Lionardo da Vinci

Warfare

Warfare 

'When besieged by ambitious tyrants I find a means of offence and defence in order to preserve the chief gift of nature, which is liberty! 

I can noiselessly construct to any prescribed point subterranean passages either straight or winding, passing if necessary underneath trenches or a river! 

[How to make a pontoon] 

Since every river current is swifter in the centre of its breadth than at its sides, and flows faster on its surface than in its bed when the course is equal, and a movable bridge made upon barges is in itself weaker in the middle of its length than towards the extremities, therefore I conclude that as the greater weakness of the bridge is accompanied by the greater percussion of the water this bridge will break in the centre. 

Make it so that in the movement of the bridge the length of the barges will always find itself in line with the current, when the movement will be so much easier as the barges receive less percussion from the water. c.a. 176 r. c 

[Fortification] 

The tower must needs be massive as far as the end of the scarp, then in order that powder may not be thrown there you must make the 
windows high. 

A WAY TO MAKE A CUIRASS 

If you place between two thicknesses of cloth scales of iron[?] 1 and with this make a doublet you may take it as certain that no point will ever be able to penetrate. c.a. 358 v. a 

 

Again a bombard that takes a projectile weighing a hundred pounds 
is of considerably more use in the field than a small cannon, for that 
with pieces of rock inflicts considerable damage upon the enemy, and 
the small cannon or rather its ball, being of lead, does not rebound 
after the first blow by reason of its weight, and on this account it is 
less useful. 

If you set an arrow so that it is just in equilibrium on top of a stone 
which seems on the point of falling over, you will perceive that a large 
bombard if discharged at a distance of ten miles from this arrow will 
cause such a tremor of the ground as to make the said arrow fall, or the 
stone upon which it is balanced. 

Again if you discharge a small bombard in a courtyard surrounded 
by a convenient wall, any vessel that is there or any windows covered 
with cloth or linen will all be instantly broken; and even the roofs will 
be somewhat heaved up and start away from their supports, the walls 
and ground will shake as though there was a great earthquake, and 
the webs of the spiders will all fall down, and the small animals will 
perish, and every body which is near and which is possessed of air 
will suffer instant damage and some measure of loss. 

But this small bombard should be discharged without its shell or if 
you so desire after the fashion of the curtail; * and it will cause women 
to miscarry and also every animal that is with young, and the chicks 
will perish in their shells. c.a. 363 v. d 

Having to make mounds of earth on the two opposite sides of the 
river this is -the most expeditious manner in which it can be done, 
provided you have men with hand-barrows: 

Allowing six shovelfuls to each hand-barrow, and casting the earth 
at a great distance: 

The diggers d enter underneath a shovelful, always drawing them- 
selves back, and the diggers b make another second shovelful below, 
that is deeper down, always going forward; and if there were two 
other similar lines of diggers these would go beneath the third and 
fourth shovelful, and so successively they would be able to continue 
from hand to hand. 

MS. cortaldo. 'Curtail, a kind of cannon with a comparatively short barrel, in use 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.' Oxford English Dictionary. 

 

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Here many men become fatigued merely by taking loads for so great 
a distance, so that we have to consider whether it is better that the men 
should remain in one spot and throw the soil from one to another, or 
should all be employed in digging and throwing, or whether some 
should be carriers of this soil and others throwers. For as regards the 
place where this earth is discharged it requires as much effort for 
the shovelful of the first or of the second to reach it in one way as in 
the other: nothing therefore need be considered here except the con- 
venience and endurance of the workers. c.a. 370 r. b 

[With sketch of cannon] 

The mouth one eighth of its diameter thick, and at its union with 
the tail one quarter of its diameter thick. Tr. 61 a 

If you are attacked by night in your quarters or if you fear to be, 
take care to have mangonels in readiness which can throw iron 
caltrops; and, if you should be attacked, hurl them in among the 
enemy and you will gain time to set your men in order against their 
assailants, the outwitted enemies, who because of the pain caused by 
the wounds in their feet, will be able to effect little. And the plan of 
your attack you will make thus : — divide your men into two squadrons 
and so encircle the enemy; but see to it that you have soles to your 
shoes and that the horses are shod with iron, as I have said before, 
since the caltrops will make no distinction between your men and 
those of the enemy, and see that each mangonel throws a cartload of 
the said caltrops. 

HOW TO PROTECT ONESELF FROM CALTROPS 

If you wear between the foot and the sole of the shoe a sole of cloth 
woven of cords of cotton of the thickness of a finger you will be safe 
from caltrops, which will not thrust themselves into your feet. 

If you wish to be safe from light shifting sand upon the galleys, have 
heavy river sand strewn upon the gangway and where you have to set 
your feet; and pitch will Rx this, and keep sacks always in readiness 
for when they may be needed. Tr. 88 a 

You should make caltrops of plaster with the arch of iron and the 
moulds in three parts, and then the points should be filed. [Below — 

 

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sketches of three caltrops with four points and of one with eight, each 
of the four being duplicated close together — below this is written 
'double caltrop'.] 

These caltrops should be kept in a leather bag by the side of each 
person, so that if the expected victory should be changed to a defeat 
through the strength of the enemy, the fact of these being scattered 
behind them would be the cause of checking the speed of the horses 
and of bringing about the unhoped-for victory. 

But lest in retreating this crop should be the cause of a similar mis- 
take for yourselves, you should first have made ready the irons for the 
horses in the form represented below, and have nailed between the 
iron and the horse's foot a plate of steel as thick and wide as the above- 
mentioned horse's iron. 

And in the case of foot-soldiers they should have iron plates fastened 
to the soles of their shoes, not tied tightly, so that they may be able 
easily to raise their heels and take steps and run when necessary with- 
out any restraining obstacle, and the knot that is left loose should be 
as it is represented here below. 

Moreover if you have a small bag of them by the side of each naval 
combatant and they are then thrown by hand on the enemy's galleys 
or ships they will be sowing the seed of the approaching victory; but 
you should have the shoes bound with iron, as was said above, and 
covered over below with tiny points, in order that if it should come 
about that soft soap be thrown upon your ship you will be able to 
keep your feet, even though the enemy should throw chalk in the 
form of powder in such a dense cloud as to devastate the air which is 
breathed into the lungs. 

You should set up four stations at four positions in the length of the 
ship, and at each of the four stations let there be a small barrel with a 
certain quantity of water, and large syringes which serve to force the 
water out through many small holes, so that the water may become 
changed into spray and may thus accompany the dust of the chalk 
and draw it downwards. 
[Three sketches — below] 

syringe; iron sole for shoes; iron for horse for caltrops. Tr. 90 a 

 

6io WARFARE 

[Drawing of fire-ball] 

This ball as it is thrown becomes extinguished, and as it reaches the 
ground the canes which are bound at the top with linen cloth that has 
been set alight are driven into it, thus igniting the powder which is 
all round a piece of tow that has been soaked in turpentine, the rest 
of it being wrapped in hemp which also has been soaked in turpentine, 
oil of flax, and pitch, and the wrappings should be thin in order that 
the flames may get the air, for otherwise you will do nothing. 

RHOMPHEA 

This rhomphea can be drawn with army horses, as the ancients drew 
other instruments. 

This [small drawing of instrument] is attached to the centre of a 
piece of plank, or piece of chain, or stout cord, that is fastened to a 
lump of stone heavier than the plank and so drawn behind the plank, 
which on the front edge is full of spontoons of the length of a cubit, 
and the said plank will be twelve braccia long, and its surface is 
studded with nails. b 7 r. 

SCORPIONS 

A scorpion is a machine which can hurl stones, darts and arrows; 
and if it is made large it will be suitable for breaking the machines of 
the enemy. 

Other authors are of opinion that a scorpion is a poisoned arrow 
which however little it may touch the blood causes instant death. And 
it is said that this weapon was found among the Scythians, others 
say among the inhabitants of Candia. The brew was made of human 
blood and serpent's venom. This weapon should not be used except 
against traitors, for it comes from them. b 7 v. 

CATAPULT 

The catapult according to Nonius and Pliny is an instrument 
invented by that Ticlete, 2 which threw a dart of three cubits, and with 

1 The notes on instruments of warfare in this manuscript, B of the Institut, are 
extensively derived from the De re militari of Roberto Valturio. 
a Tiglath Pilcser? (Ravaisson-Mollien). 

 

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iron on three sides, thrown by means of wood released from the con- 
traction of twisted sinews. 

A bit of thin steel also springing back when released will have power 
to drive a dart swiftly when it stands in its course. b 8 r. 

RHOMPHEA 

The rhomphea is an instrument which throws out long brands of 
burning wood; it was used among the Thracians according to Aulus 
Gellius, and by the men of other nations it was called flammea. 

THE BOW 

The bow is said to have been invented by the inhabitants of Arcadia, 
some say by Apollo; those of Candia call it Scythian as coming 
from Scythia. And it is much in use among the eastern peoples. They 
make arrows of canes for these bows, and in their battles there are 
sometimes so many of them in the air that the day becomes so 
darkened as to seem like night. So for this reason they have a hatred 
of the clouds and the rain and the winds no less, because they divert 
the course of their arrows; and these causes often bring treaties and 
peace among them. b 8 v. 

The spikes {murici) or caltrops (triboli) are for use on the field of 
battle, in order to scatter them on the side on which there is reason to 
expect the assault of the enemy, and also for throwing among the 
enemy when they follow up their victory. 

The scalpro was a sharpened iron used to prick and control elephants. 
Livy in the Seventh Book of the Carthaginian War says that many 
more elephants were killed by their own governors than by the enemy. 
For when these beasts got enraged with them the governor with a 
mighty blow thrust the sharp scalpro between the ears where the neck 
joins the spinal column; and this was the most rapid death that could 
be given to so huge a beast. 

The veruina according to what I find in a comedy of Plautus 1 is a 
long spear with a sharp iron point for hurling. 

1 The reference is to Plautus's Bacchides, Act 4, Scene 8, 1. 46. Si tibi est machaera, 
et nobis veruina est domi. 

 

812 WARFARE 

The soliferreo is a kind of weapon entirely of iron which the soldiers 
used to throw at their first assault. Livy mentions it in the fourth 
book of the Macedonian War. 

