Skip to main content

An Insight into Mediterranean Naval Architecture in the Sixteenth Century Through the Texts of Nicolò Sagri (1538–1571). A Comparative Perspective with Ibero-Atlantic Shipbuilding

Abstract

In 1997, the existence of a manuscript dealing with Mediterranean navigation and shipbuilding in the sixteenth century was revealed in the USA at an auction organised by Christie. Four years later, in 2001, the contents of this document entitled 'Il Carteggiatore' (The Cartographer) by Nicolò Sagri (1538–1571) were made available to researchers after being donated to the James Ford Bell Library of the University of Minnesota (Dell’Osa 2010). Although lost for a long time, its existence was known due to its evocation by Bartolomeo Crescentio in Della Nautica Mediterranea (Crescentio 1602). Aware of the high interest of this manuscript, the French naval historiographer Auguste Jal had searched for it in Italy, in vain, between 1834 and 1835 (Jal 1840, p. 25). Its recent reappearance is a boon for research into the maritime history and Mediterranean shipbuilding of the modern period (Falchetta 2009, 2013).

The present study is the result of collaboration between its three authors within the framework of the ‘ModernShip Project’. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Grant Agreement no 843337 (Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions). The translation of Sagri’s manuscript on which this study relies was carried out by F. Ciacchella.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-86460-6_7
  • Chapter length: 51 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-86460-6
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 7.1
Fig. 7.2
Fig. 7.3

Notes

  1. 1.

    Sagri, Nicolò, 1571, ‘Il Carteggiatore’, University of Minnesota, TC Wilson Library manuscript n°31951SA0111372C. Online access: https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/item/p16022coll185:1222?q=sagri.

  2. 2.

    The only known ragusan treatise on navigation and shipbuilding before Nicolò Sagri is that of Benedetto Cotrugli (Benedikt Kotruljević) dated to the middle of the fifteenth century (1464). Discovered in the 1990s, this text is kept in the Yale University Library. It was translated by D. Salopek in 2005, then studied and transcribed by P. Falchetta (Falchetta 2009, 2013).

  3. 3.

    ‘Libro de navegar’, (Civic Library Angelo Mai MA334, Bergamo, Italy. Accession Number: ex Σ. VII. 29. Italy); manuscripts ‘Libro’ by Michele da Rodi (private collection); the ‘Libro di apunti’ c.1444, by Zorzi ‘Trombetta’ da Modon British Library (BL), Cotton ms. Titus A XXVI; the ‘Ragioni Antique’, National Maritime Museum Library (NMML), Greenwich, ref. Cid. NVT.19.

  4. 4.

    ‘Instructione sul modo di fabricare galere o Arte de far vasseli’ by Theodoro de Nicolò, 1550. Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana di Venezia, manoscritti italiani, cl. IV cod. XXVI (5131). A copy of this manuscript in the Archivio di Stato di Venezia (ASV) under the title ‘Arte de far vasselli’, Archivio proprio Giacomo Contarini. sec. XVI, Miscellanea Codici 373. Manuscript Online: http://echo.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/MPIWG:7KTSNYA6.

  5. 5.

    Units of measurements used in this text are explained in Table 7.1.

  6. 6.

    This part is written by Arnaud Cazenave de la Roche.

  7. 7.

    This part is written by Cayetano Hormaechea.

  8. 8.

    This part is written by Fabrizio Ciacchella.

  9. 9.

    The question of the number of decks has given rise to much confusion. We attempt to clarify it in the part that deals with the horizontal structures of the nave.

  10. 10.

    Leonardo Fibonacci (1175-c. 1250), a native of Pisa, was the author of the algebraic sequence called ‘Divine Proportion’. It is designed as a series of numbers, each of which is the sum of the two preceding ones (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.).

  11. 11.

    The laws of hydrodynamics which associate an increase in the speed of movement of the hull with an increase in its waterline length are empirically known in the sixteenth century. They were first theorised mathematically by the British William Froude in the nineteenth century.

  12. 12.

    ‘Instructione sul modo...’, op. cit., f°26 and 27.

  13. 13.

