Part 8 out of 10
him measure the length of an object unknown to you, and he will
learn the measure you did not know before;--Master Giovanni da Lodi.
_Letters. Personal Records. Dated Notes._
_When we consider how superficial and imperfect are the accounts of
Leonardo's life written some time after his death by Vasari and
others, any notes or letters which can throw more light on his
personal circumstances cannot fail to be in the highest degree
interesting. The texts here given as Nos._ 1351--1353, _set his
residence in Rome in quite a new aspect; nay, the picture which
irresistibly dwells in our minds after reading these details of his
life in the Vatican, forms a striking contrast to the contemporary
life of Raphael at Rome._
_I have placed foremost of these documents the very remarkable
letters to the Defterdar of Syria. In these Leonardo speaks of
himself as having staid among the mountains of Armenia, and as the
biographies of the master tell nothing of any such distant journeys,
it would seem most obvious to treat this passage as fiction, and so
spare ourselves the onus of proof and discussion. But on close
examination no one can doubt that these documents, with the
accompanying sketches, are the work of Leonardo's own hand. Not
merely is the character of the handwriting his, but the spelling and
the language are his also. In one respect only does the writing
betray any marked deviation from the rest of the notes, especially
those treating on scientific questions; namely, in these
observations he seems to have taken particular pains to give the
most distinct and best form of expression to all he had to say; we
find erasures and emendations in almost every line. He proceeded, as
we shall see, in the same way in the sketches for letters to
Giuliano de' Medici, and what can be more natural, I may ask, than
to find the draft of a letter thus altered and improved when it is
to contain an account of a definite subject, and when personal
interests are in the scale? The finished copies as sent off are not
known to exist; if we had these instead of the rough drafts, we
might unhesitatingly have declared that some unknown Italian
engineer must have been, at that time, engaged in Armenia in the
service of the Egyptian Sultan, and that Leonardo had copied his
documents. Under this hypothesis however we should have to state
that this unknown writer must have been so far one in mind with
Leonardo as to use the same style of language and even the same
lines of thought. This explanation might--as I say--have been
possible, if only we had the finished letters. But why should these
rough drafts of letters be regarded as anything else than what they
actually and obviously are? If Leonardo had been a man of our own
time, we might perhaps have attempted to account for the facts by
saying that Leonardo, without having been in the East himself, might
have undertaken to write a Romance of which the scene was laid in
Armenia, and at the desire of his publisher had made sketches of
landscape to illustrate the text.
I feel bound to mention this singular hypothesis as it has actually
been put forward (see No. 1336 note 5); and it would certainly seem
as though there were no other possible way of evading the conclusion
to which these letters point, and their bearing on the life of the
master,--absurd as the alternative is. But, if, on a question of
such importance, we are justified in suggesting theories that have
no foundation in probability, I could suggest another which, as
compared with that of a Fiction by Leonardo, would be neither more
nor less plausible; it is, moreover the only other hypothesis,
perhaps, which can be devised to account for these passages, if it
were possible to prove that the interpretation that the documents
themselves suggest, must be rejected a priori; viz may not Leonardo
have written them with the intention of mystifying those who, after
his death, should try to decipher these manuscripts with a view to
publishing them? But if, in fact, no objection that will stand the
test of criticism can be brought against the simple and direct
interpretation of the words as they stand, we are bound to regard
Leonardo's travels in the East as an established fact. There is, I
believe nothing in what we know of his biography to negative such a
fact, especially as the details of his life for some few years are
wholly unknown; nor need we be at a loss for evidence which may
serve to explain--at any rate to some extent--the strangeness of his
undertaking such a journey. We have no information as to Leonardo's
history between 1482 and 1486; it cannot be proved that he was
either in Milan or in Florence. On the other hand the tenor of this
letter does not require us to assume a longer absence than a year or
two. For, even if his appointment_ (offitio) _as Engineer in Syria
had been a permanent one, it might have become untenable--by the
death perhaps of the Defterdar, his patron, or by his removal from
office--, and Leonardo on his return home may have kept silence on
the subject of an episode which probably had ended in failure and
From the text of No. 1379 we can hardly doubt that Leonardo intended
to make an excursion secretly from Rome to Naples, although so far
as has hitherto been known, his biographers never allude to it. In
another place (No. 1077) he says that he had worked as an Engineer
in Friuli. Are we to doubt this statement too, merely because no
biographer has hitherto given us any information on the matter? In
the geographical notes Leonardo frequently speaks of the East, and
though such passages afford no direct proof of his having been
there, they show beyond a doubt that, next to the Nile, the
Euphrates, the Tigris and the Taurus mountains had a special
interest in his eyes. As a still further proof of the futility of
the argument that there is nothing in his drawings to show that he
had travelled in the East, we find on Pl. CXX a study of oriental
heads of Armenian type,--though of course this may have been made in
If the style of these letters were less sober, and the expressions
less strictly to the point throughout, it miglit be possible to
regard them as a romantic fiction instead of a narrative of fact.
Nay, we have only to compare them with such obviously fanciful
passages as No. 1354, Nos. 670-673, and the Fables and Prophecies.
It is unnecessary to discuss the subject any further here; such
explanations as the letter needs are given in the foot notes.
The drafts of letters to Lodovico il Moro are very remarkable.
Leonardo and this prince were certainly far less closely connected,
than has hitherto been supposed. It is impossible that Leonardo can
have remained so long in the service of this prince, because the
salary was good, as is commonly stated. On the contrary, it would
seem, that what kept him there, in spite of his sore need of the
money owed him by the prince, was the hope of some day being able to
carry out the project of casting the_ 'gran cavallo'.
Drafts of Letters and Reports referring to Armenia (1336. 1337).
To THE DEVATDAR OF SYRIA, LIEUTENANT OF THE SACRED SULTAN OF
 The recent disaster in our Northern parts which I am certain
will terrify not you alone but the whole world, which
[Footnote: Lines 1-52 are reproduced in facsimile on Pl. CXVI.
1. _Diodario._ This word is not to be found in any Italian
dictionary, and for a long time I vainly sought an explanation of
it. The youthful reminiscences of my wife afforded the desired clue.
The chief town of each Turkish Villayet, or province --such as
Broussa, for instance, in Asia Minor, is the residence of a
Defterdar, who presides over the financial affairs of the province.
_Defterdar hane_ was, in former times, the name given to the
Ministry of Finance at Constantinople; the Minister of Finance to
the Porte is now known as the _Mallie-Nazri_ and the _Defterdars_
are his subordinates. A _Defterdar_, at the present day is merely
the head of the finance department in each Provincial district. With
regard to my suggestion that Leonardo's _Diodario_ might be
identical with the Defterdar of former times, the late M. C.
DEFREMERIE, Arabic Professor, and Membre de l'Institut de France
wrote to me as follows: _Votre conjecture est parfaitement fondee;
diodario est Vequivalent de devadar ou plus exactement devatdar,
titre d'une importante dignite en Egypt'e, sous les Mamlouks._
The word however is not of Turkish, but of Perso-Arabie derivation.
[Defter written in arab?] literally _Defter_ (Arabic) meaning
_folio_; for _dar_ (Persian) Bookkeeper or holder is the English
equivalent; and the idea is that of a deputy in command. During the
Mamelook supremacy over Syria, which corresponded in date with
Leonardo's time, the office of Defterdar was the third in importance
in the State.
_Soltano di Babilonia_. The name of Babylon was commonly applied to
Cairo in the middle ages. For instance BREIDENBACH, _Itinerarium
Hierosolyma_ p. 218 says: "At last we reached Babylon. But this is
not that Babylon which stood on the further shore of the river
Chober, but that which is called the Egyptian Babylon. It is close
by Cairo and the twain are but one and not two towns; one half is
called Cairo and the other Babylon, whence they are called together
Cairo-Babylon; originally the town is said to have been named
Memphis and then Babylon, but now it is called Cairo." Compare No.
Egypt was governed from 1382 till 1517 by the Borgite or
Tcherkessian dynasty of the Mamelook Sultans. One of the most famous
of these, Sultan Kait Bey, ruled from 1468-1496 during whose reign
the Gama (or Mosque) of Kait Bey and tomb of Kait Bey near the
Okella Kait Bey were erected in Cairo, which preserve his name to
this day. Under the rule of this great and wise prince many
foreigners, particularly Italians, found occupation in Egypt, as may
be seen in the 'Viaggio di Josaphat Barbaro', among other
travellers. "Next to Leonardo (so I learn from Prof. Jac. Burckhardt
of Bale) Kait Bey's most helpful engineer was a German who in about
1487, superintended the construction of the Mole at Alexandria.
Felix Fabri knew him and mentions him in his _Historia Suevorum_,
written in 1488."
3. _Il nuovo accidente accaduto_, or as Leonardo first wrote and
then erased, _e accaduto un nuovo accidente_. From the sequel this
must refer to an earthquake, and indeed these were frequent at that
period, particularly in Asia Minor, where they caused immense
mischief. See No. 1101 note.]
shall be related to you in due order, showing first the effect and
then the cause. [Footnote 4: The text here breaks off. The following
lines are a fresh beginning of a letter, evidently addressed to the
same person, but, as it would seem, written at a later date than the
previous text. The numerous corrections and amendments amply prove
that it is not a copy from any account of a journey by some unknown
person; but, on the contrary, that Leonardo was particularly anxious
to choose such words and phrases as might best express his own
Finding myself in this part of Armenia [Footnote 5: _Parti
d'Erminia_. See No. 945, note. The extent of Armenia in Leonardo's
time is only approximately known. In the XVth century the Persians
governed the Eastern, and the Arabs the Southern portions. Arabic
authors--as, for instance Abulfeda--include Cilicia and a part of
Cappadocia in Armenia, and Greater Armenia was the tract of that
country known later as Turcomania, while Armenia Minor was the
territory between Cappadocia and the Euphrates. It was not till
1522, or even 1574 that the whole country came under the dominion of
the Ottoman Turks, in the reign of Selim I.
The Mamelook Sultans of Egypt seem to have taken a particular
interest in this, the most Northern province of their empire, which
was even then in danger of being conquered by the Turks. In the
autumn of 1477 Sultan Kait Bey made a journey of inspection,
visiting Antioch and the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates with a
numerous and brilliant escort. This tour is briefly alluded to by
_Moodshireddin_ p. 561; and by WEIL, _Geschichte der Abbasiden_ V,
p. 358. An anonymous member of the suite wrote a diary of the
expedition in Arabic, which has been published by R. V. LONZONE
(_'Viaggio in Palestina e Soria di Kaid Ba XVIII sultano della II
dinastia mamelucca, fatto nel 1477. Testo arabo. Torino 1878'_,
without notes or commentary). Compare the critique on this edition,
by J. GILDEMEISTER in _Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina Vereins_
(Vol. Ill p. 246--249). Lanzone's edition seems to be no more than
an abridged copy of the original. I owe to Professor Sche'fer,
Membre de l'Institut, the information that he is in possession of a
manuscript in which the text is fuller, and more correctly given.