Fonda (sling) is made of a double cord and is somewhat wide where 
it is bent, and being weighted with a stone and then turned twice in 
rapid succession by the arm it releases one of the cords, and the stone 
flies with a noise through the air as if it proceeded from a catapult. 
Flavius * says that it is found among the inhabitants of the Balearic 
Isles, that they have supreme skill in the use of it, and that the mothers 
do not allow their children any other kind of food than what has been 
brought down by them as a mark with a stone shot from a sling. 
Pliny on the other hand says that this sling was invented by the Syro- 
phoenician peoples. 

Glande are leaden balls shot with catapults and slings. b 9 r. 

Auctori according to Celidonius are sickle-shaped weapons with a 
cutting edge on one side only and the length of a braccio. They have 
the handle forked after the fashion of the tail of a swallow. They are 
not carried in a sheath but bare, attached to the girdle. 

Danish are a rather long kind of hatchet: they are said to have been 
much in use among the Danish peoples. But what has to be taken into 
account with respect to instruments of warfare made of iron is that 
that which has been steeped in oil will have a fine edge, and that 
which has been immersed in water will be rough and brittle. Those 
which are soaked in the blood of a goat will be the hardest. Oil, white 
lead and pitch preserve iron from all rust. 

Voice (scythe) is of iron, crescent-shaped, and with a staff fastened 
to one of its horns. This weapon was much in use among the Thracians 
and in naval combats no less than on land. It was afterwards con- 
verted for the use of husbandmen and peasants. 

They were used by the Romans upon their ships; unheard of in 
size and skilfully manipulated by means of ropes they severed the ropes 
of the lateen yards as though they were razors, and caused the sails to 
fall at the same time as the yards, so that what ought to have been a 
help to the enemy was a great hindrance to them. 

Fragilicha is a ball half a foot across, filled with small barrels made 

1 Flavius Josephus? (Ravaisson-Mollien). 

 

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of paper and crammed with pepper, sulphur and ... of Corsica 
(conocorsico). And whoever receives the smell of it falls in a swoon; 
and in the centre of this ball is the powder of a bombard which when 
kindled sets fire to all the barrels, and when it is first thrown among 
the troops with a sling the fire catches a wisp of straw, and the sparks 
proceed to spread over a space of a hundred braccia. b 9 v. 

 

CAR WITH SCYTHES 

[Drawing] 

These cars armed with scythes were of various kinds and often did 
no less injury to friends than they did to enemies, for the captains of 
the armies thinking by the use of these to throw confusion into the 
ranks of the enemy created fear and loss among their own men. 
Against these cars one should employ bowmen, slingers and hurlers 
of spears, and throw all manner of darts, spears, stones and bombs, 
with beating of drums and shouting; and those who are acting thus 
should be dispersed in order that the scythes do not harm them. And 
by this means you will spread panic among the horses and they will 
charge at their own side in frenzy, despite the efforts of their drivers, 
and so cause great obstruction and loss to their own troops. As a pro- 
tection against these the Romans were accustomed to scatter iron 
caltrops, which brought the horses to a standstill and caused them to 
fall down on the ground from pain, leaving the cars without power of 
movement. b 10 r. 

FOR PASSING A RIVER 

You ought when you wish to make the passage of a river with an 
army to make use of wine-skins attached to the saddle, and, as the 
horses are not able to swim much on account of the waves leaping up, 
you should carry an oar fastened to the neck behind so that [the rider] 
can work it when necessary. b 10 v. 

[With drawings: flammea, pilocrotho, arzilla, crusida, lampade, astula] 

The flammea is a ball put together in this manner: Let the following 

things be boiled together, the ashes of willow, saltpetre, aqua vitae, 

sulphur, incense, and melted pitch with camphor, and a skein of 

 

8i 4 WARFARE 

Ethiopian wool which after merely being soaked in this mixture is 
twisted into the shape of a ball and filled with sharp spikes and thrown 
on ships with a cord by means of a sling. 

This is called Greek fire, and it is a marvellous thing and sets fire to 
everything under the water. Callimachus the architect was the first 
to impart it to the Romans, by whom it was afterwards much employed 
and especially by the Emperor Leo, when the eastern peoples came 
against Constantinople with an infinite number of ships which were 
all set on fire by this substance. 

Pilocrotho, arzilla, crusida, flammea, lampade, although they differ 
are nevertheless almost of the same substance, and their fire is similar 
to that spoken of above, that is of the flammea except for the addition 
to the said composition of liquid varnish, oil of petroleum, turpentine 
and strong vinegar, and these things are first all squeezed together and 
then left in the sun to dry, and afterwards twisted about a hempen 
rope and so reduced to a round shape. Afterwards it is drawn with 
a cord, and some bury the point of a dart in it, transfixing it after 
having wetted the dart, some bury very sharp nails within it; and a 
hole is left in the said ball or mass for the purpose of setting it on fire 
and all the rest of it is smeared with resin and sulphur. Our fore- 
fathers made use of this compound pressed tightly together and bound 
to the end of a spear, in order to ward off and resist the impetuous 
fury of the enemy ships. 

Lucan says that Caesar used to make this fire in order to throw it by 
means of lamps upon the ships of the Cerusci, a people of Germany; 
he burnt not merely the said ships, but the buildings constructed upon 
the borders of the sea were consumed by a similar fire. b 30 v. 

The folgorea is a mortar with an opening in its tail circular in 
form, in the centre of which occurs a thin chanicula [chamber?] of 
iron finely perforated, with the hollow of it filled with fine powder; 
and it is made thus for two reasons, first, that when it reaches the 
centre of this ball, the fire, which passes through the chamber, lights 
in an instant all the rest of the powder that finds itself pressed within 
this ball, secondly, so that the hole of the mortar may not become 
worn. And this round opening will not resist the might of the powder 
unless it is made of fine copper, but the rest may be made with four 

 

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parts tin to every hundred of copper, and this is the best machine 
that it is possible to make. b 31 r. 

The clotonbrot is a ball thrown by a trabiculo, that is a lesser 
mangonel which is a braccio high and rilled with the ends of cartridges 
packed all together in a tiny space. It is used for throwing into a 
bastion and there is no remedy that avails against its pestilential effect^ 
but for this purpose its use would be a mistake because it does damage 
to you as well as to the enemy. And if you throw six or eight of these 
balls among the enemy you will certainly be the victor, so it is good 
to throw it in the midst of them, and light the fuse within which will 
at last set fire to the centre of all the sticks. 

This is for ships. 

When the ships are engaged, have fuses to keep the enemy back, 
and at that moment throw balls full of lighted fuses among the 
enemy, that is to say upon the ships, and the enemy being occupied 
in protecting themselves from the fire will abandon their defences. 

b 31 v. 

[With drawing of two cannon placed vertically with stand between 
them] 

Whoever wishes to make trial which is the better must raise them 
on end and two judges should be in the centre, and after first firing 
the one it must be noted how much time there is from the explosion 
to the return of the ball to the ground and then the same is done with 
the other and the one which takes longer will have the honour. 

But see that the tubes are of equal length, that the touch-holes work 
freely, that the balls are of the same weight, and the powder is from 
the same keg. b 32 r. 

[With drawing] 

If you wish to be able to ford a river with your army when you 
please you will proceed as follows: — make a boat of osiers of willow 
and make it with the brims double in such a way that they open from 
below, and fill the body of it with gravel. And when you are at the 
place that you wish, open the store of gravel from below so as to cause 
it to fall to the bottom; after doing this close the receptacle and return 
to the bank to reload. You will need to have a number of these 

 

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machines, but the actual body of the boat should be bound outside with 
oxhide to prevent it falling to the bottom. 

[With drawing] 

To make an airgun which shoots with marvellous force you should 
proceed as follows : — stretch a steel wire the width of a finger on a wire- 
drawing machine by means of a windlass; then temper it, and beat 
round about it two plates of fine copper which you stretch on the wire- 
drawing machine. Then half to half solder them together with silver, 
wind thick copper wire about it and then smooth it with a hammer, 
but first solder it. And do this three or four times in the same way. 
And make [the airgun] two braccia long and make it so that it can 
shoot a dart of a third of a braccio which is of steel. b 32 v. 

The architronito is a machine of fine copper, an invention of Archi- 
medes, and it throws iron balls with a great noise and fury. It is used 
in this manner: — the third part of the instrument stands within a 
great quantity of burning coals and when it has been thoroughly heated 
by these it tightens the screw d which is above the cistern of water 
a b c\ and as the screw above becomes tightened it will cause that 
below to become loosened. And when consequently the water has 
fallen out it will descend into the heated part of the machine, and 
there it will instantly become changed into so much steam that it will 
seem marvellous, and especially when one sees its fury and hears its 
roar. This machine has driven a ball weighing one talent six stadia. 

B 33 r. 
[Fire-ball] [With drawing] 

This ball should be made of melted pitch, sulphur and tow of hemp 
rubbed together so that when it burns the enemy may not carry off 
the invention. 

This ball should be two and a half braccia in height and filled with 
tubes which can throw a pound of balls, and these should be coated 
with pitch within the tubes so that they do not fall. 

The tubes should be a braccio in length, and made of pasteboard 
after the manner of spokes, and the space between them should be 
filled with plaster and wadding; and the ball should be thrown upon 
the bastions by means of a mangonel. 

The centre of it will be a cannon-ball to which the tubes serve as 

 

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good epaulets, or a hollow ball of bronze which may be partly filled 
with powder, with its circumference perforated so that the fire is able 
to penetrate to the tubes; and the ball should be all tied up on the 
outside except for a hole to serve as a passage for the fire, b 37 r. 

f With drawings} 

Cortalds (short pieces of artillery) are good against big ships. 

The serpentine (passavolante) is useful for light galleys in order to 
be able to attack the enemy at a distance. It can throw four pounds of 
lead and ought to be as long as forty cannon balls. 

This spontoon will fasten the instrument into the ship if the blow is 
great. 

This zepata is good for setting fire to ships which have kept a block- 
ade after having besieged some harbour or other ships in the harbour, 
and it should be made thus: first wood a braccio above the water, 
then tow, then powder as used for a bombard, then tiny faggots and so 
gradually larger ones; and put iron wires and burning rags on the top; 
and when you have the wind as you want it direct the rudder. And as 
the fire m spreads in the ship the bent wires will set fire to the powder, 
and it will do what is necessary. 

