BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
|| Goldmann, Nicolaus
|| La nouvelle fortification
|| Leyde, A. & B. Elzevier, 1645
|| Paris, Binha, 4° Rés 361
||Military architecture, Perspective, Stereometry
Goldmann was born in 1611 in the Silesian capital Wroclaw (Poland) and
died in 1665 in the Dutch town of Leiden, where he had lived from 1632
onward. He taught mathematics, military architecture and, which was
uncommon, architectural theory. Apart from the theory of the classical
orders, drawing for architects and design techniques, he developed a
unique building typology of his own. With this he attracted students
from Holland, the German states, Poland (including Silesia), Ireland,
Sweden and Denmark. Goldmann was also exceptional in that he wrote books
which were directly derived from reflecting on his teachings. He wrote
unusually well, and in studying them, one can grasp almost the entire
architectural knowledge of the mid-seventeenth century in the Netherlands
and Germany. He modelled his theory after the newest scientific insights
of his time and milieu. Goldmann’s work stems from his endeavours
to include the theory of architecture among the sciences. In order to
do this he developed a theory based on the methodological principles
of mathematics. Goldmann worked in the certainty of a consistent world
picture, based on an unchangeable, mathematical universe.
During his life Goldmann was able to publish five books. These writings reflect
different parts of his teachings and vary from theoretical treatises
to practical handbooks: Elementorvm Architectvrae Militaris Libri
IV […] (Leiden, 1643), a military engineering textbook; La Nouvelle Fortification (Leiden, 1645), the same
book in a French edition; Vitrvvii Volvta Ionica […] (Amsterdam, 1649), a piece on the reconstruction of the Ionic volute ;
Tractatus De Usu Proportionatorii Sive Circini Proportionalis […]/
Eine Ahnleitung Vom Gebrauch des Ebenpassers, Oder Proportionalcirckels
[…] (Leiden, 1656), which discussed the use of
the proportional compass or sector ; Tractatvs De Stylometris […]/
Gebrauch Dehr Baustäbe […] (Leiden, 1661),
about an invention of his own, a drawing instrument to construct the
five column orders in the correct proportions.
main contribution to architecture was his comprehensive theory. Because
of his sudden death in 1665 this work wasn’t published during
his lifetime. But his former students did circulate it as a series of
identical and finished manuscripts throughout Northern Europe. In 1696
the German architect and mathematician Leonhard Christoph Sturm (1669-1719)
edited one of the manuscripts in circulation and published it in Wolfenbüttel
as Vollständige Anweisung zu der Civil BauKunst […]
(i.e. Complete Definition of Civil Architecture); the title was provided
by Sturm. Reprints appeared in 1699 in Brunswick and in 1708 in Leipzig. From the time of this publication on, Sturm
put Goldmann in the limelight, but at the same time initiated a confusion
of date, editing and illustrations. Goldmann's theory was no longer
mid-seventeenth century, nor Dutch, nor mathematical in character, but
had become in the hands of Sturm an exponent of the early eighteenth
century, German, and by the illustrations with a stress on design. This
confusion remained up until now.
Goldmann published a French edition of the theory on military architecture
which had appeared in Latin two years before: La Nouvelle Fortification.
Both editions were published by the Leiden branch of the renowned Elsevier
printing house. The one in Latin had a small octavo size and was dedicated
to Frederick III, the future King of Denmark and Norway. The French
one, dedicated to Frederick Henry of Nassau, stadtholder of the Dutch
Republic, was a beautiful folio edition of 224 pages. This time the
56 illustrations had been placed prominently among the pages of the
text. The contents as well as the illustrations, however, were exactly
the same. The French edition was given a new title page with a layered
iconography, executed by Adriaen Jacobsz. Matham (c1599-1660), a renowned
engraver, painter, publisher and art dealer at Haarlem and The Hague.
consists of four books: Livre premier des Desseins, Deuxieme livre
des Profils et Ichnographies, Troisieme livre de la Stereometrie et
Sciagraphie, Qvatrieme livre de la maniere Mechanique, et de l’offense.
Every book begins with a learned preface. Here Goldmann gives an account
of his scientific choices. He further writes about the requirements
for a good military engineer and overviews the history of military architecture
from biblical times onward. He also speaks about his aims in writing
"Aussi avons nous fait ce discours, non comme pour enseigner les Mathematiques;
ceux qui ont lés charges d’une Republique; pour leur servir
à augmenter leur
gloire; pour paroistre au dessus du vulgaire en temps de paix; &
pour estre quand &
quand propres, à donner conseil es affaires de guerre" (p. 198).
Here he addresses himself directly to the stadtholder of the Dutch Republic,
who fought the battle for independence against Spain just as his father
William of Orange and brother Maurice of Nassau had done. Referring
to the successful sieges of Frederick Henry, he continued:
"Ce sera une chose, laquelle semble meriter de blasme de tout le monde,
presenter à Vostre Altesse un livre de Fortification, de laquelle
les plus excellentes
forteresses du monde sont esté si peu estiméés,
quón les a vue se rendre, devant que le
fruit de leur siege peust arriver aux Provinces estrangeres."
