Italian Paleography


Chicago, Newberry Library, Wing MS folio ZW 1 .7v
Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban
Fortification by “Monsiu di Vouban”
Italy, between 1700 and 1799

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The works of Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban had a revolutionary impact on the art of war making, sieges, and fortification. His treatises and projects were quickly disseminated throughout Europe, to the point that many original projects made by his followers were sold as his own. This document is an excerpt of a short treatise on geometry and fortifications that explains some of the most relevant innovations developed by Vauban. The recto of the leaf describes the calculations for building so-called “irregular fortifications.” The description seems to be a professional text since it adopts technical jargon, and includes a geometric diagram of said calculations. It was likely written for engineers and surveyors. The verso, on the contrary, seems as if it was written for a completely different, nonprofessional audience. The text in fact clearly states that it was intended “for those who did not study or did not practice” the art of engineering. It would likely have been necessary for such readers to consult an expert on the subject who could verbally explain the jargon and the meaning of certain key words used in the text. Still, it encourages the audience to engage with the calculations, and to check designs and plans with those of Vauban.


Corsiva (sec. XVIII) professionale, ricca di elementi decorativi, moderatamente legta e abbreviata.
Da notare: la p a volte con occhiello in cima all’asta (13, r. 1: operationi); la z su rigo e sotto il rigo (13, r. 14: alterazzione); il legamento ch (13, r. 1: chi); l’abbreviazione in un sol tempo per per (13, r. 2: per).

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Item fully digitized here.