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Draughtsman Engineers Serving

the Spanish Monarchy in the
Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries
Alicia Cmara Muoz (ed.)

Draughtsman Engineers
Serving the Spanish Monarchy
in the Sixteenth to Eighteenth

Alicia Cmara Muoz (ed.)





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Published in the framework of R&D+I project HAR 2012-31117.

El dibujante ingeniero al servicio de la monarqua hispnica. Siglos XVI-XVIII (DIMH)
[draughtsman engineers serving the Spanish monarchy in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries]
Funded by the Spanish Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness
Head researcher, Alicia Cmara Muoz


Design, modelling and production:

Ediciones del Umbral

of the edition, Fundacin Juanelo Turriano

of the texts, their authors
of photographs and drawings, their authors

ISBN: 978-84-942695-8-5

Original title:
El dibujante ingeniero al servicio de la monarqua
hispnica. Siglos XVI-XVIII
Fundacin Juanelo Turriano, 2016

The Fundacin Juanelo Turriano has made every

effort possible to find out who the owners of the
copyrights are for all the images that appear here and
to find out what reproduction permits are required.
If there have been any unintentional omissions, the
owners of the rights or their representatives may write
to Fundacin Juanelo Turriano.



Victoriano Muoz Cava


Pedro Navascus Palacio


Jos Mara Goicolea Ruigmez


Jos Calavera Ruiz

David Fernndez-Ordez Hernndez
Jos Antonio Gonzlez Carrin
Fernando Senz Ridruejo
Jos Manuel Snchez Ron


Francisco Vigueras Gonzlez


From the time of the Renaissance when engineers began to be spoken of until the specialization of
the branches of engineering which took place in the 18th century, history has told us a lot about the
uses these professionals made of drawing. Some fragments of this history are related in these pages,
which are the result of a research project that seemed to be necessary because drawing was involved
in all the studies carried out on the history of engineering in the Modern Age. Research had to turn
its spotlight on these images, which is why we assembled an interdisciplinary team to develop the
project El dibujante ingeniero al servicio de la monarqua hispnica. Siglos XVI-XVIII [draughtsman
engineers serving the Spanish monarchy in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries] (HAR2012-31117),
financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. This book is the result of the project.

The collection Juanelo Turriano Lectures on the history of engineering is the ideal vehicle for pub-
lishing the results of this research, previously in the original language and now in English.

Preface ...............................................................................................................................11


1 Drawing Instruments, Engineering Methods and Representation Systems

in Sixteenth- through Eighteenth Centuries Fortification Design..............................17

2 From Stonecutting to Descriptive Geometry. Orthographic Projection

and Military Engineering from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment......................45

3 Eighteenth Century Engineers and Architects Drawings for the Royal Sites:
Survey Record and Design ........................................................................................69

4 Military Map-Making Urgency in Early Eighteenth Century Spain.

Ordinance of Engineers and the Academy of Mathematics .......................................91

5 Methodology Applicable to the Graphic Analysis of Fortification Projects ...............119



6 Keeping Secrets and Mapping Frontiers: Government and Image in

the Spanish Monarchy ............................................................................................143

7 Luis Pizao and his Projects for Roses: Idea, Drawing and Decision.......................181

8 Alliance or Defence: Military Strategy and Diplomacy in the Spanish Monarchys

Seventeenth Century Projects for Western Liguria..................................................197

9 City, War and Drawing in the Sixteenth Century: from Tripoli

to the Moroccan Atlantic ........................................................................................221
10 Designing the Bastion against the Turks: Sicily and Malta ......................................247

11 Defending a Border. Piedmont and Lombardy Cities in the First Half

of the Seventeenth Century ....................................................................................271


12 The Rationalisation and Codification of the Cartographic Practices

of French Military Engineers under Louis XIV........................................................297

13 The Engineer, the Royal Academies, and the Drawing of Maps and Plans
in France in the Early Modern Period .....................................................................315

14 Looking at the World on Two Sheets of Paper: the Image of the Orb and
Mathematics in the Education of Prince Philip III .................................................331

15 Tengo gran macchina di cose per intagliare... [I have a large collection of

things to be engraved...]. The Drawings of Commander Tiburzio Spannocchi,
Chief Engineer of the Kingdoms of Spain ...............................................................351


16 Modelling, Access and Visualization in the DIMH Spanish Project.........................383


17 Future Answers to the Historian: the Current Development of the Semantic

Web in the Area of Historical Archives ....................................................................405

BOOKS PUBLISHED BY FUNDACIN JUANELO TURRIANO .....................................................................414



In 1590 a Flemish youth was discovered measuring the walls of La Corua. We dont
know what happened to him afterwards, but he was probably discovered as a result of
the control that the corregidor [local, administrative and judicial official in the city des-
ignated by the king] had to exercise to ensure that no one should draw the city walls, es-
pecially in threatened cities like La Corua which had been attacked by the English the
year before. Measurements and drawings guaranteed the exactitude of the information
on city walls and frontiers, whether ones own or those of the enemy. Drawing skills were
not always imperative when the need was urgent, and we imagine that the drawings of
the Flemish youth who was measuring the walls were not very good, but they would have
given invaluable information to the English enemy. In the opposite case, among the pa-
pers of Garca de Loaysa conserved in the National Library of Spain, there is a clumsy
but expressive drawing of the Tower of London, which accompanied a map of the Euro-
pean scene through which the Spanish armada was going to move against England. The
world of spying could permit the lack of perfection in the representations, but the kings
engineers had to make exact drawings, with no concessions to invention with the excep-
tion of adornments and cartouches, and if they were not good draughtsmen they had to
have recourse to capable painters. Thus for example, when Giovan Antonio Nobile was
designated Chief Engineer of the kingdom of Sicily in 1572, he had to look in all the
places which were going to be fortified for painters who were masters of colour and draw-
ing, to make the plans of the projected fortifications and the territory in which they were
to be built. The uses of images can be approached from so many different scientific dis-
ciplines and this one of the exercise of power over territories is just one more, but we be-
lieve that it is determinant to evaluate the important role of engineers drawings in the
government of states throughout the Modern Age.

The engineers drew, but these drawings had to be seen, analyzed, debated and decisions
on the execution of the projects had to be made; and this was the job of the king and his
counsellors. We know that drawing and the science of fortification were part of the educa-
tion of princes and noblemen, and even emperors, as Francisco de Holanda reminds us
when talking of Charles V and Maximilian. In De rege et regis institutione, the work dedi-
cated by Juan de Mariana to the education of Phillip III, the prince was recommended to
learn geometry and arithmetic, among other reasons to construir edificios y fortificar de
acuerdo con la ciencia de los castillos y baluartes [construct buildings and fortify according
to the science of castles and bastions]. And the fact is that territories and fortifications, ex-
plained and represented in maps, with chorography and drawings, only existed if there was
an image with which to recognize and travel through the dominions. For example, Sancho
de Londoo wrote in 1568 that to understand a battle field it was necessary to have a paint-
ing of the province, the roads, and everything that could affect an army at war. It was also
necessary in times of peace, and thus, in 1574 the state of Milan was so important for the
Spanish monarchy as it was paso y puerta de Italia [the pass and door to Italy], that it
became necessary to have a carta, y descripcin [chart and description] with all the forts,
passes, mountains, valleys, rivers, streams, and any other circumstances which would per-
mit a thorough knowledge of those territories. This also applied to the cities at war, and at
the beginning of the 18th century it was specified that a general had to have the drawn plan
of the city he was going to besiege, but also the surrounding terrain with its hills, valleys,
rivers, woods, swamps and roads by which help could come.
In the progressive professionalisation of the engineers drawings, the description co-
existed with the plan, and in this process the difference with the military, often claimed
to be the true sages of fortification, was more and more evident. Cristobal de Rojas in
his treatise echoed what was happening when underlining that these soldados viejos
[old soldiers] knew so much about fortification porque lo tratan al vivo, y lo dems es
pintado [because they deal with it directly, and the rest is painted]. This painted ele-
ment introduced a radical change not only in military history but also in engineering, ar-
chitecture and the history of science, and was accompanied by the development of
scientific instruments to measure the world. This painted element is what we are speak-
ing of here, leaving for another occasion the three dimensional models which were cre-
ated, of which we conserve very few, and which have to be traced in archived
documentation. The description of the frontiers, of necessity secret, was one of the re-
sponsibilities of the engineers, and their drawings constitute an important heritage for
understanding the territories as they were then and their transformation, which is why
one part of this book is devoted to these frontiers.
The permeability between architecture and engineering throughout the three cen-
turies studied, has led us to devote another section to the study of a professional differ-
entiation which many testimonies refute. As an example, at the end of the 16th century
the count of Portalegre, governor of Portugal, speaking about the military engineer
Leonardo Turriano related him, naturally without having to explain it, with drawing and
architecture, when writing that he had to find out what the engineer was complaining
about him for if architectos y debujantes me goviernan [architects and draughtsmen
control me]. This Leonardo Turriano, who was present like a modern day Pliny at the

eruption of a volcano in order to describe it, and said of himself that no soy solamente
historiador, ni exclusivamente gegrafo, ni tampoco simple arquitecto militar [I am not
only a historian, nor exclusively a geographer, nor a simple military architect], developed
all this knowledge as the kings engineer, which reinforces the questioning of these pro-
fessional frontiers constructed a posteriori by historiography. Finally, in the line of this
argument, when Juan Agustn Cen Bermdez, an erudite expert who would mark the
guidelines in the construction of the history of Spanish art, in the prologue to his Dic-
cionario de los ms ilustres profesores de las Bellas Artes en Espaa, explained that he had
opted not to include architects in his work, he reasoned as follows: cmo me atrevera
yo excluir de ella los arquitectos militares, los hidrulicos, los de puentes y calzadas, y
otros semejantes, ni tampoco incluir los meros maestros de obras, aparejadores y al-
bailes? [How would I dare to exclude from it the military, hydrological, bridge and road
engineers, and other similar professionals, nor to include the mere master builders, mas-
ter craftsmen and masons?]. With time Spanish historiography gradually included these
master builders or master craftsmen in the history of architecture, but it did not do so in
the same way with the military, hydrological, bridges and road engineers, at times stripped
of their engineering profession when they entered into the history of architecture. Going
back to Cen, if this was being considered in 1800, we could ask ourselves what he would
have written nowadays, when the history of war, geography and science seems to com-
plicate even more the professional definition of the architect engineers to whom he refers.
Among the research activities which we carried out from 2013 to 2015 are seminars
and courses to which were invited researchers who were not involved in the R+D project,
and who have been invited to participate in this book. Thanks to all the authors the final
result is that we have made progress in the consideration of how engineers drawings ex-
plain questions which affect the history of architecture, of the city or of the territory, as
well as the history of a profession which was greatly transformed over these centuries,
using drawing for many different ends. Other topics presented include how the experi-
ence of the French monarchy introduces a point of comparison with the Spanish monar-
chy, the relation of these drawings with the history of science, the development of the
representation systems used and scientific instruments, the role of the academies, or the
use of these drawings in dealing with the fortified heritage. Stories of power, the educa-
tion of the prince, the secret character of these images, war, engineering, science and
the codification of knowledge, resound in its pages. Finally, the possibility offered for ac-
cess via the Internet to the digitization of data on the drawings conserved in the archives,
has meant that this project has been a pioneer in the field of the Digital Humanities,
with the creation of a web application which incorporates the data and the semantic
structure, which may favour progress in the investigation of engineers drawings.
The interdisciplinary character of the project, in the frame work of which this book
was created, reflects the changes which have for some time now been occurring in the
study of images. This break with a specialization which we have inherited, leads us to
trust that these pages will serve as a starting point for future research.

Back to Contents

Drawing Instruments, Engineering
Methods and Representation Systems in
Sixteenth- through Eighteenth Centuries
Fortification Design


Universidad Politcnica de Madrid. E.T.S. de Arquitectura. Director of IPCE



With a view to understanding how fortifications were designed, this chapter first studies
military engineers drawing, surveying and stake-out instruments. It then describes design
methods by analysing layouts, dimensional and trigonometric tables and conceptual max-
ims or rules and the respective results. Lastly, both mock-up and two-dimensional repre-
sentation systems are reviewed.
Analysing and cross-referencing the findings for each of the aforementioned facets
afford a fuller understanding of the nature of sixteenth- through eighteenth-century for-
tification design. Initially associated with natural determinants, such design was trans-
formed in Baroque construction into the repetition of geometric prototypes, only to revert
to an inductive, albeit regulated, approach in the transition to neo-classicism.


Instruments, methods, systems, drafting, design, representation, fortification.


The design and construction instruments used by sixteenth-century military engineers

were not materially different from the devices employed by contemporary topographers
and architects to design and survey existing or stake-out new structures. Basic drafting
tools such as the compass, angle square and ruler or straightedge were described by An-
tonio Averlino Filarete2 and mentioned as well, along with the plumb bob and level, by
Leon Battista Alberti3.
Although for many decades these were the primary instruments for designing or stak-
ing out new or surveying existing buildings, in the mid-sixteenth century new and more
accurate measuring, surveying and stake-out tools began to be crafted. Cosimo Bartoli,
for instance, in his treatise on how to measure distances published in Venice in the mid-
sixteenth century, recommended the quadrant (alone or in a circular sector), the astrolabe
and the cross- (or Jacobs) staff4.
In the early sixteenth century, Andrs Garca de Cspedes, in his Libro de instrumentos
de geometra5, described three instruments: a quadrant of his own invention, the Jacobs
staff and a level used by Juan de Herrera. Robert Fludds Utriusque Cosmi Maioris scilicet
et Minoris Metaphysica, Physica atque Technica Historia, published in Germany in 16176,
described a surveyors staff, triangle (hypotenuse ruler), designers straightedge, and
the main staff and transom for a Jacobs staff.
Many of these instruments were designed and crafted by architects or engineers.
Tiburcio Spannocchi, for instance, built an ingenious brass T-square. Fitted with a mag-
netic compass to measure angles and determine wall orientation, it was described by
Cristbal de Rojas in his treatise, along with a quadrant for measuring distances and
heights and a level for pipe and culvert layout7 [FIG. 1].
Gonzlez de Medina Barba de-
scribed a rudimentary stake-out system
with a plane table and a method for
measuring distances with two hinged
straightedges. Cristbal Lechuga, in
turn, used what he called a plani-
sphere, a circle graduated with sight
lines, two of them mobile, to stake out
angles on drawings8 [FIG. 2]. A treatise
authored by Friar Lorenzo de San
Nicols contained a copy of the level
depicted by Cristbal de Rojas and a
discussion of the quadrant and fore-
staff or Jacobs staff. The second part
of this treatise described a trammel
used to draw ellipses9.
FIG. 1 CRISTBAL DE ROJAS. Tiburcio Spannochis instru- Despite the development of new
ment. Terica y prctica de fortificacin, conforme a las medidas y
defensas de los tiempos, repartida en tres partes, Luis Snchez,
instruments, many authors believed
Madrid, 1598, fol. 82. that all fortifications could be drawn

phere. Discurso del capitn Cristbal
Lechuga en que trata de la artillera y de
todo lo necesario a ella. Milan, Royal and
Ducal Palace, Marco Tulio Malatesta,
1611, p. 246.

with only a straightedge and a compass. Enrquez de Salamanca contended in his trea-
tise that engineers needed no more than a compass, a straightedge, a pencil, a board
the size of a hand and sine or logarithmic charts10. Alonso de Zepeda y Adrada, in
turn, published a book in Brussels in
1669 entitled Eptome de la fortifi-
cacin moderna, as en lo regular como
en lo irregular, reducida a la regla y al
comps...11 [epitome of the modern for-
tification... reduced to the straightedge
and the compass] and claimed that he
would use only those two instruments
to build his models and examples.
Nonetheless, layout complexity, the
diversity of scales and the growing de-
pendence on geometric models led to
the standard use of the proportional
compass (the sector, an early computing
instrument also initially known as a pro-
portional compass, was attributed to
Galileo Galilei12). Manuscripts on the
subject in Spains National Library13
attest to its widespread use in the second
half of the seventeenth century. It ap-
peared in a book by Miguel Prez de
Xea, who attributed its invention to
Daniel Iorez14, and in a treatise authored
by Julio Csar Firrufino15 [FIG. 3], which
FIG. 3 JULIO CSAR FIRRUFINO. El perfecto artillero.
also described how to make angle squares, Therica y prctica. Madrid, Juan Martn del Barrio, 1642.
compasses, quadrants and levels. p. 157.


FIG. 4 JOS ZARAGOZA. Proportional compass. Chest of mathematical instruments for Charles II. National Library Mu-
seum. Photo by Jos Luis Municio. Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain.

References to the proportional compass are also found in Vicente Muts treatise16,
along with a discussion of other instruments mentioned in the authors description of
how fortifications are staked out and built. He nonetheless warned of the inaccuracy of
small instruments: What matters when observing angles is not to rely passionately on
the brass planisphere, optical square, magnetic compass, graphic parallelogram or any
other small instrument, which I have seen to mislead many, to the detriment of the art
A collection of 14 mathematical instruments on display in Spains National Library
Museum, commissioned by Juan Francisco de la Cerda, Duque de Medinaceli, from Jos
Zaragoza for King Charles II is an exceptionally fine example of standard seventeenth-
century instruments. The commission was a gift for the kings 14th birthday and although
the instruments were made hastily and very likely seldom used by the monarch for their
specified purpose, they constitute a valuable legacy [FIG. 4].
The chest is a leather-bound wood case containing three velvet-padded trays holding
a brass straightedge, a proportional compass, triangle, a cross-staff, a pantograph, a large
equilateral triangle, a small equilateral triangle, a telescope, a musical instrument tuner
and luthiers aid (on the reverse side of the proportional compass), a compass with a sin-
gle leg, a Gunters or surveyors chain, a lignum vitae plane table, a stand for the table
and an L-square. The collection included a book that served as both an instructions man-
ual and a treatise on military architecture18.
With the turn of the century, the proportional compass was gradually eclipsed by the
graduated semicircle. Fernndez de Medrano explained how to use the latter to draw reg-
ular polygons and fortification floor plans19. He also described and explained the use of
a graduated metallic circle with a straightedge bearing transoms to measure angles. He
included a discussion of a straightedge with different scales applied for the same opera-
tions as performed with a proportional compass20.
The Royal Ordinance and Code of 22 July 1739 for Teaching Mathematics at the
Academy of Barcelona listed the instruments that were to be on hand at the academy for
practical exercises: semicircles, quadrants with telescopes, levels, angle squares, bevel
gauges, proportional compasses, plane tables and compasses, i.e., a full set of all the con-
temporary instruments21. The Royal Ordinance of 29 December 1751 for the Academies
of Barcelona, Ceuta and Oran contained a similar list22.

Records have been conserved from the mid-eighteenth century of a series of instru-
ments for the Artillery Academies of Barcelona and Cadiz. Shipped from London by
manufacturer G. Adams, they included two altazimuths, two plane tables, levels, tele-
scopes, compasses, graduated semicircles, gunners quadrants, Gunters chains, tripods
and others23.
Miguel Snchez Taramas published the Spanish translation of a book by John Muller
that listed stake-out instruments such as the plane table and altazimuth24. Lastly, accord-
ing to El Arquitecto prctico civil militar y agrimensor, a book by Zaragoza-born architect
Antonio Plo y Camn published at Madrid in 1767, the instruments chiefly used by eigh-
teenth-century architects and engineers were compasses and straightedges for drawing
and graduated semicircles and masonry squares for drawing lines in the field. The man-
ufacture and use of the more elaborate but equally popular proportional compasses and
levels were described more fully25.


The methods for laying out fortifications changed significantly in the late sixteenth cen-
tury, concurring with a variation in the scale of fortifications. As earlier fortifications were
designed to be defended with artillery, their lines of defence were determined by cannon
range. New siege techniques and every larger armies, however, led to the design of new
fortifications to be defended at musket range, substantially shortening the length of the
line of defence and ruling out forts based on the tenaille system except in very small
Evidence of this can be found in Jean Errard de Bar-le-Ducs 1594 treatise or the
comparisons in Cristbal de Rojass 1598 book between earlier structures and the forti-
fications recommended by Italian writers, which he regarded as also overly large. He con-
cluded by putting forward his own
ideas, based on experience: 360 feet
for the curtain and 260 for the bas-
tion, although 350-400 foot curtain
lengths were acceptable. This shorten-
ing of distances was attendant not only
upon the defence weaponry to be
used, but also upon the belief that
short-range defence was more effec-
tive and the respective fortification
works less costly26.

FIG. 5 CRISTBAL DE ROJAS. Fortification with

four bastions. In Terica y prctica de fortificacin, con-
forme a las medidas y defensas de los tiempos, repartida
en tres partes, Luis Snchez, Madrid, 1598, fol. 42.


After defining the chief dimensions and stressing the importance and utility of scale,
Cristbal de Rojas discussed the site where fortifications should be built. He then out-
lined the basic models for triangular, square, pentagonal, hexagonal or heptagonal forti-
fications based on a regular polygon with sides measuring 600 or 660 feet divided into
five parts, with the middle three serving as the curtain and the two outer parts as
demigorges [FIG. 5]. The bastion fronts were defined by the line of defence rasant running
between the end of the curtain wall and the outermost point of the flank, which was per-
pendicular to the curtain and measured 60 feet in triangular and 90 in all higher-order
polygons27. He proposed a wall height of 45 or 46 feet over the horizon, including the six
comprising the parapet28.
This proportional fortification design, with the inner side of the polygon divided into
curtain wall and demigorge, was the standard approach adopted in Spanish treatises in
the first third of the seventeenth century. Diego Gonzlez de Medina Barba also calcu-
lated the length of the curtains on the grounds of musket range and proposed similar di-
mensions29. He claimed that they should be forty feet high from the bottom of the moat
to the [base of the] parapet, plus five but no more in the parapet30. Lastly, he defined
the length of the bastion front to be two-thirds of the curtain or 250 feet and their height
to be 2 feet taller than the curtains31.
Similar although somewhat larger proportions were proposed for fortresses with up
to six sides by Captain Cristbal Lechuga in a speech published at Milan in 1611. For
this author 800 feet was the base figure, half of which for the curtain with 120 foot flanks
on each end, 30 for the casemate and 90 for its cover. Part (26 feet) of the total 40 foot
height was masonry and the rest (14 feet) earthen construction32.
This proportional approach to fortifications fell drastically out of favour in the sixteen
forties when as a result of the revolts in Catalonia and Portugal, the defeats at Rocroi
and Lens and the Peace of Westphalia, Spain lost its hegemonic hold on the continent.
The predominant models no longer drew from Italo-Spanish tradition but from Dutch
and central European designs. The angular approach appeared for the first time in Span-
ish texts in a book written by Madrilenian engineer Juan Santans y Tapia, entitled Tratado
de fortificacin militar destos tiempos breve e intelegible33 [FIG. 6]. The author described
three ways to calculate the bastion or shoulder angle. The first consisted in adding 20
to half of the polygon angle, as per the tables in a treatise by Adam Freitag; the second
in adding 15as proposed by Samuel Marolois, and in the third 25, provided, in all three,
that the final angle did not exceed 90.
Santans y Tapia built length tables for the figures to two proportions based on the
angles found, with constant dimensions at a ratio of 2/3 for the curtain and the bastion
front, as in the treatises by Adam Freitag and Mathias Dogen. He also provided tables
for smaller fortifications, likewise as per Freitag and Dogen, and described outworks,
specifically ravelins, lunettes, tenailles and crownworks. Despite its inaccuracies and
contradictions, Santanss treatise revolutionised Spanish literature on the subject, inas-
much as it introduced major innovations: angle-based calculation, outworks and the idea
that fortifications could be designed to differing dimensions.
A few years after the appearance of Santanss text, Portuguese engineer Diego En-
rquez de Villegas, in his Academia de fortificacin de plazas y nuevo mtodo de fortificar

una Plaza Real, enumerated and com-
pared all the systems proposed by Ital-
ian, French, Dutch and Spanish
authors. He ultimately proposed a poly-
gon measuring 1100 feet on each side,
which he identified with Bilbao mus-
ket range, as the optimal model. It had
180 foot demigorges, 740 foot curtains,
133 foot flanks, 120 foot casemate cov-
ers and a bastion front slightly shorter
than half of the curtain. Although the
dimensions make this model look out-
dated, Enrquez de Villegas introduced
an essential innovation, the determi-
nate system. While citing the methods
used by other authors and using the di-
vision of the inner side of the polygon
as a basis for design, he specified the di-
mensions of each fortification element,
FIG. 6 JUAN SANTANS Y TAPIA. Portrait included in Tratado
an approach widely followed through-
de fortificacin militar destos tiempos breve e intelegible, Brus-
out the second half of the seventeenth sels, Guilielmo Scheybels, 1644. Note the pantometer in his
left hand.
century. Justification for this change lay
in the prevalence of practical over the-
oretical considerations34.
In a treatise entitled Arquitectura Militar, Vicente Mut, a mathematician, astronomer
and engineer from Mallorca, addressed some of Santanss innovations. He established a
system based on the range of musket fire, which he estimated to be 800 to 1000 geo-
metric feet. On those grounds he took 750 geometric feet as a basis to keep all distances
within firing range. He then calculated the capital by drawing a line perpendicular to the
radius from a point at two-fifths of the length of the side. He found the sagitta for the
midpoint of the curtain and used that distance to define the points on both sides from
which to draw the line of defence rasant and bastion fronts. The flanks were established
as perpendiculars to the inner side drawn from the transposition on the outer side of
one-third of the inner35 [FIG. 7].
The second method, angle-based calculation, was described from the outer side: the
curtain and side of the bastion had fixed dimensions while all others were based on three
methods for calculating angles. Two of Muts three methods were similar to the ones
proposed by Santans, while in the third, the shoulder angle, which was not to exceed
90, was four-thirds of the polygon angle.
Mut also explained how to reduce these fortification models to smaller dimensions
using a scales or proportional compass. Lastly, he described outworks such as the ravelin,
demi-lune, tenaille and hornwork and the fortification profile, lowering the height: after
pondering the advantages and drawbacks of tall and low-lying structures, he opted for
an intermediate measure: 20 to 24 feet over the horizon. He also listed 24 principles or


FIG. 7 VICENTE MUT. Graphic systems for calculating fortifications. Arquitectura militar. Primera parte. De las fortificaciones
regulares y irregulares, por don Vicente Mut, sargento mayor, ingeniero y cronista mayor del Reino de Mallorca, printed by Fran-
cisco Oliver, Mallorca, 1664, first engraving.

rules for irregular fortifications, pioneering the Spanish tradition of establishing fortifi-
cation maxims.
In a treatise published in Brussels, Alonso de Zepeda put forward 22 maxims and a
compendium of different seventeenth-century methods for designing fortifications, in-
cluding proportional, angle-based and determinate systems, in addition to a number of
more ingenious procedures, possibly of his own invention.
In the proportional method, he divided the inner side into six parts and used the re-
sulting length for the demigorge and the traverse; the front of the bastion was drawn as
the line running to the capital from the inner angle of the traverse in square and pentag-
onal fortifications, from one-third of the curtain in hexagons, heptagons and octagons,
and from the midpoint in higher-order polygons. A similar method was proposed in a
treatise by Antoine de Ville36.
The second approach involved graphic calculations, dividing a 20 angle into two un-
equal parts, measuring 830 and 1130. With a compass, a circular sector measuring
the same as the inner side was drawn over this angle. Its intersections with the three an-
gles in descending order yielded the dimensions of the capital, demigorge and flank.
In the third or determinate method, a proportional compass was used for adjustment
to the other dimensions. The result found by taking the bastion front dimension defined
by Cristbal de Rojas as the starting point and establishing identical lengths for the

demigorge and traverse was very
similar to the model proposed by
Earl Pagan. The fourth procedure
was analogous to the third, except
that a scales instead of a propor-
tional compass was used to adjust
the other dimensions.
The fifth method was also pro-
portional, taking one-third of the
side for the capital, one-fifth for
the demigorge and three-fourths
of the latter for the flank, except
in square fortifications, where the
measure was two-thirds. Zepeda
also described a graphic approach
in which the polygon half-angle
was divided in three (four in the
pentagon and hexagon) and the
respective lines of defence and
flank were drawn. In the profile
proposed, the height was 26 feet:
20 to the cordon and the rest for
the 1.5 foot wide parapet37 [FIG. 8].
In Geometra Militar published
in Naples in 1671, Pedro Antonio
Ramn Folch de Cardona, like FIG. 8 ALONSO DE ZEPEDA Y ADRADA. Eptome de la fortificacin
Freitag, Santans and Mut, put moderna, as en lo regular como en lo irregular, reducida a la regla y al
comps, por diversos modos, y los ms fciles para mover la tierra. Brus-
forward an angle-based system for sels, Francisco Foppens. 1669, illustration 9.
building regular fortifications,
adding 20 to the polygon half-
angle and establishing the maximum line of defence at 60 double cubits38. He proposed
an unusual system for wall height, which rose with the number of sides of the polygon:
from 15 and one-half feet for a four-bastion fortress to 24 for fortifications with over
eight. The parapets, measuring 4 feet on the outside and 6 on the in, were built over this
This authors treatise included a host of polymetric tables for calculating fortifications
of any size, with polygon sides measuring from 6 to 82 double cubits and variable angles,
thereby converting the angle-based calculation used into a complex determinate system
applicable to regular and irregular fortifications alike. It also contained tables for calcu-
lating all the section heights depending on the place to be defended and the angles.
Jos Zaragoza, in Fbrica y uso de varios instrumentos methamticos, as per Antoine
de Ville, defined a musket fire range of 200 geometric steps, equivalent to 1172 Spanish
feet. In plan the fortification was determined by the side, demigorge and traverse dimen-
sions in each polygon, although the bastion front measured the same in all40. The wall


was 45.5 feet high from the bottom of the ditch or moat, 4.5 of which in the parapet and
20 in the moat41.
The method proposed by Jos Zaragoza was entirely determinate, with pre-set dimen-
sions for all the elements. This system was described in Zaragozas manual for the
14-year-old king, which may explain why he chose this simplified approach. The author
included nine general rules for the outworks and six for irregular fortifications, warning
in the last that where irregularities were present, all should be left to the authors inge-
nuity, for no general rules can be prescribed for the countless circumstances that may
An anonymous treatise entitled Escuela de Palas reviewed the works of all the major
European writers, describing and building a total of 53 models, to which the author added
his own at the end [FIG. 9]. In it he took a 900 geometric foot line of defence as the core
figure, in keeping with a musket fire range of 1000. The flank measured 160 feet, except
in squares, where it was 130. The demigorge was the same as the flank and the distance
between the inner and outer side was 300 feet43. This was, then, a determinate model,
typical of the second half of the seventeenth century. The treatise also contained 28 max-
ims aimed to completely standardise the art of fortification44.
Escuela de Palas constituted a turning point in fortification design. The discussion in
the same treatise of over 50 methods denoted practical eclecticism as well as a certain
loss of esteem for geometric methods. That was to translate into their gradual phase-out
and the increasingly greater reliance on designers experience-based application of max-
ims, which were listed more exhaustively in this than any other treatise.
Dimension and angle tables and determinate systems, then, fell steadily into disuse
as engineering began to be governed primarily by fortification maxims or rules. While



1598. Cristbal de Rojas. Terica y prctica de la fortificacin.

1599. Diego G. de Medina Barba. Examen de fortificacin.
1611. Cristbal Lechuga. Discurso... con un tratado de fortificacin.
1644. Juan Santans y Tapia. Tratado de fortificacin militar.
1651. Diego Enrquez de Villegas. Academia de fortificacin de plazas...
1664. Vicente Mut. Arquitectura militar... 24
1669. Alonso de Zepeda y Adrada. Eptome de la fortificacin moderna... 22
1671. Pedro Folch de Cardona. Geometra militar.
1675. Jos Zaragoza. Fbrica y uso de varios instrumentos mathemticos. 9+6
1693. Anonymous. Escuela de Palas. 28
1700. Sebastin Fernndez de Medrano. El arquitecto perfecto... 15
1704. Jos Cassani. Escuela militar de fortificacin 11
1712. Vicente Tosca. Compendio matemtico. 13
1744. Flix Prsperi. La Gran Defensa. Nuevo Mthodo de Fortificacin... 8
1757. Manuel Centurin Guerrero de Torres. Ciencia de Militares 4+4
1772. Pedro de Lucuze. Principios de fortificacin... 6+7

Authors formulation using data taken from the respective treatises.

such maxims had begun to appear in
treatises on fortification since the
times of Jean Errard de Bar-le-Duc,
they were unknown in the Spanish
literature until Vicente Mut set down
rules for irregularly shaped fortifica-
tions in 1664. They were subsequently
found in all treatises through the end
of the eighteenth century.
The wide variety of rules in Span-
ish treatises can be classified under
two main headings: strategic design,
or dimensions and proportions. Of
the 83 maxims set out by Spanish au-
thors, approximately two-thirds were
strategic and functional and one-
third dimensional. One-third of the
former referred to outworks.
The strategic maxims most fre-
quently cited called for ensuring that
all points were flanked and defended
at musket fire range, all sides were
duly fortified, all building outworks
were within sight of the positions
closest to the place defended, and FIG. 9 Authors construction. Escuela de Palas o sea Curso
Mathematico. Milan, Royal Printers, 1693, p. 133.
fortifications were designed to as reg-
ular a shape and with the smallest
number of bastions possible. The
most common dimensional maxims, in turn, required shoulder angles of between 60
and 90 and lines of defence no longer than musket fire range, while large gorges were
purported to be more effective than small ones. The most original maxim was formulated
by Flix Prsperi: To build good fortifications do not rely on authors rules or individual
In his treatise entitled El arquitecto perfecto en el arte militar, Sebastin Fernndez
de Medrano put forward 15 maxims in which he reverted to the proportional system for
square fortifications, dividing the inner side into five and allocating three to the curtain
and one to each demigorge. The flank, measuring two-thirds the demigorge, was perpen-
dicular to the curtain and the bastion front was a prolongation of the line running from
the inner vertex of the flank to the end of the opposite flank. Pentagonal fortifications
were built similarly, with flanks measuring one-sixth of the inner side. Hexagonal were
the same as pentagonal fortresses, except that the bastion front was drawn from three-
tenths of the inner side to the end of the opposite flank. In the otherwise analogous hep-
tagonal structures, the point from which to draw the line of defence was found by
extending the diameter for a distance defined by a line connecting the outer vertex of


FIG. 10 SEBASTIN FERNNDEZ DE MEDRANO. Construction of the pentagon, hexagon and heptagon. El arquitecto perfecto
en el arte militar, Henrico and Cornelio Verdussen, Antwerp, 1708, illustration II.

the flank perpendicularly to the extension of the diameter46. Walls were to rise from 15
to 25 and never more than 30 feet over the horizon47 [FIG. 10].
He also proposed an authors new [proportional] fortification method with no right
flanking angles. For square fortifications he divided the sides into five parts, assigning
one to each demigorge. He drew lines at 110 angles from the ends of the curtain walls
and on them, at a distance of thirteen-sixteenths from the demigorge, defined the end of
the flank, which formed the line of defence. The flank was divided into five parts. The
line joining the point at two-fifths from the shoulder vertex to the point at two-fifths of
the flank established the opening of the casemate. This method was also applied to flanks
for low-lying places and other polygons, in which the proportions were changed accord-
In his Escuela militar de fortificacin ofensiva y defensiva mathematician Jos Cassani
included 11 maxims, most concurring with the rules set out either in the Escuela de Palas
or Fernndez de Medranos treatise49. He proposed a wall height of 19 or 20 Spanish feet
over the horizon, ruling out heights of under 12. He set the line of defence at 900 feet,
invoking the most scholarly author of La Escuela de Palas and furnished tables for de-
terminate fortification50.

The author also proposed a method of his own. A variation on the proportional ap-
proach, it divided the inner side into five parts, assigning one to each demigorge and
defining the lines of defence by drawing a line from the midpoint of and perpendicular
to the curtain measuring half of the length of the demigorge. The bounds of the bastions
were set on the lines of defence at a distance equal to 11/10 the length of the curtain.
For pentagons he divided the half-side into sixths, with the demigorge measuring three
and the perpendicular line at the curtain midpoint one. The edge of the bastion was po-
sitioned at a length equal to 11/7 of the curtain51. He also described fortification using
tables or a proportional compass.
Oratorian priest and mathematician Toms Vicente Tosca listed the maxims that the
Engineer must bear in mind, for the art of Fortification builds on them52. Tosca defined
a determinate system of fortification design based on an 800 Valencian or geometric foot
line of defence, a 160 foot demigorge, an inner to outer polygon distance of 300 feet ex-
cept in squares and pentagons, where it would respectively measure 200 and 260 feet, a
100 angle between flank and curtain, and shoulder angles of 85 for seven- or higher-
order polygons and whatever the resultant angle would be in lower-order figures (70 in
pentagons and 61 in squares).
Italian engineer Flix Prosperi published La Gran Defensa in 1744 in Mexico City. In
it he listed eight maxims and described a peculiar fortification system in which bastion
defence depended on ravelins, the sole outwork defined, to be defended from the flanks.
This system contravened a generally accepted maxim: that outworks should be visible
and defended from the inner-most structures.
Pedro de Lucuze established only six general maxims and seven rules for outworks,
as well as guidelines for dimensions expressed in Spanish rods: outer side, 420 rods; line
of defence, 315; flank, 3; face, 117; and curtain 17853. He preferred solid to void bas-
Four were the general rules, supplemented by three corollaries, in Manuel Centurin
Guerrero de Torress treatise entitled Ciencia de Militares54. He emulated Vaubans outer
side approach to layout. The ends of the capitals were joined with a line at whose mid-
point he drew a perpendicular toward the centre of the polygon. He defined a point on
that line at a distance from the outer end of one-eighth in square, one-seventh in pen-
tagonal and one-sixth in hexagonal fortifications which, connected to the edge of the
capitals, determined the lines of defence. The bastion fronts were positioned at two-sev-
enths of the outer side of the lines of defence. An arc centred on the intersection of the
lines of defence and drawn from the end of the front to the curtain defined the curtain-
traverse vertex that closed the fortification55.
This overview of fortification design and layout development shows that fortification
systems began to change at the turn of the sixteenth century, with reductions in size and
the introduction of a proportional approach. For 30 or 40 years beginning in the sixteen
forties, the angle-based layouts devised by Dutch and central European authors prevailed,
but were replaced in the last quarter of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries
by determinate fortification design, with pre-defined lengths and angles. The rest of the
eighteenth century witnessed the substitution of fortification maxims or rules for geo-
metric or determinate layouts.



All points flanked and defended with musket fire 1 6, 15 1E 1 1 11 1 1 1G 1, 1 E

Line of defence not longer than musket fire range 17 3 4 1 2 3 2G 2
All parts duly fortified 18 5 2 2 3 3P 5
Command of outworks from closer structures 21 2E 23 10 12 4G 6
Bastion angle from 60 to 90 6 11 4 8 6 8
The smaller the number of bastions the better 9 1 2I 24 14 12
Come as close as possible to the regular
3 22 1I 25 15
Large better than small gorges 9 10 3 6
All parts artillery-resistant 7 10 3G 4
Flanks greater than 100 and less than 150 feet
10 11 6 2
(largest flanks)
Bastion fronts defended by musket and artillery 16 15 1P
Strongest possible bastions 8 6 4P
Angles not under 80 7 9
Need for outworks 22 4I
The less obtuse the flanking angle the better 5 7
Embanked better than hollow bastions 6 13
Fronts, 2/3 of curtain 16 5
Deep ditches 18 13
Earthwork parapets 19 27
Embankment and parapet 18 28
Ditch as long as the flank 20 8
Defensive parts should be enlarged whenever
5 3
All with their ditches connected to the fortress
3E 4E
ditch with stockades
Made with the earth from their ditches and
4E 5E
a strong parapet
Better if mined 5E 7E
Bastions not overly tall 9 11
Full visibility from every flank of opposite curtain,
12 4
front, ditch, covered way
Curtains, fronts and capitals of sufficient
7 7
Traverses and fronts, essential parts 2
Uniform bastion fronts 4
Elude very acute and very obtuse angles 5
Uniformity of capacity to resist, not of lines 8
Bastion inequality is immaterial 10
The tenaille angle need not be less obtuse 11
Curtain with its traverses only on sea- or river-side 12
Weak parts, outworks or bastion-top walls 13
Small garrison: better demolish than expand 14
Own and enemy strength, site quality,
first consideration
It suffices to remedy the major irregularities 16
Forfeit the part defended before the one
that defends
Land most exposed to breach in wall, mining 19
Gate flanked by both fronts 20
Site quality, strength, support and enemy strength 21
Good second traverse flanking the fronts 23
The law and defence of reason, justice and faith,
the strongest fortifications
Two hundred men suffice to defend a well-built
Forts with some obstacles are not so good 3
A fort is better if it has more defence and less
to defend


Longest side no more than 150 geometric steps 12

Curtain no less than 300 nor more than 640 feet
(Brussels voet)
Curtains defended from two flanks or with stockade
and outer ditch
Small, readily removed units 6E
If raised post near, outwork 7E
Existence of curtain or bastion immaterial, need
comes first
Depending on the position to be defended, ravelins,
hornworks or crownworks are needed
If the walls are strong, they should be used as
Measurements, as in regular fortifications 5I
High, deep places, left to the authors ingenuity 6I
No bastions with large circumferences 7
Bastions not too large 8
Flanks with casemates for artillery 13
Casemates better than false brayes 14
Bastion front depends on flanks 17
No wide, shallow ditches 19
No narrow, shallow ditches 20
Dry better than wet ditches (large site) 21
Wet ditches for small sites 22
Better flat and smooth 26
Oblique, close flanks 3
Line of defence should touch angle, not cut
across flank
The triangle is not apt for fortifications 9
Honour and ensure consistency of maxims 11
Curtain from 400 to 500 feet 4
Covered way 25 to 30 feet wide 9
Sixty to 100 foot esplanade 10
Large, concealed flanks with continuous and
perennial fire
To defend large areas with few troops, wide wet
Wide and full ditches 5
Good fortification does not rely on individual
Unexposed flanks 2P
If curtain protected by hornwork or tenaille,
ravelin in the gorge
If two, command from closer over farther hornwork 3E
On the fort side, open land with no embankments
or parapets

E: rules for outworks; I: rules for irregular fortifications: G: general rules; P: specific rules

Authors formulation using data taken from the respective treatises.



In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, military cartography moved toward increas-
ingly standardised and regulated design and representation [FIGS. 11-12]. Sixteenth-cen-
tury drawings were mere rough sketches, rarely to scale, lacking orientation and at
times combining several vantages. In the seventeenth, as a result of treatises on the
subject and formal education in mathematics academies, representation was largely
standardised, with more widespread use of geometric rules and scales. It was not until
the late seventeenth and especially the eighteenth centuries, however, that military
cartography became universally regulated, with firmly established representational
In the early seventeenth century mock-ups, which were still the main tool for repre-
senting designs, were built for all major fortification projects56. Juan Bautista Antonellis
manuscript recommended first drawing the floor plan on which a model will be built
out of earth or other material, with the height of the wall and depth of the ditch and ul-
timately the very image of a stronghold, for discussion and consideration by architects
and warfare experts57.

FIG. 11 TIBURCIO SPANNOCCHI. Traza como se habra de proseguir la cerca de la ciudad de Cremona, 1595. Espaa. Ministe-
rio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 07, 115.

FIG. 12 CAPITN BALDOVINO. Novara A, 1622. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo
General de Simancas. MPD, 07, 196.

FIG. 13 CARLOS DE GRUNEMBERGH. Planta de estado que al presente se hallan las obras de la ciudadela de Mez-
ina: Todas las obras que se ven de color colorado son las imperfectas; y todas las dems estan acabadas: a 24 de abril
1685. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 15, 118.


FIG. 14 DIEGO LUIS ARIAS. Planta del Arsenal o Casa del General de la Armada, Alhndiga y muelle de Cdiz, en que se dis-
tingue lo que al presente hesta acabado y sirbe de Alhndiga con el color encarnado y lo que hesta empezado y a de serbir de Arsenal
con el Color Berde, y lo que se aade se distingue con el color pajizo, 1716. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte.
Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 05, 190.

Cristbal Lechuga also recommended floor plan and mock-up-based representation:

Once the dimensions and elements of a fort are known, first the constituent bastions,
traverses and platforms must be drawn on paper to scale to ensure no error is made and
taking the time needed to raise the lines in relief with wood, white stone, papier mch
or some other material so that all it is to contain can be clearly distinguished58.
Mock-ups were not only a design tool and construction guide, but also collected by
monarchs as an instrument for military strategy. Records have been preserved of the Hab-
sburg dynastys collection, presumably stored in a separate room in their fortress at
Madrid and possibly lost when it was destroyed by fire.
Interest in mock-ups declined substantially after the mid-seventeenth century, when
fortifications were designed on paper, using geometry to represent dihedral projections
and standardising representation. This process was furthered by the proliferation of trea-
tises and drawing methods using geometric rules, along with the deployment of printing
and engraving to reproduce designs.
Mock-ups continued to be used, but more for educational purposes or as an expres-
sion of royal power than as a tool for design formulation and implementation. A 1711
inventory of royal collections mentioned a sumptuous ebony and gold-plated silver mock-
up known as Estudio de fortificacin. In Charles IIIs reign orders were issued to build

FIG. 15 Planos, perfiles y elevaciones del Baluarte de Sn Ambrosio en el Castillo de Cardona, en donde esta sealado el Baluarte
existente, y como conviene hacer su restablecimiento, 1721. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo Gen-
eral de Simancas. MPD, 10, 029.

bas-reliefs of all the places and fortifications in Spain and their adjacent defensive struc-
tures. These items, once kept in a models room in Kingdom Hall at Buen Retiro
Palace, and others such as the collection purchased from Montalemberts widow, were
ultimately moved to the Royal Military Museum in 180359.
As the use of mock-ups waned, drafting rules underwent fuller development. Begin-
ning in the mid-seventeenth century, existing works were graphically separated from new
design with the use of different colours, although in the absence of standardised rules
they had to be defined in the legend [FIGS. 13-18]. Contemporary drawings seldom depicted
the area or terrain surrounding works.
France was the first country to regulate a drawing code. The lack of convention in
military engineers cartography in the sixteen seventies led Vauban to standardise rules
for drawing and cartographic representation so that every engineer would use the same
graphic language, immediately understandable by all others60. Such standardisation was
visible in subsequent cartographic practice and defended in treatises such as LArt de
laver ou la nouvelle manire de peintre sur le papier suivant le Coloris des Desseins quon
envoie la Cour61, by Henri Gautier and the anonymous LArt de Dessiner proprement
les Plans/Profils, Elvations Gomtrales & Perspectives, soit dArchitecture militaire ou
Civile62 published in Paris in 1697.


FIG. 16 JUAN DE LAFERIRE y VALENTN. Ferrol. Plano y Perfiles del Castillo de la Palma y de las Bateras que en l se executen,
en el cual se demuestra lo que se halla echo de estas bateras (y es lo lavado de colorado) y lo que queda por hacer (y es lo lavado de
amarillo), 1731. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 15, 076.

In Spain standardised representation was propagated primarily by the academies. The

Royal Ordinance and Code of 22 July 1739 for teaching mathematics at the Barcelona
Academy, for instance, provided that students would be taught to draft Military Buildings
clearly and apply colours as in practice to distinguish their parts, distribution and deco-
rative ornaments, to which purpose the respective drawings, outlines and Elevation views
will be drawn63.
An analysis of colour in fortification drawings shows that usage was not standardised
until well into the eighteenth century; until then, colours were chosen individually in each
case and explained in the legend. The design for new elements might be red or green and
the existing structures yellow. Materials, in turn, might also be symbolised with colours,
using yellow for earth, for instance. This chromatic ambiguity gradually disappeared as
the academies propagated the French representational code that prevailed after the War
of Succession, although some instances of the non-uniform use of colour persisted.
Rules for representation and colour coding were included at the end of Manuel Cen-
turins treatise: India ink for all except masonry lines, which would be drawn in red;

FIG. 17 LORENZO DE SOLS. Ceuta. Plano en grande del proyecto de Fuente Cavallos demostrando el estado de la obra, lo fun-
dado y ejecutado dado de color encarnado y lo por hacer de color amarillo, 1743. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y De-
porte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 19, 182.

yellow was for design, green for plant cover, the colour of water for ditches, brown for
earth and wood, and blue for iron64. This author also called for denoting ruins with dotted
lines, red for masonry works and India ink for all else. Lastly, the light source for all
planes was the upper left angle of the paper, creating shadows downward and to the
Vicente Ferraz added an appendix to his Tratado de Castrametacin o Arte de Campar
with a detailed description of the colours to be used in military cartography: brown India
ink for mountains, cliffs and similar, black India ink for rammed earth works, red for ma-
sonry, yellow for design, dotted lines for underground works and vaults, and washed dot-
ted lines for ruins66. He also described how to depict the surrounds and the roughness
of the natural terrain.
The content of these rules has reached todays generations in the form of manuscripts:
one custodied by the Fundacin Lzaro Galdiano67, another written by a Saboya Regi-
ment cadet named Jos Fernndez de Olarte, kept at the National Library68 and a third
published in the nineteenth century by Carmen Hidalgo69.


FIG. 18 IGNACIO SALA. Cdiz. Plano y Perfiles que demuestran el estado en que se hallan las fortificaciones del frente de tierra
de Cdiz, el da primero de enero de 1747. Todo lo lavado de amarillo demuestra la porcin de obra hecha durante el ao 1746. Es-
paa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 53, 030.

With the standardised code then in place, eighteenth-century fortification drawings

were the result of the systematic application of a graphic technique developed over the
preceding two hundred years. The depictions were accurate, existing structures were
clearly distinguished from new designs and the surrounding terrain was consistently rep-
resented in detail. Colour codes no longer had to be explained in the legend, for they fol-
lowed a universal standard, and fortification drawings ultimately afforded a detailed
topographic description of the area surrounding the works.


This study of drawing instruments, design procedures and representational systems sheds
light on military architects and engineers approach to design fortification. The initial
straightedge, angle square and compass were supplemented in the seventeenth century
with more complex instruments, particularly the proportional compass.
That concurred with the development of increasingly sophisticated fortification layout
and engineering. The proportional system of calculating plan views used in the late six-
teenth and early seventeenth centuries was replaced in the mid-eighteen hundreds by
angle-based engineering. The last quarter century witnessed the introduction of the de-
terminate system, which nearly always called for scaled adaptations and hence the im-
perative use of the proportional compass.
Representation underwent parallel change. Early seventeenth-century plan view and
mock-up representation gave way to ever more accurate and geometrically determinate

drafting, which in the latter years of the century started to be standardised and in the
eighteenth century to include the immediate and wider surrounds.
This depiction of the environs concurred with the enlargement of fortifications with
expanded outworks and design systems that were no longer bounded by geometry but
flowed from the discretional application of fortification maxims or rules.
Drawing instruments also evolved. The use of levels and altazimuths predominated
in the eighteenth century at the expense of proportional compasses, as engineering hewed
ever more closely to the actual lay of the land where the fortification was to be built.
The study of the instruments, design methods and depiction systems therefore con-
firms the premise that fortification design began as an inductive process in the sixteenth
century, changed with the application of pre-determined geometric models in the
Baroque period and evolved in the eighteenth century to a regulated inductive exercise
in which these structures were conceived for the terrain.



1. Escuela Tcnica Superior de Arquitectura. Universidad Politcnica de Madrid. Avenida Juan de Herrera, 4. 28040 Madrid.
2. AVERLINO FILARETE, ca 1465 (1990), p. 363.
3. ALBERTI, 1485, pp. 63, 64, 74, 114, 297, 316.
4. BARTOLI, 1564.
6. FLUDD, 1617.
7. DE ROJAS, 1598. Part two, Chapter XXII.
8. LECHUGA, 1611, pp. 244-246.
9. SAN NICOLS, 1639, fols. 126 and 127; and Part two, 1667, pp. 200-205.
10. ENRQUEZ DE VILLEGAS, 1651, pp. 84-85.
11. ZEPEDA Y ADRADA, 1669.
12. NAVARRO LOIDI, 2005, p. 89.
13. ANONYMOUS, undated; BULLET, 1701; DE CASTRO Y ASCRRAGA, 1758.
14. PREZ DE XEA, 1632, pages 16 and 17.
15. FIRRUFINO, 1648, fols. 8-10.
16. MUT, 1664, p. 8.
17. Ibdem, pp. 63-64 and 136-137.
18. ZARAGOZA, 1675.
19. FERNNDEZ DE MEDRANO, 1708, pp. 37-38 and 414.
20. Ibdem, pp. 439-442.
22. ROYAL ORDINANCE OF 29 DECEMBER 1751,art. 55.
23. Cited by CAPEL, SNCHEZ and MONCADA, 1988, p. 361.
24. MULLER, 1769, pp. 245-267.
25. PLO Y CAMN, 1767, pp. 175-236 and 531-559.
26. DE ROJAS, 1598. fols. 33-34.
27. Ibdem, fols. 40-44.
28. Ibdem, fols. 37 and 39.
29. GONZLEZ DE MEDINA BARBA, 1599, p. 22.
30. Ibdem, p. 22.
31. Ibdem, p. 24.
32. LECHUGA, 1611, p. 140.
33. SANTANS Y TAPIA, 1644.
34. ENRQUEZ DE VILLEGAS, 1651, pp. 136-137.
35. MUT, 1664.
36. VILLE, 1629, pp. 17 and 20.
37. ZEPEDA Y ADRADA, 1669, pp. 47-48.
38. FOLCH DE CARDONA, 1681, pp. 12 and 13.
39. Ibdem, p. 21.
40. ZARAGOZA, 1675, pp. 30-35.
41. Ibdem, p. 54.
42. Ibdem, p. 85.
43. ANONYMOUS, 1693, Treatise XI, pp. 124-133.
44. Ibdem, pp. 8-9.
45. PRSPERI, 1744, p. 9.
46. Ibdem, pp. 13-20.
47. Ibdem, p. 120.
48. Ibdem, pp. 59-75.
49. CASSANI, 1704, pp. 9-15.
50. Ibdem, pp. 17 and 24.
51. Ibdem, pp. 35-38.
52. TOSCA, 1757, Treatise XVI, p. 256.
53. LUCUZE, 1772, pp. 22-23 and 51-52.
54. CENTURIN GUERRERO DE TORRES, 1757, pp. 78-87.
55. Ibdem, pp. 102-104.
56. CMARA MUOZ, 1998, p. 134.
57. ANTONELLI, 1560, p. 10.
58. LECHUGA, 1611, pp. 242-243.
59. Ibdem, pp. 71-74.
60. WARMOES, 2008, p. 56.
61. GAUTIER, 1687.

62. ANONYMOUS, 1697.
64. CENTURIN GUERRERO DE TORRES, 1757, pp. 286-287.
65. Ibdem, p. 287.
66. FERRAZ, 1800, pp. 480-481.
67. ANONYMOUS, ca 1770. cited by GIMNEZ PRADES, SAN ANDRS MOYA and DE LA ROJA DE LA ROJA, 2009, p. 143.
69. HIDALGO BRINQUIS, 1978, pp. 225-230.



ALBERTI, L. B. (1485), De re aedificatoria, Florencia. Spanish versin: (1582) Los diez libros de Arquitectura, Madrid,
Alonso Gmez.
ANONYMOUS (1693), Escuela de Palas o sea Curso Mathematico, Milan, Imprenta Real.
ANONYMOUS (1697), LArt de Dessiner proprement les Plans, Porfils, Elevations Geometrales & Perspectives, soit dAr-
chitecture Militaire ou Civile, avec tous les secrets les plus rares pour faire les couleurs avec lesquelles les Ingenieurs
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ANTONELLI, G. B. (1560), Epitomi delle fortificationi moderne, Manuscrito, Biblioteca del Museo del Ejrcito, PLAN
AVERLINO FILARETE, A. (1990), Tratado de Arquitectura, edicin de Pilar Pedraza, Vitoria-Gasteiz, EPHIALTE,
Instituto de Estudios Iconogrficos. first edition ca. 1465.
BARTOLI, C. (1564), Del modo di misurare le distantie, le superficie, i corpi, le piante, le prouincie, le prospettiue, &
tutte le altre cose terrene, che possono occorrere a gli huomini, secondo le uere regole dEuclide, & de gli altri piu
lodati scrittori, Venecia, Francesco Franceschi Sanese.
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CMARA, A. (2006), Medir para el rasguo y dibujar para el atlas. Los ingenieros mayores de Felipe III, in Espaa
en el Mediterrneo. La construccin del espacio, Madrid, Ministerio de Fomento, CEDEX-CEHOPU, pp. 68-77.
CMARA MUOZ, A. (1998), Fortificacin y ciudad en los reinos de Felipe II, Madrid, Nerea.
CAPEL, H., SNCHEZ, J. E. and MONCADA, O. (1988), De Palas a Minerva. La formacin cientfica y la estructura in-
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CASSANI, J. (1704), Escuela militar de fortificacin ofensiva y defensiva, Madrid, Antonio Gonzlez de Reyes.
CASTRO Y ASCRRAGA, P. DE (1758), Construccin y uso del comps de proporcin, Madrid, Imp. de Don Gabriel Ramrez.
CENTURIN GUERRERO DE TORRES, M. (1757), Ciencia de Militares, Cadiz, Manuel Espinosa de los Monteros.
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ERRARD DE BAR-LE-DUC, J. (1594), La Fortification dmontre et rduite en art.
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del cargo del Real Cuerpo de Ingenieros, Madrid, Imprenta Real.
FIRRUFINO, J. C. (1648), El perfecto artillero. Therica y prctica, Madrid, Juan Martn del Barrio.
FLUDD, R. (1617), Utriusque Cosmi Maioris scilicet et Minoris Metaphysica, Physica atque Technica Historia, Frank-
furt, Herederos de Johann Theodor de Bry.
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alturas sin que intervengan nmeros, como se demuestra en la prctica, Madrid, Juan de la Cuesta.
GAUTIER, H. (1687), Lart de laver ou la nouvelle maniere de peindre sur le papier, suivant le Coloris des Desseins
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GONZLEZ DE MEDINA BARBA, D. (1599), Examen de fortificacin, Madrid, Imprenta del Licenciado Varez.
HIDALGO BRINQUIS, C. (1978), Hallazgo de un breve tratado del siglo XIX con recetas para barnizar papel y una
descripcin detallada de los materiales usados para el diseo y coloracin de los planos, in Actas II Congreso de
Conservacin de Bienes culturales, Teruel.
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Milan, Royal and Ducal Palace, Marco Tulio Malatesta.
LUCUZE, P. DE (1772), Tratado de fortificacin, Barcelona, Thomas Piferrer.
MULLER, J. (1769), Tratado de fortificacin o Arte de construir los Edificios Militares y Civiles, (first published in
English in 1756), translated by Miguel Snchez Taramas, Barcelona, Thomas Piferrer.
MUT, V. (1664), Arquitectura militar. Primera parte. De las fortificaciones regulares y irregulares, por don Vicente
Mut, sargento mayor, ingeniero y cronista mayor del Reino de Mallorca, Mallorca, Imprenta de Francisco Oliver.
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de Matemticas, establecida en Barcelona, y las particulares de Ceuta y Orn, unas y otras al cargo y direccin del
Cuerpo de Ingenieros, para la enseanza de Oficiales y Cadetes del Exrcito.
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bern subsistir, lo que se ha de ensear en ellas, las partes que han de concurrir en los sugetos para ser admitidos, y
los premios y ascensos con que se les remunerar los que se distinguieren por su aplicacin.
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Cardona y Alcal, Sumiller de Corps de su Majestad, Madrid, Antonio Francisco de Zafra.
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a la regla y al comps, por diversos modos, y los ms fciles para mover la tierra, Brussels, Francisco Foppens.

Back to Contents


From Stonecutting
to Descriptive Geometry.
Orthographic Projection and
Military Engineering from the
Middle Ages to the Enlightenment


Universidad Politcnica de Cartagena. Escuela de Arquitectura y Edificacin

Translation: JOS CALVO LPEZ


Military engineering treatises and the curricula of such institutions as the Academy of
Barcelona, the cole Royale du Gnie de Mzires and the cole Polythecnique stress
the role of art du trait or stereotomy, a graphical method for the formal control of ashlar
masonry, based in double or multiple orthogonal projection. In the years of the French
Revolution, such procedures morphed into Descriptive Geometry, a science that deals
with a wide range of geometric problems, both practical and theoretical.
This chapter includes a synchronic presentation of these practices and a diachronic
survey of its evolution from the Late Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, finishing with
a discussion of the relevance of this field in treatises and didactic practice. Rather than
its use in such military construction members as rere-arches, skew arches or stairways,
the reason for the importance granted to stereotomy in military construction is to be
found in its role in the education of the spatial vision of the engineer.


Engineering, fortification, stonecutting, masonry, stereotomy, drawing, projection,



Cristbal de Rojas included ten pages on stonecutting tracings in his Terica y prctica
de fortificacin, the main treatise on military engineering of the Spanish Renaissance.
These tracings are prepared in order to control the execution of such architectural mem-
bers as arches, vaults or stairs, using templates taken from full-size drawings [FIGS. 1 and 2].
Rojas treatise is the second printed text in Europe dealing with this subject, preceded
only by the Premier Tome de larchitecture by Philibert de lOrme, which opens a long
list of books on stonecutting that reaches the twentieth century, as we shall see.
The subject may seem elementary at first sight. It is an application of drawing in plan
and elevation, which was explained in the booklets by Mathes Roriczer or the well-known
letter by Rafaello and Baldassare Castiglione to Leon X2. However, the execution of stone-
cutting pieces goes further that simple orthogonal projection. First, once their construc-
tion is finished, the elevations of Rafaello and Castiglione can be understood as
autonomous documents, independent from the plan. By contrast, stonecutting tracings
usually show the plan and the elevation tightly interconnected, since both are necessary
in order to understand the complex geometry of the voussouirs of these members.

FIG. 1 CRISTBAL DE ROJAS. Skew arches. In Terica y FIG. 2 ABRAHAM BOSSE, La pratique du trait a preuves de
prctica de fortificacin, 1598. Mr. Desargues ... pour la coupe des pierres en lArchitecture,

Besides, when the stonemason uses the squaring method, known as quarrisement
or labra por robos, starting from an enclosing block and taking away wedges in order to
reach the final shape of the voussoir [FIG. 3], a tracing in double orthogonal projection
may be sufficient; some treatises and manuscripts add a rectangle representing the initial
block, but this is not strictly necessary and probably was skipped in actual practice3.
However, this method brings about a great loss of labour and material; most writers sug-
gest the systematic use of templates [FIG. 4] with the shape of voussoir faces in true form4.
Spanish texts dub this method as labra por plantas, that is, dressing by templates; how-
ever, this umbrella concept encloses a number of variants. Intrados faces of arches are
frequently dressed using templates whose edges represent two consecutive intrados
joints and the chords of the face arches that connect them. Such templates are meant
to be placed on a planar surface, and thus they can be materialised in wood. As a con-
sequence, the templates do not represent the actual intrados surface, but rather a poly-
hedral surface inscribed in the interior of the arch. The geometrical construction of
these templates is solved usually employing rotations about the intrados joints, known
as rabattements in nineteenth century descriptive geometry; triangulations are used in
some complex problems5.
This method can be applied to hemispherical domes, and in fact a number of
writers suggest their use when dealing with oval vaults; however, treatises explain a
different method for the dressing of domes and sail vaults. A number of cones, rather

FIG. 3 Dressing a voussoir by squaring. Drawing by JOS FIG. 4 Dressing a voussoir by templates. Drawing by


than a polyhedral surface, are inscribed
in the interior of the hemisphere, so
that each cone passes through two
consecutive bed joints [FIG. 5]. These
cones offer two advantages: they furnish
a fair approximation to the spherical
intrados surface, and can be developed
using the simple method that was
taught at elementary schools a few
decades ago, in contrast with the spher-
ical surface, which is non-developable.
Once the templates have been con-
structed, the stonemason should dress
a portion of a spherical surface, using
a typical stonemasons instrument, a
curved-edge ruler, known as cercha or
cerce; since the sphere has the same
curvature in all directions, the spheric-
ity of the surface can be controlled ro-
tating the cerce around its axis [FIG. 6].
Next, the stonemason should apply the
FIG. 5 FRANOIS DERAND. Templates for hemispherical template to the spherical surface, ma-
and oval domes. In Larchitecture des votes , 1643.
terialising its conical shape, in order to
mark its shape on the stone surface
with a pointer, including two bed joints
and two joints between voussoirs in the same course. Since this template represents a
conical surface, it cannot be materialised in wood; Josep Gelabert suggests the use of
paper or cardboard, cloth, or other materials6. This idea is applied gradually to arches,
in particular the ones in curved walls, where rigid templates are not very useful when
controlling the edge between the intrados surface and the faces of the arch; by contrast,
flexible templates [FIG. 7] applied to the intrados surface allow precise control of these
warped curves7.

FRZIER. Using the truss when
dressing spherical surfaces.
In La thorie et la pratique de
la coupe des pierres ou trait
de strotomie , 1737-1739.

Although treatises explain the
squaring and templates methods sepa-
rately, in actual practice both may be
used at the same time [FIG. 8]. In a num-
ber of complex pieces, the stonemason
proceeds from the initial box-like en-
closing block to an intermediate vol-
ume dressed using auxiliary templates;
then, wedges are taken from the inter-
mediate solid in order to arrive at the
final shape of the voussoir. Thus, the
templates used in this method do not
represent the faces of the voussoir, but
rather those of the intermediate vol-
ume; this operation is known in ma-
sons speech as plantar de cuadrado,
while the use of ordinary templates is
dubbed as plantar al justo. In other
cases, voussoirs are dressed by squar-
ing, but the mason determines also the
angle between intrados and face joints,
which are transferred to the stone by FIG. 7 FRANOIS DERAND. Templates for the dressing of
voussoirs in an arch opened in a curved wall. In Larchitecture
means of a typical masons protractor des votes , 1643.
with two articulated arms, known as
sauterelle or saltarregla8.
Some details in Renaissance stonecutting texts hint that these geometrical operations
were performed usually not in ordinary drawings, but rather in full-size tracings executed
in floors or walls. When dealing with the Vitruvian concept of area, Hernn Ruiz men-

ing a voussoir by
demi-quarrissement. In La
thorie et la pratique de la
coupe des pierres ou
trait de strotomie ,


FIG. 9 Full-size tracing for an arch in the
fortress of San Damin in Ribadeo, 1744.
Drawing by MIGUEL TAN.

tions un planiz aparejado para delinear y montear; this expression can be loosely trans-
lated as a flat surface prepared in order to delineate and draw, while Martnez de
Aranda constructs a series of parallels starting from an auxiliary orthogonal, and otherwise
unnecessary, line called juzgo9. Only in the eighteenth century Jean-Baptiste de la Rue
explains this technique clearly, mentioning plans, elevations and sections as large as the
work, that supply the templates that are needed to execute a particular member10. A fair
number of these full-size tracings, ranging from the Hellenistic period to the Enlighten-
ment, have been preserved in temples, cathedrals, churches and monasteries. In some
occasions, dedicated rooms, called trasurae, casas de la traza or tracing houses were set
apart for this purpose. These tracings are more scarce in military constructions, maybe
because their wall surfaces and floors have been renovated more frequently; however,
the tracing for an arch [FIG. 9] in the fortress of San Damin de Ribadeo attests their use
by engineers11.
Generally speaking, such tracings are extremely economic. Its easy to understand that
to execute them on all fours or on a loose scaffolding is not easy. Stonemasons went to
great lengths in order to supress any unnecessary line in the tracing, reusing plans as
sections or eschewing the tracing of the extrados of arches, as in the Terica y prctica
de fortificacin by Cristbal de Rojas or the tracing for a vault in the rooftops of Seville
cathedral12. This extreme austerity makes the interpretation of tracings quite difficult in
some occasions, and also highlights another essential trait: these full-size drawings are
introspective by nature. They are not meant to convey instructions from the designer to
the actual executors, but rather to help the head stonemason to determine the real shape
and size of some elements that are usually deformed in orthogonal projection, such as
the shapes of voussoir faces or the angles between their edges13. In other terms, these
drawings are not a means of representation in the strict sense, but rather a method for
the resolution of geometrical problems.
Since full-size tracings were used as a formal control method in stonecutting, rather
than scale drawings, we may surmise that they offer substantial advantages. First, they
furnish a much higher precision than drawings on paper, avoiding the errors associated
with scale changes in execution14. Besides, both Rodrigo Gil de Hontan and Alonso
de Vandelvira explain that some tracings may be executed exactly behind the member

being built, in order to control of the
placement of voussoirs by means of a
plumb line hanging from voussoir cor-
ners, that should match the intersec-
tion of the corresponding edges in the
full-size drawing. A badly damaged
tracing under the remarkable triple
stairway in the convent of Santo
Domingo de Bonaval en Santiago de
Compostela [FIG. 10] confirms the use
of such method in practice15.
Thus, stonemasons, architects and
engineers transformed gradually an
FIG. 10 Full-size tracing for the triple staircase in the convent
artisanal procedure for execution con-
of Santo Domingo de Bonaval, Santiago de Compostela, 1695-
trol in a full-fledged representation 1705. Drawing by MIGUEL TAN.
system, based on orthogonal projec-
tion but involving also methods for the
solution of particular problems, such as rotations, rabattements16, developments and
triangulations. Anyhow, the formation of this system was not immediate, and the leading
role in this field of knowledge shifted from stonemasons and architects to clerics and
military engineers, while the empirical paradigm of the first phases evolved into the con-
ception of this discipline as an exact science; we shall deal with this evolution in the
next section17.


