Le capitaine Contenant la maniere de fortifier places, assaillir, & defendre.

[Geneva]: Jean de Tournes, 1600.


4to (pp. [viii] 151 [i]. ¶4, a-d4, e-n2, o4, p-s2, t4 ,v-z2, A-E2, F-G4, (q1v blank). Roman letter some Italic and civilité. Title within architectural woodcut border, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments, many woodcut illustrations (some double-page), 4 folding woodcut plates (one double-sided), De Tounres’ woodcut device on verso of final leaf, armorial bookplate of Thomas Francis Fremantle, Lord Cottesloe on fly. Light age yellowing, very minor dust soiling in upper margin in places, the rare spot or mark. A very good, clean copy, with folding plates in perfect condition, in handsome C17th english panelled sheep, covers double blind ruled to a panel design, outer panel sprinkled, inner panel with dentelle rule, spine with gilt ruled bands red morocco label gilt, all edges blue, head band chipped, a little rubbed.

A very good copy of the third edition of this influential translation into French by Jean de Tournes of Cataneo’s ‘Opera nuova’, beautifully illustrated with many fine woodcuts. Cataneo (or Cattaneo, active 1540-1584) was a military engineer who worked in Brescia and Mantua, and he also helped design parts of the new town of Sabbioneta for Vespasiano Gonzaga. He ran a school in Brescia and was held in high regard by his contemporaries in the field of military architecture. The work is an argument on how to build fortresses to make them safer, both in theory and practice, a reminder of the prestige Cataneo enjoyed as a military architect and mathematician whose treatises had a powerful influence on military building across the Mediterranean and the coast of Africa.“Lanteri’s mathematics teacher, Girolamo Cataneo, was a geometric planner by inclination, but his ‘Opera nuovo di fortificare’ (1564) shows that he was realistic enough to allow that the paper designs need to be modified by and adjusted to the local conditions of the terrain in which the fortress is to be built.” Horst de la Croix. ‘The Literature on Fortification in Renaissance Italy’.

“Girolamo Cataneo was probably born sometime after the beginning of the 16th. century. He seems to have been interested in warfare and cultivated Mathematics from his youth on. At some time he served Charles V in Lombardy. Details of the sort of life Girolamo led are scarce. Lanteri featured him as the protagonist of his, dialogue, of his earlier work, teaching fortification through mathematics at Brescia in the 1550’s; he also mentioned him as likewise teaching at the Castle of Arco in 1542. In his first work on fortification Girolamo stated that he had taught verbally in the area for many years; which matches Lanteri’s picture. Girolamo began publishing with a calendrical work in 1562. 1563, saw the appearance of his mathematical treatment of arrays of soldiers and the next year his first work on fortification was published. Girolamo had no new publications until his more elementary work on fortification appeared in 1571, although his earlier works had appeared in different combinations in later editions, in between. His final work on surveying appeared in 1572: All these works appeared at Brescia. It seems likely, then that Girolamo spent much of his life in courts and castles propounding mathematical topics, with particular emphasis on the use of mathematics in warfare. At a number of points Girolamo indicated that he considered there to be two main sources of understanding in practical knowledge. On the one hand experience, and on the other mathematical knowledge. His concern with mathematics, particularly geometry, ran through all his published works. At the same time the sort of geometry he presented was never of a particularly high level. The instructional section to his ‘Opera Nuova de fortificare’ for instance contained mainly simple constructions such as in replicating an angle, discussed at some length.” ‘Christopher Malagh. Science, Warfare and Society in the Renaissance, with particular reference to fortification theory.’

A handsome copy of this most influential work.

USTC 53137. Brunet I:1655. Gilmont ‘Les éditions imprimées à Genève, Lausanne et Neuchâtel aux XVe et XVIe siècles’ 4100. 


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