The Mamelook dynasty was, as is well known, of Circassian origin,
and a large proportion of the Egyptian Army was recruited in
Circassia even so late as in the XVth century. That was a period of
political storms in Syria and Asia Minor and it is easy to suppose
that the Sultan's minister, to whom Leonardo addresses his report as
his superior, had a special interest in the welfare of those
frontier provinces. Only to mention a few historical events of
Sultan Kait Bey's reign, we find that in 1488 he assisted the
Circassians to resist the encroachments of Alaeddoulet, an Asiatic
prince who had allied himself with the Osmanli to threaten the
province; the consequence was a war in Cilicia by sea and land,
which broke out in the following year between the contending powers.
Only a few years earlier the same province had been the scene of the
so-called Caramenian war in which the united Venetian, Neapolitan
and Sclavonic fleets had been engaged. (See CORIALANO CIPPICO,
_Della guerra dei Veneziani nell' Asia dal_ 1469--1474. Venezia
1796, p. 54) and we learn incidentally that a certain Leonardo
Boldo, Governor of Scutari under Sultan Mahmoud,--as his name would
indicate, one of the numerous renegades of Italian birth--played an
important part in the negotiations for peace.
_Tu mi mandasti_. The address _tu_ to a personage so high in office
is singular and suggests personal intimacy; Leonardo seems to have
been a favourite with the Diodario. Compare lines 54 and 55.
I have endeavoured to show, and I believe that I am also in a
position to prove with regard to these texts, that they are draughts
of letters actually written by Leonardo; at the same time I must not
omit to mention that shortly after I had discovered
these texts in the Codex Atlanticus and published a paper on the
subject in the _Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst (Vol. XVI)_, Prof.
Govi put forward this hypothesis to account for their origin:
_"Quanto alle notizie sul monte Tauro, sull'Armenia e sull' Asia
minore che si contengono negli altri frammenti, esse vennero prese
da qualche geografro o viaggiatore contemporaneo. Dall'indice
imperfetto che accompagna quei frammenti, si potrebbe dedurre che
Leonardo volesse farne un libro, che poi non venne compiuto. A ogni
modo, non e possibile di trovare in questi brani nessun indizio di
un viaggio di Leonardo in oriente, ne della sua conversione alla
religione di Maometto, come qualcuno pretenderebbe. Leonardo amava
con passione gli studi geografici, e nel suoi scritti s'incontran
spesso itinerart, indicazioni, o descrizioni di luoghi, schizzi di
carte e abbozzi topografici di varie regioni, non e quindi strano
che egli, abile narratore com'era, si fosse proposto di scrivere una
specie di Romanzo in forma epistolare svolgendone Pintreccio
nell'Asia Minore, intorno alla quale i libri d'allora, e forse
qualche viaggiatore amico suo, gli avevano somministrato alcuni
elementi piu o meno_ fantastici. (See Transunti della Reale
Accademia dei Lincei Voi. V Ser. 3).
It is hardly necessary to point out that Prof. Govi omits to name
the sources from which Leonardo could be supposed to have drawn his
information, and I may leave it to the reader to pronounce judgment
on the anomaly which is involved in the hypothesis that we have here
a fragment of a Romance, cast in the form of a correspondence. At
the same time, I cannot but admit that the solution of the
difficulties proposed by Prof. Govi is, under the circumstances,
certainly the easiest way of dealing with the question. But we
should then be equally justified in supposing some more of
Leonardo's letters to be fragments of such romances; particularly
those of which the addresses can no longer be named. Still, as
regards these drafts of letters to the Diodario, if we accept the
Romance theory, as pro- posed by Prof. Govi, we are also compelled
to assume that Leonardo purposed from the first to illustrate his
tale; for it needs only a glance at the sketches on PI. CXVI to CXIX
to perceive that they are connected with the texts; and of course
the rest of Leonardo's numerous notes on matters pertaining to the
East, the greater part of which are here published for the first
time, may also be somehow connected with this strange romance.
7. _Citta de Calindra (Chalindra)_. The position of this city is so
exactly determined, between the valley of the Euphrates and the
Taurus range that it ought to be possible to identify it. But it can
hardly be the same as the sea port of Cilicia with a somewhat
similar name Celenderis, Kelandria, Celendria, Kilindria, now the
Turkish Gulnar. In two Catalonian Portulans in the Bibliotheque
Natio- nale in Paris-one dating from the XV'h century, by Wilhelm
von Soler, the other by Olivez de Majorca, in l584-I find this place
called Calandra. But Leonardo's Calindra must certainly have lain
more to the North West, probably somewhere in Kurdistan. The fact
that the geographical position is so care- fully determined by
Leonardo seems to prove that it was a place of no great importance
and little known. It is singular that the words first written in 1.
8 were divisa dal lago (Lake Van?), altered afterwards to
Nostri confini, and in 1. 6 proposito nostro. These refer to the
frontier and to the affairs of the Mamelook Sultan, Lines 65 and 66
throw some light on the purpose of Leonardo's mission.
8. _I_ corni del gra mote Tauro. Compare the sketches PI.
CXVI-CXVIII. So long as it is im- possible to identify the situation
of Calindra it is most difficult to decide with any certainty which
peak of the Taurus is here meant; and I greatly regret that I had no
foreknowledge of this puzzling topographical question when, in 1876,
I was pursuing archaeological enquiries in the Provinces of Aleppo
and Cilicia, and had to travel for some time in view of the imposing
snow-peaks of Bulghar Dagh and Ala Tepessi.
9-10. The opinion here expressed as to the height of the mountain
would be unmeaning, unless it had been written before Leonardo moved
to Milan, where Monte Rosa is so conspicuous an object in the
landscape. 4 _ore inanzi_ seems to mean, four hours before the sun's
rays penetrate to the bottom of the valleys.]
to carry into effect with due love and care the task for which you
sent me [Footnote: ]; and to make a beginning in a place which
seemed to me to be most to our purpose, I entered into the city of
Calindrafy, near to our frontiers. This city is situated at the
base of that part of the Taurus mountains which is divided from the
Euphrates and looks towards the peaks of the great Mount Taurus 
to the West . These peaks are of such a height that they seem to
touch the sky, and in all the world there is no part of the earth,
higher than its summit, and the rays of the sun always fall upon
it on its East side, four hours before day-time, and being of the
whitest stone [Footnote 11:_Pietra bianchissima_. The Taurus
Mountains consist in great part of limestone.] it shines
resplendently and fulfils the function to these Armenians which a
bright moon-light would in the midst of the darkness; and by its
great height it outreaches the utmost level of the clouds by a space
of four miles in a straight line. This peak is seen in many places
towards the West, illuminated by the sun after its setting the third
part of the night. This it is, which with you [Footnote 14:
_Appresso di voi_. Leonardo had at first written _noi_ as though his
meaning had,been: This peak appeared to us to be a comet when you
and I observed it in North Syria (at Aleppo? at Aintas?). The
description of the curious reflection in the evening, resembling the
"Alpine-glow" is certainly not an invented fiction, for in the next
lines an explanation of the phenomenon is offered, or at least
attempted.] we formerly in calm weather had supposed to be a comet,
and appears to us in the darkness of night, to change its form,
being sometimes divided in two or three parts, and sometimes long
and sometimes short. And this is caused by the clouds on the horizon
of the sky which interpose between part of this mountain and the
sun, and by cutting off some of the solar rays the light on the
mountain is intercepted by various intervals of clouds, and
therefore varies in the form of its brightness.
THE DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK [Footnote 19: The next 33 lines are
evidently the contents of a connected Report or Book, but not of one
which he had at hand; more probably, indeed, of one he purposed
The praise and confession of the faith [Footnote 20: _Persuasione di
fede_, of the Christian or the Mohammedan faith? We must suppose the
latter, at the beginning of a document addressed to so high a
Mohammedan official. _Predica_ probably stands as an abbreviation
for _predicazione_ (lat. _praedicatio_) in the sense of praise or
glorification; very probably it may mean some such initial doxology
as we find in Mohammedan works. (Comp. 1. 40.)].
The sudden inundation, to its end.
 The destruction of the city.
The death of the people and their despair.
The preacher's search, his release and benevolence [Footnote 28: The
phraseology of this is too general for any conjecture as to its
meaning to be worth hazarding.]
Description of the cause of this fall of the mountain [Footnote 30:
_Ruina del monte_. Of course by an earthquake. In a catalogue of
earthquakes, entitled _kechf aussalssaleb an auasf ezzel-zeleh_, and
written by Djelal eddin].
The mischief it did.
 Fall of snow.
The finding of the prophet .
 The inundation of the lower portion of Eastern Armenia, the
draining of which was effected by the cutting through the Taurus
How the new prophet showed [Footnote 40:_Nova profeta, 1. 33,
profeta_. Mohammed. Leonardo here refers to the Koran:
In the name of the most merciful God.--When the earth shall be
shaken by an earthquake; and the earth shall cast forth her burdens;
and a man shall say, what aileth her? On that day the earth shall
declare her tidings, for that thy Lord will inspire her. On that day
men shall go forward in distinct classes, that they may behold their
works. And whoever shall have wrought good of the weight of an ant,
shall behold the same. And whoever shall have wrought evil of the
weight of an ant, shall behold the same. (The Koran, translated by
G. Sale, Chapter XCIX, p. 452).] that this destruction would happen
as he had foretold.
Description of the Taurus Mountains  and the river Euphrates.
Why the mountain shines at the top, from half to a third of the
night, and looks like a comet to the inhabitants of the West after
the sunset, and before day to those of the East.
Why this comet appears of variable forms, so that it is now round
and now long, and now again divided into two or three parts, and now
in one piece, and when it is to be seen again.
OF THE SHAPE OF THE TAURUS MOUNTAINS [Footnote 53-94: The facsimile
of this passage is given on Pl. CXVII.].
I am not to be accused, Oh Devatdar, of idleness, as your chidings
seem to hint; but your excessive love for me, which gave rise to the
benefits you have conferred on me [Footnote 55] is that which has
also compelled me to the utmost painstaking in seeking out and
diligently investigating the cause of so great and stupendous an
effect. And this could not be done without time; now, in order to
satisfy you fully as to the cause of so great an effect, it is
requisite that I should explain to you the form of the place, and
then I will proceed to the effect, by which I believe you will be
[Footnote 36: _Tagliata di Monte Tauro_. The Euphrates flows through
the Taurus range near the influx of the Kura Shai; it rushes through
a rift in the wildest cliffs from 2000 to 3000 feet high and runs on
for 90 miles in 300 falls or rapids till it reaches Telek, near
which at a spot called Gleikash, or the Hart's leap, it measures
only 35 paces across. Compare the map on Pl. CXIX and the
explanation for it on p. 391.]