Goldmann called his book "un petit traitté, qui commence
Ià où les maistres de fortification ont cessé." (f. *2v°). This book wasn’t what the officers in the
field experienced, nor added much to the knowledge of the practical
engineers, he humbly stated :
"Ne vous estonnez pas que nous n’avons point recherché aucun
avencement en ce
metier vrayement honorable; nous n’avons eu l’intention
telle de nous donner à ceste
pratique […] mais d’une estude plus excellente […]
engagé par la promesse que nous
en avons faite... Quant au Ingenieurs, nous ne leur nuirons aucunement,
leur lustre; tout au rebours cela servira à l’aggrandissement
de leur excellence, si l’on
prend plaisir à lire nos escrits" (p. 198).
books follow the design process of a fortress. The theory is presented
not as a continuous text but by a set of specific problems “propositions”,
from elementary to complex questions.
to the first book (Des desseins), the most decisive step in
designing a fortress is the sketch. In this stage the decisions of the
basic layout and its measurements are made, included the bastions and
other parts of the defensive system. Goldmann discusses the form of
the redoubt, starfort, different fieldworks and city ramparts. The latter
are ideally on a regular ground plan. Goldmann describes the polygons
and how irregular cities can also be fortified with these. Special attention
is given to the bastion, the essential element of a strong fortress,
with its correct dimensions and placing. According to Goldmann there
are four basic operations for designing a fortress: sketching geometrically
without calculating; calculating the dimensions and volumes; calculation-based
sketching and measuring the fortress in the field. The first and second
techniques are operations of invention, the latter two of construction.
second book (Des Profils et Ichnographies), Goldmann's distinction
between sketch and ground plan is rare. Whereas for him the sketch is
still directly linked to the thinking process, the ground plan is the
materialized consequence of the sketch. Another detail different from
many other books is that Goldmann starts the definite design of the
fortress with the section. Drawing the cross section is the most effective
way of determining the contour of the ramparts with parapet, fausse-braye,
fosse, glacis on the outside, and the rampart itself consisting of wallwalk,
banquette and gun-emplacements. Goldmann develops the system from an
elementary setup to composite profiles.
plan follows from the section (and the sketch). This is Goldmann's main
concern in the second book. In a way this is a more detailed repetition
of the principles dealt with in the first book. Most important in the
lay out of fortesses is finding the right angle of the curtains and
the positioning of the bastions.
book was in fact about line-drawing, and the second book about the two-dimensional
representation ; the third book deals with the third dimension, i.e.
the volumes of the ramparts and the ground work. In a series of theorems
Goldmann presents the calculation of solids, laid out in elementary
geometrical volumes, such as the cube, prism and parallelepiped. With
this analysis it is possible to calculate the earthmoving operations.
Also this book contains some special spatial parts of the fortress,
like bridges, city gates and watchhouses. The three-dimensional
representation of the fortress is of course the perspective. Goldmann
only deals with it theoretically and gives no technical description.
The perspective is something additional to the real design; it is the
illusionistic representation for the patron :
"Et l’invention de telles Sciagraphies seroit bien propre, pour
pater l’entredeux des
fenestres en quelque Gallerie d’un grand Prince."
book (De la maniere Mechanique, et de l’offense) is a
topos in the military literature was to end with the attack, as the
counterpart of the defense. So did Goldmann. But instead of the common
distinction between offense and defense, he opposes the statics of designing
the fortress on the one hand, to the dynamics of the siege and the building
in the field itself on the other, which he calls mechanic. No doubt
this has to do with his scientific aim, in which there was no place
for hand labour. Described are the material aspects of siege warfare,
with saps, approaches, etc. Goldmann's introduction of ‘eurythmie’,
the simplification and practical approach of the exact theoretical principles
(i.e. ‘symmetrie’) in the field is also remarkable. The
theory is ideal and unchangeable, but in times of war one has to be
Nouvelle Fortification can be read as a manual. It is the reflection
of the courses Goldmann presented to his students. Goldmann's book must
be placed in a tradition of military textbooks written in the Netherlands
from the beginning of the seventeenth century to about 1680. Leiden
was one of the places where apart from the traditional and theoretical
mathematics at the university, one could also be educated in applied
mathematics. Here in 1600 Prince Maurice of Nassau had founded the famous
Duytsche Mathematique, an educational institution for military
engineers and land surveyors according to a curriculum devised by Simon
Stevin. Goldmann's book can be seen as an offspring of this curriculum,
as were the teachings of the three generations of the Van Schooten family
at the head of the institution (Franciscus sen., Franciscus jun. and
Petrus van Schooten). As a private tutor Goldmann offered more or less
the same teaching material as the engineering school, just as for instance
Samuel Marolois did. In the same Leiden milieu around the Duytsche
Mathematique originated three other related books about the same
time as Goldmann’s: Adam Freitag, Architectvra Militaris Nova
et aucta […], Leiden, 1642; Andreas Cellarius, Architectvra
Militaris […], Amsterdam, 1645; and: Matthias Dögen,
Architectvra Militaris Moderna […], Amsterdam, 1647.
the significance of Goldmann's book? Most important is the fact that
he presented military engineering methodically as mathematics,
instead of the more common presentation of this profession as an extraordinary
elaboration of applied mathematics. Samuel Marolois
e.g., who wrote primarily for engineers in the same context, treated
military architecture in his book after he had worked out the principles
of geometry. Goldmann taught his students mathematics by means of designing
the fortress. Together with Marolois, Freitag, Cellarius and Dögen,
Goldmann caused the theory of the so called ‘old-Netherlands system
of fortification’ to be spread over Europe, in the wake of the
practicing engineers who were educated in the same system. These books
form the echoes of the lessons at Leiden.
Jeroen Goudeau (Deventer) – 2007
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