John Argyropolous (1415-1487) Byzantine translator, lecturer, philosopher and humanist
Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) Italian condottiero, cardinal and duke
Bernardo Maggi di Abbiategrasso Milanese carpenter
The event of Leonardo da Vinci's birth was recorded by his grandfather, Antonio, then about eighty years old, on the back page of an old notebook that had once belonged to his grandfather. On it he had already noted the births and baptisms of his own four children. There was just room at the bottom of the page to record this new arrival, this new generation -
- There was born to me a grandson, the son of Ser Piero my son, on the 15th day of April, a Saturday, at the 3rd hour of the night. He bears the name Lionardo.
The clock was then reckoned from sunset (or more precisely from the ringing of the Ave Maria bell after vespers). The third hour of the night was about 10:30 p.m.
Luke Syson; Syson, Luke; Larry Keith, Arturo Galansino, Antoni Mazzotta, Scott Nethersole and Per Rumberg (2011). "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan". London: National Gallery
Lyonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci dipintore' was charged 32 soldi for the privilege of membership.
This included 16 soldi for his annual subscription, to be paid in monthly instalments from 1 July 1472, and 10 soldi as a contribution to the company's observances on the feast day of Saint Luke, 18 October.
Leonardo da Vinci produces a pen and ink drawing of the Arno valley that is dated to this day. It is said to be one of the earliest Italian landscape drawings that focuses on the particular character of the location.
Leonardo da Vinci writes in his notebooks that he has begun "two Virgin Marys."
Your Gracious Highness! I have sufficiently seen and tested the productions of all who are considered masters of the art of inventing war-machines. And since the working and function of these instruments is no different from that of the machines in common use, I shall endeavour -- approaching no one else -- to make myself clear to Your Excellency and reveal my secrets. I shall put them at your disposal whenever you desire and hope for good results from the things which I shall now briefly describe ...
First: I have a means of making very light bridges which can be very easily transported ... And I have others which are proof against fire and are thus indestructible in battle, easy to take down and put up again, and I also know of a means to get fire to the bridges of the enemy and destroy them. Secondly: In besieging a place I know how to cut off the water in the dikes, also how to construct many drawbridges and other apparatus necessary for such an undertaking. Thirdly: If during a siege the engines cannot be effectively used on account of the height or strength of the town wall, I have a means to destroy every tower or fortification ... Fourthly: I know of a kind of siege-engine which is very light and easy to move and which can be used hurl fire-bombs. Their smoke will terrify, confuse and severely injure the enemy. Fifthly: I know how to construct subterranean caves and winding passages which can be made without any noise ... Sixthly: I can make sound, indestructible armoured vehicles. If these reach the enemy with their cannons, they can compel the largest forces to retreat and afterwards the infantry can follow them in safety and without any let or hindrance. Seventhly: I can make, if necessary, bombards, mortars and other field-guns ... Eighthly: Where cannons cannot be used I shall construct stone-throwing machines, catapults, slings and other instruments, amazing and hitherto completely unknown ... Ninthly: If this should be necessary, I know of apparatus for use at sea for attack and defence, such as ships which can withstand the force of the strongest opponents and produce dust and smoke. In time of peace I believe I can achieve something in architecture, as well as another, both in building public and private buildings and in channelling water from one place to another. Further, I work as a sculptor in marble, bronze and clay and can paint as well as others with whom I may be compared. I could also add my labours to the bronze horse which is to contribute to the undying fame and eternal memory of your father and the renowned house of Sforza ...
According to Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci, who is a talented musician, creates a silver lyre in the shape of a horse's head.
Leonardo da Vinci accepts the commission for an altar painting offered by the confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, which had a chapel in the now demolished church of San Francesco Grande in Milan.
Leonardo da Vinci studies anatomy.
They began to build the walls upon the aforesaid foundations.
And at this time the following buildings were erected:
The Osservanza di San Miniato de' Frati di San Francesco(1); the sacristy of Santo Spirito; the house of Giulio Gondi(2); and the church of the Frati di Sant' Agonstino,(3) outside the Porta a San Gallo. And Lorenzo de' Medici began a palace at the Poggio a Caiano, on his property, where so much has been beautifully ordered, the Cascine, etc. Princely things! At Sarrezana a fortress was built; and many other houses were erected in Florence: in the street which goes to Santa Caterina, and towards the Porta a Pinti, and the Via Nuova de' Servi, at Cestello,(4) and from the Porta a Faenza(5) towards San Barnaba, and towards Sant' Ambrogio, and elsewhere. Men were crazy about building at this time, so that there was a scarcity of master-builders and of materials.(6)
(1) The monastery (lately built near San Miniato) of the Osservanza, a Franciscan Order, who already had one at Fiesole. (Trans.)
(2) In our days we have just seen this palace completed on its southern side, thanks to the care of its owner. In finishing this work the remains of the house opposite in Via de' Gondi were demolished; this used to be the Casa della Dogana, and in still older times the Casa delle Prestanze, that Giuliano Gondi bought from the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool) to use in his building, and in it Leonardo da Vinci lived as a boy, a fact which I was the first to prove in July 1872.
(3) Chiesa di Sant' Agonstino. In the siege of 1529 it was demolished together with the convent which was united to it. They occupied almost the same area as the parterre and oratory of the Madonna delle Tosse. The monks were moved into the city, where they were given the church of S. Jacopo tra' Fossi.
(4) Cestello was at that time the name of the present convent of S. Maria Maddalena in Borgo Pinto, which belonged to the Cistercians. In 1628 they exchanged it for that of the nuns of S. Maria degli Angeli of Borgo S. Frediano, still called S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi.
(5) See note to 8th June, 1481.