[Footnote 54: The foregoing sketch of a letter, lines 5. 18, appears
to have remained a fragment when Leonardo received pressing orders
which caused him to write immediately and fully on the subject
mentioned in line 43.]
[Footnote 59: This passage was evidently intended as an improvement
on that immediately preceding it. The purport of both is essentially
the same, but the first is pitched in a key of ill-disguised
annoyance which is absent from the second. I do not see how these
two versions can be reconciled with the romance-theory held by Prof.
Govi.] Do not be aggrieved, O Devatdar, by my delay in responding to
your pressing request, for those things which you require of me are
of such a nature that they cannot be well expressed without some
lapse of time; particularly because, in order to explain the cause
of so great an effect, it is necessary to describe with accuracy the
nature of the place; and by this means I can afterwards easily
satisfy your above-mentioned request. [Footnote 62: This passage was
evidently intended as an improvement on that immediately preceding
it. The purport of both is essentially the same, but the first is
pitched in a key of ill-disguised annoyance which is absent from the
second. I do not see how these two versions can be reconciled with
the romance-theory held by Prof. Govi.]
I will pass over any description of the form of Asia Minor, or as to
what seas or lands form the limits of its outline and extent,
because I know that by your own diligence and carefulness in your
studies you have not remained in ignorance of these matters ;
and I will go on to describe the true form of the Taurus Mountain
which is the cause of this stupendous and harmful marvel, and which
will serve to advance us in our purpose . This Taurus is that
mountain which, with many others is said to be the ridge of Mount
Caucasus; but wishing to be very clear about it, I desired to speak
to some of the inhabitants of the shores of the Caspian sea, who
give evidence that this must be the true Caucasus, and that though
their mountains bear the same name, yet these are higher; and to
confirm this in the Scythian tongue Caucasus means a very high
[Footnote 68: Caucasus; Herodot Kaoxaais; Armen. Kaukaz.] peak, and
in fact we have no information of there being, in the East or in the
West, any mountain so high. And the proof of this is that the
inhabitants of the countries to the West see the rays of the sun
illuminating a great part of its summit for as much as a quarter of
the longest night. And in the same way, in those countries which lie
to the East.
OF THE STRUCTURE AND SIZE OF MOUNT TAURUS.
[Footnote 73: The statements are of course founded on those of the
'inhabitants' spoken of in 1. 67.] The shadow of this ridge of the
Taurus is of such a height that when, in the middle of June, the Sun
is at its meridian, its shadow extends as far as the borders of
Sarmatia, twelve days off; and in the middle of December it extends
as far as the Hyperborean mountains, which are at a month's journey
to the North . And the side which faces the wind is always free
from clouds and mists, because the wind which is parted in beating
on the rock, closes again on the further side of that rock, and in
its motion carries with it the clouds from all quarters and leaves
them where it strikes. And it is always full of thunderbolts from
the great quantity of clouds which accumulate there, whence the rock
is all riven and full of huge debris [Footnote 77: Sudden storms are
equally common on the heights of Ararat. It is hardly necessary to
observe that Ararat cannot be meant here. Its summit is formed like
the crater of Vesuvius. The peaks sketched on Pl. CXVI-CXVIII are
probably views of the same mountain, taken from different sides.
Near the solitary peak, Pl. CXVIII these three names are written
_goba, arnigasar, caruda_, names most likely of different peaks. Pl.
CXVI and CXVII are in the original on a single sheet folded down the
middle, 30 centimetres high and 43 1/2 wide. On the reverse of one
half of the sheet are notes on _peso_ and _bilancia_ (weight and
balance), on the other are the 'prophecies' printed under Nos. 1293
and 1294. It is evident from the arrangement that these were written
subsequently, on the space which had been left blank. These pages
are facsimiled on Pl. CXVIII. In Pl. CXVI-CXVIII the size is smaller
than in the original; the map of Armenia, Pl. CXVIII, is on Pl. CXIX
slightly enlarged. On this map we find the following names,
beginning from the right hand at the top: _pariardes mo_ (for
Paryadres Mons, Arm. Parchar, now Barchal or Kolai Dagh; Trebizond
is on its slope).
_Aquilone_ --North, _Antitaurus Antitaurus psis mo_ (probably meant
for Thospitis = Lake Van, Arm. Dgov Vanai, Tospoi, and the Mountain
range to the South); _Gordis mo_ (Mountains of Gordyaea), the birth
place of the Tigris; _Oriente_ --East; _Tigris_, and then, to the
left, _Eufrates_. Then, above to the left _Argeo mo_ (now Erdshigas,
an extinct volcano, 12000 feet high); _Celeno mo_ (no doubt Sultan
Dagh in Pisidia). Celeno is the Greek town of KeAouvat-- see Arian
I, 29, I--now the ruins of Dineir); _oriente_ --East; _africo
libezco_ (for libeccio--South West). In the middle of the Euphrates
river on this small map we see a shaded portion surrounded by
mountains, perhaps to indicate the inundation mentioned in l. 35.
The affluent to the Euphrates shown as coming with many windings
from the high land of 'Argeo' on the West, is the Tochma Su, which
joins the main river at Malatie. I have not been able to discover
any map of Armenia of the XVth or XVIth century in which the course
of the Euphrates is laid down with any thing like the correctness
displayed in this sketch. The best I have seen is the Catalonian
Portulan of Olivez de Majorca, executed in 1584, and it is far
behind Leonardo's.]. This mountain, at its base, is inhabited by a
very rich population and is full of most beautiful springs and
rivers, and is fertile and abounding in all good produce,
particularly in those parts which face to the South. But after
mounting about three miles we begin to find forests of great fir
trees, and beech and other similar trees; after this, for a space of
three more miles, there are meadows and vast pastures; and all the
rest, as far as the beginning of the Taurus, is eternal snows which
never disappear at any time, and extend to a height of about
fourteen miles in all. From this beginning of the Taurus up to the
height of a mile the clouds never pass away; thus we have fifteen
miles, that is, a height of about five miles in a straight line; and
the summit of the peaks of the Taurus are as much, or about that.
There, half way up, we begin to find a scorching air and never feel
a breath of wind; but nothing can live long there; there nothing is
brought forth save a few birds of prey which breed in the high
fissures of Taurus and descend below the clouds to seek their prey.
Above the wooded hills all is bare rock, that is, from the clouds
upwards; and the rock is the purest white. And it is impossible to
walk to the high summit on account of the rough and perilous ascent.
[Footnote: 1337. On comparing this commencement of a letter l. 1-2
with that in l. 3 and 4 of No. 1336 it is quite evident that both
refer to the same event. (Compare also No. 1337 l. 10-l2 and 17 with
No. 1336 l. 23, 24 and 32.) But the text No. 1336, including the
fragment l. 3-4, was obviously written later than the draft here
reproduced. The _Diodario_ is not directly addressed--the person
addressed indeed is not known--and it seems to me highly probable
that it was written to some other patron and friend whose name and
position are not mentioned.]
Having often made you, by my letters, acquainted with the things
which have happened, I think I ought not to be silent as to the
events of the last few days, which--...
Having several times--
Having many times rejoiced with you by letters over your prosperous
fortunes, I know now that, as a friend you will be sad with me over
the miserable state in which I find myself; and this is, that during
the last few days I have been in so much trouble, fear, peril and
loss, besides the miseries of the people here, that we have been
envious of the dead; and certainly I do not believe that since the
elements by their separation reduced the vast chaos to order, they
have ever combined their force and fury to do so much mischief to
man. As far as regards us here, what we have seen and gone through
is such that I could not imagine that things could ever rise to such
an amount of mischief, as we experienced in the space of ten hours.
In the first place we were assailed and attacked by the violence and
fury of the winds ; to this was added the falling of great
mountains of snow which filled up all this valley, thus destroying a
great part of our city [Footnote 11: _Della nostra citta_ (Leonardo
first wrote _di questa citta_). From this we may infer that he had
at some time lived in the place in question wherever it might be.].
And not content with this the tempest sent a sudden flood of water
to submerge all the low part of this city ; added to which there
came a sudden rain, or rather a ruinous torrent and flood of water,
sand, mud, and stones, entangled with roots, and stems and fragments
of various trees; and every kind of thing flying through the air
fell upon us; finally a great fire broke out, not brought by the
wind, but carried as it would seem, by ten thousand devils, which
completely burnt up all this neighbourhood and it has not yet
ceased. And those few who remain unhurt are in such dejection and
such terror that they hardly have courage to speak to each other, as
if they were stunned. Having abandoned all our business, we stay
here together in the ruins of some churches, men and women mingled
together, small and great [Footnote 17: _Certe ruine di chiese_.
Either of Armenian churches or of Mosques, which it was not unusual
to speak of as churches.
_Maschi e femmini insieme unite_, implies an infringement of the
usually strict rule of the separation of the sexes.], just like
herds of goats. The neighbours out of pity succoured us with
victuals, and they had previously been our enemies. And if
[Footnote 18: _I vicini, nostri nimici_. The town must then have
stood quite close to the frontier of the country. Compare 1336. L.
7. _vicini ai nostri confini_. Dr. M. JORDAN has already published
lines 4-13 (see _Das Malerbuch, Leipzig_, 1873, p. 90:--his reading
differs from mine) under the title of "Description of a landscape
near Lake Como". We do in fact find, among other loose sheets in the
Codex Atlanticus, certain texts referring to valleys of the Alps
(see Nos. 1030, 1031 and note p. 237) and in the arrangement of the
loose sheets, of which the Codex Atlanticus has been formed, these
happen to be placed close to this text. The compiler stuck both on
the same folio sheet; and if this is not the reason for Dr. JORDAN'S
choosing such a title (Description &c.) I cannot imagine what it can
have been. It is, at any rate, a merely hypothetical statement. The
designation of the population of the country round a city as "the
enemy" (_nemici_) is hardly appropriate to Italy in the time of
it had not been for certain people who succoured us with victuals,
all would have died of hunger. Now you see the state we are in. And
all these evils are as nothing compared with those which are
promised to us shortly.
I know that as a friend you will grieve for my misfortunes, as I, in
former letters have shown my joy at your prosperity ...
Notes about events observed abroad (1338-1339).