An unknown draughtsman, dubbed as Hand IV by Barnes, interpolated some schemata

in a few sheets of the portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt. Two of them have been identi-
fied by Branner, Lalbat et al. and Bechmnann as skew arches or arches in curved walls,
drawn in orthogonal projection. If such hypotheses are right, the voussoirs are to be
dressed by squaring, maybe with the help of a sauterelle18. Later on, Mathes Roriczers
booklets, dealing with pinnacles and gablets, do not use templates in the sense of the
preceding section. However, they furnish valuable information on the evolution of or-
thogonal projection, explaining that the stonemason is to construct an elevation around
a symmetry axis, tracing orthogonals to the axis that stand for horizontal planes. Next,
the mason should bring horizontal measures from the plan to these horizontal lines, guar-
anteeing the coherence between plan and elevation. Such technique anticipates the juzgo
of Martnez de Aranda, an auxiliary orthogonal line that eases the tracing of parallels19.
Neither Villard and Hand IV nor Roriczer include the quintessential element in Gothic
construction, the ribbed vault. This absence is understandable in Villards portfolio, since
quadripartite vaults with a square or rectangular plan can be controlled without elaborate
tracings. At the other end of the scale, the typical vaults in Roriczers Germany are the
complex Netzgewlbe, where the tracing of ribs is controlled through the Prinzipalbogen


FIG. 11 Full-size tracing
of the vault in the sacristy
of the cathedral of Murcia,
1525. Drawing by MIGUEL

method, using an auxiliary arch with constant curvature that gives the height of each
boss of the vault, although with some inconsistencies20.
By contrast, the most representative vault in sixteenth century Spanish Gothic archi-
tecture is the tierceron vault, explained in the Libro de Arquitectura by Hernn Ruiz. The
problem posed by these kind of vaults stands on middle ground: they are simpler than
Netzgewlbe, but more complex than ordinary quadripartite vaults. In each quarter of
the vault, tiercerons and liernes should meet in space in a secondary boss; if not, the
tiercerons would pass over the liernes, or the other way around, with catastrophic results.
In order to tackle this problem, Hernn Ruiz draws the directrixes of wall arches, diagonal
ribs, tiercerons and liernes in true size, starting always from the springers; the result is a
deconstructed elevation, so to speak. The wall arch is placed in its natural position, while
the lierne is projected on the vertical wall plane, and the diagonal ribs and tiercerons are
rotated around the vertical axis that passes through the springer21.
Some decades later, Martnez de Aranda instructs the reader to rotate an intrados joint
around a horizontal axis, in order to determine graphically the angle between this joint
and a face joint. Transferring this angular measure to the saltarregla, he can improve the
control of the dressing process by the squaring method. When using plantas al justo, that
is, full templates, the problem involves the rotation of the entire template, a method
known in nineteenth century Descriptive Geometry treatises as rabattement. When the
intrados joint is orthogonal to the face arch, the mason can solve the problem easily, trans-
ferring the distance between two consecutive intrados joints, taken from the elevation,
to the template22. By contrast, when the intrados joint is oblique, the problem is not so
simple. Philibert de LOrme explanation is quite obscure; Vandelvira eschews rotations
and constructs the templates using triangulations, but his method is recursive, tiresome
and prone to the accumulation of errors. Only in the last years of the sixteenth century
Cristbal de Rojas and Gins Martnez de Aranda solve the problem using rabattements23.
As for flexible templates for spherical or torus surfaces, they are completely lacking
in the early sixteenth century stonecutting tracings in Murcia cathedral [FIG. 11]; however,
they appear in a tracing in the rooftops in Seville cathedral, dating from 1543. They are

explained in Philibert de LOrmes treatise, again in a rather confuse way. Vandelviras
and Alonso de Guardias manuscript are more clear, in particular the later, closer to actual
workshop practice24.
In any case, along the sixteenth century this subject is under the command of stone-
masons and architects, or more precisely, a peculiar group between both professions. In
the Escorial, the head stonemasons or aparejadores de cantera execute tracings and sup-
ply templates to the contractors. This practice does not exclude the interest of architects
in this matter; Alonso de Vandelvira lent a copy of his manuscript to Juan de Valencia;
after the death of the latter, he supposed it was in the hands of Juan de Herrera, Francisco
de Mora or Juan de Vega25.
Anyhow, only the smartest masons, the ones that can read and write and boast titles
of architect or engineer, as Vandelvira, Cristbal de Rojas or Gins Martnez de Aranda,
prepare clearly structured stonecutting texts26. Only the Terica y prctica de fortificacin,
by Rojas, which includes no more than ten pages on stonecutting, reached the presses.
However, Fray Laurencio de San Nicols mentions attempts to publish some manuscripts
in this field; quite probably he was thinking about Vandelvira, which is quoted in the
same volume. The introduction To the reader in Arandas manuscript points in the
same direction27. All three authors are connected with military engineering, as De
LOrme, since Aranda wrote reports about fortifications in Alcal la Real and was en-
trusted with the fortresses of the Miter when conferred the post of Master Mason of
the Archbishopric of Santiago de Compostela, while Alonso de Vandelvira was named as
Master Mason of the City of Cdiz on the grounds of an enthusiastic recommendation
by Cristbal de Rojas28.
The borderline position of this group of professionals did not make their life easy. In
1596, Pedro de Velasco tried to exclude Rojas from the decisions about fortification ar-
guing that he was just a stonemason; however, in 1609, Rojas reversed the argument
showing with pride his building experience, which granted him authority to give his
opinion in constructive matters29. This brings to mind the biography of Philibert de
LOrme, who withstood jokes by Ronsard and physical attacks by ordinary masons; later
on, he remarked that the architect should know the masons lore in order to dextrement
commander, that is, to command adroitly. Otherwise the architect would be at the or-
ders of the workmen, which would be tantamount to placing the cart before the horses30.
Catherine Wilkinson places this group of professionals, represented by De LOrme,
against the Central Italian model of the arts that allows figurative artists to act as ar-
An echo of these debates seems to appear in the first paragraphs of Rojas treatise,
when he states that The soldier or engineer that wants to deal perfectly with fortification
should know three things to have a sound knowledge of [Geometry] the second is
arithmetic the third and most important is to know how to survey the place where the
fortress is to be built it is quite difficult to master this lore by an engineer, if he has
not been involved in war in some occasion, and close to a great soldier. This empirical
approach appears also in the field of stone construction, in particular through the use of
models: I will not put in writing the explanation of stonecutting in arches since this
depends completely on experience and you cannot know how to build an arch, unless


you have prepared models in clay or
plaster in my youth I prepared
many models of different vaults.
Martnez de Aranda holds similar
positions: the lineaments of stone-
cutting cannot be mastered except
by those that have started to trace
and prepare models in their youth,
adding that these artisans even when
they promise prudence, if they are
not rich, well born and well spoken,
are not granted authority according
to their study of their subjects so
that the reader believes that they
know what they are practising32.
That is, a new form of knowledge is
appearing, using classical science in
order to solve practical problems, in
contrast with Antique and Mediaeval
science, that usually do not seek
their application to practical prob-
lems33. This program, favoured by
the Spanish crown in the last decades
of the sixteenth century, will be de-
veloped slowly; the cycle will be
FIG. 12 ABRAHAM BOSSE, La pratique du trait a preuves de Mr. closed not in Spain, but rather in
Desargues ... pour la coupe des pierres en lArchitecture, 1643.
Continental Europe.
Anyhow, the position of ordinary
stonemasons, the medianos ingenios or middle intellects of Martinez de Aranda, is
not merely passive. Other texts, such as Ms. 12.686 in the National Library in Madrid,
connected with the circle of Francisco de Luna, Pedro de Albiz and Juanes de Andute,
or the already mentioned one by Alonso de Guardia, are personal notebooks, chaotic in
comparison with the almost academic manuals of Vandelvira or Guardia. However, the
lack of didactic intentions in Guardia or Ms. 12.686 makes them nearer to everyday prac-
tice; while Vandelvira and Aranda explain in great detail the geometrical construction of
tracings, Guardia offers precious details about the dressing process34.
In France, the publication of Philibert De LOrmes treatise brings about a different
situation. Although it is not a specialised stonecutting manual, but a general architectural
treatise, it includes two full books, about 160 pages, to stonecutting; this allows a com-
prehensive and detailed approach to our subject, in contrast with Rojas35. As a conse-
quence, later manuscripts such as those by Jean Chreau36, follow De LOrme closely, in
contrast with freer Spanish texts. Besides, no further book on this matter is printed until
the mid-seventeenth century; maybe potential writers thought that nothing could be
added to Philiberts explanation of the subject.

This silence was broken in 1640, when Girard Desargues, a bourgeois from Lyons, am-
ateur architect and precursor of Projective Geometry, published a leaflet offering a general
method for the resolution of all stonecutting problems [FIG. 12], although he explained only
its application to skew arches, sloping vaults and arches opened in sloping walls37. The
masons of Paris responded violently against this interference from a stranger to the craft;
Jacques Curabelle, the best stonecutter of the period, published pamphlets with such
Baroque titles as Foiblesse pitoyable du sr G. Desargues employe contre lexamen fait de ses
oeuures38. The confrontation brought about a remarkable contest: two teams of stonema-
sons, directed by Desargues and Curabelle, were to build arches according to the methods
of their leaders. The winners were to receive a substantial prize of one hundred pistoles39.
At the end the competition did not take place, since the contestants did not agree in the
rules or the jury. Desargues argued with scorn that geometricians should not be judged by
masons; quite to the contrary, the geometricians are the masters and the masons the dis-
ciples. However, this failed duel indicates a change of paradigm: for Desargues the criterion
of the validity of stonecutting methods does not lie in the apparent perfection of the final
built piece, but rather in the mathematical correction of the methods used in its execution.
The consequences of this paradigm shift were felt slowly, although gradually. The
confrontation led to the appearance of three stonecutting treatises in a few years. Math-
urin Jousse, an ironsmith that had published previously manuals on metalwork and car-
pentry, completed his series with Le secret darchitecture, the first book dedicated in its
entirety to stonecutting, illustrated with woodcuts and showing the traditional techniques
of the craft. The Jesuit Franois Derand, well connected with the scientific circles of the
period, published Larchitecture des votes, with copper engravings and a more formal
tone. A few years later Abraham Bosse, engraver and controversial professor of the
Acadmie des Beaux-Arts, published a quite detailed exposition of Desargues method40.
The presence of Derand among stonecutting writers may seem a bit shocking, but he
was preceded by the Augustine Recollect friar Laurencio de San Nicols, who devoted
to stonecutting a few chapters of the first volume of Arte y uso de arquitectura, published
in 1639. From this moment on, the Theatine Guarino Guarini, the Oratorian Toms Vi-
cente Tosca, the Cistercian Juan Caramuel y Lobkowitz or another Jesuit, Charles Mil-
liet-Deschalles, dealt with the subject41. This means that the old lore of the masons was
being absorbed by learned science; at the end of the seventeenth century, it had reached
the status of an application of mathematics, included in Cursus seu mundus mathematicus
by Deschalles or Compendio Matemtico by Tosca; of course, we may assume that the
former was not widely read by stonemasons.
By contrast, Tosca played a significant role in the education of military engineers in
the first half of the eighteenth century; other details, such as the purchase of models of
conical pyramids and saltarreglas in the Engineers Academy in Barcelona, confirm that
stonecutting technique was taught in Spanish military schools in the period, as we shall
see for their French counterparts42. Another sign of the interest of engineers on this sub-
ject is the longest treatise on stonecutting ever published, La thorie et la pratique de la
coupe des pierres et des bois pour la construction des voutes ou trait de strotomie
by Amede-Franois Frzier43, an engineer working in the fortifications of Britanny, as
Cristbal de Rojas had done in the sixteenth century.


FIG. 13 JEAN-BAPTISTE DE LA RUE. Templates, FIG. 14 AMEDE-FRANOIS FRZIER. Arches opened in curved
voussoirs and interior space in an arch opened in a walls. In La thorie et la pratique de la coupe des pierres ou trait
curved wall. In Trait de la coupe des pierres, 1728. de strotomie , 1737-1739.

Up to a certain extent, Frzier follows Desargues trail; however, he presents his

material in a different way. Jean-Baptiste de la Rue [FIG. 13] had included at the end of
his treatise a theoretical annex, the Petit trait de strotomie; this last term, taken par-
adoxically from Curabelle, means cuts of solids44. Frzier, by contrast, places theo-
retical matters first, dealing with such issues as orthogonal projection, classification
of surfaces or angular measurements in the first volume of his treatise. Only in the
second and third volumes he explains actual stonecutting problems, placed under the
heading of tomotechnie. In this way, the discipline is put under the rule of geometry,
including demonstrations for each particular problem, in contrast with previous trea-
tises. Frzier does not try to unify his methods as Desarges; however, he gives a clear
structure to the subject, based on his classification of surfaces. All this puts him at a
distance from traditional methods, explained by Jousse and Derand; as a result, he re-
marks systematically the falsehood of ancient tracings, while putting forward new
methods for issues that seem rather secondary to our eyes, such as the use of devel-
opable surfaces for skew arches, that leads him to a peculiar set of elliptical intrados
Frziers obsession with systematic methods is quite evident in a passage where he
explains that stonecutters place their tracings in a strange fashion, so that the sections
or elevations that should rise are tilted sideways or even placed head down [FIG. 14]. He
accepts that this procedure has some advantages, since it shows clearly the connections

between different projections; how-
ever, the general impression given by
this passage is that of an Enlightened
disdain for these colourful, Baroque
sets of tracings46.
These indirect proposals for the re-
form of stonecutting drawing were
taken seriously by Gaspard Monge, in-
structor in Stonecutting Theory in the
Engineering School at Mziers. At
the start of the French Revolution,
freed from military secret, Monge ex-
plained his Method of Projections at
the same time in the cole Normale
and the cole Polythechnique, two
revolutionary schools that exerted an
immense influence in Continental
Europe. His procedure was not re-
stricted to stonecutting, not even to
construction. Rather, he presented it FIG. 15 GASPARD MONGE. Projection planes, ground line and
as a general method for spatial repre- projections of a straight line. In Gomtrie Descriptive, 1799.

sentation, which can be applied to all

fields of the technology of the period,
or even to the abstract problems of pure geometry47. In the cole Normale, focused in
the preparation of secondary education teachers, Monge started his course explaining
that a single projection cannot specify precisely the position of a point in space. Only
when adding a second projection, we can determine unambiguously this point; the pas-
sage suggests implicitly that the striking auxiliary projections used by stonecutters are
However, in order to define exactly the absolute position of a point in space, a new
element, lacking in stonecutting tracings or even in the careful renderings of the Mz-
ires school, is needed: the ground line [FIG. 15]. While double projection, as used up to
this period, allows to determine the position of a point in relation to other objects, the
ground line furnishes a method for computing the absolute position of a point. At the
same time, it fixes in space the position of both projection planes; this allows the
draughtsman to represent any plane through its intersections with the projection
planes49. The use of planes is not really very useful in stonecutting tracings; up to this
moment, nobody has built a plane or a straight line, but rather finite elements. Admit-
tedly, in some problems tackled by Frzier, such as oblique trumpet squinches, the rep-
resentation of planes allows the use of sophisticated methods; however, in his teaching
in the cole Normale Monge used planes mainly to solve abstract geometrical prob-
lems, which fit the nature of this institution50.
Anyhow, we should take into account that we know much better Monges lessons in
the cole Normale, taken in shorthand and published by his pupils as Gometrie De-


scriptive, than his teaching at the cole Polythechnique, where only a few sheets of stu-
dents exercises, without ground lines, are preserved. This suggests that Monge used dif-
ferent approaches in the cole Normale, with a strictly scientific character, and the cole
Polythechnique, that had and still has a technological orientation51.
Another paragraph at the start of Gomtrie Descriptive is also quite significant: it
states that this new science has two different goals. First, to transmit to the artistes, that
is, the artisans, the shape of the pieces designed by the engineer; second, to retrieve all
the verits or truths that can be deduced from the shape and the relative positions of
these bodies. Following Monges lessons, it is easy to understand that these verits are
data such as the shape of the faces of the solids, the angles between their edges or the
distances between their corners, which orthogonal projections do not show in true size
and form in many occasions; that was the main utility of stonecutting tracings52. In this
way Monge implies a subtle inversion of the concepts used in our subject up to this mo-
ment; the introvert drawing of stonemasons, timely transferred to scientific language,
comes second, while pride of place is taken by the transmission of the orders from the
engineer to the executors. Anyhow, we shall deal with the reasons of this evolution, in
particular with the exclusion of perspectives, both lineal and cavalier, from the education
of engineers, in the next section.



A detail in the history of the cole Polythechnique shows clearly Monges opinion about
the relative value of the systems of spatial representation. As shown by Alonso et al., from
the sixteenth century on, stonecutting treatises include, in addition to orthographical
projections, some linear or oblique perspectives of particularly complex pieces; in some
occasions, even the space below a vault is shown as a stone construction. That is, writers
consider that orthogonal projections and its auxiliary methods rotations, developments,
and the like are quite useful for the determination of the true shapes of voussoir faces
or the angles between their edges, but they do not show intuitively the volume of con-
struction members or their parts. This mission is entrusted to cavalier or linear perspec-
tives. However, under Monges direction, the sheets of the copy of De la Rues treatise
used by the students of the cole Polytechnique that included oblique perspectives were
torn away. Probably Monge and his aides understood that orthogonal projections were
sufficient to show the volumetric structure of these members, or maybe they were trying
to put pressure on students so they could read easily plans and elevations showing com-
plex forms53.
Anyway, some details hint that Monge was not the first one to tread that path. As
mentioned by Alfonso Muoz, both Toms Vicente Tosca and Jos Zaragoza, another cler-
gyman, assert that the engineer does not need to be proficient in perspective drawing54.
Later on, a small but precise treatise or workbook on shades and shadows was prepared
in the engineering school of Mzires, with all drawings in orthographic projection and
finished in taut renderings55. At first sight, the interest of engineers in shadows, while

FIG. 16
ROJAS. Plan of a
fortress show-
ing access to
the casemates.
In Terica y
prctica de forti-
ficacin, 1598.

they eschew perspective, is a bit shocking. However, on close inspection, such drawings
as the one in the Mzires workbook showing a temple front in strictly frontal projection
suggest that the aim of the author was to demonstrate that shadows can bring back the
intuitive representation of volume that orthogonal projection lacks, in contrast with linear
or cavalier perspective.
At this point, we should ask ourselves about the reason of the interest of engineers in
stonecutting. Cristbal de Rojas mentions in his Terica y prctica de fortificacin skew
arches for the passages leading to the casemates of the fort, and also splayed arches,
which are very appropriate for the embrasures of the artillery ... while stating in his
Compendio y breve resolucin de fortificacin that the engineer should know how to
build the embrasures of fortification [...] that are called splayed in artillery [...] and es-
pecially he should know the cuts and shapes of the vaults, for any architecture. However,
these explanations [FIG. 16] are scarcely convincing56. Treatises also deal with sloping
arches; in particular Martinez de Aranda presents six variants: escarpment or counter-
scarp, and their combinations with straight plan, or two kinds of obliquity. Such arches
seem to deny the military function of the wall, which does not foster the presence of
openings. Notwithstanding that, some examples of these pieces can be found in Spain,
for example in the wall of Saint Charles de Cadiz, the Kings Orchard in Mallorca or the
wall of Charles III in Cartagena. In particular, the later includes the Puerta del Socorro,
a skew arch opened in a sloping wall [FIGS. 17-19] which appears designed to justify the
convoluted repertoire of Frzier or Aranda57. However, the small size of the arch suggests
that it is easier to place in the voussoirs of a round arch in the wall and give them the
slant required by the slope of the wall and the skew shape of the arch by means of a sim-
ple retouching, rather than addressing the complexities of the template construction
methods proposed by the treatises.


FIG. 17 Puerta del Socorro in the Wall of Charles III in Cartagena. 1783. Front view.

Admittedly, treatises also include vaults and stairs; however, in Early Modern military
constructions the former are executed on many occasions in brick or concrete, while the
stairs are usually relatively members, such as the straight newel helical stair, known in
Spain as Caracol de husillo, or at most a member with a helical newel, known as Caracol
de Mallorca. That is, the knowledge of stonecutting is useful, certainly, for the construc-
tion engineer, but does not seem to justify the importance granted by Rojas or the three
volumes of Frziers treatise.
Now, a puzzling question surfaces: whether the interest of engineers in the geomet-
rical problems of stone construction, shown by the presence of this matter in treatises,
in the appointment of Vandelvira for the fortifications of Cdiz, in the interest of Frzier
in this field or its presence in Spanish military schools, as well as in the school of Mz-
ires and the Polytechnique, an essentially military institution, responds to a practical
need or to a didactic intention. Weve seen that military schools endeavoured to instruct
the aspiring engineer on the interpretation of drawings in double projection; the intricate
problems of stonecutting provided a most suitable and almost endless source of exercises
in this field. All this suggests that the teaching of Stonecutting Theory in military schools
focused not so much in the training of engineers for stone construction, but on the ed-
ucation of their spatial vision58.
In fact, we know that the teaching of Stonecutting Theory by Monge in the Mzires
school included abstract topics, such as the determination of the position of a point in
horizontal and vertical projection starting from the angles formed by the lines connecting

them to three given points. That is, the
artisanal practice of stonecutting had
evolved, as soon as the last decades of the
Ancien Rgime, into an abstract science,
susceptible of application in any technical
field. As Sakarovitch said, the stonemason
works on mass, starting from a three-di-
mensional object, by contrast with the car-
penter or the coppersmith, who work on
lines or developable surfaces. This leads
to a parallel between the material activity
of the stonemason and the abstract posi-
tion of the geometrician, shown by rich
repertoire of developable and warped that
can be materialised by the stonemason
and their complex intersection59. On its
turn, this geometrical wealth is reflected
in the wide variety of graphic techniques
used in stonecutting tracings: projections,
developments, rabattements, rotations,
changes of projection plane. Even the no-
FIG. 18 Puerta del Socorro in the Wall of Charles III in
tion of generatrices and directrixes intro- Cartagena. 1783. Side view.
duced by Monge in his lectures at the
cole Normale reminds the methods of
stonemasons defining a surface through
channels opened by the chisel, where the ruler rests in order to materialise a ruled sur-
face. And finally, the economy and elegance of stonecutting tracings had to be enticing
to the military by force60. All this is what explains, beyond its practical application, the
interest of engineers in stonecutting.

FIG. 19 Puerta del Socorro

in the Wall of Charles III in
Cartagena. 1783. Top view.



1. Universidad Politcnica de Cartagena. Escuela de Arquitectura y Edificacin. Ps. Alfonso XIII, 50. 30203 Cartagena.
2. ROJAS, 1598; DE LORME, 1567; RORICZER, 1486; SANZIO and CASTIGLIONE, c. 1518.
3. MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600, pp. 133-115; DERAND, 1643, p. 5; FRZIER, 1737-1739, vol. II, pp. 11-12.
4. DE LORME, 1567, 73 v; see also FRZIER, 1737-1739, vol. II, pp. 13-15.
5. MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600, pp. 6-8, and many others; VANDELVIRA, c. 1580, f. 26v, 27v, and others; see also PALACIOS [1990]
2003, pp. 96-105.
6. GELABERT [1653] 2011, p. 130; see also RABASA, 1996, p. 429; RABASA, 2000, pp. 160-178; RABASA, 2007.
7. DERAND, 1643, p. 63, and others; ANONYMOUS, c. 1650, f. 16r, 18r, and others.
8. RABASA, 2000, pp. 152-160; CALVO, 2003; FRZIER, 1737-1739, vol. II, p. 39, plates 28.
9. RUIZ, c. 1550, f. 13r; MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600, p. 16. Montear is a tricky word, since montea means both elevation
and full-size tracing. The construction of parallels in paper, using sliding triangles, is quite easy; by contrast, tracing parallels
on floors or walls is quite difficult; see for example a construction mentioned by ROJAS, 1598, f. 7v, that may lead to important
errors in actual practice.
10. DE LA RUE [1728] 1738, p. 1.
11. HASELBERGER, 1983; TAN, 2006, p. 3013. See a longer explanation in CALVO, 2013.
12. ROJAS, 1598, f. 98v. The drawing in the upper part of the sheet may suggest at first sight a peculiar arch with diminishing
faces; on closer inspection, it represents a skew arch in which only the edges between faces and intrados are depicted, while
the ones between face an extrados are left out.
13. As we shall see, in the Escorial the head stonemasons prepare templates and hand them to contractors almost everyday; only
in special cases they ask the actual builders to consult full-size tracing. See BUSTAMANTE, 1994, pp. 228, 247.
14. As the exception that confirms the rule, a preparatory drawing for a tracing, drawn in paper and rather clumsy is analysed in
ALONSO, 2009, pp. 57-60.
15. GIL DE HONTAN, c. 1550, ff. 24v-25v; VANDELVIRA, c. 1580, ff. 23r, 23v; TAN, 2006, pp. 3018-3019.
16. Translators note: Rabattement is a graphical procedure used to determine the true size and shape of planar figures through
rotation of their planes around an axis, usually a horizontal one. The word is quite unusual in English, due to the cold reception
of French Descriptive Geometry, associated with Napoleonic institutions, in England.
17. See a more detailed survey of treatises and writers in Calvo, 2009, and an explanation of the evolution of the intellectual
status of the discipline in CALVO, 2011.
18. VILLARD, [c. 1225] 2009, f. 20r; BRANNER, 1957; BECHMANN, [1991] 1993, pp. 169-180; LALBAT et al, 1987; LALBAT et al, 1989;
VILLARD, 2009, p. 130, 133. Prior to Barnes recent edition, this anonymous draughtsman was identified by Hahnloser as
Magister II.
19. RORICZER, 1486.
20. KOEPF, 1969, plates 288, 436; TOMLOW, 2009.
21. RUIZ, c. 1550, f. 46v.
22. DE LORME, 1567, f. 72 r; VANDELVIRA, c. 1580, f. 19v; ROJAS, 1596, f. 99v, upper part; MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600, p. 6-8.
23. DE LORME, 1567, f. 67 v-69 r; VANDELVIRA, c. 1580, f. 27v; ROJAS, 1596, f. 99v, lower part; MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600, p. 16-
17. See also RABASA, 1994.
24. CALVO, 2010, 530-533; CALVO, 2013; RUIZ DE LA ROSA and RODRGUEZ ESTVEZ, 2002; VANDELVIRA, c. 1580, 61v-62r; GUARDIA, c.
1600, 69v.
25. BUSTAMANTE, 1994, p. 155, 215, 227, 233, 238, 242, 244 and others for templates, baiveles and cerchas; pp. 209, 228, 247 for
the tracing house and the tracings; LPEZ MARTNEZ, 1932, pp. 166-167; BANDA, 1969.
26. VANDELVIRA, c. 1580; ROJAS, 1596; MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600.
27. SAN NICOLS, 1665, pp. 155, 217; MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600, unnumbered page at the start. See also BARB-COQUELIN DE
LISLE, 1977, pp. 22.
28. GILA, 1991, pp. 275-276; FALCN, 1994; MARITEGUI, [1880] 1985, p. 88; CMARA, 1981.
29. MARITEGUI, [1880] 1985, pp. 36-37; CMARA, 2014, passim, in particular pp. 137-138.
30. CECCARELLI, 1996, pp. 31-34; POTI, 1996, pp. 40-48; DE LORME, 1567, ff. 2r, 81r, 125v.
31. WILKINSON, 1977; WILKINSON, 1993, pp. 17-18. It is quite revealing that Wilkinson sets Herrera in opposition to the Central
Italian model of the arts, but does not mention him in his earlier study on new professionalism. This fits well with the
tripartite division of sixteenth century Spanish architects put forward by Maras 1979, between stonemasons, artists and a
third group filled almost exclusively by Herrera. However, Marias puts together all architects with a masonic background and
does not distinguish between new professionals and simple masons.
32. ROJAS, 1598, ff. 1-1v, 88r-89v; see also f. 101; MARTNEZ DE ARANDA, c. 1600, unnumered pp. at the start.
33. CAMPILLO, 1987; POTI, 1996; see also LONG, 1985.
34. ANONYMOUS, c. 1540; GUARDIA, c. 1600; GARCA BAO, 2015.
35. DE LORME, 1567, 50r-128v.
36. CHREAU, c. 1567-1574.
37. DESARGUES, 1640.
38. CURABELLE, 1644.

39. SAKAROVITCH, 1994; BOSSE and DESARGUES, 1648. Pistole was a popular name for a Spanish coin worth two escudos, which was
in use as a virtual currency unit in France in the period of Louis XVI marriage with Maria Theresa of Austria, daughter of
Philip IV of Spain, with a value of ten tournois pounds. Thus, the prize amounted to 1,000 pounds.
40. JOUSSE, 1642; DERAND, 1643; BOSSE and DESARGUES, 1643.
41. SAN NICOLS, 1639; DERAND, 1643; CARAMUEL and LOBKOWITZ, 1678; MILLIET DECHALES, 1674; TOSCA, 1707-1715; GUARINI, 1737.
42. CAPEL et al., 1988; MARZAL, 1991; CALVO, 2007, pp. 173-175.
43. FRZIER, 1737-1739.
44. DE LA RUE, [1728] 1738, 167-183; CURABELLE, 1644, p. 3.
45. About the errors of masons and the falsehood of old tracing methods, see FRZIER, 1737-1739, vol. II, pp. 43, 49-50, 140-
151; about skew arches with elliptical joints, see FREZIR, vol. II, p. 143, plate 37.
46. FRZIER, 1737-1739, vol. I, p. 271-272.
47. MONGE, 1799, pp. 1-2; SAKAROVITCH, 1997.
48. MONGE, 1799, pp. 6-11.
49. MONGE, 1799, pp. 15, 20-21; see also plate II.
50. FRZIER, 1737-1739, vol. II, pp. 217, plate 43; MONGE, 1799, passim.
51. SAKAROVITCH, 1997, p. 151, 255-263.
52. MONGE, 1799, p. 5.
53. RABASA, 2000, p. 344.
54. MUOZ, 2015.
55. SAKAROVITCH, 1997, pp. 85-89.
56. ROJAS, 1598, 97 v.
57. CALVO, 2007.
58. SAKAROVITCH, 1977, pp. 221-223.
59. In Descriptive Geometry, a developpable surface can be materialised through deformation (excluding extension, folding or
cutting) of a flat sheet of paper, cardboard or metal. Examples are cones or cylinders with any directrix. In three-dimensional
space, all developpable surfaces are also ruled; that is, through every point of the surface there is a straight line that lies in
its entirety on the surface. Other surfaces, known as warped surfaces, cannot be materialised through deformation of a sheet,
although they can be dressed in stone or modelled in clay. Warped surfaces may be ruled surfaces, such as some kinds of
skew arches, or double curvature surfaces, such as the sphere, where no straight line lies in the surface.
60. SAKAROVITCH, 1977, 241-244.



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Back to Contents


Eighteenth Century Engineers and
Architects Drawings for the Royal Sites:
Survey Record and Design


Universidad Politcnica de Madrid, E.T.S. de Arquitectura



This chapter discusses eighteenth century graphic production around the royal sites built
in the vicinity of Madrid as a contribution to the general study of engineers drawings in
Spain in that timeframe. Given the new status accorded military engineers by the
Bourbon dynasty, these professionals specific participation in the places and sites
occupied by the court would appear to merit analysis, drawing parallels between their
own and Spanish architects and master builders graphic skills. The drawings selected
for the study were chosen on the grounds of their dual role as survey records of existing
circumstances and designs for possible improvement. This brief tour reveals the
magnitude of the contribution made by the Crowns new agents.


Drawing, engineers, architects, eighteenth century, royal sites, Madrid.

The definition of drawing proposed here is based primarily on the relationship between
the two-dimensional lines and hues set down on paper and what we perceive as three-
dimensional reality. In this approach, the narrative builds on the idea of viewing drawing
as a deferred construction of material reality. Construction here is construed as a precise
attitude in which drawing may analogise reality by reflecting the order and dimension of
things, while the adjective deferred highlights two essential distinctions between drawing
and material reality: namely, nature and timing. The aim is to show that drawing and
reality are not the same thing and that in their time-bound inter-relationships, the former
may either reflect what already exists or anticipate what is to be.
This premise delimits an area encompassing both engineering and architectural
delineation within the wide world of drawing. In its analysis, certain basic tenets should
be borne in mind to sift through a number of commonplaces that may lead to confusion.
The first has to do with the routine and at times blunt division between artistic and
technical drawing. The second consists in the risk of assuming the existence of a spirit
of the times whereby in any given age, society at large has access to certain general
knowledge, when in fact very different levels of understanding obviously co-exist in any
given historic era depending on each individuals capacities and circumstances.
In connection with the former, automatically qualifying architectural drawing as artistic
and engineering drawing as technical is much too coarse a criterion. As in nearly all
generalisations, while this simplification is at least partially true from todays perspective,
taking it at face value and overlaying it onto historical events risk concealing attractive
nuances that may enrich those very events. The pages that follow consequently propose
an etymological interpretation that views the associated notions of ars and thecn as two
routes that would lead to not-so-different ends. To simplify the conceit, whereas the artistic
option entails ease or agility, the technical pathway would be more patterned or structured.
While this approximate distinction is just one of many2, this approach to interpreting the
development of drawing may be closer to objective reality, in which the proportional weight
of the two aspects are acknowledged in each case. On these grounds, architectural and
engineering drafting would initially be nearly the same thing, with the weight of the two
procedures, agility or pattern, contingent upon the situation and the personal skills or
capacities of the author in question.
These considerations introduce the second aspect, namely the acknowledgement of a
balance between general progress in graphic technique and the case of each specific
individual studied. Against that backdrop, drawing has traditionally been recognised to
consist in what is usually regarded as an innate talent. In all ages, while some people have
a gift for drawing others develop their skills along structured, more or less strict guidelines
closely related to the level of understanding and training characteristic their specific
historic era. The intention of this digression is to note that the possible existence of a
degree of general knowledge in a given time does not mean that it would be accessible to
any individual who happened to live at that time. The corollary is that specific authors
might well attain a degree of skill or understanding based on their specific aptitudes far
in excess of the graphic expertise characteristic of their age.
Within the above conceptual framework, this study, which in no way aspires to be
exhaustive3, aims to establish the parallel pathways visible in drawings that contributed to

an understanding of the royal sites and shaped these new territorial and architectural
spaces during the first century of Bourbon rule. Be it said here that engineering and
architecture had been traditionally related in the two preceding centuries, during Habsburg
rule4, although by the end of the sixteen hundreds the two appeared to be going their
separate ways. From the perspective of the crown, military engineering was unconcerned
with civil undertakings and converged at Brussels around Sebastin Fernndez de
Medrano, whereas the main reference for architecture was the system of royal works,
comprising master builders and their quantities surveyors, governed by the venerable Works
and Woodlands Council. The seventeenth century witnessed a debate around the skills to
be required of master builders. Two antagonistic positions called either for a background
in construction or qualifications based on a more generally artistic component5. In
synthesis, further to the division between the two types of drawing referred to above, the
dispute revolved around line drawing as construction and line drawing as invention.
In 1700 the master builder for royal works was Jos del Olmo, who defended the
construction approach. Upon his death in 1702, he was succeeded by Teodoro Ardemans,
initially trained as a painter, who held the position until his death in 1726. In line with
this alternation, the following master builder, Juan Romn, held the position from 1727
to 1739, after a successful career in construction. From then on, the disappearance of
the Works and Woodlands Council and the onset of foreign intervention with the
appointment of Juan Bautista Sachetti gave royal works architecture a new twist.
Coming back to the turn of the century and the origin of the new dynasty, renovation
in engineering looked to France for its basic inspiration, as well as to the Corps of Military
Engineers created in 1710 under the leadership of Flemish engineer George Prosper Ver-
boom6. While its origin and purpose were clearly military, the corps began to engage in
strictly civilian interests and strategies as early as 1715. The focus here is on this latter
realm, tracking the development of drawing over time and its relationship to places, scales
and authors, adopting as neutral an approach as possible and eluding the schematic prem-
ises mentioned above.

FIG. 1 MICHEL FREMIN. Engineer, builder and architect, drawing extracted from Memoires critiques darchitecture, Paris,

Michel Fremins7 treatise published in 1702 on the roles of engineer, mason and ar-
chitect [FIG. 1] provides the initial background for the figurative and cultural context ad-
dressed here. Note, however, that in this engraving, drawing tools, as well as the classical
orders, are attributed to architects only, in keeping with artistic tradition. This schematic
assignment of roles was actually more complex and integrated in the real world. Examples
can be found in the drawings set in Madrid by two of the first professionals who came to
Spain at the turn of the century: Filippo Pallota from Italy and Ren Carlier from France.
The first known drawing by the engineer born in Rome around 1675 is particularly
significant: it depicts the people of Madrid cheering their new king in November 17008.
It features an elevation view of the Habsburg Castle, a gouache-tinted line drawing that
serves as the background for the crowd, rendered as correctly and attractively structured
figures in different planes. The narrative intention of the drawing is unequivocally con-

PALLOTA. Interior of San
Jernimo el Real Church
during Parliaments
swearing of allegiance to
the new king on 8 May
1701, extracted from
MEDINAs Succession del
rey D. Phelipe V nuestro
seor en la Corona de
Espaa, Madrid, 1704.
Madrid, History
Museum, IN 2931.

FIG. 2 FILIPPO PALLOTA. Crowd cheering Philip V in November 1700 and Armory Square, 4 March 1704 (engraving by
NICOLS GUERARD). Madrid, History Museum, IN 9638 and 2059.

veyed by a celestial phylactery. This same drawing would later be made into an engraving,
curiously serving as the setting for another event: the kings departure for the Portuguese
campaign on 4 March 1704 [FIG. 2]. Between the two dates, Pallota had drawn a consid-
erable number of geographic and military illustrations for the work Svccession del rey D.
Phelipe V nuestro seor en la Corona de Espaa [succession of King Phelipe V our lord
to the throne of Spain], authored by Antonio de Ubilla y Medina, Marquis of Ribas, and
published in Madrid in 1704. One of these drawings portrays the interiors of San Jern-
imo el Real Church, the architectural setting for Parliaments swearing of allegiance to
the new king on 8 May 1701 [FIG. 3]9.

Planta del conjunto del palacio
del Buen Retiro con sus
jardines y el Prado de San
Jernimo, estado actual hacia
1712-13. French National
Library, Cabinet des
Estampes, FT 6-HA-20.

The Buen Retiro [quiet retreat] compound is the milestone that attests to Ren
Carliers presence in Madrid, where he arrived in February 171210. He was initially com-
missioned to survey the grounds and prepare the respective drawings for the palatial com-
plex with a view to the transformations designed by his master Robert de Cotte. The
general drawing for the layout of the compound and grounds, which attests to the sol-
vency of his work and graphic acumen, reflects the immediate urban surrounds [FIG. 4].
On another scale, the plan view of the palatial core [FIG. 5] is of particularly high archi-
tectural quality. It was initially supplemented by soil and elevation contours, the originals
of which are kept at the French National Library. None of the ambitious projects designed
at Paris ever saw the light, however, with the exception of the parterre in the Retiro,
aligned with the eponymous mansion. The respective works, conducted between 1713
and 1715, were in all likelihood supervised by Carlier.
The next stage in his career found him participating in the earliest stages of the Royal
Site at La Granja. Although the historical evidence is neither explicit nor precise, there
is every indication that Carlier supervised the works on the grounds for Philip Vs re-
treat, while the palace itself was designed and its construction supervised by Teodoro
Ardemans, in keeping with the duties inherent in his position. No original drawings for
the initial phase between 1720 and 1725 having been preserved, [FIG. 6] contains a graphic
reconstruction of this curious hybrid consisting in a small, autochthonous castle-palace

FIG. 5 REN CARLIER. Planta del Palacio del Buen Retiro, estado actual hacia 1712-13. French National Library, Cabinet des
Estampes, FT 6-HA-20.

and its French-inspired gardens11. An-

other member of this particular his-
toric cast, French military engineer
Etienne Marchand, apparently also as-
sisted in the works. The record of
Marchands specific origin and per-
sonal circumstances is as scanty as the
history of Carliers12. After the deaths
of Pallota on 10 October 1721 in
Madrid and Carlier on 15 August
1722 at El Escorial, where he was
FIG. 6 JAVIER ORTEGA and JOS LUIS SANCHO (team leaders).
buried at San Bernab Parish, the Reconstruction of the palace at La Granja de San Ildefonso ca
graphic narrative continues in the per- 1725, Madrid, 2000.
son of the younger French engineer.
In 1718 Marchand, at the time as-
sistant engineer or draughtsman, was promoted to the category of second lieutenant13,
participating from the outset in the works on the grounds at La Granja. On Carliers
death he assumed their supervision, introducing a new layout and composition14. Marc-
hands earliest preserved drawing is not of La Granja, however, but of a garden at Migas-

FIG. 7 TIENNE MARCHAND. El soto de Migascalientes; estado actual y propuesta de intervencin, 1724. Madrid, General
Palace Archives, Nos 5195 and 5196.

calientes along the Manzanares river bank. Dated in 1724, it served as a basis for a second
design drawing to restructure and expand the complex [FIG. 7]. Landscaping and Marchand
are the guideposts to the next stage in this series, the royal site established centuries ear-
lier at Aranjuez, where the River Jarama flows into the Tagus.
The campaign to refurbish the compound had begun in 1715 under the leadership
of the master builder appointed to Aranjuez in 1712, Pedro Caro Idrogo, whose wide-
ranging profile included architectural and military engineering skills. The commission
entailed finishing the building planned by Philip II (1556-1598) to replace the former
Order of Santiago monastery, still standing in the early eighteenth century, along with
less than one-half of the building originally envisaged. As construction was resumed on
the palace, a landscaped area was designed to flank the east wing of the building: a third
parterre following on the ones at Buen Retiro and La Granja15.
A drawing signed by Master Idrogo for a tiered circular dam in the riverbed close to
the northern wing of the palace is still intact16. Like others of his fairly imprecise designs,
the most outstanding of which may be a new set of stairs for the central part of the palace,
featuring two symmetrical semi-circular staircases, this sole graphic testimony for the
dam denotes little more than elementary drafting skills. The Spanish Armys Geographic
Service preserves an attractive set of plan views and cross-sections17 showing the state of
the works in 1728, from which the ground storey floor plan and a cross-section showing
the former tower-chapel and the new staircase have been chosen for reproduction here
[FIG. 8]. Different shades of red differentiate the older and recently built areas, while the
new stairs are shown in yellow. The graphic and architectural quality of these drawings
would seem to indicate that they were not authored by the local master, but rather by
Marchand, who was assigned to the works at Aranjuez in late 1727. Far from competing,
however, the two apparently worked together harmoniously in a cooperative spirit that
more than likely permeated the design and construction of the eastern parterre, the draw-

FIG. 8 ETIENNE MARCHAND (attrib.). Floor plan and cross-section of Aranjuez Palace in 1728. Madrid, Armys Geographic
Service, Historic Maps Section, Case E, Shelf 8, folder 1, No. 113.

ing for which [FIG. 9] is ostensibly French. Like Carlier and Pallota before them, Idrogo
and Marchand died within less than a year of one another: the former in December 1732
and the latter in November 1733.

FIG. 9 ETIENNE MARCHAND. Design for eastern FIG. 10 FERNANDO MNDEZ DE RAO. General grounds,
parterre, Aranjuez Palace, July 1727. Madrid, General La Granja de San Ildefonso ca 1736-1740. Madrid, Armys
Palace Archives, No. 2456. Geographic Service, Historic Maps Section, Case E, shelf 6,
folder 2, No. 214.

The career and graphic production of yet another actor, Fernando Mndez de Rao
Sotomayor, carries the reader back to La Granja. In 1727 he had been posted to Aranjuez
as Marchands assistant, although in 1732, on the occasion of his promotion to full en-
gineer and captain, he was given a new assignment at the northern Guadarrama Moun-
tain site of La Granja. By that time the palace had already been enlarged to the guidelines
of painter and architectural theorist Andrea Procaccini (1671-1734) along with one of
his assistants, architect and painter Sempronio Subisati (1680-1758). From 1734 to 1736
the young Spanish engineer drafted a superb cartography of the place that attested to
the status of the palatial compound and its grounds and contained as well the earliest
indications of the birth of the adjacent town [FIG. 10]18. Mndez de Raos delineation skills,
visible in this as-built drawing, were apparently supplemented by designer aptitudes,
as inferred by a drawing custodied at the Armys Geographic Service [FIG. 11]. The object
here is a road leading out of La Granja de San Ildefonso (the sites full name) to the west

FIG. 11 FERNANDO MNDEZ DE RAO. Design for roads to/from San Ildefonso. Madrid, Armys Geographic Service,
Historic Maps Section, Case E, shelf 6, folder 2, No. 213.

FIG. 12 SEBASTIAN DE RODOLPHE. Drawing of El Pardo road and proposed intervention, 1740. Madrid, General Palace
Archives, No. 1150.

in which the drawing of the area as it stood is overlain by plans for a dual trident of av-
enues intersecting in a new town. Note the squares between it and the gate into the royal
site, skirted by exedra and twin buildings with a certain institutional air.
Engineers drawings for royal sites from the early seventeen forties, in turn, centred
on the cartographic illustration of the road connecting Madrid and El Pardo (on the out-
skirts of Madrid). The first such territorial scale document, authored by engineer Sebas-
tian de Rodolphe in 174119, depicts two dimensions: present status and design for future
intervention [FIG. 12]. The value of this illustration is readily visible when compared to
preceding local attempts at survey drawings (or overall graphic expressions) of the Man-
zanares river bank authored by Juan de Morales in 1714 and Francisco Prez Cano in
174120. Although both provide nearly topological information on location, they lacked
any metric precision. Rodolphes rendering unquestionably constituted an improvement
in quality, despite the disproportionate shading with which its author attempted to ap-
proximates topographic relief.
Broadly speaking, local master builders attained a certain proficiency in architectural
drawing, while their territorial renditions exhibited significant shortcomings. Examples
of this can be found in two drawings by Manuel Lpez Corona, one of the major master
builders involved in the works at El Pardo. These drawings synthetically reflect the ex-
pansion of the site with the purchase by the crown of Las Batuecas estate from the Duke
of Huscar in 1750 [FIG. 13]. While the plan view and cross-section of the main building
are expertly drawn, the topographic rendering of the property, despite the dimensions
marked along some of its boundaries, lacks formal rigour and reeks of what by todays
standards would fall squarely in the realm of the naf.
The first drawing of the overall El Pardo street plan is less naf, however, than fanciful
and imprecise. It is attributed to Gian Battista Novello, who supposedly received some
architectural training prior to his residence in Spain from 1735 to 1753. According to
his memoir, he alternated between two positions, ingegnere civile de sua Maest Cattolica
con regio stipendio and architetto di sua Maest Cattolica [His Catholic Majestys court
engineer and His Catholic Majestys architect]. Rather than his pretentious designer
skills, Novellos main contribution consisted in a series of 21 drawings preserved at the

FIG. 13 MANUEL LPEZ CORONA. Map of Batuecas Woodlands with plan view and cross-section of Batuecas Palace in
1750. Madrid, General Palace Archives, Nos 1222 and 1224.

Marziana Library, the most outstanding of which are his general renderings of the royal
sites21 which, while scantly rigorous, afford an interesting overview of the end of Philip
Vs reign.
As Novellos primary ambition in Madrid, the Royal Palace, eluded him, he returned
to Italy in 1753. Shortly before that date, Francisco Nangle, apparently of Irish descent
although trained in France, drafted an attractive cartographic document in 1751, in
which he combined present state with the design for a new road that would run north of
Madrid, a precursor of what in the late nineteenth century came to be known as the citys
boulevards. Nangle, who earned his associate engineering diploma in 1730, was pro-
moted to lieutenant in 1733 and to full engineer status in 174022. After an initial post at
Catalonia and a presumed assignment in Cuba, he appears in connection with the build-
ing of the Guadarrama Road in 1749. A second drawing of his authorship has also been
preserved, the design for a gate to Madrids Casa de Campo park. Although no original
drawings for the citys Puerta de Hierro [iron gate] have survived, Nangle has been un-
equivocally attributed with the design of this monumental entrance to the El Pardo prop-
erty. The sculptures were authored by Gian Domenico Olivieri and the iron work by
master Francisco Moradillo. This gate was but the climax of the design for a new circular
enclosure around El Pardo, designed and budgeted by the engineer himself shortly before
his death in 1751, and built during the rest of the decade.
Although they constitute a digression from the core theme of this chapter, the attrac-
tive drawings showing the military manoeuvres normally conducted north and east of
Madrid are certainly relevant to the city and its immediate surrounds. Dated in the sev-
enteen sixties, these pictures of troop movements constitute the earliest cartographic
record of the urban environs that one hundred years later would host the citys enlarge-
ment. In a way, these drawings can be viewed as a preview of and supplement to the huge
map of Madrid dedicated to the Count of Aranda published in 1769. Authored by en-
graver Antonio Espinoso de los Monteros, the ideologue and director for that endeavour

FIG. 14 BALTASAR RICAUD and BERNARDO FILLERA. Cross-section and elevation view of San Lorenzo el Real Monastery at
El Escorial, 1759. Montreal, CCA H-IV and H-IX.

may well have been architect and engineer Jos de Hermosilla Sandoval. The 1:1800
scale used was in keeping with the standard sponsored by the military and signed by the
Count of Aranda on 31 January 175723. Further to that criterion, a scale of one Castilian
foot to 600 rods (one rod = 3 feet) was deemed satisfactory for the master plan, showing
the inner ground plan, for enclosed towns... as well as for the drawings of unenclosed
towns such as Madrid, Zaragoza and Seville with their streets, squares, avenue, orchards
and so on.
Tracking down the elusive Hermosilla and backpedalling 10 years sets this narrative
against the backdrop of El Escorial. New plan and elevation views and cross-sections for
the monastery were signed at Madrid on 12 March 1759 by engineers Baltasar Ricaud
and Bernardo Fillera. Four of the elevation drawings and three of the cross-sections have
been located relatively recently24 [FIG. 14]. Although no explicit evidence is in place, there
is every indication that these drawings were the result of an undertaking supervised by
Hermosilla to document the grandiose building as the beginning of a new approach to

recording and appraising the countrys architectural heritage. What apparently started
from within the military continued a decade later with an undertaking sponsored by the
Academy and commissioned from Hermosilla to produce what ultimately was called
Antigedades rabes de Espaa [Arabic antiquities in Spain]. Work began in 1767 by Her-
mosillo himself with the assistance and cooperation of two young architects, Juan Pedro
Arnal and Juan de Villanueva25.
Obviating any comparison of their relative graphic talents and stressing the complex-
ities involved in delineating architectures such as Granadas Alhambra or Cordobas
mosque-cathedral, the merits of the engineers who authored the El Escorial drawings
must not be overlooked. Seen from todays perspective, Ricauds French and Filleras
Catalonian nationalities are at least ironic. Given the late seventeenth century contro-
versy over the possible French paternity of the buildings design and the symbolic charge
inherent in the new central-state approach to relations with Catalonia, these engineers
very likely confined themselves to anonymously following their superiors orders. The
partial results that have been preserved nonetheless attest to the high quality of what
constitutes the buildings second graphic narrative, after the late sixteenth century pub-
lication of Estampas [illustrations] and Breve Sumario [brief summary] by its architect
Juan de Herrera. To place this in context, suffice it to note that this second integrated
series of drawings is the last de novo graphic attempt to depict the monastery, up to
and including the present.
Despite the anonymity associated with these engineers work and their nearly always
incomplete biographical data, the following is an attempt to centre on the specific sta-
tus of the authors, or at least the signers, of this substantial and scantly known chapter
of Spains graphic heritage. Baltasar Ricaud de Tirgalle26 was in all likelihood born be-
tween 1720 and 1725; he was appointed draughtsman in 1740 and full engineer in
1755. In 1756 he taught drawing in the Mathematics Department headed by Pedro
Padilla at the ephemeral school housed in the premises of Madrids recently built bar-
racks for the Guardias de Corps. Given the timing, the geography and his profile, he
was certainly qualified to participate in Hermosillas aforementioned initiative. The
record shows that after concluding his task in 1759 and with the disappearance of the
Madrid school, he devoted considerable effort to drawing the western Biscay and cen-
tral Mediterranean coasts and participated in the Algiers campaign headed by Silvestre
Abarca in 1775. That the latest known of this series of drawings dates from 1790
stands as proof of his long life. Less is known about Bernardo Fillera: the only proven
fact is that on 22 October 1755 he was appointed draughtsman and posted at Catalo-
nia27. The inference is that he would be from 10 to 15 years younger than Ricaud.
That, and his lower rank, would explain the existence of both mens signatures on the
drawings. Little more is known about the subsequent activity of the Catalonian engi-
neer, except for an intriguing fact that leads, again, to where the River Jarama runs
into the Tagus.
On 14 December 1760 Bernardo Fillera received orders to remove to the royal site at
Aranjuez to undertake a new graphic campaign, probably as a result of his work at El Es-
corial28. Despite this promising start, perhaps due to the change of reign or other un-
known reasons, this initiative was apparently very short-lived. Fifteen years later, however,

FIG. 15 DOMINGO DE AGUIRRE. Topography of the Royal Site at Aranjuez, overall plan view. Aranjuez (Madrid), 1775.
National Library, MV/12, Catalogue No. 1248.

FIG. 16 DOMINGO DE AGUIRRE. Royal Site at Aranjuez, view from the water mains maintenance shed alongside Ocaa
Road, 1773. National Library, INVENT/ 23138.

FIG. 17 DOMINGO DE AGUIRRE. El Jardn del Caballo [horses garden] at Buen Retiro Park. Madrid, 1778. National Library

the graphic documentation for the royal site at Aranjuez was to culminate with the master
work authored by engineer Domingo de Aguirre29. Born at Oran in 1741 and brought up
in the atmosphere of its military academy, he completed the first of his long list of graphic
works, the four- storey Toledo Alczar [fortress], in 1767. One year later he finished his
graphic and literary narrative of the properties owned by the San Juan Priory at Consue-
gra, likewise in the province of Toledo. On 2 March 1772, as full engineer, he was posted
and commissioned to compose the Topografa de Aranjuez published in 1775, which con-
sisted in a huge ground plan of the compound engraved on sixteen 850x650-mm plates
at a scale of 1:4000, and a series of supplementary views [FIGS. 15 and 16]. The military en-
gineers drawings were prepared for engraving by outstanding members of the Academy.
His purportedly globalising image of the royal site was clearly a propagandistic portrayal
of its new status, in which traditional recreational and leisure-time activities were com-
bined with palace enlargement and consolidation of the adjacent town, and with the agri-
cultural and husbandry experiments encouraged by Charles III.
After finishing his mission at Aranjuez, Aguirre was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel
of the Infantry in 1777. At around the same time, he appears to have decided to create
a graphic narrative for certain elements in the city of Madrid, whether as part of an of-
ficial task or a personal initiative is unclear. The earliest drawings, completed in 1778,
depict the Jardn del Caballo (horses garden) and Jardn de San Pablo (St Pauls garden)
in Retiro Park [FIG. 17]. Two external views of the city depicting two of its gates appeared
two years later, in 1780. The qualitative imbalance between the two is somewhat sur-
prising, for in one he portrayed the brand-new Alcal Gate with the associated works for
a new road, whereas the other is a view from the San Bernardino hills on the northwest-

FIG. 18 DOMINGO DE AGUIRRE. Madrid, Court and Capital, view from a small hill between the new and old roads to Alcal.
Madrid 1780. National Library DIB/14/48/47.

FIG. 19 DOMINGO DE AGUIRRE. Madrid, Court and Capital, view from upper San Bernardino Road. Madrid, 1780. National
Library DIB/14/48/46.

FIG. 20 DOMINGO DE AGUIRRE (attrib.). View of San Jernimo Meadow from Retiro Park. Madrid, Caylus, private

ern edge of the city [FIGS. 18 and 19]. A curious and appealing view, unsigned and undated
but attributable to Domingo de Aguirre30, has recently appeared. This oil on canvas
overview of the eastern front of the city taken from Retiro Park measures an unusual
1255x413 mm, in contrast to the conventional size and proportions of the aforemen-
tioned drawings [FIG. 20]. The final years of the life of this last royal site engineer and
draughtsman were fairly peculiar. In 1796 he drafted a report entitled Observaciones sobre
los motivos del hundimiento del Puente de Barcas de Aranjuez [notes on the reasons for
the collapse of the drawbridge at Aranjuez] and in 1798 he published the curious Des-
cubrimiento de un error filosfico [discovery of a philosophical error]. Five years later, on
29 January 1803, he was admitted for dementia to Madrids yet unfinished General
Hospital, where he died in 1805.
His 1780 view from the San Bernardino hills included Madrids new Royal Palace on
the right. This tour of the royal sites through engineers drawings began just 80 years
previous, with the acclamation of the first Bourbon monarch against the south faade of
the former castle. By 1780 his grandson Charles III was near death and the dynasty
would continue in the person of his son, who embarked on the turn of the century
abruptly and with no clear loadstar. The spatial interim serves to complete this tour over
time aimed to identify what has changed and what has remained the same in the built
environment. One of the immense virtues of drawing is that, thanks to its testimonial
value, it enables the viewer to participate in this engaging process.
The conclusion that may be drawn, by way of summary and a reflection on this spe-
cific tour guided by engineers drawings of royal sites, is that their contribution to local
graphic culture was both beneficial and substantial. More than planned, it appears to be
the sum of a series of personal skills which, in their interaction with traditional local
building agents, induced a sort of positive fermentation.
This sectoral review obviously fits into a more general dynamic in the context of
progress in the age of enlightenment. State centralisation and new civil and military struc-
tures, in this case the Academy of the Three Noble Arts of Drawing and the military acad-
emies, acted in parallel both educationally and strategically speaking to control the
physical medium at the territorial, urban and architectural scales.
By the end of the century, the controversy between builder architects and painters of
royal works had lost much of its raison dtre. Academe delimited and structured the
artistic professions (painting, sculpture and architecture), whilst the military academies,
in addition to attending to their specific martial interests, imposed control and interven-

tion on a growing number of traditionally civil endeavours. Between these two realms,
the overlap in architectural action and land use design, in what was to come to be known
as the problem of professional attributions, set the stage for the well-known future con-
flict between engineers and architects that raged with considerable intensity throughout
the nineteenth century31.
One final observation revolves around a possible nuance between engineers and ar-
chitects drawings, whose origin can be traced back to the century at issue and which ex-
tended into the nineteenth: the impersonality of engineers drawings and works compared
to the greater personal involvement in architects production. Simplifying matters some-
what, the very structure of military training and discipline would imbue engineers com-
missions with a tone of contingency, whereby a work might be begun by one person and
continued by another or others with no detriment, in principle, to the effectiveness of
the result. That would diminish the impact of personal authorship. In contrast, the ar-
chitects ego plays an indisputably greater role in both the works and drawings commis-
sioned. While this assertion may be partially called into question or its tone adjusted, a
certain profound unity can be observed in engineers drawings. It is as if a huge hand
stemming from their esprit de corps guided the ideas and pen strokes originating in the
minds and hands of its individual members.


2. Technique, technology, may also be defined as the specific knowledge of arts and science. From that standpoint and contrary
to todays platitudes that associate technical drawing with bolts and gears, as many types of technical drawing are in place as
there are professional realms or specialisations.
3. As they have been more consistently studied, Jos de Hermosilla and Francisco Sabatini, paragons of the merger between
architecture and engineering in the age at issue, have been omitted here for reasons of space. See RODRGUEZ, 1994; for
approaches supplementing the one adopted here, PICN, 1988 and CANTERA, 2012.
4. CMARA, 1981 and 2005.
5. BLASCO, 2013.
6. MUOZ, 2015.
7. FREMIN, 1702. On engineers and architects in eighteenth century France see PICN, 1988.
8. AGULL, 1984a and 1984b.
9. AGULL, 1984b, pp. 49-52.
10. BOTINEAU, 1986, pp. 292-295.
11. SANCHO and ORTEGA, 2000, p. 112.
12. TOVAR, 1998 and CAPEL, 1983, pp. 396-397.
13. From 1718 to 1720, Marchand shared posts and missions with Pallota. See AGULL, 1984a, p. 9.
14. BOTINEAU, 1986, pp. 458-459.
15. ORTEGA, 2002.
16. SANCHO, 1995, p. 321. AGP 1326.
17. BOTINEAU, 1986, p. 454.
18. Madrid, Centro Geogrfico del Ejrcito, Cartoteca Histrica [Case E, shelf 6, folder 2, No. 2114].
19. SANCHO, 1995, p. 194.
20. SANCHO, 1995, p. 205.
21. SANCHO, 1995, pp. 209 and 463. Maps of El Pardo and El Escorial, respectively.
22. CAPEL, 1983, pp. 346-347.
23. AGS M. P. and D. XXXIV-47.
24. MARAS, 2001.
25. RODRGUEZ, 1992.
26. CAPEL, 1983, pp. 396-397.
27. CAPEL, 1983, p. 183.
28. CORELLA, 1989, p. 263.
29. CORELLA, 1989.
30. Caylus Gallery.
31. BONET, 1985 and ORTEGA, 2011.


AGULL Y COBO, M. (1984a), Filippo Pallota, Arquitecto y dibujante de Felipe V (I), Villa de Madrid, n 81, pp. 3-20.
AGULL Y COBO, M. (1984b), Filippo Pallota, Arquitecto y dibujante de Felipe V (II), Villa de Madrid, n 82,
pp. 43-56.
BLASCO ESQUIVIAS, B. (2013), Arquitectos y tracistas. El triunfo del Barroco en la corte de los Austrias, Madrid,
BONET CORREA, A. et al. (1985), La polmica arquitectos-ingenieros en Espaa. Siglo XIX, Madrid, Colegio de Inge-
nieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos.
BOTINEAU, I. (1986), El arte cortesano en la Espaa de Felipe V, 1700-1746, Madrid, Fundacin Universitaria Espaola.
CMARA MUOZ, A. (1981), La arquitectura militar y los ingenieros de la monarqua espaola (1530-1650), Revista
de la Universidad Complutense, n 3, 255-269.
CMARA MUOZ, A. (coord.) (2005), Los ingenieros militares de la monarqua hispnica en los siglos XVII y XVIII,
Madrid, Fernando de Villaverde.
CMARA , A. and REVUELTA, B. (coords.) (2014), Ingeniera de la Ilustracin, Madrid, Fundacin Juanelo Turriano.
CANTERA MONTENEGRO, J. (2012), Aportaciones singulares de los ingenieros a la obra civil, Revista de Historia
Militar, year LVI, extraordinary number Los ingenieros militares en la historia de Espaa, pp. 13-32.
CAPEL, H. et al. (1983), Los ingenieros militares en Espaa. Siglo XVIII. Repertorio biogrfico e inventario de su labor
cientfica y espacial, Barcelona, Publicacions i Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona.
CAPEL, H. et al. (1988), De Palas a Minerva. La formacin cientfica y la estructura institucional de los ingenieros
militares en el siglo XVIII, Barcelona, Ed. Serbal/CSIC.
CORELLA SUREZ, P. (1989), Los trabajos preparatorios para el mapa topogrfico de Aranjuez por d. Domingo de
Aguirre, Anales del Instituto de Estudios Madrileos, T. XXVII, pp. 257-284.
FREMIN, M. DE (1702), Memoires critiques darchitecture, Ed. Kessinger Publishing, 2009.
MARAS FRANCO, F. (2001), El Escorial entre dos Academias: Juicios y Dibujos, Reales Sitios, n 149, pp. 2-19.
MUOZ CORBALN, J. M. (2015), Jorge Prspero Verboom. Ingeniero militar flamenco de la monarqua hispnica,
Madrid, Fundacin Juanelo Turriano.
ORTEGA VIDAL, J. (2002), Secuencias grficas de los palacios y Sitios Reales de Felipe V: Madrid, Aranjuez y La
Granja de San Ildefonso, El arte en la corte de Felipe V, Madrid, Fundacin Caja Madrid, Patrimonio Nacional
and Museo del Prado, pp. 235-256.
ORTEGA VIDAL, J. (2011), El dibujo de la arquitectura y las obras pblicas, in M. SILVA (ed.), Tcnica e ingeniera
en Espaa, VI. El Ochocientos. De los lenguajes al patrimonio. Real Academia de Ingeniera, Institucin Fernando
el Catlico, Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza, pp. 171-212.
PICON, A. (1988), Architectes et ingnieurs au sicle des lumires, Marseille, Parenthses.
RODRGUEZ RUIZ, D. (1992), La memoria frgil. Jos de Hermosilla y las Antigedades rabes de Espaa, Madrid,
Fundacin COAM.
RODRGUEZ RUIZ, D. (dir.) (1994), Francisco Sabatini, 1721-1797. La Arquitectura como metfora del Poder, exhi-
bition catalog, Madrid, Electa.
SANCHO GASPAR, J. L. (1995), La Arquitectura de los Sitios Reales, Madrid, Patrimonio Nacional.
SANCHO GASPAR, J. L. and ORTEGA VIDAL, J. (2000), La Granja y los palacios de San Ildefonso. Sobre la restitucin
grfica de las opciones arquitectnicas de Felipe V e Isabel de Farnesio, El Real Sitio de la Granja de San Ilde-
fonso. Retrato y escena del Rey, Madrid, Patrimonio Nacional and Caja Madrid, pp. 102-126.
TOVAR MARTIN, V. (1998), Esteban Marchand y Leandro Brachelieu, ingenieros franceses en las obras del Real
Sitio de Aranjuez, Anales de Historia del Arte, n 8, pp. 291-308.

Back to Contents

Military Map-Making Urgency
in Early Eighteenth Century Spain.
Ordinance of Engineers and
the Academy of Mathematics


Universitat de Barcelona

Translation: DAVID HASTING


The conceptual guidelines of this study deal with the achievement of the institutional
will of the Bourbon Spanish monarchy, since its inception after War of the Spanish Suc-
cession, in order to establish a standardized organizational procedures and methods of
spatial representation by military professionals, basically engineers and draftsmen, in
terms of mapping processes used throughout this technical-artistic discipline. The con-
tribution, based mainly on documentary sources, focuses its analysis on the institutional
and regulatory mechanisms of the process during the first half of the eighteenth Century
in Spain, which actually is a first approach to a larger research on mapping initiatives
and activity of military engineers around the representation of space in different ways.
This work shows the difficulties that existed to organize a universal frame of reference
prior to a further corporate consolidation2.


Military engineering, cartography, graphic representation, ordinances, Academy of



Once the War of the Spanish Succession came to the Iberian Peninsula in 1709, with
the parallel structuring of the Bourbon Army, those responsible for this faction realised
the advantage of channelling the organisation of specialist corps in terms of fortification
and theories of attack and defence thereof. The creation by Royal Order of the Spanish
Army Corps of Engineers in 1711 represented the start a new demarcation of responsi-
bilities and the establishment of a hierarchy that allowed a greater rationalisation of func-
tions within the Corps career ladder. A year after setting this up, from his position as
commander of engineers, in the midst of a war, Jorge Prspero Verboom saw the real and
pressing need to confer a solid regulatory basis which would underpin their activities.
The Chief of Engineers stated that every day we are seeing more inconveniences arising
from not establishing a Regulation applicable to the Engineers, due to the frittering away
of the Kings wealth, when all the world was allowed to enter a trade, to become involved
in works that they do not understand. As I understand it, we can conclude these Regu-
lations and send out circulars to all parts to ensure that nobody attempts to direct work
on fortifications or on other Royal Works within the periods established for professional
engineers by this ministry4.


Given this provisional situation and certain lack of factual control when distributing pro-
fessional responsibilities reinforced by the extraordinary military conflict between the
French Bourbons and Austrian Hapsburgs the drawing up of ordinances to establish
these functions and the specific nature of work to be undertaken with members of the
Corps of Engineers was essential.
The first such Ordenanza, from 17185, established the terms applicable to the tasks
to be carried out from an institutional, administrative and technical point of view, which
would be respected in the subsequent reviews published in 1768 and 1803, with the cor-
responding adaptations to the new times and technological advances. The Ordinance on
the Teaching of Mathematics in 17396 also concerned itself with cartographic questions,
an important aspect in the study plan put forward by the Royal Academies of Mathemat-
ics (Barcelona, Oran and Ceuta), with its training programmes for the recruitment of
skilled map- and plan-making staff.
The objective of the 1718 Ordenanza, explicitly aimed not only at members of the Corps
of Engineers but also other people involved in and technical or administrative process re-
lated to their professional duties, was to define in detail the responsibilities of all those in-
tervening therein [FIG. 1]. The text, with its declaration of Real approval and, by extension,
of the needs of the centralist Bourbon state established at the conclusion of the War of the
Spanish Succession applied the instructions that engineers should follow, from the project
stage to execution material on the ground to avoid the wastage that was habitual in many
companies, as a result of having executed the work without plans from, nor the supervision
of professional engineers, and without the involvement of the Spanish Treasury7.

FIG. 1 Real Ordenanza, e Instruc-
cion de 4 de Julio de 1718 para los In-
genieros, y otras personas, dividida en
dos partes... In J. A. PORTUGUS,
Coleccin General de las Ordenanzas
Militares..., 1765, Volume VI,
pp. 764-765.

Analysis of the text allows us to establish a structure of the various parameters and
concepts considered to be essential to the organisation of the professional duties of the
Spanish Army Corps of Engineers. The regulatory text is particularly strict on deficien-
cies taken by certain members of the Military and others when determining and un-
dertaking works, without there being an order or project approved by me. Attending
specifically to questions that are directly related to graphic representation mechanisms
in the hands of engineers, the ordinance lost no time in setting out the rules that
were essential for the satisfactory outcome of the governments structures, whose in-
tentions focused on avoiding unnecessary expense, to the great detriment of my Treas-
ury and whose frameworks for intervention covered not only the strategic domain, but
also the socio-economic and, by extension, the political. While the motives that lead
one to discern in detail the regulation imposed on engineers originated in the States
clear reasoning, the specific nature of the procedures to be followed by them responded
to reflections of the heads of the Corps, particularly the Chief of Engineers Jorge
Prspero Verboom, a true mover behind the corporate structuring and design of the
programme of activities that he and his subordinates had planned8. The conviction that
the success of the necessary objectives had to be achieved through the rational limita-
tion of technical procedures related to cartography and the unification of criteria in the
completion of the graphic material relating to projects therefore made the First Part
of this ordinance a genuine manual of map-making techniques. The Second Part of
the reference text, setting out administrative and management responsibilities, did not
however fully abandon the essential indications for a correct design of projects and
their material mechanisms required for execution. Good planning means significant
savings by eliminating unnecessary expenses, although the unification of criteria en-
sures the universality of procedures and the homogeneity of mechanisms of intervention
on the ground, despite the enormous variability of material conditions (geological,
edaphological, climatic etc.), inevitably leading to destabilisation. The use of a stan-
dardised language should impede varying interpretations which depend on the different


FIG. 2 (No author specified) [PEDRO COISEVOX?]. Mapa de la Isla Iris distante de la plaza del Peon de Velez de la Gomera
de 2500 Toisas a su poniente, de la Ensanada o puerto que forma dicha Isla con las dos resifas de poniente, de levante y la playa
del nombre de la Isla y parte de la Costa de Berbera pertenenciente al Rey de Mequins ao de 1722. Los montes que se demues-
tran son de tierra lo bastante Elevados y Cubiertos de Arboles. (No place specified) [in situ], 1722. Appendix to a letter from
PEDRO COISEVOX to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM, Malaga, 23 August 1729. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y De-
porte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 59, 012.

attitudes of the engineers responsible for on-site supervision. Thus, in the First Part
of the 1718 Ordinance, the instructions and orders were clear in their pursuit of
methodological unity. While it is true that engineers and planners enjoyed relative free-
dom to make the first maps to the scale they deemed appropriate, once the draft had
been produced, they were obliged to make a clean copy to a set scale based firmly on
the French model and its system for measuring length and graphic representation, in
other words la toise, a measurement system based on feet and inches, the line and the
point [FIGS. 2-6].
The underlying intention in the cartographic instruction given to engineers was pri-
marily linked to the representation of territory and the elements integrated therein, both
natural and artificial. The spirit that drove this process was originally that of contributing
to knowledge in the Kingdom and the corresponding cataloguing of the Crowns strategy
and its administrative mechanisms concerning all the monarchys possessions. It there-
fore showed a desire to create in a way that was as yet undefined at that time the
basis of an atlas mapping all the nations territories. The Army Corps of Engineers had
very few among their number who could undertake such a task, to which we should add
their short existence. They basically depended on the work carried out on the ground in

FIG. 3 (No author specified) [PEDRO COISEVOX?]. Plano de la Isla Iris, situada a 2500 Toisas de la Plaza del Peon de Velez
de la Gomera, a su Poniente. (No place specified) [in situ], (no date specified) [1722]. Appendix to a letter from PEDRO COI-
SEVOX to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM, Malaga, 23 August 1729. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo
General de Simancas. MPD, 59, 014.

numerous military and strategic campaigns, all of which made it necessary to define the
essential criteria of their activities. The solid nature of the French model and the expe-
rience of the Corps du gnie and its recently formed Spanish counterpart as a result of
their fifteen-year collaboration in the common front known as the Two Crowns in the
War of the Spanish Succession served to ensure that the dynamic of the State would de-
cide to use French system assimilated by the engineers at the service of the Spanish
monarchy, many of which were actually of French and Flemish origin9.
On the advice of his ministers, King Philip V, himself of French origin, chose to adapt
the Gallic-Bourbon system to suit Spanish conditions more specifically those experi-
enced in Castile with a model that reflected a new concept of a centralised State, still
somewhat influenced by the Italian influence in the court, a circumstance that was also
related to the presence of the Spanish monarchy in Italian lands10. The Ordenanza thus
stated that the four common scales of Spanish leagues, French leagues, Italian miles
and Castilian varas be proportioned and recorded on maps, under the established princi-
ple, that within one degree there are seventeen and a half Spanish leagues. The argu-
ments in favour of such standardisation were set out in Point 26, indicating that by using

FIG. 4 [PEDRO COISEVOX?]. Perfil tomado sobre la Lnea AB en la Isla Iris ques todo su largo de norte a medio Da. (No place
specified) [in situ], (no date specified) [1722]. Appendix to a letter from PEDRO COISEVOX to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM,
Malaga, 23 August 1729. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 59, 013.