It is also useful for setting fire to bridges at night, but make its sail 
black. b 39 v. 

NAMES OF WEAPONS 

Acinace. Acinace is the name of this knife: it was so called among 
the Scythians and Medes, according to the statement of Aero. 

Daga. This among the Ligurians was called daga. 

Ensis. Gladius. Ensis and gladius are a kind of weapon, and, accord- 
ing to Quintilian in the tenth book of his Institutions, they are the 
same thing. 

According to Pliny in the sixth book of Natural History, the gladius 
was invented by the Lacedaemonians. 

According to Varro, when the gaesum (javelin) became obsolete 
the gladius was used in its place. It has been called aclis because it was 
used for the destruction and death of the enemy. 

Spada, ensis, and gladius are names of arms universally known and 
especially among the ancients. 

 

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Arpa. Arpa, according to Lucan in the ninth [book], is said to be a 
sword of the shape of a sickle with which Perseus slew the Gorgon. 
The bows were called manubaleste. b 41 r. 

Lingula, according to what Naevius says in one of his tragedies 
called Ceisonia, was the name of a small knife of the shape of a bird's 
tongue. 

Machaera is a kind of long weapon with one part of it sharpened. 
Caesar mentions it in the second of his Commentaries. 

Stragula is a kind of lance for throwing and for using with the 
hand. Caesar mentions this also in the second of his Commentaries. 

Doloni are a kind of weapon mentioned by Plutarch in the life of 
Gracchus. 

Others are of the opinion that doloni are whips with daggers con- 
cealed in their handles. 

Sica is a small knife used by assassins in ancient times, who were 
called sicarii from the name of the knife according to Quintilian in the 
ninth book of the Institutions. * b 41 v. 

Pugio, according to Pompeius Festus, is a short double-pointed knife. 

Varro says that pugio is the name given to a long lance with iron. 

Clunade (clunaculurn) is a sacrificial knife. 

Secespita is a long knife with a round handle made of a piece of 
ivory and ornamented with gold and silver. It is used by the high 
priests and the flamens for the sacrifices. 

Some say it is the axe (scura) and some that its edge resembles that 
of the manara. 

Mucro is identical with ensis and gladius, according to Priscian in 
the second book of the Ars Grammatica. 

Aclides, according to the opinion of Servius, are a kind of weapon 
so ancient as to have been entirely overlooked in war. Nevertheless we 
read that they were pieces of wood, some half a cubit in length and 
some circular; and in them were fixed iron points which were sharp 
and projected; and they were hurled among the enemy with a cord 
or leathern thongs, and he who received the blow soon knew who had 
given it. b 42 r. 

1 of. 'per abusioncm sicarios ctiam omnes vocamus, qui caedem telo quocumque 
commiserint.' Quint. 10, 1, 12. 

 

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Telo (tehtm) was the word generally applied by the ancients to all 
those things which in war were suitable to be thrown with the hands, 
such as darts, clubs, arrows, spears, lances, stakes and stones. 

Veruto. The veruto {verutum) (javelin), according to Nonius Mar- 
cellus, is a small weapon and very straight. 

Fusti. Fusti {fastis) (club) were the first weapons that the human 
race used, and they are today called stakes by countryfolk; and their 
points were somewhat charred. 

Bacitlo. The baculo (baculum) is a stick without a hook to it with 
which unhappy slaves were beaten. 

Haste (hastd) (spear) is said to have been invented by the Lacedae- 
monians. They are excellent and . . .? {plestante) when made of ash 
or hazel, but better still when made from the service tree, because 
this is more supple and flexible. 

Astili are the smaller lances which are thrown deftly with the hands. 

Cuncti {conti) are very long and stout pikes without iron but having 
their point sharpened. Lucan makes mention of them. 

Lcrncea. Pliny says of the lance that it was invented by the Aetolians. 
Varro says that lancia is a Spanish word. b 42 v. 

Pilo {pilum) was a spear in use among the Romans, resembling the 
gaesum of the Gauls and the sarissa of the Macedonians. And these 
spears were divided in their length in two equal parts and the heads 
were placed at each end. They were joined together with fish glue and 
at every half cubit bound with gut. Writers say that these spears were 
so perfect that if they were suspended by a cord in the form of a bal- 
ance they did not bend. And if one first draws it back and then drives 
it forward with fury there is no armour of sufficient strength to resist 
it. They were much in use among the Bretons. 

Giese {gaesum) is a weapon used by the people of Gaul, and they 
are no less useful for hurling than for use in any other way. 

Ruma, pilum, rumex and telum resemble each other and resemble 
also the sparus of the Gauls. 

Jaculo (javelin) is said to have been invented by ^Etolus the son of 
Mars, and to this Hermes, Varro, Pompeius Festus bear witness, affirm- 
ing that javelins are rude and fashioned by rustics of poor mean con- 
dition but suitable for scattering on all sides. b 43 r. 

 

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Sarissa. Sarissa, according to Pompeius [Festus], is a Macedonian 
spear. 

Gabina. Gabina is the name given by the Illyrians to a certain kind 
of weapon of the shape of a hunting-spear {yenabulum) or pike. 

Securis (battle-axe) is called also semicuris or semiquiris. 

Tragula. Tragula is a spear with a very sharp point of the shape of 
a javelin or dart which can be thrown by the hand according to Varro, 
Pompeius, and Caesar in the fifth of the Commentaries. 

Clava. Clava [club] is a kind of weapon which was used by Hercules, 
and it was so called because it was a big strong stick studded with 
sharp nails, and this in these rude times would be considered a very 
magnificent weapon. 

Cathegia. [Boomerang?] Some believe this clava to have been the 
cathegia which Horace calls caia and that the cathegia was a kind of 
dart in use among the Gauls which comes back at the wish of the 
thrower. According to Virgil it was greatly in use among the Germans; 
the knights made a great use of it against the infantry. b 43 v. 

Dolabra, that is, double-cutting. 

It is called two lips (Jabbri) after what Livy states in the eleventh 
book x of the Punic War, where he relates that Hannibal sent five hun- 
dred Africans armed with these in order to lay waste to their founda- 
tions the walls of a town. 

Bipenna. This weapon is so called because it has a sharp edge on 
both sides. The term is usually applied to it by Quintilian, in the first 
book of the Institutions. b 44 r. 

The cross was invented among the Germans, and this weapon is 
said to be in the front rank of deadly weapons, seeing that if it is 
thrown either with a cord or without among the ranks of the enemy 
it never falls there in vain. And this because it runs edgewise through 
the air and if it does not catch the enemy with one of its points it 
catches him with two, or not finding the enemy there it is driven into 
the ground, where it inflicts no less damage upon the enemy than if it 

1 As M. Ravaisson-Mollien has stated, the passage referred to is in Book XXI, para. 
xi, but as however Books XI to XX have been lost, Book XXI follows X. '. . . turn 
Hannibal occasionem ratus, quingentos ferme Afros cum dolabris ad subruendum ab 
Imo murum mittit.' 

 

WARFARE 821 

struck the horses and the footsoldiers. From four to six of these are 
carried round the belt when one goes into the combat. 

[Drawing of caltrops with cord and thong] 

This method was much in use among the Jews and the neighboring 
peoples of Syria. And they throw them with cords and long thongs 
among the enemy on finding themselves vanquished and routed by 
them; whereby they being thrown down are made to cease their 
course. 

And they also sow them upon their own line. 

Telico. These were in use among the first men; and they were made 
of cane, that is to say that having taken a piece of cane with two knots 
they split one through the middle and used it as the feather of the 
arrow; and the other they made into a point and filled it with earth so 
as to weight it, and they threw these by means of a cord. b 44 v. 

Scourge (flagellum) . This also was among the number of the primi- 
tive and rustic arms. 

Scythian arrow. The arrow is a simple weapon which was much in 
use among the Arabs. It was invented by the Scythians, and consists of 
a piece of green wood of which the end has been burnt; and it may be 
thrown either by means of a cord or without. If it is held it may be 
used also as a javelin. 

Ganci, ruffili and roncili are maritime weapons in use among pirates. 
By means of hooks they are accustomed to grapple the edges of ships, 
and if any of the ship's defenders should approach them they wound 
them and drive them before them, and then return to the edges where 
they were before and dig them deep into the ships so that they cannot 
escape. b 45 r. 

Sirile is a very long spear; it was found among the Numidians. They 
often used it in order to throw down their enemies, and they rode on 
horseback without saddle or stirrup, armed only with a doublet stuffed 
with cotton over which were fastened the hooks of the long sirile; and 
[the enemy] taken by surprise were easily thrown down. 

Cariffe is a broad spear with which one can attack from afar. And if 
it should come about that the combustible ball should be captured, the 
soldier can start it by striking it with the sharp iron point that is at the 

 

822 WARFARE 

head of the spear, and thus recovering it would scourge the wretched 
soldiers [of the enemy]. 

Miricide is a spear three braccia in length, and five braccia and a 
half when extended: the soldiers use it in the way in which rustics 
thresh corn. 

Maicoli, according to Ammianus Marcellinus, are a kind of dart or 
arrow. The stem is of cane and where the cane ends a distaff is joined 
like that used for spinning, and on this distaff the iron is fixed. Tow 
steeped in pitch should be placed in the hollow of the said distaff, and 
it should be set fire to and thrown gently so that the rush of the air 
may not extinguish it. Some say that within this cavity there should 
be an inexhaustible store which should consist of resin, sulphur, and 
saltpetre which should have been liquified with oil of laurel, or some 
say petroleum oil l and fat of duck, and marrow of meat, and fennel, 
and sulphur, resin and camphor with . . . [rasa?] and tow. This mix- 
ture among the ancients was called combustible, that is something 
suitable to burn, also tow, fat, and petroleum. b 45 v. 

The Manara was much in use among the Romans. 

Irish and English bows. But the Irish in place of one corner of the 
bow have a piece of sharpened iron of the length of a cubit. 

The English and the Irish are almost the same length, that is four 
braccia each. 

Syrian bow, made of horns of buffalo. 