BOOK 43. OF THE MOVEMENT OF AIR ENCLOSED IN WATER.
I have seen motions of the air so furious that they have carried,
mixed up in their course, the largest trees of the forest and whole
roofs of great palaces, and I have seen the same fury bore a hole
with a whirling movement digging out a gravel pit, and carrying
gravel, sand and water more than half a mile through the air.
[Footnote: The first sixteen lines of this passage which treat of
the subject as indicated on the title line have no place in this
connexion and have been omitted.]
[Footnote 2: _Ho veduto movimenti_ &c. Nothing of the kind happened
in Italy during Leonardo's lifetime, and it is therefore extremely
probable that this refers to the natural phenomena which are so
fully described in the foregoing passage. (Compare too, No. 1021.)
There can be no doubt that the descriptions of the Deluge in the
Libro di Pittura (Vol. I, No. 607-611), and that of the fall of a
mountain No. 610, l. 17-30 were written from the vivid impressions
derived from personal experience. Compare also Pl. XXXIV-XL.]
[Footnote: It may be inferred from the character of the writing,
which is in the style of the note in facsimile Vol. I, p. 297, that
this passage was written between 1470 and 1480. As the figure 6 at
the end of the text indicates, it was continued on another page, but
I have searched in vain for it. The reverse of this leaf is coloured
red for drawing in silver point, but has not been used for that
purpose but for writing on, and at about the same date. The passages
are given as Nos. 1217, 1218, 1219, 1162 and No. 994 (see note page
218). The text given above is obviously not a fragment of a letter,
but a record of some personal experience. No. 1379 also seems to
refer to Leonardo's journeys in Southern Italy.]
Like a whirling wind which rushes down a sandy and hollow valley,
and which, in its hasty course, drives to its centre every thing
that opposes its furious course ...
No otherwise does the Northern blast whirl round in its tempestuous
Nor does the tempestuous sea bellow so loud, when the Northern blast
dashes it, with its foaming waves between Scylla and Charybdis; nor
Stromboli, nor Mount Etna, when their sulphurous flames, having been
forcibly confined, rend, and burst open the mountain, fulminating
stones and earth through the air together with the flames they
Nor when the inflamed caverns of Mount Etna [Footnote 13: Mongibello
is a name commonly given in Sicily to Mount Etna (from Djebel,
Arab.=mountain). Fr. FERRARA, _Descrizione dell' Etna con la storia
delle eruzioni_ (Palermo, 1818, p. 88) tells us, on the authority of
the _Cronaca del Monastero Benedettino di Licordia_ of an eruption
of the Volcano with a great flow of lava on Sept. 21, 1447. The next
records of the mountain are from the years 1533 and 1536. A. Percy
neither does mention any eruptions of Etna during the years to which
this note must probably refer _Memoire des tremblements de terre de
la peninsule italique, Vol. XXII des Memoires couronnees et Memoires
des savants etrangers. Academie Royal de Belgique_).
A literal interpretation of the passage would not, however, indicate
an allusion to any great eruption; particularly in the connection
with Stromboli, where the periodical outbreaks in very short
intervals are very striking to any observer, especially at night
time, when passing the island on the way from Naples to Messina.],
rejecting the ill-restained element vomit it forth, back to its own
region, driving furiously before it every obstacle that comes in the
way of its impetuous rage ...
Unable to resist my eager desire and wanting to see the great ... of
the various and strange shapes made by formative nature, and having
wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the entrance of
a great cavern, in front of which I stood some time, astonished and
unaware of such a thing. Bending my back into an arch I rested my
left hand on my knee and held my right hand over my down-cast and
contracted eye brows: often bending first one way and then the
other, to see whether I could discover anything inside, and this
being forbidden by the deep darkness within, and after having
remained there some time, two contrary emotions arose in me, fear
and desire--fear of the threatening dark cavern, desire to see
whether there were any marvellous thing within it ...
Drafts of Letters to Lodovico il Moro (1340-1345).
[Footnote: The numerous corrections, the alterations in the figures
(l. 18) and the absence of any signature prove that this is merely
the rough draft of a letter to Lodovico il Moro. It is one of the
very few manuscripts which are written from left to right--see the
facsimile of the beginning as here reproduced. This is probably the
final sketch of a document the clean of which copy was written in
the usual manner. Leonardo no doubt very rarely wrote so, and this
is probably the reason of the conspicuous dissimilarity in the
handwriting, when he did. (Compare Pl. XXXVIII.) It is noteworthy
too that here the orthography and abbreviations are also
exceptional. But such superficial peculiarities are not enough to
stamp the document as altogether spurious. It is neither a forgery
nor the production of any artist but Leonardo himself. As to this
point the contents leave us no doubt as to its authenticity,
particularly l. 32 (see No. 719, where this passage is repeated).
But whether the fragment, as we here see it, was written from
Leonardo's dictation--a theory favoured by the orthography, the
erasures and corrections--or whether it may be a copy made for or by
Melzi or Mazenta is comparatively unimportant. There are in the
Codex Atlanticus a few other documents not written by Leonardo
himself, but the notes in his own hand found on the reverse pages of
these leaves amply prove that they were certainly in Leonardo's
possession. This mark of ownership is wanting to the text in
question, but the compilers of the Codex Atlanticus, at any rate,
accepted it as a genuine document.
With regard to the probable date of this projected letter see Vol.
II, p. 3.]
Most illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the
specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of
instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said
instruments are nothing different to those in common use: I shall
endeavour, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to
your Excellency showing your Lordship my secrets, and then offering
them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at
opportune moments as well as all those things which, in part, shall
be briefly noted below.
1) I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to
be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any
time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by
fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods
of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2) I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of
the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways
and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3) Item. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength
of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a
place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods
for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded
on a rock, &c.
4) Again I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry;
and with these can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and
with the smoke of these causing great terror to the enemy, to his
great detriment and confusion.
9)  And when the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many
machines most efficient for offence and defence; and vessels which
will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
5) Item. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made
without noise to reach a designated [spot], even if it were needed
to pass under a trench or a river.
6) Item. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable which,
entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of
men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry
could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
7) Item. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars and light
ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
8) Where the operation of bombardment should fail, I would contrive
catapults, mangonels, _trabocchi_ and other machines of marvellous
efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the
variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of
offence and defence.
10) In time of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and
to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of
buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to
Item: I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze or clay, and also
in painting whatever may be done, and as well as any other, be he
whom he may.
 Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to
the immortal glory and eternal honour of the prince your father of
happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.
And if any one of the above-named things seem to any one to be
impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment
in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency--to
whom I commend myself with the utmost humility &c.
To my illustrious Lord, Lodovico, Duke of Bari, Leonardo da Vinci of
[Footnote: Evidently a note of the superscription of a letter to the
Duke, and written, like the foregoing from left to right. The
manuscript containing it is of the year 1493. Lodovico was not
proclaimed and styled Duke of Milan till September 1494. The Dukedom
of Bari belonged to the Sforza family till 1499.]
You would like to see a model which will prove useful to you and to
me, also it will be of use to those who will be the cause of our
[Footnote: 1342. 1343. These two notes occur in the same not very
voluminous MS. as the former one and it is possible that they are
fragments of the same letter. By the _Modello_, the equestrian
statue is probably meant, particularly as the model of this statue
was publicly exhibited in this very year, 1493, on tne occasion of
the marriage of the Emperor Maximilian with Bianca Maria Sforza.]
There are here, my Lord, many gentlemen who will undertake this
expense among them, if they are allowed to enjoy the use of
admission to the waters, the mills, and the passage of vessels and
when it is sold to them the price will be repaid to them by the
canal of Martesana.
I am greatly vexed to be in necessity, but I still more regret that
this should be the cause of the hindrance of my wish which is always
disposed to obey your Excellency.
Perhaps your Excellency did not give further orders to Messer
Gualtieri, believing that I had money enough.
I am greatly annoyed that you should have found me in necessity, and
that my having to earn my living should have hindered me ...
 It vexes me greatly that having to earn my living has forced me
to interrupt the work and to attend to small matters, instead of
following up the work which your Lordship entrusted to me. But I
hope in a short time to have earned so much that I may carry it out
quietly to the satisfaction of your Excellency, to whom I commend
myself; and if your Lordship thought that I had money, your Lordship
was deceived. I had to feed 6 men for 56 months, and have had 50
And if any other comission is given me
by any ...
of the reward of my service. Because I am
not [able] to be ...
things assigned because meanwhile they
have ... to them ...
... which they well may settle rather than I ...
not my art which I wish to change and ...
given some clothing if I dare a sum ...
My Lord, I knowing your Excellency's
mind to be occupied ...
to remind your Lordship of my small matters
and the arts put to silence
that my silence might be the cause of making
your Lordship scorn ...
my life in your service. I hold myself ever
in readiness to obey ...
[Footnote 11: See No. 723, where this passage is repeated.]
Of the horse I will say nothing because
I know the times [are bad]
to your Lordship how I had still to receive
two years' salary of the ...
with the two skilled workmen who are constantly
in my pay and at my cost
that at last I found myself advanced the
said sum about 15 lire ...
works of fame by which I could show to
those who shall see it that I have been
everywhere, but I do not know where I
could bestow my work [more] ...
[Footnote 17: See No. 1344 l. 12.]
I, having been working to gain my
I not having been informed what it is, I find
[Footnote 19: In April, 1498, Leonardo was engaged in
painting the Saletta Nigra of the Castello at Milan.
(See G. MONGERI, _l'Arte in Milano_, 1872, p. 417.)]
remember the commission to paint the
I conveyed to your Lordship only requesting
[Footnote: The paper on which this is written is torn down the
middle; about half of each line remains.]
Draft of letter to be sent to Piacenza (1346. 1347).
[Footnote: 1346. 1347. Piacenza belonged to Milan. The Lord spoken
of in this letter, is no doubt Lodovico il Moro. One may infer from
the concluding sentence (No. 1346, l. 33. 34 and No. 1347), that
Leonardo, who no doubt compiled this letter, did not forward it to
Piacenza himself, but gave it to some influential patron, under
whose name and signature a copy of it was sent to the Commission.]
Magnificent Commissioners of Buildings I, understanding that your
Magnificencies have made up your minds to make certain great works
in bronze, will remind you of certain things: first that you should
not be so hasty or so quick to give the commission, lest by this
haste it should become impossible to select a good model and a good
master; and some man of small merit may be chosen, who by his
insufficiency may cause you to be abused by your descendants,
judging that this age was but ill supplied with men of good counsel
and with good masters; seeing that other cities, and chiefly the
city of the Florentines, has been as it were in these very days,
endowed with beautiful and grand works in bronze; among which are
the doors of their Baptistery. And this town of Florence, like
Piacenza, is a place of intercourse, through which many foreigners
pass; who, seeing that the works are fine and of good quality, carry
away a good impression, and will say that that city is well filled
with worthy inhabitants, seeing the works which bear witness to
their opinion; and on the other hand, I say seeing so much metal
expended and so badly wrought, it were less shame to the city if the
doors had been of plain wood; because, the material, costing so
little, would not seem to merit any great outlay of skill...