FIG. 5 [PEDRO COISEVOX?]. Perfil tomado sobre la Lnea CD, en la Isla Iris ques su ancho de Levante a poniente. (No place
specified) [in situ], (no date specified) [1722]. Appendix to a letter from PEDRO COISEVOX to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM,
Mlaga, 23 August 1729. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 25, 147.

the imposed measurements, which are general and common in Spain, all doubts and
confusion, caused by the particular measurements used in each Province, are high-
lighted. The aim of clearly outlining the Crowns possessions, respecting the legislation
of the time depending on the corresponding peace treaties established previously, princi-
pally that signed in Utrecht in 171311, making it explicit that at our border, special care
should be taken in the justified delineation of the true boundaries of each Domain. It is
also interesting to note in the fourth point of the First Part, stating that the planned
cartographic corpus drawn up by the Spanish engineers should use and thus be recorded
in the international corpus the best Maps and information that can be acquired.
The graphic indications did not go beyond questions of scale and units of measure-
ment, as well as obviously general concerns such as ensuring that all the elements rep-
resented are delineated with the greatest distinction and depending on the extension
allowed by the scale. Mention is only made of a line of large dots, as ordinarily styled
to show the division of the territory into legal and administrative areas, which should be
mentioned on paper with their correct names, in their various categories. The size of the
maps was not fixed, with the only clear indication being that care should always be taken
to ensure that the Map is wider than it is high, orientated in such a way that its top di-
rectly corresponds to North. Given that the intention was to be able to constantly dis-
tinguish the circumstances that need to be noted, the scale has to be kept constant,
exactly one inch of a French foot by one thousand toises, although in the event that

FIG. 6 [PEDRO COISEVOX]. Plano de la Ysla Yris en la Costa de Africa. Dista una Legua del Peon. (No place specified)
[Malaga], (no date specified) [c. 1729]. Appendix to a letter from PEDRO COISEVOX to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM, Mlaga, 23
August 1729. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 59, 011.

the Map becomes too big and difficult to handle, due to the size of the Province, it shall
be divided into two, three or four Maps12.
The criteria behind the reflections set out in the Ordinance covered both civil and
military matters13. Although some of these maintain a clearly independent specificity, the
focus was on the idea that both factors were essential to ensure the operational form and
effectiveness of the States structures, ensuring that infrastructures had the wherewithal
to firmly establish such a basis: various categories of Royal roads (roads for carriages and
carts, bridle path, footpaths etc.) and border crossings, which were also delineated with
the greatest distinction, including separate concerns and precautions, which, with art
and the advantages offered by the situation, may be employed to hinder or slow passage.
The art referred to here is the talent of the engineers and their skill in projecting their
designs onto paper. It is interesting to note that the fixed scale used to draw up topo-
graphic maps became a factor that determined the result of what was being graphically
represented, given that the terrain or territory depicted would cover the extent of the
map, in other words, would be limited to what the scale used an inch to a thousand
toises (approximately 1:72000) and the reasoned measurements of what cartography
would allow.
The reflections expressed in the regulations clearly delimited the principle objectives
behind the 1718 Ordinance [TABLE 1].



Knowledge of the kingdom in orographical, topographical and chorographical

terms through individual news of the following type:

Civil Military

Cities Fortified enclosures

Towns Sea ports
Places Bays
Roads Coasts
Irrigation channels

achieve the development of the nation, in a manner conducive to my service, and for the good of my Vassals
by means of
gathering data about

Territory Structures Infrastructures


Civil Purposes Military Purposes

Facilitate the transport of people Repair and improve
Permit the trading of goods Fortifications
Fortified Enclosures
Increase industrial, agricultural
Sea ports
and stockbreeding productivity


Real Ordenanza e Instruccin de 22 de Julio de 1739 para la enseanza de las Math-

emticas en la Real y Militar Academia que se ha establecido en Barcelona (Ordinance and
instruction of 22 July 1739 covering the teaching of mathematics in the Royal and Mili-
tary Academy established in Barcelona) focused specifically on the internal running of
the institution which was founded mainly to train the most astute soldiers in the field of
mathematics in order that they might join the Corps of Engineers and Artillery and
particular gentlemen who may excel in this important science14. Its tenets further sup-
ported the aims already set out in the 1718 Engineers Ordinance [FIG. 7].
As well as establishing directives covering theoretical studies based on arithmetic,
geometry, fortification and related disciplines each area divided into four nine-month
courses the ordinance outlined the establishment during the second course of an ex-

FIG. 7 Real Ordenanza e Instruccion
de 22 de Julio de 1739 para la en-
seanza de las Mathemticas en la Real
y Militar Academia que se ha establecido
en Barcelona, y las que en adelante se
formaren, en que se declara el pi sobre
que debern subsistir, lo que se ha de en-
sear en ellas, las partes que han de con-
currir en los sugetos para ser admitidos, y
los premios y ascensos con que se les re-
munerar los que se distinguieren por
su aplicacion. In J. A. PORTUGUS,
Coleccin General de las Ordenanzas
Militares..., 1765, Volume VI,
pp. 872-873.

traordinary class one day a week (...) instructing Academy students in the magnitude and
form of the Earth, the manufacture and use of Terrestrial and Celestial Globes and Ge-
ographical Charts, knowledge of Plans and the various colours used therein, and what
each signifies, so that they might be fully instructed in order to undertake the duties en-
trusted to them in my Royal service. In the third course another extraordinary class was
programmed on Military perspective and Gnomonology, including the preparation and
use of Hydrographic Charts, for their use in the resolution of nautical problems, within
the ordinary curriculum. In the fourth course there was a focus on academic training in
graphic representation, in order to teach accurate delineation, the practical application
of colour to demonstrate sections, their distribution and decoration, with the adornment
pertaining to all Military Buildings, making use of the respective Plans, Profiles and El-
evations, starting with a regular fortified front, on one half of which the latitude of the
wall is manifest, with buttressed foundations while on the other the concluded work,
and, seen from above, with a number of cross sections in order to examine heights. This
shall be executed on a large-scale plan of a Semi-Bastion or Counterguard, also including
Bridge, Gate, Corps of Guards, Water tank, Sentry, Barracks, Stores, Arsenal, Hospital
and Church. Finally, instruction shall be given in all matters pertaining to the notion of
the role of Military Buildings required in a fortified enclosure. Students shall be taught
the way to prepare specific Plans and Maps of Provinces: the way to distinguish and rep-
resent on paper cultivated and uncultivated land, Forests, Ravines, Roads, Mountains,
Outcrops, Coastlines, Rivers, Marshes, Houses, Gardens and Smallholdings. Also in-
struction in Trenches, Batteries, investment and circumvallation lines in fortified enclo-
sures, providing them with detailed designs of all manner of instruments for Sappers,
Ricks, and Fences, Defensive Shields and Bolsters: how to make and use them, with all
other operations that employ them, the defence of fortifications, Encampments, Army
battle plans, with all the corresponding colours, the enlargement and reduction of Plans,
scale reduction, the way to take and delineate a view of a fortified enclosure or terrain,
in order to represent these on paper in a natural manner and generally the form of pro-


VERBOOM (signed).
Barcelonne. Citadelle 1715.
Plana dune des portes de la
citadelle avec son passage,
vestibule, corps de garde, Es-
calliers pour monter sur le
Rampart, et partie du plan du
Pont / Planta de una de Las
puertas de la Ciudadela con su
entrada, Corredores, cuerpos
de guardia, Escaleras para
subir al Terraplen, y parte del
Puente. (No place specified)
[Barcelona], (no date speci-
fied) [1715]. Espaa. Minis-
terio de Educacin, Cultura y
Deporte. Archivo General de
Simancas. MPD, 08, 143.


OLA (signed). Plano de La
Puerta Principal de La Ciu-
dadella de Barcelona. (No
place specified) [Barcelona],
(no date specified) [c. 1724].
Espaa. Ministerio de Edu-
cacin, Cultura y Deporte.
Archivo General de Siman-
cas. MPD, 05, 082.

jecting and drawing Projects based on Plans, with all corresponding profiles, elevations
and views for the clarification of intelligence and thought. The relationships between
these should be accompanied by the reasoning behind them and the advantages that fol-
low on from execution. Finally, instruction shall facilitate the Students understanding.
The Director of Drawing shall teach and explain all required Design, on the approval of
the Inspector and the Director General of the Academy, ensuring that they copy said in-
struction, with the assistance of the spoken voice. They shall also be responsible the way
in which the above is executed, in the most punctual manner [FIGS. 8 and 9].
The 1739 Ordenanza offers no particular details of how maps and plans should be
prepared, as such specifications would be taught during the drawing course. The instruc-
tion also set out by special grace the extraordinary permission to remain for certain

students in order that, having perfected their Drawing, they do not slow the progress of
the new students. The text also stresses the importance that the War Secretary gave to
graphic training of those aspiring to become engineers or those engineers who wished to
perfect their drawing skills. In order to prevent complications in carrying out orders and
facilitating the teaching dynamic, those responsible in the military hierarchy and at the
Treasury (the Captain General, Overseers, etc.), along with the Academys Director Gen-
eral and Inspector were obliged to allow without hindrance the purchase of drawing
paper, paints, paint brushes and all that is required in the fourth class, with the Director
of Drawing taking charge of the purchase and distribution of this material among the


In corporate terms, the implication of engineers was of fundamental importance in stim-

ulating the processes of development and improvement of map-making methods and
techniques. These actions were channelled in practice by the competent authorities
either by institutions overseeing engineers (both general and provincial), or by the
Royal Board of Fortifications in Madrid15 , the War Secretary and the military leaders
at the various general headquarters16.
In any event, the political-economic
and military governing bodies were
aware of the need to establish detailed
regulations regarding the work related
to plotting and drawing maps and plans
as a basic instrument in the strength-
ening of the Kingdoms security mech-
anisms. Here we should highlight
Royal initiatives to create map- and
model-making collections at various
points during the eighteenth century.
Specifically, during the reign of Philip
V, the engineer Miguel Marn was
commissioned in the 1720s to pro-
duce with the help of his colleague
and fellow countryman Francisco Ri-
caud plans in relief of a number of
the Kingdoms fortified enclosures, in-
cluding Cdiz, Pamplona and Ceuta.
Toward the end of the following
decade, in 1738, the same engineer
from Marseille took charge of compil-
ing an ambitious collection of maps FIG. 10 MIGUEL MARN (signed). Plano del Castillo y Villa de
Cardona con sus contornos. Barcelona, 15 January 1739. AGMM.
and plans [FIG. 10]. Under the govern- CH, Atlas 194-31.


XIMNEZ. Model of Cadiz.
(No place specified)
[Cadiz], (no date specified)
[1777-1779]. Detail.

ment of Charles III, Alfonso Ximnez, another military engineer, was commissioned to
start a second large-scale relief map-making initiative [FIG. 11]. These ventures, comparable
to others led by the French monarchy from the seventeenth century onward, did not
achieve their desired aims17. Surrounding these matters, a major controversy arose
among the various authorities who went to some lengths to point out the shortcomings
of the members of the Corps, or those aspiring to join it, in reaching the required
standard of cartographic excellence, in all but a few cases.
Both from the point of view of the cartographic design and the academic context
that should ensure the excellence of the engineers, the problems were nevertheless con-
stant in the quest to establish standardised control over professional mechanisms and
the particular circumstances of each individual. Essentially this is because, with the ex-
ception of the Barcelona Academy and its counterparts in Oran and Ceuta, the inte-
grated training of engineers, both theoretical and practical, including the ambivalent
attitude toward drawing, with the difficulties experienced in each province proved to be
extremely problematic.
The areas covered at the Brussels Academy of Mathematics in the late seventeenth
century, at which Verboom studied, were greatly beneficial in the achievement of the
aims of that institution: In the establishment in Flanders, students undertook practical
work at the Academy in the afternoon and studied Lessons in the morning. As they were
alone in their homes, where they did not have as much fun as in Academy, they could
apply themselves more to their studies, allowing the Director to attend more to his En-
gineering work, especially when working on fortifications, where his Students could ac-
company him and gain practical experience, to complement the Lessons they take at
the Academy. The Brussels Academy also excelled in the training and preparing of stu-
dents to work as assistants, as the director knowing that the Students understand the
Theory, can choose from their number those that are most suited, as did the Director
Sebastian de Medrano in Flanders18.
A few years after the 1718 Ordinance came into force, Jorge Prspero Verboom
visited the War Minister to explain the number of engineers to be sent from Catalonia

FIG. 12 LORENZO SANZ (signed). Fortress with points of attack. (exam question for qualification as an engineer-draughts-
man). (No place specified) [Madrid], (no date specified) [1761]. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo
General de Simancas. MPD, 31, 058.

to Valencia and the garrisons in Africa. These included Esteban Pann, who resided
in the Plaza de Tortosa, and, due to his knowledge in the field, gave classes in Math-
ematics to many officials from the Walloon Guards and others. The Chief of Engi-
neers rectified his decision, arguing that given the importance to the Royal Service
that Army officers apply this Science, particularly to the Rules of Fortification and
the Theory of the Attack and Defence thereof, and other war operations (...) to which
we should add that not all engineers, however capable they might be, are able to teach.
For this task, special talents are required, adding that it would be advisable that
Pann stayed in Tortosa and continued his teaching19. It is important to bear in
mind that the training of engineers in fortification and theories of attack and defence
was firmly based on knowledge of such techniques through the study of detailed il-
lustrations, a factor that would become clear some years later with the institutionali-
sation of the exams to join the Corps of Engineers and the Inspection of the Artillery
[FIGS. 12 and 13].
As far as the importance of drawing to professional activities of the engineers,
there were numerous questions raised, both within and outside the Academy of Math-
ematics. In 1724, the Count of Montemar, the Captain General of Catalonia, requested
the opinion of the Chief Engineer of the Principality, Alejandro de Rez, as to whether
he deemed it advisable that those who do not master the technique should draw and


design in order that they correctly un-
derstand the fundamentals of fortifi-
cation20. The Parisian engineer, seek-
ing to avoid any controversy with his
superiors, answered that in any event
the Order that those attending this
Academy should learn drawing in order
that it might have the best draughts-
man in the Principality should be
obeyed, adding that he knew of no
Draughtsman capable of directing or
teaching another, as if there are any
scribes, they will only draw if one
stands over them at all times. This
lack of independence among those as-
piring to be draughtsmen meant that
the search for capable hands was a long
one. It also made it advisable to offer
a salary to those who did make the
grade, as well as an extra payment for
paints, paper, brushes and other ex-
penses (which Your Excellency cannot
FIG. 13 MARCELO ESTRANIO (signed). Elevacion de una
ignore) whose goods are imported from
Puerta del Orden Toscano, destinada para el Puente M outside Spain as I have declared before
de la Plaza (exam question for qualification as an Artillery In-
spector). (No place specified) [Barcelona], (no date specified)
the Court on various occasions21. The
[c. 1752-1753]. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Frenchmans opinions led Montemar
Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 15, 130.
awaiting the official establishment
of the Academy of Mathematics which
was already operating on a de facto basis, with one hundred and thirty students in five
classes and in continuous growth to tell the Court that it would be most advisable
that His Majesty allows me to outline to those that are able and are able to prepare
the Plans well to attend the Academy to teach this skill, without further payment as
they will have their salary22. The arrangements required to provide the school with
an engineer capable of teaching at the drawing academy in Barcelona led the Captain
General to continue in the meantime to look for possible candidates, proposing the
extraordinary French engineer Bernardo Fernando Lasala, concurring with his ability
and inclination toward teaching. The unfortunate impossibility to find a suitable
number of educationally skilled draughtsmen forced the War Secretary to take the de-
cision to approve the appointment of Lasala as drawing assistant at the Barcelona
Academy to teach drawing and colouring of plans, and to see if among the other sub-
ordinate engineers there is one or more that have this ability, or other skill as well as
the aforesaid mathematics, working under the direction of Matheo Calabro, although
in separate classrooms23.


The engineer Bernardo Fernando Lasala consolidated his position at the Academy of
Mathematics, years later taking charge of further duties concerning wooden models
used to complement other teaching material in certain subjects. In this regard, his
skill as a draughtsman meant that he was recommended by Calabro to Verboom, who
ordered the Frenchman to help the Director in the preparation of Plans and Profiles
for these Models, adhering to the Dimensions given to him. The Flemish engineer
in a delicate state of health as well as suffering certain institutional marginalisation
continued to pass on the views of the War Secretary who told him it is not convenient
for the Master Architect to attend this Academy, suggesting that it was Calabro who
was responsible for forming the Relationship of the required models, with the corre-
sponding tallying. The directors reaction in this regard highlighted the particular
idiosyncrasy of the character, who, in an interview with Bernardo Fernando Lasala
said according to Jorge Prspero that [Calabro] should not involve himself in any
matter concerning the training of these Models, as he will only be teaching in the
Academy, and the fine, strong and comfortable subject that is Military Buildings24.
This Vitruvian demand, showing that Calabro had no intention of descending from
his theoretical paradise in which he had made himself at home reclaiming for himself
the noble dignity of classical concepts of venustas, firmitas and utilitas came up
against the most practical aspect of preparing teaching models in wood for the in-
struction and understanding of Students of Stonemasonry, Arch and Vault construc-
tion, Bridge building and other matters concerning the construction of Civil and
Military Buildings. The director actually thus avoided undertaking a task that was
somewhat onerous for him, leaving to Lasala, the Director of Drawing, Scientist in
the Art of Drawing and Stonemasonry and Expert in Civil and Military Architecture
the job of working on the design on paper of these wood pieces in order to move the
spirit and hand of the Master Carpenter or sculptor that has to work them, reserving
his training solely for the preparation of plans and profiles25.
There was no let-up in the attempts to recruit engineers to teach drawing and other
subjects at the Academy of Mathematics. Calabro, the director, referred to the aspiring
young engineer Marcos TSerstevens as somebody who with great exactitude, and
having studied at this Royal Academy for four years the principal treatises on Mathe-
matics, namely Speculative or Theoretical Geometry, Practice upon paper and on the
ground, Regular and Irregular Fortification, Campaigns, Trigonometry, Conical Sec-
tions, Statics, Geography and Spheres. And, having jointly applied the foregoing to
drawing and its dependent disciplines, has shown himself to be adept at preparing and
plotting any Plan or Map26 [FIG. 14]. TSerstevens became assistant to the illustrious
Calabro at the Academy, at the order of Jorge Prspero Verboom, to teach drawing to
my Students in order that they might better know the most precise areas of Theory,
instructing them in all Details of Military and Civil Architecture as well as in Campaign
operations, and teaching them the use of the Plane Table and other Mathematical In-


FIG. 14 MARCOS TSERSTEVENS (signed). Plano y Perfiles de un Almazen de Repuesto que la Ciudad de Lerida deve construir
entre el Fuerte Garden y su reducto avanzado, Capaz de Contener mil Quintales de Polvora. Lleida, October 1739. (Approval
signed by MIGUEL MARN, Barcelona, 16 October 1739). Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo Gen-
eral de Simancas. MPD, 07, 001.

A matter of special importance regarding the content of the material linked to the
drawing class and the pedagogical methods used by the first director of the Barcelona
Academy of Mathematics ensured that tension was maintained for over a decade be-
tween him and a number of military engineers, including Verboom. Mateo Calabro ap-
pealed directly to the War Secretary to take steps to raise the level of the students in
terms of the academic skills, thus training a new generation of engineers who were
adept in the art of drawing and cartography. These terms were used to express the es-
sential differences between the more technical aspects (drawing) and the more artistic
(colouring): Here we must stress the science of delineation, that it is essential to dis-
tinguish the Art that the Engineers vulgarly refer to as colouring, as line drawing is the
adding of detail, or examining on paper a part of a building or machine, that the engi-
neer only has in his imagination, something to hold onto, to form the plan of a Fortress

and its terrain on paper, the terrain that an army occupies and should occupy. This art
can never be attained by an engineer or soldier who is unaware of the area of Mathe-
matic expressed above. The art of colouring has no greater mystery than the fantasy of
any man, because this art (which is only a counsel to Engineers and in some cases
merely accidental), is no more than applying colour to Edifice, Machine and Encamp-
ment (as plotted by the engineer) in order to reveal of what materials they are made.
For those with intelligence this requires little time, although some may need much
longer to prepare themselves in the fine taste of applying colours, while others may
never achieve it (with respect to those who have thus been described as accidental), as
I have seen in my Students, to whom I have taught colouring having procured to edu-
cate them in the spirit of the areas of Mathematics that a good draughtsman requires.
Drawing is an onerous task, while colouring is most enjoyable, something that I should
remind Your Excellency, at the service of His Majesty, is useful for Academy Students.
Colouring should be taught to those who are well advanced in the science of drawing
and not to beginners, as these would too easily abandon the laborious for the more
Calabro took advantage of the favours that the Marques of Aitona and the Count
of Montemar bestowed on him to counteract the supposed slanders and inventions
of the engineers Alejandro de Rez and his son-in-law Pedro Moreau regarding Calabros
unsuitability as director of the Academy, due to him being according to a transcription
of the latter the most unworthy and ignorant man to have ever entered the Corps of
Engineers29. Mateos pedagogical approach was certainly particular, as he held and
fervently practiced the conviction that leaving the City and showing my Students how
to execute, on the ground, what they had been taught at the School is useless. His
Majesty needs draughtsmen, not those versed in Geometry30. Despite Calabros words
in defence of the students graphic training, he also insisted in not giving licence to
my students to use a paintbrush unless they have been at the Academy for at least a
year and have a natural disposition toward its use. If not we shall create a horde of im-
pertinents, who, with four strokes of their brush, shall attract the admiration of the ig-
norant and consider themselves to be fine men31.
In light of the declarations such as firstly one has to foment the academic spirit,
accustom the student to think rightly, to habilitate their hands in the application of
carmine and Indian ink as they draw their lines, which others have prepared with pen-
cil it should be no surprise that the Chief of Engineers was deeply upset by an atti-
tude that he considered to be contrary to the spirit in which the Academy of
Mathematics was founded, under his own auspices. Verboom saw the excess of theo-
retical preparation as proposed by Calabro as unnecessary, given that in practical mat-
ters they never teach of reality on the ground and as far as drawing is concerned,
an Engineer has never need to pay special heed thereto, regardless of how it was as
an essential part. Criticism of the director focussed on the accusation that he tended
to spend many months with the Students on Algebra, which as well as not being nec-
essary for the ends for which this Academy was founded, displeased them to the extent
that they lost their eagerness to learn the essential, which was the intention of His


As far as we can tell from existing documentation, Mateo Calabro combined two
fundamental characteristics: a narcissistic pride and a certain arrogance which leant
toward victimhood, something that was evident when he said that in order for a man
to be content, he should not involve himself with directing public matters, regardless
of the extent of his desire to maintain the status that being Director of the Academy
afforded him. Despite there being some justification for his motives, his excessive self-
esteem was manifest when he boasted of having made my students () in the living
image of an Engineer so perfect that nor I nor my students could ever attain such a
level of perfection. This I have done for many reasons, of which the most important is
to instil in them the idea that in order to be an Engineer one must study for longer
than one year33. His wife, Agustina, defended him before an old guardian of hers, Juan
Carrillo de Albornoz now the Duke of Montemar and recently-appointed War Min-
ister by assuring him that her husband was possessed by a burning passion which
led him to manifest a certain insubordination toward the Chief of Engineers as a result
of not knowing how to correctly adjust his style to that required in Modern Politics,
accustomed as he is to take great care with the truth34.


A combination of various direct and indirect factors regarding control over the Army
Corps of Engineers, whose Commander Jorge Prspero Verbooms health had been in
significant decline since the early 1730s, affected the corporate dynamic of the Corps.
After the failure of the 1727 siege to expel the English from Gibraltar, the Chief of En-
gineers was called to Madrid to discuss matters relating to the Corps, where he re-
mained until 1731 before finally returning to Barcelona. During this period, the
Flemish engineer received orders to suggest reforms to the Engineers Ordinance, as it
seemed to be increasingly causing greater problems to its members, both in questions
of discipline and in matters of professional training. The Duke of Montemars success
in the 1732 expedition to Oran and Mers-El-Kbir (known to the Spanish as Maza-
lquivir), which concluded with the Spanish taking the two Ottoman fortified towns,
saw Jos Carrillo de Albornoz appointed Joint Secretary of War and the Treasury, Jos
Patio, promoted within the government hierarchy. With Montemars appointment as
War Secretary in 1737, important changes were introduced that affected the dynamic
of the Corps of Engineers. Carrillo highlighted the need to create a specific body to
oversee the production of graphic material relating to military projects throughout the
Kingdom, the Royal Board of Fortifications. Interest in this measure focused on the
desire to ensure close monitoring of the mechanisms around the conception and exe-
cution of Fortifications and Military Buildings, some of which, in the opinion of the
new War Secretary having manifested to the Royal Exchequer how prejudicial was
the experience in service of His Majesty were evidently deficient, not only in the
way that they had been realised, but also in terms of the project and planning phases
that had been established. Montemars arguments clearly set out the administrative re-
quirements to be taken care of35.

FIG. 15 MIGUEL MARN (signed). Plano de la Plaza de Barcelona. Barcelona, 4 September 1738. AGMM.CH, Atlas 194-30.

One of the ways to establish strict control over these organisational processes con-
sisted in commissioning the Engineer Director of the Principality of Catalonia, Miguel
Marn, to produce an atlas based on existing cartographic material and the plotting of
new maps and plans. Faced with this new challenge of a strictly graphic nature (yet
nonetheless of great importance), the instructions sought to be clear and specific. The
man from Marseille therefore drew up the plans for the Fortresses in this Principality
on the same scale, two inches to one hundred toises approximately 1:3600. The task
was to be carried out, under his supervision, by the Engineers that are most skilled in
drawing, with the corresponding cleanliness. Measurements also had to be standard-
ised, so that every piece of paper for the plans must be three feet, four inches and
eight lines in width, the same size as two pages of the book that His Majesty has ruled
shall contain the plan of all Spains Fortified Enclosures. The total height of the paper
shall be two feet and five inches. From the edge of the paper to the plan frames first
black line there must be a seven-line blank margin. Marn promised to release these
as each is finished, although he observed that he had already prepared the most im-
portant Fortresses at a scale of one inch and a half to one hundred toises (1:4800), in-
sinuating that, having started, he should be allowed to continue using this scale, whose
size would be much more accurate to undertake this work at a reduced scale. He also
acknowledged receipt of the commission to undertake the ratification [sic rectifica-
tion] of some in which I do not have the slightest confidence notifying that he had
concluded the ambitious plan of Barcelona36 [FIG. 15].
With this technical-administrative initiative parallel to the establishment of close
centralised control over the ordinary intake of engineers through a series of standard-
ised exams which were, in the main, sat at the Academy of Mathematics before mem-
bers of the Board of Fortifications the door was opened to greater institutional
strictness and control by the War Secretary in the setting up of the Corp. In 1768 the
first major reform of the Ordinances was instigated under the command of the King-


FIG. 16 Ordenanzas de S. M. para el
servicio del Cuerpo de Ingenieros, Or-
dinances, 1768, pp. 146-147.

doms Inspector General of Fortifications, Juan Martn Zermeo [FIG. 16]37. The creation
in 1737 of the Board of Fortifications in Madrid and the replacement of Calabro as di-
rector of the Barcelona Academy with the Asturian Pedro Lucuze in 1739 both of
which were signs of the new air that Montemar was blowing through the ministry
were the two determining factors in ensuring the reorientation of the Army Corps of
Engineers educational disciplinary panorama, as well as the activities related to con-
struction and cartographic work [FIG. 17].

FIG. 17 SEBASTIN FERINGN CORTS. Plano de la Posizion del Monte de Aguilas donde se caido la Torre ultima a la costa
del Oueste del Reyno de Murcia, i Proiecto de un Fuerte i Batera para defender este importante puesto i abrigo de Nabegantes.
Cartagena, 3 October 1752. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 20,


1. Universitat de Barcelona, Faculty of Geography and History, Department of Art History, Carrer de Montalegre 6 5 Desp.
5007, 08001 Barcelona,
2. This text, part of the DIMH project, has been the inspiration behind the resumption of a general line of research which I
began during my tenure as a Visiting Scholar at the Office for History of Science and Technology at the University of Cali-
fornia, Berkeley in the 1992-1993 academic year, under the title Iconografa, cartografa, bibliografa cientfico-estratgica e
ingeniera militar en la Espaa de los siglos XVI-XVIII (Iconography, Cartography and Military Engineering in Sixteenth to
Eighteenth Centuries Spain).
The abbreviations used when quoting source material from the archives are as follows: GMAM.HML (General Military
Archive, Madrid. Historical Map Library), SGA.MPD (Simancas General Archive. Maps, Plans and Drawings) and SGA.WS
(Simancas General Archive. War Secretariat).
Given the particular characteristics of this work, which was envisaged as a piece of research based almost solely on
archival documentary material, there are not too many bibliographical references, as they would only serve to reiterate the
material which is largely cited from other publications. For this reason we will be mentioning such works which are of un-
questionable scientific value in general terms, where appropriate.
3. Regarding the various questions relating to the training and other characteristics of the Spanish Army Corps of Engineers,
see CAPEL et al., 1988, specifically Chapters I-III of Primera parte: los ingenieros del rey, pp. 13-93 and Tercera parte: la
prctica de los ingenieros and Chapters XI. La composicin del cuerpo de ingenieros and XII. Las condiciones de trabajo
de los ingenieros militares, pp. 255-314. See also GALLAND, 2008, particularly Premire partie. Le Corps des ingnieurs
militaires. Une institution polyvalente, pp. 13-142 and Troisime partie. Vie sociale, vie prive des ingnieurs militaires,
pp. 241-351.
Other works of interest in this regard: ALMIRANTE, 1869; BONET, 1991; BRAVO, 1991; CMARA MUOZ et al., 2005; CMARA
et al., 2015; CAPEL et al., 1983; COBOS, 2012; CORTADA, 1998; DAZ, 2003; GALINDO, 2002; GARCA, 2000; GARCIA, 2004; GIL, 1995;
GMEZ, 1899; GUARDA, 1990; GUTIRREZ et al., 1991; LAORDEN, 2008; LIZAUR et al., 2010; LLAVE, 1911; LUENGO, 2013; MAAS,
1985; MARZAL, 1991; MONCADA, 1993; MORA, 1997; MUOZ, 1990a; MUOZ, 1993c; MUOZ, 1993d; MUOZ, 1994b; MUOZ, 2004;
MUOZ, 2015; SEGOVIA et al., 2013; VALERA, 1846; SEVERAL AUTHORS, 1911a; SEVERAL AUTHORS, 1911b; SEVERAL AUTHORS, 2003;
4. JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM to MARQUES OF BEDMAR (signed); Madrid, 25 July 1712. SGA.WS, 3003.
5. Instruccin, 1718.
6. Real Ordenanza, 1739.
7. The passing of the Ordenanza de 4 de Julio de 1718, para el Establecimiento, e Instruccin de Intendentes de Provincias, y Ex-
ercitos (Ordinance of 4 July 1718 for the Establishment and Instruction of Overseers for the Provinces and Army) printed
in Madrid by Juan de Ariztia in 1718, was of key importance in this respect.
8. MUOZ, 2015.
9. BARBIER, (no year); BERTHAUT, 1902; BLANCHARD, 1979; BLANCHARD, 1981; BRAGARD, 2011; HOFMANN, 2000.
10. ALBAREDA, 2010; COLLETTA, 1981; GARCA, 2003; KAMEN, 2000; MARTNEZ et al., 2001; VOLTES, 1991.
11. BELANDO, 1740-1744; GARCA et al. 2013.
12. For more on certain aspects of cartographic theory and practice concerning the matters dealt with here, see: BALLARD, 1697;
BOUSQUET-BRESSOLIER et al., 1995; BUCHOTTE, 1743; BUISSERET, 2004; BUISSERET et al., 1998; GAUTIER, 1687; GIMNEZ et al., 2009;
HARLEY, 2005; LABOULAIS et al., 2008; MONTANER, 1990; MONTANER et al., 2011; MUOZ, 1994a; MUOZ, 1999a; MUOZ, 2001;
WARMOES et al., 2003.
13. BONET et al., 1985; CASAS et al., 1996; DAZ-MARTA et al., 1987; MARTNEZ et al., 2008; OLIVERAS, 1998; PICON, 1988; PICON, 1992;
SILVA et al., 2005; SEVERAL AUTHORS, 1988.
14. For more on the role of the Barcelona Academy of Mathematics, see mainly Chapters IV-X of the Segunda parte: el deleitoso
estudio de las matemticas, in CAPEL et al., 1988, pp. 95-254, especially pages 96-160 and 217-254. Also see the section en-
titled La Academia de Matemticas de Barcelona durante el siglo XVIII, in MUOZ et al., 2004, mainly pages 77-115; and
MUOZ, 2012. Also see Deuxime partie. Des scientifiques dans le monde militaire, in GALLAND, 2008, pp. 143-236
Other works of interest in this regard: BARCA, 1993; CAPEL, 1982; CAPEL, 2007; DORGEIX et al., 2012; MUOZ et al., 2004;
15. MUOZ, 1992.
16. Compared to an architect, who may also have championed a process of technical transformation in this field, the engineer
both civil and military confers greater importance on ensuring continuity between cause and effect than on the project
itself. The engineers work is also created by and drives toward a response to collective needs. PICON, 1988.
17. MARTNEZ, 1999; MUOZ, 1990b; MUOZ, 1991; MUOZ, 1993a; MUOZ, 1993b; MUOZ, 1999b; SEVERAL AUTHORS, 1986.
18. JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM to MARQUES OF BEDMAR (signed); Madrid, 20 July 1712. SGA.WS, 3003.
19. JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM to the MARQUIS OF CASTELAR, Malaga, 28 July 1722. SGA.WS, 3044.
20. The COUNT OF MONTEMAR to ALEJANDRO DE REZ, Barcelona, 4 June 1724. SGA.WS, 3012.
21. ALEJANDRO DE REZ to the COUNT OF MONTEMAR, Barcelona, 6 June 1724. Idem.
22. The COUNT OF MONTEMAR to JOS RODRIGO, Barcelona, 10 June 1724. Idem.
23. Anonymous [JOS RODRIGO] to the COUNT OF MONTEMAR; Madrid, 25 June 1724. Idem.
24. JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM to the DUKE OF MONTEMAR, Barcelona, 1 March 1738. SGA.WS, 3008.


25. MATEO CALABRO to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM (copy); Ciudadela de Barcelona, 27 February 1738. Idem.
26. MATEO CALABRO, (no date), Barcelona, 20 April 1726. Idem.
27. MATEO CALABRO, (no date), Barcelona, (no year). Idem.
28. MATEO CALABRO to COUNT OF MONTEMAR, Barcelona, 6 June 1724. SGA.WS, 3012.
29. MATEO CALABRO to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM, Barcelona, 10 June 1724. Idem.
30. MATEO CALABRO to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM, Barcelona, 26 February 1724. Idem.
31. MATEO CALABRO to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM, Barcelona, 10 June 1724. Idem.
32. JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM to JOS PATIO, Barcelona, 19 November 1735. Idem. A good example of Calabros preference for
pedagogical theory is his Tratado de Fortificacin o Arquitectura Militar RODRGUEZ, 1991.
33. MATEO CALABRO to JORGE PRSPERO VERBOOM, Barcelona, 26 February 1724. Idem. SGA.WS, 3012.
34. AGUSTINA CALABRO to DUKE OF MONTEMAR, Ciudadela de Barcelona, 4 January 1738. Idem.
35. DUKE OF MONTEMAR to SEBASTIN DE LA QUADRA, Madrid, 21 May 1737. SGA.WS, 5836.
36. MIGUEL MARN to the DUKE OF MONTEMAR, Barcelona, 15 March 1738. SGA.WS, 2993.
37. Ordenanzas, 1768.


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Back to Contents

Methodology Applicable to the Graphic
Analysis of Fortification Projects


Translation: DAVID HASTING


This article explores the possibilities of drawing as a tool for the technical characterization
of fortification and explains its use on the studies published by the author in the last 25
years. A drawing-based research methodology is systematized after considering an initial
intuitive reflection: if drawing is the key to designing fortifications, drawing should be the
key to interpreting them. Various examples are studied in order to analyze the different
types of information available, the analysis tools based on drawing accuracy and fortifi-
cation principles, and the methodological development of various graphic techniques.


Bastioned fortification, technical drawing, surveying, line of defence, photo restoration

of historical layouts, geometric characterization of fortification.


In what was possibly the first treatise on modern fortification, Pedro Luis Escriv wrote:

This science is demonstrative, there are things that cannot be explained without figures2.

It is this role of drawing, that of explaining and demonstrating rather than representing,
that is of paramount interest to us here. Any attempt at a history of fortification, not just
a technical history nor one written by architects, requires that drawing be placed at the
heart of many questions. Before Escriv, in his codex on military engineering (the Madrid
II Codex) Leonardo da Vinci used drawing to define the layout of the terrain outside the
fort in order to determine the volume of earth to be excavated and calculate the yield
and average price of the excavation3. For da Vinci, drawing was a project and calculation
tool. If we want to understand the designs of military engineers and architects we have
to use drawing with the same criteria and function that they do. It is therefore not enough
to observe the final layout of a fort or its drawing in an atlas. Its not enough to map the
constructed reality; we need to identify the design mechanism, both if we start from a
plan or from a finished building. It is really surprising to see what we can deduce from a
design or its modifications simply by calculating and plotting its embrasures, as we did
with the town walls in Ibiza or at Berlanga fort. Knowing, as was the case with planimetric
surveys of fortresses, what it is we are looking for and the accuracy we need in order to
find it is an essential question that is often overlooked. In other cases, it is the drawings
and historical documents which provide us with these interpretative keys, either based
on drawings with no text which we need to interpret, or on texts without drawings which
we can plot to make them clearer4. At the end of the process, the technical characterisa-

FIG. 1 LEONARDO DA VINCI. Layout of the glacis, measurement

of the levelled ground and calculation of the yield from the excava-
tion of a moat to determine cost. Madrid II Codex. 1504, fols. 10v,
25r, 32v. Spanish National Library.

FIG. 2 Study of constructed reality through analysis of defensive fire (Ibiza y Berlanga). COBOS, 2008 and 2014.

tion of a fort is considerably more related to drawing and measurement than it is to the
recognition of supposed typical features. Only by drawing and measuring will we be able
to identify the enormous differences that exist, for example, between two forts with a
square floor plan with four apparently very similar bastions. Thus the first premise behind
our work is that we need to understand technical characterisation as a way of overcoming
an analysis by type with drawing as our main tools.

Graphic and Written Documents
In order to establish an approach to graphic analysis of fortification we should first con-
sider the type of data we have. Firstly we have graphic and written documents that we
can use in our graphic analysis, in the case of plans and drawings through measurement
and georectification processes as well as the transfer to plans, in the case of texts, when
referring to measured dimensions and proportions. For example, the measurements of
the piecework performed in the bastion of the Magdalena in Fuenterrabia which can still
be seen at Simancas and the French plans for the bastion which are held in the Vincennes
archive which allow us, with the help of an intermediate drawing, to plot both documents
to a known scale, establishing the construction process and chronology of each section
of the structure5.


a b

FIG. 3a Pescola, 1578, Espaa. Ministerio FIG. 3b Lisbon, 1581, Espaa. Ministerio de Edu-
de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo Gen- cacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Siman-
eral de Simancas. MPD, 09, 059. cas. MPD, 16, 007.

FIG. 3c Study of the layout through analysis of enemy fire based on graphic documentation (Lisbon, 1581)
and (Pescola, 1578) and written documentation (La Goulette, 1574). COBOS, 2000.

However, there are also drawings and written documents that do not describe real
situations but rather concepts. Da Vinci, and especially his Madrid II Codex, is a good
example of that, although it has not always been correctly interpreted. Curiously, the
drawing that might best express Leonardos ability to codify concepts hidden in drawings
is not in the Madrid II Codex but in the famous and well-studied Codex Atlanticus and
specifically his drawing of the Naviglio canal at San Cristoforo6 [FIG. 4]. All the publications
of which there are dozen, although I dont have the space here to cite them refer to
this drawing by Leonardo da Vinci as a design for Milans Grand Canal in front of San
Cristoforo church and its water removal solutions. Da Vinci did indeed write in this folio
San Cristoforo Canal, 3 May 1509. However, this only meant that Leonardo was there

VINCI, Codex Atlanticus. Bib-
lioteca Ambrosiana, Milano,
fol. 1097 R.

on that day when, thinking about this project, he may have drawn this plan which was
not meant to be a specific canal construction project but rather a reflection on the con-
cept of hydrostatic pressure. In fact, if we look more closely at the drawing it seeks to
compare the different levels of water pressure at the outlet and the distance it travels de-
pending on the height of the water column that the plan shows for each outlet. We know
that, through this example and the critical study that we published in 20097 of the Madrid
II Codex, that in Leonardo da Vincis codices, the text and the drawing are not always re-
lated or do not seek to express the same idea. In this codex, we can clearly see that
Leonardo used specific projects to express questions of a general nature that he was in-
terested in investigating, although these speculations are superfluous to the workers, it
doesnt seem advisable to overlook them, as they sometimes produce admiration in spec-
ulative minds8.
In Escrivs treatise, the critical study and commentary of which we published in
20009, there are also drawings which do not represent real designs but rather concepts.
The most obvious of these, which Escriv accompanied with an explanation in the text,
is the comparison made between surface area, the acuteness of the flanking angle and
the length of the face of the bastion calculated from the layout of the square floor plan
compared to a triangular plan [FIG. 5a]. Another example of this conceptual drawing is the
design of a fortress whose upper front features a straight flat curtain wall while the lower
front has a scissor-wall (tenaille) [FIG. 5b]. This drawing, which we have normally used as
a point of reference for the design of hill forts10, nevertheless is a comparison of bastioned
fronts as well as being an expression of a concept of design, that of a front consisting of
a curtain wall, two opposing flanks and the faces of two bastions, which is essential in
the understanding of bastioned fortification and was expressed with total clarity in the
seventeenth century. Escriv also cites concepts expressed in the text but not graphically
and which are easier to understand drawn based on the framework we used to explain
Escrivs idea regarding the design of embrasures at San Telmo there is no way that
fire from a battery can shoot into the loophole (breaking the wall at A in figure 8), and if
it shoots down the loophole (B) the fire cannot function as a battery [FIG. 5c] or the ex-
ample we used to explain the basis for the study regarding the orientation of the forward
point of the bastion, namely the defence of the design of Castle Fort Saint Elmo in Malta
and the criticism of Ferramolinos design of the fort at La Goulette [FIG. 5d].


ESCRIV, drawings from
Apologa en excusacin y
favor de las fbricas del
Reyno de Npoles, 1538.

FIG. 5c Analysis of Es-

crivs theory on the diffi-
culty of entering the
embrasures of Castle Saint
a b c Elmo in Naples. Prepared
by the author.

FIG. 5d Analysis of Es-

crivs theory on the orien-
tation of the forward points
of the fortification towards
the enemy battery applied
to Ferramolinos design for
La Goulette, Escrivs de-
sign for Castle Saint Elmo
in Naples and Pedro Prados
design for Fort Saint Elmo
in Malta. Prepared by the
d author.

The Existing Reality, the Physical Setting and the Building

We also have the constructed reality, the urban setting, the territory and our ability to
measure and represent it. Even with accurate historical plans at ones disposal, any study
which seeks to make progress in this area needs to contrast the project and its documen-
tation with the existing reality. In the case of fortresses from the first Spanish Renais-
sance, there was a total absence of sufficiently accurate plans when we embarked on
these studies 25 years ago. If we want to understand fortification from this period, we
need to examine the reasonably accurate plans for the castles at Mota, Coca and Salsas11.
In many cases, such a precise understanding required that a large number of the impor-
tant fortresses from the period were excavated or cleared and therefore accessible. It can
therefore be said that without the clearing and excavation work at key buildings such as
Mota, Behovia, Fuenterrabia and Arevalo12 or the surveying and preparation of scale
drawings that we have undertaken or had done for us over these two and a half decades,
as well as at other key sites, such as the bastions at the Alhambra in Granada, at Carmona
and Niebla13, we would not have the necessary resources for analysis, in a field in which
stylistic allegiance is never a suitable tool to work with14.
On a greater scale, and in terms of the major projects undertaken in the late 16th,
17th and 18th centuries, for which we have historical plans that are far more sophisti-
cated and accurate, the generalisation and availability of surveying via aerial orthopho-
tography and the precision offered by georeferencing by satellite over the past ten

years has given us an extraordinary tool which allows us to compare historical plans
and the constructed reality, something which had previously been an extremely com-
plex task.

We use two basic tools in our graphic analysis with these two data types. Graphic repre-
sentation, dependent on the reliability of the document and the accuracy of our survey
and the technical principals of fortification which explain layout even though the plans
do not reflect this or orientate us toward what we need to define in our surveying.

The Reliability of Graphic Documentation

The surveying of Ibizas Renaissance city walls, which included the master plan that we
drew up in 2000, allowed us to define both the plan and elevation views, as well as the
grade line of the fortifications embrasures15. This study of the flanking fire revealed data
from the technical principals of fortification from this period, such as the differences in
the openings on the two embrasures on each flank, orientated toward the curtain wall
and toward the face of the opposite bastion and the presence of a single embrasure in
the most exposed flank of the bastion at Santa Lucia, as Escriv recommended. It also
allows us to interpret the references that the project engineer Calvi gave regarding the
dissociation between the grade line of the bulwark and the opening on the embrasure on
the opposing flank through the chamfering of the rock (and the alteration to this grade
line since construction). Finally, we were able to confirm that after engineer Fratins ex-
tension and additions to the Santa Lucia semi-bastion (known in Ibiza as the Revellin),
the opposing embrasures had not been modified and the resulting opening could not
cover the new layout, which explains why some engineers from later centuries insisted
on reforming these firing positions.
The problem of the layout in relation to the direction of enemy fire is one of the
areas where graphic analysis is essential in order to understand the relationship between
available sources and the principals of fortification. In the plan of Peiscola [FIG. 3a], we
see a representation of a debate between Bautista Antonelli, who defended Vespasiano
Gonzagas layout, and Fratin, who sought to reform it. In this case, we have both the
plan that illustrates the modification and Antonellis text which clearly explains the ex-
posure to enemy fire, which could enter the embrasures, that the change represented16.
The problem is the same as that regarding the assault cannons in front of So Julio da
Barra fort near Lisbon in 1581 [FIG. 3b], except in this case there is no explanatory text
and we have to deduce meaning from what we know of the debate surrounding this mat-
ter at the time17. Finally, we have the drawing that we have produced to explain why La
Goulette was lost in 1574, due to the fact that its design meant that the Turks could
fire into the embrasures on the flanks. The source here is a detailed written account of
the assault process that the Duke of Alba received from an informant that has allowed
us to graphically represent the defensive problem [FIG. 3c] using period plans for our


FIG. 6 Seventeenth century
fortification plans. COBOS, 2005.

The Technical Principles of Fortification

We have finally been able to use drawing to graphically express certain basic concepts of
fortification which would otherwise be difficult to understand. The schema showing the
variations which we have produced to explain seventeenth century fortification19 [FIG. 6]
covers certain aspects that were crucial in determining designs from this period. On the
one hand, we have the variation of the flanked angle in relation to the use of the second
flank or the measurement of the primary flank, while on the other is a parallel debate
concerning measurement variations to the line of defence if we take the side of the poly-
gon as a fixed measurement or the variation in the measurement of the side of the polygon
if the fixed measurement was the line of defence. This work, apparently groundbreaking
in terms of studies of fortification was curiously based on the graphic synthesis of analysis
of the bastioned front taken from the side of the polygon understood as the measurement
between the two principal lines, the evolution of Escrivs conceptual representation sys-
tem which appears thus for the first time in Diego Gonzlez de Medina Barbas 1599
treatise Examen de Fortificacion20 which would later be used prolifically throughout the
seventeenth century.


Using the different types of data and analysis tools at our disposal, there are a number
of methods that we can employ in our graphic analysis of fortifications. We have mainly
used three in this research: photo restoration of historical layouts compared to existing
reality, drawing as comparative analysis and technical characterisation through the use
of drawing tools. The following are a few examples of this.

Photo Restoration
Applying historical plans to a true-to-scale representation of the current terrain in order
to recognise or analyse their design or remains is a strategy that has considerable poten-
In the Master Plan for the border fortresses along the River Minho21, for the first
time we had reasonably accurate continuous satellite surveying of the terrain and the
dozens of fortifications built in the seventeenth century along the frontier. We also had
a GPS topography system that allowed us to identify the valleys and hills that the for-
tifications had become in the dense scrub of the Galician highlands. The work process
[FIG. 7] allowed us to georeference the terrain of historic sites using a morphology that

FIG. 7 Goin fortified complex in the River Minho cross-border fortification Master Plan. COBOS y
HOYUELA, 2005. The historical map, attributed to Miguel de Lescol and dated circa 1664, belongs to the
CSIC Collection from the Lisbon National Library. B.N.L., D274V.



FIGS. 8a and 8b Design of Ciudad

Rodrigo (a) and projects at Gallegos de
Argan (b). COBOS, 2012 y 2013.
The historical map of Ciudad Rodrigo,
1709, Atlas Masse. Archives du Gnie.
Castillo de Vincennes, Paris.
The historical maps of Gallegos de Ar-
gan, dated 1651, belong to AGS. Es-
paa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura
y Deporte. Archivo General de Siman-
cas. MPD,68,021 y MPD, 68, 020.

was more recognisable, defining a site to be protected without the need for an archaeo-
logical intervention that, given the nature of the landscape in which the fortifications
were situated, would not have made a great deal of sense. The final result meant we
could see the impression left among the hills, thickets and smallholdings of dozens of
large fortifications, indiscernible in many cases from within the woods and forests and
only perceptible when the ferns and mosses that cover the beds of the old moats also
pick out the primitive star shape of a fortress below the eucalyptus trees.
Another interesting case using this analysis method of updating historic plans using
current orthophotographs is the recent analysis of the layout of Ciudad Rodrigo22 based
on a collection of plans from the early eighteenth century, the majority of which are
French. They establish which parts of the current walls are original and in what order
the subsequent fortification phases were added from the period of the War of the Span-
ish Succession. If the town walls in Ciudad Rodrigo [FIG. 8a] conserve enough remains
to accurately identify each historic plan, in the case of Gallegos de Argaan23 and its
fort from the mid-seventeenth century which no longer stands, the project plan by the
engineer Santans y Tapia for a larger fortress shows enough of the parish church, still
in use, to allow us to replot the layout of the disappeared fort and that of the projected
structure [FIG. 8b].

Comparative Analysis
The basic application of comparative analysis is in typological study, although, as we have
said previously, graphic analysis of fortification is rather more complex than a typological
study of a morphological nature and a conventional description. In a study of fortification,
it makes no sense to classify fortifications by their simple morphological characteristics.
Two castles with a square floor plan and four bastions built in the same period may reflect
concepts that are completely different although separated by a hundred years difference,
such as LAquila castle in Italy and the Castillo de San Marcos in Florida. The similarity
in the design of the two is, nevertheless, pure coincidence. The design of a bastioned
fort is based more in questions of measurement, of angles and the proportion between
these parts than in questions of form. The biggest mistakes when defining a fortification
as having a supposedly Italian design because it has bastions, or as in the Vauban model,
because it has revellines or lunettes, is the result of giving far greater importance to formal
as opposed than geometric analysis.
Once the typological analysis has been dealt with, one of the main virtues of compar-
ative graphic analysis is that of scale analysis. In our first research into Renaissance Cas-
tles24, where we had accurate plans of fortresses at Mota, Coca and Salsas, the first
surprise was the comparison with their Italian counterparts at Ostia and Mondavio, both
much smaller, but also the evolution of subsequent designs with turrets at the corners
and frontal bastions on Spanish fortresses from the first Renaissance [FIG. 9]. In a con-
struction type that is so dependent on the range of firearms and the enormous construc-
tion costs they represent, the scale, the real size with respect to their equivalents, always
represents an expression of commitment between the fortresss ability to resist enemy
fire and the ability of the constructors to finance the necessary work.


FIG. 9 Comparison of plans for Italian and Spanish fortifications from the first Renaissance. COBOS, 1998 y 2000.
Historical drawings: FRANCISCO DE HOLANDA. Vista de Fuenterraba, Spanish national Heritage, El Escorial Library (top).
And Traa de la fortaleza de Pamplona, 1538? Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de
Simancas. MPD, 13, 54 (bottom).

FIG. 10 Royal forts on the Spanish - Portuguese border. FERNANDO COBOS ESTUDIO ARQUITECTURA, 2012.

A mixed example of comparative analysis of scale is based on an initial classification

of types, as we used to analyse fortifications on the Portuguese border, simultaneously
studying both sides25. Our research sought to compare ex-novo and practically ex-novo
fortified cities and adapted medieval urban areas, royal forts [FIG. 10], small forts and
strongpoints in separate groups, with a notable coincidence in the size of the equivalent
parts due not only to variations of scale based on treatises from the period that are com-
mon to both sides of the border, but also even in the case of the cities to a an odd
equilibrium between the Portuguese examples, which increased in size enormously from
very small nuclei, and their Spanish counterparts, where cities sacrificed their slum
neighbourhoods, losing size and population, in order to build their defences26.
The third model of comparative analysis was applied to successive projects in the
same town, in this case Ciudad Rodrigo27, inspired by a curious comparative debate that
Jun Martn Cermeo initiated by comparing his project to those undertaken by Gaber
and Moreau, which Moreau fuelled by simultaneously drawing two of his projects [FIG.
11a] on the same plan28. In a town like Ciudad Rodrigo, where we still have dozens of
projects, many of which use the well-known system of paper tabs that can be lifted, the
temptation to use georeferencing on a current orthophotograph and superimpose all plot-
ting [FIG. 11d] becomes a first-rate instrument of research which allows the footprints left
by these largely under-documented fortifications to be identified, as was the case with
the British strongpoints from the Napoleonic Wars.


a b c

FIG. 11a PEDRO MOREAU. Plano de Ciudad Rodrigo con sus contornos donde se ve demostrado la fortificacin que oy
subsiste y dos proyectos... for Ciudad Rodrigo. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de
Simancas. MPD, 13, 136.

FIG. 11b ANTONIO GABER. Project for Ciudad Rodrigo. Spain. CGE. ArE-T.7-C.3-385.

FIG. 11c JUAN MARTN CERMEO. Project for Ciudad Rodrigo. Spain. CGE. ArE-T.7-C.3-383.

FIG. 11d Ciudad Rodrigo, 1735-1766, comparative study of Moreaus, Gabers and Cermeos projects. COBOS, 2013.

Technical Characterisation
Drawing as an instrument of analysis of the technical characterisation of a fort is a very
useful tool whose basis lies in contrasting constructed reality with descriptive documents
of technical solutions and graphic documents that show geometric models and proposals,
or with the principles and rules of fortification whose recognition in a specific project
allows it to be accurately characterised in terms of a particular period or trend. In the
case of research into the Berlanga design29, the aim was to establish a connection be-
tween that which was built and the instructions given by the master builder Lpez de Is-
turizaga for Pamplona castle with which Berlanga was closely related due to the master
builder working on both projects.
In the case of Escrivs study of the layout at LAquila Castle30 based on the survey of
the fort, it sought to verify the application of the principles that Escriv established in
his treatise with respect to the positioning of embrasures and what they covered and left

They serve their purpose raking the curtain they defend from length to length without
being exposed to flanking fire.the more screened they are and less open at the sides the
better they are.

Research into the real layout curiously does not only analyse the modifications of the
ideal design, such as the overhanging edge of the faces of the two bastions without mod-
ifying the breadth of the flank, without testing how the schematic, almost infantile design

FIG. 12 Technical analysis of the layout of Berlanga Castle. COBOS, 2014.


FIG. 13 Analysis of firing lines at LAquila Castle. COBOS, 2014.

that is shown in the 1538 design accurately reflects the proportions and angles of the
layout that Escriv had given his castle in 153431. In other words, we can verify the rela-
tionship between the constructed reality and the principles and drawings of the Treatise.
This discovery of the unsuspected accuracy of the apparently schematic drawings from
Escrivs treatise led us to research into other drawings from the same Treatise, especially
reflections on the ideal layout32 and comparison between the square and heptagonal floor
plans. The foundation of Escrivs discourse lies in the fixed nature of the line of defence
as we have explained33. We can confirm that when Escriv proposed the comparison of
the two forts that occupy the same space, what he was in fact comparing was a square
and a circle in the same surface area that defined the external borders of both fortresses.
It is curious to reflect not only on the problem of the squaring of the circle that appears
throughout the Renaissance34, but also on the use of the external polygon to define the
size of the fort, which at such an early time was possibly a completely new development35.
In Escrivs case there is also a further significant conclusion to be drawn how the
characterisation study led to recognition of a geometric relationship, much deeper than
suspected, between the design of LAquila and the reference to the quadrangular fortifi-
cations in the 1538 Treatise. This means that in the Treatise, composed as a dialogue
with the commander, Escriv defended his new design at San Telmo, while the common-
ers who criticised it also represented Escriv who designed LAquila. Thus his posture of
not recognising universally valid models would be the true objective of the text, con-
structed as a debate with himself, before moving on to defend his tenailled design, as
the Italian bibliography has simplistically interpreted it.
In the case of Almeida, however, analysis of the almost perfect hexagonal layout36,
the characterisation of the design which has been interpreted without a great deal of
substance from the perspective of French and Dutch models, as well as referring to the
initial 7-sided plans which were subsequently scaled back for economic problems [FIG.
15]. The main problem in studying the original layout of Almeida was that the first

FIG. 14 Comparative study of the layout of LAquila Castle (Escriv 1534) and the fort with four bastions in his 1538 Trea-
tise. COBOS, 2014.

known plan did not really match the constructed reality, where we suspected that forward
defensive walls and moats were added later after Spanish, French and English attacks in
the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, with further modifications due to damage to various
sections to the south-west perimeter. Once it had been determined which plans were the
most reliable and which section was the least altered (which is, in itself, a synthesis of
the documentary study of field measurement) we rectified the layout, meaning we can
establish a relationship between the real layout and ideal reference layout, discounting
the theory of the heptagonal design simply by measuring angles and checking other as-
pects, such as the preference for having a second flank, rejecting the possibility of right
flanked angles, which would rule de Ville out as the designer, despite the main gate faade
referring directly to his treatise.

FIG. 15 Geometric analysis of the

layout of the Castle Fortress of Almeida
with respect to the regular reference
design. COBOS, 2013.


FIG. 16 Metric analysis of the design of the Castle Fortress of Almeida in relation to the dimensions set out in contempo-
rary treatises, COBOS, 2013 (left). Graphic variation of fortification dimensions based on the side of the polygon in SANTANS Y
TAPIAs treatise. Brussels, 1644 (centre). Principal lines for a fortification in DIEGO GONZLEZ DE MEDINA BARBAs, Examen de
Fortificacin. Madrid, 1599 (right).

Finally, the analysis of the layout of the Castle Fortress of Almeida highlights other
problems which had not been considered before and which represented a new method-
ological advance. The problem with comparing ideal regular polygons with real irregular
polygons is deciding which side or vertex you use to make them coincide. In practice,
the rule applied in irregular fortification which advises that the design should follow the
regular layout as closely as possible was not applied, as many people believe, to the com-
plete polygon (as if you adjust on one side, on the opposite side the differences are such
that no comparison is possible). However, if it is applied to each defined front between
the two principal lines which converge from the two points of the bastions in the centre
or theoretical centres of the reference polygon. This aspect, reflected in the treatises of
the period, in the case of Almeida allows a metric characterisation of the section, having
identified the most regular sides.
The graphic schemata of the front of the Almeida fortress could be included within
plans in treatises from the period [FIG. 16], once converted to the same scale from incred-
ibly diverse units of measurement and comparing curtain walls, faces, flanks and angles.
Thus the layout at Almeida appears as far from Marolois as it does from De Ville while
being close to the layouts of Fritach and Santans y Tapia, following the line of Spanish
Flanders which the Jesuits were spreading around the world at the time. This fitted the
characterisation of border fortifications from the period and the work of Father Stafford
at Imperial College in Lisbon37 prior to 1640 or, after the Portuguese uprising, of Father
Cosmander. Notice the paradox, that the fortress at Elvas is defined as Dutch38 simply
because the architect Father Cosmander was born in a town that is now part of Holland
(when this region belonged to the Spanish crown), ignoring the fact that he was a Jesuit
priest who had trained at the Catholic University of Leuven in the Spanish Netherlands,
an important seat of learning and dissemination of mathematics and military engineering
at that time39.


2. COBOS et al., 2000.
3. COBOS, 2009b.
4. See the illustrated commentaries of Escrivs study in the following pages.
5. COBOS and CASTRO, 2000a, p. 233.
6. Leonardo da Vinci Codex Atlanticus. BA Milano (fol. 1097 R).
7. COBOS, 2009b.
8. COBOS, 2009b, p. 186.
9. COBOS et al., 2000.
10. COBOS, 2011a.
11. COBOS and CASTRO, 1998a.
12. See references in COBOS, 2005.
13. Especially the work by ANTONIO ALMAGRO and his team on examples in Andalucia. Other references in COBOS, 2005.
14. In comparison with the history of religious architecture, which as well as having the support that comes from style recognition,
developed surveying and typological study much more than military architecture, the landscape value of castles is expressed
much better in paintings and prints than in architectural plans. COBOS, 2014b.
15. COBOS and CMARA, 2008.
16. COBOS et al., 2000, p. 198.
17. COBOS et al., 2000, p. 200.
18. COBOS and CASTRO, 2000b, p. 263.
19. COBOS, 2005a.
20. COBOS, 2012, p. 43.
21. COBOS and HOYUELA, 2005; COBOS and HOYUELA, 2010.
22. COBOS and CAMPOS, 2013, pp. 154-161.
23. COBOS, 2009a; COBOS, 2011.
24. COBOS, 2004 and 2004b, pp. 225-267.
25. On behalf of the Castilla y Len regional government. Unpublished.
26. COBOS and CAMPOS, 2013, pp. 106-114.
27. COBOS and CAMPOS, 2013, pp. 186-193.
28. COBOS, 2005a and 2005b.
29. COBOS, 2014.
30. COBOS, 2014a.
31. Ibdem.
32. Ibdem.
33. COBOS, 2004a.
34. COBOS, 2009b.
35. Reflections on the size of the forts based on the determination of the external polygon appear in the seventeenth century.
36. COBOS and CAMPOS, 2013, pp. 144-149.
37. CARITA, 2014; COBOS, 2013.
38. For more on Dutch theory, albeit with a certain intention to disregard not only the Spanish experience but also, paradoxically,
the Portuguese experience prior to 1640, see BUCHO, 2011.
39. Regarding this question on the Portuguese border, see COBOS and CAMPOS, 2013, pp. 130-137; for more on fortification and
the Jesuits, see DE LUCCA, 2012.



BUCHO, D. (2011), Mtodos e Escolas de Fortificao Abaluartada em Elvas, Lisbon, Edies Colibri.
CARITA, R. (2014), O ensino das matemticas nos colgios jesuitas de Portugal CEAMA, n 11, Almeida (Portu-
COBOS, F. and CASTRO, J.J. DE (1998a), Castilla y Len: Castillos y fortalezas. Leon.
COBOS, F. and CASTRO, J. (2000a), Diseo y desarrollo tcnico de las fortificaciones de transicin espaolas, in C.
J. HERNANDO SNCHEZ (coord.), Las fortificaciones de Carlos V. Madrid.
COBOS, F. and CASTRO, J. (2000b), El debate en la fortificacin del Imperio de Carlos V, in C. J. HERNANDO
SNCHEZ (coord.), Las fortificaciones de Carlos V. Madrid.
COBOS, F. CASTRO, J.J. DE, and SNCHEZ-GIJN, A. (2000), Luis Escriv, su Apologa y la Fortificacin Imperial. Va-
lencia: Biblioteca Valenciana.
COBOS, F. (2004), Tecniche ossidionali e difensive aragonesi e spagnole in Actas del congreso internacional Castel
Sismondo e l`arte Militare del Primo Rinascimento. Rimini. / La Artillera de los RR.CC. Valladolid.
COBOS, F. (2004a), La formulacin de los principios de la Fortificacin abaluartada, in Tcnica e ingeniera en
Espaa: El renacimiento. Manuel Silva, ed. Zaragoza.
COBOS, F. (2004b), Los orgenes de la Escuela Espaola de Fortificacin del primer Renacimiento, in Artillera
y Fortificaciones en la Corona de Castilla durante el reinado de Isabel la Catlica, 1474-1504. Ed. Aurelio Valds.
Madrid: Ministerio de Defensa, Centro de Publicaciones.
COBOS, F. (2005), La fortificacin espaola del primer renacimiento. Entre la arqueologa de la arquitectura y la
arquitectura de papel in Actas del Congreso internacional Ciudades Fortificadas. Pamplona.
COBOS, F. (2005a), La Fortificacin Espaola en los siglos XVII y XVIII: Vauban sin Vauban y contra Vauban, in
Tcnica e ingeniera en Espaa: El Siglo de las Luces, Volume II. Manuel Silva, ed. Zaragoza.
COBOS, F. (2005b), Los Ingenieros, las Experiencias y los Escenarios de la Arquitectura Militar Espaola en el
S.XVII & Los Sistemas de Fortificacin como Patrimonio Heredado, in A. CMARA MUOZ (coord.) Los inge-
nieros militares de la monarqua hispnica en los siglos XVII y XVIII, Madrid, Ministerio de Defensa - Asociacin
Espaola de Amigos de los Castillos - Centro de Estudios Europa Hispnica.
COBOS, F. and HOYUELA, A. (2005), Metodologa de Estudio e intervencin del Plan Director de las Fortalezas
Fronterizas del Bajo Mio, in Actas del tercer congreso de castillologa ibrica. Guadalajara.
COBOS, F. and CMARA, A. (2008), De la fortificacin de Yvia. Eivissa: Editorial Mediterrnia Ibiza.
COBOS, F. (2009a): Almeida on the Raia. Report on the fortifications of the Portuguese border line for its desig-
nation as a candidate for world heritage site in CEAMA, n4. Almeida.
COBOS, F. (2009b), Leonardo ingeniero y su contexto: Una gua de lectura crtica del Cdice Madrid II, in Los
Manuscritos de Leonardo da Vinci de la BNE: Codex Madrid I (Ms. 8937) and Codex Madrid II (Ms. 8936), first
critical edition and the facsimile edition. Madrid.
COBOS, F. and HOYUELA, A. (2010), Plano Director das fortalezas Transfronterias do Baixo Minho, in CEAMA,
n 5. Almeida (Portugal).
COBOS, F. (2011), Metodologa para la caracterizacin tipolgica y tecnolgica de la fortificacin de la raya de
Portugal como sistema, in CEAMA, n 8. Almeida.
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COBOS, F. and CAMPOS, J. (2013), Almeida/ Ciudad Rodrigo, la fortificacin de la Raya Central. Salamanca: The
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Baroque Age, Leiden, Brill Publishers.

Back to Contents


Keeping Secrets and Mapping Frontiers:
Government and Image
in the Spanish Monarchy 1


Universidad de Valladolid


This chapter addresses the relationships between frontier, drawing and secrecy in Spains
Habsburg monarchy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Those relationships were
the outcome of the criteria legitimising expansion as well as of the fluctuating priorities
around defence by land or by sea and hence around the role of bastioned fortification.
Such structures crystallised the construction of military, legal and symbolic frontiers until
that conceit was forsaken in twentieth century thinking, historiography and imagery. The
political dimension of space which, as Braudel noted, was the primary challenge facing
an expansion-minded monarchy, can only be reconstructed from a global perspective. To
broach the frontier in the Habsburg court and kingdoms is to broach power as a dialec-
tical interplay of interests, resources and values. Thus viewed, the frontier is a ductile,
fluid conceit which, in its stark contrast to the stony immobility of fortifications, ques-
tions the applicability of anachronistic notions such as strategy and identifies the need
to revisit todays criteria around sovereignty and propaganda. Power must be viewed in
keeping with the values of a political society radically different from our own in every re-
spect, beginning with ceremonial imagery that ultimately affected the portrayal of fron-
tiers and fortifications. Set against courtly rhetoric, the secrecy that shrouded military
engineers drawings bears witness both to a technique for exercising power in competition
with others and to a new approach to reality.


Frontier, drawing, secrecy, fortifications, Spanish monarchy, image, court, engineers,

House of Habsburg, Pyrenees.