German bow, made of two pieces of steel and how they are set. 

The dart of the cross-bow works in this manner: namely, when the 
arrow issues forth from the cord and passes over the roller, the ring 
at the extremity of the arrow causes it to leap back after it has struck; 
but the iron continues and performs its function. 

The dart of the bow by which the arrow remains attached to the 
cord is an awl a quarter of a braccio in length, all of iron finely 
tempered; the feathers of the tail come away from the arrow as it flies 
on its way. Some there are which make a prick resembling that of a 
needle full of poison. b 46 r. 

[Drawing — soldier on horse bac\ galloping] 
This is a mounted carabineer which is an extremely useful inven- 

1 MS. olio petrolio. 

 

WARFARE 823 

tion. The said carabineers should be provided with pouches full of 
rolls of plain paper filled with powder, so that by frequently inserting 
them they subdue the excessive numbers of the enemy. And these 
carabineers should stand in squadrons as do cross-bowmen, so that 
when one part fires the other loads; but first make sure that you have 
accustomed the horses to such noises; or else stop up their ears. 

Order of mounted cross-bowmen on the open field: m n are cross- 
bowmen who as they turn left draw back loading, r t are those who go 
forward with cross-bows loaded, and these four files are for one route; 
a b are four files of cross-bowmen who turn with bows unloaded in 
order to load them anew; c d are those who come upon the enemy 
with their bows loaded; and this arrangement of eight lines is 
employed in open field. 

And have it so that those who have unloaded come through the 
centre, so that if sometimes they have been routed by the enemy the 
cross-bowmen who are loaded, holding themselves on the flanks, may 
cause greater fear to these same enemies. 

Order of mounted carabineers: 

See that they are well supplied with guns with a thin single fold 
of paper filled with powder with the ball within, so that they have 
only to put it in and set alight. Being thus ready they will have no 
need to turn as have the cross-bowmen when they are preparing to 
load. b 46 v. 

If anyone had formed the design of capturing a tower situated on 
the sea, he would cause one of his followers to take service with the 
commander, and when the guard was withdrawn he would affix to the 
battlements the rope-ladder given him by the enemy and would fill 
the walls with soldiers. In order to prevent this, you should divide 
the tower into eight sets of staircases, spiral in shape, and divide into 
eight parts the ramparts and the soldiers' dwellings below; then, if 
one of the mercenaries should be disposed to be a traitor, the others 
cannot hold communications with him, and the section of the rampart 
will be so small that there will not be able to be more than four there. 
The commander, whose quarters are above those of all the others, 
can drive them out by attacking them from the machicolations, or shut 
them up by means of the portcullis and then put smoke at the entrance 

 

824 WARFARE 

to the spiral staircases. On no account is it necessary that any alien 
soldier should lodge with the commander, but only his own family. 

b 48 r. 

The confederate of the scaler of the wall should carry with him a 
ball of strong thread when he takes service with the commander, and 
when the opportunity comes the guard will draw up with this thread 
a coil of strong twine which has been given him by the scaler, and 
then with the twine he may draw up the rope which will afterwards 
be useful for drawing up the rope-ladder as shown above, b 50 r. 

NAMES OF ENGINEERS 

Callias of Rhodes. 1 Epimachus the Athenian. 2 Diogenes, philoso- 
pher, of Rhodes. 3 Calcedonius of Thrace. Febar of Tyre. 4 Callimachus, 
architect, master of fire. 5 

Fireball worked up: — take tow smeared with pitch and turpentine 
and linseed oil and twist it round about in such a way as to make a 
ball; and over it place hemp soaked in turpentine of the second dis- 
tilling. And when you have made the ball make four or six holes in it 
as large as the thickness of your arm, and fill these with fine hemp 
soaked in turpentine of the second distilling and powder for the bom- 
bard; then place the ball in the bombard. 

[An arrow of fire] [Drawing] 
This is a dart to be shot by a great cross-bow laid flat, and the two 

1 Greek architect, of Arados. Built a great crane for the Rhodians which was in- 
tended to hook up and raise in the air the battering engine (RejtoXig) used by assail- 
ants. (Vitruvius X, 16, 5.) 

2 Architect employed by Demetrius Poliorcetes to construct a battering engine so 
large that the machines of Callias were useless against it. (Vitruvius X, 16, 4.) 

8 (Diognetus — Ravaisson-Mollien.) Identical perhaps with Diognetes who according 
to Plutarch (Life of Demetrius) on being appealed to by the Rhodians in this emer- 
gency constructed subterranean trenches in which the ^Xe.toXic of Epimachus became 
embedded, thus forcing Demetrius to raise the siege. 

*See B 51 r. 

5 Sculptor, painter, architect. Famous for his bronze casts (Pliny XXXIV, 8, 19). 
Inventor according to Vitruvius (IV, 1, 19) of the Corinthian capital; according to 
Pausanias (I, 26, 7) of a method of boring marble and a lamp of gold which used to 
burn day and night before the statue of Athene in the temple of Athene in the Acrop- 
olis, the wick being formed of some kind of asbestos that was never consumed. It is to 
this invention that the words 'master of fire' have reference. 

 

WARFARE 825 

corners have the things which produce fire hound in linen cloth; and 
as the point buries itself the corners are pressed closer together and set 
fire to the powder and the tow that is soaked in pitch. This weapon 
is good for use against ships and wooden bastions and other similar 
constructions; and no one will make good work in this business of 
burning unless the fire is kindled only after the dart has struck, 
because, if you should wish to light the fire before, the violence of the 
wind will extinguish it on its way. b 50 v. 

[With drawings] 

A method of warding off the battering-ram with a bale of straw 
soaked in vinegar. 

A method of intercepting the stroke of a battering-ram. 

Heliopolim, a mural machine (battering-ram). 

Cetra, a mural machine (battering-ram). 

Febar of Tyre made use of this instrument in order to shatter the 
walls of Gades. 

Flemisclot, a mural machine (battering-ram). 

In order to make green fire take verdigris and soak it in oil of tur- 
pentine and pass it through the filter. 

A way to make a cart on rollers which run upon a board or floor 
or hard ground: and this is for use to move heavy weights for a short 
distance. b 51 r. 

This bombard ought to be somewhat wider at the mouth in order 
that the stones as they come out of it may scatter, and one ought to 
take a shell[?] (cocone) formed of the root of an oak in order to have 
a half ball for the bombard, and this will have a good effect in des- 
perate cases. b 54 r 

[With drawing] 

Of the way in which when the battle is begun by scaling the walls 
one may draw beams up above the top of the battlements, and then 
by giving them a push cause them to fall upon the ladders and the 
assailants; and the method of drawing the said beams rapidly should 
be made use of in the manner shown here. b 55 r. 

[With drawing] 
To show how with a mangonel one can throw a great quantity of 

 

826 WARFARE 

burning wood upon ships together with pitch, or if you wish with 
stones or even with powder from a mortar, mixed with straw and 
vinegar. 

Let these pieces of wood be bound and interwoven with fine iron 
wire fastened together with a chain. b 55 v. 

[With drawing] 

How one ought to defend oneself against a furious attack by sol- 
diers who are attacking a hill fort. Namely by taking barrels and 
filling them with earth and rolling them down the slope upon the 
enemy, for these will be of great benefit to those who have despatched 
them. b 56 r. 

[With drawings] 

This shield should be made of fig-wood inside, with cotton of the 
thickness of a quarter of a braccio outside it, and outside the cotton it 
will be well to put fustian with a coat of varnish; or if you make the 
outside of cotton and the inside of isinglass and tragacanth and var- 
nished, with half the amount of cotton, plain and compressed, with 
nails going from one surface to another, it will be satisfactory, and you 
can dry it in a press. 

These balls should be filled with small dust of sulphur which will 
cause people to become stupefied. 

This is the most deadly machine that exists: when the ball in the 
centre drops it sets fire to the edges of the other balls, and the ball in 
the centre bursts and scatters the others which catch fire in such time 
as is needed to say an Ave Maria, and there is a shell outside which 
covers everything. 

The rockets of these balls should be made of paper, and the space 
between each filled with plaster ready to be moulded, mingled with 
the clippings of cloths. And they should be set alight with a pair of 
bellows which will cause the flame to extend to the centre of the ball 
among the powder, which separates at a considerable interval from 
each other all the balls filled with rockets. 

Wheel full of tubes of carbines for foot-soldiers. b 50 r. 

 

WARFARE 827 

HOW TO SCALE A FORTRESS BY NIGHT 

f With drawings] 

If you have not any information from within as to who will draw up 
the rope-ladders, you will ascend first by placing these irons in the 
crevices a braccio's space apart in the manner shown above. 

And when you are at the top, fix the rope-ladder where you see here 
the iron m; let it be bound with tow so that you do not make any 
sound and there remain. Then if it should seem that you ought to 
draw up other ladders, do so; if not, cause the assailants to ascend 
quickly. The hook which is attached to a brace of ropes has above it a 
ring to which is fixed a rope, and this is drawn up by a jack to the 
iron above, and to this you attach a second time the hook of the above- 
mentioned braces. 

These ladders are made to carry two men. They are also useful for 
a tower where you are afraid lest the rope-ladder may be detached by 
the enemy; they should be driven so far into the wall that three eighths 
[of a braccio] is buried and one eighth is free. These pyramidal irons 
should be half a braccio in length and their distance apart half a 
braccio. b 59 v. 

[With drawings'] 

SACKS FOR USE IN CROSSING OVER WATER 

It is also necessary to reflect how one ought at one's convenience to 
make the passage of rivers. First set a man upon two bags bound to- 
gether, then if you find the bottom to be suitable and that the river is 
dangerous through the rapidity of its course make use of the method 
represented below. 

If the river is dangerous by reason of its current you should set two 
lines of horses across the river at a distance of six braccia one from the 
other, and the horses in the lines should be so near as almost to touch 
each other, and the line or company of horses should have their heads 
turned towards the current of the water, and this is done solely in order 
to check and break the fury and impetus of the water. And between the 
one company and the other pass the soldiers both those with and those 

 

828 WARFARE 

without arms. The company that is higher up the stream should be 
made up of the bigger horses in order to be better able to stem the rush 
of the river, that lower down serves to hold up the soldiers when they 
fall, and to act as a support for them as they make the passage. 

b 60 v. 
[With drawing] 

Make shelters by interlocking shields to withstand the fury of masses 
of arrows. 