Now the principal parts which are sought for in cities are their
cathedrals, and of these the first things which strike the eye are
the doors, by which one passes into these churches.
Beware, gentlemen of the Commission, lest too great speed in your
determination, and so much haste to expedite the entrusting of so
great a work as that which I hear you have ordered, be the cause
that that which was intended for the honour of God and of men should
be turned to great dishonour of your judgments, and of your city,
which, being a place of mark, is the resort and gathering-place of
innumerable foreigners. And this dishonour would result if by your
lack of diligence you were to put your trust in some vaunter, who by
his tricks or by favour shown to him here should obtain such work
from you, by which lasting and very great shame would result to him
and to you. Thus I cannot help being angry when I consider what men
those are who have conferred with you as wishing to undertake this
great work without thinking of their sufficiency for it, not to say
more. This one is a potter, that one a maker of cuirasses, this one
is a bell-founder, another a bell ringer, and one is even a
bombardier; and among them one in his Lordship's service, who
boasted that he was the gossip of Messer Ambrosio Ferrere [Footnote
26: Messer Ambrogio Ferrere was Farmer of the Customs under the
Duke. Piacenza at that time belonged to Milan.], who has some power
and who has made him some promises; and if this were not enough he
would mount on horseback, and go to his Lord and obtain such letters
that you could never refuse [to give] him the work. But consider
where masters of real talent and fit for such work are brought when
they have to compete with such men as these. Open your eyes and look
carefully lest your money should be spent in buying your own
disgrace. I can declare to you that from that place you will procure
none but average works of inferior and coarse masters. There is no
capable man,-- and you may believe me,--except Leonardo the
Florentine, who is making the equestrian statue in bronze of the
Duke Francesco and who has no need to bring himself into notice,
because he has work for all his life time; and I doubt, whether
being so great a work, he will ever finish it .
The miserable painstakers ... with what hope may they expect a
reward of their merit?
There is one whom his Lordship invited from Florence to do this work
and who is a worthy master, but with so very much business he will
never finish it; and you may imagine that a difference there is to
be seen between a beautiful object and an ugly one. Quote Pliny.
Letter to the Cardinal Ippolito d' Este.
[Footnote: This letter addressed to the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este is
here given from Marchese G. CAMPORI'S publication: _Nuovi documenti
per la Vita di Leonardo da Vinci. Atti e Memorie delle R. R.
Deputazioni di Storia patria per la provincie modenesi e parmenesi,
Vol. III._ It is the only text throughout this work which I have not
myself examined and copied from the original. The learned discoverer
of this letter--the only letter from Leonardo hitherto known as
having been sent--adds these interesting remarks: _Codesto Cardinale
nato ad Ercole I. nel 1470, arcivescovo di Strigonia a sette anni,
poi d'Agra, aveva conseguito nel 1497 la pingue ed ambita cattedra
di Milano, la dove avra conosciuto il Vinci, sebbene il poco amore
ch'ei professava alle arti lasci credere che le proteste di servitu
di Leonardo piu che a gratitudine per favori ricevuti e per opere a
lui allogate, accennino a speranza per un favore che si aspetta.
Notabile e ancora in questo prezioso documento la ripetuta signatura
del grande artista 'che si scrive Vincio e Vincius, non da Vinci
come si tiene comunemente, sebbene l'una e l'altra possano valere a
significare cosi il casato come il paese; restando a sapere se il
nome del paese di Vinci fosse assunto a cognome della famiglia di
Leonardo nel qual supposto piu propriamento avrebbe a chiamarsi
Leonardo Vinci, o Vincio (latinamente Vincius) com'egli stesso amo
segnarsi in questa lettera, e come scrissero parecchi contenporanei
di lui, il Casio, il Cesariano, Geoffrey Tory, il Gaurico, il
Bandello, Raffaelle Maffei, il Paciolo. Per ultimo non lascero
d'avvertire come la lettera del Vinci e assai ben conservata, di
nitida e larga scrittura in forma pienemente corrispondente a quella
dei suoi manoscritti, vergata all'uso comune da sinistra a destra,
anziche contrariamente come fu suo costume; ma indubbiamente
autentica e fornita della menzione e del suggello che fresca ancora
conserva l'impronta di una testa di profilo da un picciolo antico
cammeo._ (Compare No. 1368, note.)]
Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord.
The Lord Ippolito, Cardinal of Este
Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord.
I arrived from Milan but a few days since and finding that my elder
brother refuses to
carry into effect a will, made three years ago when my father
died--as also, and no less, because I would not fail in a matter I
esteem most important--I cannot forbear to crave of your most
Reverend Highness a letter of recommendation and favour to Ser
Raphaello Hieronymo, at present one of the illustrious members of
the Signoria before whom my cause is being argued; and more
particularly it has been laid by his Excellency the Gonfaloniere
into the hands of the said Ser Raphaello, that his Worship may have
to decide and end it before the festival of All Saints. And
therefore, my Lord, I entreat you, as urgently as I know how and am
able, that your Highness will write a letter to the said Ser
Raphaello in that admirable and pressing manner which your Highness
can use, recommending to him Leonardo Vincio, your most humble
servant as I am, and shall always be; requesting him and pressing
him not only to do me justice but to do so with despatch; and I have
not the least doubt, from many things that I hear, that Ser
Raphaello, being most affectionately devoted to your Highness, the
matter will issue _ad votum_. And this I shall attribute to your
most Reverend Highness' letter, to whom I once more humbly commend
myself. _Et bene valeat_.
Florence XVIIIa 7bris 1507.
E. V. R. D.
your humble servant
Leonardus Vincius, pictor.
Draft of Letter to the Governor of Milan.
I am afraid lest the small return I have made for the great
benefits, I have received from your Excellency, have not made you
somewhat angry with me, and that this is why to so many letters
which I have written to your Lordship I have never had an answer. I
now send Salai to explain to your Lordship that I am almost at an
end of the litigation I had with my brother; that I hope to find
myself with you this Easter, and to carry with me two pictures of
two Madonnas of different sizes. These were done for our most
Christian King, or for whomsoever your Lordship may please. I should
be very glad to know on my return thence where I may have to reside,
for I would not give any more trouble to your Lordship. Also, as I
have worked for the most Christian King, whether my salary is to
continue or not. I wrote to the President as to that water which the
king granted me, and which I was not put in possession of because at
that time there was a dearth in the canal by reason of the great
droughts and because [Footnote:Compare Nos. 1009 and 1010. Leonardo
has noted the payment of the pension from the king in 1505.] its
outlets were not regulated; but he certainly promised me that when
this was done I should be put in possession. Thus I pray your
Lordship that you will take so much trouble, now that these outlets
are regulated, as to remind the President of my matter; that is, to
give me possession of this water, because on my return I hope to
make there instruments and other things which will greatly please
our most Christian King. Nothing else occurs to me. I am always
yours to command. [Footnote:1349. Charles d'Amboise, Marechal de
Chaumont, was Governor of Milan under Louis XII. Leonardo was in
personal communication with him so early as in 1503. He was absent
from Milan in the autumn of 1506 and from October l5l0--when he
besieged Pope Julius II. in Bologna--till his death, which took
place at Correggio, February 11, 1511. Francesco Vinci, Leonardo's
uncle, died--as Amoretti tells us--in the winter of l5l0-11 (or
according to Uzielli in 1506?), and Leonardo remained in Florence
for business connected with his estate. The letter written with
reference to this affair, No. 1348, is undoubtedly earlier than the
letters Nos. 1349 and 1350. Amoretti tells us, _Memorie Storiche_,
ch. II, that the following note existed on the same leaf in MS. C.
A. I have not however succeeded in finding it. The passage runs
thus: _Jo sono quasi al fine del mio letizio che io o con mie
fratetgli ... Ancora ricordo a V. Excia la facenda che o cum Ser
Juliana mio Fratello capo delli altri fratelli ricordandoli come se
offerse di conciar le cose nostre fra noi fratelli del comune della
eredita de mio Zio, e quelli costringa alla expeditione, quale
conteneva la lettera che lui me mando._]
Drafts of Letters to the Superintendent of Canals and to Fr. Melzi.
Magnificent President, I am sending thither Salai, my pupil, who is
the bearer of this, and from him you will hear by word of mouth the
cause of my...
Magnificent President, I...
Magnificent President:--Having ofttimes remembered the proposals
made many times to me by your Excellency, I take the liberty of
writing to remind your Lordship of the promise made to me at my last
departure, that is the possession of the twelve inches of water
granted to me by the most Christian King. Your Lordship knows that I
did not enter into possession, because at that time when it was
given to me there was a dearth of water in the canal, as well by
reason of the great drought as also because the outlets were not
regulated; but your Excellency promised me that as soon as this was
done, I should have my rights. Afterwards hearing that the canal was
complete I wrote several times to your Lordship and to Messer
Girolamo da Cusano,who has in his keeping the deed of this gift; and
so also I wrote to Corigero and never had a reply. I now send
thither Salai, my pupil, the bearer of this, to whom your Lordship
may tell by word of mouth all that happened in the matter about
which I petition your Excellency. I expect to go thither this Easter
since I am nearly at the end of my lawsuit, and I will take with me
two pictures of our Lady which I have begun, and at the present time
have brought them on to a very good end; nothing else occurs to me.
My Lord the love which your Excellency has always shown me and the
benefits that I have constantly received from you I have hitherto...
I am fearful lest the small return I have made for the great
benefits I have received from your Excellency may not have made you
somewhat annoyed with me. And this is why, to many letters which I
have written to your Excellency I have never had an answer. I now
send to you Salai to explain to your Excellency that I am almost at
the end of my litigation with my brothers, and that I hope to be
with you this Easter and carry with me two pictures on which are two
Madonnas of different sizes which I began for the most Christian
King, or for whomsoever you please. I should be very glad to know
where, on my return from this place, I shall have to reside, because
I do not wish to give more trouble to your Lordship; and then,
having worked for the most Christian King, whether my salary is to
be continued or not. I write to the President as to the water that
the king granted me of which I had not been put in possession by
reason of the dearth in the canal, caused by the great drought and
because its outlets were not regulated; but he promised me certainly
that as soon as the regulation was made, I should be put in
possession of it; I therefore pray you that, if you should meet the
said President, you would be good enough, now that the outlets are
regulated, to remind the said President to cause me to be put in
possession of that water, since I understand it is in great measure
in his power. Nothing else occurs to me; always yours to command.