In his Spiritual Canticle, which he began to write in 1578, St John of the Cross attests
to the awareness of territorial bounds that characterised his age, alternately evoking na-
tures and humanitys works: Along sea and strand shall I go / No flowers shall I pluck /
nor beasts shall I fear / and I shall pass forts and cross frontiers. The energy in the verbs
go, pass and cross links the spatial symbolism of mountains and strands to the
forts and frontiers in the same verse. The soul seeks a reality that exists beyond body
and matter, although as in any initiation voyage, crossing a boundary involves moving
into the mystery-riven unknown. The poet explains that he calls the devils forts, be-
cause they strive to stand in the way of the spiritual road. And he says that the soul will
cross the frontiers, which he defines as the natural resistance and rebellion of the
flesh against the spirit...3. This perspective of a broader horizon superseded an earlier
analogy in which the soul dwelt in a castle. That image had been modernised by Erasmus
who contended that the devil undermining [...] stealeth on us unaware and Pedro
Mexia who compared the weave and structure of the human body to a transposition
or likeness of the world wide in which mans head [is] superior to the rest [...] like a
fortress in a city4. The association of secrecy, drawing or design and fortress represented
power in a new dimension that could not be ignored even in spiritual literature.
The metaphor of the soldier in spiritual battle (adopted by St Ignatius and other au-
thors based on Prudentiuss Psychomachia) would be used, for instance, by Portuguese
writer Francisco de Holanda to convert fortress designing into a religious mission5. St
Teresa of Avila placed the souls habitat in a more conventional interior castle (with di-
amond walls clad with palatial magnificence according to widespread allegorical tradi-
tion6). John of the Crosss fort and frontier enlarged on the metaphors commonly found
in books of chivalry7 (which nonetheless contained descriptions of military engineering,
as in Antonio de Torquemadas Olivante de Laura published in 15648) and earlier con-
ventions such as Benedictine monk Gonzalo de Arredondos 1528 impregnable castle
(Castillo inexpugnable9). St Johns nude contemporary images depicted the immediacy
of the political and architectural realities prevailing in the reign of Philip II, the builder
king intent upon enclosing spaces in a world whose destiny he believed had been com-
mended to him by the Creator. In keeping with that vision, shared by most of his subjects,
warfare was versified, among others by Captain Francisco de Aldana. Before dying in bat-
tle alongside King Sebastian of Portugal in remote North African Alcazarquivir, he wrote
a poem dedicated to the Spanish monarch that described an overarching theory for the
defence of the peninsular frontiers. Under his premise, the six factors that would afford
resistance against any armed warrior included soldiers and their experienced minds, a
strong fortress city with moat and traverse, and a protected site where nature itself would
do battle10. A monarchy which, like the Christians soul, was under siege erected new
fortresses to defend its innermost and outermost frontiers. The Earth thus incarnated
was assigned a providential mission, although the constant felling of natural and human
barriers rendered domination as unstable as a river that routinely overflows its banks.
St John of the Crosss mystical challenge to conquer space was sympathetic with the
scientific experimentation conducted by cartographers and draughtsmen seeped in em-

blematic culture11. They both sublimated
the chivalrous zeal expressed in the maxim
composed by Milanese humanist and
physician Luigi Marliano for young Charles
I on the occasion of a meeting of the Order
of the Golden Fleece at Brussels in 1516.
His Plus oultre was soon erroneously La-
tinised as Plus ultra and translated into
German as Noch weiter12. In a second read-
ing, that maxim was identified with the ex-
pansion of the monarchy during the
emperors reign and with the image of the
globe that had already been adopted as one
of the imperial symbols13. A medal struck FIG. 1 NON SVFFICIT ORBIS. Philip II medal, ca
after the annexation of Portugal in 1580 1580. Numismatic Portuguese Museum, Lisbon.
depicted an unbridled horse galloping
across a globe with carefully embossed
meridians under the legend, Non svfficit orbis, meant to symbolise the attainment of such
ambitious goals. That portrayal of motion represented the union of space and time which,
as Braudel14 explained, was addressed to greater effect by the Spanish monarchy than by
its contenders. Endless motion seemed to embody what Drakes buccaneers called the
King of Spains and his nations insatiable ambition, when in 1586 they found that
provocative image in the Governor of Santo Domingos palace15. One of Drakes men
copied it in a drawing that also reproduced the Prudent Kings first device: Nec spe nec
metv, whose moral meaning, neither out of hope nor out of fear could be interpreted
as a reference to the defensive needs generated by enlargement policies. Nonetheless,
that meaning paled in comparison to the excess inherent in the image stolen by the Eng-
lish privateers. The drawing, in which the emblem was overlaid on the Spanish coat of
arms in a map of the capital of La Espaola during the English attack, was intended as
political denunciation. While this was a celebratory symbol, other drawings drafted during
Drakes same expedition depicted the sturdy coastal defence system erected in the Span-
ish Indies. In contrast to the dynamic impetus of the equestrian emblem, the staid im-
mobility of the fortresses spied upon represented a compendium of military art and hence
the foremost incarnation of spatial measurement, which was inseparable from the de-
piction of space on paper, canvas or other media.
Before geometry was certitude and politics dogma, when spatial measurement was a
challenge and power rested on transcendental truth, merely imagining the bounds of a
territory, even to deny them, was an avowal of strength and organisation. That was why
maps were drawn in conjunction with the designs for fortresses. In theory and in practice
(with the uncertainties and contradictions inherent in depiction), strongholds were sited
in valleys, on mountain tops, along rivers and in meadows, to custody more precise al-
though vulnerable boundaries, just as the body protected the soul against its enemies in
St Johns mystical vision. The political persona in traditional society, scornfully termed
the ancien rgime in arrogant bourgeois parlance, was always on the alert, intensifying


FIG. 2 Engraving by Baptista Boazio in 1588 depicting Drakes assault on Santo Domingo and the NEC SPE NEC
METU emblem, taken from a drawing made by one of Drakes men in 1586. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich,

his guard to defend positions constantly challenged by other political entities across a
border conceived, drawn and built on land that gradually became landscape16.
The symbiosis between territorial bounds and construction was so tight that, once
command over the world had been consummated, the border continued to be associated
with the image of a castle or fortress: a literary device used to express the isolation of
contemporary humanity, deprived of the system of values that raised strongholds on land
and in the soul. That would explain the desolation of the deserto dei tartari so obsessively
scrutinised by Dino Buzzatis officer in 1940 from a useless fortress, on un tratto di
frontiera morta [] che non da pensiero17. Buzzatis fortress was preceded 5 years
earlier by Kafkas posthumous castle, whose insecure, irregular, broken battlements bit
into the blue sky and seemed to have been designed by a careless or cowardly child; an
existential labyrinth, a confusing, Medievalised construction still seeped in religious sym-
bolism, where the surveyor discovered the futility of his trade in a world where all sense
of mensuration had been lost18. Kafkas vision, in turn, was countered by the humanistic
metaphor in another posthumous and unfinished work, Saint-Exuprys Citadelle pub-
lished in 1948 and likewise set in the solitude of the desert. Here, however, solitary space
was invoked in opposition to the spiritual home found by building, alluding to certainties
identified for centuries with the Augustinian City of God but since lost19.

The failure of modern fortifications in the world wars and the mass destruction of
cities, dragged out due to the drastic shifting of boundaries in Europe, also prompted
new philosophical reflection. In 1951 Heidegger attempted in his Being and Time to de-
termine the relationship between being and space through the idea of habitation, delim-
ited by the Greek conceits pras and rismos, to define the two sides of the border as the
end and beginning of reality, inferring that there is a within and a without that likewise
need to be measured20. The European convulsions that induced such musings made the
border a historiographic object, from Lucien Febvre with his pioneering works on Franco
Condado and the Rhine21 to Carl Schmitt with his study on the power of the land and
the sea in the trail blazed in empire building. Borders were thus conceived as a nomos,
understood to be a jurisdictional, political and moral limit defined by mensuration, which
by that time had hypertrophied under the thrust of technology and faded from thought22.
Whilst the twentieth century interest in territorial limits was driven by intensified na-
tionalism in the wake of the historical geography of the Annales and the new German
science of geopolitics23, as we enter a new century an apparently contrary situation has
inspired renewed enthusiasm for the history of boundaries and the social variations on
that theme24. The crisis of the European nation-state justifies the pursuit of evidence of
the inconsistency of national realities formerly regarded as inalterable, given the pre-
sumed porosity of borders and confines. Some historians, with self-attributed divine pow-
ers (especially in certain regions of Spain) aim to create history by denial, betrayal or
concealment, while real history, wedded to geography, towers over the horizon in the in-
escapable silhouette of mountain ranges.
The Pyrenees constitute a paradigmatic example. The object of fluctuating interest
underlain by national realities delimited by natural boundaries25, in the twentieth century
these mountains were attributed a number of political-literary interpretations that aimed
to quell romantic fantasies26, still evoked as late as 1959, in a metaphysical vein, by im-
ages such as Ren Magrittes Le Chateau des Pyrenees. A plastic rendition of the platitude
castles in Spain/castles in the air, this painting also elicits the fortress as an abstract
idea (using a construction with a suspicious likeness to the Medieval pastiche at Carcas-
sonne) associated with a symbolic boundary that, like modern humans certainties, fades
while challenging the most robust features of land and sea. Its ironic flight, in open con-
tradiction to architectures mythical firmitas27, is reminiscent of the city in Aristophaness
The Birds, Calderns Castillo de Lindabridis, Swifts Laputa or the delirious utopian Fly-
ing City imagined in 1928 by Gueorgui Krutikov, apotheosis of communist deracination.
The diversity of readings and messages of what appears to herald the continental
literary rift found in Saramagos The stone raft overlays the complexity of Pyrenees
space, defended in so-called modern times with the most advanced military and
cartographic resources in the labyrinthine geology of mountain passes and in fortified
foothills, from Salsas to Jaca, Pamplona and Fuenterraba. The designs drafted by
Tiburzio Spannochi for Philip II reflected the need for drawings to build boundaries28.
Even as late as 1700, after the attempt to suppress the political strife that arose around
the change from the Habsburg to the Bourbon dynasty, the formulation of which is at-
tributed to Ambassador Castelldosrius or Louis XIV himself, the Pyrenees border
regained its status as the first line of defence. Decades prior to the construction of the


huge San Fernando fort at Figueras,
that status was reflected in a play
entitled Las Amazonas de Espaa,
written in 1720 by Jos de
Caizares to be staged in Philip
Vs court with music by Giaccomo
Faco. The women warriors (asso-
ciated with borders since classical
Greek times) encountered by Han-
nibal when he crossed the Pyrenees
(according to Plutarch) symbolised
support for Isabel de Farnesios
political ambitions, while invoking
the military significance of a moun-
tainous frontier. That vision was
associated with engineering design
in the form of a compass and a
sphere depicted amongst the books
in the Amazon Queens cabinet as
an attribute of majesty identified
with geometry- and construction-
mediated defence of peninsular
The sphere alluded to an an-
cient symbol of sovereignty mod-
FIG. 3 REN MAGRITTE. Le chteau des Pyrnees, 1959: Israel Mu-
seum, Jerusalem. ernised by universality30, a new
conceit spawned by cartographic
progress and mirrored in the polit-
ical cosmology portrayed in several series of royal tapestries31. The compass, in turn,
along with the angle square and other objects, was identified with both architecture32
and the symbolic fundamentals of the res publica as a whole. As Alberti noted, architec-
ture served as an example of the capacity to spiritualise nature through rules whose ra-
tionale hinged on time33. That, together with space, was the primary challenge in the
pursuit of eternity in pre-modern constructions, fortifications in particular34. The angle
square and the compass also embodied a view of Mensuration35 reinforced by allegorical
tradition that linked the philosophy of architecture to space in general36. In 1599 the
marriage of scientific knowledge and military action was pictured on the cover of a book
entitled Milicia y descripcin de las Indias authored by Captain Bernardo de Vargas
Machuca, in which the author was shown holding a compass in his right hand, poised
on a globe, while grasping a sword with his left, all under the caption With a compass
and a sword / more and more and more and more37. Shortly before, one of the impresas
deployed for Philip IIs funeral rites in Naples Cathedral consisted in a compass drawing
a circle under the caption CIRCVIT IMMOTVS. The idea that inspired the geometric
symbol was that se bene il Re era stato il pi della sua vita, fermo con la presenza nella

Spagna; haveva egli nondimeno collalto et generoso pensiero aggirato tutto il mondo;
et con linvitta potenza circondato con lImpero suo un compiuto giro della Terra38.
Mobility and stillness (with their corollaries, expansion and defence) thereby merged in
an image of political perfection.
Lines drawn on paper represented divisions between kingdoms when, in the absence
of a natural boundary such as the Pyrenees, history defined limits along plains with rivers
as the only seams. That was what set the stage for fortifications and consequently for
their depiction. That was the case of the Portuguese boundary, the least natural of all
and nonetheless one of the most persistent, despite the 1580 annexation that drove new
expansive ambitions symbolised by the emblematic runaway horse. Very soon, drawings
were made of cities on the dividing line to determine the condition of their Medieval
walls and the need for modernisation. A book by Duarte de Armas provides invaluable
witness to how the frontier was conceived in 1511. When secession began with the Por-
tuguese revolt under the Duke of Braganza, the 1642 copy of that book described the
defensive continuity of a front that would be the site of further attempts in the decades
that followed39. The exchange of experience among engineers and architects on both
sides of this artificial boundary were attested to by the works of Francisco de Holanda40,
which culminated in the constructions authored by Filippo Terzi and other major actors
in the 1580 conquest of Lusitania41.
Other more subtle and remote frontiers lay hidden in cities transformed in the six-
teenth century by demographic and architectural growth. When Philip II commissioned
Anton Van der Wyngaerde make a record of his Spanish kingdoms in images, the
draughtsmans gaze lingered in the cities. Like the writers who, true to Pausanias, were
creating a new chorographic tradition, Wyngaerde left an accurate description of Spains
major urban settings, borrowing from the drawing techniques inherited from his Flemish
masters. The artist took to the countryside to find the ideal perspectives, extracted the
grandeur of the horizon in hills and coasts and precisely portrayed cities enclosed in walls
generally more effective as fiscal and symbolic bounds than as defensive structures. The
exception was to be found in coastal cities like Barcelona, where new sections of wall re-
inforced with bastions had been built42.
The evolution of the use of drawings and chronicles in shaping the land into a political
body, epitomised by the border, drew from a diverse perception of information and
image43. Due to the survival of the broader meaning of the Medieval frontier, with its
widespread historical and literary reverberations in Spanish society44, the modern frontier,
like the early bastioned fortifications along it, was a transitional construct. The idea of
the frontier (never fully consummated) above and beyond local patronage-based relations
was consolidated across a complex jurisdictional, military and diplomatic web45 reminis-
cent of Imperial Roman limes, marked by the Spanish crowns ceaseless construction
and mensuration46. Confines and enclaves of Medieval origin co-existed with this new
geometrised space as a result of the reformulation of the territorial basis of power47. Even
that geometrisation, however, was fruit of political struggle in- and outside the monarchy
that led to different strategies that were both time- (further to fluctuations in the crowns
resources, which determined the alternation between expansion and defence in succes-
sive reigns) and space-dependent. In that battle the expansive pressure brought to bear


JARDO. Idea de un prncipe poltico
cristiano representada en cien empre-
sas. Miln, 1642. I am assailed and
defended, Impresa 83.

by certain provincial elites was countered by the prudent defensive restraint of other
forces both at court and in the territories48.
In a similar vein, the monarchys priorities shifted from the Mediterranean49 to the
Atlantic, whilst its Ottoman enemy, forfeiting the logistic advantage afforded by its al-
liance with France since 1526, diverted its power away from that interior sea to expand
eastward to Asian geographies. In spite of its considerable advances in engineering, the
Spanish monarchy never undertook projects comparable to the large Ottoman canals,
focusing rather on defence in static enclosures. The Turks and the Spaniards nonethe-
less shared a continental view of power that led them to see naval routes as a prolon-
gation of their inland counterparts. The former were regarded as no less vital for
communication between their domains, over and above the need to choose between
ship and fortress construction which was tantamount to opting between dynamic de-
fence at sea and static defence on land. In 1640 Saavedra Fajardo summarised the
need to reconcile the two mechanisms in his impresa 83, which depicted Medieval
tower in a modern fortress surrounded by the sea under the caption I am assailed and
The monarchys universality also rested on the claim to the right of exclusive navi-
gation, which spread past the initial hegemonic ambitions over the western Mediter-
ranean (the Spanish Sea in Ottoman texts) to include a Spanish Ocean in the Atlantic
and even a Hispanis Mare Pacificum. The former was based on controversial papal con-
cessions (ironically called Adams will, a phrase traditionally attributed to Francis I
of France51), while the latter was found on maps drawn as late as the second half of
the seventeenth century. Reality, however, gradually outpaced names. The growing de-
pendence of naval art on technology52 and military architecture conditioned the mo-
bilisation of economic, technical and human resources. That intensified the
contradiction between expansion and defence, mirrored by the evolution of fortifica-
tions: from the earliest bastion-based structures built by the Catholic Monarchs,
through their fuller definition under the Emperor53 and expansion and theoretical de-
velopment under Philip II54 to their trouble-fraught conservation in the seventeenth

century55. This process led to the consolidation of the perception of the territories as
fortresses defended by the walls of their mountains and coasts in conjunction with the
bastions around their cities56. The monarchy as a whole could be compared to a huge
fortress with its borders as its outer walls.
Urban centres such as Milan were defined, in turn, as fortress cities where conti-
nental roads converged, guaranteeing the mobility of armies between southern and
northern Europe57. At the same time, projects for bastioned cities continued to be
planned to protect maritime frontiers and ensure the existence of a network of ports
vital to the major coastal routes. Hence the Spanish garrisons at Toscana58 and in north-
ern Africa or enclaves such as Felipeia in Brazil, founded at the end of Philip IIs reign59.
Galleys and galleons fitted with increasingly effective artillery60 formed the backbone
of a naval machinery that, in its struggle against distance, unsuccessfully proposed the
use of propellers in addition to human and wind power to dispense with sails61. These
vessels could be regarded as floating fortresses and the fleets as mobile cities62. In his
memorandum on the creation of a huge royal library addressed to the king at the be-
ginning of Philip IIs reign, Juan Pez de Castro alluded to the utility of having armed
and provisioned and mobile cities able to carry your fundamentals wherever deemed
suitable63. Vessels and fortresses were the answer to geopolitical needs based on the
defence of maritime corridors (depending on the coasts and the winds, such as the one
that connected Barcelona to Genoa, Naples and Palermo in the Mediterranean64, the
Indies Route in the Atlantic and its prolongation in the Pacific with the Manila
galleon65) or land routes (such as the famous Spanish Road between northern Italy and
the Netherlands66) to guarantee inter-territorial communication. The layout and evo-
lution of these corridors, the crowns military and economic arteries, determined the
monarchys general plan of action and hence the production of drawings and designs,
such as for fortresses in the Strait of Magellan intended to control navigation between
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans67.
Unsurprisingly, from the Age of Discovery the sea was used as a metaphor for the
court, archives or books (the custodians of the secrets of power), while cartographers
and engineers rendered ever more accurate outlines of those discoveries in all manner
of drawings, beginning with maps. To capture a view of land and sea on a few inches
of paper, suggest the presence of light, air and water with brush and pen, run ones
gaze across coastlines spattered with spots of colour and small glittering pennants,
study the wind rose as if it were a compass trapped in an angle of a piece of world, so
close and yet so far away... such were the miracles of cartography explored at least from
the times of Ptolemaic Alexandria. But neither the Greek and Roman ecumene nor the
narrower spatial horizon embraced in the Middle Ages had ever, as far as we know,
reached the virtuosity and conceptual wealth of the maps drawn in the so-called modern
age68. Treasure holds of constantly renovated knowledge able to crush authoritarian
premises with the methodical application of empirical analysis; works of art that con-
veyed the aesthetic thrust of late Gothic; the gradual assertion of classical motifs and
ultimately the prevalence of the most refined mannerist language culminating in the
descriptive apotheosis identified with Baroque style; maps with their drawings of
fortresses and frontiers... all encompassed a world rife with natural and political barriers


FIG. 5 Cover of BATTISTA AGNESEs Atlas, containing the single-headed imperial eagle, Spains coat of arms and a portrait of
Philip II in Roman attire receiving the world from God the Father. 1544. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

FIG. 6 BATTISTA AGNESEs Atlas. World map with Magellans route. 1544. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.

that would be felled by the thirst for knowledge. Sovereigns and a few members of the
political elite lent growing attention to these images, regarded as an essential tool of
governmental culture69.
In 1543 Charles V gave his heir one of the first atlases, a small portable copy, authored
by Genovese cartographer Battista Agnese. The cover of that work, widely regarded as a
visual supplement to the Emperors instructions on the art of governance intended for
his son70, contained an allegorical manifesto of the expansive objectives symbolised by
the maps inside. Neptune was portrayed piloting a trireme, an allusion to the maritime
empire on which the monarchys power should rest, while the future Caesar, Philip, arms
raised, received the globe held out to him by Providence. The maps showed Philip the
latitude and direction of the winds, as well as the areas where expansion was a priority,
along with a world map charting Magellans and El Canos itinerary in their voyage around
the world71. This lesson in political geography was a lodestar for his education72, for it
reflected the changes that were expanding the monarchys borders. Not unjustifiably, an-
other atlas by the same cartographer depicted a man (doubling for the author) dressed
in ancient garb and using a compass to measure the world handed him by Atlas, a recur-
rent embodiment of power and an iconographic precedent to Vargas Machucas self-
Maps, inseparable from borders, shifted with them. The dream of an empire where
the sun never set was evoked at least from 1535 in the impresa coined by Sicilian scientist

FIG. 7 BATTISTA AGNESEs Atlas. Depicting Atlas and a male figure measuring with a compass, 1546. Russian National Li-
brary, St Petersburg.


and humanist Francesco Maurolico for
Charles Vs entry into Messina. It would be
expanded to include a lunar metaphor as a
premonition of the fate to which it was des-
tined by its excesses in a map authored by
Michael Florent van Langren. This Flem-
ish astronomer came to Madrid in 1631 to
defend his studies on the length of the sea
based on the phases of the moon in re-
sponse to the demands for accuracy made
by a monarchy obliged to maintain its naval
capacity. He christened the selenic topog-
raphy designed years earlier by Galileo,
turning it to the greater glory of the Planet
King, Philip IV73. More earthly concerns
moved the king, in 1634, to commission a
huge atlas of his domains from royal cos-
mographer Pedro de Texeira. Similarly, his
prime minister Luis de Haro had another
atlas drawn by Italian painter Leonardo
Ferrari, which focused on the two most
Milicia y descripcin de las Indias. Madrid, 1599, Pedro
troubled regions afflicted by open revolt,
Madrigal. Italy and Portugal74. Between these two
cartographic endeavours, the monarchy
was forced to exchange its hegemonic am-
bitions for defensive goals. Defence priorities shifted inward, as shown in the drawings
and descriptions of fortifications along the Portuguese border, which concurred with the
last military offensives to recover that territory in the sixteen sixties75.


In 1595 Tiburzio Spannochi undertook to describe the Sicilian city-fortresses in a text

dedicated to the future Philip III, calling on him to run Your eyes over it at [Your]
leisure, as a work meant for His Magesty and Y.H. only, for it addresses matters whose
conveyance is not apt for many nor fit for print.... Spannochi, who stressed the impor-
tance of defending the kingdom of Sicily76 given its location at the farthest end and
frontier of Your Magestys and our religions most powerful enemy, embodied the by
then imperative role played by the methods for measuring and representing land areas.
In 1578 he received a commission from Viceroy Marco Antonio Colonna to provide a
true and detailed description of the shores with their ports and coves and ground plans
and elevations of the fortifications there and an opinion on each.... To that end, to-
gether with the description of these ports and inlets along the shores, perspectives were
drawn of each site and their towers, which as you will see are painted thereon in the

margin with a list of what would be needed to repair them, showing the guards mounted
everywhere and marking the differences among them [...], the places where new towers
would be required are identified, along with their shape, size and cost in proportion to
those standing, which can be distinguished along the coast as yellow dots.... The aim
was to make the king and his advisers aware of the actual condition of his possessions
in the eyes of experts, since for things relating to descriptions of provinces the Royal
person and more importantly those designated to advise him should draw from other
opinions to better resolve in such respects, for their grave and constant occupations
leave them no room to see with their own eyes the large expanses of land under their
Spannochis career, like Torrianis, Calvis and the Paleari Fratinos78, attested to the
draughtsmans role, adopted every more consciously by engineers. They were even
known to resort to others when their own ability fell short of the skill needed to fulfil
such a primary duty, or used their own designs to build visual universes where technique
converged with the most erudite symbolism, such as in the symbolic maps of the Canary
Islands drawn by Torriani79. Drawing the borderline was tantamount to beginning to
build it80, to closing the gap between architecture and territory, to envisioning political
and military bounds established in diplomatic treaties and by experts in war. The
draughtsman engineer became the interpreter able to rationalise the world, whilst the
frontier, the abstract line that crossed seas and mountain ranges, sprang to life in hidden
archives or on the desk where the prince and his entourage (his ears, hands and eyes)
envisioned the universe conveyed to them on paper. In drawings of the border, nature
could be depicted as a political construct, a wall, a fortress whose design determined
the very rules of war. This idea was captured by Baltasar de Ayala, the auditor of Alessan-
dro Farneses army in Flanders, when he wrote in his treatise on military law (an elab-
orate justification of the repression of revolt), that In the constitutions of the kingdom
of Spain [...] he who by order of the king were designated to head a poorly built and
provisioned fortress impossible to defend, and notified the king accordingly, would not
offend the crown if the fortress is taken by the enemy...81. In its reproduction of reality,
drawing was in itself an exercise in government, imposing order on the surface of the
land with maps, ground plans or overviews, or stripping it down into its parts for subse-
quent transformation.
Given the intimidating role of fortresses, the mere announcement of their construction
could trigger alarm and even rebellion, as in Sienna and Genoa, or purportedly technical
debates around their layout that veiled political controversy. The disputed construction of
SantElmo Castle at Naples, for instance, prompted a reply from its author, Pedro Luis de
Escriv, in a manuscript that constituted the first Spanish treatise on fortifications82.
Indeed, building or merely designing a fortress sufficed to shift borderlines to the very
heart of cities, as symbolised by the drawing of a citadel included in the treatises on the
subject83, further to political practice as attested to by Machiavelli84. The author of The
Prince is not regarded as a theorist of the politics of drawing, however. That role is
assigned to his contemporary and in some respects antagonist Baltasar de Castiglione,
who in a famous paragraph of Book I of his The Courtier recommended to know how to
draw and design and have an understanding of the art of painting for in addition to the


esteem in which [such skills] are held,
they are immensely beneficial, especially
in war, when regions, settlements, rivers,
bridges, cliffs, fortresses and similar
must often be sketched for, even if they
could be memorised, a nearly impossible
endeavour, they could not be depicted
in any other way85. Later Francisco de
Holanda, further to the neo-Platonic
theory that made drawing the intellectual
origin of all the other arts and even mil-
itary science, would have Michelangelo
claim: drawing is enormously useful in
war to depict the position of remote
places, the form of mountains and ports
in ranges and bays and sea ports; the
form of high and low fortresses, walls
and gates and their locations; roads,
rivers and beaches and the lagoons and
fords to be circumvented or crossed....
For all those reasons, he concluded,
what greater courtesy can be had by
FIG. 9 GALASSO ALGHISI DA CARPI. Delle fortificationi.
any brave gentleman than to reveal to
Venice, 1570. the inexperienced and unaccustomed
eyes of soldiers the form of the city they
are to siege before the attack?86.
Architectural knowledge, associated with the practical application of geometry and
reinforced by the growing intellectual ambition of its practitioners87, was introduced to
Spanish royal (especially from the times of Philip II88) and noble89 courtly culture through
drawing. Arithmetic and geometry formed part of the same conceptual realm that wedded
theory to the exercise of power. That ideal was invoked in treatises on fortifications such
as authored by Galasso Alghisi di Carpi (the Duke of Ferraras architect) in Venice in
1570, dedicated to Emperor Maximilian II, the Prudent Kings cousin. All the platitudes
of construction science were summarised on the allegorical cover of this text. Presided
by the imperial effigy flanked by the four cardinal virtues, it depicted a Doric faade
where architecture, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy were symbolised. At the base,
the front side of a bastion was set amongst geometric shapes over an inscription that ex-
alted the dual objectives, defence and territorial expansion, to be achieved through the
virtue and art that should inform the rulers principled mind.
Adopting the same approach (although here rejecting territorial expansion policies),
Neapolitan humanist Mario Galeota wrote in his manuscript treatise entitled Delle For-
tificationi (dedicated to Philip II in 1560) that like architects, who before drawing the
perfect fortress must have a mental vision of the complementarity of its components,
princes must envision their lands as the place where all areas of knowledge converge to

VASARI. Cosme I es-
tudia el plan para la
conquista de Siena,
ca. 1563-1565.
Palazzo Vecchio, Sa-
lone dei Cinque-
cento, Florence.

design the defence of cities and countryside90. Here the sovereign was depicted as the
builder of his state. In another unpublished treatise on fortifications, written at around
the same time as Galeotas, nobleman and engineer Pesaro Giovan Jacopo Leonardi de-
fended a division of roles between the prince, regarded as the intellect, the captain and
the eyes, and the engineer, viewed as the hand91. Perhaps the most explicit depiction of
the draughtsman prince and engineer was painted by Vasari (emulating Michelangelos
ideas) on the ceiling of the ceiling over the Hall of the Five Hundred in the Florentine
Palazzo Vecchio in 1563-1565. In this rendering, Cosimo I de Medici is shown (attired
as a courtier, with the coat of arms on the floor and escorted by Prudence and Strength)
among episodes of the War of Siena (one of the major laboratories of military architec-
ture) drawing geometric shapes with a compass on the ground plan of a fortification at
a desk bearing a scale model of the city under siege92. Drawing, more than architecture
itself, became a metaphor for power and its exercise in history. In 1536 Bernardo Prez
translated a chronicle of the Italian campaigns written by Galeazzo Capella to the future
Philip II: so You can read what is drawn in history books, for history is painting that
talks93. Charles V himself was known to be fond of drawings of land and fortresses,
which he brought to Yuste, and to sporadically practise this art, for as Francesco Sanso-
vino wrote, talhora ritirato in secreto passava il tempo col disegnar qualche pianta di
fortezza o di altro edificio94. In sympathy with the proliferation of books of drawings and
manuscripts circulating among Italian Renaissance artists like mobile galleries95, borders


Plano del curso del Ro Bidasoa a
su paso por Behovia. Espaa, Min-
isterio de Educacin, Cultura y
Deporte. Archivo General de
Simancas, MPD 16, 127.


MEULEN. Intercambio de princesas
en 1615 en el Bidasoa, (Crown
Heritage) Encarnacin Monastery,

were introduced in the chambers reserved to sovereigns and their advisers before appear-
ing (as horizon, battle or fortress) on the walls of the ceremonial rooms with which they
shared the political scenario.
Ceremonies represented the power of consensus in motion. Consequently, like the
science of fortification, the science of etiquette was restricted knowledge only gradually
disseminated. Both comprised reserved knowledge, the converse of propaganda96, for
they formed part of the secrets of power, even when intended to attest to its grandeur
by embodying the capacity to organise space both in its innermost depths and its re-
motest bounds. The reception and interpretation of cartographers and engineers draw-
ings paralleled the development of ceremonies around which palace life was structured
in keeping with practice codified on the grounds of other drawings that defined the hi-
erarchies in courtly space97. Borders also acquired a ceremonial dimension, providing
the setting for royal encounters and matrimonial alliances along traditional boundaries
such as the River Bidasoa. As preparatory drawings and celebratory paintings show, the

royal travel called for by such events afforded an opportunity to inspect the fortifications
in the surrounds and establish disputed boundaries with the aid of devices deployed for
the occasion (commissioned from military engineers such as Juan de Medici in 1615).
The topographic accuracy of such illustrations, which complemented narratives, calls
up the panoramic technique of military and cartographic drawing. Subordinate, how-
ever, to the theatrics of dynastic balance, they cunningly established visual symmetries
by concealing territorial rivalries evident in the preliminary negotiations and the depic-
tion of armies in battle formation behind the courtly entourage. The fact that some of
the paintings representing these scenes were hung alongside the maps, battles and view
of cities that adorned the New Hall in Madrids castle attested to the ceremonial rele-
vance afforded depictions of the frontier98. Irrespective of diplomatic events, however,
the command of space and time was a conceit shared by the courtly and military di-
mensions, which on occasion used the same symbols, such as the angle square and the
compass, to express the importance of mensuration and with it the architectural nature
of power99.
Cartography and design endowed drawings with a dynamic thrust where science and
art , space and time converged, extending the use of perspective to military and hence
political activity as a whole101, while applying the progress in optics to which Golden
Age literature bore witness102. The visual integration of knowledge, whose highest
achievement is identified with seventeenth century Dutch art, was also present in the
drawings of borders and cities authored by the Spanish monarchys military engineers.
As their overviews and ground plans, while seeped in the same visual culture, lacked
the aesthetic connotations that characterised decorative or celebratory representations
of the land, they were free to deploy the capacity to capture reality. Regarded as minor
works in the conventional hierarchy of genres, they were pivotal to an artistic and po-
litical as well as a scientific itinerary. Viewing them as they were seen by the king and
ministers or generals for whom they were intended is tantamount to understanding that
they were as subordinate to power as they were free of representational codes. Their in-
terpretation is comparable to an ekphrastic exercise. They attempted to emulate that
rhetoric device, but not in competition with poets as painters of stories, but with histo-
rians, while lacking the latters penchant for persuasion, at least in secret maps and per-
spectives. These depictions immediately transferred what the draughtsman saw to the
princes quarters, enabling him to see with his eyes what was beyond the line of sight.
This absentee viewing was patterned on governmental procedures, in which the monar-
chys power was channelled through viceroys and governors103. The crown was struc-
tured around provincial courts, but also through a system of symbolic pictures and
illustrations which in the case of royal portraits were afforded majestic tribute104. Re-
versing its initial role as a restricted resource, military and hence political drawing, along
with other governmental techniques, erupted onto the courtly scenario in a monarchy
that identified with visual representation105.
Nonetheless, the plain, apparently unadorned images that emerged from the chain
of visual production and consumption that ran from borders to palace was not bereft of
aesthetic factors. As in ceremony and the culture and spatial dimension of power as a
whole, the pictorial traditions of Flanders and Italy converged in these drawings, condi-


FIG. 13 DIEGO VELZQUEZ. The surrender of Breda (detail), 1634-1635. Prado Museum, Madrid.

tioned by a taste shared by the court and the territories. Artless art in appearance only,
every millimetre of these portrayals of reality were bound by the laws of perspective and
geometry. In such drawings of state the colour that vivified countryside and buildings,
the framing that wrested them from nature, the pen stroke that defined and categorised
their elements, were indebted to a broader cognitive range that exceeded mere tactical
utility. Engineers drawings, fruit of that artistic experimentation, served both to furnish
urban portraits for the purposes of warfare106 and to celebrate power through a new
form of political imagery that was translated to engravings or cartographic painting, as
well as to the frescoes found in large libraries and palaces or the prints and paintings of
bourgeois interiors portrayed in the seventeenth century by Dutch painters such as Ver-
meer. In the fifteen hundreds, city views and maps, preceded by feudal horizons present
in the thirteen hundreds in Italian spaces such as republican Siena or the lordly Emilian
castle at Torrechiara (ca 1460), adorned the walls of the Farnese Palace at Caprarola,
the Vecchio Palace at Florence, the Vatican library, the courtyard in lvaro de Bazns
palace at Viso del Marqus and the Hall of Battles at El Escorial, to name a few of the
better known venues in Italy and Spain107.
That gave rise to a new genre for adorning palatial walls that supplemented allegorical
images. Lands and fortresses, rendered with new techniques, ultimately proliferated in
the far views in canvases of battles, synthesising historical painting and geographic image.
One of the most prominent examples lies in the canvases in the Hall of Realms, where
topographic accuracy was a sign of authenticity intended to extol the Conde Duque de
Olivaress enlargement policies and reputation. These paintings are an ode to the cult of
observation of reality subject to the rulers perspective. History was played out in specific
geographic space to reflect the ceremonial and legal consummation of surrender through
the figures portrayed in the foreground. Exceptionally, in Manos The recovery of Baha

FIG. 14 FRAY JUAN BAUTISTA MANO. The recovery of Baha de Todos los Santos (detail), 1634-1635. Prado Museum, Madrid.

de Todos los Santos, the political and ceremonial image of the victorious general offering
the defeated army a tapestry with the royal effigy, was set in the middle ground. Time
and space converged in the Hall of Realms under the kings unifying gaze, in which every-
day rule was transferred to the primary site for courtly representation by means of visual
images or texts in drawings, panoramas or narratives rife with fortresses and frontiers. In
contrast to the secrecy in which the drawings that marked out lands and battles were
cloaked, this display of reality, this embodiment of the idea of the legitimacy of power,
was openly exhibited in courtly environs.
Nonetheless, all these pictures shared the need to place the monarchys law in high
relief. The far views in Velazquezs The surrender of Breda and other battlefield paintings
were not mere stage props but fragments of a world whose domination depended on the
ability to be represented, seen and understood. These renderings of distant horizons con-
trolled by a network of fortifications were the outcome of translating engineers drawings
from paper to canvas, although at times indirectly, with engravings as intermediaries.
The eloquence of the foreground scenes in these paintings, where history and politics
prevailed, was reinforced by the descriptive rigour of backgrounds that showed the true
extent of the kingdoms whose heraldic image adorned the vaulted ceiling in this hall.
History took shape in the amplitude of space and, as in some Dutch paintings, emblem-
atic scenes were juxtaposed to descriptive or cartographic illustrations. The two were
united by history in which nature, humanised by war, was a realm of rational technical
control where representation was justified by the virtues embodied in the attitudes of the
victorious generals.
These paintings aimed to be an objective record of events and to convey an idea.
Standing before the throne with its steps and canopy, for an instant the viewer shared
the vantage of the sovereign for whom they were intended. Paintings of bastions attested


to the climax of technical as well as political design; painted maps described and recorded
events, converting realities into notations, whereas in engineers drawings notations oc-
cupied fragments of territory, albeit to transform them in keeping with the same idea that
guided the viewers gaze in the Hall of Realms108. This differed substantially from the al-
legorical rhetoric that would later be deployed at Versailles, where frontiers and fortresses
occupied the far views in only a few latter-day decorative panels on the Ambassadors
Staircase109. In the Spanish court drawing was projected onto reality to step through the
looking glass of the political prudence with which power aimed to regulate its transfor-
mative capacity by choosing which part of a design would be built. In this light, Las Meni-
nas, the family of Philip IVs dynastic manifesto, embodied the doctrine of integrating
power and image, melding majesty, vision and depiction in a pictorial crystallisation of
the idea of government as design, removed from frontiers and battlefields to palatial
That inner retreat, closed to the courtiers who gazed at depictions of battlefields and
lands on canvas or engraved maps to visualise the monarchys vast expanse, was the do-
main of secrecy, of the true exercise of power, the customs office for drawings where fron-
tier as abstraction could materialise and its fortresses bodied forth. Like courtly ceremony,
this space also had an itinerary that ran to the monarchs own study from the quarters in
Madrids Alczar or Castle where the Council of War (created as a branch of the Council
of State in 1526 in charge of military affairs in the three crucial domains: the defences
for Castile, the artillery and borderline fortifications110) held its meetings. Compared to
the controlled dissemination of frescoes, canvases and engravings, the extreme reserve
with which drawings were dealt was indicative of their importance. A drawing was more
than a deferred order or still motion: it was a military and political manoeuvre. Where
images are acts rather than celebrations, governing is gazing, designing and building. In
and through drawing, power started to become effective as image-based rule. Kepler re-
sorted to the image of the magistrate and the council to describe the sense of sight, re-
garded as representation, as in painting111. Saavedra Fajardo also, in his Impresa 56 (which
combines compass, writing and secrecy) resorted to the image of the painter and the ar-
chitect to extol the role of the secretary, guardian of royal records: The Council puts for-
ward the idea for a factory. The secretary draws the ground plan. And if it is flawed, the
building erected over it will also be flawed. To express that idea in this impresa, his pen
is also a compass, for not only must he write, but he must also measure and adjust reso-
lutions, synchronise occasion and timing so that building is undertaken neither too early
nor too late...112. The extensive writings on the secretary attest to his political role113.
Ruling was a way of seeing (farther away and deeper within than others) and of painting,
in which reality had first to be drawn to be appropriated. Foresight involved more than
organising defence; it also entailed initiating a design for a conquest. If fortification was
an act of territorial appropriation which, like founding cities, implemented a legal title to
sovereignty, every picture of a city or a frontier was an open door in the walls of actual or
potential enemies. Hence the value accorded stolen pictures, clandestine descriptions
and their visual depictions, drawn in the shadows of spontaneity or from memory. Even
when delineated with no perspective and in child-like mode, by prisoners for instance,
they were useful sources of information about horizons otherwise inaccessible114.

centum regio politica. Emblema LIV. Madrid, 1653.

FIG. 15 CESARE RIPA. Iconologa. Spia. Venice, 1645.

Cristoforo Tomasini.

For todays information-obsessed mentality, secrecy is a conceit even blurrier than

frontier, while constituting its inescapable reverse. Beginning in the sixteenth century,
however, many authors, such as Botero, described secrecy as an imperative to the exercise
of power115. In his Prncipe Perfecto published in 1662, Jesuit Andrs Mendo resorted to
the metaphor of the eyes, identified with prudence, to contend: be he who rules an
Argos from whom nothing is concealed [] and when he with his power embraces the
four corners of the world, like our Spanish monarch, be he the oculus mundi. All should
he see with the eyes of understanding116. Secrecy became one of the pillars of political
science, inseparable from prudence and surveillance. The image of the vigilant prince,
like Argos, was consequently invoked by Saavedra Fajardo as a sceptre with eyes in his
impresa 55 (His Praevide et provide), and by Solrzano Pereira, in emblem LXVI
(Legum munia, vrbium moenia), with its city decked with the eyes of the law (and
hence of power), and especially in LIV (Administri principum) where the king is de-
picted wearing a robe adorned with embroidered eyes. The metaphor was also used by
Cesare Ripa to represent spies, with a lantern (light in the dark) and a dog (vigilance)117.
All these elements formed part of ever more complex decision-making that was changing
the exercise of power.
Together with the rise of science of number and the art of cryptography118, the devel-
opment of archives helped shape a view of confidential information in which drawings
of sensitive points and routes were a crucial element in a complex system of espionage
that also found its way into literature119. Beginning in the fifteenth century, secret car-
tography was crucial to competing with Portugal for expansion120. Against that backdrop,


Hieronymus Mntzers voyage across Spain in 1494 and Martin Benheims121 design of
the globe illustrate two early episodes of the pursuit of information by the major political
powers and their growing dependence on technology. The zealous custody of the Royal
Census in the House of Trade at Seville symbolises the race for representing space as
well as the ongoing improvements in technique122 that made secrets age at a dizzying
pace. Designs for fortifications met much the same fate, for they were soon rendered
useless by the circulation of knowledge that led to the publication of the earliest treatises
in the sixteenth century. Espionage focusing on secret devices and machines was enlarged
to include maps, as shown by the dealings conducted in Portugal by Giovan Battista
Gesio, Philip IIs Neapolitan cartographer in charge of extraordinarily ambitious meas-
uring and drawing projects in a world that appeared to be too small for the monarchy123.
French espionage in Spain124, the object of the greatest historiographic attention, along

FIG. 17
Melanchola I,
Staatliche Kun-
sthalle Karl-

with spying in the Mediterranean area125, was of particular significance in the sixteenth-
and seventeenth-century enthusiasm for studies on espionage126. Fortification drawing
played a crucial role in this scenario and on occasion was disguised as a fondness for
classical art to conceal its actual objectives. This The precision of defensive detail in
Francisco de Holandas drawing of SantElmo Castle at Naples on the occasion of a voy-
age to Italy in 1539 and 1540 under the orders of John III of Portugal to depict ancient
monuments alongside new fortifications reveals more than academic purpose127.
In one of his most famous engravings, an allegorical vision of melancholy whose in-
terpretation is shrouded in mystery even today, Drer depicted the symbolic attributes
of construction, identified with thought and geometric activity. The winged female figure
that embodies the condition sits alongside an unfinished building, surrounded by meas-
uring instruments. The sea is shown at a distance as a boundary to be crossed. The figure

FIG. 18 HANS HOLBEIN THE YOUNGER. Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve (The Ambassadors), 1533. London, National


rests a compass against a board on which she is not drawing; rather, her head is raised
and her attitude pensive. A huge key hangs from her waist, used to open and close the
chest where she keeps her mental secrets128. The combination of secrecy, line drawing
and mathematics strengthened the master builders intellectual personality. Therefore,
Drers pensive angel is a female draughtsman who custodies impenetrable ideas so vul-
nerable that they need to be hidden. The museum of instruments and images of mathe-
matical knowledge in whose midst she sits, as if amid the wood carvings in a studiolo,
would later be copied in other depictions of mensuration and drawing in a world in which
the political dimension was becoming ever more explicit. They also appeared in the no
less well known canvas The Ambassadors painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1533,
where the globe bears lines marking Magellans route and a mathematical and political
frontier identified with the division defined in the Treaty of Tordesillas acknowledged by
neither the French nor the English monarch. With the many layers of meaning that make
it one of the best visual synopses of the political culture of its day, the painting can be
interpreted as a reappraisal of diplomacy that stressed the power of mathematics and
cartography in the competition for the domination of a world that had begun to be global.
In their silent dialogue, however, symbolised by elements such as the distorted skull129,
these French ambassadors to Henry VIIIs court also exude a need for secrecy, inherent
in the ambition to design the world and in the power of the image as a tool of government,
a conceit whose implications had been fully grasped by the monarchy against which they
were pitted.


1. This study forms part of research project HAR2012-37560-C02-02 funded by the Spanish Ministry of the Economy.
2. Tenured professor of Modern History. Department of Modern, Contemporary and American History, Journalism, Audio-
visual Communication and Advertising, Faculty of Liberal Arts. University of Valladolid. Pza. del Campus s/n, 47011-Val-
3. SAN JUAN DE LA CRUZ, 1957, pp. 683 and 715-716. [English translation, D. Lewis:,
20160416]. Significantly, St John resorted to the image of the traveller who takes new roads, unknown and untried, to
explain other verses of his Noche Oscura: ibid., p. 630. [English translation, E.A. Peers:
dark_night.viii.xvi.html, 20160416].
4. ROTTERDAM, 1998, pp. 48-49.
5. HOLANDA, 1984, p. 16.
6. See RICARD, 1965; EGIDO, 1982; GMEZ SOLS, 1990. Compare to BLANCO, 1996.
7. See BOGNOLO, 1996 and 2000; DUCE GARCA, 2005.
8. See DUCE GARCA, 2001.
9. ARREDONDO, 1528. Compare to SEARY, 1996.
10. ALDANA, 2000, p. 405.
11. See MANGANI, 1998.
12. See BATAILLON, 1960; ROSENTHAL, 1971 and 1973; WALTER, 1995; GONZALO SNCHEZ-MOLERO, 2000.
13. See POLLEROSS, 1993.
14. See BRAUDEL, 1949.
15. See PARKER, 1998, pp. 36-37.
16. See MADERUELO, 2005.
17. BUZZATI, 2005, pp. 278-279.
18. See SICARI, 2006.
19. See IOGNA-PRAT, 2016.
20. HEIDEGGER, 1994.
21. FEBVRE, 1912, 1928 and 1935.
22. SCHMITT, 1979 and 2007.
23. See SCHLGEL, 2007.
24. See TOUBERT, 1992. On the Modern Age, for which there is extensive literature, see: NORDMAN, 1998; DELSALLE and FERRER,
2000; FASANO GUARINI and VOLPINI, 2008; BERTRAND and PLANAS, 2011. On fortification on the frontier in general, see: SODINI,
25. See SAHLINS, 1989.
26. In Ramn de Basterras poetry, for instance, and his Escuela Romana del Pirineo, or Ernesto Jimnez Caballero and his vision
of the Pyrenees as a historic barrier to celebrate the end of the Spanish Civil War: BASTERRA, 2001; JIMNEZ CABALLERO, 1939.
27. See AZARA, 2005.
28. See CMARA MUOZ, 1991.
29. See LPEZ ALEMANY and VAREY, 2006, pp. 15-22.
30. See SLOTERDIJK, 2004 and 2007.
31. See CHECA and GARCA, 2011.
32. See PEIL, 1999; BKER, 1999. Compare to GORDON, 1987, pp. 231-252.
33. See ANGELINI, 2007.
34. See HARRIES, 1992.
35. Cesare Ripas 1593 Iconologia portrayed Misura (mensuration) as a donna di grave aspetto who held a ruler in her right
hand, representing the Roman foot, and in the left an angle square and a compass, for La Misura ci che col peso, con
la capacit, con lunghezza, alteza & animo si termina & finisce, and on the grounds of her instruments, she is associated
with geometry (RIPA, 1992, pp. 289-291). The figure bears a striking similarity to Ripas Theoria, shown as a young woman
gazing upward, on her head a compass with the tips pointed toward the sky (ibid., pp. 530-531). The allegory inherent in
Ordine Dritto, e Giusto can also be set in the same conceptual and symbolic realm (ibid., pp. 328-329). The compass, like
the angle square and other measuring instruments in the same semantic sphere, were associated with different branches of
knowledge and the arts, portrayed as states of mind or mental faculties. See CORRAIN, 2010. Compare to PIERGUIDI, 2008.
36. See CHECA, 1986.
37. See ELLIOTT, 1972, pp. 69-70; PARKER, 1990, p. 165. For a modern version of Vargass book, see VARGAS MACHUCA, 2003, edited
by Cuesta Domingo and F. Lpez-Ros. Compare to MARTNEZ DE SALINAS, 1991.
38. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 1998.
40. See PORRAS GIL, 2002.
42. See GALERA i MONEGAL, 1998.
43. See SCHUMACHER, 2002.
45. See USUNRIZ, 2006; BLY, 2008.
46. See PADRN, 2004; CMARA MUOZ, 2014.


47. See DELSALLE and FERRER, 2000.
48. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 2013a.
49. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 2006.
50. SAAVEDRA FAJARDO, 1976, pp. 791-792.
51. See VALDEN BARUQUE, 1994.
52. See CASADO SOTO, 2006; BUNES IBARRA, 2006.
53. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 2001a.
54. See CMARA MUOZ, 1998.
55. See CMARA MUOZ, 2005.
56. That was the formulation described in treatises authored in the fifteen fifties by Francesco de Marchi and Mario Galeota,
among others; see: BRUNETTI, 2006.
57. See RIBOT, 1990; RIZZO, 2007.
58. See LPEZ TORRIJOS, 1999.
59. See CMARA MUOZ, 1999.
60. See GUILMARTIN, 1974.
61. See GARCA TAPIA, 2004.
62. MARCHI, 1599. Compare to CONCINA, 1990.
63. PEZ DE CASTRO, 2014, p. 74.
64. See PACINI, 2013.
66. See PARKER, 2006.
67. See ZULETA CARRANDI, 2013.
68. See BROC, 1989; BUISSERET, 2004; FIORANI, 2005; RAMACHANDRAN, 2015.
69. See VAN DAMME, 1997; PARKER, 2001.
70. See BALL and PARKER, 2014.
71. See KAGAN, 2005.
72. See GONZALO SNCHEZ-MOLERO, 1999 and 2005.
73. See BOUZA, 1995; KAGAN, 2005.
74. See MARAS and PEREDA, 2002 and 2004; SNCHEZ RUBIO et al., 2004.
75. See SNCHEZ RUBIO et al., 2014.
76. See MILITELLO, 2004; MANFR, 2013.
77. SPANNOCHI, 1596. Compare to MAZZAMUTO, 1986, p. 16; CMARA MUOZ, 1988; POLTO, 2001.
78. See VIGAN, 2004; MARTNEZ LATORRE, 2006; CMARA MOZ et al., 2010.
79. See CMARA MUOZ, 2006. Compare to VIOLA NEVADO, 2008.
80. See CMARA MUOZ, 1991; ORTEGA VIDAL, 2001.
81. AYALA, 1948, p. 550.
82. SNCHEZ-GIJN, 2000. Compare to HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 2000 and 2001b.
83. See LVAREZ-OSSORIO, 2000.
84. See HALE, 1983.
85. B. CASTIGLIONE, 1994, pp. 191 and 193.
86. HOLANDA, 1921, pp. 180-181.
88. See GONZALO SNCHEZ-MOLERO, 2013, pp. 773-779.
90. BRUNETTI, 2006.
91. LEONARDI, 1975, pp. 115-126.
92. See BORSI, 1980, pp. 99-125.
93. Prlogo del maestro Bernardo Prez al serenissimo y muy esclarecido Seor el Principe don Philipe: CAPELLA, 1536, p. 1
94. F. SANSOVINO, Il Simulacro di Carlo V Imperatore, Venice, 1576, cited by CHECA CREMADES, 1999, p. 12.
95. See FORLANI, 2012.
96. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 2013b.
97. See BARBEITO, 2005; CASTAO PEREA, 2006 and 2009.
98. See DEL RO BARREDO, 2008; COLOMER, 2003.
99. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, in press.
100. See SCHULZ, 1990; ROMANELLI et al., 1999.
101. See DAZ MORENO, 2014.
102. See GARCA SANTO-TOMS, 2014.
103. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 1999.
104. See BODART, 2011.
105. See HERNANDO SNCHEZ, 2003.
106. See CMARA MUOZ, 2009.
107. See PARTRIDGE, 1995; QUINLAN-MCGRATH, 1997; GAMBI et al., 1997; BROWN, 1998; PACETTI, 2007; RODRGUEZ MOYA, 2009.
108. See BROWN AND ELLIOT, 2003; BEDA DE LOS COBOS, 2005; KAGAN, 2008; MARAS, 2012.
109. See ZIEGLER, 2015; GADY, 2015.

111. See ALPERS, 1987, p. 74.
112. SAAVEDRA FAJARDO, 1976, p. 548; see GMEZ ORFANEL, 2008.
113. See SIMONETTA, 2004.
114. See CMARA MUOZ, 2009.
115. BOTERO, 1603, f. 34v.
116. MENDO, 1662, p. 49; vid. BREDECKE, 2012, pp. 56-62.
117. GONZLEZ DE ZRATE, 1987, pp. 172 and 189; SAAVEDRA FAJARDO, 1976, pp. 533-546; RIPA, 1630, Parte III, p. 90; vid. DE LA
FLOR, 2009, pp. 107-152; NAVARRO BONILLA, 2014-2015.
118. See GALENDE, 2002.
119. See RODRGUEZ DE DIEGO, 1998a and 1998b; NAVARRO BONILLA, 2003, 2004 and 2008; AICHINGER, 2013.
120. See PORRO GUTIRREZ, 2003.
121. CALERO, 1996.
122. See SNCHEZ, 2013.
123. See GOODMAN, 1990, pp. 81-94.
125. See SOLA and PEA, 1996; SOLA CASTAO, 1997.
BONILLA, 2005.
127. See DESWARTE, 1992, pp. 163-183.
128. See KLIBANSKY et al., 1991; AZARA, 2005, pp. 187-192.
129. See FOISTER et al., 1997; NORTH, 2004.



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Back to Contents


Luis Pizao and his Projects for Roses:
Idea, Drawing and Decision


Vistula University



In 2002, in Amsterdam I came across an atlas with several drawings of Spanish fortifi-
cations. Two of them were plans of Roses and Trinity Castle. Six years later I managed
to locate the same drawings at Simancas. A detailed study of the findings reveals that
both plans were made by Luis Pizaos draughtsman Joan Francol in 1546.


Roses, Trinity Castle, Luis Pizao, Duke of Alba, decision making, lesson learned.


In the year 2002, thanks to a somewhat stormy process, I came into contact with a Dutch
antiquarian who was anxious to sell an abundant collection of antiquarian books and
manuscripts. Featured among them was a manuscript atlas with about twenty plans,
many of which were incomplete and the majority of which were not very specific. I iden-
tified among them two very interesting plans of Roses only by means of the drawing,
as there was no explicit written mention and, at least, a third one of another Catalonian
fortress which is not the subject of this article.
It so happens that there was a misunderstanding in my relation with the abovemen-
tioned antiquarian. I thought that he had requested my aid as an expert. However, his in-
terest was more prosaic. He thought that I would be a possible buyer or agent interested
in mediating in the sale of what he called the Spanish atlas. This was the name he gave it
as someone had already told him that this was the language used in its scant inscriptions.
Given the situation and the price asked, I got into contact with a colonel from the
Spanish Ministry of Defence. They had published my degree thesis in book form three
years before and I thought that they were the ideal institution to make the purchase.
After a long telephone conversation with my interlocutor in the Ministry, his position
riled me. If I sent him a report attesting that these plans were documents belonging to
the kingdom of Spain, they would get into contact with Interpol and the Spanish embassy
in The Hague to initiate their recovery. I made him see that this position would get us
nowhere. There was no evidence that the acquisition of the atlas had been illicit. More-
over, it was not a case of going back to the Eighty Years War. Without wishing to be ex-
haustive, in neighbouring Belgium there is an abundance of Spanish military
documentation in their national archives which had never caused conflict between both
countries2. Nowadays, the attitude of the aforesaid colonel could seem somewhat prim-
itive. However, in its defence it should be underlined that during that time the topic of
historical documentation was at the forefront of political debate in Spain; more precisely
the controversy around the Salamanca Papers. In spite of the fact that the dispute with
the Government of Catalonia included documents which were in the charge of the then
National Historical Archive belonging to the Ministry of Culture, in Defence it was feared
that the plundering of the archives would also affect them, given that the General Military
Archive of Avila possessed documents from the Defence Department of the Catalonian
After this matter had finally come to nothing, Jos J. de Castro, who I coincided with
in the Simancas archive in 2008, brought my attention to a plan which he considered to
be of Trinity Castle in Roses. It was an identical copy of one of the two plans of Roses
which I had seen years before. A lapsus in its cataloguing still describes it as Plan of the
fortification in Montpellier3. Its reference undoubtedly comes from reading its graphic
scale, in Montpellier cannes, a model used by the engineer Luis Pizao in his Catalonian
projects. Looking for other plans in the Simanca archive described in a similar fashion,
I located the second plan of Roses identical to the one I saw in Amsterdam years before.
In this case it was of the town, with the execution of the ephemeral construction carried
out by this same engineer4.


A first element to be highlighted is that there is no indication whatsoever that they had
not been completed.

Trinity Castle
Although it is not in the least explicit, in this plan, reproduced in Figure 1, three details
can be appreciated which, when analyzed, permit it to be dated with a certain amount of
accuracy to around the first half of 1546:

a) The ravelin, an element which was originally present in the 1543 project is con-
spicuous by its absence. The very Duke of Alba himself makes precise mention of
it in a letter of 21st May protect that tower on the mountain and build a ravelin
on it5. It is accredited that these exterior works were built between the end of
1547 and well into 15516. Thus the first date would be a reliable terminus ante
b) On the platform for the lower battery there is the inscription embankment for the
present, which tells of the provisionality of the said embankment. It would not be
until well into the 50s when three casemates would be built to accommodate the

FIG. 1 Planta del castillo de la Trinidad, ca. 1546. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de
Simancas. MPD, LVIII-37.

hundred or so men who made up the war garrison7. This later construction belongs
to the original project. Pizao mentions in 1544 that we will be making the plat-
form where the artillery will be (which) at present will be an embankment8. As
it was urgent to get the defences ready, around these dates, when the walls were
finished, the keeper was designated and the castle was armed9. In order to lodge
the garrison, Pizao says that in the absence of casemates, he will order the build-
ing of some houses to lodge the soldiers made of wood [sic]10. These barracks do
not appear in the drawing, which makes it possible to infer that the accommodation
of the garrison had to be provisionally solved in some other way due to the stoppage
in the work a little later on.
c) On the plan only the central part of the three which make up the casemates sup-
porting the upper battery is evident. Just before work was suspended, on 9th May
1544, Pizao, from Roses, limits his objective to finishing the vaults on the inside
from the middle upwards as I could not make use of the artillery above them to
help the port11. This aspect represents a major flaw in the power and rate of de-
fensive fire. However, on 25th of the same month The work on the castle is not
being done because of lack of moneys12. With work stopped in the middle of June,
the engineer states that the parapet and a vault, which has to be built in the middle
of it (castle) for the platform13 were still to be done. In this communication, in
contrast to the one written on 9th May, he was not sufficiently ingenious when he
used the word vault in the singular. In any case he should have used the word
vaulted to refer to the whole of the platform for the upper battery, because the
other half [of the castle plan] is an embankment [on which the lower battery will
be located] and it is done. The conclusion is obvious: the only casemate which
appears in the drawing was not built in 1544 and this is, therefore, the terminus
post quem.

Having analyzed these three constraints, it should be added that new funds were not
provided for the work until the end of 1545, with the building beginning again well into
1546, when Pizao went back to Roses for the last time14. In the middle of June the en-
gineer left Catalonia, although it would not be until the end of the year, when Pizao
was already serving in Germany, that the Viceroy Aguilar would report that the Castle
is finished15. To understand this statement contextually presupposes the conclusion of
the body of the fortification of the casemates absent in the analyzed drawing, except for
the three lowest ones, as the primitive embankment was not cleared and the platform
for the lower battery not built until well into the 50s. Conclusion: without the shadow
of a doubt the drawing of Trinity Castle can be dated to the first half of 1546.

The plan of the town, as it appears in Figure 2, in spite of the significant absence of the
toponym, coincides to a sufficient degree with the restitution of this town carried out by
Marcel Pujol in the middle of the sixteenth century16. Its main features are: the Bene-
dictine monesterio [monastery incorrectly spelled] of Santa Maria; the medieval urban

FIG. 2 Planta de la villa de Rosas con los trabajos de fortificacin en tierra y fajinas realizados en 1544. Espaa. Ministerio de
Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, LVIII-36.

layout inside the walls highlighting the main street, cited explicitly as the cala major,
and the port suburb, the dock and its defence tower; or the river de la Trencada, the
only one which flows into the sea at the side of the town17. If the modern defensive belt
of earth and wattle is added to all these elements, the conclusion is that we are looking
at the works carried out by the engineer Luis Pizao in 154418.


Both drawings reflect the fortifications built from Pizaos projects. However, being some-
what iconoclastic with the title of this article, Luis Pizao in this case proves to be the
antithesis of the engineer draughtsman. In the summer of 1543, when he was in Empord
occupied with the defence of Roses, a draughtsman appeared called Joan Francol who
stated that he was at the orders of capitn pisanyo [sic], explicitly alluding to the draw-
ings and other things which his highness the captain has ordered to be done by my
hand19. Without doubt, Francol is the draughtsman of a well known drawing of the
Gulf of Roses [FIG. 3], which had no date or known author until now, but which from its
contents and support can be dated to 154320. Although it accompanied a Relation and
liquidation of the importance of the county of Empord among the papers of the royal
secretary Joan Comalonga dated that year, not exactly an engineering document, the
drawing of the centre of Empord certainly is21. On this drawing can be seen the inscrip-

FIG. 3 El golfo de Rosas visto desde el Puig Rom, ca. 1543. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo
General de Simancas. MPD, XIX-168.

tion in Catalan la trinitat in letters of a somewhat gothic style, and indicated in a more
chancellery style and careful hand in Castilian that this is the tower t[hat] has to be
fortified. This is not a mere anecdote, as another technical addition appears on the
southern part of the Gulf in which it is indicated in the same hand that here there
should be another tower so that the entry to the port can be defended from both. This
dimorphism is made even more patent when the toponym indicates castell and the
chancellery style note reads Castelln. If the type of letter and language are significant
clues to the presence of two hands in the drawing, the different use of the letter and
the digraph ny, its Catalan equivalent, is definitive. While in 1543 Francol in a rather
rough Castilian insists in another missive that he is employed by captain pisanyo, in
one of the notes on the contemporary drawing Puig Rom is described as a montaa22.
The conclusion is obvious: the chancellery style annotations in Castilian are holographic
notes by the engineer.
Francol entered into the service of Pizao through the personal mediation of an in-
triguer of the stature of Francisco de los Cobos23. Together with the Duke of Alba and
Cardenal Granvela they constituted the triumvirate of counsellors at the highest level
with the Emperor Charles V. Comalonga, among whose documents was found the mis-
placed drawing of Francol, was the main Catalonian link for Cobos and, thus, as a good
client, a telltale of the political and other gossip from Barcelona of interest to the pow-
erful nobleman24.

The question is obvious: Is Francol the draughtsman of the drawings dealt with in
this article? A first clue is the common technique of the three drawings. They are all
painted with ink and wash. A technique as beautiful as it is difficult, the key point being
knowing how to correctly dilute the ink to be able to as can unequivocally be seen in
the drawings analyzed reproduce on the paper the different bands of light and shade.
The aureole of Francol again appears due to the Catalonian character of the material
author of the two drawings. The spelling gives him away. For example, in one of the in-
scriptions of Trinity Castle he mentions the tore viega [old tower] to designate the me-
dieval watchtower. For a Castilian of the Golden Age, the doubt could arise between
writing vieja or viexa, but he would never use a g25. It is evidence that the phoneme [],
nonexistent in Catalan, was not part of the draughtsmans native language. Another item
in this sense is when he refers to the only casemate in the castle which he roughly defines
as aposientos ensima de la plasa par ertilaria [sic] [rooms over the fortress for artillery].
If another indication of what has been said is the forced seseo [pronouncing an s when
it should be the sound] in encima, as in Catalan the phoneme [] does not exist, it is
symptomatic to write artillera [artillery] confusing the e with the a and vice versa in the
first and third syllables, proof that the neutral Catalan vowel [] was part of the draughts-
mans phonetics. That the draughtsman is Catalan with rudiments of Castilian is con-
firmed in the cardinal direction tremontana [tramontane] present in both drawings.
When he has to put a neutral vowel in black and white he again writes an e when a Castil-
ian would use an a. This detail is repeated in the second plan where the Benedictine
monastery of Santa Mara is briefly described as monesterio.
In contrast to the careless writing used three years before, Francol does much better
inscribing both drawings with fine capital letters. More refined inscriptions, but with a
lapsus as he forgot the legend to the graphic scale, which is corrected by an annotation
in the same chancellery style that Pizao had displayed some time before of Montpellier
cannes is the small foot of this platform.


When in 2002 I was able to leaf through the Dutch atlas, I related my first hypothesis to
explain its peculiar apparition to the journeys undertaken in the life of our protagonist.
The drawings must have been part of the paperwork that the long-suffering engineer had
carried around during his stay in Flanders between 1549 and 1550 and for some un-
known reason, they had remained there. In 1546, after visiting Roses for the last time,
he had abandoned Spain to place himself under the orders of the Duke of Alba. Once
there, he took charge of the artillery in the Imperial army which would end up defeating
the Schmalkaldic League the following year in the Battle of Mhlberg26.
What I have called an atlas were several sheets of paper sewn together without a cover
or any type of heading as a front page, preface or dedication27. This makes it possible to
infer that its sober composition responds to that of a working document carried in a roll
by the engineer to facilitate his work duties; questions of fortification which, as can be
appreciated, he discussed with the irascible Alba. Even more so when Pizao had dis-

obeyed him, as the main military advisor of the Emperor Charles V had urged the
monarch at the end of 1545 to finance new works in Roses in order to convert the em-
bankments of the town into permanent structures and set aside the castle28. Precisely
the opposite of what the engineer had finally done on his recent visit.
The other aspect of the no less extravagant appearance of identical plans in Simancas
is, if possible, even more complicated. There is no evidence in the bundle of documents
of a referral document; nor draught, receipt or note issued by some court scribe. It can
be inferred, therefore, that it was not an official document to process some enquiry for
a board or council. Moreover, before his exit from Catalonia, Pizao delivered to the
maestre de campo Jos de Guevara, at the time Captain General of the Perpignan frontier,
the military region to which Roses belonged, an enormous quantity of papers29. Among
the five books deposited in Perpignan in June 1546, one stands out and contains the
account of Roses described as without parchment covers. Moreover, he left a dozen
articles which he calls a bundle: one described as dealing with the accounts of Roses
and another which he mentions more succinctly as with reference to Roses; and a third
listed as a round bundle of drawings. All this suggests that Pizao handed over the
main book of accounts of the works on Trinity castle, two files of loose papers which
contained receipts, lists, official documents, texts, etc., and, finally, a roll which contained
charts, plans and drawings.
There is reliable confirmation that part of this documentation from Perpignan was sent
to the castle of Simancas. Thus one of the ten rolls entitled description which is necessary
of the weight and the artillery and munitions and what it fires and how much it weighs
was located in this archive by Jos Aparici in the middle of the nineteenth century and
used by other authors30. Both studied drawings are some of the contents of the roll of pa-
pers from Perpignan left by Pizao in 1546. This is confirmed by the fact that in the 90s
I located some of Pizaos official correspondence which came from one of the two files31.
The fact that both plans were taken from the tube and filed in the same archive, in an
identical series and only five numbers apart in the register is not a mere coincidence32.
The analysis of both plans, which give no information about where they are from,
who drew them or at what date they were completed, is the prototype of what a struc-
turalist would define as a synchronic study. It is true that I have searched for all the clues
to define their origin, give them a date and endow them with an author. However, im-
plicitly, these drawings are essential links in such a paradigmatically diachronic story as
that of the fortifications of the Gulf of Roses. As witnessed by an extended operative life-
time which embraces four centuries.


Luis Pizao embodies the paradigm of a courageous Spanish soldier. It is worth going
back two decades, when he was the protagonist of an epic episode which gives the meas-
ure of his unrivalled daring. They were not the walls of Troy, but those of Marseille be-
sieged by the imperial troops, that formed the backdrop to the feat of the Spanish
Achilles. One of the defenders ventured out into no mans land and challenged to a duel

any Spaniards who wanted to do combat with him. The then Sergeant Pizao broke ranks.
When our Achilles was going to finish him off, a comrade appeared from the enemy ranks
to help the unlucky challenger. At the same moment a harquebusier shot at the Spaniard
from the walls. Pizao was traversed by the bullet which knocked all the teeth out of the
right side of his jaw, and came out near his ear. Even so, he did not lose his composure,
he spat out the remains of his ruined teeth, killed his challenger and marched deter-
minedly forth to kill his second opponent, who on seeing this, ran away in panic33.
Beyond his confirmed heroism, Pizao was a soldier with honed technical training.
The Duke of Alba himself, one of the best generals in sixteenth century Europe, recog-
nized that he would be unable to get around without him34. For this reason, to para-
phrase Cervantes, he was a character in whom the pen, symbol of his projects, never
blunted his lance, paradigm of his gallantry. A circumstance which was reflected in the
opinion of Juan de Oznaya in his Historia de la guerra de Lombarda [History of the Wars
in Lombardy]: he is one of our time who should most justly be crowned as a valiant war-
rior, and prudent and wise captain35.
The commission of Pizao in Roses in 1546 came about from the insistence of captain
Andreu de Biure, future first military governor of Roses, on the necessity of making a
lime and pebble fortification of the embankments at Roses which can be seen in Figure
236. Although in the background was the impossibility of assuming the cost of the work,
the possibility was studied of making a permanent construction just in front of the sea.
Since 1544 a large quantity of lime kept in silos had been waiting to be used in these
works, which Pizao intended to employ exclusively in the castle37. This alternative be-
tween both actions would support the idea that the drawing of the town was carried out
at the same time as that of the castle. Four arguments support this idea:

a) The fact that in Simancas they appear in the same bundle and that in the Dutch
copy they were sewn into the same sheets confirms that they are documents with
an intrinsic procedural relation.
b) The capital letters in both documents reveal an implicit proximity and common
chronological distance with the drawing of 1543.
c) The drawing of the town reflects the works on the fortifications carried out in 1544.
However, if the plan had been done two years later, the results would have been
the same.
d) Certainly both drawings illustrate a tactical debate. However, in the Dutch atlas I
saw no cartographic material at all. From this it can be inferred that the interlocu-
tor of Pizao could know the terrain being studied. This person is none other than
an expectant Duke of Alba with whom he had studied the matter in situ three years

Now is the moment to face the apparent contradiction. In 1543, it was Pizao who
convinced the Duke of Alba of the necessity, and it was the latter that finally made the
decision to convert the town of Roses into a fortress. Did Pizao change his mind three
years later? The answer is no. In 1546 Pizao continued to believe in the need to fortify
the town. However, it is necessary to clarify the strategic purpose of Roses in order to

galeras empopadas refugio

fuegos rasantes zona de prohibicin zona de hostigamiento

FIG. 4 The tactical problem inherent

in the defence of Rosas Bay. Authors for-

understand the tactical solution which was worked out. This strategic purpose was to
make the bay a large base for galleys. The subsequent defensive challenge was to be able
to protect a fleet with guarantees.
In order to fulfil this objective, as can be seen in Figure 4, Trinity Castle was sufficient.
Fermn de Sojo y Lombas interpretation is that in the famous drawing of 1543 the ship
that is in the bay is to mark its best anchorage38. In fact, confirming the technical tone
of the drawing, it is a symbol which marks the protected area for the fleet. Its limits would
be conditioned by the pre-eminent position of Trinity Castle and the range of the weapons
installed in it. It is instructive to note that in this respect the castle was armed mainly
with demi-culverins cast in Malaga, with very long barrels in proportion to their calibre39.
They were therefore weapons designed to shoot at a considerable distance: 3,000 paces
of maximum range, which was reduced to 1,000 when shooting at point blank range40.
Both facts make it possible to configure the zones of harassment and prohibition. The al-
titude of the castle, some 60 metres above sea level make it necessary to round up these
figures. This estimation is difficult as there are no contrasted data on the initial velocity
transmitted to the projectile by the bore of a demi-culverin from Malaga. As an approxi-
mate reference, we could say that today it is known that a spherical projectile coming
from a muzzleloader which uses gunpowder maintains a stable trajectory at between 340
and 240 m/s41. Given the barrel/calibre ratio, the first figure could be an approximation
of the initial velocity and the second could conjecture the impact of a non-stabilized pro-
jectile. Taking all these data into account, a battery of these pieces could be fired, achieve
impact with some of its shots and reasonably attempt an efficient entry with a massive
bombardment at a maximum distance of one kilometre. This would be, coinciding with
the nao [Spanish type of carrack] which appears on the drawing of 1543, the radius of
the artillery umbrella which the castle batteries could give the ships sheltering under its
protection. A second fan shaped area of somewhat more than two kilometres and a half,
coinciding with the maximum range of the pieces, would be harassing fire which would
not be accurate enough to protect the ships anchored in this sector.
The conclusion of all of these conjectures is that, in spite of the fact that cross fire
was possible between Roses and Trinity Castle; with the artillery available in the sixteenth
century it was impossible to achieve an intersection of the fan shaped prohibition areas.
Therefore, the firing from Roses, however much it was fortified, extending the walls by
the sea and increasing the density of the firing by pointing the prow of the galleys, would
only be a help in the defence of the base, but would not be essential.