The method in which the Germans when in close order link together 
and interweave their long lances against the enemy, stooping down and 
putting one of the ends on the ground and holding the other part in 
their hands. 

[With drawings] 

If the water is so high that infantry and cavalry cannot pass, the river 
should be diminished by leading off many streams, as Cyrus, King of 
the Persians, did at the taking of Babylon upon the river Ganges [sic] 
which at its maximum breadth is ten thousand braccia, Alexander like- 
wise upon the same river, Caesar upon the river Sicoris. 

If it should come to pass that the river was so deep that one could 
not cross it by fording, the captain ought to make a sufficient number of 
streams to carry off the water and afterwards give it back below to the 
river, and in this way the river would come to be lowered and could be 
crossed with ease. Alexander employed this method in India against 
King Porus at the passage of the river Hydaspes, and Caesar did the 
same in Gaul (and also in Spain) upon the river Loire; having ar- 
ranged his cavalry in two companies he caused the soldiers to pass 
through the middle of them. Hannibal did the same on the Po with 
elephants. b 61 r. 

[With drawings] 

The Egyptians, the Ethiopians and the Arabs in crossing the Nile are 
accustomed to fasten bags or wine-skins to the sides of the forequarters 
of the camels in the manner shown below. 

In these four rings in the net the baggage-camels put their feet. 

The Assyrians and the inhabitants of Euboea accustom their horses 
to carry sacks in order to be able at will to fill them with air. They carry 
them instead of saddle-bows above and at the side and well covered 

 

 


WARFARE 829 

with plates of dressed leather, so that a quantity of arrows will not 
penetrate them, since they are no less concerned about a safe means of 
escape than the hazard of victory. Thus equipped a horse enables four 
or five men to cross at need. b 61 v. 

[Hon' infantry cross rivers] 

If it should come to pass that infantry have to pass a river which is 
dangerous by reason of the force of its current, this is a sure way: — let 
the soldiers join arms one with another and form themselves into a line 
after the manner of a stockade, linked together by their arms; and let 
these files advance along the line of the water and let no one go across 
its course, and this is a sure way because the first being above the water 
is the one who sustains its first onset, and if he was alone the water 
would throw him down, but all the others below him hold him up and 
use him as their shield; and so by this means one after another they 
cross in safety. So it is with all: and if the fall of the river is from right 
to left each man in the file as he proceeds from the first to the second 
bank ruffles the course of the stream with his right shoulder, and on his 
left he has the right shoulder of his companion and the flowing water. 

b 62 r. 

NAVICULA 

[With drawings] 

The small boats in use among the Assyrians were made of thin 
branches of willow, plaited over rods also of willow, arranged in the 
shape of a small boat, plastered over with fine dust soaked in oil or 
turpentine and so reduced to a state of mud; this was impervious to 
water and was not cleft asunder by blows because it always remained 
supple. 

Caesar covered this kind of small boat with oxhide when crossing 
the Sicoris, a river of Spain, according to the testimony of Lucan. 1 
[With drawing] 

The Spaniards, the Scythians and the Arabs, when they wish to con- 

x The reference is to Lucan's Pharsalia IV, 130, etc. 

Utque habuit ripas Sicoris camposque reliquit, 
Primum cana salix madefacto vimine parvam 
Texitur in puppim, caesoque inducta iuvenco 
Vectoris patiens tumidum superenatat amnem. 

 

830 WARFARE 

struct a bridge very quickly, bind the hurdles formed out of willow 
upon bags or wine-skins of oxhide, and so cross in safety. b 62 v. 

The Germans, in order to asphyxiate a garrison, use the smoke of 
feathers, sulphur and realgar, and they make the fumes last seven and 
eight hours. 

The chaff of corn also makes fumes which are thick and lasting, as 
does also dry dung; but cause it to be mixed with sanza, that is with the 
pulp of crushed olives, or, if you prefer it, with the dregs of the oil. 

b 63 v. 
[With drawing] 

How to discharge a torrent of water on the back of an army and the 
bridges and walls of a town. 

If you wish to submerge a battlefield or to break through walls with- 
out the use of cannon and have the use of a river, do as is represented 
above. That is you set piles as high as the bank of the river and put 
them half a braccio apart or farther if you have wider planks; then set 
these planks between each of the piles and so fill up [the spaces]. When 
these are filled up raise the connecting rod M, then a the upper part of 
the plank will go forward and b the lower part of the plank will go 
back. In this way the parts of the said plank will be edgewise and the 
water will be free to escape. And make the sluices all to open at the 
blow of a carbine or other signal so that they may all open at the same 
time, in order that the flow of the water upon the object which opposes 
it may be driven by a greater blow and a more impetuous force. And if 
the river have a steep descent make one of these every half mile, and let 
each of the panels open by means of a rope to insure them working 
together, and in order that he who unlocks them may be in safety. 

b 64 r. 

[With drawing] 

A METHOD OF CONSTRUCTING A BASTION [AT NIGHT] 

If you should be making a bastion at night and have need of light, 
place these lights inside lanterns and raise them up on the top of long 
poles, in order that the enemy by firing at the lights may not touch the 
sappers. And the lights should be of oil so that they may last some time, 
and the lanterns should be balanced in lamp-stands in this way [draw- 

 

WARFARE 831 

ing in text] so that they do not upset when they are raised. And 
remember that the poles must be painted black and only erected at sun- 
set, so that the light is scarcely visible and the raising of it up is hardly 
seen by the enemy. And it should be done as noiselessly as possible, and 
there should be one overseer with a staff for every five sappers, so that 
the work may be rapid. b 70 r. 

In what way one may storm a bastion which has been made in order 
to close a passage. 

Make portable sections of bastions for a furious attack by the men; 
these should be filled with hay and they should be pointed in front in 
order that the blows of the artillery may do no damage, and joined to- 
gether so as to make the bastion of such a size as to engage all the 
mouths of the artillery and the discharge from the bridges, they will be 
able to engage the enemy with advantage. b 75 v. 

[How to attac\ a fortress by subterranean galleries] [With drawings] 

Rod filled with rockets for encountering the enemy at the outlet of 
a subterranean gallery [that opens] from below upwards, which will 
clear the ground of the men within the entrance. 

Rod with rockets for placing in a gallery that leads into a cellar 
which would be in a fortress and would be well guarded. 

m a b. The way of a winding gallery that will deceive the enemy 
when besieged. 

We can clearly understand that all those who find themselves be- 
sieged, employ all those methods which are likely to lead to the dis- 
covery of the secret stratagems of the besieger. You therefore who seek 
by subterranean ways to accomplish your desire, reflect well how your 
enemy will be on the alert, and how if you should make a gallery on 
one side he will make a trench up to your [gallery], and this will be 
well guarded by day and by night, for it will be supposed that the secret 
way as is natural, has its outlet in the said gallery. 

When therefore by your digging operations you show that you wish 
to come out in one particular spot, and by making the circuit of the 
fortress you come out at the opposite side, as it is shown above in m b 
a, b will be when you are almost at the outlet in a cellar that is a. You 
will have a great reserve of men who on the breaking of the wall that 
is between you and the cellar . . . 

 

832 WARFARE 

When you have made your gallery almost to its end and it is near to 
a cellar, break through suddenly and then thrust this [rod] in front 
of you filled with rockets if you find defenders there, but if not do not 
set fire to them lest you make a noise. b 78 r. 

[With drawings] 

Stlocladle. Place in the centre powder formed of dried fungi. 

These balls filled with rockets are to be thrown within the bastions 
of the enemy. 

The stlocladle is a ball a foot wide which is made up of hemp and 
fish-glue and is covered with the tails of rockets, and these tails do not 
exceed in length the length of a finger, and each tail is of fine copper 
veined or of sized pasteboard, and all the said tails have their extremi- 
ties pierced by a tiny hole, and they are all attached to a copper ball 
which is full of many paths after the manner of a labyrinth, filled with 
powder; and the said paths are full of holes that cross them which 
meet with the holes of the rockets. 

Then one sets fire to it by means of a bellows and the fire hurls itself 
through eight holes so that no one can control it or . . . [ariegi?], and 
when the fire has penetrated to the centre the rockets begin suddenly 
one after another with a dreadful din to spit forth their deadly missiles. 
If you wish to make use of it on a galley make the rockets of paste- 
board, and fill the space between each with pitch mixed with powdered 
sulphur; and this will serve three purposes: first it will do harm with 
the rockets, second it will kindle a fire there which cannot be put out, 
and will burn the wood, and (third) no one will be able to approach it 
because of the great stench. 

Buffonico. The buffonico is an instrument set at the end of a lance. 
It is two braccia long and an eighth of a braccio thick. It is shod with 
iron and has a thin tube with the sight placed on the extremity through 
which it passes to the fire. 

First of all fill the cannon with the powder well crammed, pressed, 
and beaten through the mouth a b, then make a small hole an eighth 
of a braccio long and insert a small tube with a very fine hole. The 
powder should be fine and mixed with dust of lead made with a file or 
by fire; and it will cause great terror and loss to the horses and to the 
enemy. b 80 v. 

 

WARFARE 833 

Vine a, The vinea is a machine which makes the road and levels the 
embankments. b 82 v. 

[With drawing of tanl(\ 

These take the place of the elephants. One may tilt with them. One 
may hold bellows in them to spread terror among the horses of the 
enemy, and one may put carabineers in them to break up every 
company. b 83 v. 

THAT MURAL ENGINE WHICH MAKES THE LOUDER NOISE 
HAS THE LESS FORCE 

This is proved by the ninth, 'Concerning Percussion', which says: 
of things movable, in proportion to the power of the mover and the 
resistance of the medium, that which in like movement strikes with a 
larger part of itself will make a louder noise and a less violent impact; 
and that on the other hand which strikes with a less part of itself will 
make a less noise and penetrate farther into the place where it has 
struck. An example has been cited of a sword striking first with the flat 
and then with the edge, for in the one case the stroke makes a great 
noise and penetrates a very little way and in the other it penetrates a 
long way and makes but little noise. As the flame therefore is in pro- 
portion to the projectiles driven by the pieces of ordnance which are 
thus in the medium proportioned to them, that flame which separates 
least after emerging from the piece of ordnance will be that which will 
drive the ball out with most impetus, and the flame that separates 
rapidly will do the contrary. 