Good day to you Messer Francesco. Why, in God's name, of all the
letters I have written to you, have you never answered one. Now wait
till I come, by God, and I shall make you write so much that perhaps
you will become sick of it.
Dear Messer Francesco. I am sending thither Salai to learn from His
Magnificence the President to what end the regulation of the water
has come since, at my departure this regulation of the outlets of
the canal had been ordered, because His Magnificence the President
promised me that as soon as this was done I should be satisfied. It
is now some time since I heard that the canal was in order, as also
its outlets, and I immediately wrote to the President and to you,
and then I repeated it, and never had an answer. So you will have
the goodness to answer me as to that which happened, and as I am not
to hurry the matter, would you take the trouble, for the love of me,
to urge the President a little, and also Messer Girolamo Cusano, to
whom you will commend me and offer my duty to his Magnificence.
[Footnote: 1350. 28-36. Draft of a letter to Francesco Melzi, born
l493--a youth therefore of about 17 in 1510. Leonardo addresses his
young friend as "Messer", as being the son of a noble house. Melzi
practised art under Leonardo as a dilettante and not as a pupil,
like Cesare da Sesto and others (See LERMOLIEFF, _Die Galerien_ &c.,
Drafts of a letter to Giuliano de' Medici (1351-1352).
[Most illustrious Lord. I greatly rejoice most Illustrious Lord at
I was so greatly rejoiced, most illustrious Lord, by the desired
restoration of your health, that it almost had the effect that [my
own health recovered]--[I have got through my illness]--my own
illness left me-- --of your Excellency's almost restored health. But
I am extremely vexed that I have not been able completely to satisfy
the wishes of your Excellency, by reason of the wickedness of that
deceiver, for whom I left nothing undone which could be done for him
by me and by which I might be of use to him; and in the first place
his allowances were paid to him before the time, which I believe he
would willingly deny, if I had not the writing signed by myself and
the interpreter. And I, seeing that he did not work for me unless he
had no work to do for others, which he was very careful in
solliciting, invited him to dine with me, and to work afterwards
near me, because, besides the saving of expense, he
[Footnote 1351. 1353: It is clear from the contents of this notes
that they refer to Leonardo's residence in Rome in 1513-1515. Nor
can there be any doubt that they were addressed to Leonardo's patron
at the time: Giuliano de' Medici, third son of Lorenzo the
Magnificent and brother of Pope Leo X (born 1478). In 1512 he became
the head of the Florentine Republic. The Pope invited him to Rome,
where he settled; in 1513 he was named patrician with much splendid
ceremonial. The medal struck in honour of the event bears the words
MAG. IVLIAN. MEDICES. Leonardo too uses the style "Magnifico", in
his letter. Compare also No. 1377.
GlNO CAPPONI (_Storia della Repubblica di Firenze_, Vol. III, p.
139) thus describes the character of Giuliano de' Medici, who died
in 1516: _Era il migliore della famiglia, di vita placida, grande
spenditore, tenendo intorno a se uomini ingegnosi, ed ogni nuova
cosa voleva provare._
See too GREGOROVIUS, _Geschichte der Stadi Rom_, VIII (book XIV.
III, 2): _Die Luftschlosser furstlicher Grosse, wozu ihn der Papst
hatte erheben wollen zerfielen. Julian war der edelste aller
damaligen Medici, ein Mensch von innerlicher Richtung, unbefriedigt
durch das Leben, mitten im Sonnenglanz der Herrlichkeit Leo's X.
eine dunkle Gestalt die wie ein Schatten voruberzog._ Giuliano lived
in the Vatican, and it may be safely inferred from No. 1352 l. 2,
and No. 1353 l. 4, that Leonardo did the same.
From the following unpublished notice in the Vatican archives, which
M. Eug. Muntz, librarian of the Ecole des Beaux arts, Paris, has
done me the favour to communicate to me, we get a more accurate view
of Leonardo's relation to the often named GIORGIO TEDESCO:
_Nota delle provisione_ (sic) _a da pagare per me in nome del nostro
ill. S. Bernardo Bini e chompa di Roma, e prima della illma sua
chonsorte ogni mese d. 800.
A Ldo da Vinci per sua provisione d. XXXIII, e piu d. VII al detto
per la provisione di Giorgio tedescho, che sono in tutto d. 40.
From this we learn, that seven ducats formed the German's monthly
wages, but according to No. 1353 l. 7 he pretended that eight ducats
had been agreed upon.]
would acquire the Italian language. He always promised, but would
never do so. And this I did also, because that Giovanni, the German
who makes the mirrors, was there always in the workshop, and wanted
to see and to know all that was being done there and made it known
outside ... strongly criticising it; and because he dined with those
of the Pope's guard, and then they went out with guns killing birds
among the ruins; and this went on from after dinner till the
evening; and when I sent Lorenzo to urge him to work he said that he
would not have so many masters over him, and that his work was for
your Excellency's Wardrobe; and thus two months passed and so it
went on; and one day finding Gian Niccolo of the Wardrobe and asking
whether the German had finished the work for your Magnificence, he
told me this was not true, but only that he had given him two guns
to clean. Afterwards, when I had urged him farther, be left the
workshop and began to work in his room, and lost much time in making
another pair of pincers and files and other tools with screws; and
there he worked at mills for twisting silk which he hid when any one
of my people went in, and with a thousand oaths and mutterings, so
that none of them would go there any more.
I was so greatly rejoiced, most Illustrious Lord, by the desired
restoration of your health, that my own illness almost left me. But
I am greatly vexed at not having been able to completely satisfy
your Excellency's wishes by reason of the wickedness of that German
deceiver, for whom I left nothing undone by which I could have hope
to please him; and secondly I invited him to lodge and board with
me, by which means I should constantly see the work he was doing and
with greater ease correct his errors while, besides this, he would
learn the Italian tongue, by means of which be could with more ease
talk without an interpreter; his moneys were always given him in
advance of the time when due. Afterwards he wanted to have the
models finished in wood, just as they were to be in iron, and wished
to carry them away to his own country. But this I refused him,
telling him that I would give him, in drawing, the breadth, length,
height and form of what he had to do; and so we remained in
The next thing was that he made himself another workshop and pincers
and tools in his room where he slept, and there he worked for
others; afterwards he went to dine with the Swiss of the guard,
where there are idle fellows, in which he beat them all; and most
times they went two or three together with guns, to shoot birds
among the ruins, and this went on till evening.
At last I found how this master Giovanni the mirror-maker was he who
had done it all, for two reasons; the first because he had said that
my coming here had deprived him of the countenance and favour of
your Lordship which always... The other is that he said that his
iron-workers' rooms suited him for working at his mirrors, and of
this he gave proof; for besides making him my enemy, he made him
sell all he had and leave his workshop to him, where he works with a
number of workmen making numerous mirrors to send to the fairs.
I was so greatly rejoiced, most Illustrious Lord, by the wished for
recovery of your health, that my own ills have almost left me; and I
say God be praised for it. But it vexes me greatly that I have not
been able completely to satisfy your Excellency's wishes by reason
of the wickedness of that German deceiver, for whom I left nothing
undone by which I could hope to please him; and secondly I invited
him to lodge and board with me, by which means I should see
constantly the work he was doing, for which purpose I would have a
table fixed at the foot of one of these windows, where he could work
with the file and finish the things made below; and so I should
constantly see the work he might do, and it could be corrected with
Draft of letter written at Rome.
This other hindered me in anatomy, blaming it before the Pope; and
likewise at the hospital; and he has filled  this whole Belvedere
with workshops for mirrors; and he did the same thing in Maestro
Giorgio's room. He said that he had been promised  eight ducats
every month, beginning with the first day, when he set out, or at
latest when he spoke with you; and that you agreed.
Seeing that he seldom stayed in the workshop, and that he ate a
great deal, I sent him word that, if he liked I could deal with him
separately for each thing that he might make, and would give him
what we might agree to be a fair valuation. He took counsel with his
neighbour and gave up his room, selling every thing, and went to
Miscellaneous Records (1354. 1355).
[Footnote: A puzzling passage, meant, as it would seem, for a jest.
Compare the description of Giants in Dante, _Inf_. XXI and XXII.
Perhaps Leonardo had the Giant Antaeus in his mind. Of him the myth
relates that he was a son of Ge, that he fed on lions; that he
hunted in Libya and killed the inhabitants. He enjoyed the
peculiarity of renewing his strength whenever he fell and came in
contact with his mother earth; but that Hercules lifted him up and
so conquered and strangled him. Lucan gives a full account of the
struggle. Pharsalia IV, 617. The reading of this passage, which is
very indistinctly written, is in many places doubtful.]
Dear Benedetto de' Pertarti. When the proud giant fell because of
the bloody and miry state of the ground it was as though a mountain
had fallen so that the country shook as with an earthquake, and
terror fell on Pluto in hell. From the violence of the shock he lay
as stunned on the level ground. Suddenly the people, seeing him as
one killed by a thunderbolt, turned back; like ants running wildly
over the body of the fallen oak, so these rushing over his ample
limbs.......... them with frequent wounds; by which, the giant being
roused and feeling himself almost covered by the multitude, he
suddenly perceives the smarting of the stabs, and sent forth a roar
which sounded like a terrific clap of thunder; and placing his hands
on the ground he raised his terrible face: and having lifted one
hand to his head he found it full of men and rabble sticking to it
like the minute creatures which not unfrequently are found there;
wherefore with a shake of his head he sends the men flying through
the air just as hail does when driven by the fury of the winds. Many
of these men were found to be dead; stamping with his feet.
And clinging to his hair, and striving to hide in it, they behaved
like sailors in a storm, who run up the ropes to lessen the force of
the wind [by taking in sail].
News of things from the East.
Be it known to you that in the month of June there appeared a Giant,
who came from the Lybian desert... mad with rage like ants....
struck down by the rude.
This great Giant was born in Mount Atlas and was a hero ... and had
to fight against the Egyptians and Arabs, Medes and Persians. He
lived in the sea on whales, grampuses and ships.
Mars fearing for his life took refuge under the... of Jove.
And at the great fall it seemed as though the whole province quaked.
This spirit returns to the brain whence it had departed, with a loud
voice and with these words, it moved...
And if any man though he may have wisdom or goodness .........
[Footnote: This passage, very difficult to decipher, is on the
reverse of a drawing at Windsor, Pl. CXXII, which possibly has some
connection with it. The drawing is slightly reduced in this
reproduction; the original being 25 cm. high by 19 cm. wide.]
