MAROLOIS, Samuel with GIRARD, Albert and HEXAM, Henry

MAROLOIS, Samuel with GIRARD, Albert and HEXAM, Henry The Art of Fortification or Architecture Militaire.

Amsterdam, Ian Iansen, 1638


FIRST EDITION THUS. 4to. Two parts in one vol. Pp. (iv) 44; 48 (clxviii). Roman letter, some Italic. 42 double page foldout engraved plates numbered 1-40, pls 14 and 17 duplicated. Architectural engraved tp by Willem Outgertsz Akersloot (1600-1661) of figures with geometrical and military iconography, intricate woodcut initials to dedication and p. 1, woodcut headpiece and tailpiece. Plates exhibit geometrical shapes and calculations, landscape designs, floorplans, building instruments and materials. Tear to lower edge of feps and first three leaves, discoloration to lower margin of same and again to lower margin of last few leaves not affecting plates. A good clean copy, in attractive contemporary vellum, scuffed and frayed at lower edges, some ink stains to covers.

Very rare first English edition described by Cockle 139 as “the first work on fortification printed in English in which the subject is treated scientifically.” Samuel Marolois (1572-1627) was a Dutch mathematician and military engineer. It was first published in French in 1614 within Marolois’s Oeuvres Mathématicques and translated to English in this edition by Henry Hexam. Marolois was one of the first writers to publish the abbreviation “Sin E” to denote the sine of an angle. He fortified cities by using geometrical calculations which can be seen in the extensive foldout engravings. Examples include the city of Coevorden which utilised a heptagon shape. He is considered to be the creator of the ‘Dutch route’ or Fausse Braye, a parapet which is traced parallel to the enceinte (the enclosing wall) of a fortified place between the enceinte rampart and main ditch. This meant that the attacking army would have had to overpower the first enceinte before advancing onto the main rampart. Marolois was the amongst the first to write poliorcetic works (books about the siege of cities); these were used widely in Holland and Europe until advances in artillery towards the end of the 17th century outmoded them.

This work was published during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), where novel military models were being developed. Because the fighting was occurring in the Netherlands, they were “especially adapted to mud flats, alluvial and coastal terrains, and harbours defended by sluices, floodgates and iron chains” (Mateus, João M. “The Science of Fortification in Malta in the Context of European Architectural Treatises and Military Academics”, 2006).

 Albert Girard (1595-1632) was a French-born mathematician who contributed to Marolois’s work “in the form of observations” (Cockle 139). He was the first to use ‘sin’, ‘cos’ and ‘tan’ for the trigonometric functions in a treatise, as well as giving the inductive definition for the Fibonacci numbers. English mathematician Charles Hutton described Girard as “the first person who understood the general doctrine of the formation of the coefficients of the powers from the sum of the roots and their products. He was the first who discovered the rules for summing the powers of the roots of any equation.”

Henry Hexam (ca. 1585-1650), the translator of this work, was an English military writer. A distant relative of Sir Christopher Heydon, he first trained in military affairs under Sir Francis Vere and then spent time in the Low Countries, where he encountered Dutch military theory and techniques. In 1611 he published a Dutch translation of the Highway to Heaven by Thomas Tuke, and he also translated Jodocus Hondius’s Mercator’s Atlas. As well as this work, he published an English-Dutch dictionary, and remained involved in Dutch affairs for the rest of his life.

“English title and imprint pasted over Dutch engraved title page” (STC). The tp is signed by the Dutch Golden Age engraver Willem Outgertsz Akersloot who was a pupil of Jan van de Velde and possibly Jacon van der Schuere. He was renowned for his landscape illustrations inspired by artists such as Pieter de Molijn.

Rare. ESTC records only BL copy in British Isles and Boston Athenaeum, Folger and Yale in US. ESTC S101439; Cockle 139.
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