    ‘Relación de la fábrica de doce galeones de guerra de la Escuadra Yllirica de Pedro de Ivella y Estéfano Dolisti. Carta de Pedro de Ivella al rey, de 17 diciembre 1593’. AGS, Guerra Antigua, Leg. 380–105. Reproduction in MNM. Colección Navarrete, Tomo IX, doc. 27, MNM.

  14. 14.

    It must be outlined that the smaller is the tonnage of a ship, the more her shapes will be stretched. In fact, the ‘As-Dos-Tres’ rule is only applicable to medium or large tonnage units.

  15. 15.

    The ‘Nueva fabrica’ is a movement that emerged in Spain in the last third of the sixteenth century under the impetus of builders such as Juan de Veas. It advocated stretched shapes to merchant ships that departed from the ‘As-Dos-Tres’ rule. We will return to it in the next part of this chapter.

  16. 16.

    This Spanish terminology expresses the absence of a deck. In the remainder of this article, it will be referred to as ‘naked’ beams.

  17. 17.

    Archivio di Stato di Genova (ASG), Notai antichi, Rivanegra Abramo filza 26, Genova, 8 Aprile 1599: Contract dated 1599 for a nave with dimensions close to those of Sagri.

  18. 18.

    For example, in the Ragusan construction, we can cite Pedro de Yvella’s ‘assiento’, mentioned above. Indeed, the characteristics of the galleons explicitly mention the presence of ‘baos vacios’ under three decks: the two ‘cubiertas’ and the ‘puente’.

  19. 19.

    Mathew Baker, c.1580, ‘Fragments of Ancient English Shipwrightry.’ Cambridge, Magdalene College, Pepysian Library, Ms. 2820.

  20. 20.

    ‘Informe de Cristóbal de Barros sobre cómo han de ser los galeones a construir en Guarnizo y cómo eran los de Pero Menéndez de Avilés’, 19 marzo 1581; MNM, Colección Navarrete, Tomo XXII, doc. 76, f° 292v° a 296v°; ‘Relación del maestre Domingo de Bustrurria (...) en lo tocante a los arqueamientos de naos que se toman para el armada en esta costa de Biscaya...’. 1568. AGS, G. A., Legajo 347, n° 23, f°1–2; ‘Cédula de Arqueamiento de Navíos’, 1590. MNM, Colección Navarrete, T. I, N° de catálogo 789, f°169.

  21. 21.

    Juan Cardona, Memorial que dio Juan de Cardona a su Majestad sobre los doce galeones que hacen en Santander y Bilbao. 24 febrero 589 GS.’ 1589. AGS, Guerra Antigua, Legajo 245, f°11.

  22. 22.

    ‘Decreto del Consejo de guerra sobre los inclusos papeles que trajo el Señor Diego Brochero Anaya tocantes a la nueva ordenanza de navíos. 1607, 1613, 1618,’ AGS. Guerra y Marina, legajo 776 (8-10-1612), f°4.

  23. 23.

    ‘Apuntamientos de Rodrigo de Vargas’. 1588. AGI, Real Patronato, leg. 260, 2°, r° 35.

  24. 24.

    ‘Relación del maestre Domingo de Bustrurria (...) en lo tocante a los arqueamientos de naos que se toman para la armada en esta costa de Biscaya...’ 1568. AGS, G. A., Legajo 347, n° 23.

  25. 25.

    ‘Relación que dio Luis César de las medidas y gálibo que han de llevar los doce galeones a fabricar por Juan de Cardona.’ 1589. AGS, Guerra Antigua, Legajo 245, f°11[CH1], f°72 and 74.

  26. 26.

    ‘Relación de la fábrica de doce galeones de guerra de la Escuadra Yllirica de Pedro de Ivella y Estéfano Dolisti. Carta de Pedro de Ivella al rey, de 17 diciembre 1593.’ AGS, Guerra Antigua, Leg. 380–105, f°27.

  27. 27.

    I am grateful to Divo Basic for communicating me the transcription of this document.

  28. 28.

    By the end of the sixteenth century, for fiscal reasons this factor was officially changed to 5 cantari/salma, but for practical nautical use it remained unchanged.

  29. 29.

    ‘Libro di navigar’, Anonymous, end of the fourteenth century. Manuscript in Civic Library Angelo Mai (Bergamo, Italy), MA334 (Accession Number) ex Σ. VII. 29, f°18R.

  30. 30.

