The Galileo Project
site map

Baldi, Bernadino

1. Dates
Born: Urbino, 5 June 1553
Died: Urbino, 10 Oct. 1617
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 64
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
Francesco Baldi. Scharloncini says that Baldi was born to noble partents. All in all, including the silence of Mazzuchelli, I think Scharloncini's "noble" is an honorific adjective rather than an explicit statement of fact.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Urbino, Italy
Career: Italy
Death: Urbino, Italy
4. Education
Schooling: Padua
After a classical education by private tutor at Urbino, he studied mathematics with Guido Baldo under Federico Commandino beginning about 1570.
He enrolled at the University of Padua in 1573, where he studied medicine, philosophy and literature. There is no mention of a degree. Rose explicitly states that Baldi did not take a degree.
Later he studied with Guidobaldi.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mechanics, Mathematics
Principal contribution to physics was a commentary on the pseudo-Aristotelian Questions of Mechanics, which was probably written in the 1580's, but was published in 1621 after Baldi's death. In this he developed the idea of center of gravity.
He also translated Hero's Automata, and he wrote extensive lives of mathematicians.
Baldi translated the eighth book of Pappus, and he wrote two mathematical works that were never published and are now lost.
As the last item may suggest, Baldi was primarily a literary figure. He was apparently enormously learned in languages.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Patronage
Secondary: Church Life
He went to Mantua in the service of Ferrante II Gonzaga (Mazzuchelli makes this Ferdinanco Gonzaga) in 1580. Vespasiano Gonzaga took him over for a time. He seems almost to have been an appendage (better, client) to the family. In 1585 Ferrante II secured him the post of abbot of Guastalla which he held until 1592. Baldi was ordained. He antagonized the Gonzaga during his tenure as abbot.
He was commissioned in 1601 by the Duke of Urbino to write a life of Federigo da Montefeltro. He was historian and biographer of the Duke of Urbino from 1609 to 1617.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Aristrocrat, Eccesiastic Official, Merchant
Ferrante II Gonzaga, see above.
Duke of Urbino, see above.
Card. Carlo Borromeo recommended Baldi to the Duke of Mantua (Borromeo's nephew), and later he had Baldi with him in Milan for several years.
In 1597 (and I don't know for how long) Baldi was in Rome in the retinue of Cintio Aldobrandini (who would later be Card. Aldobrandini).
He dedicated his Egloghe (1590) to Ranuccio Farnese.
Mark Welser arranged the publication of some of Baldi's works in Augsburg.
Baldi dedicated his edition of Hero's Automata to Jacomo Contarini.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Fabritio Scharloncini, "De vita et scriptis Bernardini Baldi Urbinatis,: Preface to Baldi's In mechanica Aristotelis..., (Mainz, 1621) Microfilm Q111 L2 no.B32
  2. R. Amaturo," Bernardino Baldi," Dizionario biografico degli italiani, V. (Rome, 1963), pp. 46-64 CT1123 D62 (RF) S. Drake and I.E. Drabkin, Mechanics in 17th Century Italy, (Madison, Wis., 1968), pp. 48-51.
  3. G.M.Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori d'Italia, (Brescia, 1753- ), 2, pt. 1, 116-25. For a measure of the 18th century scale of literary values, compare the nine pages devoted to this relative nonentity to the single brief paragraph Mazzuchelli gave to the distinguished anatomist Aranzio.
  4. C. Grossi, Degli uomini illustri di Urbino comentario, (Urbino, 1819), 84-8. Paul L. Rose, The Italian Renaissance of Mathematics, (Geneva, 1975), pp. 242-79.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Ireneo Affo, Vita di Bernardino Baldi, (Parma, 1783) G. Zacagnini, Bernardino Baldi nella vita e nella opera, (Pistoia, 1901).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
Last updated
Home | Galileo | Biography | Chronology | Family | Portraits |
Science | Christianity | Library | About | Site Map | Search

Please note: We will not answer copyright requests.
See the copyright page for more information.