 1535–Valladolid? 1604) studied mathematics and ballistics in Milan and Rome. He was professor of mathematics at the Escula de Artilleria in Burgos, in the Academia de Artilleria Navale in Seville, and in the Fabrica de Municiones in Malaga. He was in the service of Philip II from 1575 until his death in 1604, and one of his duties was to work with the Council of the Indies on matters of navigation, cartography, horology, etc. On 30 September 1595 Philip appointed him Professor of Mathematics (Catedrático de Matemáticas de Palacio) to the Academia Real de Mathemática. He was charged with teaching two courses of mathematics and physics, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to keep up his duties to the Council of the Indies, to translate the texts necessary for the course of studies, and to report to Juan de Herrera. Upon the deaths Juan de Herrera in 1597 and of Philip II in 1598, Ferrofino was in sole charge of the Academy under the aegis of Philip III until his own death in 1604.
Ferrufino was the author of a manuscript Descripción y tratado muy breve y lo más provechoso de Artilleria, now in the National Library in Madrid (Antonio Lafuente and Javier Moscoso, eds, Madrid, ciencia y corte (Madrid 199, pp 131–2). He is mentioned in Gines de Rocamora’s Sphera del Universo (Madrid, 1599). This book was published for Juan de Herrera and was sold in the Royal Palace and was evidently a textbook for the Academy. Ferrufino wrote the ‘Aprovacion’, dated 1 October 1598. Gines writes: ‘el doctor Furrufino Cathedratico por su Magestad, que leyo los quarto primeros libros de Uclides y la material de sphere [of Sacrobosco] con tanta claridad y demostracion que lo entendieran los muy rudos’ (f. 6 verso, B2v).
Literature: On Guidobaldo see Stillman Drake and I. E. Drabkin Mechanics in sixteenth century Italy (Madison, WI, 1969); and Paul Lawrence Rose, The Italian Renaissance of mathematics (Geneva, 1975). On Ferrufino see Pedro Garcia Barreno, ‘Avatares de la Academia de Matemáticas de Felipe II’, [in:] Institucion de la Academia Real Mateméatica (Madrid, 2006), pp 135–195.
Keywords:     annotated book    mechanics