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Monte, Guidobaldo del [from the Latinized version, sometimes

1. Dates
Born: Pesaro, 11 Jan 1545
Died: Montebaroccio (near Pesaro and Urbino), 6 Jan. 1607
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 62
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat, Soldier
His father, Ranieri, was created the Marchese del Monte, the title Guidobaldo inherited, by Duke Guidobaldo II of Urbino. The father was a noted soldier and author of two books on military architecture.
Guidobaldo inherited an estate on which he was able to live; the family had to have been at least affluent.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Padua
He studied at Padua, where, inter alia, he was a friend of Tasso. There is no mention of a degree, which would have been irrelevant to him.
He also studied mathematics under Commandino in Urbino.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mechanics, Mathematics, Astronomy
Subordinate: Optics
Liber mechanicorum, 1577--on statics, with a return to pure Archimedean principles in rejection of the quasi- dynamic analysis of Jordanus. Later, Paraphrase of Archimedes: Equilibrium of Planes, 1588, and De cochlea, 1615 (posthumous).
Guidobaldo left three manuscript treatises on proportions and on Euclid.
He composed two works on astronomy: Planisphaeriorum, 1579, and Problematum astronomicorum, 1609 (posthumous).
Guidobaldo was the author of what has been called the best Renaissance study of perspective, Perspectivae libri sex, 1600, and a manuscript on refraction in water.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Personal Means
Secondary: Engineering
He served in the Turkish campaigns in Hungary. There is no mention of income from this, and I suspect that as an aristocrat he did not receive any. What his indirect compensation was I do not know. Soon after the campaign he retired to the family castle of Montebaroccio where he pursued his studies until his death.
In 1588 he was appointed visitor general of the fortresses and cities of Tuscany. This appears to have been a temporary appointment, not a permanent one.
8. Patronage
Type: Court Official
Guidobaldo dedicated his Liber mechanicorum and his treatise on the calendar to Duke Francesco Maria II. I have not found any exposition of his relationship with the court of Urbino, but his father's relationship with it had been the foundation of the family's position. (However, note the theater in Urbino mentioned below). I cannot doubt that in some fashion Guidobaldo also depended on it, as this dedication suggests. Recall that his brother was Card. del Monte.
Note his brief relation with the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Guidobaldo was himself a patron; he was instrumental in Galileo's appointments in Pisa and Padua.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Military Engineering, Architecture, Hydraulics, Instruments, Mechanical Devices
He designed the ducal theater in Urbino.
He left behind a treatise on the Archimedean screw to raise water.
In some sources it is asserted that he elaborated Commandino's instrument (a reducing compass) into the proportional compass, though apparently this is dubious. However, he did invent other mathematical instruments.
He invented machines and corresponded with Contarini about them.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
In Urbino Guidobaldo was the friend of Commandino and Baldi. He saw Commandino's Latin translation of Pappus through the press after Commandino's death.
He corresponded with the Venetian mathematician Barozzi (Barocius).
He was the patron and friend of Galileo, with whom he exchanged a few letters.
  1. Paul L. Rose, The Italian Renaissance of Mathetics, (Geneva, 1975), pp. 222-42. _____, "Materials for a Scientific Biography of Guidbaldo del Monte," Actes du XIIe Congrès internationale d'histoire des sciences, Paris, 1968, 12 (Paris, 1971), 69-72.
  2. _____"The Origins of the Proportional Compass," Physis, 10 (1968), 53-69.
  3. Stillman Drake and I.E. Drabkin, Mechanics in Sixteenth-Century Italy, (Madison, Wis., 1969), pp. 44-8.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. A. Favaro, "Galileo e Guidobaldo del Monte," Atti della R. Acca- demia di scienze, lettere ed arti di Padova, 30 (1914), 54- 61.
  2. B. Baldi, Cronica de'matematicic, (Urbino, 1707), pp. 145-7.
  3. G. Mamiani, Elogi storici di F. Commandino, G. del Monte . . ., (Pesaro, 1828).
  4. G. Arrighi, "Un grade scienziato italiano Guidobaldo del Monte in alcune carte inedite della Biblioteca Oliveriano di Pesaro," Atti dell'Accademia lucchese di scienze, lettere ed arti, n.s., 12 (1968), 183-99.
  5. Gianni Micheli, "Guidobaldo del Monte e la meccanica," in Lino Conti, ed. La matematizzazzione dell'universo: Momenti della cultura matematica tra '500 e '600, (Assisi, 1992), pp. 87-104.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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