The mathematicians of the Renaissance applied their geometry to all manner of practical disciplines - from navigation and surveying to cartography and perspective. They aimed to demonstrate the usefulness of geometry as well as its ingenuity and certainty, and to associate it with action, achievement and progress. Many new instruments were designed in this context, as the collections of this museum amply demonstrate.

Developments in the art of warfare in the late 15th and 16th centuries provided another outlet for geometry, and the mathematicians were quick to respond by devising techniques, designing instruments and writing books. Heavy guns manufactured in single metal castings were longer, capable of more accurate fire, and were adjustable in elevation. Consequently, gunners needed instruments to measure both the inclination of the barrel and the distance to the target, together with a means of relating these two measurements. Geometers offered a variety of solutions to these problems, as well as designs for fortifications to withstand attack from the new artillery.

The ingenuity and precision of many instruments, and in some cases their elegance, poise and delicacy, contrasts with the harsh conditions of the battlefield. How usable would they really have been in practice? They were supposed to be employed in battle but it is clear that their purported military value also had other functions, in justifying textbook geometrical problems, for example, or in attracting patronage.

This virtual version of the exhibition includes Summaries which list the instruments and books and also provide a way into the Catalogue with its Figures of every object. The summaries reflect the three main divisions of the exhibition - Gunnery, Rangefinding and Surveying, and Fortification - and also cover Troop Formations and the Telescope. The introductory Essay from the printed catalogue is also available in electronic form, as is the Bibliography. In addition, a Name Index offers a further means of moving between catalogue entries. Each of these sections may be accessed through the navigation bar at the bottom of each screen.

Exhibition Contents   Introduction   Summaries    Essay    Catalogue   Figures   Bibliography    Name Index
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