In 1546, the dilemma of Pizao was having available only one battery in the castle in
operative conditions. The scant artillery power due to the absence of a superposed firing
rate could not guarantee protection for the ships in the presence of a hostile fleet. For
this reason, the priority was the construction of the three casemates which supported
the second battery. When the engineer left Catalonia, as is evident in Figure 1, one had
been built; and at the end of the year, a plethoric Viceroy, on the conclusion of the whole
structure, incautiously announced that the castle had been finished. As has been seen,
the reality was otherwise, as the construction of the castle carried on until past the middle
of the century.


If converting the town of Roses into a modern fortress was a secondary question with
the aim of protecting the anchored ships, why is it Pizao who insists in 1543 that the
town should be fortified? He is the one who considers from the beginning fortifying
Roses as the castle alone is not sufficient and the one who manages to get the Duke of
Alba to adopt it as his own idea and defend it at the highest level42.
It is here that the vulnerability of the castle in the face of an amphibious attack must
be tackled. This is the reason why Trinity Castle was basically two batteries encircled by
a common pincers shaped wall, adequately defended by a squad of harquebusiers and
musketeers. The need for fortification had nothing to do with protection from a naval
bombardment. Just catering for this variable, a deployment of field artillery at the same
position would also predominate. The difference in altitude gave it such a great advantage
in combat against any type of vessel that in practice it made an attack from the sea im-
Although the protection of the fleet could be guaranteed, the situation was not so
positive in the case of a disembarkation of troops. A large part of the western strip of the
bay was out of the maximum range of its artillery. Even beyond the prohibition sector,
the inaccurate harassing fire was seen to be unable on its own to deter disembarkation.
As can be read in the well known drawing of 1543, illustrated in Figure 3, this port of
roses comes out of the mountains on the same side as the eastern part. This mountain
was at that time calle Puig Rom, the main observation point for the study of the terrain
undertaken by Alba and Pizao, in no way a coincidence.
The Grand Duke was convinced that the archaeological remains on this Cerro Ro-
mano [Roman hill] the Castilian translation of the toponym were the vestiges of the
camp of the legionnaires of Marcus Porcius Cato who in 195 BC had successfully taken
Rhode43. Alba was an admirer of the military history of Rome, feeling himself to be a sort
of reincarnation of Julius Caesar who internalised the strategic, operative and tactical
lessons which Antiquity offered. To paraphrase the Roman genius, experience again be-
came the mother of all things. From among many examples, given the operative similarity,
his plan for the disembarkation in England which the Great Armada attempted to imple-
ment in 1588, fitted like a glove. It was designed by him using the teachings obtained
from Caesars campaign against the British seventeen centuries before44.

According to Alba, this same hill on which he debated with Pizao one spring day in
1543, was the position which had offered Cato and his legions a disembarkation point
which dominated this theatre of operations. The lesson which could be learned was em-
inently obvious. The moment the dominant Cerro Romano was in the hands of the at-
tackers, as with Rhode centuries before, with even more reason if possible, the situation
for Trinity Castle would be desperate. The castle could not resist a prolonged attack from
this hill regardless of the pincers shaped front and ravelin which they might build to
mount an adequate defence. Therefore a second fortification with greater range was nec-
essary in order to be able to resist a powerful disembarkation. This was the role meant
for Roses, until that moment a tiny hamlet which was not even the capital of the county
of Empord to which it belonged, which the study by both soldiers intended to convert
into one of the most solid and spectacular fortresses in sixteenth century Europe.
Pizao originally conceived a fortification project which would cover a very long sea
front which would act in conjunction with galleys with their bows turned towards the
town walls to achieve similar conditions to the superposed fire from Trinity Castle. The
upper battery would be the one located in the embrasures on the parapet, while the ar-
tillery from the bows of the anchored ships would serve as the lower battery. The defensive
organization which can be seen in Figure 2 is a circumstantial fore-wall around the me-
dieval walls executed because of the impossibility of carrying out his original intention. In
fact, Bernardino de Mendoza, Captain General of the Spanish galleys, lamented that the
shortness of the sea front that had been constructed made it impossible to shelter more
ships45. The convergence of the need to fortify Roses and the urban growth associated
with the presence of a large garrison and the logistic support of the anchored naval forces
is what made Pizao see the necessity not only of fortifying the town but also of extending
it. For this reason, calm consideration on the part of the engineer would lead him to reject
the conversion of the two embankments built two years before into permanent construc-
tions. Although the so-called old drawing of Pizao in contrast to the one illustrated in
Figure 2 would be definitively abandoned after his death, the fortress built from the
drawing of Juan Bautista Calvi also coincides with these tactical and logistic parameters.
The lesson learned almost five centuries later is that the decisions which were made
were correct. There are three arguments which illustrate that the excellent talent of both
soldiers is beyond debate:

a) The four times that the fortress has fallen into the hands of its attackers, has never
been through the disembarkation of lots of troops in the bay or its immediate vicin-
ity. This fortification was conceived solely and exclusively for repelling an amphibi-
ous attack. Strategically, its rearguard was covered by fortifications of the stature
of Perpignan and Salses. It was taken after a long siege in 1645 once the said for-
tifications had already fallen; in 1693 there was not even defensive cover for the
frontier; and in 1795 and 1808 it was conquered when the fortress at Figueres was
already in the hands of the French. Moreover, these operations had needed large
contingents of troops and a numerous artillery which, had they been planned in
the action zone through a disembarkation, would have meant a very complex and
almost unrealizable amphibious operation.

b) Trinity Castle has never been able to offer prolonged resistance once the fortress had
fallen into enemy hands, which bears witness to the imperious need for a dual defence.
Furthermore, if the Puig Roma was conquered by an attacker, the defence from Trinity
Castle had its days numbered. Once the castle had been lost, the anchoring of its own
naval forces was impossible. What happened in 1795 and 1808 is enlightening.
c) The only time that there was a successful attack which managed to destroy the
ships sheltering in the bay was carried out by the British navy in 1809. It had to
attack by night to blind the defences and the French ships which were destroyed
were mistakenly anchored outside of the protected area as conceived by Pizao46.


Securing Roses was one of the principal challenges in the strategic planning of Imperial
Spain. If the story of Cato was a distant instructive reference, immediate experience con-
firmed its extreme weakness in the face of disembarkation. In 1543, the ineffectiveness
of its defences and the scant combativity of the counts company had made it an easy
prey for Barbarossa47. Three years later, securing this key to the whole of Spain con-
tinued to be unfinished business which worried the Duke of Alba48. How did the Grand
Duke react to the measures taken by Pizao in 1546?
In 1547, after the end of the war against the protestants, the then ailing Emperor Charles
V decided from Brussels to summon his son Prince Phillip, the then regent of Spain. This
mission was entrusted to Alba in his capacity as High Steward of the Royal Household, who
had to personally transmit a series of instructions to the heir49. What is interesting is that, in-
stead of embarking in Antwerp and sailing to some Spanish port on the Cantabrian Sea, Don
Fernando crossed Europe to Genoa, accompanied by a large escort, following an itinerary
which would later come to be known as the Spanish Road50. I have no explicit mentions of a
visit to Roses, but there is a combination of indications which point to this conjecture. As ex-
plained by one of his biographers, the route would have been determined by his intention to
go to meet Phillip, the prince regent, who was at the General Courts of the Crown of Aragon
which were being held in Monzn51. When the Grand Duke arrived in Barcelona, these had
concluded and the Prince had returned to Castile. However, there are three reasons for which
the matter of Roses seems to have had something to do with this inconvenient route:

a) The port of Roses was decisive to secure the journey made by Alba as well as his
return accompanying the heir. As well as being a vital port for the concentration of
a large fleet which was intended to operate throughout the French Mediterranean
coast, the vital maritime corridor from Roses to Genoa would become a prior nau-
tical stage for the troops before starting out on the Spanish Road52.
b) In fact one of the matters which it was intended to resolve in these courts was to
be able to finance the conversion of Roses into a fortress53.
c) If due to the Catalonian political context and the strategic needs of the Empire the
question of Roses marked the journey of the Grand Duke, it seems obvious that he
would make an inspection visit before arriving in Barcelona.

The fact that Alba was satisfied with the explanations of Pizao and with the probable
inspection carried out in 1547 is confirmed by the visit of the heir the next year on his
return journey. According to a famous chronicle the Prince without stopping in Roses
went on to visit Trinity Castle54. It was a military event with due ceremonial pomp: a re-
view of the troops, thundering gun salutes from the squad of galleys, etc. If two years be-
fore Pizao had neglected to fortify the embankments at Roses, now the Grand Duke
diverted his princely gaze from a clearly deteriorating construction, the solution for which
was not able to be undertaken until four years later.


In one of the headings of this work I alluded in a rather cutting tone to a possible lack
of enthusiasm for drawing on the part of Pizao. It was a truly rhetorical provocation. It
is true that this detail of his profile could be adorned with some outstanding character-
istics from his biography. According to this reconstruction Pizao would be characterized
as an experienced soldier possessing an extreme facility for understanding tactical prob-
lems which the fortress involved but who surrounded himself with collaborators when it
was a question of planning the constructional solution. The role of Francol would fit in
with this reconstruction.
Even in the case of Roses this simplistic dichotomy would be served. Pizao would
embody the engineer-gunner, the expert combatant with a magnificent tactical instinct
for whom there were aspects of construction which were like a closed book; while his
continuer Calvi would be the engineer-architect, who incorporated civil aspects to the
military problem of fortifying a city and who was an excellent designer.
However, this conclusion today seems to me to be extremely risky. Concrete studies
on this aspect are missing in other works in which Pizao was occupied. Moreover, the
world of drawing transcends his role as an engineer. Pizao is above all a gunner who
enters the world of fortification. There is evidence of his work as a designer of artillery
pieces, among them a fabulous half cannon which bears his name55.
Was he really rather untalented as a designer? Or was it his lack of enthusiasm for draw-
ing? Was it perhaps the multitude of matters to do with artillery and fortifications with
which he had to occupy himself which made him prioritise which tasks he had to attend
to personally and which he could refer to his collaborators? These three questions are nei-
ther unique nor incompatible. Thus, another element which should be evaluated is his
physical aptitude. When Pizao arrived in Roses in 1543 he was about 63 years old and he
had another seven years left of his rough life marked by exhausting journeys and combats,
like the battle of Mhlberg in 1547. To the attacks of gout which he suffered should be
added the sequelae of several injuries, among which figure three bullet wounds, one in the
face which destroyed some of his teeth, which he received during his long military career56.
Given that I have completed a structuralist exposition, going from the synchronic to
the diachronic, I will permit myself to suggest a more systematic tone as a finale. I have
no doubt that new studies on this character with other prosopographical approaches will
bring more light to this topic.


2. See PARKER, 2000, passim.
3. [], consulted on 15/7/2015.
4. [], consulted on 15/7/2015.
5. SOJO, 1927, p. 337.
6. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 287.
7. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 288.
8. SOJO, 1927, p. 554.
9. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, pp. 326 and ss.
10. SOJO, 1927, p. 554.
11. SOJO, 1927, pp. 557-558.
12. SOJO, 1927, p. 559.
13. SOJO, 1927, p. 560.
14. In the text of my doctoral thesis published in Catalan (DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 287) there is a misprint which I overlooked
when correcting the proofs. Pizao was in Roses in April 1546, an era during which he also was occupied with works in Per-
pignan. Confer DE LA FUENTE, 1999, pp. 42-43.
15. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 287.
16. PUJOL, 1997, pp. 84 and ss.
17. The hypothesis on the course of the so-called Rec Fondo parallel to the medieval walls and diverted as a consequence of the
construction of the fortress already lacked credibility before this plan was located. I tackled this question in an article (DE LA
FUENTE, 2002, pp. 360-365) which was sent to the printers weeks before my visit to Amsterdam. Seeing Figure 2, there is no
need of further discussion.
18. The discovery of this document demands the study and reconsideration of some questions which are outside of the scope of
this article. On this question, vide DE LA FUENTE, 1998, pp. 75 and ss.
19. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas (AGS), Estado, leg. 289, s/f.
20. SOJO, 1927, p. 364.
21. AGS, Diversos de Castilla, leg. 40, exp. 10.
22. AGS, Estado, leg. 289, s/f.
23. SOJO, 1927, p. 364.
24. CASALS, 1993, p. 70.
25. ALONSO, 1947, p. 11.
26. SOJO, 1927, pp. 491 and ss.
27. Without leaving Catalona, as a contrast it is interesting to cite a well known atlas by the engineer Ambrosio Borsano which
he would dedicate to Don Antonio de Paniagua y Ziga, with one of its pages dedicated to Roses. I dealt with this subject
in an article on the fortress of Palams which is in print.
28. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, pp. 81-82.
29. SOJO, 1927, pp. 486-487.
30. SOJO, 1927, p. 488.
31. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, pp. 82-83; AGS, Estado, Serie K, leg. 1706. 1706.
32. Confer AGS, Estado, Series K, legs. 1701 and 1706.
33. CODOIN, 1861, pp. 307-308.
34. SOJO, 1927, p. 623.
35. CODOIN, 1861, p. 307.
36. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 81.
37. SOJO, 1927, p. 484.
38. SOJO, 1927, p. 337.
39. AGS, Contadura Mayor de Cuentas, 3 poca, leg. 1354.
40. VIGN, 1947, t. I, p. 234.
41. [], consulted on 15/7/2015.
42. AGS, Estado, leg. 294, s/f.
43. BUSCAT et al., 2001, pp. 65-70.
44. DE LA FUENTE, 2003, pp. 61-63.
45. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 83.
46. PUJOL et al., 2014, pp. 141 and ss.
47. SOJO, 1927, pp. 373 and ss.
48. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 25.
49. RUSTANT, 1751, t. I, pp. 177-179.
50. PARKER, 2000, pp. 92-113.
51. RUSTANT, 1751, t. I, pp. 179-180.
52. PACINI, 2013, pp. 70 and ss.
53. DE LA FUENTE, 1998, p. 82.
54. CALVETE DE ESTRELLA, 1552, f. 7v.
55. SOJO, 1927, pp. 80-81; VIGN, 1947, t. I, p. 220.
56. SOJO, 1927, passim.


ALONSO, A. (1947), Trueques de sibilantes en antiguo espaol, Nueva revista de filologa hispnica, I/1, pp. 1-12.
BUSCAT, L.; DE LA FUENTE. P. (2001), El ingeniero Calvi y la concepcin de la Nueva Rhode: Historia, Arqueologa
e Ingeniera Militar en la Rosas Renacentista, Espacio, tiempo y forma, VII/14, pp. 57-71.
CALVETE DE ESTRELLA, J.C. (1552), El felicissimo viaie del muy alto y muy Poderoso Principe Don Phelippe, Hijo del
Emperador Don Carlos Quinto, Antwerp, Martin Nucio.
CASALS, A, (1993), La predilecci de Carles V pels catalans. Aportacions a un tpic recurrent, Pedralbes. Revista
dhistria moderna, 13-I, pp. 67-73.
CODOIN - Coleccin de documentos inditos para la historia de Espaa (1861), t. XXXVIII, Madrid, Viuda de Calero.
DE LA FUENTE, P. (1998), Les fortificacions reials del golf de Roses en lpoca moderna, Figueras, Brau.
DE LA FUENTE, P. (1999), La ciudad como problema militar: Perpin y los ingenieros de la monarqua espaola,
Madrid, Ministery of Defense.
DE LA FUENTE, P. (2002), Aigua, ciutat i territori a la Roses renaixentista, Annals de lInstitut dEstudis Empor-
danesos, 35, pp. 351-372.
DE LA FUENTE, P. (2003), Poner el Tmesis en llamas: claves interpretativas de la Gran Armada como fuerza an-
fibia, Revista de Historia Naval, 81, pp. 57-71.
PACINI, A. (2013), Desde Rosas a Gaeta. La costruzione della rotta spagnola nel Mediterraneo occidentale nel secolo
XVI, Milan, Franco Angeli.
PARKER, G. (2000), El ejrcito de Flandes y el Camino Espaol, 1567-1659. La logstica de la victoria y derrota de
Espaa en las guerras de los Pases Bajos, Madrid, Alianza.
PUJOL, M. (1997), La vila de Roses (segles XIV-XVI): aproximaci a lurbanisme, la societat i leconomia a partir dels
capbreus del monestir de Santa Maria de Roses (1304-1565), Figueres, Brau.
PUJOL, M. and DE LA FUENTE, P. (2014), Roses II or Lamproie: a French storeship sunk in 1809 at the Bay of Roses
(Catalonia, Spain), Archeologia Postmedievale, 18, pp. 129-143.
RUSTANT, J.V. (1751), Historia de Don Fernando Alvarez de Toledo (llamado comnmente el Grande) primero de su
nombre, Duque de Alba, Madrid, Pedro Alonso Padilla.
SOJO, F. (1927), El capitn Luis Pizao. Estudio histricomilitar referente a la primera mitad del siglo XVI, Madrid,
Imprenta del Memorial de Ingenieros.
VIGN, J. (1947), Historia de la artillera espaola, Madrid, CSIC.

Back to Contents

Alliance or Defence: Military Strategy and
Diplomacy in the Spanish Monarchys
Seventeenth Century Projects
for Western Liguria


Universidad Nacional de Educacin a Distancia (UNED)



This chapter reviews the Crowns seventeenth century engineering projects for highly
strategic western Liguria and in particular the port at Finale. It analyses the effect of
military operations and the differences between the Duchy of Milans and the Spanish
Embassy at Genoas views on territorial organisation and control on their (non-) imple-


Spanish Monarchy, engineers, diplomacy, Liguria, Duchy of Milan, reputation, ports and
fortifications, cartography.


Territorial control and security, which played such a significant role in maintaining and
safeguarding the Spanish Crowns imperial edifice, is the key to understanding a fair
share of seventeenth century political, economic and military policies. That concern
informed a political culture that revolved largely around the contention between the
centre and the periphery: between the decisions characteristic of centralised power lo-
cated at the Court and the decisions adopted locally on behalf of that power by men
acting out of His Majestys sight2. They were sheltered by the legitimacy afforded
their actions by the Council of State, which acted as the gears in a smoothly running
The west Ligurian Riviera between Port Maurizio and Genoa is a paradigmatic ex-
ample of that contention. By the mid-sixteenth century, the areas exceptional geostrate-
gic location made it the focal point of intense political, military and diplomatic activity
that emanated outward across its borders into the Mediterranean and Italy, and to the
rest of Europe through Milan3. The extensive textual and pictorial records still conserved
in a number of European archives and collections that attest to that activity also provide
valuable information about power and its mechanisms for territorial control. They all
depict a region whose significance hinges on its position relative to others. This was
something that Charles V himself had realised and specified in his 1548 political will
in which he advised his successor to pay attention to Genoa ...for its ymportance for
the security not only of all of Ytaly, of Naples, Sicily and Milan, but for all of Spains
other kingdoms and the yslands of Sardinia, Mallorca and Minorca4. The Spanish
Crowns military engineer Giorgio Palearo Fratino, likewise sensitive to the issue, trans-
lated it to territorial action. In his 1571 report appended to the first design for a port at
Varigotti, he specified the distances between it and two essential enclaves: Finale, a
strategic site destined to become the epicentre of the disputes between the Spanish
monarchy and its ally, the Republic of Genoa, over the control of the west Ligurian
coast; and Milan, the fortress city on which control of the theatre of war depended5.
Fratino wrote in his report: vederra neldissegno tanto della fortezza quanto dil porto
... il qualporto e, lontanno del borgo da Finale miglia 3 e, signato sopra il disegno, et
questo Stato de Finale e distante del Stato da milano miglia 28 e tutti questi miglia 28
siranno derenti di queto Stato di milano, il che tutto fidelmente riferisco a V.eccetia
pregando nro. Sr. Et P.6.
Over 60 years later, in 1633, Milanese senator Juan Ruiz de la Laguna expressed
much the same opinion in his Memorial sobre la conveniencia de edificar un puerto en el
Marquesado de Finale, addressed to Crown Prince and Cardinal Ferdinand7. Adopting a
position of exquisite balance between military and strictly governmental concerns, he
enumerated the reasons why Finale should be an essential element in Habsburg geopol-
itics. The project was to favour the universal good of all of Christianity..., inasmuch as
it would ensure the passage of troops from Spain, Naples and Sicily to Europe, in addition
to affording other essential benefits: staving off privateering, controlling trade in highly
profitable goods such as salt and silver from the Iberian Peninsula to Flanders and solving
the problem of travel between Italy and the southeast coast of Spain across the Mediter-

FIG. 1 Borders between Mallare and the Marquisate of Finale (second half of the sixteenth century). 615 x 870 mm. Archivio
di Stato di Torino, Carte topografiche e disegni, confini con Genova, File 19, 1.

ranean. These, indeed, were the factors that drove fortification and defence projects in
the area throughout the seventeenth century8.
Finale consequently played the same role as other small states created by a world
power to guarantee its hegemony over a strategic area9. This approach supplemented the
Crowns carefully designed strategy for territorial control consisting in the establishment
of garrisons at sites near the western coast of Italy or the purchase of new fiefs (Novara,
Monaco) to ensure its command over the Mediterranean-Flemish corridor10. It entailed
creating a network of ports to serve the Crowns interests, capitalising on the geopolitical
advantage that could be gleaned from the ports in western Liguria (Port Maurizio, Al-
benga, Loano, Savona and Vado). These strongholds constituted a sort of armour that
provided for both defence and the circulation of people and goods. With that dual aim
in mind, the Crown was obliged to stay on good terms with its ally, designing what A.
Pacini called an area strategy11 governed by the need for entente, for a balance between
alliance and defence. The diplomatic activity conducted by one of the monarchys most
important embassies in Italy was largely based on that balance, which is the key to inter-
preting the Crowns seventeenth century fortification and defence endeavours in western
Liguria. Hence the ambassadors to Genoa were advised that Philip IIs interests would
be better served by a free republic than building a castle12 in it and that a rich and in-
dependent, and therefore satisfied Genoa, would be more willing to provide such services
as might be needed13.

FIG. 2 Veduta a volo duccello di un assedio a la citt di Finale (first half of the sixteenth century). In FRANCESCO DE
MARCHI. Piante di Fortificazione, in parte incise, in parte a mano, vol. I. 481 x 375 mm. Archivio Stato di Torino. Biblioteca An-
tica. Mss. Z.III.14 C. 25.

While this (in practice) symbiotic relationship, which gave rise to what is known as
the Spanish-Genovese system, lasted for some time, it spawned a fair number of con-
flicts14. The resulting scenario had significant implications for fortification and defence
designs, for the Spanish monarchys passion for projects on the western coast was scantly
requited. Decisions were informed by the permanent paradox between the acknowledge-
ment of the need for and the utility of planning and undertaking projects designed at
Milan, defended by political circles, and the unanimous acknowledgement in those same
circles of the inadvisability of doing so for reasons of political strategy. Some of the ele-
ments of that paradox can be explained by the information contained in the diplomatic
documents exchanged by the allies. These records show, for instance, that the military
tactics imposed by Milan, in charge of the areas organisation, based on plans for defen-
sive projects to settle territorial conflicts, displayed a general lack of adaptation to a region
whose control was governed by and operated more effectively under diplomatic rules and
alliances. What should have been a single axis, Milan-Genoa, was thereby converted into
two realities, united but incompatible in this respect. The dispute between military and
political-diplomatic control constituted the key to the uncertain fate of projects that,
while unrealised, consumed a considerable share of the Crowns economic and human
resources15. They were nonetheless justified by diplomatic circles as a strategy to adapt

FIG. 3 Il Borgo de Finale. In Piante delle fortificazione FIG. 4 Finale. In Piante delle fortificazione delle citt, Pi-
delle citt, Piazze e Castelli dello Stato di Milano (second half azze e Castelli dello Stato di Milano (second half of the sev-
of the seventeenth century). Archivio di Stato di Torino. Bib- enteenth century). Archivio di Stato di Torino. Biblioteca
lioteca Antica, Mss. J.B.III.2. Antica, Mss. J.B.III.2.

to changing military or diplomatic circumstances, for i principi e repubbliche fanno

e disfanno quando occorre e quando porta cos la congiontura e positura delle faccende
del mondo16. This constant doing and undoing or doing and redoing was also an
outcome of the monarchys commercial, military and political strategies, consistently de-
signed around its allys relative geopolitical position and such significant concerns as
maintaining its reputation.
The alliance between Spain and the republic, whereby the monarchy provided mil-
itary protection as well as possible upward mobility for Genovese elites in exchange for
loans, naval resources and the use of its soil for travel to Italy and Europe, legitimised
the Crown to participate in building fortifications and defences in west Ligurian ports
and roads. The site of such operations in an allys rather than in its own territory limited
the monarchys ability to implement a plan to fortify the republics west coast ports.
That did not prevent it, however, from establishing relations with Genoa to participate
in such works, especially in two strategic enclaves: Savona and Finale. The former, re-
garded as the locchio diritto della Republica17, could be used to control the route to
Piedmont and Monferrato and protect it from an attack from the west, making it the
target of several powers ambitions18. Its custody therefore became a priority after

Spains intervention, for the empire had also included the control of Savona as one of
its objectives, hence justifying its entitlement to defensive intervention19. The century
witnessed a number of such interventions, determined by the necessary albeit circum-
stantial cooperation between allies in defence of their mutual interests. Nonetheless,
the monarchy never applied its resources to operations in its own enclave, Finale20, al-
though plans to integrate it as a key element in the defence of the Duchy of Milan were
never lacking, judging from the intense design activity engaged in by Crown engineers
working out of Milan. Giorgo Palearo Fratino, Gabrielle Busca, Juan de Medici,
Cristbal Lechuga, Giuseppe Piotti (Il Vacallo), Francesco Prestino, Giulio Martelli
and Gaspare Beretta all formed part of a coaction network governed by objectives of
a wider scope than a given states local issues. Its three main nodes were the Council
of State as decision-making hub, diplomacy recast as the Councils executive arm, and
the Duchys government21.


Evidence that Finale formed a de facto part of Milans political, military and financial or-
ganisation lies in its inclusion by Gabrielle Busca, ducal and cameral military engineer,
in his Descritione delle fortezze di frontiera dello Stato di Milano (1602). At the time, the
monarchy was engaged in a new endeavour to gain political and administrative control
of the marquisate and the Earl of Fuentes, governor of Milan, was formulating a project
to defend the strategic sites that connected Lombardy to the Netherlands. This was the
backdrop against which Busca, at Fuentess urging, formulated his Descrittione, consist-
ing in reports and drawings of strategic sites that formed a chain of defence built
around the interconnections among a series of strongholds that constituted Milans pro-
tective belt, Tutti i quali luoghi quasi anelli di una catena si vanno incatenando et col-
legando luno allaltro et rinchiudendo la pi parte de confini dello stato22. Most of these
were enclaves located within the bounds of the duchy, where the underlying principle,
design in times of peace to defend in times of war, was explicitly invoked in 1614 in a
project to build a port at Finale that recommended building it now in times of peace
and quiet... rather than when forced into it23.
Unsurprisingly, then, Finale was included in an order issued by Philip IV around 1640
to submit to Madrid designs for strongholds in the state of Milan. That at least may be
deduced from information furnished by Ambassador Juan de Eraso, according to whom
the king had requested a plan view of the fortification at Finale on which construction
was begun in 1642 to designs authored by Francesco Prestino, engineer from the state
of Milan who had designed the fortifications for Finale during the times of the Marquis
of Legans24. In his day, the latter was in charge of the strongholds in the western region
of the Duchy for which the king had requested the drawings. Given the royal insistence
on the matter, after the fortification was built, the ambassador reported: in conformity
therewith an engineer will stake out the plan view and then I shall have the best painter
we have here paint it to send Y.Mg. a picture in which the fortifications will be more dis-
tinctly visible25. Interestingly, the procedure proposed by Ambassador Juan de Eraso,

FIG. 5 LEONARDO DE FERRARI. Puerto para hazer en Varigotto para el Final. In Plantas de diferentes plazas de Espaa,
Italia, Flandes y las Indias. Military Archives, Stockholm, Sweden, KrA/0414/0025, 115.

FIG. 6 LEONARDO DE FERRARI. Planta del Final. In Plantas de diferentes plazas de Espaa, Italia, Flandes y las Indias.
Military Archives, Stockholm, Sweden, KrA/0414/0025. 114.

i.e., painting copies and reproductions based on a plan view, was similar to the method
used by a near contemporary, painter Leonardo de Ferrari (ca 1650-55), in the Marquis
of Heliches Atlas.
The atlas included illustrations of Finale, two splendid chorographies that served pro-
pagandistic, strategic and informative purposes: a plan view of the town and a design for
a port at Varigotti. In these drawings the fortifications were set in the surrounding geo-
graphic area to highlight its immense strategic value, depicting not only the whole but
also the details attesting to its military and commercial merits. These included the traffic
volumes that could be borne by the inland road, the impregnability of the fort and the
natural features that made its coast an excellent site for a port. The steep mountains that
protected the enclave from inland attack were another advantage, for they determined
the layout of the roads leading out of the town toward the Duchy as well as the sites of
the defence structures at the top of the cliffs at the mouth of the port. All these factors
were assessed time and again by the engineers commissioned to design the port and are
present in all the illustrations conserved, some of which more than likely served as inspi-
ration for Ferrari. The aforementioned drawing by Giorgio Palearo Fratino may have been
one and an illustration by Giuseppe Piotti (il Vacallo) dated in 1614, with which Fer-
raris depiction of Varigotti Port bore considerable resemblance, another26. Like his pred-
ecessor, Ferrari stressed the ports enormous strategic value for the monarchys defence
of Milan, revisiting the by then decades-old aspiration to make Finale its port. His pro-
posal focused on the two enclaves (Varigotti and Cabrazoppa) that monopolised the de-
bate among engineers and statesmen around the natural characteristics most amenable
to building a safe harbour for both military and commercial use. Such concerns con-
curred with threats to the enclave from France and the Saboyas and with a Memorial
submitted by Jernimo de Faunes y Muoz (ca 1654) to Philip IV on the need to design
a port at Varigotti27.

Designs for the Port at Finale: War, Politics and Diplomacy

Giorgio Palearo Fratino, Halfway between Pictures and Words
The first attempt to build a port at Finale was a design authored by Milanese engineer
Giorgio Palearo Fratino, who was commissioned to inspect the state of the fortifications
at Finale and visit the port at Varigotti alone and most discreetly. Thereafter he was
to send the Court a report with drawings showing the condition of the port and the de-
tails of a design for the intervention della maniera que di presente si ritrova quanto
que abbia da esser. In the absence of any drawings, which have not been found, the
report contains information of utmost interest. It explains the colour code used by the
engineer to distinguish between the existing structures and the new works to be per-
formed, the relationship between the town of Finale and the port and coastline, and the
condition of the port: closed to prevent its use and with una torre rossa antiqua, che
alzata braza 32 et ha vicino due fontane bone et continoveuna torre dil mollo antigua
et una gabella antiqua et alcuni pezzi di muraglia dove si ligaanole nave et altri vaselli
al tempo che si vara detto porto28. That served as a prologue for the description of
his design: a port for 70 galleys plus another 25 vessels, defended by a fortress 1200

fathoms around on the cliff at the mouth of the port that would be inexpensive to build
and maintain. In other words, he proposed a military port to reinforce the transport net-
work, to be built in the sole maritime enclave on the Ligurian coast that was not in
Genoas possession29. His drawings consequently depicted the surrounds, so important
from the standpoint of territorial strategy as a whole, which associated the port with the
roads to Milan.
Despite its utility, the project was thwarted by order of the king himself on the grounds
of reports from Juan Andrea Doria about the republics discontent. From then on, keeping
Genoa happy to keep Milan safe and protect the imperial structure became an unchal-
lenged principle that systematically foiled projects proposed time and again but which
never materialised due to diplomatic manoeuvring.
That was not, however, incompatible with the acknowledgement of the strategic im-
portance of the project throughout the seventeenth century. The Earl of Fuentes, Span-
ish Governor of the Duchy of Milan, included it in his plan to protect a corridor that
would be used to move Spanish troops, beginning at Finale and ending at the earls
fortress30. Fuentes, in conjunction with the Governor of the marquisate, Pedro de
Toledo, revived the project in 1605 with the support of the Spanish ambassador at
Genoa, Juan Vivas de Caams, and of Andrea Doria, who warned the king of the im-
plications for the monarchy of having no port of its own between Barcelona and Naples:
whereby it seems good that the state of Finale is in Y. Mg.s hands for these occasions
to land people and others and it would be wise to build a wharf large enough for at
least a few galleys31. At the time the project was associated with engineers Gabrielle
Busca and Cristbal Lechuga persons of great ingenuity, art and practice in such mat-
ters who had been asked by Fuentes in 1602 to write a report on the most suitable
site for the port32. Whilst implementation was again denied by the Council of State,
which ruled against building a port or wharf to ensure Genoas fidelity, for the first
time the project was given another purpose: to exert political and diplomatic pressure
with which to tilt the scales in favour of Spanish interests for landing the infantry car-
ried by the galleys at Finale would be a wise decision, to remind them that if Y.Mg. so
wished, you have a place on your own soil from which to send people to the state of
Milan, with no need to land them elsewhere...33. The Council of States instructions
to the ambassador at Genoa in 1680 attest to the persistence over time of this strategy.
Fearing an alliance between France and the republic, Council asked the ambassador
to threaten Genoa with the construction of a port as the sole means of keeping the
Genovese in line34.
For these and other reasons in connection with the Crowns finances, the project, al-
ready reduced to a wharf for 250-300 t vessels, was narrowed down under the pressure
of the ambassadors, who went so far as to comment on the conception and characteristics
of the designs themselves. In 1605 the ambassador told the king ...having a wharf for
just a few galleys would be advisable, for a port would be too long an endeavour35. In
1609 he ultimately proposed that it should be only for galleys and small vessels, which
is less costly and quicker and would protect Milan equally well and would not provoke
as much resentment in the populace. And he mentioned a drawing showing the site,
the winds and the shape of the wharf or port... that would be sent to Madrid for review

by the Earl of Fuentes ...who will know what is best. No design drawings have been
conserved nor is there any clear proof that the project ever materialised, as it may have
been postponed yet again for fear of stirring up trouble among the Genovese population
during a period of entente36.

Engineering and Politics in a Coaction Network: the Design Authored by Giuseppe

Piotti, Il Vacallo
In this context of comings and goings, two splendid illustrations for the design au-
thored in 1616 by engineer Giuseppe Piotti, Il Vacallo, acquire particular value.
This was indisputably the most ambitious project undertaken until then and the one
that came closest to seeing the light. In fact, works were begun after its approval by
the king, although they were subsequently suspended, again as a result of the strategic
and economic priorities imposed by circumstances: the need to settle conflicts at Val-
tellina and Piedmont37. Not to mention the fierce opposition it prompted among the
Genovese. Il Vacallo deployed two representational methods in his drawings: a
chorography with an aerial view of the port from an inland vantage with elevation
views of the buildings designed; and a plan view from offshore focusing on the more
technical aspects of the project: floor plans of the constituent structures, identified
in the legend. Interestingly, both of these ink and watercolour designs highlighted the
value of the works relative to the surrounding area. Based on his experience as a highly
reputed military and civil engineer in the Duchy of Milan, Il Vacallo took Fratinos
approach one step further. He proposed a design which, while heir to G.P. Fratinos,
added to the initial military purpose a second use: trade. To that end, new spatial de-
terminants had to be borne in mind. Moreover, Il Vacallo hailed from a military tra-
dition that drew from engineering theory, along with G. Maggi, G.F. Castriotto, G.F.
Fiammelli and G. Busca, authors all of treatises that called for ports to be designed
to the natural conditions of the terrain38. In the report appended to Il Vacallos draw-
ings, the engineer appraised the natural conditions of the enclave, proposing a port
with a 3800 palm turning circle (by which he meant the obstacle-free manoeuvring
space) and nonetheless apt for 100 galleys and all manner of vessels. It would be built
at Varigotti, a bay on the east end of Finale protected by a high cliff, the site proposed
for a castle that would ensure Milans safety and inspire fear in Your Majestys ene-
mies39. It would have warehouses, a customs office, a dockyard to build galleys,
galleons and other vessels, and a military hospital. The proximity of freshwater streams
would support flour, olive oil and paper mills, and source three fountains in the port
itself, which would be serviced by a road to Finale 30 hands wide for people and goods
boarding or landing.
All those elements were clearly represented and identified in the engineers ambi-
tious design and described in the attached report. More than the characteristics of the
project, the object of interest here is how their definition was affected by the internal
debate conducted by the ambassadors, duchy and marquisate governors, members of
the armed forces and of the Council of State and engineers who formed part of the
coaction network and together designed the strategy for political and military territorial
organisation. The main source for reconstructing that network is Senator Juan Ruiz de

FIG. 7 GIUSEPPE PIOTTI Il Vacallo. Elevato del Porto e fortezza di Varigotti, ca.1616. 395 x 555 mm. Espaa. Ministerio
de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 08, 077.

FIG. 8 GIUSEPPE PIOTTI Il Vacallo. Pianta del Porto di Varigotti como ha dessere finito, con il forte, ca. 1616. 653 x 460 mm.
Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 11, 015.

la Lagunas 1633 Memorial, in which he described a Milan and Finale Governors ini-
tiative to build a large military and commercial port in the wake of the Genovese refusal
to allow Spanish troops to land at its ports. The text also contends that the commercial
use of the enclave at Finale would enrich the royal treasury40. To formulate the proposal
for submission to the Council of State with the imperative drawings and reports, a
commission whose membership included Field Marshal Juan de Medici, Captain
Giuseppe Piotti (Il Vacallo) and cameral engineers Francisco Balduino and Antonio
Barca visited the enclave. Accompanied by the ambassador to Genoa and the Governors
of Milan and Finale, they were to determine the best site for the port and define the
project details41.
The various opinions on the suitability of the site expressed by engineers and other
prudent and practised people mentioned by Laguna stand as proof that these engineers,
while sharing a discipline, held very different ideas, defending their own and rebutting
their opponents proposals in their reports and designs. Their debate ranged across many
issues: defence, respecting the role to be played by Castelfranco and Castel Govone
forts further to military and commercial criteria; trade, regarding the advisability of
building a port close to the city or at a distance to facilitate cargo traffic; technical mat-
ters, in connection with the effect of the winds or how to channel water to prevent the
material borne by mountain streams from clogging the port; strategy, around the inte-
gration of the port in the road network that connected the enclave to its hinterland and
whether its defence would be more effective from the east or the west; and economy
and logistics, including the cost/time factor and the possibility of centralising the postal
service for the entire Mediterranean at Finale. The option defended by those who
favoured Varigotti, Il Vacallo among them, received the support of governors and am-
bassadors, who played a decisive role in its selection, based on the sites lower cost and
greater strategic value, both commercial and military. The proposal concurred fully with
Il Vacallos design, the 1616 date attributed to which may need to be revised, for re-
ports and drawings are known to have been submitted to the Council of State in 1614:
the papers and drawings proposing that the port should be built at Varigotti have been
delivered. Other arguments around its materialisation, similar in terms to the engineers
debate and equally interesting but in the Council of State, ended affirmatively, with the
kings approval of construction42. The idea, then, was at least defined, although the de-
sign may have been the result of variations introduced in subsequent years, each time
the project was revisited.

Defence and Alliance. Projects blocked in the Second half of the seventeenth
Inasmuch as these works were a direct threat to the republics economic interests, not
to mention its sovereignty, the impact of their announcement on the relations between
Spain and Genoa can be readily surmised. For Genoa, the project would constitute an
irreparable loss, for the taxes levied by the Genovese on the goods carried by the vessels
berthing in their ports would be collected at Finale43. The harm that building the port
would have inflicted on the Genovese economy can be quantified. One of the new con-

struction initiatives sponsored in 1644 by Milanese Governor, the Marquis of Caracena,
mentioned that the cost of the works, approximately 500 000 ducats, would be offset by
the profits from the salt trade which would, moreover, drive the growth of a large urban
centre. By then the aim of the works had changed: reports clearly showing that the port
at Cabrazoppa was apt for commercial but less so for military use had tilted the scales
toward Varigotti. Nonetheless, two considerations ultimately favoured the Cabrazoppa
option: the complex inland connection from Varigotti to the town of Finale and the tech-
nical difficulties involved in dredging its port, according to a study commissioned by the
Milanese authority in 1634 from Giulio Martelli, engineer who had participated in dredg-
ing Barcelona port.
In 1642 the defensive problems were solved with a sea-side fortification built from
a plan view drawn by Prestino, engineer from the state of Milan who had designed the
fortifications for Finale in times of the Marquis of Legans44. Prestinos services had
been engaged by the Genovese ambassador to Milan, because as the site is ill-suited
to fortifications, that defect must be made up for with ingenuity as far as possible45.
The construction of San Giovanni fort in the town and the reinforcement of Castel
Franco and Castel Gavone forts supplemented the new structure, to ensure defence on
land and at sea. With the port, the governor wrote in a clear reference to territorial strat-
egy, Y.M.s reigns will be united to one another and indisputably establish your royal
power at sea...46. This strategy, while sound from the military and commercial stand-
points, was scantly realistic, for the cost would have been barely affordable and the
threat its construction would have constituted for the republic would have led to revolt
at a time of major conflicts. This revealed, yet again, that the strategy of territorial in-
tervention devised by Milan ran up not only against financial considerations, but also
the political and diplomatic management of Genovese affairs, blocking project materi-
The project for Finale port submitted by Bernab de Ganza Allafor in 1672 was the
Crowns last known seventeenth century attempt for which drawings have survived47. De-
spite its historical interest, this project has received scant attention and little is known
about the circumstances surrounding its formulation or its author, other than that he
was Lodger for His Majestys House and Court and Second Mate to the naval branch of
the War Secretariat. The records also show that he produced some fine cartographic
work at mid-century in Spanish cities bordering Portugal48. His design retrieved the Varig-
otti option in a project clearly authored by someone well versed in the principles of mil-
itary engineering. Those skills are visible in the decision to build a bastion housing a
citadel on the cliff and a breakwater to open one of the mouths of the port, as well as in
the use of docks, one to curb the damage caused by the mouth of the river and another
to protect the port. His design solved many of the problems that were left unaddressed
in his predecessors and are present in his joint plan view and profile, where he also de-
picted the roads that connect to the west and the altitudes of the mountains relative to
firing and defence angles. This characteristically military drawing does not neglect the
surrounding area, an especially important consideration in a project which, despite its
merits, never materialised. It closed a cycle of feverish design activity that remained fruit-
less because a series of economic, military and diplomatic factors interfered with the

FIG. 9 Recinto del Castel Franco alla Marina, at Finale Ligur, ca. 1642. 505 x 666 mm. Espaa. Ministe-
rio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 09, 004.

FIG. 10 Castel Gavone y Bechignolo (Finale), ca. 1642. 424 x 576 mm. Espaa. Ministerio de Edu-
cacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 06, 024.

FIG. 11 BERNAB DE GANZA ALLAFOR. Planta y perfil de la obra que se poda hacer en el puerto de Finale para ponerle en
defensa, 1672. 431 x 582 mm. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 05,

Crowns intentions for western Liguria. Today those factors constitute the key for inter-
preting the respective projects.



In 1644, the Marquis of Caracena, Governor of Milan, drafted a proposal for building a
port at Finale in which he included a very realistic description of the Crowns situation:
financial difficulties and their impact on territorial organisation; the threat from France,
associated with the growing hostility on the part of its ally, Genoa; and as a result, its di-
minished reputation which from the first quarter century played an active role in driving
or curbing the Crowns initiatives in matters of defence: For the Republic to want to
stand on the same footing as the Spanish Crown read a text on the relations between
the two allies in 1649 is insane and foolish and may set a bad example for other Italian
princes; hence, such a most inappropriate policy should be abandoned49. As the ambas-
sador to Genoa told the king in 1634 in connection with a conflict around the Genovese
refusal to hail Spanish vessels from their ports, Spain had either to let them know who

FIG. 12 Schizzo con piano di sbarco e invasione del Finale da parte delle truppe Franco- Sabaude, (after 1650). Archivio di
Stato di Genova. Racolta Cartografica Senarega, Collegio Diversorum, Mss. 89.

is in command or suffer a loss of reputation, respect and esteem that would have se-
vere consequences for other imperial affairs which the king himself should calibrate. He
urged the monarch to show (in the perfect language used by Spanish diplomacy in
Genoa) that with no need to unsheathe the sword, Y.Mg. has the power to destroy the
The text at issue referred directly to the need for a port, informing Philip IV in an at-
tempt to further its construction that Your Magesty cannot reputedly and safely wage
the war with France without a port with inhabitants and means to maintain the navy in
Liguria, so that Finale port indisputably means health and safety for Italy and justified
and certain punishment for Genoa51. This question had driven the project as early as
1614, when the reports described how every time that Your Magestys soldiers board or
land at Baya de Saona, the Crown has such a poor reputation that the Genovese abuse
of its power.... Nonetheless, in time the project would prove to be a two-edged sword,
for initiating works that could not be completed for financial shortfalls could also jeop-
ardise the Crowns reputation. As the Knight Commander of Leon noted: Y.Mg. has
many castles, ports and docks begun but unfinished for want of wherewithal and many
things that must be attended to... when such works are started the costs are under-reck-
oned and then the expense doubles and cannot be met, so they stand incomplete, sham-
ing their owners...52. Reputation was a concern that recurred in all the seventeenth cen-

FIG. 13 Anonymous. Plan de la ville et des fortifications de Final, ca. 1680. Archives Dpartamentales des Yvelines-France.
Cartes et Plans, Italien, A 1596.

FIG. 14 JOSEP CHAFFRION. La Liguria Stato della Repubblica di Genova con altri stati adiacenti. Dedicata allimpareggiabile
virt e merito dellEminentissimo e Reverendissimo Principe il Signor Cardinale Gio Batta Spinola, detto S. Cesareo, 1679.
Printed by Domenico de Rossi, Rome, 1697. 435 x 1035 mm. Archivio di Stato di Genova. Mappe e tipi della Repubblica di
Genova, Seg. 41.

tury attempts to resume the Finale project. The Governor of Milan himself alluded to it
in his 1644 project, when he claimed to be certain that construction of the port alone
would repair all the problems and curb Genovese discourtesy and excess most effectively
and with that they will be wholly repressed and even so mortified that they will not dare
even imagine what they presently attempt...: an argument that combined the strategy
of exerting political pressure by building the port with the notion of reputation.
The notion acquired symbolic and ceremonial significance on the occasion of Mar-
iana de Austrias passing through Finale in 1649 on her voyage to Madrid to marry Philip
IV, travelling the Spanish Road southwestward rather northeastward. The event was
planned as an exhibition of the Crowns reputation on the ground of its control over its
territories. When the queen reached the port to cross the mountain to the town along
the road connecting Milan and Finale, she was saluted with rounds of artillery fired by
squadrons from the Crowns castles and galleys. This propagandistic display, intended

FIG. 15 Mapa del camino realizado por Gaspare Beretta en 1666 desde Finale hasta Alessandria (published in 1677).
444 x 630 mm. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 60, 014.

for all of Europe, focused on a single idea: that possession and control of this port and
the roads that connected it to Milan were instrumental to holding the empire together.
A port with such a gathering as this will scantly be found in the Annals noted the
chronicler of the event for the positions of the persons gathered there53. A similar sit-
uation gave rise to a diplomatic incident between Spain and Genoa in 1666, on the oc-
casion of Empress Mara Teresa de Austrias landing at Finale on her voyage from the
court at Madrid to Vienna, as the wife of Leopold I54. This was interpreted by Genoa,
according to the ambassadors report, as an offence: This Republic is reacting with ap-
prehension to the published reports that the Empress will not stop here and will land at
Finale; and that, if true, will alter public spirits greatly, in the belief that it is to deny
some expected favour55. Genoa went so far as to entertain the idea of not providing
Spain with the services needed for this voyage from the ports on the Ligurian coast, in
an event charged with symbolism and international repercussions. The visit left its mark
on this region in the form of a permanent arch of triumph that presided the entry to the
port, creating an aura of domination reproduced in ink and watercolour by an anony-
mous author in the second half of the seventeenth century. This clearly celebratory and
propagandistic view of the port and its defensive systems from the sea depicted three
elements of the projects for the port on which debates had focused: the town, Cabra-
zoppa and the inland fortifications.
The empresss voyage from Finale to Vienna through Milan also prompted a terri-
torial intervention in which political arguments associated both with reputation and

strategies for geographic control
came into play. The works in question
consisted in building part of the
stradone reale56 that the Governor of
Milan commissioned from military
engineer Gaspare Beretta, with the
royal voyage as justification. Beretta
had worked in Milan with Prestino
and had participated in a design to
enlarge Finale port in 1661 (whose
unsuccessful resumption in 1670 has
recently been documented)57 . The
design for the new section of paved
road, which ran along the existing
pathway from Alessandria to Finale,
is relevant here because, conceptu-
ally speaking, it formed part of the
military strategy deployed by the
Crown in Europe. Moreover, it gave
rise to sizeable volumes of carto-
graphic work associated with the or-
ganisation of a political domain in FIG. 16 GASPARE BERETTA. Abbozzo della pianta dellabitato di
Finale, 1661. 810 x 1110 mm. Archivio di Stato di Genova. Car-
which illustrations played an essen- tografia miscellanea, Marchesato del Finale, Ovada e Cam-
tial role. These maps and their asso- pofreddo, 23.

ciated texts conveyed a single mes-

sage about how power is wielded over
the land: in this case by establishing boundaries. Understood as limits of States terri-
torial dominion, the political, military and diplomatic scenario prevailing at the time
called for utmost precision in their definition and for that definition to be visible.
Beretta himself, as military engineer, revised the Savona and Vado forts at the request
of the republic58 while working for the Crown on its plan for territorial organisation.
In a similar vein, Josep Cafrin, Spanish military engineer engaged by the Governor
of Milan, formulated the first map of the Genovese coast in 1684-85, while he was
also drafting his Plantas de las fortificaciones de las Ciudades, Plazas y Castillos del
Estado de Miln (s.n. 1687) and shortly before he published his Escuela de Palas o
Curso mathematico, (Milan: M.A. Pandulfo Malatesta, 1693). According to M. Quaini,
precedents for his cartographic endeavour may be found in the work performed by
military engineers, cartographers and geographers serving the state of Milan who
drew from their knowledge of the Ligurian coast to cooperate with the Republics en-
gineers, establishing a culture of contacts and cross-influences that merits further
study. Nonetheless, as noted above, sight should not be lost in this discussion of the
tension between diplomatic endeavour and military strategy that constitutes the key
to understanding the fate of projects conditioned by a constant need to strike a balance
between strategy and defence.


1. UNED. Calle Senda del Rey, n. 7, 28040 Madrid.

2. Expression used by Carlo Doria Carretto, Duke of Tursi and Spanish ambassador to Genoa in a letter to Philip III. AGS,
EST, LEG, 3592, 62.
3. For an updated vision of this area, see PACINI, 2013, pp. 138-154. On the Spanish road: PARKER, 2000.
4. Quoted by PACINI, 2005, pp. 21-44.
5. RIBOT, 1989, pp. 349-363.
6. Report that engineer Giorgio Palearo Fratino provided with the design for the port and castle for Finale included in this dis-
patch, De Miln a 14 de junio de 1571. AGS, EST, 1232, 193. Partially reproduced in VIGAN, 2004, pp. 91-94 and 120.
7. AEDO Y GALLART, 1635, p. 24.
8. RUIZ DE LA LAGUNA, 1633, p. 2bis and pp. 47-53. See also Papeles varios reinados de Felipe II y Felipe IV, BNM, MSS. 9438, pp.
9. CALCAGNO, 2010; CALCAGNO, 2011; CALCAGNO, 2014, pp. 212-231.
10. For a good overview of the subject, including the garrisons, see VIGAN, 2007, pp. 79-117.
11. PACINI, 2005, pp. 21-44. RIZZO, 1992, pp. 315-348.
12. Quoted by PACINI, 2005, p. 30. In A. Pacinis opinion, the author of this report may have been Francisco de Ugarte, secretary
to Ambassador Gmez Surez de Figueroa, who was called to the Court in 1571.
13. PACINI, 2005, p. 30.
14. HERRERO SNCHEZ, 2005, pp. 9-20 and 115-152. HERRERO SNCHEZ, 2004, pp. 528-562.
15. ASSERETO, G., 2007, p. 162.
16. Quoted by ASSERETO, 2007, p. 162.
17. RAPETTI, 1998 as quoted in CALCAGNO, 2012, p. 81.
18. PACINI, A. 2003, pp. 325-388 and pp. 341-342.
19. For examples related to the citys castle and fortification, see: AGS, EST, LEG, 3617,21 and AGS, EST, LEG, 1426, 15.
20. In 1571 Spanish troops took the marquisate which, in addition to the port, included Finale Pa and Finalborgo. Political and
administrative control was acquired and the first governor of Milan, Pedro de Toledo, was appointed in 1602. The marquisate
would be judicially and administratively independent and dependent upon Milan for military and financial affairs. The process
culminated with the total transfer of the territory to the Crown by the Empire in 1619. In 1630 the Emperor granted Finale
Port to Philip IV under a 1639 privilege. EDELMAYER, 1994, pp. 43-61. Other essential reading: CALCAGNO, 2009. CALCAGNO,
21. CMARA MUOZ, 1981, pp. 255-269; CMARA MUOZ, 1998, pp. 42-46.
22. GABRIO BUSCA, Descritione delle fortezze di frontiera dello Stato di Milano (1602). The manuscript, kept at the Pavia Civic
Library, was partially published in G. LIVA, Note sulla cartografia del territorio dello Stato di Milano in et spagnola nel XVI
secolo, in BORTOLOTTI et al., 1999, pp. 26-27. Later, in the second half of the seventeenth century, Gaspare Beretta would
make another attempt to implement the project, including a series of inter-connected strongholds. See DAMERI, 2013, pp. 98-
23. AGS, EST, LEG, 1436, 235. On the defensive war: CMARA MUOZ, 1998, pp. 61-64.
24. AGS, EST, LEG, 3598, 6.
25. The kings request was dated August 1643. AGS, EST, LEG, 3598, 286.
26. Heliches Atlas contained four types of illustrations: plan views of cities; unengaged forts and defensive enclaves; chorographies
showing overviews; and depictions of battles and sites. Plantas de diferentes plazas, in SNCHEZ RUBIO et al. (eds.), 2004.
27. According to one source, as early as 1566 Philip II had sent engineer Antonio Carmona to explore the possibility of building
a port at Varigotti or Caprazoppa, near Finale. PEANO CAVASOLA, Una sferza con cui percoterci a lor piacere. Finale fra Genova
e Madrid, in SEVERAL AUTHORS, 2007, pp. 25-77 and 69-70. On the occupation of the marquisate and the conflict with the
Empire: EDELMAYER, 1994, pp. 43-61.
28. Quoted by VIGANO, 2004, pp. 91-92.
29. By then Giorgio Palearo Fratino had worked on rebuilding the castle at Finale. In 1571, after Castel Gavone was taken, he
visited the area on commission by the Duke of Alburquerque at the kings urging to assess the state of the port and the possibility
of protecting it with a fort and to calculate the number of galleys it could accommodate. The report, custodied at the Simancas
Archives (AGS, EST, LEG, 1232), is reproduced in VIGAN, 2004, pp. 91-94. See also pp. 120-121 and notes 273 and 274.
30. FIOR, 1998 and FIOR et al., 2003.
31. AGS, EST, LEG, 1433, 50.
32. The question was whether to choose Cabrazoppa, which was closer to the town of Finale, or Varigotti, somewhat more distant
and close to the marina. BRUNA, 1993.
33. AGS, EST, LEG, 1932, 175. This strategy was deployed frequently. In 1609, for instance, the Council of State instructed
the ambassador to let (the Genovese) know that Spain could build a port in Finale in response to a possible Genovese-
French alliance.
34. Quoted by CALCAGNO, 2011, p. 36.
35. AGS, EST, LEG, 1433, 49.
36. The allusion to the Earl of Fuentes referred here to his supervision as a member of the Council of State, to which he was ap-
pointed in 1598. On the derailment of the proposal: AGS, EST, LEG, 1932, 399 and 1434,195.
37. In 1614 the Council of State advised against its construction. GASPARINI, 1958. AGS, EST, LEG, 1436, 234.
38. FORTI, 1992, pp. 9-12; CERINO BADONE, 2012, pp. 261-182.

39. haver il suddetto porto di giro circa 3800 palmi, e per capace di cento galere, navigli grossi et d``ogni sorte di legni.
AGS, Estado, Miln y Saboya, 1910. UGO, 1993.
40. ...because from this follows, argued Hinojosa, safe trade, which it has not... and would save Y.Mg. from asking the Genovese
for permission every day, for today they are friends and tomorrow they may not be, depending on the course of events in
Italy... and the salt that enriches the Genovese and supplies Lombardy, brought to Finale and transported from there would
bring considerable earnings. AGS, EST, LEG, 1436, 236.
41. RUIZ DE LA LAGUNA, 1633, pp. 37-50.
42. UGO, 1993, p. 45. AGS, EST, LEG, 1436, 229, 233 and 235.
43. AGS, EST, LEG, 1437, 41 and LEG, 1933, 309 and 310.
44. AGS, EST, LEG, 3598, 5.
45. AGS, EST, LEG, 3598, 6. CALCAGNO, 2011, p. 99.
46. AGS, EST, LEG, 3607, 49.
47. AGS, EST, LEG, 3640, 84.
48. Corographia y descripcin del territorio de la Plaza de Badaxoz y fronteras del Reyno de Portugal confinantes a ella, in SNCHEZ
RUBIO et al. (eds.), 2003.
49. Quoted by HERRERO SNCHEZ, 2005, p. 136.
50. AGS, EST, LEG, 3592, 62 and 3594, 19.
51. Compare to CALCAGNO, 2011, p. 32. On this occasion it was Francisco de Melo, ambassador to Genoa who raised the pro-
52. GASPARINI, 1958 and AGS, EST, LEG, 1436, 234.
53. MASCAREAS, 1650.
54. BERTOLLI, 1951, pp. 20-24.
55. AGS, EST, LEG, 3636, 107, 1.
56. TESTA, 2002.
57. Nor would the projects proposed in 1678, 1680 or 1684 materialise. CALCAGNO, 2011, p, 40. On G. Beretta: VIGAN, 2013;
COLMUTO ZANELLA and RONCAI, 1994, pp. 63-111; TESTA, 2002 and SEVERAL AUTHORS, 2007, pp. 151-166.
58. QUAINI, 1984, pp. 233; BELY, 2008, pp. 35-51.


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Back to Contents

City, War and Drawing in the Sixteenth
Century: from Tripoli to the
Moroccan Atlantic


Universidad de Tetun y Centro UNED Melilla
Universidad de Mlaga y Centro UNED Mlaga



This paper aims at highlighting the importance of drawing as a reflection of a historical

period (the sixteenth century) where the Spanish Monarchy exercised a strategic control
on North African coasts and cities. The effort deployed in cities such as Melilla, Oran,
Merz el-Kebir, Algiers, Bizerte, Bejaia, Bona or Tripoli was enormous, and the warlike
actions were represented in different ways to facilitate the wide circulation of such events.
This text tries to analyze a significant part of the set of images created with particular
emphasis on military architecture and the urban areas. From this, we learnt that those
plans, engravings, tapestries and paintings were used as graphic documents that com-
plemented and enriched the literary text, in the drafting of history, while offering recre-
ations that range from the reliable, the falsified and the imaginary.


Spanish monarchy, north Africa, sixteenth century, drawing, fortifications, siege, city, bul-


The Spanish Monarchy always considered the North African territory as a priority area
of interest. From the late fifteenth century and during the sixteenth century, Spanish
monarchs considered North African coasts, and specially, cities, as a key location for the
defence of Spain and Europe. This strategic role was going to be supported in the first
stage by the key figures of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Kings, although it would
be Charles I and his son, Philip II, who exercised a tighter control of the Mediterranean
to face the Ottoman power and the corsairs.
The Spanish armies and navies hoped to extend their domain over cities and coastal
areas, located between Tripoli, on the eastern Mediterranean, and Cape Ghir, on the
Moroccan Atlantic. One of the consequences of this dominion was an interesting corpus
of images, formulated as engravings, drawings, frescos, or even tapestries. Studying these
representations can help provide a global idea of this enterprise3; an approach from the
reflection of them on the fortifications and war hostilities, offers an interesting icono-
graphic aspect which usually goes unnoticed.


Medieval Portuguese Representations about the Conquests on the Mo-

roccan Coast
There is awareness, as mentioned, that the Catholic Kings promoted the first Spanish
actions on North African soil. By then, Portugal had already started its own settling on
the continent, through events that were magnificently depicted in the series of Flemish
tapestries of Pastrana Collegiate Church. These tapestries portray the Portuguese activ-
ities in Ksar es-Seghir in 1458, Tangier in 1471 and Asilah in 1471.
In all of them, the medieval and gothic character of the representations is evident,
with a strong connection to the Flemish aesthetic. Thoroughness is one of their charac-
teristics, as it depicts contemporary weapons, artillery and fighting methods in great de-
tail. There is, however, a peculiar representation of space and cities, which indicates a
lack of perspective, giving a strong artificial character.
In the tapestry The landing at Asilah, the perception of places is absolutely simulated,
which contrasts with the deal of information and authenticity depicted in the warfare
implements of the period. However, the representation of the city becomes arbitrary to
the point that it can be observed that the walls are similar to the medieval walls of any
other European city. They show machicolations, battlements, gothic windows, and even
church bell towers forcibly transformed into minarets.
The tapestry The siege of Asilah presents a similar composition, highlighting the idea
of a besieged city, totally misrepresented, although notable references to assault systems
can be found. In the last tapestry in the series, The attack on Asilah, the narrative rhythm
is concluded, where the dynamism of the army takes over the main lines of the compo-

FIG. 1 Scene corresponding to the city and port of the tapestry The Conquest of Tangier, Parish Church Museum of Pas-

On the other hand, the tapestry The conquest of Tangier repeats the same ideas of
the medieval city, Christian in form, and at the same time we find certain realism in the
disposition of the port, with elements recalling the actual one. Regarding the series of
tapestries dedicated to the conquest of Ksar es-Seghir, they do not show depictions of
relevant urban structures.

The Nearest North African Coast: Melilla, Cazaza and Vlez de la

As mentioned before, the late fifteenth century represents the moment where a new pe-
riod begins, where the determination of the Catholic Kings is expressed both in the first
attempt to occupy the Island of Djerba and the city of Melilla, in 14974.
In this period, representation models were strongly influenced by Flemish aesthetics,
as observed in the Pastrana tapestries, and also in the relief sculptures in the lower choir
of Toledo Cathedral, depicting Granadan city sieges.
The first attempt to conquer Djerba ended in a defeat (which would not be the last),
although in the same year, 1497, Melilla was occupied. However, the procedure used
for this operation, based primarily in the organization of the enterprise in a bloodless
manner, for the city was abandoned, is probably the reason why we have no drawings or
representations of the events, far from conquests of a heroic nature. It would not be

FIG. 2 The
conquest of
Melilla, accord-
ing to BAR-
Las Ilustraciones
de la Casa de
Niebla, 1540.
Reproduced by
Rafael Fernn-
dez de Castro,

until 1540 when Pedro Barrantes Maldonado included a drawing in the framework of
an illuminated manuscript destined to glorify the deeds of the Duke of Medina Sido-
The truth is that it was a sketch of great simplicity, although it gives an idea of a cred-
ible Islamic city, including the area where the fleet landed. The image is quite correct,
with indication of the walls and the gates to the city. In this work we can already find al-
ready the elements that will later appear in these kinds of representations: the fleet (with
several different kinds of ships), the army (infantry and cavalry) and the city to be occu-
There is no drawing of the conquest of Cazaza (Gassasa) in 1505 (a castle near
Melilla, a possession of the ducal house of Medina Sidonia until 1532), nor of the con-
quest of Merz el-Kebir the following year (1506-1708 and 1732-1792) or that of the
Peon de Vlez de la Gomera (Badis) by Pedro Navarro in 1508 (possession of Spain
until 1522 and later reconquered in 1564 until today).

The Expansion towards the East: Oran, Bejaia, Peon de Algiers and
It was not until the 27th May 1509 that Cardinal Cisneros would carry out the conquest
of Oran (Wahran), together with Merz el-Kebir, that a notable representation of such a
deed is found6.
Juan de Borgoa is the creator of this painting, where the figure of Cardinal Cisneros,
as the promoter and conductor of the deed, and where medieval models were still quite
present. The narrative aspect is to be highlighted; the meticulousness of the details can-
not lead us to ignore the inaccuracy of the representation of the city. Oran is presented
as a city full of Christian medieval architecture, even when, in some cases, a tower might
simulate a minaret of rough manufacture. However, the general representation has a

FIG. 3 JUAN DE BORGOA. Scene of The landing at Oran. Mozarabic Chapel of Toledo Cathedral.

greater accuracy, for it presents several fortifications, especially those on the right side,
which could match the castle of Rosalcazar. Without underestimating the sloping struc-
ture, crowned by a higher ground where the kasbah was located, or the existence of the
two buildings with their respective gates, higher and lower, Juan de Borgoa couldnt
rely on any first-hand graphic material to represent the city of Oran, although he did
have a recollection of the deeds and some descriptions of the city.
1510 was an important year for the African expansionist policy. As a matter of fact,
on January 6th, engineer and soldier Pedro Navarro retakes the city of Bejaia7 (Bejaa or
Biyaya), which remained under Spanish control until 1555. We have knowledge of an
engraving of the city which, even mentioning the conquest by King Ferdinand, gives ev-
idence of the state of the city in 1551, when the Emperors engineers had already fortified

FIG. 4 The siege of Bejaia, 1551, Bibliothque Na-
tionale de France, Dpartement Cartes et Plans, GE
DD-2987 (8024).

the place, and the Spanish defences

are visible, which indicates a precise
knowledge of the compound.
Bejaia, in this drawing, consisted
of a medina, surrounded by Islamic
walls, presided by a Kasbah with ram-
parts, and embracing between them
the gate to the sea, which led to the
port. Just outside this compound,
there was a bigger one, with another
gate to the sea, tracks, and the Spanish
fortress, located on the highest place
inside it. The gates, roads, and com-
munications between the different
compounds are perfectly depicted. Regarding the siege of the city, it can be considered
anachronistic, because many of the buildings in the drawing did not exist then. The
warfare apparatus is focused particularly on the fleet, from which the siege begins, and
on the ground troops surrounding the city.
The same year, on April 24th, the Peon of Algiers (Al-Yazair) was conquered, and
remained under Spanish control until 1529. The Peon is a small headland which be-
came an outlook to control the commercial and military traffic of the city. On the Peon,
the Spanish built a small garrison, with a reduced number of troops. On the other hand,
on July 25th 1510, Tripoli ( ar bulus al-Garb) was occupied, and remained in Christian
hands until 1551.
And finally, as a dramatic conclusion of 1510, on August 29th a new disaster occurred
in the Djerba, dramatized in a poem by Garcilaso de la Vega:

Oh, crying country, and how you

turn your eyes to Djerba, sighing!
The sand was burning, the sun was scorching
people fell, half dead [...]

In all these conquests, occupations and landings there was not a programme or specific
instructions to represent the historical deeds as they took place. The case of Oran was
the only one that followed the idea of commemorating and giving prestige to the deeds
author, Cardinal Cisneros. But the same pattern is not found in the other events, carried
out under the patronage of Isabella or Ferdinand, the Catholic Kings. There were no
drawing chroniclers to perpetuate through images all the efforts deployed.


The beginning of the Emperors reign finds him occupied with several affairs other than
the North African coasts, and will not find new remarkable military deeds until the be-
ginning of the thirties in that century. It is true that an unfortunate event took place in
the Kerkennah Islands, and that in 1517 and 1519 both Francisco de la Vega and Hugo
of Moncada were defeated in Algiers.
In 1529, an event represented a warning sign about the power of the Ottoman Empire
and their expansive policy towards Europe and the Mediterranean. An important event,
such as the siege of Vienna by the Turks, was accompanied, within the scope we are deal-
ing with, by the loss of Peon of Algiers, and the city freed itself from the control or tute-
lage exerted by Spain.

The Cities of Bizerte and Mahdia

In 1531 Honaine (Honaine) is occupied, until 1534, and in 1535 Bona (Annaba) will
fall to Spain until 1541, as well as Bizerte (Banzart).
There is an engraving of Bizerte representing the combined attack on the city of An-
drea Dorias navy and a squadron of 1.000 foot soldiers. The drawing depicts the landing
in front of Chavalabiat Tower and the eastern part of the city, on November 4th. The rep-
resentation is succinct in details, except for the fortress, which crowns the city, and shows
bastioned towers and a poorly defined wall. In the same year, 1535, Mahdia8 (also called
Africa) is occupied, and in this case there is a cartographic image drawn years later by
Franz Hogenberg in Civitatis Orbis Terrarum.
The engraving shows many details, although it presents some geographical misrepre-
sentations. The peninsula on which the city lies is longer and it shows several incorrect
details. However, the fortified perimeter is well represented, as well as the crowded rows
of houses in the city, within the walls. The attack of the navy occurs both from the west
and the east, and, above all, the different elements and buildings for the siege are high-
lighted: parallel trenches, ditches and approach covers which indicates the siege was rig-
orous, including Christian campaign artillery shooting from protecting cover.