    Measured from the keel .

  31. 31.

    ‘Libro di navigar’, op. cit., f°18R.

References

  • Anderson RC (1925) Italian naval architecture about 1445. Mar Mirror 11:135–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/00253359.1925.10655310

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bondioli M (2017) The Libro di navigar. A new treatise on venetian shipbuilding from the 14th century. In: Gawronski A, Van Holk A, Schokkenbroek J (eds) Ships and maritime landscapes, ISBSA 13 proceeding, 2012. Barkhuis Publishing, Eelde, pp 215–224

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bondioli, M., Salopek, D., Ćosić, S., Radić Rossi, I., 2020, Kartoznanac Nikole Sagrija, dubrovačkog pomorca, Archaeology of Adriatic Shipbuilding and Seafaring / Libro 2, Ed. University of Zadar, Zadar.

    Google Scholar 

  • Borghesi V, Calegari M (1970) La nave Bertorota (1547-1561). Misc. Stor. Ligure, Guerr. e Commer. nell’evoluzione della Mar. Genov. tra XV e XVII secolo 93–116

    Google Scholar 

  • Cano T (1611) Arte para fabricar, fortificar y aparejar naos de guerra y merchante, Facsímil. FEIN. Fondo Editorial de Ingeniería naval, Madrid

    Google Scholar 

  • Casabán J-L, Castro F, San Claudio Santa Cruz M (2014) Fórmulas de arqueo y construcción naval ibérica a principios del siglo XVII. In: Nieto X, Bethencourt Núñez M (eds) Actas del I Congreso de Arqueología Naútica y Subacuática Española, Cartagena, 14, 15 y 16 de marzo de 2013, Editorial UCA, vol I. Universidad de Cádiz, Cádiz, pp 567–574

    Google Scholar 

  • Casabán JL (2017) Santiago de Galicia and the Illyrian squadron: characteristics, dimensions and tonnages of Mediterranean-built galleons for Philip’s II Atlantic fleets (1593–1597). Int. J. Marit, Hist

    Google Scholar 

  • Casado Soto JL (1988) Los barcos españoles del siglo XVI y la Gran Armada de 1588. Ed San Martín, Madrid

    Google Scholar 

  • Castro F (2013) Tonnages and displacements in the 16th century. J Archaeol Sci 40:1136–1143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.08.033

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cazenave de la Roche A (2020) The Mortella III wreck. A Spotlight on Mediterranean shipbuilding of the 16th century. BAR, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Chiggiato A (1987) Le Ragioni antique dell’architettura navale. In: Bonfiglio Dosio G (ed) Razioni antique spettanti all’arte del mare et fabriche de vasselli. Comitato Pubblicazione delle Fonti relative alla Storia di Venezia, Venice, pp LVII–LXXIX

    Google Scholar 

  • Ciciliot F (2005) Le superbe navi: Cantieri e tipologie navali liguri medievali. Società Savonese di Storia Patria, Savona

    Google Scholar 

  • Crescentio B (1602) Della nautica Mediterranea. Bartolomeo Bonfadino, Roma

    Google Scholar 

  • Dell’Osa D (2010) Il carteggiatore di Nicolò Sagri. F. Angeli, Milano

    Google Scholar 

  • de Escalante de Mendoza J (1575) Ytinerario de Nauegacion de los mares y tierras Occidentales, 1791st edn. Museo Naval de Madrid, Madrid

    Google Scholar 

  • Falchetta P (2009) Il trattato De navigatione di Benedetto Cotrugli (1464-1465).Edizione commentata del ms. Schoenberg 473 con il testo del ms. 557 di Yale. Studi Veneziani 57:15–334

    Google Scholar 

  • Falchetta P (2013) Benedetto Cotrugli et son traité De navigatione (1464-1465). Hist Rev La Rev Hist 9:53–62. https://doi.org/10.12681/hr.288

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fournier G (1643) Hydrographie contenant la théorie et la pratique de toutes les parties de la navigation. Michel Soly, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  • García de Palacio D (1587) Instrucción Náutica, México: Pe. Museo Naval, 1993, Madrid

    Google Scholar 

  • Gatti L (1975) Imbarcazioni ragusee nel secolo XVI. In: Bresc H (ed) Studi I di storia navale. Consiglio Nazionale delle ricerche, Firenze, pp 73–96