O blessed and happy spirit whence comest thou? Well have I known
this man, much against my will. This one is a receptacle of
villainy; he is a perfect heap of the utmost ingratitude combined
with every vice. But of what use is it to fatigue myself with vain
words? Nothing is to be found in them but every form of sin ... And
if there should be found among them any that possesses any good,
they will not be treated differently to myself by other men; and in
fine, I come to the conclusion that it is bad if they are hostile,
and worse if they are friendly.
Miscellaneous drafts of letters and personal records (1356--1368).
All the ills that are or ever were, if they could be set to work by
him, would not satisfy the desires of his iniquitous soul; and I
could not in any length of time describe his nature to you, but I
I know one who, having promised me much, less than my due, being
disappointed of his presumptuous desires, has tried to deprive me of
all my friends; and as he has found them wise and not pliable to his
will, he has menaced me that, having found means of denouncing me,
he would deprive me of my benefactors. Hence I have informed your
Lordship of this, to the end [that this man who wishes to sow the
usual scandals, may find no soil fit for sowing the thoughts and
deeds of his evil nature] so that he, trying to make your Lordship,
the instrument of his iniquitous and maliceous nature may be
disappointed of his desire.
[Footnote: Below this text we read gusstino--Giustino and in another
passage on the same page Justin is quoted (No. 1210, 1. 48). The two
have however no real connection.]
And in this case I know that I shall make few enemies seeing that no
one will believe what I can say of him; for they are but few whom
his vices have disgusted, and he only dislikes those men whose
natures are contrary to those vices. And many hate their fathers,
and break off friendship with those who reprove their vices; and he
will not permit any examples against them, nor any advice.
If you meet with any one who is virtuous do not drive him from you;
do him honour, so that he may not have to flee from you and be
reduced to hiding in hermitages, or caves or other solitary places
to escape from your treachery; if there is such an one among you do
him honour, for these are our Saints upon earth; these are they who
deserve statues from us, and images; but remember that their images
are not to be eaten by you, as is still done in some parts of India
[Footnote 15: In explanation of this passage I have received the
following communication from Dr. G. W. LEITNER of Lahore: "So far as
Indian customs are known to us, this practice spoken of by Leonardo
as 'still existing in some parts of India' is perfectly unknown; and
it is equally opposed to the spirit of Hinduism, Mohammedanism and
Sikhism. In central Thibet the ashes of the dead, when burnt, are
mixed with dough, and small figures--usually of Buddha--are stamped
out of them and some are laid in the grave while others are
distributed among the relations. The custom spoken of by Leonardo
may have prevailed there but I never heard of it." Possibly Leonardo
refers here to customs of nations of America.] where, when the
images have according to them, performed some miracle, the priests
cut them in pieces, being of wood, and give them to all the people
of the country, not without payment; and each one grates his portion
very fine, and puts it upon the first food he eats; and thus
believes that by faith he has eaten his saint who then preserves him
from all perils. What do you think here, Man, of your own species?
Are you so wise as you believe yourselves to be? Are these things to
be done by men?
As I told you in past days, you know that I am without any....
Francesco d'Antonio. Bernardo di Maestro Jacopo.
Tell me how the things happened.
j lorezo\\\ 2 inbiadali\\\ 3 inferri de\\\ 4in lorezo\\\ 5[inno
abuil]\\ 6 in acocatu\\\ 7 per la sella\\\ 8colte di lor\\\ 9v
cavallott\\\ I0el uiagg\\\ IIal\\\ I2a lurez\\\ 13in biada\\\
14inferri\\\ 15abuss\\\ 16in viagg\\\ 17alorz\\\ [Footnote: This
seems to be the beginning of a letter, but only the first words of
the lines have been preserved, the leaf being torn down the middle.
No translation is possible.]
And so may it please our great Author that I may demonstrate the
nature of man and his customs, in the way I describe his figure.
[Footnote: A preparatory note for the passage given as No. 798, 11.
This writing distinctly about the kite seems to be my destiny,
because among the first recollections of my infancy, it seemed to me
that, as I was in my cradle, a kite came to me and opened my mouth
with its tail, and struck me several times with its tail inside my
[Footnote: This note probably refers to the text No. 1221.]
[When I did well, as a boy you used to put me in prison. Now if I do
it being grown up, you will do worse to me.]
Tell me if anything was ever done.
Tell me if ever I did a thing which me ....
Do not reveal, if liberty is precious to you; my face is the prison
[Footnote: This note seems to be a quotation.]
Maestro Leonardo of Florence.
[Footnote: So Leonardo writes his name on a sheet with sundry short
notes, evidently to try a pen. Compare the signature with those in
Nos. 1341, 1348 and 1374 (see also No. 1346, l. 33). The form
"Lionardo" does not occur in the autographs. The Portrait of the
Master in the Royal Library at Turin, which is reproduced--slightly
diminished--on Pl. I, has in the original two lines of writing
underneath; one in red chalk of two or three words is partly
effaced: _lionardo it... lm_ (or _lai_?); the second written in
pencil is as follows: _fatto da lui stesso assai vecchio_. In both
of these the writing is very like the Master's, but is certainly
only an imitation.]
Notes bearing Dates (1369--1378).
The day of Santa Maria _della Neve_ [of the Snows] August the 2nd
1473. [Footnote: W. An. I. 1368. 1369. This date is on a drawing of
a rocky landscape. See _Chronique des Arts_ 1881 no. 23: _Leonard de
Vinci a-t-il ete au Righi le 5 aout 1473_? letter by H. de
Geymuller. The next following date in the MSS. is 1478 (see No.
On the 2nd of April 1489, book entitled 'Of the human figure'.
[Footnote: While the letters in the MS. notes of 1473 and 1478 are
very ornate, this note and the texts on anatomy on the same sheet
(for instance No. 805) are in the same simple hand as we see on Pl.
CXVI and CXIX. No 1370 is the only dated note of the years between
1480 and 1489, and the characters are in all essential points
identical with those that we see in the latest manuscripts written
in France (compare the facsimiles on Pl. CXV and p. 254), so that it
is hardly possible to determine exactly the date of a manuscript
from the style of the handwriting, if it does not betray the
peculiarities of style as displayed in the few notes dated previous
to l480.--Compare the facsimile of the manuscripts 1479 on Pl.LXII,
No. 2; No. 664, note, Vol. I p. 346. This shows already a marked
simplicity as compared with the calligraphy of I478.
The text No. 720 belongs to the year 1490; No. 1510 to the year
1492; No. 1459, No. 1384 and No. 1460 to the year 1493; No. 1463,
No. 1517, No. 1024, 1025 and 1461 to the year 1494; Nos. 1523 and
1524 to the year 1497.
On the 1st of August 1499, I wrote here of motion and of weight.
[Footnote:1371. _Scrissi qui_. Leonardo does not say where; still we
may assume that it was not in Milan. Amoretti writes, _Memorie
Storiche_, chap. XIX: _Sembra pertanto che non nel 1499 ma nel 1500,
dopo il ritorno e la prigionia del duca, sia da qui partito Lionardo
per andare a Firenze; ed e quindi probabile, che i mesi di governo
nuovo e incerto abbia passati coll' amico suo Francesco Melzi a
Vaprio, ove meglio che altrove studiar potea la natura, e
soprattutta le acque, e l'Adda specialmente, che gia era stato
l'ogetto delle sue idrostatiche ricerche_. At that time Melzi was
only six years of age. The next date is 1502; to this year belong
No. 1034, 1040, 1042, 1048 and 1053. The note No. 1525 belongs to
the year 1503.]
On the 9th of July 1504, Wednesday, at seven o'clock, died Ser Piero
da Vinci, notary at the Palazzo del Podesta, my father, --at seven
o'clock, being eighty years old, leaving behind ten sons and two
[Footnote: This statement of Ser Piero's age contradicts that of the
_Riassunto della portata di Antonio da Vinci_ (Leonardo's
grandfather), who speaks of Ser Piero as being thirty years old in
1457; and that of the _Riassunto della portata di Ser Piero e
Francesco_, sons of Antonia da Vinci, where Ser Piero is mentioned
as being forty in 1469. These documents were published by G.
UZIELLI, _Ricerche intorno a L. da Vinci, Firenze_, 1872, pp. 144
and 146. Leonardo was, as is well known, a natural son. His mother
'La Catarina' was married in 1457 to Acchattabriga di Piero del
Vaccha da Vinci. She died in 1519. Leonardo never mentions her in
the Manuscripts. In the year of Leonardo's birth Ser Piero married
Albiera di Giovanni Amadoci, and after her death at the age of
thirty eight he again married, Francesca, daughter of Ser Giovanni
Lanfredi, then only fifteen. Their children were Leonardo's
halfbrothers, Antonio (b. 1476), Ser Giuliano (b. 1479), Lorenzo (b.
1484), a girl, Violante (b. 1485), and another boy Domenico (b.
1486); Domenico's descendants still exist as a family. Ser Piero
married for the third time Lucrezia di Guglielmo Cortigiani by whom
he had six children: Margherita (b. 1491), Benedetto (b. 1492),
Pandolfo (b. 1494), Guglielmo (b. 1496), Bartolommeo (b. 1497), and
Giovanni) date of birth unknown). Pierino da Vinci the sculptor
(about 1520-1554) was the son of Bartolommeo, the fifth of these
children. The dates of their deaths are not known, but we may infer
from the above passage that they were all still living in 1505.]
On Wednesday at seven o'clock died Ser Piero da Vinci on the 9th of
[Footnote: This and the previous text it may be remarked are the
only mention made by Leonardo of his father; Nos. 1526, 1527 and No.
1463 are of the year 1504.]
Begun by me, Leonardo da Vinci, on the l2th of July 1505.
[Footnote: Thus he writes on the first page of the MS. The title is
on the foregoing coversheet as follows: _Libro titolato
disstrafformatione coe_ (cioe) _d'un corpo nvn_ (in un) _altro sanza
diminuitione e acresscemento di materia._]
Begun at Milan on the l2th of September 1508.
[Footnote: No. 1528 and No. 1529 belong to the same year. The text
Vol. I, No. 4 belongs to the following year 1509 (1508 old style);
so also does No. 1009.-- Nos. 1022, 1057 and 1464 belong to 1511.]
On the 9th of January 1513.
[Footnote: No. 1465 belongs to the same year. No. 1065 has the next
The Magnifico Giuliano de' Medici left Rome on the 9th of January
1515, just at daybreak, to take a wife in Savoy; and on the same day
fell the death of the king of France.