OF PIECES OF ORDNANCE THAT HURL MANY BALLS AT 
ONE DISCHARGE 

A piece of ordnance which throws a ball a distance proportionate to 
its force, will in the same time throw six of the same balls a sixth part 
of the aforesaid distance. e 27 v. 

OF PIECES OF ARTILLERY AND THE WEIGHTS OF PRO- 
JECTILES PROPORTIONATE TO THEIR FORCE 

Of the chambers or receptacles for powder of pieces of artillery one 
finds three vprieties of shapes; of which one is wide at the bottom and 

 

834 WARFARE 

narrow at the mouth; another narrow at the bottom and wide at the 
mouth; the third is of uniform width. 

There are four [ ?five] places at which one sets fire to pieces of artil- 
lery. Of these one is the extreme upper part of the bottom of the cham- 
ber; another is at the middle of the bottom of this chamber; the third 
is as far removed from the bottom of this chamber as half the diameter 
of the circle of this bottom; the fourth receives the fire in the same 
position as the third but in the centre of the thickness of the powder; in 
the fifth the chamber is round and the fire is set in the centre of the 
chamber. But this instrument and the others which set the powder 
alight in very quick time ought to be of fine substance and well com- 
pressed. This compression occurs very rarely when the cast is of great 
thickness, because in the case of these the metal remains liquid longer 
in proportion as they are thicker, and because the parts of it which are 
most distant from the centre of this thickness are those which are 
compressed first. e 28 r. 

[Ancient military terms] 
Chiliarch = captain of thousand 
Prefects = captains 
Legion = six thousand and sixty three men. h 95 [47] v. 

[Of the trajectory of a bombard] 

If a bombard hits a mark in a straight line at ten braccia how far 
will it fire at its greatest distance ? 

And so conversely if it fires three miles at its greatest distance how 
far will it carry in a straight line? 

If a bombard fires at different distances with different curves of 
movement, I ask in what section of its course will the curve attain its 
greatest height. 1 128 [80] v. 

[Bombards] 

If with its maximum power a bombard throws a ball of a hundred 
pounds three miles, how far will it throw one of two hundred or three 
hundred or any other weight more or less than a hundred? 

If a bombard with four pounds of powder throws a ball weighing 
four pounds two miles with its maximum power, by how much ought 
I to increase the powder for it to carry four miles? 

 

WARFARE 835 

If with four pounds of powder a bombard hurls a ball of four pounds 
two miles how Ear will six pounds of powder hurl it? 1 130 (82) r. 

Of the movement of the cannon-balls of bombards, and of the nature 
of the stock and breech of these bombards. 

Whether the ball moved by force will have a greater movement than 
that which is moved with ease or no. 

Whether if a bombard can throw a ball of a hundred pounds it is 
better to put two balls of fifty pounds for one and make the stock 
narrow, or rather with the stock wide to throw one ball of a hundred 
pounds. 

If the bombard can throw two or three balls with ease I ask whether 
it is better to make the ball long or no. 

If a bombard throws a weight of a hundred pounds a distance of a 
mile, how far will it throw a hundred balls of one pound at one 
discharge? 

Whether it is better for the bombard to be narrow at the mouth and 
wide at the foot, or narrow at the foot and wide at the mouth. 

1 133 [85] v. 

If the bombard rests on the ground or a stump, or straw or feathers, 
what difference will there be in the recoil? 

If two bombards can be fired in opposite directions if the breach of 
the one be placed against that of the other in a straight line. 

If the bombard is fired at sea or on the land what difference there 
will be in its power. 

What difference there is between the movements made upwards or 
crosswise, or in damp or dry weather, or when it is windy or rainy or 
with snow falling, either against or across or in the direction of the 
course of the ball? 

Where the ball makes most rebounds — upon stones, earth or water. 

How the smooth ball is swifter than the rough one. 

Whether the ball revolves in the air or no. 

Of the nature of the places struck by these balls. 1 134 [86] r. 

For a bastion to have spring in it, it should have a layer of fresh 
willow branches placed in the soil at intervals of half a braccio. 

k 93 [13] r. 

 

836 WARFARE 

[Powder for a bomb-J{etch] 

One pound of charcoal 

eleven ounces of sulphur 

five pounds of saltpetre. 

And mix it well and moisten it with good brandy, and dry it in 
the sun or at the fire. Then pound it until one cannot see a speck of 
sulphur or saltpetre but it is all black and uniform and fine, and 
moisten it again with the brandy and keep it so. Dry it in the sun in 
grains and crush just so much as can be placed upon the hole, and this 
will be sufficient. l 4 v. 

[For digging trenches] 
[With plan] 

At this commencement of the excavations of the trenches you have to 
place men according to the marks shown. And first of all make the 
excavation as far as possible from the place where the earth is tossed. 
For example, the earth is excavated at a g, it is carried along the line 
r c, unloaded by the line c f, and then the man turns back along the 
line / d and loads by the line r d, being always in movement. 

There is no other movement here as useful as that which removes the 
soil from the place where the line r c is marked. l 24 r. 

[Fortifications] 

The wall fifteen feet thick at the base and thirteen above. 

The trench forty two braccia wide at the bottom, fifty at its mouth; 
twenty braccia in height, with water four braccia deep. l 29 r. 

Fifteen steps and a span from the battlements to the water, that is 
from the beginning of the battlements, and these steps are the distance 
from one extremity of the palms of the hands to the other, opening 
them as far as one can upon a rectilineal measure. And there are eight 
braccia and a sixth from the said beginning of the battlements to the 
summit of the turret. l 6y v. 

[Of digging a trench] 

Width of trench and its depth. Diameter of wheel and thickness of 
beam and cord. And position of men who turn it and number of men 
who work this wheel. How many there are in position and what weight 
they draw at one time, and how much time is required to fill and move 

 

WARFARE 837 

in order to empty and turn, and similarly how many shovelfuls one 
man digs out in an hour, and what a shovelful weighs, and how far he 
throws it away from himself either upwards, across or downwards, 
beyond the hillock. l cover r. 

Which will fire the farthest, powder double in quantity or in quality 
or in fineness? m 53 v. 

DRAWBRIDGE 

[Drawing] 

Plan or drawbridge which Donnino showed me. 

And because c and d drive downwards, the space a b becomes twisted, 
consequently it ought to be strengthened by a thick iron bar bent over 
the wood on the opposite side. m 53 v. 

[Bombards and cross-bou/s] 

If the bombard has a recoil of a quarter of a braccio how much will 
it lose in front of its true and suitable range? 

If the unlocking of the cross-bow is made with the cross-bow fixed or 
driven forward or drawn back, what will it lose or gain upon its natural 
range ? 

Which of these bombards throws farthest and how far? m 54 r. 

[Breeches of bombards] 

That part of the bronze is most compressed within its mould which 
is most liquid. 

And that is most liquid which is hottest, and that is hottest which 
comes first out of the furnace. One ought therefore always to make first 
in the casting that part of the cannon which has to receive the powder 
before that which has to contain the muzzle. 

A long breech is an embarrassment and fills up space uselessly and 
unserviceably and causes loss of speed. m 54 v. 

[Mines] 

If you wish to find out where a mine runs set a drum over all the 
places where you suspect the mine is being made and on this drum set 
a pair of dice, and when you are near the place where the mining is the 
dice will jump up a little on the drum, through the blow given under- 
ground in digging out the earth. 

 

838 WARFARE 

There are some who having the advantage of a river or swamps upon 
their land have made a great reservoir near the place where they suspect 
that the mine may be made, and have made a tunnel in the direction of 
the enemy, and having found them have unlocked the waters of the 
reservoir upon them and drowned a great number of people in the 
mine. m.s. 2037 Bib. Nat. 1 r. 

The shields of footsoldiers ought to be of cotton spun into thread 
and made into cords; these should be woven tightly in a circle after the 
fashion of a buckler. 

And if you so wish the threads should be thoroughly moistened 
before you make cords of them, and then smeared with the dross of 
iron reduced to powder. 

Then plait it in cords a second time with two, then with four, then 
with eight, and soak them every time in water with borax or linseed or 
the seed of quinces. And when you have made your cord weave the 
shield. And if you make a doublet let it be supple, light and impene- 
trable, ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 7 r. 

If it should happen when a town is besieged that the mines made by 
the enemy have not penetrated within it, you should place men with 
the greatest possible care at intervals of ten braccia in that quarter in 
which your suspicions centre, with their ears on the ground, and as 
soon as the tremor of the sound reaches them, let them make a very 
deep trench crosswise, which will be ready to swallow up the mine 
when it comes upon it. Then have ready a vessel of iron or copper 
perforated at the bottom, and in the hole have placed the nozzle of a 
smith's bellows, and then cover over the mouth with a plate of iron, 
perforated in many places, and fill it with fine feathers; and you turn 
the mouth in the direction of the mine when it is discovered and blow 
with the bellows, after having first caused the bellows to be mixed with 
sulphur and burnt, and the smoke that issues forth will drive away the 
enemy. 

If however you do not wish to make the above-named trench within 
the circuit of the walls, in order not to interfere with the rounds of the 
soldiers who are defending the walls, you should make a drill as was 
shown above, and with this at intervals of two braccia you make a hole 
six braccia in depth, and make these in a circular line within the walls 

 

WARFARE 839 

following the circle of the walls, and let it be as long as you suspect the 
mine to be. And every hour you excavate these holes one by one and 
measure them afresh within with a rod, comparing with them the 
former measurements of the holes, and if the rod should sink down 
then know that the mine is there and cause them to dig there and 
there make your defence. 

Or if you do not wish to make the test with the rod in order to 
discover a mine, go every hour with a light above each hole, and when 
you come to the hole which is above the mine the light will be imme- 
diately extinguished. ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 8 v. 

When besieged by ambitious tyrants I find a means of offence and 
defence in order to preserve the chief gift of nature, which is liberty; 
and first I would speak of the position of the walls, and then of how the 
various peoples can maintain their good and just lords. 

ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 10 r. 

Of the power of the bombard and the resistance of the object struck, 
that is that the ball will subdue a wall of one braccio and of two braccia 
and so of any thickness. Forster 11 6 r. 

OF MOVEMENT 

Prove in the model of the mangonel, which does not become 
exhausted as does the cross-bow, and mark with the same weight to 
what distances the different weights thrown by it are carried, and 
further in respect of the throwing of the same weight see how to vary 
the counterpoise for the mangonel. Forster 11 8 r. 

Remember that the more powder there is in the carbine the more the 
length of the barrel is diminished, so that you have to pay attention to 
the proportions of your forces. Forster 11 39 r. 

If you wish to escape from a city or other closed-in place, fill the 
door-lock with powder from the carbines and set fire to it; also when 
about to scale walls it will be useful in driving the enemies from the 
battlements with its blaze. Forster 11 49 r. 

What substance is it which offers most resistance to the percussion of 
the bombard, i. e. to its passage? Forster 11 53 r. 

 

840 WARFARE 

{Drawing] 

Length ten braccia; ball an inch thick and ten long; the shape 
should taper somewhat. Forster n 56 V. 

OF MOVEMENT 

That bombard discharges its ball to the farthest distance from itself 
which breaks its obstacles most. Forster 11 57 r. 

Of the bombards narrow at the base and wide at the mouth, and so 
of those straight and those curved, and similarly of the tails narrow at 
the end and wide at the mouth; and the proof is by the flames when 
it is discharged. Forster 11 58 r. 

OF PERCUSSION 

Make a rule to apply to every description of ball, of iron as of lead 
or stone, how you ought to increase or diminish the amount of powder. 

Forster 11 62 r. 

 

OF THE SPEED OF BOMBARDS WITH EQUAL TIME, POWDER 
AND WEIGHT OF BALL 

Of many bombards equal in respect of powder and ball, that from 
which in equal time there is kindled a greater quantity of fire, will 
hurl its ball more swiftly and to a greater distance. 

Of balls of equal weight that which is the swifter will seem heavier 
and will produce a greater percussion. Forster 11 71 r. 

If the bombard has its stone flattened like a cheese, and the hollow 
of the bombard has a like shape, and the centre — the centre of the tail — 
does not encounter the centre of the stone, so that it goes revolving 
through the air, it will undoubtedly be exceedingly swift. 

For if you take a ball of six ounces and a wheel of like weight 
without angles at its edges, you will see how much greater a distance 
the one will be sent by its mover than the other; and this is also due in 
part to the revolving of its additional substance. And this happens 
because as the balls are equal in weight, from being round it strikes 
more air and finds more resistance, and from being flattened it enters 

 

WARFARE &41 

upon the air edgewise and penetrates it more rapidly, and more rapidly 
moves through it. Forstcr u 72 r. 

[War Machines: with drawing] 

When this is going through its own ranks, it is necessary to raise the 
machinery that moves the scythes, in order to prevent their doing any 
harm to anyone. 

How the armoured car is arranged inside. 

It will need eight men to work it and make it turn and pursue the 
enemy. 
This is good to break through the ranks, but it must be followed up. 

B.M. Drawings 

 

XXVII 
Naval Warfare 

'Construct it so that the wine-skin which serves 

as a boat, and the implements and the man who 

is there, shall be midway between the surface 

and the bottom of the sea! 

[Notes relating to a submarine attach] 

Do not impart your knowledge and you will excel alone. 

Choose a simple youth and have the dress stitched at home. 

Stop the galleys of the captains and afterwards sink the others and 
fire with the cannon on the fort. 
[With drawings of parts of the apparatus] 

Everything under water, that is all the fastenings. 

Here stands the man. Doublet. Hose. Level frame. 
[With drawing of small boat under poop of large] 

When the watch has gone its round, bring a small skiff under the 
poop and set fire to the whole all of a sudden. 
[With drawing of boat and chain] 

To fasten a galley to the bottom m on the side opposite to the anchor. 
[With drawing of figure in diving dress {half length)] 

A breastplate of armour together with hood, doublet and hose, and 
a small wine-skin for use in passing water, a dress for the armour, and 
the wine-skin to contain the breath, with half a hoop of iron to keep it 
away from the chest. If you have a whole wine-skin with a valve from 
the [?ball MS. da pal . . . ?palla\ when you deflate it, you will go 
to the bottom, dragged down by the sacks of sand; when you inflate it, 
you will come back to the surface of the water. 

A mask with the eyes protruding made of glass, but let its weight 
be such that you raise it as you swim. 

Carry a knife which cuts well so that a net does not hold you pris- 
oner. 

842 

 

NAVAL WARFARE 843 

Carry with you two or three small wine-skins, deflated, and capable 

of being inflated like balls in case of need. 
Take provisions as you need them, and having carefully wrapped 

them up hide them on the bank. But first have an understanding about 

the agreement, how the half of the ransom is to be yours without 

deduction; and the store-room of the prisons is near to Manetti, and 

payment may be made into the hand of Manetti, that is, of the said 

ransom. 
Carry a horn in order to give a signal whether or no the attempt has 

been successful. 
You need to take an impression 1 of one of the three iron screws of 

the workshop of Santa Liberata, the figure in plaster and the cast in 

wax. 

[With drawing of figure of man in diving dress. His right arm ex- 
tended holds a staff which touches a square of cor\. Two bags sus- 
pended from shoulders} 

It separates from the dress if it should be necessary to break it. 
Cork which is to be fixed midway between the surface and the 

bottom. 
Bags of sand. 
Carry forty braccia of rope fastened to a bag of sand. 2 c.a. 333 v. a 

I will destroy the harbour. 

Unless you surrender within four hours you will go to the bottom. 
[Notes with drawings of three heads showing diving apparatus fitted 
over the nostrils} 

Have the said bag for your mouth ready for use when you are in 
che sea — for was not this your secret? 

1 MS. has protare for which Piumati in his transcript of the Codice Atlantico reads 
portare. I have adopted Muller-Walde's reading, prontare for improntare. 

2 Alvise Manetti was sent by the Venetian senate on a legation to the Turks, which 
lasted from October 1499 to the end of March 1500, to attempt some arrangement 
for the surrender of the Venetian prisoners who were removed from Constantinople to 
Lepanto after the capture of 'that fortress by the Turks in August 1499. Already in 
February 1500 a despatch from Manetti had arrived in Venice which showed that his 
endeavours were not likely to reach a successful issue. It was presumably at about this 
time that Leonardo, who was then in Venice, set himself to devise some method of se- 
curing the release of the prisoners through the agency of Manetti, and also to consider 
a plan for destroying the enemy's ships in the harbour by piercing them below the 
water-line 

 

844 NAVAL WARFARE 

Try it first for four hours. 
Pack-thread. 

Of bronze, which is fastened with a screw that has been oiled, it 
should have been made in a mould. c.a. 346 r. a 

[Drawing of buoy, below which, connected by a long bar, that moves 

freely on swivels, hangs what is apparently a very large awl or boter. 

At the side of the buoy a long tube is fastened so that one end projects 

'just above it; it is bound by a number of rings, and its lower end 

terminates in a sort of bag, which is apparently fixed over the mouth 

of the diver. A dotted horizontal line shows that this is level with the 

top of the borer] 

Line to find the middle. 

In case you have to make use of the sea make an armour of copper 
by setting the plates one above another thus: [drawing]. That is, one 
inside the other, so that a hook may not grapple you. 

Measure first the depth, and if you see that it will be sufficient merely 
to bore without sinking the ship, pursue that course; otherwise faster 
it in the way indicated. 

Hole by which the water makes its exit when the ring is lowered. 

Oars. Twelve braccia the lever. Twelve braccia. For the final turn 
you need a bent lever. In order to turn this screw use a pair of slippers 
with heels, or hooks, so that the foot may stand firm. 

These are the implements which belong to it; but construct it so that 
the wine-skin which serves as a boat, and the implements and the man 
who is there, shall be midway between the surface and the bottom of 
the sea; and have a valve put in this wine-skin, so that when it is 
deflated it will sink to the bottom where your station is, and the hands 
will serve as oars. 

The way of wings. 

The smoke of [ . . . ] for use as an opiate. 

Take seed of darnel as remedy, and [ . . . ] spirits of wine in cotton. 
Some white henbane. Some teasel. 

Seed and root of mappello[?], 1 and dry everything; mix this powder 
with camphor and it is made. 

1 MappeIlo, an as yet unidentified tree or shrub. In a passage in c.a. 214 r. a it is said 
to grow plentifully in the Valsasina, which is to the south of Lake Como. 

 

NAVAL WARFARE 845 

Deadly smoke (fitnw 111 or talc) : 
Take arsenic and mix with sulphur or realgar. 
Remedy rose water. 
Venom of toad, that is, a land-toad. 
Slaver of mad dog and decoction of dogwood berries. 
Tarantula from Taranto. 

Powder of verdigris or of chalk mixed with poison to throw on 
ships. c.a. 346 v. a 

GREEK FIRE 

Take charcoal of willow, and saltpetre, and aqua vitae, and sulphur, 
pitch, with incense and camphor and Ethiopian wool, and boil them 
all up together. This fire is so eager to burn that it will run along 
wood even when it is under water. You should add to the mixture 
liquid varnish, petroleum, 1 turpentine, and strong vinegar, and mix 
everything together and dry it in the sun or in an oven when the 
bread has been taken out, and then stick it round hempen or other 
tow, moulding it to a round form and driving very sharp nails into 
every side of it. Leave however an opening in this ball to serve for a 
fuse, and then cover it with resin and sulphur. 

This fire moreover, when fixed to the top of a long lance, which 
has a braccio of its point covered with iron in order that it may not 
be burnt by it, is useful for avoiding and warding off* the hostile ships 
in order not to be overwhelmed by their onset. 

Throw also vessels of glass filled with pitch on to the ships of the 
enemy when their crews are engaged in the battle, and by then throw- 
ing similar lighted balls after these you will have it in your power to 
set every ship on fire. Tr. 43 a 

Ships made of beams. 

Ships made of osier twigs woven and bound with leather for priva- 
teers. 

