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Vigevano, Guido da, ca. 1280-ca. 1350

Liber acquisitionis Te[r]re Sa[n]te de ultra mare : [Christi] no[m]i[n]e invocato : Regi Francie i[n]tytulato.

Additional Title(s):

Liber acquisitionis Terre Sante de ultra mare

Texaurus Regis Francie

Physical Description:
1 v. ([52] pages, with 2 blank pages) : ill. ; 29 x 22 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
UG443 .V54 1375+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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Archives & Manuscripts
Guido da Vigevano (ca. 1280-ca.1349) was the personal physician to Joan of Burgundy, consort of Philip VI in the 1330s. Philip had twice pledged to lead a crusade to recover the Holy Land and, although he never did, Guido da Vigevano was so concerned how best to protect the king's life during the dangerous and unhealthy adventure of a crusade that he wrote a treatise called (in translation) Treasury of the King of France for the recovery of the Holy Land beyond the sea. The first part of this work is devoted to rules of health suitable for elderly warriors (Philip VI was then 42 years old) and the second half to siegecraft.
Guido da Vigevano's treatise on siegecraft includes a number of innovations, the most important of which was the idea of portability. Guido proposed constructing pre-fabricated sections of siege apparatus, each section small enough to be transported by horse, to compensate for the dearth of timber available in the Holy Lands. These pieces could be easily transported from to place to place and used many times. His treatise carefully described the towers and ladders, hinges, joints, bolts, ropes, and other small parts that allowed for the assembly of his designs; he comes close thus to the modern notion of interchangeable parts. In a similar vein, his treatise describes: a design for paddle wheels (to propel a portable boat) rotated by a double-compound crank; the use of wrought-iron for shafts and other structural purposes; a design for a sort of mechanical lift; a design for self-propelled battle wagon, employing a crank and a geared drive, with steerable fore-carriage; and a design for a tower windmill. However novel Guido's plans may have been, there is no evidence that any of them were ever built.
An analysis of the Texaurus is available in: Hall, A. Rupert. "Guido's Texaurus, 1335." On pre-modern technology and science. Ed. Bert S. Hall and Delno C. West. Malibu: Undena, 1976. Hall includes a translation into English of the manuscript version at the BNF (Latin 11015), together with notes on where that version differs from the present YCBA manuscript.
Accompanying the manuscript is another translation into English, in typescript, by an unidentified translator. It may have been prepared for the Sotheby's sale (1960), or shortly before. The introduction to this volume includes a history of the work and the provenance of the present manuscript. The volume is shelved with the present manuscript.
The manuscript is partially reproduced (26 of 52 pages, including all of the drawings), with commentary in: Le macchine del re : il Texaurus Regis Francie, di Guido da Vigevano; trascrizione, traduzione e commento del codice lat. 11015 della Bibliothèque nationale di Parigi di Giustina Ostuni. Vigevano : Diakronia, 1993.
Provenance: Inscribed, p. [51]: C'est à moi, Prevost. Previously owned by by Conte Gugliemo Libri-Carucci (1809-1869), at which time it was bound with other manuscripts. Sold Sotheby's, (lot 347), 26 July 1862, to Sir Thomas Phillipps. Phillipps MS 16398. Sotheby's, 1960. Paul Mellon.
Text written in pen and brown ink, in a regular gothic hand; 44 lines, in two columns. Includes one large illuminated initial with a marginal extension (p. 1). Other initials and chapter-headings are in red.
On vellum.
Bound in later brown morocco.
Phillipps MS 16398.
Manuscript copy of Guido Vigevano's Texaurus Regis Francie, with 16 illustrations in pen and brown ink. The manuscript, written in Latin, includes only the second the part of the Texaurus, that dealing with siege warcraft. According to the colophon, the text was copied by Martin of Aachen in the kingdom of Cyprus in the year 1375. Martin in fact claims to be the compiler (copulatus) of the work, but this is an exaggeration, as the present manuscript is an almost exact copy of Guido's treatise, the earliest complete manuscript copy of which is present in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Ms Latin 11015, ca. 1340). The present version of the Texaurus was not copied from that in the BNF (see Hall).
The manuscript includes 16 full-page drawings in pen and brown ink, plus one smaller drawing of the author on p. [2], and a small number of interlinear diagrams, also in pen and brown ink. If the drawings are relatively rudimentary in technique, they do make an attempt to clearly articulate the mechanisms of the designs proposed by Guido.
Subject Terms:
Cranks and crankshafts -- Medieval, 500-1500.
Crusades -- 13th-15th centuries.
Libri, Guillaume, 1803-1869 -- Ownership.
Military art and science -- Medieval, 500-1500.
Military engineering -- Medieval, 500-1500.
Military weapons -- Medieval, 500-1500.
Philip VI, King of France, 1293-1350.
Phillipps, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1872 -- Ownership.
Siege warefare -- Medieval, 500-1500.
Vigevano, Guido da, ca. 1280-ca. 1350.
Illuminated manuscripts.
Ink drawings.
Martin, of Aachen.
IIIF Manifest:

  • Contents (translated into English): 1. In what manner the soldiers assaulting cities, towns and castles ought to protect themselves from the arrows of the Saracens and build protective screens to be carried on horses
  • 2. Of the way of making posts and brattices, for the purpose of taking cities, towns and castles, to be carried in rolls on horses
  • 3. Of the way of making bridges on dry land for placing on the walls of cities and castles, to be carried on horses
  • 4. Of the way to capture towers, however high they may be
  • 5. Of the way to make assault-ladders and to carry them on horses
  • 6. Of the way of making assaulting-castles which are erected against the walls of cities and higher than the wall and carried in pieces on horses
  • 7. Of the way of making bridges over waters, carrying them in pieces on horses, and placing them in the water in one hour
  • 8. Of the way of making boats for navigating all waters of the sea and of carrying them in rolls on horses
  • 9. Of the way of riding upon water
  • 10. Of the way in which infantry may cross great waters
  • 11. Of the way of making a fighting-car [or tank], driven without the aid of wind or animals, an carried in pieces on horses, for throwing great forces into disorder
  • 12. Of the making of another fighting-car, driven by the wind without animals, which rushes with great violence over the field disordering a large army with very few men, and which can be carried in pieces on horses.

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