    Google Scholar 

  • Gatti L (1999) Navi e cantieri della Repubblica di Genova: (secoli XVI-XVIII). Brigati, Genova

    Google Scholar 

  • Grenier R, Stevens W, Bernier MA (2007) The underwater archaeology of Red Bay: Basque shipbuilding and whaling in the 16th century. Parks Canada; Canadien Museum of Nature, Ottawa

    Google Scholar 

  • Guérout M, Rieth E, Gassend J-M, Bernard L (1989) Le navire Génois de Villefranche, un naufrage de 1516? Archaeonautica 9

    Google Scholar 

  • Guiard y Larrauri T, Basas Fernández M (1968) La industria naval vizcaína. Biblioteca Vascongada Villar, Bilbao

    Google Scholar 

  • Heers J (1958) Types de navires et spécialisation des trafics en Méditerranée à la fin du Moyen-âge. In: Le Navire et l’économie maritime du moyen-âge au XVIIIe siècle principalement en Méditerranée, Colloque International d’Histoire Maritime, 17 and 18 May 1957. SEVPEN, Paris, pp 107–118

    Google Scholar 

  • Hormaechea C, Rivera I, Derqui Civera M (2012) Los galeones españoles del siglo XVII. Barcelona

    Google Scholar 

  • Hormaechea C, Rivera I, Derqui M (2018) Los barcos oceánicos del Atlántico ibérico en los siglos XVI y XVII Tomo III

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoving AJ, Wildeman GJD, Witsen N (2012) Nicolaes Witsen and shipbuilding in the Dutch Golden age. Texas A & M University Press, College Station

    Google Scholar 

  • Jal A (1840) L’archéologie navale, 2 vols. Arthus Bertrand, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  • Lane F (1934) Naval architecture about 1550. Mar Mirror 20:24–49

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lane FC (1992) Venetian ships and shipbuilders of the Renaissance. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore

    Google Scholar 

  • Long P, Mc Gee D (2009) The book of Michael of Rhodes a fifteenth-century maritime manuscript. MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Nicolardi M (2014) Misure de navilii, Un nuovo documento di costruzione navale veneziana della seconda metà del XVI secolo. In: Asta A, Caniato G, Gnola D, Medas S (eds) Navis, Atti del II Convegno Nazionale di Archeologia, Storia, Etnologia Navale, Cesenatico 13–14 aprile 2012. Libreria Universitaria, Padova, pp 239–244

    Google Scholar 

  • Oliveira F (1580) Liuro da Fabrica das Naos. Facsimile, 1991st edn. Academia de Marinha, Lisboa

    Google Scholar 

  • Oppenheim M (1896) History of the administration of the Royal Navy and of merchant shipping in relation to the navy: 1509–1660. J. Jane, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Rocca P (1871) Pesi e misure antiche di Genova e del Genovesato, Tipografia del Regio istituto sordo-muti, Genova

    Google Scholar 

  • Rodríguez Mendoza BM (2008) Standardization of Spanish shipbuilding: Ordenanzas para la fábrica de navíos de guerra y mercante – 1607, 1613, 1618. Texas A & M University

    Google Scholar 

  • Sisevic I (1952) Racunanje obujma broda u Dubrovniku XVI. vijeka. Anal Hist Instituta u Dubrovniku I:151–170

    Google Scholar 

  • Villié P (1989) L’épave Calvi 1. Cah d’Archéologie Subaquat CAS VIII:19–56

    Google Scholar 

  • Villié P (1990) L’épave Calvi 1. Cah d’Archéologie Subaquat CAS IX:83–130

    Google Scholar 

  • Villié P (1991) L’épave Calvi 1. Cah d’Archéologie Subaquat CAS X:69–108

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Arnaud Cazenave de la Roche .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Cazenave de la Roche, A., Ciacchella, F., Hormaechea, C. (2022). An Insight into Mediterranean Naval Architecture in the Sixteenth Century Through the Texts of Nicolò Sagri (1538–1571). A Comparative Perspective with Ibero-Atlantic Shipbuilding. In: Crespo Solana, A., Castro, F., Nayling, N. (eds) Heritage and the Sea . Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86460-6_7

Download citation