In order to fight against walls which face the sea or towers, with- 
draw the galleys, and before they come to the encounter raise the oars 
within so that the edges touch together, and move the ship with the 

1 MS. olio petrol io. 

 

846 NAVAL WARFARE 

oars of the back part; in this manner it will seem one only, upon 
which you will set tower and fort strong and suitable for carrying any 
artillery that will be serviceable for the battle. Tr. 71 a 

[With drawing] 

These cortalds should be placed upon stout ships, and these two 
cortalds will have — fastened by a strong chain or a new rope soaked 
in water — a scythe twelve braccia long and a foot wide at the centre, 
and with the back of the blade of the thickness of a finger; and one 
ought to be able to fire both of them at the same time. b 49 r. 

[With drawing] 

To throw poison in the form of powder upon galleys. 

Chalk, fine sulphide of arsenic, and powdered verdigris may be 
thrown among the enemy ships by means of small mangonels. And 
all those who, as they breathe, inhale the said powder with their 
breath will become asphyxiated. 

But take care to have the wind so that it does not blow the powder 
back upon you, or to have your nose and mouth covered over with a 
fine cloth dipped in water so that the powder may not enter. It would 
also be well to throw baskets covered with paper and filled with this 
powder from the crow's nest or the deck of the ship. b 69 v. 

[With drawings] 

Ship with scorpions suitable for cutting the ropes of the big ships; 
from one tip of the sickles to the other should be four braccia; and the 
sickle should be of the shape of a crescent, one foot at its maximum 
width and of the breadth of a finger. b 76 r. 

[With drawings] 

Circuit fal gore. The circunfulgore is a naval machine invented by 
the inhabitants of Majorca. It is formed of a circle of bombards, of as 
many as you please provided that the number is not uneven, since in 
order that the blow may be a vigorous one and yet the vessel may not 
spring back it is necessary that one bombard should serve as a support 
and obstacle of another, and in order to effect this it is necessary to 
set fire at the same instant to two bombards placed opposite to each 
other, so that if one wishes to flee on one side the other opposes it. 

b 82 v. 

 

NAVAL WARFARE 847 

[ With drawing] 

Lances of considerable length fitted with short rockets should be 
placed within the edges of the ships, and these may be set on fire by 
means of a thin cord which comes down the length of the pole as far 
as the hand. b 83 r. 

HOW TO STAVE IN THE BOWS OF A SHIP 

[With drawing] 

It is necessary first that they be engaged, that is fastened together 
in such a way that you for your part can unlock yourself at your 
pleasure, so that when the ship goes to the bottom it may not drag 
yours with it. Let this be done as follows: — draw a weight up to a 
height and then release it; and as it falls it will give such a blow as a 
pile-driver gives, and in falling it will draw back the head of a beam 
which is in equilibrium when upright, and as the head of the afore- 
said beam comes back the end that is below advances and staves in 
the bow of the ship. But see to it that the beam has a cutting edge so 
that as it rushes to give the stroke the water does not offer resistance 
to it. And above all see that the chains which hold the ships fastened 
together are such as can at your pleasure be severed from your side, 
so that the enemy's ship when it sinks may not drag you down with it. 

B 90 V. 

[Drawing] 

If in a battle between ships and galleys the ships are victors because 
of the height of their mast-heads, you should draw the lateen yard 
almost up to the top of the mast and attach to the extremity of this 
yard — at the end that is which projects towards the enemy — a small 
cage wrapped at the bottom and all round with a large mattress 
stuffed with cotton to prevent it from being damaged by bombs. 

Then draw down the other end of the lateen yard by means of the 
capstan, and the cage at the opposite end will go up to such a height 
that it will be far above the mast-head of the ship, and you will easily 
be able to drive out the men who are within it. 

But it is necessary that the men in the galley should go to the oppo- 

 

848 NAVAL WARFARE 

site side so that they may counterbalance the weight of the men 
posted in the cage of the lateen yard. ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 1 v. 

[Drawing] 

If you wish to build a fleet for action you should make use of these 
ships in order to ram the enemy's ships, that is, make ships a hundred 
feet x in length and eight feet wide and arrange them so that the 
rowers of the left oars sit on the right side of the ship and the rowers 
of the right oars on the left side, as is shown at M {figure), in order 
that the leverage of the oars may be longer. And this ship should be 
a foot and a half in thickness, that is made of beams fastened inside 
and outside by planks set crosswise. 

And let the vessel have fastened to it a foot below the water's edge 
a spike shod with iron of the weight and size of an anvil. And by the 
might of the oars this vessel will be able to draw back after it has 
struck the first blow, and will then hurl itself forward again with 
fury and deal the second blow and then the third, and so many others 
as to destroy the ship. ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 3 r 

[Drawing] 

Shape of the vessel [ ?bomb-ketch] which carries the mortars de- 
scribed above. And I would specially remind you to aim the cannon- 
balls attached to scythes towards the mast-head where many ropes 
unite and where the scythes will be effective. 

The scythes should be four braccia long and four braccia from one 
point to the other. And they should be shot among the ropes of the 
big ships so as to make the sails fall down. And let the ketch which 
carries them carry a sufficient quantity; and let it be of stout beams 
so that the cannon from the ships may not break them in pieces; and 
let the cannon-balls be of two hundred pounds. 

ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 4 v. 
[Drawings] 

Of the means of defence in case the enemy should throw soft soap, 
or caltrops, or small boards studded with nails, or similar things upon 
the ships. 

1 Dimensions here given in feet, more usually in braccia. According to Fanfani's 
Dictionary, a foot was about 30 centimetres, and a braccio (horentino) was 58 centi- 
metres. 

 

NAVAL WARFARE 849 

You should do this: — keep, when you go into the combat, on your 
feet, underneath your shoes, iron soles, divided in the middle as is 
shown in the drawing above, so that it is possible to bend the feet; 
and the underside of these soles should have the form of a rasping 
file, or be filled with blunted points of nails, in order to prevent the 
soap from causing the foot to slip and so making the man fall down 
flat; and, as they are of iron, the small boards and caltrops will be 
thrown in vain. ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 6 v. 

A SCORPION 

[Figures] 

This machine is so constructed that the scythe springs up when it is 
discharged; and the ships which carry scythes should be of this sort, 
namely without either mast or sail and with a great quantity of oars so 
that they may be swift; without a sail because the sail, mast and cord- 
age would interfere with the working of the great scythe. The machine 
is called a scorpion because of its resemblance to one and because of 
the damage it inflicts with its tail. Mantelets are fixed over the rowers 
in order that the masts, that is to say the mast-heads, or rather the 
combatants at the mast-heads, may not be able to do them any injury; 
and these should be covered with moist hides because of the fire 
thrown by the enemy. 

A way of protecting against it is for ships to be provided with chains 
of rope to a height of six braccia. 

[Figure] This ship is to serve as a defence against cannon, and it 
attacks the other ships with its cannon; it is covered with sheet metal ' J 
as a protection against fire, and bristling with points of nails so that the 
enemy may not leap upon it with impunity, ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 8 r. 

[Drawing] 

Some of the combatants in the Tyrrhenian Sea employ this method : 
they fasten an anchor to one end of the lateen yard and a rope to the 
other, and this rope at the bottom end is attached to another anchor. 
In the fight they hook the first anchor to the oars of the enemy's ship 
and by the force of the capstan draw it to the side. 

1 MS. coperto di tole. 

 

850 NAVAL WARFARE 

And they throw soft soap and tow, dipped in melted pitch and set 
alight, on the side to which the anchor was first made fast, so that in 
order to escape from this fire the defenders of the ship have to flee to 
the opposite side; and by doing so they rendered assistance to their 
assailants, for the galley was drawn to the side more easily because of 
this counterpoise. ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 9 r. 

[Drawing] 

I have found in the history of the Spaniards how, in their wars with 
the English, Archimedes the Syracusan, who was then living at the 
court of Ecliderides, King of the Cirodastri, ordered that for maritime 
combats the ships should have tall masts, and on the tops of these he 
placed a small yard forty feet in length and a third of a foot wide, 
having at one end of it a small anchor and at the other a counterpoise. 

To the anchor was attached twelve feet of chain, and to the chain as 
much rope as would reach from the chain to the base of the mast-top 
where it was fixed by a small rope, going down from this base to the 
base of the mast where a very strong capstan was placed, and there the 
end of the cord was fastened. But to go back to the use of the machine, 
I say that below this anchor there was a fire which with a loud roar 
threw out its rays and a shower of burning pitch, and as this shower 
fell upon the enemy's mast-top it compelled the men stationed there to 
abandon their post; and consequently the anchor being lowered by 
means of the capstan touched the sides of the mast-top, and thus in- 
stantly cut the rope placed at the base of the mast-top to support the 
rope which went from the anchor to the capstan. And drawing the 
ship . . . ms. 2037 Bib. Nat. 9 v. 

How by an appliance many are able to remain for some time under 
water. How and why I do not describe my method of remaining under 
water for as long a time as I can remain without food; and this I do 
not publish or divulge on account of the evil nature of men who would 
practice assassinations at the bottom of the seas, by breaking the ships 
in their lowest parts and sinking them together with the crews who 
are in them; and although I will furnish particulars of others they 
are such as are not dangerous, for above the surface of the water 

 

NAVAL WARFARE 851 

emerges the mouth of the tube by which they draw in breath, sup- 
ported upon wine-skins or pieces of cork. 1 Leic. 22 v. 

Speak with the Genoese about the sea. 2 Leic. 26 v. 

1 These lines are an excerpt from a passage to be found in full in the section on The 
Nature of Water. A similar practice has been followed in the case of one or two lines 
reproduced in the sections entitled Music, Personalia and Dated Notes. 

2 This is one of those enigmatic notes which have given rise to conjecture. It un- 
doubtedly may refer to naval preparations, which were being taken by the Genoese as 
part of Ludovic Sforza's concerted schemes of defence against the assaults with which 
he was threatened. As he knew of Leonardo's study of marine warfare he would find 
him a very suitable agent to send on such a mission. This is incontestable. But the 
fact remains that this sentence, which is all that exists to connect Leonardo with Genoa, 
is a comparatively slight foundation for the structure of hypothesis that has been raised 
upon it.