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Leonardo

On Clocks Author(s): Francois Le Lionnais Source: Leonardo, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Oct., 1969), p. 460 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1572148 . Accessed: 04/06/2011 13:42
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Letters-Lettres way that the new device came from the West, or from China in the East; in any event, a good case can be made out for the French monk Gerbert of Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II) as the inventor of the weighted clock in the tenth century. Probably the oldest monumental French clock (no longer extant) was the one built in 1176 for the Cathedral of Sens." The cathedral clocks at Westminster (1288), Canterbury(1292) and St. Albans (1326) mentioned in the Encyclopaedia Britannica were constructed much later. It should be remembered that, on the one hand, these clocks measured time very roughly for they usedfoliot (ancestor of the pendulum regulator)and a primitive form of escapement which did not have the same precision achieved by the balance wheel used later. On the other hand, these clocks were very large and could not have been carried by Galileo Galilei into the Pisa cathedral. Francois Le Lionnais 23 Route de la Reine, 92-Boulognesur Seine, France.

have previously had experience with can equal them. J. Schnier 4081 Happy Valley Road, Lafayette, Calif. 94549, U.S.A.

ON CLOCKS The writer of the letter (cf. J. M. Cook, Leonardo 2, 333 (1969)) can find the basis of my reply in my book Le Temps (Paris: R. Delpire, 1959) or in its English version Time (New York: The Orion Press, 1960). This is what I wrote on page 29 of the English edition: "There is no point in trying to trace back the mechanical clock to a specific date and place of origin. Historians of the subject still discuss the matter in terms of more or less restored examples of uncertain date, primary and secondary textual sources, illustrations, and other material evidence. It would be generally accurate to assume that the earliest type of mechanical clock did not appear before the eleventh century. It can be argued either