Venice: Pinio Pietrasanta, 1554. FIRST EDITION. Title within elaborate architectural border, separate leaf with portrait of the author, 17 decorative woodcut initials and 8 woodcut text illustrations (5 full-page). Bound in decorative modern boards. Other than a couple of very small and mild damp stains, a lovely large copy. Item #13800
First edition of the first Italian book devoted exclusively to fortification of cities. It was preceded only by Durer’s Etliche underricht, zur befestigung der Stett (1527). Italian works by Valle (1521) and Cataneo and Tartaglia (both 1554) contained only chapters on the subject.
Zanchi (1515-1586), a military engineer in the Venitian service under Marcantonio Colonna, took part in several campaigns including the long siege of Siena where he became acquainted with Belluzzi, and was a friend of Girolamo Maggi. He remarks that “the invention of artillery had necessitated a new system of fortifying cities, and that those who might have been qualified by experience to write on the subject were not sufficiently versed in its theory to do so” (Cockle, 767). The system he describes herein is the favoured Italian bastion trace, limited to the square (with acute-angled bastions but already with an attempt to reinforce the curtains) and the octagon (again strengthening the curtains). This design improved the defense of the fortress as covering fire had to be provided often from multiple angles. The woodcuts are among the earliest showing the new pentagonal form of bastion.
Zanchi left the manuscript of his work with Girolamo Ruscelli when he had to leave Venice; on his return, Ruscelli sought and obtained permission to edit and publish the work, which he recognized as a pioneering effort.