[Footnote: Giuliano de Medici, brother to Pope Leo X.; see note to
Nos. 1351-1353. In February, 1515, he was married to Filiberta,
daughter of Filippo, Duke of Savoy, and aunt to Francis I, Louis
XII's successor on the throne of France. Louis XII died on Jan. 1st,
and not on Jan. 9th as is here stated.-- This addition is written in
paler ink and evidently at a later date.]
On the 24th of June, St John's day, 1518 at Amboise, in the palace
[Footnote: _Castello del clli_. The meaning of this word is obscure;
it is perhaps not written at full length.]
_The incidental memoranda scattered here and there throughout the
MSS. can have been for the most part intelligible to the writer
only; in many cases their meaning and connection are all the more
obscure because we are in ignorance about the persons with whom
Leonardo used to converse nor can we say what part he may have
played in the various events of his time. Vasari and other early
biographers give us a very superficial and far from accurate picture
of Leonardo's private life. Though his own memoranda, referring for
the most part to incidents of no permanent interest, do not go far
towards supplying this deficiency, they are nevertheless of some
importance and interest as helping us to solve the numerous
mysteries in which the history of Leonardo's long life remains
involved. We may at any rate assume, from Leonardo's having
committed to paper notes on more or less trivial matters on his
pupils, on his house-keeping, on various known and unknown
personages, and a hundred other trifies--that at the time they must
have been in some way important to him._
_I have endeavoured to make these 'Miscellaneous Notes' as complete
as possible, for in many cases an incidental memorandum will help to
explain the meaning of some other note of a similar kind. The first
portion of these notes (Nos. l379--l457), as well as those referring
to his pupils and to other artists and artificers who lived in his
house (1458--1468,) are arranged in chronological order. A
considerable proportion of these notes belong to the period between
1490 and 1500, when Leonardo was living at Milan under the patronage
of Lodovico il Moro, a time concerning which we have otherwise only
very scanty information. If Leonardo did really--as has always been
supposed,--spend also the greater part of the preceding decade in
Milan, it seems hardly likely that we should not find a single note
indicative of the fact, or referring to any event of that period, on
the numerous loose leaves in his writing that exist. Leonardo's life
in Milan between 1489 and 1500 must have been comparatively
uneventful. The MSS. and memoranda of those years seem to prove that
it was a tranquil period of intellectual and artistic labour rather
than of bustling court life. Whatever may have been the fate of the
MSS. and note books of the foregoing years--whether they were
destroyed by Leonardo himself or have been lost--it is certainly
strange that nothing whatever exists to inform us as to his life and
doings in Milan earlier than the consecutive series of manuscripts
which begin in the year 1489._
_There is nothing surprising in the fact that the notes regarding
his pupils are few and meagre. Excepting for the record of money
transactions only very exceptional circumstances would have prompted
him to make any written observations on the persons with whom he was
in daily intercourse, among whom, of course, were his pupils. Of
them all none is so frequently mentioned as Salai, but the character
of the notes does not--as it seems to me--justify us in supposing
that he was any thing more than a sort of factotum of Leonardo's
(see 1519, note)._
_Leonardo's quotations from books and his lists of titles supply
nothing more than a hint as to his occasional literary studies or
recreations. It was evidently no part of his ambition to be deeply
read (see Nrs. 10, 11, 1159) and he more than once expressly states
(in various passages which will be found in the foregoing sections)
that he did not recognise the authority of the Ancients, on
scientific questions, which in his day was held paramount.
Archimedes is the sole exception, and Leonardo frankly owns his
admiration for the illustrious Greek to whose genius his own was so
much akin (see No. 1476). All his notes on various authors,
excepting those which have already been inserted in the previous
section, have been arranged alphabetically for the sake of
_The passages next in order contain accounts and inventories
principally of household property. The publication of these--often
very trivial entries--is only justifiable as proving that the
wealth, the splendid mode of life and lavish expenditure which have
been attributed to Leonardo are altogether mythical; unless we put
forward the very improbable hypothesis that these notes as to money
in hand, outlay and receipts, refer throughout to an exceptional
state of his affairs, viz. when he was short of money._
_The memoranda collected at the end (No. 1505--1565) are, in the
original, in the usual writing, from left to right. Besides, the
style of the handwriting is at variance with what we should expect
it to be, if really Leonardo himself had written these notes. Most
of them are to be found in juxtaposition with undoubtedly authentic
writing of his. But this may be easily explained, if we take into
account the fact, that Leonardo frequently wrote on loose sheets. He
may therefore have occasionally used paper on which others had made
short memoranda, for the most part as it would seem, for his use. At
the end of all I have given Leonardo's will from the copy of it
preserved in the Melzi Library. It has already been printed by
Amoretti and by Uzielli. It is not known what has become of the
Memoranda before 1500 (1379-l413).
Find Longhi and tell him that you wait for him at Rome and will go
with him to Naples; make you pay the donation [Footnote 2: _Libro di
Vitolone_ see No. 1506 note.] and take the book by Vitolone, and the
measurements of the public buildings.  Have two covered boxes
made to be carried on mules, but bed-covers will be best; this makes
three, of which you will leave one at Vinci.  Obtain
the.............. from Giovanni Lombardo the linen draper of Verona.
Buy handkerchiefs and towels,.... and shoes, 4 pairs of hose, a
jerkin of... and skins, to make new ones; the lake of Alessandro.
[Footnote: 7 and fol. It would seem from the text that Leonardo
intended to have instructions in painting on paper. It is hardly
necessary to point out that the Art of illuminating was quite
separate from that of painting.]
Sell what you cannot take with you. Get from Jean de Paris the
method of painting in tempera and the way of making white [Footnote:
The mysterious looking words, quite distinctly written, in line 1:
_ingol, amor a, ilopan a_ and on line 2: _enoiganod al_ are
obviously in cipher and the solution is a simple one; by reading
them backwards we find for _ingol_: logni-probably _longi_,
evidently the name of a person; for _amor a_: _a Roma_, for _ilopan
a_: _a Napoli_. Leonardo has done the same in two passages treating
on some secrets of his art Nos. 641 and 729, the only other places
in which we find this cipher employed; we may therefore conclude
that it was for the sake of secrecy that he used it.
There can be no doubt, from the tenor of this passage, that Leonardo
projected a secret excursion to Naples. Nothing has hitherto been
known of this journey, but the significance of the passage will be
easily understood by a reference to the following notes, from which
we may infer that Leonardo really had at the time plans for
travelling further than Naples. From lines 3, 4 and 7 it is evident
that he purposed, after selling every thing that was not easily
portable, to leave a chest in the care of his relations at Vinci.
His luggage was to be packed into two trunks especially adapted for
transport by mules. The exact meaning of many sentences in the
following notes must necessarily remain obscure. These brief remarks
on small and irrelevant affairs and so forth are however of no
historical value. The notes referring to the preparations for his
journey are more intelligible.]
salt, and how to make tinted paper; sheets of paper folded up; and
his box of colours; learn to work flesh colours in tempera, learn to
dissolve gum lac, linseed ... white, of the garlic of Piacenza; take
'de Ponderibus'; take the works of Leonardo of Cremona. Remove the
small furnace ... seed of lilies and of... Sell the boards of the
support. Make him who stole it, give you the ... learn levelling and
how much soil a man can dig out in a day.
This was done by Leone in the piazza of the castle with a chain and
an arrow. [Footnote: This note must have been made in Milan; as we
know from the date of the MS.]
NAMES OF ENGINEERS.
Callias of Rhodes, Epimachus the Athenian, Diogenes, a philosopher,
of Rhodes, Calcedonius of Thrace, Febar of Tyre, Callimachus the
architect, a master of fires. [Footnote: Callias, Architect of
Aradus, mentioned by Vitruvius (X, 16, 5).--Epimachus, of Athens,
invented a battering-enginee for Demetrius Poliorketes (Vitruvius X,
16, 4).--Callimachus, the inventor of the Corinthian capital (Vitr.
IV, I, 9), and of the method of boring marble (Paus. I, 26, 7), was
also famous for his casts in bronze (Plin. XXXIV, 8, 19). He
invented a lamp for the temple of Athene Polias, on the Acropolis of
Athens (Paus. I, 26, 7)--The other names, here mentioned, cannot be
Ask maestro Lodovico for 'the conduits of water'. [Footnote:
Condotti d'acqua. Possibly a book, a MS. or a map.]
... at Pistoja, Fioravante di Domenico at Florence is my most
beloved friend, as though he were my [brother]. [Footnote: On the
same sheet is the text No. 663.]
On the 16th day of July.
Caterina came on 16th day of July, 1493.
Messer Mariolo's Morel the Florentin, has a big horse with a fine
neck and a beautiful head.
The white stallion belonging to the falconer has fine hind quarters;
it is behind the Comasina Gate.
The big horse of Cermonino, of Signor Giulio. [Footnote: Compare
Nos. 1522 and 1517. Caterina seems to have been his housekeeper.]
OF THE INSTRUMENT.
Any one who spends one ducat may take the instrument; and he will
not pay more than half a ducat as a premium to the inventor of the
instrument and one grosso to the workman every year. I do not want
sub-officials. [Footnote: Refers perhaps to the regulation of the
water in the canals.]
Maestro Giuliano da Marliano has a fine herbal. He lives opposite to
Strami the Carpenters. [Footnote: Compare No. 616, note. 4.
legnamiere (milanese dialect) = legnajuolo.]
Christofano da Castiglione who lives at the Pieta has a fine head.
Work of ... of the stable of Galeazzo; by the road of Brera
[Footnote 4: Brera, see No. 1448, II, 13]; benefice of Stanghe
[Footnote 5:Stanghe, see No. 1509.]; benefice of Porta Nuova;
benefice of Monza; Indaco's mistake; give first the benefices; then
the works; then ingratitude, indignity and lamentations.
Chiliarch--captain of 1000.
A legion, six thousand and sixty three men.
A nun lives at La Colomba at Cremona; she works good straw plait,
and a friar of Saint Francis. [Footnote: _La Colomba_ is to this day
the name of a small house at Cremona, decorated with frescoes.]
panel of the Duke.
Messer Gian Domenico Mezzabarba and Messer Giovanni Franceso
Mezzabarba. By the side of Messer Piero d'Anghiera.
Conte Francesco Torello.
Giuliano Trombetta,--Antonio di Ferrara, --Oil of .... [Footnote:
Near this text is the sketch of a head drawn in red chalk.]
Paul was snatched up to heaven. [Footnote: See the facsimile of this
note on Pl. XXIII No. 2.]
Giuliano da Maria, physician, has a steward without hands.
Have some ears of corn of large size sent from Florence.
See the bedstead at Santa Maria. Secret.