FORLANI. Bizerte,
a fortress on the
Barbary coast. In
Descrittione dell
Africa, Venice,
1562, fol. 81.

FIG. 6 FRANZ HOGENBERG and G. BRAUN. Mahdia or Africa. In Civitatis Orbis Terrarum, 1572 -1618. ACOML. Historical

The Conquest of La Goulette and Tunis: the Glorification of the Em-

The conquest of La Goulette (Halq al Wadi) and Tunis (Tunis) in 1535 was, without
doubt, one of the most reproduced and celebrated military events of the Emperor, to the
extent that there are abundant representations intended to glorify the monarch, which
is the reason for their obvious symbolic nature.
One of the most significant representations is the one developed in the series of twelve
tapestries on the conquest of Tunis, manufactured in Brussels between 1548 and 1554.
The manufacturer is Willem de Pannemaker on a cartoon drawn by Jan Cornelisz Ver-
meyen and Pieter Coecke van Aelst. Vermeyen witnesses the development of the military
events and took sketches of everything he observed on the field. On the other hand, the
tapestries have explanatory texts attributed to Alonso de Santa Cruz, the captions of which
accompany the images, emphasising the propaganda role of the set.

FIG. 7 Scene of tap-
estry IV by WILLEM DE
PANNEMAKER on a car-
VERMEYEN (Brussels,
1546-1554). Royal
Palace, Madrid.

Currently, ten of the twelve original tapestries (VIII and XI are missing) and ten of
the twelve cartoons are extant (I and IX are missing), besides trustworthy copies that
were made during the eighteenth century, so the set can be perfectly described9. On the
other hand, this collection of tapestries has been the object of remarkable studies and
analyses from varied perspectives and approaches10. We will focus our research on those
aspects expressly detailing the elements of the city and the fortification.
The descriptive and narrative interest of the set explains why tapestry I is actually a
map presented as an inverted image, with the south at the top and the north at the bot-
tom, the western Mediterranean, as a sea crowded with Spanish ship, from the Atlantic
to Italy, with the city of Tunis as a great regional capital.
On the other hand, while in n II the gathering of troops in Barcelona, led by the Em-
peror himself, can be seen, n III represents his landing at La Goulette, on June 16th
1535, together with his court and 12.000 foot soldiers. Curiously, this landing took place
on the ruins of the old city of Carthage, which was occupied by humble shacks, and
which will appear in several of the tapestries as a silent witness of the deeds. In the back-
ground, on the left, Tunis can be seen with its walled enclosure, as well as some neigh-
bourhoods outside the walls11. In the mid-distance, the Ottoman fortress of La Goulette
can be seen, as a square tower, built by Sinan the Jew and heavily armed. Outside the
fortress we can see other defences, such as the Tower of the Salt and the Tower of the
Water, both well equipped.
Tapestry IV revolves around the battle before the conquest of La Goulette. In the
foreground, we can see some secondary defences, such as the Tower of the Water, the
lagoon between La Goulette and Tunis, Carles Vs infantry, Barbarossas cavalry, and the

FIG. 8 Scene of a ditch with parapet in tapestry VI. The enemy leaving La Goulette.

FIG. 9 Scene from Tapestry VII. WILLEM DE PANNEMAKER on a cartoon by JAN CORNELISZ VERMEYEN (Brus-
sels, 1546-1554). Royal Palace, Madrid.

FIG. 10 Scene from
Tapestry XI, representing
the fortress, the works set
up for the attack and the

pike square, formed by new Spanish nationals. In the background, we can see the
arrangement of the old Spanish Tercios, arrived from Italy.
Tapestry V represents the Turks leaving La Goulette. There is an essential element in
the attacks of fortresses: the use of trenches and other assault weapons. The attacking
army started the approaching manoeuvres for which they had to carry firewood and
branches from the ships to the works. The omnipresent ruins of Carthage are also rep-
The conquest of La Goulette is represented in tapestry VII: the fortress defended by
more than 400 pieces of artillery and 8.000 Turks is defeated from the land, by eleven
cannons, and from the sea, by nine galleys. Finally, the fortress is taken because part of
a wall fell down. In this tapestry we can also see how the system formed by Tunis and its
natural port worked. Between the city and the open sea there is a shallow lagoon, almost
entirely closed by a sand strip, with a channel to the open sea. La Goulette fortress was
located at this spot, as a control point for the only exit. Communications started in Tunis
and there was a covered track, formed by vaults and defensive walls, which arrived to the
shore of the lagoon, and protected those circulating or trading by a cover from any enemy.
From the lagoon, the transport was by boat to the sand strip, where a new defence system
controlled the traffic from the canal to the open sea. As can be appreciated, La Goulette
really controlled the main communication system of the capital, and therefore its econ-
omy and defence.
The Emperors march on Tunis is represented on tapestry VIII, whereas n IX presents
the well-known Battle of the Wells of Tunis. In tapestry X we find the Plundering of Tunis
and the liberation of 20.000 Christian slaves, who were held prisoner in the Alcazaba,
while in XI we can see the return of the army to the inlet after the city had been occupied.
This latest is quite interesting because it shows the state of all the siege fortifications
built around La Goulette, as well as the defences set up by the Turks. Ditches, fences,
covered tracks, artillery settlements and other mechanisms, among which we have to
highlight the artefacts on the canal.

Finally, in Tapestry XII, the Emperor returns to La Goulette, orders its fortifications,
and entrusts the enclave t to Bernardino de Mendoza, with a guard of 1.000 Spanish,
while placing in Tunis a vassal king. In this tapestry, we can see Vermeyen sketching,
representing the city, its walls and gates with great detail.
Undoubtedly, Vermeyens works manage to gather one of the most interesting sets on
one of the North African conquests, where the exaltation of the Spanish Monarchy and
the Emperor appear well balanced with a detailed visual account of the deeds and a de-
scription of all the details.
Another remarkable series on the subject of the Conquest of Tunis are the paintings
of the tower of the Queens Hairdresser, in the Alhambra of Granada12. In this case, eight
frescoes are preserved with the following topics: 1 Gathering of the imperial fleet in
Cagliari, 2 Navigation of the fleet, 3 The Navy attacks La Goulette, 4 The Fleet ap-
proaches La Goulette, 5 Conquest of Tunis, 6 Boarding of the fleet, 7 The fleet arrives
in Sicily and Triumphant entrance in Trapani. The narrative aspect of the set is easily
noticed. For our analyses, frescoes n 4 and 5 are the most interesting. The first one fo-
cuses on the fleet; geography is used as a scenographic perspective, and the urban and
fortification details are not accurate. N 5, the fleet is in front of La Goulette, presenting
the order of the fleet, the fortress and the lagoon, with Tunis in the background. A wise
use of colours can be perceived in order to achieve a contrast between different elements:
blue sea, red land, and orange Tunis. On the other hand, it offers scarce description, al-
though we can see some ditches and other fortification works.
The paintings were commissioned by Charles V, following his secretarys advice13 and
the set is a work by Alejandro Mayner and Giulio dAquili, although it seems the latter
was mainly dedicated to the grotesque in the scenes. Recently restored, the models for
the paintings were obtained from Vermeyens works, although we can see evident differ-
ences that show their own distinctive personality. This is perceived particularly in the
composition of the set, and in the interest of the geographical setting14, as well as in the
way chosen to reflect individual elements such as the landscape background, the city of
Tunis, the lagoon, La Goulette and the fleet, which creates a singular perspective effect.
Despite their transcendence, these were not, however, the single representations of
the Conquest of La Goulette and Tunis15. Many of them are inspired in the drawings for
the tapestries. In an image of the Conquest of La Goulette made by Hogenberg, this
similitude is evident. All the elements of the attack appear together in this engraving,
with the eastern and western fronts, including attacks from ship to ship, parallel trenches,
ditches, artillery, saps, etc. Hogenberg makes other engravings on the subject; some of
them follow Vermeyens work, while others present a freer composition. Such is the ex-
ample of the landscape of Tunis, where a reference to the year 1535 is made, although
in a forced manner, for the fights are secondary and theatrical, and the profile of the city
is highlighted, above the rest of the composition.
There are other representations16 which deform, to a greater or lesser extent, the de-
scriptive discourse of the images. In some cases17 they help to build a context for the ge-
ographical framework of the events, at the expense of the fortification and assault
elements, which appear oversimplified. In other cases, the figure of the Emperor is em-
phasized, within an imaginary urban framework, where the violence of the combat is

FIG. 11 FRANS HOGENBERG. Conquest of La Goulette fortress during the Battle of Tunis. Source: Empire of the Sea by
Roger Crowley.

stressed, as in the calcographic engraving VII, drawn by Maarten van Heemskerck and
engraved by Dirck Coornhert18. Tunis appears in one of the 12 prints of this series, cre-
ated in 1555 for the glory of the Emperor19.
In this spirit Taddeo y Federico Zuccaros fresco, Paul III receives Charles V after the
Battle of Tunis, dated 1562-1563, can be included. This painting is located in Palazzo
Farnese de Caprarola, Italy, showing the Emperor, on his knees, telling the Pope about
the great deed in Tunis. The work, relinquishing the descriptive restraints of the combats,
focuses on the consequences of the deed, and on the power balance between the Empire
and the Papacy.

The Representation of Defeat: Algiers Expedition

Between 1539 and 1541 a new season of attacks and conquests takes place on the North
African shores. The Spanish navy and army occupy the cities of Mahometa (la Ma-
hometa), Sousa (Susa), Monastir (al-Munastir) and Kerkennah islands (Kerkennah).
In 1541, Charles I carries out a large scale action against a relevant corsair capital:
Algiers. Spain had already had control of the small fortress on the Peon, at the port,
which was lost in 1529. The loss of control over the corsair city and the increasing Ot-
toman threat, set out what was called Algiers expedition, which was to end with a sour
defeat20. The city was well fortified, but had scarce troops: about 800 Turks and 5.000

FIG. 12 Algeri, 1541. Bibliothque Nationale de France, GE DD-1140 (106RES).

Muslims and Spanish moriscos. The siege and attack on the city was planned, including
the support of a galley fleet from the sea. However, the lack of heavy weaponry (siege ar-
tillery, tools for climbing the walls, etc) caused the attack to be delayed, and the bad
weather conditions added to destroying the Emperors ambitions.
Although the event didnt have a positive end, there are several representations of the
attack, such as the one carried out by Antonio Salamanca21 and the engraving of the be-
sieged city Algeri22.
This last engraving depicts the Spanish attempt to conquer Algiers, although it more
explicitly shows the impregnable character of the city. The port is depicted, with the sea
front covered by walls which curiously present mannerist details in the ashlar stones ,
and the artillery shooting; on the other hand, in the countryside, the Spanish army is
portrayed, with their cannons and camp. There are noticeable errors in the representation
of the fortresses on the sea front, which appear quite deformed, thus the function of rep-
resenting reality gives way to the visual message of an impregnable city.
The last years of Charles Is reign would see new operations, conquests and events.
Such are the ones at Monastir in 1550, Mahda between 1550 and 1553 and, particu-
larly, Tripoli, which is conquered by the Ottomans, proving that the Turk threat was
more active than ever, and that all the efforts made to fortify the city had been in vain.

FIG. 13 Tripoli, Citt di Barbaria. Bibliothque Nationale de France, GE DD-626 (66RES).


Philip II will inherit most of the Mediterranean worries of his father, and his kingdom
will be strongly conditioned by different events on the North African coast. The first of
these events took place at Cape Ghir 23 (cap Ghir, 40 kilometres north of the Moroccan
city of Agadir), where in 1556, the fleet led by lvaro de Bazn prevented the supply of
weapons to the sultan of Fes from two English ship. On this matter there is a fresco in
the palace El Viso del Marqus24, quite damaged, which offers details of the fleet and
disembarkment on the Moroccan coast, even though the urban or defence references
are vague.
We will have to wait until 1560 to state a curious affair, the representation of a siege
that actually never took place: that against Tripoli25. The engraving Citta di Barbaria
shows an attack with 60 galleys and as many other ship. The image represents the siege
of the city by Christian ships and represents its status with a detailed description of the
fortifications built at the request of Spain during the first half of the century. It even in-
cludes the measurements of the walls, most of them of the Islamic type, with several
Modern adaptations, such as an armed bulwark defending the port, and a quadrangular
fort with pentagons, castello fato da cristiani. In addition, the walls have pentagonal
frontal bulwarks acting as berms. The urban design of the city appears careful and de-
tailed, showing some landmarks.

FIG. 14 Disigno dellIsola de Gerbi, 1560. Bibliothque Nationale de France, GE DD-626 (65RES).

From Defeat to Glory: the Battle of Djerba and Peon de Vlez de la

In the same year of 1560 a new disaster occurs in Djerba, which leaves a macabre mon-
ument which engrosses a repertoire of Romantic images; that is, a tower allegedly formed
by 5.000 skulls of Spanish soldiers dead in the battle, which apparently still was standing
in 1848. In P. Forlanis Atlas we find an interesting engraving of the event, Disigno del-
lIsola de Gerbi26, where all the fortresses of the island are located, with a special focus
on the bastioned castle built by the Spanish.
One of the main campaigns of Philip II in the Mediterranean was the occupation of
the Peon de Vlez de la Gomera in 156427, a carefully planned and successfully exe-
cuted operation28. From that moment, the image of the Peon was perpetuated as a
graphic icon, remarkable because of the preservation of all its defensive structures until
today. The monarch relied, for the occasion, on an exceptional painter, Antoon van den
Wijngaerde29, who made two exceptional drawings of the event.
The first of them is a perspective taken from land, from one of the heights surrounding
the peon. This promontory appears in the centre of the image, as the objective of the
composition, while the siege from land and sea can be perfectly appreciated, with the
Spanish fleet as the protagonist. The fortifications described in this picture are part of
those initially built by Pedro Navarro, to be added to those built by the Turks during 42
years. On the top of the peon there are a tower and walled compounds, distributed on
several terraces. There are also several platforms for cannons, an enclosure with turrets
and walls adapted to the terrain, which made use of the extreme irregularity of the rock.

FIG. 15 ANTON VAN DEN WYNGAERDE. Siege and conquest of the Peon de Vlez de la Gomera, 1564,
sterreichische Nationalbibliotek, Vienna, Cat. B.57.

FIG. 16 ANTON VAN DEN WYNGAERDE. Siege and conquest of the Peon de Vlez de la Gomera, 1564,
sterreichische Nationalbibliotek, Vienna, Cat. B.57.

The second image shows in the foreground the fleet used for the operation, with the ge-
ography in the background, extremely complex and abrupt, framing the Peon. It is cu-
rious to note that each of the ships appears labelled with its name. The Peon, seen from
the sea, is perceived as impregnable, and merges with the cliff.

FIG. 17 FRANZ HOGENBERG. Peon de Veles, ACOML. Antique Engrav- FIG. 18 Siege and conquest of a city. Draw-
ings. ing in pen, ink and gouache, no date, Museo
de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San
Fernando, Madrid, inv. 2136.

The models created by Wijngaerde will be well known and reproduced in later en-
gravings and drawings, especially the first one. Prime examples are found in the one by
Giulio Vallino30, Siege and conquest of the peon de Vlez (1564), in several Flemish en-
gravings, and that by Frans Hogenberg31 popularizing the profile of the Peon as the pro-
totype of the isolated and unassailable fortress. There is no doubt that this latter served
as a model for many other later images, even those which relinquished of the warfare
This iconographic and emblematic tradition related to the Peon33 culminates in a
draft drawing in ink and gouache which, undoubtedly, was part of a plan for a more elab-
orate painting, destined to illustrate the main battles of Philip II34. However, the drawing,
beyond its relevant significance, does not provide us with new elements regarding the
Peon definition of its fortifications.
Later, in 1565, large and small scale military events converge in the same Mediter-
ranean framework, sometimes quite separated, but always as part of the same strategy.
In this period, a coincident event is the siege of Malta, where the Turks are stopped,
with relevant actions, such as the operation on Tetouans estuary35 (Martil) to prevent
the corsairs from using it. This event appears in an interesting fresco in the palace El
Viso del Marqus, depicting the naval action, focused on blocking the waterway by sink-
ing several barges. The operation was directed by the master builder of fortifications and
expert in hydraulic engineering, Esteban de Guillisstegui36. Through the painting we
can see the fleet and the estuary defended by several coastal turrets, and, in the back-
ground, a splendid view of Tetouan, which has been thoroughly studied by Jos Luis
Gmez Barcel37.

The Decade of the Seventies: Great Victories and Huge Defeats
The decade of the seventies in the Fifteen hundreds started with a key naval battle in
the war history of the Mediterranean: Lepanto. In all, the period will last for another ten
years, due to other actions which were the prelude to a change of rhythm in this geo-
graphical area, rather than the end of a conflict; therefore, these events will be considered
as the culmination of Philip IIs reign and the sixteenth century.
One of the most outstanding fortresses of the Mediterranean, La Goulette, will be-
come the base for an operation, in 1570, against neighbouring city of Tunis38, always
conflictive due to the presence of the Turks. An engraving displays the event carried out
by Alfonso Pimentel, General Captain of La Goulette, where its fortifications appear in
detail showing bulwarks and moats to defend the canal that leads to the inner lake.
Tunisia is a big walled city, with settlements beyond the walls, thus proving its demo-
graphic growth.
On the other hand, Lepanto (1571) has become one of the most represented naval
battles in the history of painting, although the models and forms of the images vary enor-
mously from one author to another, depending on the intended purpose. Beyond those
where symbolic, religious or power representations prevail, there are others, more de-
scriptive, where the disposition of the fleets and the battle can be appreciated, as well as
others that depict the battle within its geographical context, more or less recognizably. It
is true that this is a naval battle, although it is set in a specific space, due to the presence

FIG. 19 Tunis, 1570. Bibliothque Nationale de France, GE DD-1140 (110RES).

FIG. 20 G. BRAUN. A view of Tunis (s. XVII). In Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Museo Naval, Madrid.

of coastal fortresses, as can be observed in some of the many engravings, drawings and
paintings made of the event. Some examples of this latter kind show the towers at the
Dardanelles, Patras or Lepanto, more as passive witnesses of the event than any other
thing, the fresco in the cartographic gallery of the Vatican being the best example of this.
With the triumph at Lepanto, other victories would come, such as the re-occupation
of Bizerte and Tunis in 157339. Don Juan de Austria, who arrived at La Goulette com-
mandeering an impressive fleet, ordered Don lvaro de Bazn to conquer Tunis, which
was in the hands of a Turkish garrison. The victory was displayed in another of the fres-
coes at the palace El Viso del Marqus, where an extraordinary perspective of La Goulette
can be seen, with the bulwarks and moats, as well as the existing defensive towers. There
is also a symbolic representation of the handover of the keys by lvaro de Bazn to the
expedition leader. This Spanish success will mean the extension of the walls of La
Goulette as well as the building of a new fort next to Tunis, as a citadel.
However, these actions were short-lived, as the following year, in August 1574, a de-
finitive attack by the Turks against La Goulette had as a consequence the disappearance
of the Spanish presence in this part of the Mediterranean. An engraving in Civitatis
Orbis Terrarum shows the event40 together with the state of its fortifications: the quad-
rangular fort with bulwarks, surrounded by a moat, and also belted by a circuit of six

bastions defending the isthmus and
the channel leading to the lagoon.
From this channel there was a water-
way which connected the new fort,
still in construction, Nova Arx, as a
citadel with six bastions and a moat.
The engraving shows the Turkish army
attacking Spanish fortresses during
their biggest extension and develop-
Lastly, we will mention two fresco
works in the palace El Viso del Mar-
qus. Both were executed very closely FIG. 21 The aid to Ceuta and Tangier. Fresco at the palace El
in time and they have Don lvaro de Viso del Marqus. Photography by Jos Luis Gmez Barcel.

Bazn commandeering his fleet as the

main character. The first, dated 24th
June 1576, is called The event at Kerkennah Islands, and shows the general when he
is about to take the island, surrounded by his troops. The most important element in the
painting is the battle, although some urban elements can be identified.
The last representation in this study, which closes this cycle, is The aid to Ceuta and
Tangier, which took place in 1578, where these cities were aided by a galley squadron
after the disaster at Al-Ksar al-Kebir. During this battle, the Portuguese King Dom Se-
bastian died, and both fortresses were left undermanned. In the foreground, the painting
shows Don lvaro de Bazns galley squadron, and above all, the background, showing
the area of the Strait, between Ceuta and Tangier, with several intermediate fortifications,
thus offering an overall view of both cities in a highly strategic area. This image is a prel-
ude of the integration, in 1580, of the cities of Ceuta, Tangier and El Jadida (El-Yadida)
in the Spanish crown, due to the union between the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain.


A century of events has left a legacy of a century of images. Images, in the form of draw-
ings, engravings and paintings, which reflect a history in danger of becoming as frag-
mented as the history of the Mediterranean. However, they are part of a policy continued
by the Spanish monarchs during the century, so it is worth reconstructing it from an an-
alytical perspective.
These representations, besides the events, depict the reality of the cities, their walls,
ports and the means used in battle. They are, therefore, an invaluable document to un-
derstanding the period, and this is the reason for attempting a visual reconstruction of
its history.
The images become a priceless document in order to know the state of frontier cities,
permanently at war, where solid fortifications were build with a titanic effort of the Span-
ish monarchy in order to consolidate their control over the Mediterranean.


1. Centro Universitario UNED Melilla. C/ Lope de Vega, n 1, 52080 Melilla.

2. Universidad de Mlaga y Centro Asociado de la UNED en Mlaga. Campus de Teatinos, s/n, 29071. Mlaga.
4. BRAVO NIETO, 1993.
5. BARRANTES MALDONADO, Ilustraciones de la Casa de Niebla, Manuscrito, 1540. Archivo Medina Sidonia.
7. Anno domini 1504, ab Hisp. rege catholico Ferdinando V to fortiter expugnata fuit Buglia urbs maritima Africae ... / Ioann. Mai.
Expressit. Maior, Johann. Bibliothque Nationale de France, Cartes et Plans, GE DD-2987 (8024).
8. Mahdia, in FRANZ HOGENBERG and G. BRAUN, Civitatis Orbis Terrarum, 1572 -1618. ACOML. Historical engravings.
9. Royal Palace, Madrid and Royal Alcazar, Seville (National Heritage).
11. There is a re-interpretation of this tapestry in the series of engravings Events in Europe published towards 1610 in Cologne
by HEGENBERG and SIMON NOVELLANUS (CHECA CREMADES, 2000, 381-382). The cartouche at the bottom says: Hie habt ihr,
wie der Keyser Carolus der V. mit Stattlicher Kriegsrustug. dem Konig von Thusis zur hulffe; in Afric, nit weit von die Goleta,
glucklich anhlendett.
12. TORRIJOS, 2000.
13. DACOS, 2007.
14. LILLO CARPIO, 1998.
15. DESWARTE-ROSA, 1994.
16. COURDIER, 2013.
17. This is the case of The taking of La Goulette, anonymous print of a letter sent from Tunis in 1535, Monasterio Real Bib-
lioteca de El Escorial, sign V-ii-4, n 19. Or the later engraving: BENIGNI LETTORI, Tnez, 1566. Biblioteca Nacional de Francia,
Tunetensis Urbis et Guletae Arcis Munitiss. Una cum Adiacentib. Et Portubus Brevis et Certa Descriptio (Reprsentation
certaine et prcise de la ville de Tunis et de la trs puissante forteresse de La Goulette avec les alentours et le port). Date
18. CHECA CREMADES, 2000, p. 357.
19. Divi Caroli V. opt. Max. Victoriae ex multis pracuipuae. M. Heemskerc inventor D.V. Curenhert fecit 1555, VII [Conquista de
Tnez] /M. Heemskerch Inventor; DV Cuenhert fecit 5. Inscripcin: 1535. TUNETAM CAESAR, BELLI VIRTUTE TRIUMPHANS, IN-
20. BUNES IBARRA, 2006; EPALZA and VILAR, 1988.
21. ANTONIO SALAMANCA, Vue dAlger durant lattaque de Charles Quint, 1541. Bibliothque Nationale de France, Cartes et Plans,
GE DD-713 (28).
22. Algeri, 1541. Geografia, Tavole moderne di geografia de la maggior parte del mondo di diversi autori raccolte et messe secondo
lordine di Tolomeo con idisegni di molte citta et fortezze di diverse provintie stampate in rame con studio et diligenza in Roma.
ANTOINE LAFRRI. Bibliothque Nationale de France, Cartes et Plans, GE DD-1140 (106RES).
23. We have examined a photo kindly provided by D. JOS LUIS GMEZ BARCEL.
24. RODRGUEZ, 2009.
25. VILAR, 1998. The text of later copies eliminates the reference to the siege of the fortress, correcting the error.
26. VILAR, 1992, pp. 460-461.
27. COLLAZOS, 1564; VERONNE, 1961.
30. GIULIO VALLINO, Siege and conquest of the Peon de Velez, 1564. Il vero & natural sito della villa di Velez de Gomera & linespugnabile
forte et castello chiamato il Pignon ... / Domenico Zenoi. Bibliothque Nationale de France, Cartes et Plans, GE DD-2987
31. FRANZ HOGENBERG. Bibliothque Nationale de France, Cartes et Plans, GE DD-2987 (8060).
33. Any Spanish documentary source in the 16th and seventeenth century to El Peon refers to Vlez de la Gomera and not
to Gibraltar, as has been so often and erroneously supposed.
34. Asedio y toma del Pen de Vlez de la Gomera, 1564. Drawing in pen, ink and gouache, no date, Museo de la Real Academia
de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, inv. 2136.
35. MNGUEZ, RODRGUEZ and ZURIAGA, 2009. The building was finished towards 1575 where the decorative paintings began, to be
concluded between 1585 and 1586.
36. BRAVO NIETO, 1993.
37. GMEZ BARCEL, 2015.
38. La notte del ultimo di Febraro 1570 havendo il molto Ill. sigr. Don Alfonso Pimentel Capitan Gnal de La Goleta inteso per le sue
spie, che Uxli teneva sette barchoni la Porta di Tunise... Bibliothque Nationale de France, GE DD-1140 (110RES).

39. VILAR, 1992, pp. 383-384, provides information of another engraving, La pressa di Tunis del Re Catolico. Lanno 1573,
which depicts this event.
40. Tunetis Urbis, ac novae eius arcis et Guletae, quae Philippo Hispan. Regi parent uti a Turcis, et Mauris Selimo, Thraciae Rege,
Anno Christi 1574 mense Julio et Augusto fixes castris oppugnabantur, effigies..., 1575, R/22249(2) PL. 58. Vista de Tnez (s.
XVII), GEORG BRAUN, Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Museo Naval, Madrid.
41. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas, MPD, 06, 025.


BRAVO NIETO, A. (1993), Poder y arquitectura militar espaola en el siglo XVI: la organizacin de la Frontera
Mediterrnea del Sultanato de Fez, in Actas del simposio Juan de Herrera y su influencia. Camargo: 14-17 julio
de 1992. Santander, Universidad de Cantabria, pp. 105-115.
BRAVO NIETO, A. (2005), El norte de frica, los elementos de una presencia, in A. CMARA MUOZ (coord.), Los
ingenieros militares de la monarqua hispnica en los siglos XVII y XVIII, Madrid, Ministerio de Defensa - Aso-
ciacin Espaola de Amigos de los Castillos - Centro de Estudios Europa Hispnica, pp. 310-321.
BRAVO NIETO, A. and BELLVER GARRIDO, J. A. (2008), El Pen de Vlez de la Gomera: historia, cultura y sociedad en
la Espaa norteafricana, Melilla, Fundacin GASELEC, 550 pp.
BUNES IBARRA, M. . DE (2006), Vermeyen y los tapices de la conquista de Tnez. Historia y representacin, in
B. J. GARCA GARCA (ed.), La imagen de la guerra en el arte de los antiguos Pases Bajos, Madrid, Universidad Com-
plutense, pp. 95-130.
BUNES IBARRA, M. . DE and FALOMIR FAUS, M. (2001), Carlos V, Vermeyen y la conquista de Tnez, in J. L. CASTEL-
LANO and F. SNCHEZ MONTES GONZLEZ (coords.), Europesmo y universidad. Religin, cultura y mentalidad,
Madrid, Sociedad Estatal para la Conmemoracin de los Centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, vol. V, pp. 243-257.
BUNES IBARRA, M. . (2006), Felipe II y la defensa del Mediterrneo: la conquista de Argel, in E. GARCA HERNN
and D. MAFFI (coords.), Guerra y sociedad en la Monarqua Hispnica: poltica, estrategia y cultura en la Europa
moderna (1500-1700), vol. I, pp. 921-946.
BUSTAMANTE GARCA, L. (2008), La conquista del Pen de Vlez de la Gomera en 1564, in M. CABAAS BRAVO,
A. LPEZ-YARTO ELIZALDE and W. RINCN GARCA (eds.), Arte, Poder y Sociedad en la Espaa de los siglos XV al
XX, Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas, pp. 169-178.
CHECA CREMADES, F. (2000), Carlos V: la imagen del poder en el Renacimiento, Madrid, El Viso, 372 pp.
COLLAZOS, B. (1564), Comentarios de la fundacin y conquista y toma del Pen y de lo acaescido a los capitanes de
su Magestad desde el ao de 1562 hasta el de 64, hechos por Balthasar de Collaos y dirigidos al illustrssimo seor
don Antonio de Toledo, prior de sant Joan y cavallerizo mayor de su Magestad y de su consejo de estado y guerra.
COURDIER, Z. (2013), Les batailles entre chrtienes et ottomans dans la Mditerrane du XVIe sicle. Letude dune
iconographie, 1535-1575. Masters degree dissertation, Universit Lumire Lyon 2, directed by DOMINIQUE
DACOS, N. (2007), Julio y Alejandro, grutescos italianos y cartografa flamenca en el Peinador de la Reina, Cuader-
nos de la Alhambra, vol. 42, pp. 80-117.
DESWARTE-ROSA, S. (1994), Expdition de Tunis (1535): images interprtations, rpercussions culturelles, Paris, Hon-
or Champion.
EPALZA, M. and VILAR, J. B. (1988), Planos y mapas hispnicos de Argelia, siglos XVI-XVIII, Madrid, Instituto His-
pano-rabe de Cultura.
GALERA I MONEGAL, M. (1998), Antoon van den Wijngaerde, pintor de ciudades y hechos de armas en la Europa del
Quinientos, Barcelona, Fundacin Carlos de Amberes - Institut Cartogrfic de Catalunya, 271 p.
GARCA FIGUERAS, T. (1943), Presencia de Espaa en Berbera Central y Oriental. Tremecen-Argel-Tnez-Trpoli,
Madrid, Editora Nacional, 364 pp.
GMEZ BARCEL, J. L. (2015), Imgenes de Tetun: pinturas, grabados, fotografas, Cuadernos del Archivo Central
de Ceuta, n 20.
GONZLEZ GARCA, J. L. (2007), Pinturas tejidas, La guerra como arte y el arte de la guerra en torno a la empresa
de Tnez (1535), Reales Sitios: Revista de Patrimonio Nacional, n 174, pp. 24-47.
HORN, H. J. (1989), Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen. Painter of Charles V and his Conquest of Tunis, Doornspijk, Davaco
Publications, 2 vols.

LILLO CARPIO, M. (1998), Consideraciones sobre el realismo geogrfico de las pinturas sobre la conquista de Tnez
existentes en la casa real vieja de la Alhambra, Papeles de Geografa, n 28, pp. 55-75.
LPEZ TORRIJOS, R. (2000), Las pinturas de la Torre de la Estufa o del Peinador, en Carlos V y la Alhambra, (cat.
exp.), Granada, Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife, pp. 109-129.
LPEZ TORRIJOS, R. (2008), Poder, relato y territorio en la pintura del siglo XVI, in M. CABAAS BRAVO, A. LPEZ-
YARTO ELIZALDE, W. RINCN GARCA (eds.), Arte, poder y sociedad en la Espaa de los siglos XV a XX, Madrid,
CSIC, pp. 179-192.
MNGUEZ, V., RODRGUEZ, I. and ZURIAGA, V. (2009), El sueo de Eneas, imgenes utpicas de la ciudad, Valencia,
Universidad Jaume I, Servicio de Comunicacion y Publicaciones.
RODRGUEZ, I. (2009), La ciudad en los frescos del Palacio de El Viso del Marqus, in MNGUEZ, V., RODRGUEZ,
I. and ZURIAGA, V., El sueo de Eneas, imgenes utpicas de la ciudad, Valencia, Universidad Jaume I, Servicio de
Comunicacion y Publicaciones, pp. 89-120.
VERONNE, C. DE LA (1961), Relations et bibliographie de la conqute du Pen de Vlez de la Gomera en 1564,
in Les sources indites de lhistoire du Maroc, Archives et Bibliotheques dEspagne, t. III, Paris, Paul Geuthner, pp.
VILAR, J. B. (1992), Mapas, Planos y fortificaciones hispnicos de Tnez (s. XVI-XIX), Madrid, Ministerio de Asuntos
Exteriores de Espaa.
VILAR, J. B. (1998), Mapas, Planos y fortificaciones hispnicos de Libia (1510-1911), Madrid, Ministerio de Asuntos
Exteriores de Espaa.

Back to Contents

Designing the Bastion against the Turks:
Sicily and Malta*

Universit degli Studi di Palermo



The paper explores the issues around the drawing of the military engineers serving the
Spanish Crown in the Kingdom of Sicily between sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
especially focusing on those related to the project of fortifications intended to defend
the island from the Ottoman enemy. The analysis is conducted primarily starting from
the corpus of drawings, unfortunately very scarce, come down to us, but also looking for
other useful points for reflection in the far more numerous indications contained in the
archival records. Under investigation are, therefore, the methods and graphic devices
adopted by engineers for the more effective representation of the architectural project,
interpreted according to the diachronic process of their progressive development and
consequent improvement.


Sicily, Mediterranean, Malta, navy yard, harbour, fortifications, coastal towers.

It is common knowledge that the main focus of the training process of the professional
figure of the military engineer is the acquisition of the ability to draw and to adopt the
instruments of representation of the architectural project, not only graphic ones but also
material using wooden models2.
This delicate process of transfer of competencies and skills, certainly derived originally
from the world of painting, was to promote the rapid evolution from the profile of the
captain of artillery, the man-at-arms versed in new military strategies tied to the use of
artillery, to that of the engineer who, while preserving the main tasks of the former on
the battlefield, was subsequently increasingly qualified as a specialist in the field of mil-
itary architecture responsible for designing city and territorial systems of defence.
A similar phenomenon also occurred in the Kingdom of Sicily, undeniably the Span-
ish Empires most important bastion against the Ottoman enemy in the Mediter-
ranean, in the first quarter of the sixteenth century. Towards the end of the fifteenth
century, representation of the design of the islands system of defence was still the ex-
clusive prerogative of (in some cases highly authoritative) artists in the employ of the
Viceroys Court. For example, in January 1496, the famed Sicilian painter Riccardo
Quartararo3 was paid for the three days work dedicated to designationem Castri ad
mare Panormi et maragmate quod de novo fit pro munitione dicti castri4 that is to say,
for representing the project drawn up by the maestre mayor of the Royal Artillery, the
Catalan Baldar Metel (or Meteli), for the citadel that was to encompass the medieval
fortress of the Castellammare in Palermo. This representation, almost certainly executed
on canvas being easier to transport and preserve in crates or specific cases, was to con-
stitute the only design, in view of Metels probably limited drawing skills5, to be followed
during construction of the works. The appointment conferred forty years later in 1534
by Viceroy Ettore Pignatelli, Duke of Monteleone, on the famous Italian artist Polidoro
da Caravaggio to paint a number of canvasses depicting the fortification projects of Sir-
acusa, Augusta and Milazzo drawn up by Royal Engineer Pietro Antonio Tomasello da
Padova6 was certainly of different scope and significance. These were not trazas in-
tended for the construction site, carried out personally by the Venetian technician, but
rather commemorative paintings of the fortification works of Monteleone, intended
perhaps to adorn the walls of the reception rooms of the Viceroys residence or, pos-
sibly, the Viceroys study. The illustrative plan of the design of the fortifications of
Palermo, drawn up by engineer Antonio Ferramolino da Bergamo who succeeded
Tomasello in the assignment and carried by the Trapani-born Francesco Soprano7 in
1536, at the time of Viceroy Ferrante Gonzaga, was probably intended to serve the same
The Captain of Artillery of the Kingdom of Naples, Antonello da Trani, a figure who
has remained for the most part in shadow, was perhaps one of the first among the tech-
nicians appointed to design the Sicilian fortifications to be a skilled draughtsman versed
in the art of representation from whom, for example, no fewer than nine drawings of the
fortresses of the island were commissioned in 1518, including one for the Castellammare
fortess of Palermo8.
Although archival documentation contains numerous explicit references to project
drawings by the engineers of the Kingdom of Sicily9, in the first part of the sixteenth cen-

tury Tomasello, Ferramolino, and later Pedro Prado, who it appears also carried out
works other than those of fortification10 no material trace of these remains, at least ac-
cording to current knowledge. The first sporadic graphic evidence of the design or sur-
veying activities of the technicians working on the island can be dated to the 1560s.
Having been forwarded to the Court11, most of these drawings are now preserved at the
Archivo General de Simancas, the historical archives of the Crown.
The question of surveying the territory of the Kingdom and related cartographic ren-
dering, even only partial and for the most diverse purposes (defensive, fiscal, cognitive,
encomiastic), by the engineers in the employ of the Crown deserves particular attention.
It is known that, prior to Tiburzio Spannocchi12 and Camillo Camiliani13, authors of two
famous manuscript atlases during the government of Viceroy Marco Antonio Colonna,
others had attempted similar undertakings, the results of which have unfortunately been
lost. It is thought that engineer Antonio Conte wrote un libro delle fortezze di questo
regno, an album of drawings of the fortifications of the island that can be dated between
1568 and 1571 and can probably be ascribed to Carlo Aragona Tagliavias first mandate
as President of the Kingdom, of which a copy of a single drawing relating to the proposed
fortification of the new arsenal of Messina14, mentioned below, has survived. It seems
that the following year, during his second interim mandate, the same President appointed
their successor, the todesco (in fact from Ticino) Giovanni Antonio del Nobile, to hire a
group of artists per pingere di buoni colori, in tela, con giusti lineamenti delle piante, in
prospettiva i luoghi dove si fanno o sonno dissegnati le fortificazioni et insieme il paese della
comarca15. These latter pictorial representations were probably mainly intended to cel-
ebrate the fortification campaign of the island undertaken by the Crown but was, in fact,
carried out by the viceroys representing the sovereign in Sicily and also by the same Pres-
ident Aragona, dubbed Magnus Siculus, known to be an extraordinary figure on all ac-
As regards the above, the main question is the dichotomy between the somewhat
public image of the Kingdom and its constituent elements, principally the cities that
is to say the image reflected in engravings, atlases and in printed texts and its corre-
sponding secret or rather hidden image, concealed under the tight seal of state secret.
However, it is worth noting that, from this point of view, the boom of Renaissance vedute
painting, spurred by the outstanding publishing success of the Civitates orbis terrarum
by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg17 which, together with Giovanni Boteros18 Delle
cause della grandezza e magnificenza delle citt, represents the maximum expression of
the typically cinquecentesco supremacy of the city19, must have caused problems to many
State secretariats, last but not least that of Madrid20. In fact, the cities represented in
the plates of the atlas, including border cities most exposed to enemy attack and the
threat of invasion first and foremost by the Ottoman empire are rendered with great
precision and in detail, therefore also revealing weak points, systems of defence, seats of
power and key city fortifications. A particularly eloquent Sicilian case is that of the fa-
mous birds-eye view of Palermo, contained in Book IV (1588) and modelled on Orazio
Maioccos slightly earlier version on a loose sheet (1580) that not only depicts the Sicilian
capital girt by massive trace italienne fortifications but also reveals the lack of a system
of defence of the new port, still under completion, and the inadequate dimensions of

anta della citt di Palermo, 1575;
down: details of Palazzo Reale (left)
and townhouse La Ziza (right). Es-
paa. Ministerio de Educacin,
Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General
de Simancas. MPD, 09, 060.

many of its bastions, not yet renewed and still in the original configuration decided by
Antonio Ferramolino in 1536.
On the other hand, in a graphic representation of the same city drawn up by Alessan-
dro Giorgi da Lucca, engineer of the Senate of Palermo, the Tuscan technician focused
as usual solely on the fortifications. The plan is to some extent ambiguous, not only be-
cause the pratices of surveying and design have been merged, using different colours in

FIG. 2 Pianta del cir-
cuito murario di Palermo
e del litorale settentri-
onale, 1560-1567. DU-
FOUR, 1992, p. 51.

certain sections to distinguish them common practice at that time , but also because
the report that usually accompanied this is combined with the drawing, written tidily on
lines drawn with a ruler21. Also, while remaining true to the specific method of represen-
tation of the military engineer (i.e. that which excludes the urban fabric, focusing only
on the fortifications), Giorgi also depicts, in a somewhat naive manner, some important
architectural elements, first of all two highly symbolic building of the Norman era: the
Palazzo Reale and the Zisa, the mysterious solatium beyond the walls of the sovereigns
founders of the Kingdom of Sicily, to which intellectuals and scholars have long dedicated
their attention [FIG. 1]22.
In our opinion, the little-known manuscript plan of Palermo and of its northern ter-
ritory, preserved in the National Library of Naples,23 should be included amongst the
most ancient Sicilian drawings drawn up by engineers. The main subject of the graphic
representation, datable between 1560 and 1567, is in our opinion less the city walls than
it is the shoreline of the city to the north, to which unusually ample space is dedicated.
It therefore be classified as a survey of the coastal area prior to launching of the project
for construction of the large port, for a long period one of the most monumental examples
of port architecture of the Mediterranean, not only of the Hapsburgs [FIG. 2]. This could
explain its presence in Naples. It must be recalled that the paternity of this major public
work, despite some fifty years of gestation, is to be attributed entirely to Viceroy Don
Garcia de Toledo who not only promoted its construction but personally engaged, in
Genoa, the engineers who were to assist him in drawing up the plan and who were to di-
rect the works for decades24. In fact, Don Garcia departed frequently from Sicily to seek
refuge in the refined Neapolitan family residences of Chiaia and Pozzuoli from where he
corresponded regularly with the authorities of the island, also receiving as the docu-
ments reveal many drawings formerly included amongst his papers and now lost, but
to which the plan of Palermo perhaps pertained.

With regard to the supervision ex-
ercised by central governmental bodies
on peripheral entities to ensure the
necessary secrecy of documentation
forbidding not only free circulation
but also of printing through the ap-
plication of state secrecy it must be
said that this constraint did not concern
only opinions, instructions and tech-
nical reports (escrituras silenciadas25
by definition, as in the case of the
Discorso Militare dedicated in 1612
by Antonio Bologna of Palermo to the
Viceroy Duke dOssuna26) but also to
the drawings of military engineers. A
highly significant example in the case
of Sicily is the extraordinary manuscript
codex representing the cities and
coastal fortifications of the Kingdom
drawn up between 1634 and 1640 by
the Gran Geometra Francesco Negro
under the expert guidance of mathe-
matician Carlo Maria Ventimiglia, vis-
itator generalis Siciliae arcium27: in
fact, in 1637, with the works not yet
completed, the Consejo de Italia at a
FIG. 3 Comparative table of the solutions for the new arsenal meeting in Madrid established that
in Messina and its fortification, 1574; below, detail showing the
different graphic methods employed. Espaa. Ministerio de Edu- no conviene que se estampe nada por
cacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, ser materia de tanta importancia, a
11, 045.
more than reasonable response to a
request of this nature probably sub-
mitted by the authors to the Court28.
Although, as is known, Sicily has been affected by an extremely serious dispersal of
its heritage of drawings, with the only traces of this loss preserved in infinite documentary
references, the unusually rich corpus of drawings no fewer than three illustrating
the design of the new arsenal of Messina intended for the imperial fleet, another major
port facility desired by the same Viceroy Toledo29, represents an exception. One of these
drawings, the latest dated 1574, is particularly interesting with regard to the method of
representation perfected by engineers in the second half of the sixteenth century: it con-
sists, in fact, of a comparative table of four different design solutions included on the
same sheet using not only colours but also lines of different type and thickness, including
the dotted line (la linea di punti, il parere di don Garzia) [FIG. 3]30.
As we have seen, the engineer frequently yielded to the temptation to depict elements
in his drawings not strictly pertinent to the topic of fortifications, usually due to their

FIG. 4 LUDOVICO CESANO. Project for the fortification of Syracuse, 1576; below, detail of the written introduction of the
design (left) and floor plan of Castel Maniace (right). Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General
de Simancas. MPD, 02, 028.

particular symbolic worth or significance. This is also the case, for example, of Ludovico
Cesanos illustration of the fortifications of Siracusa of 157631, also conceived as a
speaking drawing enriched as it is with design-related indications and comments and
in which the technician also dwells on the graphic rendering of the internal columnar
structure of the already mithic Federician fortress of Castel Maniace, a detail clearly
without strategic-defensive implications [FIG. 4].
A drawing pertaining to the debate on reinforcement of the fortifications of Siracusa,
only a few years later (1578)32, provides an occasion for further reflection on the meth-
ods of representation gradually developed by the military engineers working on Sicily.
We refer to the plate relating to fortification of the isthmus of the peninsula on which
the city stands; a water-colour drawing of noteworthy geometrical precision in which
not only 45 hatching has been used to render ramps, stairs and sloping planes but
which introduces for the first time in the Sicilian environment as can be presumed
from drawings known at the moment an overlapped sheet that permits comparison
between the current state of the places and the design proposal, in this case demolition
of the Toledo bastion and replacement of this with an original ravelin located between

FIG. 5 Comparative table with overlapping leaflet of the projects for the isthmus fortification of Syracuse, 1578. Espaa.
Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 08, 018.

the waters of the Porto Marmoreo according to the solution proposed by Scipione
Campi [FIG. 5]33.
The expediency of the folding flap applied to the sheet was to become quite popular
and was adopted in the Sicilian environment at least until the first half of the seven-
teenth century as it facilitated more immediate understanding of the changes intro-
duced by the project. It can, therefore, be presumed that drawings of this type were
certainly not intended for the construction site but rather to be exhibited to patrons
the sovereign, members of the Consejo, the Viceroy as confirmed not only by the
particular care dedicated to their execution, the use of watercolours and certain affec-
tations in representing the metric scale, but also by the fact that, today, they are found
in Spain.
The two drawings by Royal Engineers Giovanni Antonio del Nobile and Giovanni An-
tonio Salamone, attributable to the lively debate triggered in the seventies and eighties
of the sixteenth century concerning fortification of the town of Milazzo left until then
more or less without defences34 should also be interpreted in this light. This is con-
firmed not only by the accuracy of the representation, the use of water-colour painting,
and the pictorial rendition of the natural landscape; but also (and in particular) by the
introduction of legends and sophisticated cartouches, and a certain calligraphic exercise
in the inscriptions, clearly motivated by presentation requirements that was incompatible
with either the dialogue between technicians or with practical use at the site. Salamones
drawing is also particularly interesting as it still shows a rare occurrence the original
grid lines used to make a copy of the original drawing, facilitating proportioning, but also
perhaps for enlargement or reduction [FIG. 6].

FIG. 6 Copy of the project by Giovanni Antonio Salamone for the fortification of Milazzo, last quarter of the sixteenth cen-
tury. DUFOUR, 1992, p. 159.

It must be said that a review of the methods of representation of military engineers

project drawings must include the three famous Sicilian codices of Tiburzio Spannocchi,
Camillo Camiliani, Francesco Negro and Carlo Maria Ventimiglia. Although these are to
be considered mainly as atlases and, therefore, as a collection of relief drawings or life-
drawings of the territory and of the coastal cities with their fortifications, they also con-
tain design views and indications for the reinforcement of the systems of defence.
Certain graphic or page layout expedients adopted by Camiliani to clearly illustrate
some of his proposals for the completion, modification or replacement of the coastal tow-
ers of Sicily, always represented systematically using two-level plans and axonometric
views, are of particular interest. In some cases, the existing tower and the same tower
following modification according to the indications of the Tuscan engineer (more often
than not with addition of the scarp-wall and battlements) are shown side by side on the
same sheet to permit immediate comparison [FIG. 7]35. In others, the change is illustrated,
according to a very modern conception of drawing, using the dotted line and different
colouring, not only in terms of shade but also the chromatic density of the volumes [FIG.
8]; in others, complete replacement of the building is rendered by overlapping the drawing
of its current status with that of the project: such as, for example, the cross-section of a
massive scarp-wall tower with battlements supported by corbels, intended to replace the
obsolete cylindrical late-medieval tower, is depicted almost transparently, with dotted

FIG. 7 CAMILLO CAMILIANI. Torre fatta da rimediarsi a FIG. 8 CAMILLO CAMILIANI. Torre fatta da accomodarsi di
Capo del Saurello, 1584. Da SCARLATA, 1993, pp. 391. Rasocolmo, 1584. Da SCARLATA, 1993, pp. 451.

lines and a light coloured hatching in

order to also reveal its vaulted internal
spaces [FIG. 9]36.
Although the project-oriented charac-
ter of most of the drawings of Camilianis
manuscript is evident and to some extent
intrinsic in the nature of his appointment,
this is even more true in the case of Span-
nocchis codex in which text and drawing,
parecer and the corresponding represen-
tation of the works to be constructed, are
shown in some instances on the same
sheet, generating more complex views. In
this case, the technician from Sienna uses
dotted lines, strokes and hatching of dif-
ferent colour for the graphic rendition of
his design proposals in numerous plans of
the Sicilian coastal cities: new fortifica-
tions for the inclusion of suburbs, also far-
reaching modifications to the layout of
FIG. 9 CAMILLO CAMILIANI. Torre fatta di Lgnina da
acconciarsi, 1584. Da SCARLATA, 1993, pp. 430. the curtain walls in order to comply more

Mazara, 1578; below, de-
tails of the five new bas-
tions proposed by the
engineer. Descripcin de
las marinas de toto el
Reino de Sicilia, BNE,
ms. 788, f. 54v.

precisely with flank protection criteria, the construction of new bastions to replace the
other older bastions of unsuitable shape and size or indefensible medieval towers. This
is the case of the plan of the city of Mazara where Spannocchi not only shows the ring
of the ancient Norman walls characterised by a tight series of square towers unable to
withstand the enemys artillery fire, but also depicts, with thin dotted lines, the profiles
of five small straight-sided bulwarks (baluardillos) he conceived according the principles
of trace italienne fortification, for the summits and for the points at which the walls
change direction [FIG. 10]37.
In other cases, the pages of the atlases contain what can be considered design views.
Camilianis beautiful drawing depicting his proposal for un forte di bonissima capacit
to be constructed at Capo Milazzo and whose bastioned quadrangular enceinte amongst
others with a highly singular mix of hybrid pike-point and straight-sided bastions was

FIG. 11 CAMILLO CAMILIANI. Forte a farsi al Capo di Melazzo, 1584. Da SCARLATA, 1993, pp. 456-457.

to enclose the tower of the lighthouse located on the extremity of the peninsula and, in
the words of the same Florentine, his most cherished project: Et molto pi io lodo questa
ultima opera, che nessuna dellaltre38. Therefore, the large plate incorporates plans at
different levels, axonometric projections and almost landscape type views that compare
the state of the places before and after construction of the fortress [FIG. 11].
However, the engineers drawings did not only concern the city and its walls but also
the surrounding territory, usually interpreted, however, from a strategic-defensive point
of view. One of the oldest Sicilian drawings of this type is that relating to the territory of
Marsala, the author of which is unknown but which can certainly be ascribed to a tech-
nician in the employ of the Crown, as its forwarding to the Court of Madrid would seem
to confirm39. In the water-color map the town is reduced to a mere symbol to such an ex-
tent that the compass rose is enclosed within the perfect square of its circle of walls al-
ready equipped with bastions and cavalieri; but, on the other hand, the author dedicates
particular attention to depicting the territory; the connection roads, the salt pans, the
main economic resource of the area, the great laguna of the Stagnone a short distance
from the city, and also its two ports, the piccolo, without any form of protection, and the
so-called otturato, i.e. the largest natural harbour whose entrance was blocked in 1573
at the initiative of the President of the Kingdom Carlo Aragona Tagliavia, Duke of Terra-
nova, to the design of the famous Genoese port engineer Fabiano Bursotto [FIG. 12]40.
We consider that the drawing was specifically intended to describe this operation,
motivated by military considerations the port, at a distance from the city, was without
fortifications and could therefore be exploited by the Ottoman fleet in an attempt to seize
Marsala or even to invade the island as also revealed, on the one hand, by the related
indications on the sheet (porto otturato dal duca di Terranova and bocca del porto ot-
turato) and, on the other, by insertion in the map, without any regard for geographical
precision, not only of the Egadi islands, a favourite refuge of Turkish ships and corsairs,
but also of the distant Pantelleria and of the African coast, depicted at almost a stones

FIG. 12 Map of the territory of Marsala and Stagnone lagoon, 1602 (?); to the right, detail of the harbor, rendered useless in
1573. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas. MPD, 08, 078.

throw from the city, for the sole reason of emphasizing the imminent threat of the enemy
in the eyes of the distant councillors.
Other Sicilian drawings of military engineers have reached us via less usual chan-
nels: we refer in particular to the two drawings inserted in the well-known codex Nuove
inespugnabili forme diverse di fortificationi preserved at Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
in Venice and attributable to the consultation held in Messina in 1551 for the construc-
tion of a fortress at Capo Faro, on the extreme point of the island, for control of the
waters of the Strait41. In this case, the anonymous author of the treatise, certainly a
technician in the employ of the Kingdom of Naples, does not re-propose a copy but re-
depicts for reasons of graphic consistency the codex was with all probability intended
to be printed both his design proposal and that of the engineer Jorge Lanez42, who

FIG. 13 Copy of
the proyects at
Cape Faro for the
defense of the Strait
of Messina, post
1551; to the left, a
proposal from the
so-called Neapoli-
tan anonymus; to
the right, from the
engineer JORGE
1989, pp. 135, 140.

FIG. 14 ANTONINO SPATAFORA. Relief of the area occupied by Spanish troops quarters in Termini Imerese,
1599. ASPa, Tribunale del Real Patrimonio, Consulte, vol. 9, c. 100r.

were both summoned to appear before the Viceroy Juan de Vega along with other dig-
nitaries and engineers whose identities remain unknown [FIG. 13]43. Therefore, these two
important drawings, whose originals have unfortunately been lost, are known to us only
through the pages of the Neapolitan manuscript.
Drawing expertise and skill, and in particular the ability to make precise topographic
surveys, soon became no longer the exclusive domain of the most highly qualified techni-
cians such as Royal architects and engineers, but increasingly began to spread to the cor-
poration of stone masters. This could explain the high quality of the 1599 drawing by the
master builder of the walls of Termini Imerese, Antonino Spatafora, a mason albeit in the
employ of the government, for survey of the quartel for the Spanish soldiers under con-
struction; the drawing, published here for the first time, also comprises a large portion of
its urban context [FIG. 14]44. The use of several forms of graphic representation perhaps reveal
the application of the method of trigonometric surveying at an unexpectedly early stage for
the Sicilian environment, where, forty years later, it was to soar to great heights with Carlo
Maria Ventimiglia and Francesco Negro, and in particular in the famed manuscript plan
of Palermo45, the first orthogonal projection known today of the Sicilian capital.
With regard to this latter extraordinary cartographic product, it must be said that it is
not only a survey but contains design indications provided by Ventimiglia in his position
as visitatore of the fortresses of the Kingdom: two small folding flaps applied to the map
illustrate both the project for correction of the shape of the badly-designed Aragona
bastion, as well as that for the complete replacement of the ineffective Maqueda bastion

FIG. 15 F. NEGRO, C.M. VENTIMIGLIA. Palermo, 1635-40, detail; to the left, on two overlapping sheets,
the plans for the new bastion Moncada (bottom ) and of he alterations of the Aragonese bastion (top); to
the right, the status of the places. ARIC, 1992, pp. 16-17.

with one of larger more modern design (the Moncada) depicted this time not only in plan
but also in cross-section as required by its complex elevation profile (cavaliere, bastion,
counterscarp, and covered roadway) [FIG. 15]46.
A final consideration regarding the Sicilian drawings is offered by the same Madrid
codex of Ventimiglia and Negro which, as it is known, incorporates almost a second
smaller atlas, i.e. the corpus of project drawings produced by Don Giovanni de Medici,
Marquis of Santangelo, following his inspection of the defences of the main cities of
Sicily and Malta (Augusta, Siracusa, Milazzo, Trapani, Messina, Palermo and La Valletta),
all drawn up between April 24 and May 10, 1640 and indicated as Nove fortificationi
di Don Giovanni de Medici disegnate which were subsequently copied by Negro, cer-
tainly according to Ventimiglias instructions, at the behest of Viceroy Francisco de Melo
de Braganza, to be attached to their work47.

FIG. 16 Don GIOVANNI DE MEDICI. Project of the fortifications of Milazzo, 1640. Comparison between the copy made by
Francesco Negro (left) and the drawing, perhaps the original, kept at the State Archives of Naples (right ). ARIC, 1992, p. 173,
and DUFOUR, 1992, p. 150.

Today, we still know little about the figure of this authoritative engineer in the employ
of the House of Austria48, an exponent of the so-called Escuela Espaola de Miln; in
particular, practically nothing is known of his journey to the two Mediterranean islands,
including the nature and date of his appointment, the names of the travelling companions
who certainly accompanied him. In fact, on May 7, 1640, the Viceroy informed the sov-
ereign of the now-imminent dispatch of the codex with the drawings of the fortification
ajustadas por el Marques de S. Angel y algunos ingenieros del Reyno que le acompana-
ban49, though, at the moment, the original drawings from which the copies were made
have not been found. However, with regard to this point, it must be recalled that the doc-
uments of the Pignatelli Aragona Corts Archive, preserved in the State Archives of
Naples, comprise two examples of the same graphic illustrations by the Marquis of San-
tangelo those relating to the fortifications of the isthmus of Siracusa and of Milazzo
the last one containing also the complete text of the parecer in Castilian [FIG. 16]. These
drawings remain today more or less overlooked, and pose numerous questions. Are these
further copies over and above those of Ventimigilias codex, or are they perhaps originals?
Why are they preserved in this private archive?
On the other hand, the affixing, as a form of endorsement, of an unfortunately not
clearly legible signature in the margin of the Neapolitan sheets would suggest drawings
of public origin, usually subject to the approval of one or more high-ranking Government
officials at the Sicilian viceregal Court unless it is the signature of the Marquis as we
are personally led to believe (Santangelo?). The representation of Siracusa is, however,
characterised by particular aspect of great interest: Don Giovanni de Medicis design
proposal is in fact traced on a broad folding flap overlapped on the parchment and per-

FIG. 17 Comparative table with overlapping leaflets of the projects for the isthmus fortifications of Syracuse, 1640; to the
left, the project by Don Giovanni DE' MEDICI, to the right, by royal engineer VINCENZO TEDESCHI. DUFOUR, 1992, p. 323.

fectly hidden which, when raised, reveals the alternative hypothesis proposed by the en-
gineer of the Kingdom of Sicily Vincenzo Tedeschi [FIG. 17]50. We consider that the latter
is the key to understanding the presence of the drawings in the Pignatelli Aragona Corts
Archive. In previous studies, we have already documented the fact that, in 1640, in ad-
dition to his prestigious public appointment, Tedeschi also held the position of engineer
to the Dukes of Terranova, as the trusted technician of the fourth Duke Don Diego Arag-
ona Tagliavia, Grandee of Spain, Chamberlain of Philip IV of whose Court the Sicilian
aristocrat was to become one of the most authoritative representatives51.
Furthermore, the presence of another drawing amongst those in Naples, with the
same formal characteristics line, colouring, medium relating to the current status of
the fortifications of the isthmus of Siracusa and of the works already initiated according
to a first project at the time of the inspection by the Tuscan engineer [FIG. 18], would lead
to the conclusion that all this documentation is original52 and stems from material pro-
duced during the itinerant consultation in the spring of 1640. In fact, this would have
involved several personages including technicians and authorities who accompanied Don
Giovanni de Medici from one Sicilian stronghold to another: we imagine Don Carlo Ven-
timiglia, possibly flanked by Negro, certainly the Royal Engineer Tedeschi, one of the ac-
companying engineers generically mentioned by de Melo and perhaps also author of the
relief drawing of Siracusa, and possibly even the Duke of Terranova himself, in view of
his extraordinary influence and closeness to the sovereign, possibly in his position as
Grande Almirante of the Kingdom53.

FIG. 18 VINCENZO TEDESCHI (?). Isthmus fortification of Syracuse relief, 1640. ASNa, Archivio Pignatelli Aragona Cortes,
XII, 3.

It should not be forgotten that the engineers in the employ of the Spanish Crown
also furnished their services in constructing the fortifications of Malta, the extreme bul-
wark of Christianity, which was exposed to attacks from the Levant and the Barbary
Coast, and also, much more than Sicily, to a real risk of invasion. From this point of
view, 1530 marked an essential watershed, especially in its relationship with the larger
island, when Malta was ceded to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem,
refugees from Rhodes that had fallen into the hands of the Turks. Until this date, the
Maltese archipelago had, for more than four centuries, been annexed to the Kingdom
of Sicily; therefore the engineers working at the Viceroys Court had been directly re-
sponsible for the defences of such territory, lending both opinions and preparing draw-
ings. This was the case, for example, in March 1526 when Pietro Antonio Tomasello
went to Malta to prepare a fortification campaign concerning both the fortress of Birgu
and the walls of Mdina, at the behest of Viceroy Ettore Pignatelli, who expressly ordered
that, on his return, the necessary drawings had to be delivered to the Court, graphic
representations certainly lost during the Turkish attack on the brig that was transporting
the engineer on his return journey and during which the technician fell into the enemys
Certain other drawings of Malta also in this case very few drawn up by the
engineers of the Spanish monarchy have reached us: the previously-mentioned project

FIG. 19
F. NEGRO. Copy
of the project of
the fortifications
of Malta, 1640.
ARIC, 1992,
pp. 196-197.

of Don Giovanni de Medici, known via

the copy made in 1640 by Negro, a very
complex plan for modification and integra-
tion not only of the fortifications of Floriana
but also of Senglea and Birgu, illustrated
in two large graphic representations55 [FIG.
19], as well as other extant drawings. Two
of these in particular are worth mentioning
amongst the older drawings preserved in
the Archivo General de Simancas are those
relating to the fort of SantElmo: the first
is a design for presentation purposes datable
perhaps to 1543, and for which the possible
paternity of the famed Pedro Luis Escriv
has been recently proposed [FIG. 20], while
the second is a survey made by Pedro Prado
in 1552, two drawings particularly well
known due to the mysterious disappearance
in 1538 of the author of the Apologia56: FIG. 20 PEDRO LUIS ESCRIV (?). Project for St. Elmo
therefore a drawing that can be also used fortification in Malta, 1543 (?). Espaa. Ministerio de Ed-
ucacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de Simancas.
as clue to trace a missing engineer. MPD, 08, 63.


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Unions
Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement No. 295960 COSMED. The following abbreviations
are used in the text: AGS - Archivo General de Simancas (General Archive of Simancas); ASPa - Archivio di Stato di Palermo
(State Archive of Palermo); BNCR - Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma (National Central Library of Rome); BNE - Biblioteca
Nacional de Espaa (National Library of Spain).

1. Universit degli Studi di Palermo, Building 8, Viale delle Scienze, stair F4, 1st floor, 90100 Palermo - Italy
2. On the role of cabinet-makers in Sicilian architecture between the sixteenth and seventeenth century, see NOBILE, 2012.
3. On Riccardo Quartararo, see PUGLIATTI, 1998, to which reference should be made for a complete bibliography; with regard
to the question of incorrect recognition of Quartararo in the Valencian maestre Riquart, see CONDORELLIs recent contribution,
4. DI MARZO, 1899, p. 195.
5. The same considerations regarding the graphic skills of Ferdinandos artillero mayor can be found in GAETA, 2010, p. 147.
6. VESCO, 2009-2010, pp. 71-72.
7. With regard to the engineer from Bergamo and his activity in Sicily, see DI GIOVANNI, 1896; TADINI, 1977; TADINI, 1979. For the
construction sites of the Sicilian fortifications in the years of Gonzaga, see the recent contribution of GAROFALO, 2015. The
document of appointment of the artist is mentioned in PALAZZOLO, 2007, p. 54.
8. On Antonello da Trani in Sicily, and for the albeit slim bibliography on his activity in general, see VESCO, 2014, and in particular
for the reference to the appointment p. 7.
9. On the institutional figure of the Royal Engineer in Sicily, see VESCO, 2015a.
10. On Pedro Prado, see ARIC, 2012.
11. For a critical synopsis of the Sicilian drawings of Simancas, see ARIC, 1982.
12. On Spannocchi, see MAZZAMUTO, 1986; CMARA MUOZ, 1988; CMARA MUOZ, 1999; CMARA MUOZ, 2003; CMARA MUOZ,
infra. Two facsimile reproductions exist of the precious manuscript preserved at the BNE, ms. 788 (Descripcin de las marinas
de toto el Reino de Sicily): TROVATO, 1993; POLTO, 2001.
13. On Camiliani and his activities, also in Spain, see SAMON, 1933; NEGRI ARNOLDI, 1974; MAZZAMUTO, 1986; ESTELLA, 1992; ES-
TELLA, 2000; GAZZ, 2001; GAZZ, 2009; BOSCH BALLBONA, 2013-2014; LOFFREDO, 2014. The work of Camiliani, comprising a
text of literary description and an album of drawings, preserved separately, the first in several examples at the Municipal
Library of Palermo and the second at the National Library University of Turin have been collected in SCARLATAs critical
edition, 1993.
14. AGS, MPD, 25, 084.
15. ARIC, 1992, pp. XIII-XIV.
16. For a profile of Carlo Aragona Tagliavia as statesman and man of government, see SCALISI, 2012; on his commitment in the
town planning projects of the Sicilian capital, see VESCO, 2010a.
17. The work was published in six volumes over a period of almost 50 years by various printers of Cologne; BRAUN et al., 1572-
18. BOTERO, 1588.
19. On this topic, see VESCO, 2011.
20. For example purposes, reference is made to the fact that Braun, with regard to the map of Hainaut, one of the provinces of
the South Flanders, drawn by the famous cartographer Jacques Surhon, was ordered to destroy the plates that he had already
engraved despite the ban by the Spanish authorities; KOEMAN et al., 2007, p. 1260.
21. AGS, MPD, 09, 060.
22. Reference is made in particular to the precise description of the Zisa contained in ALBERTI, 1561, ff. 48r-50v, the building of
which the Dominican historian had commissioned a survey years earlier. On the topic of the Norman myth in Sicilian culture,
in particular architectural culture, see NOBILE, 2004; NOBILE, 2015; VESCO, 2015b.
23. The cartographic document is published in DUFOUR, 1992, p. 51.
24. Cfr. VESCO, in press.
25. This expression has been taken from the name of a research team that comprises historians of the Universidad de Alcal de
Henares that investigates documentation prohibited, censured, silenced or destroyed over the centuries and which also pro-
motes a cycle of international conferences on the same topic (
26. A. BOLOGNA, Discorso militare di D. Antonio Bologna nel quale si demostra la maniera che possi esser offeso il Regno e il modo con
il quale possi essere difeso dellincursioni e invasioni deNemici con ridurre a memoria tutte le Historie e successi passati, cos de
tempi antichi come de pi moderni BNCR, Jesuit ms 424. For a critical reading of the manuscript, see VESCO, 2013.
27. The two codices are preserved at the BNE, mss. 1 (Plantas de todas las plaas y fortaleas del reyno de Sicilia ...) and 787 (De-
scripcin de Sicilia y sus ciudades), of which the critical edition of ARIC, 1992 should be noted.
28. AGS, Consulta de Oficio, l. 724, ff. 145r-v., consultation of 7 July 1637.
29. Reference is made to the drawings preserved at the Archivo General de Simancas, classifications AGS, MPD, 22, 026; 25,
084; 11, 045. On the new arsenal of Messina, see ARIC, 2002, pp. 43-59. On the same topic and in particular with regard
to the central role of the Viceroy in drafting this, see VESCOs recent contribution, in press.
30. AGS, MPD, 11, 045.
31. AGS, MPD, 02, 028.

32. AGS, MPD, 08, 018.
33. DUFOUR, 1992, p. 339.
34. Reference is made respectively to the drawings preserved at the State Archives of Turin and the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe
of the Uffizi in Florence, published in DUFOUR, 1992, pp. 157, 159.
35. This is the case, for example, of the drawing of the Torre fatta da rimediarsi a Capo del Saurello; SCARLATA, 1993, pp. 391-392.
36. Reference is made to the representations of the Torre fatta da accomodarsi di Rasocolmo and of the Torre fatta di Lgnina da
acconciarsi; SCARLATA, 1993, pp. 451 and 454, pp. 429-430.
37. TIBURZIO SPANNOCCHI, Descripcin de las marinas de toto el Reino de Sicilia, BNE, ms. 788, ff. 54v-55r.
38. Reference is made to the plate entitled Forte a farsi al Capo di Melazzo; SCARLATA, 1993, pp. 456-457.
39. AGS, MPD, 08, 078.
40. The initiative is mentioned in GIUFFR, 1980, p. 39. With regard to Bursottos activity, already engineer of the port of Palermo
at that date and subsequently active in Spain, see CAMRA MUOZ, 2008; VESCO, in press.
41. SARTOR, 1989.
42. For Jorge Lanez, Duke of Saxony, Marquess of Misnia and Thuringia; see HERNANDO SNCHEZ (coord.), 2000, p. 660.
43. In describing a model of quadrangular fort, the anonymous Neapolitan engineer comments as follows: Non ponto da tralas-
ciar honesto de non commemorar questaltro forte quadrangulo, maxime essendo stato non poco commendato nel conseglio
di guerra del Regno di Sicilia in presentia de lillustrissimo et excellentissimo signor don Giovan de Vegha ne lanno 51 dopo
il 1500 dalla nativit del Signore, existente alhora vicer di esso Regno, quando si trattava di far un forte nella bocca del
Pharo [...]; ove fui inviato de Napoli apposta io da alcuni miei signori e padroni. Nel qual luogo erano apposta molti ingeniosi
et ingignieri provisionati chiamati apposta a questo effetto [...]. A quali feci con multe circostanze el seguente quadrangulo
di numero 4, qual appresso vedrai; qual dopo la sua examinatione fu molto commendato et riserbato con un altro del magnifico
messer Zorzi Laynez, spagnol molto nostro familiare e amico, quali o fur mandati o riserbati per sua Maest [...]. Qual due
piante mi parso notarvele; SARTOR, 1989, pp. 134-135, 138-141.
44. ASPa, Tribunal del Real Patrimonio, Consulte, vol. 9, c. 100r.
45. On this topic in particular, see ARIC, 1992, pp. LXXVII-LXXVIII.
46. The report describes respectively the following works: Il beloardo Terranova (Aragona) [...] due anni a dietro si mese in
fabrica e si ritir la sua fronte di tramontana in dietro, acci pigliasse la difesa del mezzo della cortina seguente and nella
Porta Macheda vi era un corpicello antico piccolo, il quale si disfece e oggid vi si principiato un beloardo che cuopre col
suo fianco la detta porta e piglia le difese in menzo delle colline collaterali e vi si ha disignato un cavaliere nel mezzo per seg-
noreggiare la campagna e il porto che li soggiace; see ARIC, 1992, p. 12.
47. This is how the set of drawings is identified in the index of the work; see ARIC, 1992, p. 202.
48. It should be noted that various initial significant reflections on his activity and precise recognition problems of homonymy
had already emerged from the studies of Promis are contained in recent contributions: COBOS GUERRA et al., 2005, pp. 74-
81; DEL RO BARREDO, 2008.
49. ARIC, 1992, pp. LXXX-LXXXI.
50. In the absence of studies regarding the engineer, reference should be made to his biographic profile in RUGGIERI TRICOLI, 1993.
51. On Diego Aragona Tagliavia and in particular on his artistic, architectural and town planning commissions, see VESCO, 2010b;
VESCO, 2012; GARCA CUETO, 2005.
52. It must be observed that Liliane Dufour has already sustained, albeit only with regard to the design of the fortifications of
Milazzo, that it is Don Giovanni de Medicis original; DUFOUR, 1992, p. 151.
53. The appointment of Grande Almirante is recalled, amongst others, unfortunately without the date of conferment, in EMANUELE,
1754, p. 21.
54. VESCO, 2009-2010, p. 65.
55. The drawings are published and recorded in ARIC, 1992, pp. 196-199, 221. On this topic, see COBOS GUERRA et al., 2005, pp.
56. We refer to the drawings at references AGS, MPD, 08, 63; 18, 152. For a critical reading of these, see: COBOS GUERRA et al.,
2000, pp. 253-255.