(6) In May 1489 the Signoria, desirous of providing for the beauty of the city, and for the wants and convenience of those who might wish to inhabit it, granted an exemption for forty years from any tax for those new houses which should be built within five years "in places where there was no house or any beginning of one." In March 1494 this term was prolonged to the end of the year 1497.
Impatient with Leonardo's delays in completing the clay model for the The Horse, Ludovico Sforza writes to Pietro Alemanni, the Florentine Ambassador to Milan, asking him to find "a master capable of doing the work."
Leonardo da Vinci breaks off his studies on flight and does not resume them till 1505.
Leonardo da Vinci assists in the preparations for the tournament held in honour of Ludovico Sforza's marriage to Beatrice d'Este. For this he devised an invasion by a company of dancing and singing Scythians or Tartars, costumed as savages and led by a rider mounted on a big horse and wearing a cloak covered with golden scales and painted with peacock's eyes. ('Leonardo da Vinci', p. 61)
From a sheet of instructions that Lodovico Sforza gave to his secretary:
Item, to urge Leonardo the Florentine to finish the work that he has begun at the refectory of the Grazie, so that he may start with the other wall in the same refectory; and have him sign a contract obliging him to finish the work within the stipulated time.
I showed them to Leonardo Vinci the painter. He praised all of them but especially the crystal one, because it is all of one piece and very clear.... and Leonardo said that he had never seen a better piece.
One day Cesare Valentino, Duke of Romagna and present Lord of Piombino, found himself and his army at a river which was 24 paces wide, and could find no bridge, nor any material to make one except for a stack of wood all cut to a length of 16 paces. And from this wood, using neither iron nor rope nor any other construction, his noble engineer made a bridge sufficiently strong for the army to pass over.
Pedretti, Carlo. "Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style", p.142.
Itinerary jotted down in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook:
8 August - "make harmonies out of the different falls of water as you saw in the fountain at Rimini on the 8th day of August".
Cesare Borgia of France, by the grace of God Duke of Romagna and Valence, Prince of the Adriatic, Lord of Piombino etc., also Gonfalonier and Captain General of the Holy Roman Church: to all our lieutenants, castellans, captains, condottieri, officials, soldiers and subjects to whom this notice is presented. We order and command that the bearer thereof, our most excellent and well-beloved architect and general engineer Leonardo Vinci, who by our commission is to survey the places and fortresses of our states, should be provided with all such assistance as the occasion demands and his judgement deems fit.
I, your servant, have heard about your intention to build a bridge from Stanboul to Galata, and that you have not done it because no man can be found capable of it. I, your servant, know how. I would raise it to the height of a building, so that no one can pass over it because it is so high ... I will make it so that a ship can pass under it even with its sails hoisted.... I would have a drawbridge so that when one wants one can pass on to the Anatolian coast.... May God make you believe these words, and consider this servant of yours always at your service.
In Florence, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli become involved in a scheme to divert the Arno river, cutting the water supply to Pisa to force its surrender: Colombino, the project foreman, fails to follow da Vinci’s design, and the project is a major failure.
The mural for the Council Hall of Florence was commissioned from Leonardo with a contract of 4 May 1504, signed by Machiavelli as secretary of the Republic; but Leonardo had already begun working on the cartoon in the Sala del Papa in S. Maria Novella, which had been assigned to him on 24 October of the preceding year.
Leonardo's work on the cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari was suddenly interrupted in the last months of 1504, and he went to Piombino on a somewhat official mission as a military architect. (During his absence Michelangelo was to receive the commission for the Battle of Cascina.) His mission was preceded by a diplomatic action conducted by Machiavelli himself. It can be inferred, therefore, that it was Machiavelli who suggested Leonardo's name for the programme of fortification projects suggested by Jacopo IV Appiano, Lord of Piombino, an ally of the Florentines at the time of the Pisian war, 1503-4, when Leonardo had already been consulted on the project of diverting the Arno River for strategic reasons, and when Antonio da Sangallo the Elder was the chief military architect of the Florentine Republic. Leonardo's activity at Piombino, revealed by newly discovered evidence, included the study of the city walls, the citadel and the main gate.
The legal quarrel between Leonardo da Vinci and the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the church of San Francesco Maggiore concerning the Virgin of the Rocks (London version) is finally settled.
The fragment of Leonardo's mural, the Battle of Anghiari, was protected with a wooden frame soon after the return of the Medici to Florence, when the rest of the room was dismantled and eliminated, as we everything referring to the preceding republican government.
A landslide occurred in the Alps near Bellinzona which is described by Leandro Alberti in 1550:
In the past years an earthquake caused a large part of a mountain to collapse, in such a way that the Bregno valley came to be obstructed; and as the river came to be dammed up, it produced a large and dark lake with great damage to the inhabitants of the valley, many of whom were drowned and their houses submerged. And so it stayed for quite some time, until the fallen earth made gradually soft by the infiltrations of the water and being no longer sufficiently strong to retain the immense pressure of it, suddenly burst open to the fury of the swollen waters. And since the former river bed, which was joined to the Ticino, was no longer adequate to contain it, the water flooded all the neighbouring regions, overthrowing in part even that strong wall which Lodovico Sforza had built near Bellinzona.
... for in our own times a similar thing has been seen, that is, a mountain falling seven miles across a valley and closing it up and turning it into a lake.
Pedretti, Carlo. "Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style", p. 140.
Leonardo da Vinci applied to join the confraternity of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome, probably in a moment of depression at a court which had little or no consideration for him, in the hope that a religious institution could provide him with quiet shelter and affectionate assistance, and to which he could leave all his possessions, just as he was leaving drawings and other belongings to another religious institution in Florence, the hospital of S. Maria Novella, in which he was accommodated at the time he was working on the Battle of Anghiari.