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    The Earliest Authority on Medieval War Machines

    Roberto Valturius (Robert Valturin). Les Douze Livres De Robert Valturin touchant la discipline Militaire. Paris: Charles Perier, 1555. Scarce first edition in French of the famous Valturio treatise on the art of war, appeared for the first time in Latin in Verona in 1472. The figures are copied from those of the edition of Verona from 1483, attributed to the architect Matteo Pasti. Translated by Louis Meigret. Large woodcut of printer's mark on title page, decorated initials, with ninety-seven fine woodcut illustrations, including many full-page. Folio. ~6, A-2q6. (12), 234 pages. Seventeenth century French speckled calf, spine tooled in gilt, edges red, marbled end papers, top of front hinge starting. Bottom right corner of title page torn away, with some loss, professionally repaired in great pen facsimile, making up the excised portion of the imprint, small repair at top also, few small repairs to outer margin corners, no affect, else a very clean copy. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
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    "On medieval machines of war the earliest authority is Robert Valtur." -Biblio of English Military Books up to 1642, Cockle (p.xix).

    "The historical importance of the De Re Militari lies in the fact that it is the first book printed with illustrations of a technical or scientific character depicting the progressive engineering ideas of the author's own time... The Verona Valturius and its reprints were the handbooks of the military leaders of the Renaissance, and Leonardo da Vinci, when acting as chief engineer to Cesare Borgia, possessed a copy and borrowed some of its designs" -PMM, 10 (1st ed.).

    "Valturio, Roberto (1405-1475)...Valturio wrote a treatise on the art of war, Elenchus et index rerum militarium. Most likely completed between 1455 and 1460, it is known by the briefer title De re militari. Valturio undertook the task more as a man of letters and as a humanist scholar than as an expert in the subject. The work consists of twelve books that treat the art of war both generally and from a historical point of view. The most fully illustrated book is the tenth, on offensive and defensive weapons. The work appeared during the transition from the old military technology to the new one based on gunpowder. Valturio treats mainly Roman and medieval military techniques, more recent ones receiving only cursory coverage in the text, although they are somewhat more adequately presented in the illustrations. Book X contains accounts of siege towers, war chariots, screws for breaking iron gratings, catapults, and battering rams; and book XI covers ships, pontoons, and life belts. Firearms are discussed but are relegated to a subordinate role.

    Valturio also presents unusual objects of the kind often found in fourteenth-and early fifteenth-century manuscripts on the art of war: an elbow-shaped weapon in which the bolt and chamber are arranged perpendicular to each other; a storming wagon moved by windwheels; a monstrous war machine with a dragon's head, similar to one depicted several decades later in a relief done at Urbino by Francesco di Giorgio Martini: and a completely sealed submarine propelled by paddle wheels, which certainly was never built. Valturio's sources were primarily ancient authors, but he also drew on a few contemporary and-for the fantastic devices-late medieval writers.

    The first printed edition of Valturio's work (1472) was a masterpiece of typography and woodcut. The woodcuts (or at least the drawings) were formerly attributed to Matteo de' Pasti; but they may have been done, as E. Rodakiewicz has proposed, by Fra Giovanni Giocondo Veronese." -

    Graesse VI: 253. Brunet V: 1067. Fairfax Murray French 561. Not in Adams. Not in BM STC. USTC 22808. Pettegree-Walsby 50330. War. Military. Weapons. Canons. Catapults. Arms. Ships. Architecture. Engineering. Machines. French. 

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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