ALBERTI, L. (1561), Descrittione di tutta Italia, Venice, Lodovico degli Avanzi.

ARIC, N. (1982), Sicilia: ragioni storiche della presenza, in I. PRINCIPE (edited by), Il progetto del disegno. Citt
e territori italiani nellarchivo general di Simancas, Reggio Calabria, Casa del Libro editrice, pp. 145-188.
ARIC, N. (1992), Atlante di citt e fortezze del Regno di Sicilia 1640, Messina, Sicania.
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Back to Contents

Defending a Border. Piedmont and
Lombardy Cities in the First Half of
the Seventeenth Century

Politecnico di Torino



In the first half of the seventeenth century the clash between France and Spain is re-
flected in the north of the Italian peninsula: in the past allies, now enemies, the Duchy
of Savoy and the State of Milan must necessarily strengthen the border that divides them.
Sieges follow one another in a vain attempt by the French to come to Milan, and the
Spaniards to drop Turin. The cities walls closest to the border are constantly monitored,
estimated, enhanced. Military engineers at the service of the two countries are engaged
to relief, project maintenance. Busca, Clarici, Lechuga, Baldovino, Prestino, Camassa,
Beretta are alternated at the service of Milans governors, with others of the most pre-
pared engineers of that time: they wonder constantly about changes, enhancements and
adjustments to new strategic and defensive needs. The drawings, the paper cities, now
kept in European archives, tell us the many states, too many and ephemeral boundaries,
the difficult defence of the many and never quiet borders.


Sabaudian Piedmont, Lombardy, State of Milan, military engineers, seventeenth century.

FIG. 1 GIOVANNI STEFANO CANTONI. Citta di Turino, 1660. BNBMi, AE, XII, 28.

In 1666, Stefano Cantoni drew an atlas2 that re-united on paper what was cleft by poli-
tics: the cities of the north of the Italian peninsula, still divided at that time between the
State of Milan (within the orbit of Spain) and Sabaudian Piedmont3 which, from the six-
teenth century, were in some periods often hostile allies. On the constantly-shifting bor-
der, embroiled in the vicissitudes of an uneasy peace and tumultuous war, in an
uninterrupted succession of sieges, conquests and re-conquests, the fortifications of the
cities were continually monitored, surveyed and reinforced. The military engineers in the
service of the two states were constantly engaged in surveying, design and maintenance
works and, last but not least, in spying missions directed towards stealing the secrets of
the enemy and identifying any potential vulnerability. [FIG. 1]
The Spanish monarchy considered the acquisition of drawings and maps to be a top
priority in order to gather knowledge of the territory and of the design of fortifications
and systems of defence. These drawings and maps were commissioned by the illumi-
nated Governors and produced by military engineers professionally trained to carry out
this task. In many cases, the drawings of cities and maps of the territories, once used as
working instruments by the military and administrators, became sought-after items of
the scholarly collectors movement that characterised the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries and, in particular, the Court of Madrid.
Drawing was the main instrument: a figurative account that, today, still illustrates the
war between Piedmont and Lombardy, transformed at that time into permanent battle-
fields and the scene of a series of sieges in a vain attempt by the French to reach Milan
and by the Spanish to seize Turin (besieged, partially occupied but never definitively cap-
tured). These paper cities populate atlases and loose sheets, highlighting the many

states, the too many ephemeral boundaries, the difficulty of defending the many, never
completely untroubled borders. To counter the risk of a possible attack, the area of Milan,
strategic for the Spanish Government, had to be protected by reorganizing a complex,
modern and solid territorial system of defence. As already mentioned, it was considered
that the western border could withstand a hypothetical but not improbable attack only if
a set of fortified cities were prepared to cooperate.


In the early seventeenth century, for Spain, the State of Milan together with the Nether-
lands became one of the main theatres of the war intended to gain supremacy in Europe,
with a consequent urgent need to control the borders with the Duchy of Savoy and the
Republic of Venice and also to maintain supremacy on the two different routes to Flan-
ders4. Ceaseless work on the modernisation and reinforcement of fortifications and strong-
holds and continuous routine maintenance was accompanied by the fervent activity of
the engineers of the State of Milan and Duchy of Savoy, still allies in the early years of
the century, directed towards reinforcing the borders. The activity of fortification could
not be interrupted and no ally could be trusted; coalitions could be overthrown very rapidly
and no frontier could be left unguarded or vulnerable. Until the closing years of the six-
teenth century, the State of Milan had not invested significantly in defending its western
border, trusting in its alliance with the Duchy of Savoy and preferring to protect itself to
the east against the threat of the Republic of Venice5. As the military situation gradually
deteriorated, investments were diverted towards sustaining reinforcement of the western
border: Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy, an ally of Spain, first of all clashed with the French,
thereby undermining the safety of the western border, subsequently sealing an alliance
with France and forcing the people of Milan to reinforce the defences towards Piedmont.
In September 1600, Pedro Henriquez dAzevedo y Alvarez de Toledo, Count of Fuentes
de Valdepero was appointed Governor of Milan. Sustained by experience acquired during
the war of Flanders, Fuentes immediately grasped the problematic situation of the obsolete
and cumbersome artillery6 and the still late-Medieval style fortifications. The Governor
was accompanied by Cristbal Lechuga de los hombres ms intelligentes de la nacin y de
mayor servicio7 having had the occasion to personally verify his abilities during the years
spent in the Netherlands, granting him the rank of captain and command of a company
of arquebusiers. The aim was to reinforce the defences of the entire state, modernising
the fortifications of the many strongholds and reinforcing the territorial system of defence,
if necessary constructing new forts and fortresses. The Flanders war, in which they had
both participated, had confirmed the importance of the bastion system of fortification8.
Over a period of ten years, the Governor enlisted the cooperation of expert military
engineers including, in addition to Lechuga, Gabrio Busca and Gaspare Baldovino. The
need to obtain funds, the desire to involve the local communities and their subsequent
refusal, generated an intense exchange of correspondence between Milan, Spain and the
various cities involved, between Fuentes, Philip III and the local Governors; documents
that, in certain case studies, have made it possible to verify the dynamics and problems,

FIG. 2 GABRIO BUSCA. Alessandria. Borgo [1602]. BCBPv, ms. II, 59.

timing and stage of completion of the works undertaken9. A series of competencies crys-
tallised around Count Fuentes and the service of the state which resulted in the drawing
up of treaties10, in the setting up of an artillery school11, in addition to a set of surveys
and projects of the most important cities.
A series of reports on surveys, projects and construction sites intended to reinforce the
strongholds of the state were drawn up from the closing months of 1600 and throughout
the following decade (Fuentes died in 1610). In particular, the mainstay of the system of
defence of the western border was the solidity and reciprocal cooperation of the strongholds
of Novara, Mortara, Pavia, Tortona, Valenza, Alessandria12; many of the engineers in the
employ of Lombardy and Spain who directed their studies to this area between the end of
the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century focussed attention on these cities,
drawing up descriptions of their current condition and related reinforcement projects.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, military engineer Gabrio Busca drew up a
report firmly stressing the importance of this territorial system of defence of the possessions
of Milan: a chain in which the single strongholds were to be designed in such a way as
to cooperate and provide each other with mutual support. Gabrio Busca described the ter-

BUSCA.Mortara [1602].
BCBPv, ms. II, 59.

ritories, highlighting their critical points and the natural features that, if necessary, could
play a leading role in defence; he also focussed on what had been accomplished in past
decades and, in some cases, proposed interventions to be completed in the short term at
reduced cost. This did not, however, avert the possibility of an enemy attack as, if only one
link in the chain were to fail, the entire state might capitulate before the assault of the
French. At the turn of the century, the fortified towns modernised only fifty years earlier
already showed the signs of time, revealing the unsuitability of the materials used [FIG. 2].

Per far fronte al Piemonte et Monferrato, che si stima la parte pi pericolosa di tutte, per
rispetto dei Francesi, s fatto capo di Tortona, Alessandria, Valenza, Mortara et Novara.
Le quali se altre volte tenivano nome di fortezze come fabricate di terra, et secondo la
maniera di quei tempi, hora sono tutte guaste, et consumate dalle ingiurie delle stagioni,
et del tempo tengono grandissima necessit di essere ristaurate et rinovate in migliore
maniera. [] Tutti i quali luoghi quasi anelli di una catena si vanno incatenando et colle-
gando luno allaltro et rinchiudendo la pi parte dei confini dello stato [] perch Lecco
pu dar mano a Como, Como ad Angera, et questa ad Arona et Arona a Domodossola che
se ne resta molto lontana ma principalmente corrisponde a Novara, Novara a Mortara,
Mortara a Valenza, Valenza ad Alessandria, Alessandria a Tortona, Tortona a Voghera, et a
Pavia. Pavia a Cremona, Cremona a Pizzighettone, Pizzighettone a Lodi, Lodi a Trezzo, et
Trezzo a Lecco onde si cominci. Da Pavia fino a Cremona un lungo tratto senza fortezza
per il Po ci serve come muro [] La maggior fortezza di questo stato consiste nei fiumi13.

Buscas report was accompanied by drawings, some drafted by Giovanni Battista Clarici14
and others by Busca [FIG. 3]15. Clarici probably accompanied Busca in visiting the

FIG. 4 GIOVANNI BATTISTA CLARICI. Novara [1602]. BCBPv, ms. II, 59.

FIG. 5 GIOVANNI BATTISTA CLARICI. Tortona [1602]. BCBPv, ms. II, 59.

fortresses of the Duchy: in 1576, Antonio de Guzmn, Governor of Milan had already
ordered him in the name of Philip II to draw up: a description of the entire State of Milan
with the plans of certain particular places16. This commitment certainly lasted for years
and, in a letter of 1580, the same engineer refers to surveys carried out in certain cities
(Alessandria, Novara, Valenza, Mortara) [FIGS. 4 and 5].
The new political context, forbearer of possible wars, and the sensitivity demonstrated
by Fuentes with regard to reinforcement of the military structures of the state resulted
in an inevitable reconfiguration of the systems of defence of Milan. Following the peace
treaty of Lyon (March 1601) between France and Savoy, the Privy Council ordered
Fuentes to visit the Lombard fortresses in order to verify their potential and any short-
comings17. Between 1601 and 1610, Cristbal Lechuga was engaged to make more than
twenty secret journeys to inspect the fortifications, in some cases accompanied by
Gabrio Busca and Gaspare Baldovino18. Lechuga cooperated with Busca from 1603 on-
wards in the design and construction of the fort of Fuentes at the entrance to the Valtel-
To offset the risk of a possible attack, the area of Milan, strategic for the Spanish
Government, was to be protected by reorganizing a complex, modern and sturdy territorial
system of defence. As already mentioned, it was considered that the western border could
withstand a hypothetical but not improbable attack only if a set of fortified cities were
prepared to cooperate; unfortunately, despite the works carried out fairly recently on
some of these, these were in a serious state of disrepair, as stressed by Busca. In May
1604, Fuentes requested two hundred thousand scudi from Philip III to strengthen the
fortifications at Cremona, Alessandria, Pavia and Novara20. By the summer, half of the
sum requested had been received in Milan, accompanied by an exhortation to start the
works as soon as possible. In November of the same year, Fuentes set off to inspect the
cities and fortresses of the state, accompanied by military engineers and persons de cien-
cia y esperiencia. On November 1, the Governor left the capital for Como and the fort
of Fuentes, still under construction. Lecco, Trezzo, the canal on the Adda, Soncino, Cre-
mona were the next stages of the journey. Fuentes decided to construct a new citadel at
Cremona, and also at Alessandria, thereby reiterating Fratinos considerations in the pre-
vious century21. It was concluded that, in the case of war, the city of Mortara could be
fortified in the short term, and the Governor finally arrived in Novara where it was de-
cided not to construct a citadel due to the presence of the Cathedral, which was not to
be demolished, but to broaden the ring of the walls22.
Various outline projects were drawn up on the basis of the surveys and decisions taken
by Fuentes and his collaborators and the problem immediately become of a financial na-
ture: how to allocate the cost between the Sovereign and the State and which citizens
were to be involved. Starting from the previous century, the cost of fortifying the cities
was paid one third by the Sovereign and two thirds by the State, whereas works on the
citadels were traditionally paid entirely by the Sovereign23. For the two completely new
citadels of Cremona and Alessandria, direct participation of the cities involved was re-
quested considering that the soldiers would be housed in the two structures. The long-
standing problem of financing delayed the start of works at the sites: only part of the sum
requested for the works planned at Novara, Alessandria, Cremona and Soncino (basically

FIG. 6 GIORGIO PALEARI FRATINO. Alisandria, n.d. [1560 circa]. BSMon, Piante di Forte[zze] dItalia, fol. 34r.

FIG. 7 Anonymous. Alexandria Ciudad, n.d. [1604-1608]. BNE, ms. 12678, c. 22.

to contrast the Republic of Venice) was received. The works were initiated only at No-
vara24. As regards the citadels planned at Cremona and Alessandria, nothing was done
and was ever to be done. Due to problems such as how to obtain the money required,
the hostility of the citizens and clergy, the outbreak of war following the alliance between
the Duchy of Savoy and France, together with the death of Governor Fuentes, the proj-
ects remained as such. One of the last operations decided by the Governor in 1608 was
the demolition of the old fortifications of Novara following completion of the new bastion
Buscas maps and drawings precede, by a few years, an atlas of drawings of the city
preserved at the National Library of Spain which, for certain cities, illustrates surveys of
their current condition overlapped with ambitious projects, most of which were to remain
on paper. Although, on the one hand, suggestions already present in Giorgio Paleari
Fratinos sixteenth century drawings are reiterated, subsequent decisions were to be in-
fluenced by other proposals and ideas. The atlas25, which is not dated or signed and was
formerly dated to the reign of Philip III26, can, in the opinion of the author, be ascribed
to the years immediately after 1604 but no later than 1608 and it is considered that it
may represent a trace of what was proposed on the basis of the inspections and surveys
made during Fuentes journey [FIGS. 6 and 7].
For certain cities, the reiteration of certain already proposed design suggestions is
clear; two large pentagonal citadels were planned in particular for Alessandria and Cre-
mona27: the drawing of Alessandria preserved in Madrid reflects and improves, not only
from a graphical point of view, the indications formulated by Fratino in around 1560 and
not shared by Busca28. The anonymous military engineer has focused attention on con-
struction of a bastion system of fortification to strengthen the existing, now obsolete for-
tifications, with reinforcement of the sixteenth century citadel and fortification to protect
the entrance. Reduction of the perimeter of the borough of Borgoglio, already proposed

FIG. 8
Anonymous. No-
vara Ciudad, n.d.
BNE, ms.
12678, c. 30.

FIG. 9 Anonymous. Pavia, n.d. [1604-1608]. BNE, ms. 12678, c. 6.

FIG. 10 Anonymous. Mortara, n.d. [1604-1608]. BNE, ms. 12678, c. 28.

by Fratino and stressed by Busca, was envisaged29. A pentagonal citadel on the banks of
the river Tanaro, opposite Borgoglio, desired by Fuentes and Lechuga, is drawn on a
transparency. This was never constructed but, from that moment until construction of
the Savoy citadel more than a hundred years later, the point identified by the anonymous
Spanish draughtsman was continuously and constantly modified: control of the river and

defence of the city could be assured only by reinforcing and equipping this particular
section of the fortifications [FIGS. 8-10]30.
The plate dedicated to Valenza is a survey similarly to that of Tortona with its castle,
one of the most ancient drawings identified today as referring to the city walls. In the
plate dedicated to Mortara, the design of a new bastion system of fortification, already
envisaged partly by Busca, that modifies the entire perimeter also with far-reaching dem-
olition, is superimposed on the survey. Only short sections of the curtain wall of the an-
cient fortifications have been re-used while the dimensions and plan of all the bastions
have been reconfigured: this project was also to remain only on paper. The drawing ded-
icated to Novara has been taken from a project by Fratino for broadening of the sixteenth
century bastion fortifications: the de facto situation is indicated in red and the extension
of the fortifications starts from the fourth bastion. The existing bastions were broadened
and reinforced, adding eight and reducing the length of the curtain walls.
Busca report, Claricis drawings (also preserved in other archives), the atlas of draw-
ings preserved in Madrid and the various expert appraisals reflect the fortification surveys
and projects that started to be adopted at the start of the seventeenth century. In most
cases, the works of adaptation and reinforcement undertaken in the previous century
were still in course. The financial problems that afflicted the State of Milano prevented
construction with the necessary rapidity; the military engineers constantly discussed mod-
ifications, reinforcements and adaptations to cater to new strategic-defensive require-
ments. In this contradictory context marked by decisions, often revoked, an extremely
unstable and unpredictable political situation, the aim was to reinforce and modernise
the fortifications of the city still, for the most part, of late-Medieval design.


The death of Philip III (1621) and the ascension to the throne of the rey planeta did
not divert attention from the strongholds of Milan and, in particular, from the problem-
atic western border. In 1622, Gaspare Baldovino32, realizing their potential, drafted a
number of survey and project drawings for reinforcement of the fortifications of some of
the most strategically important strongholds of Milan. It is highly probable that Baldovino
knew what Gabrio Busca had written and advocated years earlier: dedicate attention to
strongholds on the borders and consequently money and materials for reinforcement of
the fortifications is a strategic operation to guarantee optimal resistance to any possible
enemy assault33. Baldovino describes the cities in detail, identifying their strong points
and also weaknesses to be remedied. La ciudad de Alexandria conviene mucho poner
muy endefensa porq. es la Plaza mas Importante que VMS tiene en aquellos estados34. The
perimeter of the fortifications is surrounded by a vast plain; the bastions, of small size,
are in urgent need of reinforcement. Attention is focussed on construction of bastions in
order to reinforce the fortifications of the city, adopting two different solutions. The first
(indicated with the letter G) is the most expensive (between 150,000 and 286,000 scudi)
and envisages the construction of articulated fortification works to replace the not easily
defensible earth-filled bastions. The long curtain walls are an easy target in the case of

FIG. 11 GASPARE BALDOVINO. Alessandria G, 1622. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General
de Simancas. MPD, 7, 202.

FIG. 12 GASPARE BALDOVINO. Valenza, 1622. Espaa. Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte. Archivo General de
Simancas. MPD, 7, 201.

FIG. 13 FRANCESCO PRESTINO. Cit de Alessa, 1635. AST, Corte, Monferrato, Feudi, ad v. Alessandria, m. 5, n. 1.

siege; therefore it is necessary to construct a bastion system of fortification with advanced

works: bastions, ravelins and a covered roadway would have guaranteed defence, thanks
to cross-fire, in the case of attack [FIGS. 11 and 12].
Also in 1626 Carlo Coloma, soldier and diplomat and for a short period captain of
the light cavalry of the Milanesado, firmly declared his attention: [] el Estado de
Miln puede iustssimamente llamarse el coran y el centro de la Monarchia de V.M., por
lo menos de todos los Reynos y estados contenidos en este emispherio: [] lo que conviene
conservar y corroborar esta parte tan noble y de que el parecer se ha tenido tan poco cuydado
por los ministros inferiores []35. Once again, attention is focussed on the troubled west-
ern border and, starting from Lake Maggiore and descending to the South as far as
Valenza, Alessandria, Serravalle, Tortona, the various cities and fortresses are described,
also prescribing their continuous reinforcement: sigue luego Alexandra que, despus del
castillo de Miln, es hoy la plaa mas importante del Estado; estaba casi desmantelada del
todo el ao passado, mas el duque de Feria, [] la puso de suerte con medias lunas y con-
traescarpas de tierra y de faxina, que pudiera aguardar un largo sitio: conviene mucho
acabar lo comenado y proveer aquella ciudad de manera que se pueda defender de dos
exrcitos []36.
With a letter dated October 13, 1633, Philip IV ordered con ogni prestezza possibile
an atlas of all the fortresses and castles of the State of Milan from Francesco Prestino37,
court and military engineer working in this period in Novara, Valenza Po, Alessandria,
Mortara, Tortona and Fontaneto dAgogna [FIG. 13]. Defence of the western border, which

once again proved to be strategic in the imminent conflict between the Savoy, now pro-
French, and the Spanish was one of his main tasks. Prestinos activity was interlaced
with that of court engineer Francesco Maria Ricchino38 who worked with him at many
of the construction sites on the borders with Piedmont: in particular, Ricchino focused
on those fortresses that guarantee access by the Spanish troops to the road to Flanders
through the area of Asti, Alesandria and Tortona (Rocca dArazzo, Annone, Alessandria,
Valenza, Tortona, Pontecurone) and also worked in Vercelli and Pavia.


At the end of the 1630s, the conflict between Spain and France, never completely settled,
continued to have repercussions on the North of the peninsula, with the Savoy Duchy
on the one hand and the State of Milan on the other. The conflict was further exacerbated
by the outbreak of civil war in Piedmont affected, after the death of Victor Amadeus 1,
by hostility between the Regent Christine of France, ally of the French and her broth-
ers-in-law, Prince Tommaso and Cardinal Maurizio, supported by the Spanish. The at-
tempt to occupy Piedmont, successful only for a few years, by the Marquis of Legans,
Governor of the State of Milan, is documented not only by a series of letters sent to
Philip IV, to the Count Duke of Olivares and to other officials but also by an atlas without

FIG. 14 Anonymous. Brem, Guzman, in Plantas de las FIG. 15 Anonymous. Santhia, in Plantas de las plazas que
plazas que redimi, fortific, ygan, [...] el S.or Mar- redimi, fortific, ygan, [...] el S.or Marques de
ques de Legnes [...], n.d. [post 1640]. BNE, ms. 12726, c. 7. Legnes [...], n.d. [post 1640]. BNE, ms. 12726, c. 19.

FIG. 16 Anonymous. Verceli, in
Plantas de las plazas que redimi, forti-
fic, ygan, [...] el S.or Marques
de Legnes [...], n.d. [post 1640]. BNE,
ms. 12726, c. 8.

FIG. 17 Anonymous. Turin, in Plan-

tas de las plazas que redimi, fortific,
ygan, [...] el S.or Marques de
Legnes [...], n.d. [post 1640]. BNE,
ms. 12726, c. 20.

signature now preserved in Madrid39. The twenty plates illustrate surveys and designs for
the fortifications of the towns occupied by Legans and Prince Tommaso as they ad-
vanced towards Turin. In some cases, the works, carried out in a few months, to fortify
what had been easily conquered, were to permanently modify the urban configuration of
the cities. Prestino was certainly in the service of Legans and it has now been demon-
strated that the Governor enlisted as consultant the Jesuit Father Francisco Antonio Ca-
massa, his confessor and professor of military art at the Imperial College of Madrid40.

FIG. 18 Sitio y defensa de la ciudad de Pava. KAS, Handritade Kartverk, vol. 25, tav. 96.

Prestino signed a report regarding Vercelli when the city, after being conquered by
Legans, became and remained until 165941 the extreme outpost of Spanish domination.
A connection was to be created with the major systems of territorial control that, from
the State of Milan, furnished arms, provisions and troops using the fort of Sandoval as
intermediate stage. The Spanish wanted to insert Vercelli in the chain of fortified cities
already stressed by Busca.


In the mid-century period, a few years prior to signing the Treaty of the Pyrenees, a schol-
arly patron, Don Gaspar Mendez de Haro y Guzmn VII Marquis of Carpio and Heliche,
appointed the Bolognese artist Leonardo De Ferrari to make water-colour copies of many
city drawings42. The cartographic project did not hide the patrons ambitions: depict the
Kingdom of Spain in the era of Philip IV, with a certain degree of poetic licence, empha-
sizing the territories aspired to but never conquered on a long-term basis, in a sort of ex-
traniation from reality, intended to exalt the power of the King and to deny a truth difficult
to accept: the inexorable end of a hegemony. The atlas he commissioned reflects his main
interests: art, politics, knowledge of the territory for the purpose of drafting military
strategies. It was in this cultural milieu that Don Gaspars project took shape: incor-
porate the many drawings owned or perhaps consultable at Court in an atlas, entrusting

FIG. 19 Planta de Trin. KAS, Handritade Kartverk, vol. 25, tav. 118.

copying of these to the hand of a single artist. The attention dedicated to the drawings
of cities intended to acquire military knowledge of the territory, for defence and attack,
omitting peculiarly strategic elements and amplifying others for intimidatory purposes,
is also justified by the fact that, between 1655 and 1657, at the end of the Franco-Span-
ish war, Don Gaspar was part of the Spanish army in Italy. Through purchases and vast
legacies, he was in possession of maps and sketches from different cultural environments:
he was seized by the desire to form a single theatrum, a uniform collection, a sort of
virtual story.
Unlike others produced in the same period, the Heliche atlas is not conceived by an
engineer, architect, geographer or cosmographer but commissioned from an artist who
reproduces and recopies plans and maps of different origin. The painted tables reflect
the different originals reproduced, of heterogeneous design, origin, dimensions and pur-
poses. The artist harmonises and refines a substantial set of plans, views and descriptions
of sieges and battles. The method of work is specified in the plate dedicated to Pavia43,
depicted at a crucial moment, the siege of July 24 and September 14 1655, the year in
which the work was delivered to Heliche: this bears the phrase traducido y reducido de
grande a pequeo, por Don Leonardo de Ferrari. The result is an eclectic atlas, probably
completed in great haste, conditioned by the material made available or, on the contrary,
made inaccessible. Imperfect or incomplete, the atlas is the key to understanding the
use of urban and territorial plans for military, strategic and propagandistic purposes in
seventeenth century Europe.

The impressive legend that accompanies the drawing of Pavia indicates another detail
that throws greater light on the method of creation of the atlas: todo delineado por el Gaspar Barreta Yngeniero Regio cameral y del The original, subsequently
copied and reduced in size, is by Gaspare Beretta. At this point, it is easier to understand
the precision of the indications provided by one of the most important seventeenth cen-
tury military engineers who served in the Spanish army for 64 years (1639-1703) in the
service of Spain in Lombardy, chief engineer of the State of Milan, expert in fortifica-
tions44. Beretta commanded the siege of Trino, and was also present at Crescentino and
Casale Monferrato in the same year. He was subsequently present at Rocchetta on the
river Tanaro, in the defence of Vicolongo in the area of Novara and at Pavia in 1655.
Don Gaspars father, Luis, was certainly an admirer of Berettas military expertise, having
in 1661, as valido of Philip IV, summoned the Milan engineer to the court of Madrid
para servir en esta guerra de Espaa45, as written by de Haro to the Governor of Milan;
his opinion is asked regarding the proposal (never implemented) to exchange the Cre-
monese with the Monferrato. The Lombard engineer, a man of unequalled experience,
could help to understand positive and negative aspects, insofar as informed of the real
essence of the fortified structures of territory


The siege of Alessandria in 165746, immortalised by an unknown hand, was one of the
last clashes in the North of the peninsula prior to signing of the treaty on the Isola dei
Fagiani that was to temporarily restored peace on the continent. In this case, the drawing
was not intended for military purposes but to commemorate the frenetic activities of
the battalions that occupied the plain around the city. The siege in the summer of 1657
was to see, on opposite sides, the Spanish-Lombard army, sent to rescue the besieged
citizens of Alessandria, in agreement with the Swiss of Canton Grisons, with the Aus-
trians and the Duke of Mantua. On the other hand, the Franco-Savoyard army could
rely on the alliance with the Duke of Modena. At the end of an epic battle, the uncon-
quered city was to remain within the orbit of Lombardy for around fifty years47. The city
was surrounded by the Franco-Savoyard troops who built two pontoon bridges. To en-
close a broad strip of territory already conquered, the French constructed a set for
fortresses and structures for attack with a battery of canon aimed towards the city and
towards the Spanish army sent to relieve the city. The Swiss troops were the first to
cross the Bormida and the Spanish batteries were deployed along the bank, fortifying
this. Figures who distinguished themselves during the siege included Pompeo Robutti,
in the service of Alessandria, and Gaspare Beretta under the orders of the relieving Lom-
bard-Spanish army, the first in the city and the second near the Bormida, in a coalition
to free the city from the siege.
The drawings, designs or surveys of the many military engineers who were to follow
each other in the service of Spain and Lombardy, with the aim of strengthening the de-
fences, relate a history not only of sieges, battles and rapid permanent or temporary for-
tification works but also of years of peace marked by ceaseless construction works

FIG. 20 G. P. PERT. Alessandria assediata li XVII luglio et abbandonata li XVIII agosto MDCLVII, n.d. [second half of the sev-
enteenth century, post 1657]. ASAl, ASCAl, s. III, cart 2262/2.

directed towards extending and modernising the bastion fortifications in the fear of a
clash: cities and territories are continually shaped and reshaped by the needs of war
(and of the long-waited peace). Military cartography remained, for the most part, secret
and in the hands of the client or of the designer who carried out in-field surveys using
updated instruments. Production was perhaps discontinuous, strongly conditioned by
wars and sieges or fears of possible attack, and also heterogeneous: surveys made to ac-
quire knowledge of the conditions of the places, modernisation or reinforcement projects,
drawings covered by military secret and often concealed for long periods. Commemora-
tions of battles, showing how the armies were deployed, populate the loose sheets and
give life to atlases through reprocessing of confidential but no longer topical material,
harmonising their format and representation technique. The atlases of cities and theatres
of war cater to a taste for the contemplation of art, the desire for a virtual journey, the
passion for collecting, the exaltation and celebration of military power. However, the un-
challenged protagonist of the many drawings is always and in any case the city, a Sancta
Sanctorum to be defended, the Holy Grail to be conquered.


2. GIOVANNI STEFANO CANTONI, Tavola delli desegni de tutto il Stato di Milano e parte di Piemonte et Monfe.o. BNBMi, AE, XII, 28.
VIGAN, 2003.
3. For the area of Milan: Pavia, Valenza, Alessandria, Tortona, Serravalle Scrivia, the fort of Breme, Novara, Mortara, Vigevano,
Abbiategrasso, Fontaneto dAgogna, Domodossola, Como, the Fuentes fort, Lecco, Ponte, Trezzo, Bobbio, Lodi, Pizzighettone,
Gera, Moccastorna, Cremona, Sabbioneta, Milan, the castle of Milan, the Sandoval fort close to Vercelli. For Sabaudian
Piedmont: Vercelli, San Germano Vercellese, Santhi, Trino Vercellese, Crescentino, Verrua, Asti, Villanova dAsti, Chivasso,
Ceva, Cuneo, Ivrea, Turin, Susa, Monmllian, the Sencio fort. Also represented: the Milanese enclave in the territory of
Genoa, Finale; the Spanish enclave of the island of Elba, Porto Longone; the fortress of the Borromeo family, Arona; two
strongholds of the Duke of Mantova, Casale and Nizza Monferrato; the French enclave in Piemonte, Pinerolo; a fortified city
in Valtellina under the domination of the Grisons, Tirano; and Genoa.
5. COPPA, 1999; VIGAN, 1998.
6. GIANNINI, 2000.
7. AGS, Estado, leg. 1293, 355, Dispaccio del conte de Fuentes a Filippo III, May 6,1604, mentioned in Giannini, 2000, p. 493.
8. PARKER, 1996.
9. GIANNINI, 2004.
10. COPPA, 1999; COPPA, 2004; FIOR, 2007; LECHUGA, 1601; LECHUGA, 1611; BUSCA, 1601.
11. Bernardo Richino established a military and civil engineering school of which Cristobal Lechuga was one of the most
renowned students. Lechuga himself proposed the creation of an academy for engineers at Court. In Lombardy, the artillery
school was divided between Milan, Pavia, Alessandria and Cremona. CMARA, 2005; GIUSTINA, 2007a.
12. By 1615, this chain of strongholds also included the Sandoval fort at Bulgaro, now Borgo Vercelli, a pentagonal fort that
took its name from Minister Francisco Gmez de Sandoval and Rojas Duke of Lerma, constructed at the behest of the Spanish
Governor of Milan, Don Giovanni de Mendoza (Marquis of Hinojosa), close to the ford on the river Sesia in order to dominate
the road leading from Novara to Vercelli.
13. Rellatione delle Fortezze di frontiera dello Stato di Milano (BCBPv, ms. II, 59). Relatione delle fortezze di frontiera dello Stato
di Milano, June 15, 1602 (BAMi, Ferrari collection, Military Manuscripts, part IV, S. 144 sup. No. CCCLXXXIV) is the copy
transcribed, without signature, of Gabrio Buscas report now preserved in Pavia.
14. VIGAN, 2007b.
15. The drawings depict the castle of Milan, Alessandria, Mortara, Cremona, with two different plates, Correggio, Pizzighettone,
Castellazzo, Cairo delle Langhe, Novara (signature of Giovanni Battista Clarici), Valenza (signature of Giovanni Battista
Clarici), Tortona (signature of Giovanni Battista Clarici), Voghera (the plate is damaged but can be ascribed to Giovanni Bat-
tista Clarici), Lecco (signature of Giovanni Battista Clarici), Domodossola (signature of Giovanni Battista Clarici).
16. ASMi, RCS, s. XXI, n. 10, c 300.
17. ASMi, RCS, s. XIV, book 4, minutes of the meeting of the Privy Council, Milan, April 2, 1601.
18. GIANNINI, 2000.
20. GIANNINI cita AGS, Estado, leg. 1293, doc. 355.
21. GIORGIO PALEARI FRATINO, Alisandria, n.d. [1560 circa]. BSMon, Piante di Forte[zze] dItalia, f. 34r. VIGAN, 2004; DAMERI, 2013.
22. GIANNINI, 2004, p. 307.
23. GIANNINI, 2004, p. 308. The portion to be paid by citizens was in turn divided between various persons. See also CAMARA,
24. GIANNINI, 2004, p. 336 et seq.
25. BNE, ms. 12678. The drawings show the city of Milan and its castle (two drawings), Pavia, Lodi, Pizzighettone, Soncino,
Cremona and its castle (due drawings), Tortona and its castle (due drawings), Alessandria (with a transparency depicting the
design of the pentagonal citadel), Valenza, Vigevano, Mortara, Novara (with the ancient perimeter and the new broader
bastion fortifications), the fort of Fuentes (the presence of this drawing makes it possible to date the atlas as post 1604),
fuerte que guarda el Rio Ada (with every probability the fortino dAdda aka Stallone in the territory of Gera Lario), the
castle of Lecco, Finale, Monaco, and a map of the territories between Piedmont and Lombardy showing rivers and the main
fortified towns and cities.
26. CMARA, 2005.
27. The drawing of Cremona preserved in Madrid envisages in addition to extension of the fortifications and the construction of
a system of bastions, insertion of the existing castle within a pentagonal citadel to which a drawing is dedicated on a more
detailed scale. Fratino, Clarici and Spannocchi had already put forward similar reinforcement proposals. CAMARA, 1998.
28. BSMon, Piante di forte[zze] dItalia. VIGAN, 2004.
29. DAMERI, 2013.
30. DAMERI and LIVRAGHI, 2009.
31. CARLOS COLOMA, Discurso en que se representa quanto conviene a la Monarcha espaola la conservacin del Estado de Miln, y
lo que necesita para su defensa y mayor seguridad, 1626. BNE, ms. 12931 (1), ff. 1-20.

32. VIGAN, 2007b.
33. AGS, Estado, leg. 1926, cc. 141-154. The drawings were made on the same days and concern the cities of Novara, Mortara,
Alessandria and Valenza. The plates are identified by the letters A and B (Novara), C and D (Mortara), E and F (Valenza), G
and H (Alessandria) and attached to descriptive reports.
34. AGS, Estado, leg. 1926, cc. 152-152v.
35. BNE, ms. 12931 (1), f 1.
36. BNE, ms. 12931 (1), ff. 18-19.
37. ASMi, UTR, p.a., cart. 745, fasc. Prestino. PERIN, 2007 (albeit with some incongruences).
38. GIUSTINA, 2007b.
39. ARROYO MARTN, 2002a and 2002b; PREZ PRECIADO, 2010. Plantas de las plazas que redimi, fortific, ygan, [...] el S.or
Marques de Legnes [...], dated January 1, 1641 and not signed, BNE, ms. 12726. The atlas comprise the ground plans of
Fontane (close to Novara, identifiable as Fontaneto), Annone, Roca, Nizza de la Palia (Nizza Monferrato), Ayan (Agliano near
Asti), Punzon, Brem Guzmn, Vercelli, Saliceto, Chivasso, Ivrea, Verrua, Crescentino, Villanova dAsti, Pontestura, Asti, Moncalvo,
Trino, Santhi, Turin.
40. DAMERI, 2014 and in print.
41. IACOBONE, 2004.
42. DAMERI, 2013. The atlas was mentioned for the first time but with various errors in dating and attribution, by Josephson,
1982. The correct dating was established in SNCHEZ RUBIO, TESTN NEZ and SNCHEZ RUBIO (coords.) (2004), an essential
text for analysis of the atlas. See also COBOS GUERRA and DE CASTRO FERNNDEZ, 2005; DASCENZO, 2010.
43. KAS, Handritade Kartverk, vol. 25, tav. 96.
44. VIGAN, 2001.
45. The main source is a collection of documents curated by Beretta: Servicios del conde y maestre de campo Beretta, con breve
noticia de sucessos empezando desde el ano 1639 hasta el de 1702, Milan 1702; a copy without frontispiece and with the pages
not numbered is preserved in the Biblioteca Braidense of Milan.
46. PERT, Alessandria assediata li XVII luglio et abbandonata li XVIII agosto MDCLVII, n.d. [second half of the seventeenth century,
post 1657] (ASAl, ASCAl, series III, 2262/2).
47. DAMERI and LIVRAGHI, 2009.


AGS: Archivo General de Simancas

ASCAl: Archivio Storico Comune Alessandria
ASAl: Archivio di Stato Alessandria
ASMi: Archivio di Stato Milano
AST: Archivio di Stato Torino
BAMi: Biblioteca Ambrosiana Milano
BCBPv: Biblioteca Civica Bonetta Pavia
BNBMi: Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense Milano
BNE: Biblioteca Nacional de Espaa
BSMon: Bayerische Staatbibliotek Mnchen
KAS: Krigarkivet Stockholm
RCS: Registri Cancelleria Spagnola
UTR: Uffici e Tribunali Regi


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Back to Contents



The Rationalisation and Codification
of the Cartographic Practices
of French Military Engineers
under Louis XIV

Muse des plans-reliefs, Paris



From 1678, when he was officially appointed Commissaire gnral des fortifications of
Louis XIV, Vauban attempted to structure the organisation of the department of fortifi-
cations, and to rationalise and standardise the working methods of military engineers.
He established graphic rules to obtain a uniform representation of the military territories
of the kingdom with various scales, and was more particularly interested in the repre-
sentation of the plans of fortified towns. The graphic codes adopted for the representation
of French fortifications will be examined based on an analysis of the cartographic pro-
duction of military engineers throughout the seventeenth century, Vaubans papers and
military treaties.


Louis XIV, Vauban, military mapping, fortifications, plans, France, seventeenth century.

When Vauban was officially appointed Commissaire gnral des fortifications in January
1678, he had in fact already been in the post for ten years: in 1668, Louvois, secretary
of state for war under Louis XIV, had entrusted him with the responsibility for the fortified
towns of his department as well as for the men that maintained and built them.
The incessant wars and the scale of the work carried out on the fortifications of the
kingdom of France meant that a great number of military engineers had to be recruited.
Between 1661 and 1691, 350 engineers were hired, and 260 of them were practising
every year on average, 160 dependent on the Department of War and 100 on the Navy2.
Forming a rather small military corps, the engineers carried out a large number of activ-
ities to serve the extensive conquests undertaken by Louis XIV: they participated in sieges,
were responsible for the building campaigns in fortified towns, and elaborated the car-
tography of the territory necessary for the movement of armies on campaign and the de-
sign of fortifications. Between 1668 and 1678, fifty or so fortified towns were constructed
while about thirty or so fortifications were razed in the context of the policy of defending
the borders were developed by Vauban. At the same time, the War of Devolution (1667-
68) and the Dutch War (1672-78) led to the loss of a great number of engineers, who
were killed during the sieges.
In those ten years, Vauban had ac-
quired a perfect knowledge of the for-
tifications department and its require-
ments. He summarised his thinking
in a report that he wrote for Louvois,
entitled Le Directeur gnral des forti-
fications [FIG. 1]. Undated, this text
seems to have been written at the end
of 1677, shortly after the death of
Nicolas de Clerville3 in October. It
seems to have been Vaubans credo
he was candidate for the office of
Commissaire gnral des fortifications,
which had become vacant. In it,
Vauban set out his vision of that office
and of the good management of the
department in charge of maintaining
and building all the kingdoms fortifi-
cations. Destined to remain in manu-
script form like almost all of Vaubans
writings because they contained mili-
tary secrets, a pirated version of the
text was nevertheless published in The

FIG. 1 Le Directeur gnral des fortifications par Mr

de Vauban, The Hague, 1685. Paris, Muse des plans-

Hague in 16854. Le Directeur gnral des fortifications met with great success and was
reprinted in several complete new editions as well as in the form of extracts during the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The interest in this volume may be explained as
much by the fame of its author as by the nature of its composition, conceived as a vade
mecum for the organisation of the department of fortifications and of the practices to be
implemented to assure good site management. In it, Vauban also proposes a codification
of the graphic rules used by engineers, in particular for the drafting of plans of fortified
towns. After he was appointed Commissaire gnral des fortifications on 4 January 1678,
Vauban did not cease implementing these precepts.


The organisation of the department of fortifications was largely the legacy of Le Grand
Rglement compiled in 1604 by Sully, superintendent of fortifications under Henri IV,
shortly after the appearance of the first French military engineers alongside Italian engi-
neers. This foundational text set out the first instructions for a coordinated mapping of
French military space. Sully stated that in each province should be appointed a military
engineer seconded by a conducteur des desseins (maker of maps and plans) charged
with producing an accurate map of the surface area of [his] department on which
should appear the bridges fit for the passage of heavy artillery, all the fords or passages
that are easy to cross, the rivers, the more or less bad roads and at the bottom of the
map, the name of all the cities, fortified towns and chateaux that could endure the can-
non if they were attacked.
The cartographic works of the early French engineers during the reigns of Henri IV
and Louis XIII are mainly known thanks to manuscript military atlases, which have been
studied by David Buisseret5 and Emilie dOrgeix6. Whether works by the same hand or
collections of plans collated a posteriori, these manuscript military atlases were conceived
according to a determination to provide a rational representation of the area surrounding
the fortified towns of the various border provinces of the kingdom. This atlas features a
hierarchical organisation of the cartographic representation established by the engineers.
They usually comprised, for each of the fortified towns, a chorographic plan of its sur-
roundings, surveyed between 1,500 and 800 toises (or about between 2,900 and 1,560
metres) around the town to represent the surrounding topography, a master plan, sur-
veyed at 350 toises around the fortified town (or at 682 metres), to show the town de-
fences and the perimeter of the theatre of attacks during siege operations, as well as
the specific plans presenting in detail the various buildings and military structures making
up the fortified town. It is thus a question of mapping on a very large scale, centred on
the fortified towns, which provided a fragmented vision of the territories that responded
to the needs of military engineers.
The drawing techniques employed by engineers at the time were directly descended
from sixteenth century engravings of town views. The drawings were usually vues cava-
lires, or birds-eye views, which allowed all of the elements making up a town and its
surrounding territory to be encompassed in a single gaze. They were sometimes also ac-


Plan geometrique-
ment relev de la
Ville Chasteau et
Chambre de Brest,
avec le bourg de Re-
couvrance et le terri-
toire adjacent, 1667.
Vincennes, S.H.D.,
Marine, MS 144-

companied by profiles of towns presented in the vignettes in the margins of the plans.
The use of a plan to scale for the representation of the outline of the fortifications, in
which the interior of the town was not represented, surfaced in the early seventeenth
century and was only really developed from the years 1630-40. These combined modes
of representation would endure until the 1680s, as evidenced by the plan of Brest exe-
cuted in 1667 by the Chevalier de Clerville [FIG. 2], and even later for the Navy engi-
The engineers also used colour codes, sometimes with a legend, to make the plans
intelligible. The analysis of surviving plans reveals that red and black were the colours
the most commonly used for the outline of the fortifications, red was usually used for
stone constructions and black for those in packed earth. Brown was also frequently used.
The variation in the thickness of the lines of the drawing and the intensity of colours en-
abled engineers to indicate on the same plan the various construction materials used or
to represent the different phases in the construction of defensive works. The transfor-
mation of the fortifications over time was thus made visible. The modifications of the
fortifications were also represented on the plans of the engineers, most frequently by a
green line. Thus Pierre Le Muet indicated on each of the plans of his atlas entitled Plans
des places fortes de la province de Picardie ensemble la carte generalle des principaux lieux
produced in 1631: The double line represents what is made of masonry / The single the
new fortification of earth / The green what remains to be done7. Yellow began to be used
to represent proposed works in the 1630s, as on the plans that made up the atlas entitled
Recueil de plans des fortifications de villes de Bourgogne, dating from 16388.

FIG. 3 Plan de Brest, ou sont marquez les derniers projets de feu Monsieur le Marechal de Vauban. Vincennes, S.H.D.,
Arme de terre, 1 VH 446 (T3), n7a.

The great diversity of cartographic practices still used by military engineers in the
1670s would lead Vauban to standardise the drawing rules and the codes of cartographic
representation so that each engineer would use the same graphic language, which was
immediately intelligible by all.



Vaubans determination to endow the department of fortifications with uniform and ra-
tional administrative and technical frameworks, allowing for remote management of the
works in fortified towns by the central government, manifested itself directly in the text
of Le Directeur gnral des Fortifications, conceived for the instruction of people directly
employed in the fortifications, and who do not yet have all the knowledge required to be
able to carry out that role, must do their best to conform to it exactly.
In this volume, Vauban set out the guidelines for execution by engineers of the
envoi, made up of a descriptive report of the fortified town, listing its qualities and
faults, and explaining in detail the nature of the planned works to improve the defences
and complete the military installations. These reports had to be accompanied by graphic
documents that allowed the planned works to be visualised. The representation of cities
was henceforth systematically carried out in the form of a plan to scale [FIG. 3]. All of the


FIG. 4 Plan du Mont Dauphin pour servir au projet de lanne 1700. Vincennes, S.H.D., Arme de terre, 1 VH 1193, n16/8,
1st sheet.

fortifications, like the architectural elements, are shown on it in plan, in such a way so
that each constituent part of the fortified towns could be measured immediately. The
graphic elements making up the envoi comprise general and specific plans, in addition
to detailed sections and elevations [FIGS. 4-6]. This trilogy of modes of representation in
architecture, in use since the Renaissance, would thus be set for the centuries to come.
With the aid of the envois, engineers submitted their projects to Vauban before making
clean copies in order to send them to their minister in charge every year. Thus, several
copies of the plans were realised. Texts and images had become indissociable, comple-
menting each other to make the clearer.
To facilitate the understanding of the graphic documents contained in the envoi,
Vauban also undertook to unify the codes of representation of military drawing. He thus
asked the engineers to produce a plan of each fortified town on which he will duly give
a red wash to all completed stone-faced structures, and Indian ink or grey if they are sim-
ply earth or turf; distinguishing the parapet from the terreplein by a darker layer where it
begins: but where there are none yet, the wash will be uniform, with this observation, the

FIG. 5 Plan
en grand du Bas-
tion Royal (2)
pour servir a la
construction de
ses souterrains.
Mont Dauphin le
9e septembre
1700. Vauban.
S.H.D., Arme
de terre,
1 VH 1193,
2nd sheet.

FIG. 6 Profil
du Bastion Royal
(2) pris sur la
ligne A.B. Profil
du mesme bas-
tion pris en tra-
vers sur la ligne
C.D. Mont
Dauphin le 9e
septembre 1700.
Vauban. Vin-
cennes, S.H.D.,
Arme de terre,
1 VH 1193,
1rd sheet.

more the work advances and nears its completion, the more said wash should be darkened
to match that of the completed structures. These precise, standardised graphic codes
aimed to indicate on the plans the various construction materials used for the construc-
tion of the ramparts of fortified towns, as well as to report on the progress of fortification
works, two important notions for the management locally and from a distance of
building sites and the maintenance of fortresses. Vauban also imposed the use of yellow
for the representation of planned works only, a colour code that endured in the graphic
practices of military engineers until the late nineteenth century.


The parts that are only planned, and on which no work has been done, will be given a yel-
low wash, to set them apart from the others, and the other parts of the old plan, where the
old structures that will be replaced by the new design, will be simply shown with dotted
lines; this is a rule that should be followed exactly to avoid the confusion that the haphazard
colouring of the plans could cause if the signification of one colour were mistaken for an-

A few years later, Vauban would make several clarifications concerning the rules of draw-
ing for engineers, collected in Instruction pour les ingnieurs et dessineurs qui levent les
Plans des Places Fortes du Roy ou des Cartes. It was printed after his death, in 1714, to be
disseminated in all of the fortified towns of the kingdom9.
The first part of Instruction pour les ingnieurs concerns the production of plans of
fortified towns, setting out all the information that should appear on them. In addition
to the instructions mentioned in Le Directeur gnral des Fortifications, which only
concerned the drawing of the outline of the fortifications, Vauban made it a require-
ment that the military buildings and vaulted spaces of fortified towns be shown on

They will mark exactly on the plans of the fortified towns they will survey all the interior
and exterior fortifications; to mark works in earth with a red line proposed works in yel-
They will carefully mark the poternes, gates, all the public buildings relating to forti-
fications such as arsenals, stores, barracks, underground galleries and other buildings,
they will indicate the vaulted spaces with dotted lines as is the custom.
When there are cavaliers in the bastions or elsewhere, they should not be forgotten.
They will also mark the rivers and streams, their names, their sources, their mouths
and their courses, with a pointing arrow in their beds, or beside them, if it is too narrow.
It is also important to mark the gates and main roads leading to the fortified towns...
When they make profiles, developments or elevations, relating to the plans, they will
mark with letters or numerals the line on which they will have been taken or cut, and will
take care to repeat the same letters or numerals on the plans and the profiles.

Vauban also required that maps be given a legend, thus allowing for the immediate and
precise identification of all the structures making up each fortified town: add a legend
relating to the numerals that will mark the names of the gates, bastions and other struc-
tures, of the main buildings, stores, barracks and all the buildings belonging to the king
and that it should include a compass that indicates the manner in which they are ori-
ented; always placing the north at the top.
Identical instructions were added for the production of maps:

The engineers or draughtsmen who will work on the maps of the surroundings of these
fortified towns or should to map them exactly and precisely both in terms of the distance
and position of the fortified town as for the representation of the cities, towns, villages,
hamlets, castles, chapels, crosses, share-cropping farms, mills, wooden and stone bridges,

fords, passages, and woods that will be included. They will follow the scale that will be pre-
scribed by the director engineers.
For maps they will observe what was said for plans...
They will also observe the same thing for roads indicating as much as they can the
sunken lanes and the gullies.
They will mark the most precisely that they can the slopes of the mountains, hills,
heights and taluses.
They will write correctly and legibly the names of the towns, villages, hamlets, chateaux
and woods and place the writing in such a way that they are distinguishable and easily read,
and so that they are not confused with the colours that will indicate the countryside, woods,
marshes, gardens and other things.

These representations of the various military buildings, like the surroundings of the for-
tified towns, were the information required by the governors of the fortified towns and
the directors of fortifications about the strengths and weaknesses of the fortified town for
which they were responsible, as well as the spaces and resources available in case of siege.
While the scale of the detailed drawings was left to the discretion of the directors of
the fortified towns, the instructions established the scale for the production of plans and
maps: The scale of the plans of the fortified places will be 1 pouce de Roy to 100 toises
and, for the maps, 1 pouce de Roy to 400 toises. The scale of the plans was adapted for
the representation of the small fortified structures in order to conserve a good level of
information: When the engineers survey the specific plans of the large or small citadels
or chateaux, to make their measurements more legible they will give the plans of the
large citadels or chateaux 1 pouce for 25 toises and for the plans of the smaller ones 1
pouce de Roy for 10 toises.
The dimension of the sheets of paper used for the making of maps and plans was also
precisely defined:

The paper that is used for the plans of fortified towns for the Receil du Roy must be
grand raisin double, whose height is 17 pouces de Roy and whose width is twenty-two pouces
and three lines.
The paper used for the maps of the surroundings of fortified towns, following the model
given by the late M. le Marchal de Vauban, should be Coulombier lAigle esploye couron-
ne whose height is 25 pouces de Roy and the width 38 pouces.

Finally, it was recommended that draughtsmen leave a margin on the edge of the maps
to be able to write the necessary remarks and observations there.
In just a few years, Vauban thus established the norms that allowed for the uniform
representation, on a large scale, of the fortified towns and their surrounding territories
this cartography fell directly into his field of competence as much for the layout of the
fortifications of the territory as for the preparation for the sieges of towns10. Linstruction
pour les ingnieurs et dessineurs nevertheless set all the graphic rules for the topographical
mapping required for the conduct of war operations that was capable of rendering the
elements of the relief and the vegetation over a vast territory.


The graphic codes were explained and disseminated in the various technical publi-
cations published for military engineers in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth
centuries11. One of the most famous was Hubert Gauthier de Nmes treatise entitled
Lart de laver ou nouvelle manire de peindre, published in Paris in 1687 and republished
in an expanded edition with the title Lart de dessiner in 1697. Nicolas Buchottes Les
rgles du dessin et du lavis, published in Paris in 1722, offered military engineers a com-
plete and educational practical guide to the rules of architectural and cartographical



Through these foundational texts and the setting up in 1697 of a professional examina-
tion for the recruitment of apprentice engineers, Vauban rationalised and standardised
the cartographic practices of military engineers.
The technical frameworks required for the uniform management of the department
of fortifications were, however, only gradually put into place, mainly after the founding
in 1691 of the fortifications department and of the corps of royal engineers, which
brought together, under the supervision of Le Peletier de Souzy, all of the engineers of
inland and coastal fortified towns12. A record of it survives in the Archives Techniques
du Gnie, now in the Service Historique de la Dfense in Vincennes, the successor to
the Dpt de la Guerre. Created by Louvois in 1688, the Dpt de la Guerre aimed to
centralise and preserve the documents, specifications, maps and plans, correspondence
and mmoires relating to the smooth running of the military affairs of the kingdom.
Thus, all of the annual projects designed by the military engineers for each of the forti-
fied towns that ensured the defence of the territory since the late seventeenth have been
preserved. The general plans were complemented by detailed plans, sometimes endowed
with overlays to indicate different levels of information (the various storeys of the same

FIG. 7 Lille 1713. Partie de lenceinte de la ville dans FIG. 8 Idem, with overlays lifted. Vincennes, S.H.D.,
laquelle sont marquez les brches et trous de boulets en jaune. Arme de terre, 1 VH 937.
Les papiers qui retombent font voir les nouveaux ouvrages que
les alliez ont faits. Gittard. Vincennes, S.H.D., Arme de terre,
1 VH 937, n24-1.

FIG. 9 Lille 1713. Profils des nouveaux ouvrages faits par les allis. Gittard. Vincennes, S.H.D., Arme de terre, 1 VH 937,

FIG. 10 Lille 1713. Pro-

fils des breches qui restent a
rparer cottes par des lettres
reletives au plan [ci-dessus].
Gittard. Vincennes, S.H.D.,
Arme de terre, 1 VH 937,

building; proposed state and actual state of a structure, etc.). From the early eighteenth
century, the plans were often accompanied by profiles, thus providing important indi-
cations on the heights and compositions of the earthen fortifications such as the moats,
covertways, counterguards and lunettes that comprised the defences of fortified towns
[FIGS. 7-10]. The technical details and the explanations of the raison dtre of the various
structures were enlarged on in the descriptive mmoires that accompanied this graphical
In parallel with the production of many plans of fortified towns linked to the en-
vois and that of chorographic maps, engineers continued to produce manuscript mil-
itary atlases, in keeping with those produced the first half of the seventeenth century.
While forty-five such atlases from the first half of the seventeenth century are now
kept in the collections of Parisian bibliothques patrimoniales (heritage libraries) and
archives, seventy-eight were produced between 1661 and 1715. Most of them gave
regular accounts of the state of the fortifications of border provinces during or after
the conflicts carried out during the reign of Louis XIV. The fortified towns of Picardy,
Champagne, Trois-Evchs, Burgundy, Navarre, Languedoc, Provence, Dauphin,
Normandy, Brittany, Poitou, Aunis and Guyenne were thus all represented in 1676,


during the Dutch War, in three volumes now
in the Bibliothque de lArsenal13. An Atlas
des places fortes du Nord, Champagne et Trois-
Evchs, now in the Cabinet des Estampes of
the Bibliothque nationale de France14, men-
tions the modifications on which we are
working in the present year of 1677 in all of
the fortified towns of these provinces. The
analysis of the plans in these volumes gave a
good account of the gradual evolution and
normalisation of the drawing techniques used
by the military engineers who produced them.
This evolution resulted in the standardised
production of the atlases that made up the
Collection de Louis XIV now in the D-
partement des cartes et plans of the Biblio-
thque nationale de France15.
As a complement to the atlases bringing
together the plans of the fortified towns of the
FIG. 11 Frontispiece of the Atlas entitled M-
border regions, certain monographic atlases
moires Projets Plans et Profils des fortifications de Lan- of fortified towns appeared in the early years
dau excutes suivant les desseins de Mr le Mareschal
de Vauban par le Sr Tarade. Vincennes, S.H.D.,
of the eighteenth century. This type of atlas
Arme de terre, bibliothque, Ms. in fol. 15. comprised plans produced by the engineer in

FIG. 12 Plan de Landau avec ses envi- FIG. 13 Plan de Landau et de ses environs avec les attaques du 4e siege, dont la
rons. Vincennes, S.H.D., Arme de terre, tranch (sic) a t ouvert (sic) le 24e juin 1713. Vincennes, S.H.D., Arme de
bibliothque, Ms. in fol. 15, f174. terre, bibliothque, Ms. in fol. 15, f179.

FIG. 14 Plan du rduit de Lan- FIG. 15 Elevation and profile of a FIG. 16 Plan et profil dune des Tours
dau. Vincennes, S.H.D., Arme de gate, Landau. Vincennes, S.H.D., bastionne de Landau. Vincennes,
terre, bibliothque, Ms. in fol. 15, Arme de terre, bibliothque, Ms. in S.H.D., Arme de terre, bibliothque,
f188. fol. 15, f202. Ms. in fol. 15, f206.

charge of a fortified town or military region, such as those of Landau16 [FIGS. 11-16] or
Freiburg17, produced by the engineer Tarade, director of fortifications for Alsace, in
1713. They obeyed the same rules of composition as the regional atlases, with the pres-
entation of the master plans of the fortified town, complemented here with the plans
of the details. As these atlases were meant to provide the most complete documentation
possible for a given fortified town, they contain many specific plans of military struc-
tures, accompanied by sections and elevations. Their production reflects the creation
and proliferation of these reference tools by the then nascent corps of military engi-
The reign of Louis XIV also saw the development of three-dimensional mapping, with
the creation of relief plans of the fortified towns of the kingdom.
The practice of producing relief maps, or models of fortified towns, to represent
planned fortifications did not seem to be a success with the French military engineers of
the first half of the seventeenth century, unlike in other European countries18. No relief
map of a fortified site in the kingdom survives, and there is no mention of them in the
various archival collections. Nor do the three major military treatises published by Jean
Errard (1554-1610)19, Antoine de Ville (1596-1658)20 and Blaise de Pagan (1604-1665)21,
the main French military engineers of the first half of the seventeenth century, mention
relief maps. In 1663 Alain Manesson Mallet was the first French engineer to have pro-
duced a relief map representing the fortified town of Pignerol, which he describes in his
treatise Les Travaux de Mars ou lart de la Guerre. He proclaims himself the originator of
Louis XIVs collection:

It was not long ago that the invention of modelling plans was received in France, and I
believe that the plan of Pignerol, which I made for the King in 1663 before I went to Por-


FIG. 17 Relief map of a project for the fort of La FIG. 18 Relief map of a project for the fort of La Conche,
Conche, 1695. Paris, Muse des plans-reliefs. 1695. When the separate pieces are removed, the interior lay-
C. Carlet. outs of the fort may be seen. Paris, Muse des plans-reliefs.
C. Carlet.

tugal, is the first that ever was presented to His Majesty. I had made it by order of M. le
Marquis de Pienne who was then governor of Pignerol, and who made this present to the
king. I have to admit that I took ideas for the work from an Italian engineer, but I could
say that I thus gave a model on France to many others, who followed it in a most perfect

But the collection of Louis XIV was not inaugurated until November 1668, when Lou-
vois commissioned from Vauban the relief map of Ath, which was immediately followed
by many others. The first relief maps produced rather makeshift were meant to ac-
company the fortification works carried out by Louis XIVs engineers in the fortified
towns of the Spanish Netherlands conquered at the end of the War of Devolution. Con-
ceived as veritable tools for assessment by the king and his general staff, the models
showed in three dimensions the state of progress of the fortification works23. In com-
parison with two-dimensional cartography, relief maps offered an overall aerial view of
the sites, revealing the nature and size of the differences in level, facilitating the com-
prehension of the layout of the fortifications and enabling the succession of the struc-
tures to be grasped immediately. They also served as aids to the comprehension at a
distance of fortified sites and served as a basis for the discussion of proposed works.
The relief map of the fort of La Conche, for example, dated 1695, represents an unbuilt
project for a fort built in the open sea off the coast of Saint-Malo. The separate pieces
that make up the model, once removed, enabled the interior layouts of the proposed
work to be seen [FIGS. 17 and 18].
From the 1680s, the models represented the fortified towns ten or so years after the
completion of their fortifications. Like certain military atlases, they henceforth consti-
tuted a record of the fortification works implemented and enabled the monarch to ma-
terialise the defences of his kingdom.
In parallel with Vaubans drive to codify drawing techniques, the methods of making
relief maps were also standardised in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
The scale of 1 pied to 100 toises (approximately 1/600) was thus adopted for these maps,

FIG. 19 Relief map of Neuf-Brisach, 1703-1706. Paris, Muse des plans-reliefs. RMNGP / Ren-Gabriel Ojda.

as it was considered the most suitable for clearly representing the detail of the towns and
fortifications situated on their territory.
Louis XIVs collection of relief maps, as it was in the late seventeenth century, is
known thanks to an inventory, LEstat des Plans en Relief qui sont dans les Thuileries,
drawn up by Vauban in 1697, the year that saw both the completion of most of the
kingdoms fortification programme and the signing of the Treaty of Rijswijk, which
brought an end to the War of the League of Augsburg. It was thus important to Vauban
and the king to produce an inventory of the models able to document the fortifications
in place. The inventory of relief plans reveals that between 1668 and 1697, 142 models
were built, representing 100 fortified sites, certain fortified towns having been repre-
sented several times to show the successive states or various defensive projects. The
very rapid growth of the collection bears witness to the success of this cartographic
practice with Louis XIV and Louvois, veritable pioneers of the production of relief
maps [FIG. 19].
As for Vauban, he seems to have had reservations about their usefulness. Of course,
to obey Louvois orders, he had his engineers make models of the fortified towns being
modified or that had just been conquered. But there are few mentions of them in his
correspondence, which sometimes implied that relief plans were of secondary interest
to him and, in the tradition of French engineers, that he preferred the practice of drawing
whose rules he endeavoured to codify. Vauban knew, however, how to use relief maps to
help the king or Louvois make better-informed choices of how to modify defences, such
as around the relief map of Namur, for example:


There is a relief of Namur in the Tuileries; I would ask you to oblige me by accompanying
me there. I will have you touch with your finger and your eyes all the flaws of this fortified
town, which are many in number, and at the same time make you see how the one imputed
to me could be corrected (Vauban to Louvois, 1695).

Beyond the royal sphere, the usefulness of relief maps as cartographic tools necessary
for the good practice of the profession of military engineer was confirmed in the late sev-
enteenth century when Alain Manesson-Mallet added a chapter dedicated to the art of
relief in the second edition of his treatise Les Travaux de Mars ou lart de la guerre, pub-
lished in 1684, sixteen years after the creation of the collection of Louis XIV.
The new edition of Les Travaux de Mars gave engineers a modern overview of the re-
search in progress on the tools placed at their disposition for the successful completion
of every project, notably in the domain of military drawing and mapping, including relief
maps. Its publication was part of the drive to organise the structure and rationalise the
working methods of the corps of royal engineers implemented by Vauban from 1678.


1. Muse des plans-reliefs, Htel national des Invalides, 75007 Paris, France.
2. BLANCHARD, 1979, p. 63-66.
3. Nicolas de Clerville (1610-1677), royal engineer, was the first to occupy the post of Commissaire gnral des fortifications of
France. He was appointed to the post by Mazarin in 1659, and reappointed in 1662.
4. VAUBAN, 1685.
5. BUISSERET, 2002.
6. DORGEIX, 1999.
7. BnF, Arsenal, Ms. 4517.
8. BnF, Cartes et plans, Rs. Ge. DD. 2662.
9. BnF, Tolbiac, VP-3568.
10. Concerning Vaubans lack of interest in the scientific cartography on a small scale developed in France beginning in 1668
under the aegis of the Acadmie des Sciences, centred on the work of Picard and La Hire, see MONSAINGEON, 2007.
11. DORGEIX, 1998.
12. BLANCHARD, 1979.
13. BnF, Arsenal, Ms. 4417 4419.
14. BnF, Cabinet des estampes, Id 17 fol.
15. BnF, Cartes et plans, Ge. DD 4586 (1) (9). Volumes 3 and 8 are missing. The seven volumes of the atlases of the collection
de Louis XIV have been digitised and may be consulted on line on the site Gallica, the digital reference library of the Bib-
liothque nationale de France.
16. Vincennes, S.H.D, Arme de terre, Bibliothque, Ms. In fol 15.
17. Vincennes, S.H.D, Arme de terre, Bibliothque, Ms. In fol 14a.
19. JEAN ERRARD, La fortification rduicte en art et demonstre [], Paris, [s.n.], 1600.
20. A. DE VILLE, Les fortifications du chevalier Antoine de Ville [], Lyon, I. Barlet, 1628 et A. DE VILLE, De la charge des gouverneurs
des fortified towns, Paris, M. Guillemot, 1639.
21. BLAISE-FRANOIS DE PAGAN, Les Fortifications du Cte de Pagan, Paris, C. Besongne, 1645.
22. A. MANESSON-MALLET, Les Travaux de Mars ou lart de la guerre, vol. 2, p. 173.



Works of reference and monographs

BLANCHARD, A. (1979), Les ingnieurs du Roy de Louis XIV Louis XVI. Etude du corps des fortifications, Mont-
pellier, Universit Paul-Valry.
BOUSQUET-BRESSOLIER, C. (dir.) (1995), Loeil du cartographe, Paris, C.T.H.S.
BUISSERET, D. (2002), Ingnieurs et fortifications avant Vauban, Paris, C.T.H.S.
PELLETIER, M. (dir.) (2008), La cartographie au temps de Vauban, Actes de la journe dtude du 30 novembre 2007
(Paris, Muse des Arts et Mtiers), Le Monde des cartes, revue du Comit franais de Cartographie, n 195, mars
DE ROUX, A., FAUCHERRE, N. and MONSAINGEON, G. (2007), Les plans en relief des places du Roy, Paris, Editions du
patrimoine / Adam Biro.
VAUBAN (1685), Le Directeur gnral des fortifications, The Hague, Henri van Bulderen.
[VAUBAN] (1714), Instruction pour les ingnieurs et dessineurs qui levent les Plans des Places du Roy ou des Cartes. A
Paris, de lImprimerie Royale / MDCCXIV. BnF, Tolbiac, VP-3568.


MONSAINGEON, G. (2008), Vauban a-t-il rat la rvolution cartographique ? , in T. MARTIN and M. VIROL (dirs.),
Vauban, architecte de la modernit ?, Les cahiers de la MSHE Ledoux, Presses universitaires de Franche-Comt,
p. 234-261.
DORGEIX, E. (1998), Eclosion et mise en place dune littrature spcialise enseignant les rgles du dessin militaire
lusage des ingnieurs royaux la fin du XVIIe sicle et au dbut du XVIIIe sicle , in Cahiers du Centre dtudes
dhistoire de la Dfense, cahier n 6, Paris, ADDIM, p. 57-76.
DORGEIX, E. (1999), Les atlas militaires manuscrits de la premire moiti du XVIIe sicle , in C. BOUSQUET-
BRESSOLIER (dir.), Le paysage des cartes. Gense dune codification, Paris, Muse des plans-reliefs, p. 29-48.
DORGEIX, E. (2007), La boussole du pouvoir : atlas, cartes et plans militaires au temps de Vauban , in E. DORGEIX
, V. SANGER, M. VIROL and I. WARMOES, Vauban, la pierre et la plume, Paris / Luxembourg, Editions du patrimoine
/ Grard Klopp, p. 83-92.
WARMOES, I. (2007a), Vauban et la structuration du corps des ingnieurs du roi , in E. DORGEIX , V. SANGER, M.
VIROL and I. WARMOES, Vauban, la pierre et la plume, Paris / Luxembourg, Editions du patrimoine / Grard Klopp,
p. 71-82.
WARMOES, I. (2007b), Un instrument de cartographie particulier : la collection des plans en relief de Louis XIV ,
in E. DORGEIX , V. SANGER, M. VIROL and I. WARMOES, Vauban, la pierre et la plume, Paris / Luxembourg, Editions
du patrimoine / Grard Klopp, p. 93-106.
WARMOES, I. (2012), Le muse des Plans-Reliefs, collection des Guides thmatiques du CMN, Paris, Editions du

Back to Contents

The Engineer, the Royal Academies,
and the Drawing of Maps and Plans in
France in the Early Modern Period

Universit Bordeaux-Montaigne



In France, the production of maps and plans by military engineers was often considered
a technical activity technique obeying set graphic codes established beginning in the late
seventeenth century. Adopting a more nuanced point of view, this article postulates that,
in the context of the court society established by Louis XIV, military drawing, like all
artistic production, conformed to the theoretical debates carried out in the various royal
academies. Examining, chapter by chapter, the various drawing manuals for engineers
published between 1680 and 1750, this article aims to remind us how much military
drawing was, on this account, a courtierly art that quickly adapted to the concepts,
sometimes subjective, of propriety, biensance and good taste applied by the Acadmie
Royale de Peinture.


