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When Leonardo sought for a job at the court of Milan he presented himself as an expert in the military arts who in times of peace also could make a decent sculpture and Michelangelo was head of fortifications when the troops of Charles V besieged Florence. Military architecture was considered to be an art that was studied at the European courts and that belonged to the education of noblemen. At the same time Europe was a patchwork of battles that required practical solutions in the lay-out of defense works.M,
Brill’s Military Architecture 1600-1900 contains a selection of 100 printed works that represents the revolutionary developments in fortification in Early Modern Europe in theory and in practice. Similar to the arts, military architecture was split up in national schools or styles, so called fortification manners. The works of Busca, Cattaneo, De Marchi, Tensini, Theti, Zanchi, reflect the Italian School, Errard and Perret the French one and Specklin’s Architektur von Vestungen is an adaptation of the Italian school in Germany. Stevin’s Sterctenbouwing discusses Cattaneo, Theti and Specklin to assess the benefits of their fortification systems for the Low Countries. The later French school is well represented by Pagan and the works of probably the most famous engineer of all times, Vauban. His various “fortification manners” were applied all over Europe and beyond.
The selected works of Menno van Coehoorn reveal how the French system was introduced in the Netherlands, while the works of Paen, Melder, Ruysch and Sturm are illustrative for the heavy debates that resulted from adapting such complex systems to the nordic situation. While these works in Military Architecture 1600-1900 allow for a comparative analysis in text and image of European fortification schools, others focus on more local conditions such as Stevin’s works in Dutch and French on the role of pivoted sluices in the fortifications of various harbor towns.
Moreover, Military Architecture 1600-1900 provides insight in the training of fortification in theory and practice for multiple “user-groups”. While the works of the classical authors Caesar, Valturius and Vegetius were used for the philological study of the military arts at universities, the reality of warfare required for training of practical skills for engineers and landsurveyors in the field. Translations of Euclid, works on the practice of geometry and landsurveying (Mallet, Nienrode, Metius, Sems&Dou) were filling that gap. Although Military Architecture 1600-1900 represents the protagonists of the history of fortification, it also includes lesser known authors such as Bruist, Capo-Bianco, Gaya, Gerbier and Pfeffinger. Moreover, the selection does not limit itself to military architecture, but includes the military arts (artillery, army camps, siege) and history.
Prof.dr. Charles van den Heuvel, Huygens ING and University of Amsterdam
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