Drawing, military engineers, codification, royal academies, France, court society, seven-
teenth century, eighteenth century.

FIG. 1 JEAN MARTELLIER [Plan du Boulonnais], 1602. British Library, Londres, Add. MS 21117, fol. 8.

The maps and plans produced by military engineers are often considered reliable norma-
tive documents that may be used, practically unfiltered, to document historical studies.
While the history of cartography has been enriched by the contributions of cultural and
social history, shedding light on how drawing is above all a tool for visual persuasion, the
field of military architecture has, on the other hand, remained largely impervious to the
Anglo-American social studies trend of the late 1970s2. There are still a great many studies
based on the methodical sedimentation of maps and plans by military engineers that do
not examine in detail the contexts of commissioning and construction. That is to forget
that military architectural drawing in the modern period, like other artistic forms, obeyed
the strict norms decreed by the monarchic state. In this regard, Norbert Eliass book The
Court Society3, published nearly a century ago, still contributes to our understanding of
drawing practices through the prism of Ancien Rgime social codes. The rhetoric of mil-
itary drawing was not free of the diktats of courtierly practices or from the style of the
period. In addition to its utilitarian vocation, it is a document in which the visually se-
ductive element often rivals the great amount of information that it conveys. As Henri
Gautier de Nmes noted in 1687: All endeavour to please at court, by presenting a few
new drawings [to the king], which always appear more or less beautiful, according to
whether they more or less approach the originals through the medium of wash4.

The study of the elements that
adorn the plans frames, car-
touches, roses, scales, string cours-
es and vignettes are thus invalu-
able for understanding both the
context in which the works were
produced and their status. Although
the boundary between working
document and presentation draw-
ing fluctuated during the Ancien
Rgime the former were often
FIG. 2 Title cartouche, Plan dYpres, in the unsigned Recueil des
incorporated into panegyric or ded- plans de places fortes de Flandre et de Picardie, Artois et Hainault, c.
icatory atlases the latter were 1670. Service historique de la Marine, Vincennes, Atlas 168, fol. 8.
rarely used to conduct on-site su-
pervision of buildings and sites.
Produced for a selected audience king, princes, ministers and patrons they aimed to
influence positively the choice of works proposed by the engineers. For this reason,
maximum attention was paid to their decoration. This was stressed by, once again,
Gautier de Nmes:

A drawing is no sooner finished than one strives to decorate it with a border or a fine car-
touche. If it is a work that must be presented to some important person, you will add his
coat of arms beneath it [...] and the colours will shine as much as possible. If inscriptions
explaining the content of the work must be made on it, one should avoid making them
bare, that is, not surrounded by some cartouches or some drawings of scrolls in the form
of paper, ribbon or rugs....

The frames used in the first decade of the seventeenth century thus imitate the decora-
tions inspired by Hungarian leatherwork made fashionable by Henri IV [FIG. 1]. Putti and
allegorical figures were frequent during the first part of the reign of Louis XIV, then re-
placed by rococo decoration during the Regency [FIG. 2]. This apparent freedom of com-
position should, however, be qualified in the light of a series of books published between
1680 and 1750. At the same time as Instructions pour les ingnieurs et dessineurs written
by Vauban in the 1680s5, the publication of civil and military architecture drawing man-
uals increasingly provided a framework for the graphic work of the engineers. Their au-
thors, Henri Gautier de Nmes, Nicolas Buchotte and Louis Charles Dupain de
Montesson all three of them military engineers defined a set of rules governing the
choice of the materials, techniques and colours to be used for maps and plans as well
as their spatial organisation. While their work contributed to establishing the fixed codes
of drawing, they also illustrated the complexity of the professional positioning at play.
Beyond a simple demarcation of graphic practices, they invite fresh consideration of the
establishment of the academic codes of drawing in France during the reign of Louis XIV
in the light of the creation of royal academies. The implementation of military drawing
in France was not only uniquely envisaged as a means of communication and exchange

between engineers but also as a tool for valorisation given the rising importance of the
professions supported by the founding of the royal academies, including the royal
painters, sculptors and architects.



On the eve of the Nine Years War, Henri Gautier de Nmes (1666-1737), a Huguenot
engineer active in Languedoc, was the first to write a book, entitled Lart de laver ou la
nouvelle manire de peindre sur le papier, that was in line with the recent founding of
the Acadmie Royale dArchitecture (1671)6 [FIG. 3]. This early work was strongly influ-
enced by Des principes de larchitecture (1676)7 by the architect and academician Andr
Flibien (1619-1695), and although it was rather impersonal it has the merit of il-
lustrating the complex relationship between architectural drawing and painting [FIG. 4].
Like Flibien, whose third book was entitled De la peinture, Gautier defined the archi-
tectural wash drawing in accordance with its relationship to painting:

Painting is a jealous mistress who cannot endure being neglected and reserves all her
favours for those who most devote themselves to cultivating her; this could be applied to
the art of applying wash to plans, which is a type of painting [...] when one is a master of
this art the coloured lines form a whole whose harmony is no less agreeable to the sight
than a painting, in which the disposition of the light, the shade and the passions of the
soul are expressed as fully as possible (preface).

His treatise mainly focused on wash and colouring techniques for military architectural
plans. In it, Gautier firstly writes about the making of conventional pigments for washes
using plants, as well as their modes of application. After a brief introduction on the var-
ious types of paint and painting oil, distemper, fresco, miniature, on glass, on enamel,
with coloured pencils, on silk and illumination he addresses the art of the architectural
wash drawing of which he gives the following definition:

The drawings of all works planned, or of those that have already been built, that one
sends to court, are usually washed. And, the proposed works are distinguished by dif-
ferent colours, which joined together each in its place make up a very agreeable shade,
and indicate each part of the drawing. Because after the drawing finds itself traced on
paper in the form of black lines drawn with a ruler the spaces should be coloured in
the way that most resembles the true likeness of the work. All these colours ground
separately, with gum water, set down in these spaces with a brush, the most delicately
possible, and finished with another brush without colour, form what is called a wash
(p. 4).

In contrast with the watercolour, which used the same pigments but which is built
up using several touches, the wash, applied uniformly to the plans, indicates each part

FIG. 3 HENRI GAUTIER. Title page, Lart de laver ou FIG. 4 ANDR FLIBIEN. Title page, Des principes de lar-
la nouvelle manire de peindre sur le papier, suivant le chitecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture, Paris, Jean-Baptiste
coloris des desseins quon envoie la cour, Brussels, Coignard, 1676. Bibliothque de LINHA, Doucet coll., Paris.
Franois Poppens, 1703 Edition.

of the drawing. The gum water (a blend of water and gum arabic) is dissolved in order to
create a binder that makes the washes adhere. When gradations had to be indicated, a
brush full of gum water served to wash out the drawing and create areas that are either
darker or lighter.
Gautier then presents the principal pigment-making techniques. He explains how to
make a very clean fine blue wash in the place of ultramarine for which one must
gather in summer a large quantity of cornflowers that come from the wheatfields, ac-
cording to the quantity of pigment that you would like to make, take fine alum powder,
and water from a fountain, pour this water in a marble mortar with flowers and boil it
[...] (p. 61). He also describes the making of drawing equipment useful in the country
and on the drafting table, which comprises a case containing pots filled with colours
and a writing case in which there will be a folding square that will serve as a ruler, quills,
a pen knife, filled pencil holder, a small file, three or four brushes with a single handle
[...] (p. 69). Finally, in a chapter entitled La manire de se servir des couleurs dans les
godets, he explains the organisation and positioning of a drafting table by taking into
account the orientation of the daylight: One thus positions oneself in front of a table
that must receive light from only the left side from your position. On this table should
be arranged all the pots and at the end should be a glass half-full of water above the mid-
dle of which will be your two brushes [...] (p. 70). The second part of his work is dedi-

cated to drawing codes and colours. He addresses the manner of applying wash to high-
light plans, sections and elevations, and of placing borders and frames. Finally, he con-
cludes with a chapter containing an alphabetical summary of the art of washes for plans
to be sent to court.
Ten years later, Gautier reformulated his book in the form of a dictionary. Entitled
Lart de dessiner proprement les plans, profils, lvations gomtrales et perspective
(1697), it contains each of the entries in his first publication reorganised in alphabet-
ical order. This volume also contains several wordings specific to the painting treatises
of the Acadmie Royale dArchitecture8. His descriptions thus respected the biensance
and conventions of late seventeenth century courtly drawings. He was particularly
fond of bizarrerie and grce. Thus, when he described the drawing of trees, he pointed
out: that if one does not express the roundness of a tree, it will have no grace at all
[...] (p. 14). As for the depiction of morning frost, he advises that it be tenderly
[drawn] with Indian ink (p. 103). He also hopes that engineers learn to practise the
fine art of feuiller that of neatly drawing the leaves on the trees [...]. He dwells
on subtle gradations such as the various tonalities of the sky clear sky, cloudy
sky and night sky or country landscapes such as the fields before the harvest,
the trees in the distance and stagnant water (p. 103). He even gives a useful def-
inition of how to render the mouths of soldiers killed in combat: Mouth: is washed
with a layer of vermilion and is shaded with carmine; if it is open, is painted in strokes
of bistre and carmine. That of a corpse is washed in lacquer and shaded with bistre
(p. 48). In all his definitions, Gautier focuses on two aspects of drawing: the proper
use of colours and the various conventions for representing nature on plans (trees,
plants and bushes). He gives no advice on the spatial organisation of plans, and his
technical recommendations on the drawing of fortifications are often rather vague.
Thus, for the definition of demi-lune, he advises only to draw and wash [the struc-
ture] according to the colours of the stronghold (p. 82). In the final analysis, despite
a few recommendations concerning the making of colours, accuracy and biensance
constitute the key words of Gautiers treatises. His remark concerning the drawing of
outlines could thus be applied to the whole of his work: The outlines must be of the
utmost precision, otherwise a drawing is what one may call inaccurate, which is the
greatest fault for which a painter can be reproached, however lovely the colour
scheme (p. 72).
His work is thus important because it does not aim to replace engineers training in
the field, but enables them to complete and refine their projects during the final phases
of work on the drafting table. His two books, published during a period when the
profession of military engineer was threatened by the academic institutionalisation of
royal architects, are interesting in more than one respect. While they constitute a prac-
tical manual for engineers, they should also be considered part of a wider attempt to
integrate civil and military architectural drawing into the Republic of the Arts. In
this sense, Gautiers attention to the handling of composition, landscape and anatomy
is part and parcel of a precise determination to valorise technical drawing as an aca-
demic practice.


Two decades later, the engineer Nicolas Buchotte published Les rgles du dessin et du
lavis (1722)9. This practical manual summarises all the graphic rules of military drawing
as they should be applied by military engineers. Basing himself on the general guidelines
expressed by Vauban in Le directeur gnral des fortifications10 in 1685, Buchotte con-
ventionally defined the scope of military and civil drawing. This rigorous and precise trea-
tise arrived just at the right time to regulate the still badly assimilated graphic codes.
Despite Gautiers treatise, no work of reference had yet been published. Graphic con-
ventions were usually hawked about from building site to building site and taught ac-
cording to the very different backgrounds of the engineers. In his preface, Buchotte
clearly sets out both the urgent need for the standardisation of drawings by architects
and engineers, as well as the flaws in the contemporary training system:

The rules and maxims, which we intend to teach in this treatise [...] are absolutely nec-
essary, for I have observed that of all the pupils of the late M. de la Boissire fils, who only
taught the practice of drawing, those who did not have the theory did not find themselves
able [...] to produce the original of a drawing, not knowing whether a thick line or a fine
one was required, a strong or weak colour [...] thus, they only know how to copy drawings,
and if these drawings were badly understood they would copy them as they understood
them, which we shall attempt to remedy by the rules and maxims that we will set out in
this treatise (preface).
His manual methodically refers to all the principles of military and civil drawing and
follows Vaubans instructions: Scales that suited the plans, sections, profiles, facades, el-
evations and levels, which are the same as those that M. le Marchal de Vauban determined
for the drawings to be sent to the court [...] (p. 48).

The plan adopted by Buchotte brought together all the phases in the conception of the
military drawing. In the first part of his book, he deals with colour, the shades of wash to
be used, their preparation and their codified use in military and civil architecture. In the
second, he examines the codes of graphic representation used in civil and military archi-
tecture as well as in shading. Plate VII of the second part thus illustrates the various con-
ventions used in the drawing of buildings. The window and door openings are in black
wash, and the way the roofs should be given a graded wash can be immediately grasped.
Also in this section are several explanatory plates that set out the specific rules for the
drawing of bastions in military architecture. The representation of relief is explained and
it contains the model composition of a military drawing, a floor plan and an elevation,
all accompanied by a scale and framed by a double line. The third part concerns the con-
cepts of layout and good taste in the decoration of plans. Finally, like Gautier de Nmes,
Buchotte organised all his definitions in alphabetical order in a final section. While they
formed the main body of Gautiers treatise, in Buchottes book, they were classified in
an index that referred back to the different chapters. All the aspects of technical drawing
are thus methodically addressed in a way that leaves the military engineer with no doubt

as to the conventional representations of military and civil architecture. The definition
of scales thus sums up all the mentions made in the main body of the book:

Scales of the drawings. That they should be handled in the simplest of styles, 52, 127. Of
those appropriate to each space of the drawing, [page] 48 ff. That they must have an exact
relationship with the folding square, 51. How to draw them. That it would be fitting to
have them all engraved on a copper or horn blade, 53. To whom to turn to have them pre-
cisely drawn and divided, 54. Of the necessity to place a scale at the bottom of each map
or battle or siege plan, 165.

Buchottes book is by far the most complete of his era and part of a general movement
to codify military drawing. It is also the most practical since, aware of the geographical
remoteness of certain engineers, he gives advice for the production of makeshift instru-
ments and colours at little cost. Thus, in the first part, he explains how to organise a
drafting room, construct a drafting table, place the pots of paint and use various instru-
ments when it is a question of drawing detailed plans of the work of civil structure and
buildings, as well as their sections, profiles and elevations, and facades [...] one could
use the plane table with the set square (sect. 2) [FIG. 5]. A description of the wood to use
follows soft as applewood, pearwood and walnut as does a practical explanation of
how to produce these instru-
ments. Buchotte, like Gautier,
also includes several recipes for
how to make good colours. To
make bistre, he suggests taking
chimney soot, the most gleaming
possible, grinding it and infusing
it in water, over hot ash so that
the solution is rather high in
colour, and filtering it [...] (sect.
3). To make sap green, he recom-
mends taking the seed of very
ripe buckthorn and pounding it
in a marble mortar; then express-
ing the juice through cheesecloth
and leaving it to dry in a bladder
(sect. 4). The empiricism of these
general methods of learning and


rgles du dessin et du lavis, Paris, Claude
Jombert, 1722, pl. 22.

making is not, moreover, surprising for the period. In the eighteenth century, the imple-
mentation of a theory of drawing was still accompanied a body of knowledge that was
still very close to the techniques taught by craftsmens guilds11. Buchotte thus explains
how to make a funnel by using a drinking glass:

If one does not have a glass funnel, one could make one with a common drinking glass,
in the shape of a cone, not of Swiss breeches, by removing the stem, so that it is pierced,
which is easy to do, by putting a large sulphur wick around the narrowest part of the glass,
which will be set alight, and when this wick is alight, one will dip the stem of the glass in
cold water up to the place of the sulphur wick, and it will not fail to break cleanly, as one
desires [...] (sect. 3).

The success of Buchottes book, reprinted three times in the eighteenth century and
translated into Italian and German, was unequalled. It remained a major reference work
until the early nineteenth century. Claude Mathieu Delagardette, who published a trea-
tise entitled Nouvelles rgles pour la pratique du dessin et du lavis in 1803, although openly
repudiating his predecessors book12, draws heavily on Buchottes13.



While Buchottes book remained the principal manual used by engineers throughout the
eighteenth century, a third engineer, Louis Charles Dupain de Montesson (1715-c. 1795)
published two supplementary volumes concerning the techniques of architectural draw-
ing in the mid-eighteenth century. He is considered a later author in the context of this
paper since his manuals were contemporary with the founding of the cole du Gnie de
Mzires in 1748. He nevertheless belongs to the same current as Nicolas Buchotte
whose book he cites on several occasions14.
His first book, La science des ombres par rapport au dessin avec le dessinateur (1750)15,
deals with sound principles for knowing the place, type, form and intensity of the shad-
ing according to the various things that one must represent (preface). This in-depth
work nevertheless includes an appendix of thirty or so pages entitled Le dessinateur au
cabinet et larme whose aim is to train draughtsmen ready to follow, in the army,
the general officers (foreword). Dupain stresses that his text may also serve to provide
drawing practice for those who intend to become engineers. It is not enough for the
former [the draughtsmen ready to follow the army] especially to know how to draw plans
and maps and to have attempted to handle a paintbrush, they must also know the colours
upon which it has been agreed to draw the various parts of a fortification, a landscape,
etc. This appendix sets out, clearly and concisely, all of the drawing codes. Apart from
the third section, which deals with the manner of representing the movements of battal-
ions and armies (according to geometric figures), the book covers the representation of
plans of landscapes and fortifications:

FIG. 6 Plate from LOUIS CHARLES DUPAIN DE MONTESSON, Le dessinateur au Cabinet et lArme , La science des om-
bres par rapport au dessin avec le dessinateur au cabinet et larme, Paris, Charles-Antoine Jombert, 1750 and Nuremberg,
Weigel, 1762.

The first [part] teaches how to distinguish, using the colours authorised by custom, all
the built or planned military architecture structures to be drafted [...] The second shows
how to draft the landscape that surrounds a space, or that is found on a map [...] In the
third is shown how to depict the camp of an army, its movements and that of its artillery
[...] Finally, the fourth, teaches how to pick and how to recognise a drawing from a tracing
and how to copy, draw a plan or a map, from large to small or from small to large [...].

The first part gives lessons in what shades to use. Thus, the dry ditches should be washed
in gamboge, the moats drenched in watercolours, the block of buildings in carmine and
the proposed work in yellow [FIG. 6]. The second chapter contains in alphabetical diction-
ary form aesthetic and academic advice useful for the correct composition of land-
scapes and rustic architecture, and the representation of armies. In his definition of how
to draw roads, Dupain explains that they are indicated by small hachures made on the
sides or, even better, represented by double lines to be placed on either side [...] (book
2, Chausses). He also suggests the same type of detail for the imitation of sand: To
represent the sand found on seashores and river banks or that forms an island, one makes
a blend of carmine and gamboge [...] and if the drawing must be refined, one makes on
this reddish-brown shade a great many small round dots that decrease in number the
farther away they are from the water. A small explanatory supplement on the manner
of blending the colours used in drawings concludes the book.

Dupains second, more technical, publication, Lart de lever les plans de tout ce qui a
rapport la guerre et larchitecture civile et champtre16, illustrates another facet of his
professional skills. Published in 1763, it consists mainly of mathematical tables, intended
for cartographers, used for calculating distances in relation to the compass meridian lines
of military topographic maps. Dupain does not address the practice of drawing useful in
the presentation of maps; his book was used a more of a reference for evaluating the var-
ious fixed points to chose for the construction of fortifications.
Dupains treatise, like those by Gautier, is important for comprehending the evolution
of the representation of nature and of the topographical survey by military engineers in
the eighteenth century. It corresponds to the institutionalisation of drawing lessons for
military engineers and to the creation of a drafting studio, which made the practical man-
uals in engineers satchels less essential. The following volumes would be directly incor-
porated into the education of military engineers, especially at the cole du Gnie de
Mzires. Beyond the simple practical definitions, the importance of these authors should
not be underestimated or reduced to a simple corporate determination to unify graphic
codes. Much more than that, an entire professional debate may be perceived through
the reading of these technical statements. It was essentially through the institution of
this new graphic rhetoric that the corps of military engineers found its cohesion and, by
extension, that of state power was affirmed. The dominant themes, which were not set
out clearly but implied, recognised a family resemblance in the engineers plans. The
most significant were the imitation of nature and the adoption of good taste. Both con-
cepts would progressively govern the laws of military and civil architectural drawing much
more strongly than the chromatic codes. While no chapter is explicitly dedicated to them,
their influence is discernible in the definitions and discourses. Thus, Nicolas Buchotte,
although he does not mention the definition of nature and good taste, openly states it in
his preface: The theory [...] does not only depend on certain rules, some of which are
natural and the others conventional, without which it is impossible to draw in good taste
and make oneself understood17.
The terms of natural effects were indissociable, during the classical period, from those
of biensance and good taste. These two notions concern both the conceptual practice
of architecture and its representation on paper. As mentioned above, the concept of na-
ture in treatises on military drawing was closely related to the publication of theoretical
treatises on civil architecture promoting concepts of good taste and biensance. For the
graphic modes of the projects reflect the architectural spirit of the era as much as their
typological form. Apart from the classic trilogy plan-section-perspective established
during the Renaissance, architects and engineers instilled the academic values imposed
through drawing. Graphic techniques and principles were created in turn; these, were
comprehensible as much through the colours and the supports as through the rational
organisation of plans. Thus the concepts of regularity and symmetry, leitmotifs of clas-
sical architecture, are also found in the organisational principles of plans. While in the
sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the military engineer still had great liberty to
choose the composition, agrments and embellishments of his plans, the new concepts
of good taste disseminated by the Acadmie Royale dArchitecture increasingly provided

guidelines for the modes of representation. The teaching of good taste comprised an im-
portant part of the education of the royal architects18. Its most general definition, ac-
cording to the universal dictionary of Antoine Furetire, consists of forming the most
perfect idea of things that one can and following it19. It thus represents the principal
tool for the codification of architecture underpinning the new norms of planning and
representation. These various formulations say a lot about the spirit in which good taste
was applied in the context of civil architecture. In fact, it was a question of following the
most perfect idea and the je-ne-sais-quoi-qui-plat advocated by the members of the var-
ious royal academies (painting-sculpture-architecture). In general, good taste in military
architectural drawings would adopt the same principle as that in civil architecture. The
banishment of excessive ornamentation, which corresponds to the pursuit of simplicity
and balance specific to good taste, is also discernible in military art. Writing about forti-
fication and its ornamentation, Flibien clearly defines this pursuit of simplicity:

When one considers Fortification part of architecture in general, it is called military ar-
chitecture and it differs mainly from civil architecture in that the ultimate aim is to enrich
its buildings with ornaments, while military architecture, without thinking at all about or-
naments, does its utmost to make walls strong and capable of resisting [...]20.

Buchotte also defined many rules, apparently arbitrary, that separate the practices of
drawing according to good or bad taste: If the mountains [...] are not drawn with good
taste, they do not have an effect, or only have one that is disagreeable to sight [...] (pref-
ace). Similarly, he warns certain draughtsmen against habits deemed to be faulty and
gives examples to avoid: I cannot keep quiet about the bad taste of some draughtsmen
with regards to roads [...] this taste is worthless and not natural [...] (p. 125). Generally
speaking, propriety and the establishment of good taste support the academic imitation
of nature. Whatever he wanted to represent henceforth, the military engineer was con-
strained by specific graphic obligations that depended on these new conventions.
The study of these ways of conceiving the imitation of nature and good taste stresses
the conventional academicism of the discourse concerning the establishment of a theory
of military architectural drawing. Yet the themes developed only represent the underlying
discourse of authors during the classical period. Aware of the issues that connected them
to debates on civil architecture, all had nevertheless attempted to create a vocabulary
and an aesthetic specific to military architecture. In his treatise Les pratiques du Sieur
Fabre sur lordre et rgle de fortifier [...], the engineer Jean Fabre notes both the correlation
that exists between the military and civil vocabulary, and the existence of specifically mil-
itary terms:

Plenty of other terms invented, adorned and polished in the ease of civil architecture, just
as the beauties of his works adapt rather well it seems to me to the discourse of the military
and make it not in the slightest more familiar and intelligible, especially as it also contains
those of his own, proud, imperious, haughty and extraordinary, like the nature of its subject

In Lart de laver [...], Henri Gautier also notes the importance of creating a specific cod-
ification of drawings for soldiers, engineers and architects. These considerations, he says:

made me gradually undertake to reconcile myself to giving the public an idea of an art,
which appears to be a type of chaos and which I put in such a way as to be intelligent and
useful to all. I believe that no one has dealt with it before me, although there are plenty of
people who have perfectly mastered it22.

The work of these authors of treatises on drawing, born of a determination to explain

the art of military and civil drawing and to delimit its fields of application, has largely re-
mained in obscurity. Historical studies have little used the vast information potential of
these works generally thought technical. However, they perfectly reveal the complex po-
sition of the corps of military engineers during the classical period. Concerned with dis-
tinguishing themselves from practitioners of civil architecture, they created strict rules
for their specific use that, however, are permeated by a classical ideology connecting
them to contemporary academic debates. The early attempt by Pierre Bourdin in his
Trait de fortification (1655) to create following the example of civil architecture
French, Italian and German military architectural orders is significant in this respect23.
Whatever the case, these authors fading into oblivion is unjustified. Gautier de Nmes
had got it right when he observed in the preface of his treatise that an author must al-
ways expect less to reign in the Republic of Letters than to triumph in the Field of Mars.


2. See in particular the seminal text by HARLEY, 1998, p. 277-312.
3. ELIAS, 1974.
5. VAUBAN, 1714.
6. GAUTIER DE NMES, 1687, prface.
7. FLIBIEN, 1676.
8. Andr Flibien, justifies, moreover, the use of such vocabulary in his preface: One will find several words that have been
used, that are not in ordinary usage, such as for example the word tenderness, which is only used morally to express the
feelings of the heart: yet among the painters and sculptors, this word is the opposite of harshness and it is said that a picture
is painted with much tenderness [...] and I dont even think that we can blame this manner of speaking, although it is ex-
traordinary, since it contains nothing uncouth, and which does not express well enough what one wants to say. FLIBIEN,
9. BUCHOTTE, 1722.
10. VAUBAN, 1685.
11. Marianne Roland-Michel had already noted the empiricism of the general methods of teaching drawing: While a theory of
drawing, its principle and its role forms gradually, it is surprising to note despite everything that in the eighteenth century,
the discourse marked by the evaluation of thought was inevitably accompanied by precepts that were sometimes closer to
cookery recipes than to practical lessons. ROLAND-MICHEL, 1987, p. 13.
13. Ibid., preface. For a long time, the many imperfections in Buchottes Rgles du dessin & du Lavis meant that it was desirable
that a volume be published that fulfils the same goal and that contains the methods adopted since the last edition of its
14. On avertit ceux qui auront besoin dapprendre ce servir du pinceau et en exprimer avec des couleurs des diffrentes choses
[...] quils pourront pour cet effet consulter notre ouvrage [...] et du lavis par Mr BUCHOTTE, quils trouveront chez le mme li-
braire [...] . [We inform those who will need to learn how to use a brush and draw various things in colour [...] that they
may consult our publication [...] and M. Buchotte on wash, which they will find at the same booksellers]. DUPAIN DE MONTES-
SON, 1750, p 157.
15. Ibid.
17. BUCHOTTE, 1722, preface.
18. On the good taste in civil architecture during the classical period, see SZAMBIEN, 1986.
19. FURETIRE, 1691, vol. 1, definition: Bon-got.
20. FLIBIEN, 1676, chapter XIII, p. 63.
21. FABRE, 1629. Explanations in alphabetical order of the terms in this book, p. 130.
22. GAUTIER DE NMES, 1687, preface.
23. BOURDIN, 1655.


BOURDIN, P. (1655), Larchitecture militaire ou lart de fortifier les places rgulires et irrgulires, Paris, Guillaume Be-
BUCHOTTE, N. (1722), Les rgles du dessin et du lavis pour les plans particuliers des ouvrages & des btimens, & pour
leurs coupes, profils, lvations & faades, tant de larchitecture militaire que civile, Paris, Claude Jombert.
DELAGARDETTE, C. M. (1803), Nouvelles rgles pour la pratique du dessin et du lavis de larchitecture civile et militaire,
Paris, Barrois lan & fils.
DUPAIN DE MONTESSON, L. C. (1750), La science des ombres par rapport au dessin avec le dessinateur au cabinet et
larme, Paris, chez Charles-Antoine Jombert.
DUPAIN DE MONTESSON, L. C. (1763), Lart de lever les plans de tout ce qui a rapport la guerre, & larchitecture
civile & champtre, Paris, Charles-Antoine Jombert.
ELIAS, N. (1974), La socit de cour, Paris, Calmann-Levy (first French edition).
FABRE, J. (1629), Les practiques du Sieur Fabre sur lordre et rgle de fortifier, garder, attaquer et deffendre les places,
Paris, Samuel Thiboust.
FLIBIEN, A. (1676), Des principes de larchitecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture, et des autres arts qui en dpendent.
Avec un dictionnaire des termes propres chacun de ces arts, Paris, Jean-Baptiste Coignard.
FURETIRE, A. (1691), Dictionnaire universel, Paris.
GAUTIER DE NMES, H. (1687), Lart de laver ou nouvelles manires de peindre sur le papier suivant le coloris des
dessins quon envoye la cour, Lyon, Thomas Amaulry.
HARLEY, J. B. (1998), Maps, knowledge, and power , in D. COSGROVE and S. DANIELS, The iconography of landscape
(eds.), Cambridge, University of Cambridge Press, p. 277-312.
ROLAND-MICHEL, M. (1987), Le dessin franais au XVIIIe sicle, Paris.
SZAMBIEN, W. (1986), Symtrie. Got. Caractre. Thorie et terminologie de larchitecture lge classique. 1500-
1800, Paris, Picard.
VAUBAN (1685), Le Directeur gnral des fortifications, The Hague, Henri van Bulderen.
VAUBAN (1714), Instruction pour les ingnieurs et dessineurs qui lvent les plans des places du Roy ou des cartes,
Paris, Imprimerie Royale. [Text written in 1680 and published posthumously].

Back to Contents

Looking at the World on Two Sheets
of Paper: the Image of the Orb
and Mathematics in the Education
of Prince Philip III

Universidad Nacional de Educacin a Distancia (UNED)



This paper aims to analyze an aspect of the courtly education of Prince Philip III on
which historiography has put scarce emphasis: the role played by mathematics and other
disciplines which, in the late sixteenth century, were linked to, namely, arithmetic, geom-
etry and cosmography, the study of which required a knowledge of drawing and the de-
piction of the world as essential skills. The analysis has primarily been articulated around
the study of those tutors in charge of the Princes scientific education. His preceptor,
Garca de Loaysa, reveals himself as a humanist, whose profile highlights his erudition
in science. Moreover, the future Philip III had an illustrious mathematics tutor, Juan
Bautista Labaa, and a geometry tutor, Jehan Lhermite. The Prince built a close rela-
tionship with both men that lasted until the twilight of his days. These facts clearly show
that the knowledge about the learning stage of Prince Philip III and his interests towards
scientific disciplines becomes essential for a better understanding of his future reign.


Education of princes, King Philip III of Spain, scientific knowledge, preceptor of the
Prince, Garca de Loaysa, Juan Bautista Labaa, Jehan Lhermite.

In a rare treatise on emperors, kings and princes who had been devoted to writing
and had sponsored the publication of books, Baltasar Porreo mentions Philip II in the
following terms:

Sir Philip, the second of his name, called the Prudent, was to a great extent a man in-
clined to sciences, and excelled above other outstanding men in these [...] he was so
prominent in geometry or architecture, whether in their specific study, or in the long
exercise of building, or in themselves, or for all these reasons altogether, that he got to
know the best of this art, with so much excellence and merit, as the most illustrious au-
thors 2.

The study of the role played by Philip II, not only as a patron of arts, but also as the pro-
moter of important scientific endeavours, is a fact which, as has become evident, was
recognized in his own period and praised by his contemporaries. The evident preference
and interest in scientific knowledge demonstrated by Philip II has led us to the hypothesis
formulated in this study, where an unprecedented aspect of the courtly education of
Philip III is presented: the role of mathematics and related disciplines in the sixteenth
century arithmetic, geometry and cosmography , as well as learning the art of drawing
and the knowledge of the image of the orb considered the visual concretions of those
sciences in the education of the young Prince, who was called to inherit and rule a
vast empire, on which the sun never set.



One of the most frequently or even the most quoted sources in the Modern period,
in the scarce studies dedicated to the education of the future Philip III3 [FIG. 1] is the His-
tory of various events (Historia de varios sucesos) by Fray Jernimo de Seplveda, El
Tuerto4. The author and the History compiled in this manuscript have been considered
by contemporary historiography as a testimony of exceptional importance in order to
know the training received by the young Prince during the period mentioned. In this
sense, Seplveda offers information about the studies and occupations of the Prince,
with references mainly to horsemanship, shooting with harquebus, hunting practice and
preferences, with a brief reference to the study of grammar5. However, there is no men-
tion in this source of his training in mathematics and other related disciplines, which is
the purpose of this analysis.
However, a less recurring source we could even say, omitted in the studies related
to the topic, is the History of the King of Spain Philip III, by Matas de Novoa6. This au-
thor offers an abundance of detail about the Princes abilities and the central role played
by the study of mathematics, as well as the knowledge of the image of the orb, which he
was destined to govern and preserve. After introducing how the Prince started his studies
of letters, French and Italian, and the reading of exemplary stories, this observer of the
events of his time, states:

FIG. 1 JUSTUS TIEL. Allegory of
the Education of Philip III, ca.
1590, oil on canvas, 158 x 105 cm.
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

he proceeded with care and attention the noble study of cosmography in the two books of
Gerardo and Abraham Ortelius, where he learnt thoroughly the union and division between
kingdoms and provinces with each other, the location of cities, rites and traditions, rivers,
mounts, bays, straits, other islands, ports, coves, along the lines and regions of navigation,
heights, sandbanks, northern references and stars: compensating thus his lack of experi-
ence, looking at the world on two sheets of paper; understanding time, without which it is
not possible to rule ones own nation, let alone those of others; where it is so necessary to
be alert to the movements of people, to build navies, to gather armies, to lead them through
difficult passages, without being seen or sensed by the enemies; to fortify cities, to build
them, because sometimes it is not intelligent to leave everything to a Minister, that he be-
comes more alert when he knows the Prince is able and knowledgeable in matters of nav-
igation. He would give his opinion upon any building plan, and he was admired by those
who listened to him [...]7.

From these words by Matas de Novoa we can infer the importance of cosmography in
the Princes pedagogical programme, pointing at one of the works which will become a
study manual, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum by Abraham Ortelius. It is also interesting
to note the importance given to the image of the orb and the maps, as they were visual
models intended to compensate for the lack of experience of the terrain. They will be
used by the Prince to get to know the configuration of his kingdoms, cities and territories.
Also interesting is the testimony offered on the evident interest and erudition in design
and architecture.
His translation from Tuscan to Castillian of the Canon of the Five orders of Architecture
(Regla de los cinco rdenes de arquitectura) by Vignola, Patricio Cajs8, considered by
historiography as his drawing master, includes an interesting reference in the dedication,
addressed to the future Philip III, connected with the Princes interest in architecture and
drawing. In this dedication, Cajs mentions the importance and advantage of a knowledge
of the noble science of architecture both political and military for those who govern
states and kingdoms. Then, the architect explains that the young Prince as a true son to
his father, has started already to prove his desire to imitate his heroic virtues, and in particular,
it is evident that H.M. has an interest for one of the foundations of architecture, which, ac-
cording to Vitruvius, is drawing, so I have determined to address Vignolas book to H.M 9.
The last of the contemporary sources mentioning the Princes education drafts a less
complimentary picture of the abilities of Philip IIs son, one which is likely to be nearer
reality. Thus, the anonymous compiler of the History by Marquis Virgilio Malvezzi, when
addressing the issue of Philip IIIs education, explains that despite the efforts made by
his guardian (ayo) and his tutor in the Princes learning of philosophy and mathematics,
the heir would express his preference for horse riding and hunting, and, in view of the
scarce result of their efforts, the tutors would have to be contented with just the foun-
Therefore, we find a few examples of sources of a praiseworthy nature where the dis-
position of the future Philip III towards several sciences is exalted, although there are
also less commendatory texts on the matter. Nevertheless, the truth is that there was a
concern to procure for the Prince a courtly environment which included the knowledge
of the scientific disciplines, a concern which becomes apparent if we consider the data
exposed in the following lines.



Most likely, these words said by Emperor Charles V when he set up his heirs household,
or similar ideas, must have been more than present when it was time to do so with the
future Philip III. Because such an essential business (negocio de tanta monta), such
as the education of the Prince, the public health of the Kingdoms (salud pblica de los
Reynos) was at stake, and, should a mistake have been made in the election of the heirs
tutors, the monarchy could have been driven into ruin.

Moved by this prudent preoccupation, Philip II would seek advice from the highest
ministers in his Court, in order to appoint the people with the convenient merits to edu-
cate a Prince who would be master of such a broad and Catholic monarchy 12. Finally,
after several difficulties, the choice of tutor fell upon the man who had been chaplain
and great almoner to Philip II: Garca de Loaysa Girn.

The Princes Tutor: Garca de Loaysa Girn

The appointment of Garca de Loaysa in 1585 as the Princes tutor was not without
controversy. After his appointment, there were some who remarked upon his inexpe-
rience to carry out a mission of such high responsibility. This was the case of the
Bishop of Guadix, Mr. Juan Alonso de Moscoso, who commented to Mateo Vzquez
that the tutor was ignorant of a thousand things, despite acknowledging that Loaysa
was a true servant of our master [...] languages, mathematics, astrology, logic, philoso-
phy, metaphysics, theology from the Complutense13. This statement, even coming from
one of Loaysas detractor, points out a knowledge in mathematics and astrology, dis-
ciplines of special interest for our analysis, as part of his humanist profile as the
Princes tutor.
On the other hand, the chroniclers of the period contribute little to understanding
Garca de Loaysas knowledge or his pedagogical work in relation to mathematics, cos-
mography and other disciplines related to the education of Philip III14. Practically all
sources present briefly the training of the priest in matter of grammar. However, Antonio
de Obregn y Cereceda, in his Discourses on Aristotles moral philosophy (Discursos sobre
la filosofa moral de Aristteles)15 addressed, precisely, to Prince Philip III, who proposes
a dialogue on moral philosophy out of curiosity , presents an interesting testimony on
the matter. In the Sixth Discourse, a dialogue takes place between the tutor and the
Prince on the Aristotelian concept of magnificence. At the end of the lesson, Obregn y
Cereceda states the following:

After these words, his Highness got up, and after resting for a while in his chambers, he
went into a room where, on some desks, there were some books, a sphere, two globes, and
some descriptions and maps, of the disposition of the earth and the sea, and of the places
of the Provinces. And there, the tutor, who is prominent in this as in many other things,
continued the lesson on mathematics, which is ordinarily taught to the Prince, because
such a discipline is necessary, and the occupation in those exercises is excellent, since no
other thing prepares the road better for advice upon war and its deeds, than its intelli-

Although Obregn y Cereceda does not name the tutor with whom the Prince Philip
III is having this conversation, it would be logical to think that these words could refer
to Loaysa. Even though the reference would not be to him, the composition of the
place described by Obregn y Cereceda in his work seems clear: the Prince would have
to receive lessons in mathematics, considering the unquestionable relevance of this
matter in the training of a young Prince; but also it gives a description of the environ-

ment where this lesson would actually happen, surrounded by instruments, images
and descriptions of the orb as a visual materialisation of the theory explained in the
In this sense, we find an explicit reference to the lessons on scientific matters taught
by Loaysa to the Prince, in the addressing, to Philip III as a king, of the Translation of
the books by Gaius Plinius Secundus, of Natural History (Tradvcion de los libros de Caio
Plinio Segvndo, de la Historia Natvral) (1599) by Jernimo de Huerta, physician and
philosopher. In the introduction to his work, the licentiate explains that, while translat-
ing and annotating those books, he came to know that the Prince enjoyed Plinys lesson,
with which Loaysa entertained him occasionally 17. It is necessary to mention that the
Natural History would constitute the first encyclopaedia on nature conceived as such,
in 37 books. The knowledge included in it comprised the description of the universe,
the world, the human being, the animal and vegetal kingdoms, the pharmacopoeia de-
rived from them, the mineral world, among the most outstanding matters. Besides,
Jernimo de Huertas statement on the Princes interest in natural history was confirmed
by the documents containing the accounting of the Princes household. Thus, among
the expenses for the Princes guardajoyas, in 1596, we find this entry: On 10th July
1596 Julio de Junti de Modesti was paid sixty six reals for those paid for an infolio Pliny,
which was for his Highness, paper which was bound in S[aint] L[orenzo] at the librarys
expense [...]18.
However, considering the succinct references on the competency of the Princes tutor
in mathematics, arithmetic or cosmography, collected in the periods chronicles, it is nec-
essary to resort to other kinds of sources in order to approach these matters and obtain
a more precise portrait of Loaysa as a humanist. Doubtlessly, the post-mortem inventory,
drafted in 1599, of the tutors possessions among which a vast library is listed19, con-
taining over four thousand volumes20 is the best testimony of the erudition and the di-
verse interests of their owner. However, in order to understand the nature and origin of
the rich collection gathered by Loaysa towards the end of his days, it is necessary to draw,
even roughly, the network of relationships established between the clergyman and promi-
nent scholars, especially from his appointment as the Princes tutor. Such connections
would explain to a large extent the presence of some specific titles found in his residence
in Madrid after his death.
Certainly, his appointment as the Princes tutor would give the clergyman a privileged
position in the court. In this sense, and in connection with the creation of his library,
shortly after this appointment, the printer Christophe Plantin started an epistolary ex-
change with Loaysa21. Thus, in April 1586, Plantino, following the advice by Father
Moflin on Loaysas benevolence, writes his first letter to the tutor, requesting his sup-
port together with that of Arias Montano and Gabriel de Zayas before the king, in
order to obtain a certificate licence for the financial obligations related to his printing
activities. Had the printer received this mercy, he would show his gratitude to Loaysa
with the printing of a dedication22.
However, gaining Loaysas favour would be essential in order to defend Plantins
interests before the king, but, more importantly, it would be a way of accessing the
young Prince. Aware of this, Jean Moflin sent Plantin a wooden box with a series of

presents that he would have to send Loaysa. Among these presents for the Princes
tutor, Moflin included the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, as well as Jacques Androuet du
Cerceaus treatise on architecture, in French23. In the same consignment, Plantin
should include other objects, whose recipient was no other than the Prince himself.
Specifically, these included an equinoctial sundial with a golden node. Moflin sent
precise instructions about the instrument to Plantin: he states the instrument is not
in good condition, so it would have to be repaired as well as possible by Michel
Coignet mathematician and topographer with an accompanying note, describing
its functioning24.
Plantins interest for Loaysa, and by extension for the young heir, would intensify in
the following years. On January 26th 1587, the printer writes to Pedro Pantino famous
Hellenist who was in Loaysas service at the time requesting his opinion on a potential
edition of Orteliuss Atlas in its Spanish version, which he would like to dedicate to the
Prince, and the preface for the same authors Thesaurus, which he would like to offer to
the heirs tutor25. Only a day later Plantins letter is addressed to the Princes tutor where,
among other questions, he states his intention to print Orteliuss26 Theatrum Orbis Ter-
rarum in Spanish as well as his Thesaurus Geographicus, as he had already explained in
his letter to Pantino.
Finally, in May 1587, Plantin published
the mentioned Thesaurus Geographicus in
Antwerp. The dedication, at the express
will of the printer, was to Loaysa [FIG. 2],
describing the usefulness of the work to
help the Prince learn the names of the
kingdoms, villages and cities that he will
govern. Once the Thesaurus had been pub-
lished, Plantins efforts, in his letters ad-
dressed to the Princes tutor, were directed
at achieving his advice on the possibility
of dedicating the Spanish version of Or-
teliuss Atlas to the heir of the crown, for
the Latin version had been addressed to
his father27.
The correspondence between Plantin
and Loaysa, and the references to the
Princes tutor in the letters addressed to
Plantins circle of acquaintances, such as
Pedro Pantino, would continue until the
last days of the printer. The letters sent
between Madrid and Antwerp have become
an essential source for knowing Loaysas
interest and protection of Plantins printing FIG. 2 ABRAHAM ORTELIUS. Dedication to Garca de
press. They also reveal the close relation- Loaysa, preceptor of Prince Philip III, in Thesaurus Geo-
graphicus, Antwerp, Ex officina Christophori Plantini,
ship of the priest from Toledo with a num- 1587, p. 2.

FIG. 3 JUSTO LIPSIO. De militia romana libri
quinque, commentarius ad Polybium e parte prima
historicae facis, Amberes, Ex officina plantiniana,

ber of Flemish scholars who lived at

court, such as Pedro Pantino. Be-
sides this epistolary testimony, the
inventory of Loaysas assets, al-
though quickly drafted, with evident
vagueness in the items listed, gathers
a remarkable number of volumes
that share a specific origin: the Plan-
tin Press28.
Plantin would not be the only
figure of relevance in the cultural
scene of the period with an interest
in gaining Loaysas favour. The em-
inent humanist, Justus Lipsius would
do as much. Thus, in a letter dated
23rd April 1593, Pantino tells Lipsius
about the success of his works at court, specially those of criticism, which were
particularly appreciated not by any vulgar men, but by famous dignitaries [...]: the
Count of Portalegre, Garca de Toledo, Loaysa and others29. On June 14th 1595, Lipsius
began his epistolary exchange with Loaysa in order to announce his sending to the
Prince of a work dedicated to him: De Militia and requesting the support of the
tutor and the defence of his interests before the young heir30. On the same date,
Lipsius writes a letter to the Prince where he likewise announces the sending of his
work on the art of warfare, sure that, his Highness will give some credit to works of the
clever, as they also give princes eternal fame31. At the same time, he put his name
forward to be appointed as his Highnesss chronicler in order to write his great deeds.
In this way, we see again how the courtly circle in charge of the Princes education, and
particularly his tutor, would be the focus of the attention of one of the most prominent
scholars of the period. He would dedicate to the future Philip III the work dedicated to
the army: the weapon with which [the Romans] conquered, aided by virtue, territories
in both hemispheres, preserving them for many centuries32. Therefore, the work is
proposed as exempla for the Prince, with numerous precepts for the peace and the war,
with the purpose of preserving his states and territories [FIG. 3].
However, as has been stated above, the objects treasured in his residence, as well as
the volumes comprised in the vast library compiled by Loaysa33, are the best testimonial
of his scholarship and the ample interests which included subjects ranging from theo-

logical studies, through classical authors to the descriptions of territories and treatises
on architecture and engineering.
As for the objects that may be interesting for our study, we have to highlight that in
the first room of Loaysas gallery there were four maps, one of them big (quatro de
mapas la Una dellas Grande)34. Also, together with two desks, the inventory included
two little walnut drawers with two globes covered with green cloth (dos cajoncillos de
Nogal con dos glouos Cubiertos con paos berdes). In the second room, we find a small
terrestrial globe. Also, in the list of his possessions, there were several measuring instru-
ments, such as astrolabes or hourglasses35.
More interesting still are the subjects of the books in Loaysas library. The possession
of particular books was an important means to gain an insight into the life and interests
of their owner. Regarding mathematics, Loaysa gathered works by Archimedes, Euclid,
several treatises on Arithmetic by Juan de Ortega, Gemma Frisius, Cardano, or even a
copy of Moyas36 Geometry, among others.
Cosmography, or the science of measuring the universe, occupied an important space
in his library, where there were several books containing prints or illuminations on the
discipline: several on Geography by Ptolemy in different formats37, treatises on the
Sphaera by Sacrobosco38, several cosmographies by Petrus Apianus39, a copy of Natural
History by Pliny40 as well as another edition of the volumes second to fourth of Pliny41;
one Theatre of the World in Spanish, a Theatrum orbis Terrarum re-painted and illu-
minated with colours, an illuminated Additamentum Theatrum Orbis by Ortelius, an
illuminated Speculum Orbis Terrarum, Geographical Thesaurus by Abraham Ortelius,
one small Epitome Theatri Orteliani with maps or a Theatrum instrumentorum42.
We also find several books on descriptions of continents and regions A classical de-
scription of Europe by Justus Lipsius (Una descripcion antigua de la europa de Justo lib-
sio)43, A geography of Spain, France, Austria and Switzerland, with its indexes of pictures
(Una geografia despaa frania Austria y Elbeio, con sus Tablas destampas)44, descrip-
tions of Africa, Greece45, the Netherlands46, copies of the Leo Belgicus, a description of
the Kingdom of Valencia, a treatise on river Guadiana, books of maps, of topography, of
prosopography illustrated with engravings47. On architecture, Loaysa owned a great num-
ber of volumes: several treatises by Vitruvius, in Italian and Spanish48, several by Serlio,
also in Italian and Spanish49, by Palladio, by Pietro Cataneo and a treatise on fortifica-
tions, by an unidentified author, among others50.
Besides, Loaysas own literary production proves his great science and diversified
erudition: Loaysa was in charge of correcting and restoring the Etymologiae by Saint
Isidore, whose province, being as it was a whole library of books, was no less than that of
a Christian Pliny51. Also, the revision of the papers from his library, preserved in the Na-
tional Library in Madrid, further illustrates this particular; together with sermons written
by Loaysa, we also find texts on astronomy, on the new Roman Calendar52 and even draw-
ings of architecture and maps [FIG. 4]53.
Due to space limitations, it is impossible to offer a complete list of the volumes on
scientific matters collected by the Princes tutor54. The few books mentioned are a sig-
nificant sample of the readings and objects which were the solace of the Princes tutor,

FIG. 4 Mapa de Europa en el que vienen descritas diversas indicaciones sobre las acciones de la Armada espaola frente a
las costas de Inglaterra junto a la representacin de la Torre de Londres, drawing contained in Various Papers with reports, let-
ters, poems, briefs, papal bulls, historical information, etc., Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de Espaa, Mss. 5785, f. 168 r.

as well as proof of his erudition in matters such as mathematics, cosmography and as-
trology, among many other disciplines.
In this sense, as reflected in the contemporary pedagogical literature, and more specif-
ically, as stated by the aforementioned Obregn y Cereceda, regarding the disposition
and the desire of the Prince to know what is Philosophy, in contrast with those who are
ignorant, the ones who do not want to learn, we find those who, with little or no effort,
but for pleasure, could do it, such are the Princes and Lords: whom, only by speaking an
hour a day with a man of wisdom, in a short time, without ever opening a book, will know
as much as those with long hours of study55. Or, to put it in other words, in the case of
the young Prince, devoting long time to reading would not be a sine qua non condition
in order to acquire ample knowledge, if the tutor and his courtly circle, where his edu-
cation was developed, were men of profound erudition, they would be responsible for
transmitting this knowledge in the form of conversation.

The Mathematics Tutor: Juan Bautista Labaa
In the contemporary historiography we find several studies on the role of the Marquis
of Velada in the Princes education; to a lesser extent, we also find references to his
tutor, Garca de Loaysa; however, during this research we have not been able to find
any reference in the latest publications on Philip IIIs education to his having a mathe-
matics tutor56. Nevertheless, considering the chronological framework in which his ed-
ucation was developed, and the interest shown by his father for this particular subject,
it seems only logical to consider the hypothesis that mathematics constituted an impor-
tant chapter in the pedagogical programme of the Prince, and that the prudent monarch
had provided his son with the teachings of a reputed mathematician from the courtly
Regarding this matter, the documentary sources of the period confirm this hypothesis.
Thus, in one of the clauses in cosmographer and former professor in the Academy of
Mathematics Juan Bautista Labaas57 holographic last will, he requests the king at
the moment, Philip IV to bestow upon him greater mercy because he has served His
Majesty for fifty-two years, both as Prince and King. Further, he also declares as well
that he had been his mathematics tutor, as well as his fathers, his grandfathers, and that
of D. Sebastian, King of Portugal58.
The information contained in Labaas last will is not the only document where
the cosmographer recorded his pedagogical work on mathematics tutoring the princes
of the House of Austria. In the prologue to the Nobiliario de don Pedro Conde de Brace-
los59, Labaa, while explaining the genesis of his work, he states that the manuscript
had been written in the free time between the lessons he taught the Prince the fu-
ture Philip IV60 in San Lorenzo de El Escorial during the summer of 1620, and dur-
ing the nights of the following winter, which he would spend in Madrid61. Although
this mention to the Escurialensis monastery as the scenario for scientific training
makes reference to his successor, in the case of Philip III we find no specific reference
to the place where Labaas lessons on mathematics took place. However, recent stud-
ies have indicated that during the last years of the decade of the eighties, the future
Philip III would have had to accompany his father to the lectures of the Academy of
Mathematics, which took place in the patio of the Alcazar, with great admiration for
Therefore, we can state that the relationship established between Labaa and Philip
III started in the period of the monarchs training, when the cosmographer would have
played the role of his mathematics preceptor, and that it continued later during his reign.
In this way, Labaa would retain the favour of the man who was his royal pupil after he
was enthroned: in 1601, Philip III would send him to Flanders in order to gather mate-
rials for a genealogy of the Habsburgs. Later on, he would appoint him Major Chronicler
of the Kingdom of Portugal, and offer him the prestigious robe of the Order of Christ63.
Moreover, and more importantly in relation to the topic we are considering, he commis-
sioned him the training of his heir, the future Philip IV, in mathematics and cosmography,
as his father Philip II once did.

Other Wise Men Knowledgeable in Mathematics and the Art of
Describing in the Princes Court: the Case of Jehan Lhermite
The Flemish Jehan Lhermite was appointed Member of the Chamber (ayuda de c-
mara) of king Philip II in 1590. But also, in connection with the Princes education, he
would also be responsible for pedagogical work which was not strictly connected to a
royal appointment. Thus, Lhermite, in the diary where he gathered his experience at the
Spanish court, El Pasatiempos, explains how in 1592, Philip II commissions him to teach
the Prince the French language64. The following year, on one occasion when the Prince
was practicing this language, Lhermite, in order to avoid the excessive burden of the
study, suggested, as a pastime, to start some practice in geometry. Regarding this latter
discipline, it must be pointed out that Lhermite had connections with prominent math-
ematicians, and proved his own ample scientific interests. These elements, together with
his proximity to the Prince and his repeated inventions to entertain the heir, made of
him a character of the greatest importance in the research of the scientific training of
the future Philip III.
The sources of the period reveal that Lhermite, actually, must have had impressive
knowledge of mathematics, and there is an interesting account in his Pasatiempos. For
example, when he describes the episode of Phelippe of Lannoys death, which occurred
in March 1594, Lhermite recalls some memories and experiences lived with his deceased
friend: [...] the previous winter we had studied together the Theory of the Sphere, by a
great mathematician, called the doctor Andres Garca de Cspedes, and we had understood
it reasonably well65.
However, this would not be the only reference to the study of mathematics and as-
tronomy in his writings. Later on in his Pasatiempos, Lhermite describes how, in 1598,
the gentleman spent his free time acquiring deeper knowledge in the art and science of
astronomy. The interesting thing is that, at this point of the story, Lhermite inserted a
Treatise on astronomy and astrology, written entirely in Spanish by the author, following
the method of Dr. Andrs Garca de Cspedes and bachelor Cedillo. Also, Lhermite would
transcribe in El pasatiempos, a treatise on solar quadrants by the same author66.
A year later, Lhermite recalls how he also found great pleasure in the study of the sun-
dials, for which purpose he daily met the aforementioned Doctor Andrs Garca de espedes,
mathematician of the king, a singular man, expert in this art and science, from whom he
obtained a treatise on the manufacturing of sundials and some lines below, he describes
the sundial made by the engineer Juanelo Turriano, able to perform beautiful and curious
operations, amongst which the movements of the planets can be included67. Regarding
this topic, other sources of the period, besides his diary, reveal that Lhermites interest
in these mathematical and measuring instruments surpassed the limits of a mere enter-
tainment and became one of his courtly occupations; thus, in the inventory of assets
written after Philip IIs death, sundials, astrolabes and other mathematical instruments
which were in the so-called Cubillo (Small Hall) and the Torre Dorada (Golden Tower)
were in fact under the responsibility of Juan Thermite, member of His Majestys Cham-
ber68. It is not by chance, therefore, that Lhermite had a close relationship with illustrious
mathematicians, and it is convenient to note here that Garca de Cspedes had been re-

sponsible for Turrianos sundial collection in the Alcazar, at least between the end of
1593 and 159469.
About Lhermites responsibilities in the Household of the Prince, these were not lim-
ited to French or Geometry lessons. Among the expenses in the Princes guardajoyas
we find a payment made on April 10th 1596 by order of the Marquis of Velada, and by
order Jean Lhermite to Pedro Charles, for the transportation and costs of two coffers from
Flanders, under the orders of Ju del Hermite, containing fifty-one books on Music for H.
H. [...]70. So it seems evident that, to a certain extent, Lhermite played an active role in
acquiring didactic material for the Prince, and although Philip IIIs taste for music is
well-known and the question is beyond the scope of this research, it is convenient to
note this discipline was part of the Quadrivium, together with arithmetic, geometry and
We will conclude this section by including some unpublished written news about
Lhermite. These are two powers of attorney given by Lhermite himself during his stay at
court in 1621 in order to retrieve some amounts of money. The first one was given on
February 20th 1621 to Juan de Tapia, a merchant in the city of Seville, to retrieve 562.500
maravedis, which, as per a Royal Charter dated November 18th 1620, were owed by Philip
III71. However, this payment must not have taken place, because on April 25th 1621,
Lhermite writes a new power of attorney to Juan Fernndez, a merchant living in Madrid,
in order to go to Seville and get the 1500 ducats72. These notary documents are interest-
ing for several reasons. The first is that in both documents, Lhermite states his position
at court in 1621: in the first document he appears as member of His Majestys chamber,
at this court (ayuda de camara de su mag.d estante en esta corte) 73 and in the second,
member of His Majestys chamber, who is in Heaven, at this court (ayuda de camara
de su mag.d questa en el cielo estante en esta corte)74, because Philip III had just passed
away between the writing of both letters. Besides, in the documents, it is evident that
Lhermite, although frequently absent from court, had to maintain important connections
with it, such as Mr. Claudio Jacob, chaplain to the king and confessor to the archers,
who acts as a witness in both documents. Therefore, these documents are evidence that
the relationship forged between Philip III during his years as a pupil with the man who
introduced him to the science of Geometry was to last during all his reign and until the
last days of the monarch.
In conclusion, it can be stated that the education of the future Philip III was a mat-
ter of the greatest importance to guarantee the good government and the preservation
of the territories of the Spanish monarchy. Not in vain, the painting known as Allegory
of the Education of Philip III [FIG. 1] occupied a place of unquestionable symbolic rele-
vance in the Alcazar towards the end of the sixteenth century, together with the portrait
of Emperor Charles V on horseback at Mhlberg [FIG. 5] and Philip II offering the Infante
don Fernando to the Heavens [FIG. 6], by Titian75. Between the three works, a dialogical re-
lationship was established, with a clear allegorical-dynastic meaning.
However, the pedagogical programme intended for the Princes education in math-
ematics has been an aspect omitted by contemporary historiography, and to the knowl-
edge of which we have tried to contribute with these lines. Although several questions

FIG. 5 TIZIANO, Emperor Charles V on horseback at Mhlberg, 1548, oil on canvas, 335 x 283 cm, Madrid, Museo Nacional
del Prado (P00410).

remain unsolved, we trust that new information will arise in the forthcoming years
about the scientific education of the minor Austrias. It has been proven that, regard-
less of the qualities and abilities of the Prince Philip III in connection with scientific
knowledge, there must have been an interest and concern on the part of his father, in
surrounding his heir with a pleiad of tutors essentially competent in mathematical
knowledge and the image of the orb which the Prince was destined to rule and preserve,

FIG. 6 TIZIANO, Philip II offering the Infante don Fernando to the Heavens, 1573-1575, oil on canvas, 335 x 274 cm, Madrid,
Museo Nacional del Prado (P00431).

including Garca de Loaysa, Juan Bautista Labaa and Jehan Lhermite. Besides, the
training of the Prince proved to be a period of special transcendence in order to un-
derstand the future reign of the monarch and the knowledge of the cursus honorum by
figures such as Labaa or Lhermite, because it was at that time when the Prince started
a close relationship with his tutors in sciences, which was to last to the decline of his


1. National Distance Education University (UNED), College of History of Art, Senda del Rey, 7, 3rd floor, 28040, Madrid, This work has been carried out thanks to the predoctoral position FPI (BES-2013-062631) of the
Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
2. PORREO, n.d., Ms. 2297, ff. 19r.-19v. (Don Phelippe segundo deste nombre llamado el prudente, fue en grande manera inclinado
a las sciencias, y premi superiormente a todos los hombres insignes en ellas [...] fue tan eminente en la Geometra y Architectura,
o por su estudio particular, o por el largo exercicio de edificar, o por su natural, o por todo Junto, que supo lo mejor desta arte con
tanta eminencia y acierto, como los maiores artfices della).
3. An analysis of the education and the constitution of the House of Prince Philip III, focused mainly on the role played by his
guardian (ayo), the Marquis of Velada, is found in: MARTNEZ HERNNDEZ, 1999, 2004, pp. 245-304, y 2008. FEROS, 2002,
pp.39-74, has focused on the learning of Philip III, within the framework of the courtly political scene of the period; Prez
de Tudela, 2008, analyses the artistic education and the configuration of the Princes image.
4. SEPLVEDA, 1924.
5. Ibd., pp. 75-76.
6. NOVOA, n.d.
7. NOVOA, n.d., ff. 22r.-22v. ([...] pasaba con vigilancia y atenzin el noble estudio de la Cosmographia en los dos libros de Gerardo,
y Abraham Ortelio, en qu sabr con fundamento la unin, y divisin de unos Reinos, y Provinzias, con otras; el assiento de las
Ciudades, ritos, y costumbres, ros Montes, Calas, estrechos, dems Islas, Puertos, ensenadas, corriendo por las linias y parages de
la navegacin, altras, baxos, nortes, y estrellas: recompensando en esto la falta de la experiencia, y ver el mundo en dos pliegos
de papl; entender el tiempo, sin el qual no es possible saberse portar con las Naciones prpias, quanto y mas con las extrangeras;
donde es tan necesario estar advertido para las levas de gente, echar armadas, Juntar exrcitos; encaminarlas por los passos dificul-
tosos, que no sean vistos, ni entendidos del enemigo; fortificar plazas, y fabricarlas, que no siempre es acertado fiarlo todo dl Min-
istro, que entonces es mas vigilante, quando sabe que su Prinzipe est dueo, y capz de las matrias de la navegacin. En qualquiera
planta de edificar daba su parecer con admiracin, y veneracin de los que le oan [...]).
8. MARTNEZ HERNNDEZ, 2008, p. 98 briefly mentions Patricio Cajs as one of his masters; PREZ DE TUDELA, 2008, p. 116 mentions
the dedication of this work, taking Patricio for his brother, Eugenio Cajs.
9. CAJS, 1593, n.d. ([...] como hijo bien digno de tal padre, ha comenado ya a dar tan grandes muestras de querer imitar sus
heroicas uirtudes, y en particular se vee q. U.A. assi mismo gusta de uno de los fundamentos de la Architetura, que segn Vitruuio
es el dibuxo, he me determinado dirigir a V.A. el libro de Viola).
10. YEZ, 1723, p. 134.
11. GONZLEZ DVILA, 1771, p. 13 (Mas querra ver muerto al Prncipe, que no darle malas personas que le acompaen y le sirvan).
12. dem (le sealasen las personas, que tuviesen las partes convenientes para educar un Prncipe, que havia de ser Seor de una
Monarqua tan dilatada y Catlica).
13. Quotation from MARTNEZ HERNNDEZ, 2008, p. 87 (seruir con rigor a nuestro Seor [...] lenguas, matemticas, astrologa, lgica,
philosophia, metafsica, teologa de la Complutense).
14. In the case of the Princes guardian (ayo), Mr. Gmez Dvila, Marquis of Velada, his interest in drawing and architecture as well
as his connection to architects such as Francisco de Mora has been studied by MARTNEZ HERNNDEZ, 2003. In addition to the books
on architecture and engineering mentioned in MARTNEZ HERNNDEZs article (2003, p. 62), a revision of the documentary source (
the inventory made upon the death of Mrs. Ana de Toledo y Colona, Marchioness of Velada) drafted in 1596 (AHPM, Prot. 1810, f.
1291 r.) reveals that the Princes guardian (ayo) also owned interesting books on cosmography: Description of the world (f. 1324
r.), Another on the manufacture of the astrolabe, Four papers on the Sphere, A big book, with coloured satin cover, on Theatrum
Orbis, A big book with the same binding as the Theatrum orbis terrarum, Another on the navigation through the Western Canal be-
tween France and Spain (f. 1326 r.), among others. Also, the Marquis possessed interesting measurement instruments or instruments
for the description of the world, which account for his interest in scientific matters, including several sundials, two astrolabes, one
big, and the other small, a big sphere, in its box, a metal artefact with several screws and a key to set it up (f. 1342 v.).
16. OBREGN Y CERECEDA, 1603, p. 118 (Diziendo su Alteza estas palabras, se leuanto, y despues de auer vn buen rato descansado en
su cmara, salio a vna piea donde sobre vnos bufetes estauan algunos libros, vna esfera, dos globos, y algunas descripciones y
mapas, de la disposicin de tierra y mar, y de los sitios de las Prouincias, y alli el Maestro, que assi en esto, como en las demas cosas
es eminente, le fue prosiguiendo la leccion de Matematica, que de ordinario se la ensean, por ser tan necessario a los Principes
semejante disciplina, y tan loable la ocupacion destos exercicios, pues vemos que ninguna cosa abre mas el camino para los consejos
de la guerra, y los buenos sucesos della, que su inteligencia).
17. PREZ PASTOR, 1891, p. 341.
18. AGP, Admn., leg. 660, n.d. (En X de Julio de 1596 se Pagaron a Julio de Junti de modesti sesenta y seys Reales por otros tantos que
pago por Un Plinio infolio que dio para su al.o el papel el qual se enquaderno En S[an]. L[orenzo] Por quenta de la Librera [...]).
19. On the history of the Greek collection preserved in the Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid) from Loaysas library, vid. FERNNDEZ
POMAR, 1965 and 1978; ANDRS, 1974.
20. PRIETO BERNAB, 2004, p.96, counts a total of 4378 volumes in Loaysas library.
21. BOUZA, 1998, p. 160, indicates the importance of Plantinian correspondence as a source for political history, indicating how
the printer sought Loaysas protection after his appointment as the Princes tutor.
22. DENUC, 1968, v. 7, pp. 309-310.
23. DENUC, 1968, v. 8, p. 82.
24. Ibd., p. 83.
25. Ibd., pp. 130-133.

26. Ibd., pp. 133-134.
27. Ibd., pp. 228-229.
28. In Loaysas library inventory (AHPM, Prot. 1811) we find several bibles with fine prints, among the works printed by Plantin
(ff.1501r., 1501v., 1502 r.) and a book on Bible concordances (f. 1503 v.), among others.
29. RAMREZ, 1966, p. 64 (no por cualesquiera hombres del vulgo, sino por famossimos prceres [...]: el Conde de Portalegre, Garca
de Toledo, Loaysa y otros).
30. Ibd., pp. 119-120.
31. Ibd., p. 122 (Serenidad concede algn mrito a las obras de los ingenios, porque tambin ellas devuelven a los Prncipes eterna fama).
32. Ibd., p. 129 (el arma con la que conquistaron [los romanos] teniendo a la virtud por compaera, territorios en ambos hemisferios,
conservndolos durante muchos siglos).
33. AHPM, Prot. 1811, ff. 1494 r.-1721r.
34. Ibd., f.1496r.
35. Ibd., ff.1655r.-1655v.
36. Ibd., ff. 1534v., 1542r., 1536r., 1537r., 1542v. and 1619v.
37. Ibd., ff. 1534r., 1541v.
38. Ibd., ff. 1541v., 1543v.
39. Ibd., ff. 1537r., 1543r.
40. Ibd., f. 1534r.
41. Ibd., f. 1552r.
42. Ibd., ff. 1533v., 1534r., 1543r., 1533v. (Un Teatro orbis Terraru en Romanze, Un Treatum orbis Terrarun rreTocado yluminado
de colores, Un adiTamentun Teatrun orbis de ortelio yluminado, Un especulun, orbis terarun Luminado, Tesauros Jeograficos
de abrahamo ortelio, un epitomes Teatri ortiano pequeito De mapas o un Teatro ynstrumentorum).
43. Ibd., 1534r.
44. Ibd., f.1618r.
45. Ibd., ff. 1534r., 1557v.
46. Ibd., ff.1549v., 1622r.
47. Ibd., ff. 1550r., 1551 v., 1618v., 1543r., 1618v., 1620v, 1621r.
48. Ibd., ff. 1541v., 1542r., 1620r.
49. Ibd., ff. 1533r., 1541v.
50. Ibd., ff. 1542v., 1535v., 1580 r.
51. PORREO, Mss. 13027, f. 212r. (cuya provincia por ser como es una Bibliotheca entera de libros no era menos que de un Plinio
52. Mss. 5739, f. 147r.
53. Mss. 5785, f.168r. The Mapa de Europa en el que vienen descritas diversas indicaciones de la Armada espaola frente a las
costas de Inglaterra junto a la representacin de la Torre de Londres (Fig. 4) is reproduced in PARKER, 2010, plate 50, who
attributes it to Bernardino Escalante. About the enterprise of England (1585-1588), see PARKER, 2010, pp. 813-855. On this
drawing, see idem, p. 821.
54. On the books and images of scientific nature gathered by Loaysa, the author will present the paper Books and images of sci-
ence collected by Garca de Loaysa, preceptor of Philip III in the next conference of the Renaissance Society of America
(Boston, 2016).
55. OBREGN Y CERECEDA, 1603, p. 5 (aquellos particularmente, que con poca o ninguna fatiga, mas a su plazer podran hazerlo,
como son comnmente todos los Principes y Seores: los quales hablando vna hora sola en el dia con vn hombre de letras, en poco
tiempo, sin abrir jams libro, sabran aquello que aquel con largo estudio huuiesse aprendido).
56. Vid. note 2.
57. On Labaa, see CORTESO et al., 1960, pp. 63-70 and HERNANDO, 1996.
58. AHPM, Prot. 2133, f.568v.
59. LABAA, 1620.
60. About Labaas role as mathematics and geography preceptor to Philip IV, see KAGAN, 2002, pp. 50-56.
61. LABAA, 1620, f. 2 v.