Simon Stevin and the Rise of Archimedean Mechanics in the Renaissance

  • Teun Koetsier
Conference paper
Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 11)


In this paper I will discuss the position of the Flemish mathematician and engineer Simon Stevin (1546–1620) in the rise of Archimedean mechanics in the Renaissance. Commandino represents the beginning of the Archimedean Renaissance in statics. The next steps were made by Guidobaldo Del Monte and Stevin. Del Monte and Stevin were contemporaries belonging to the generation preceding Galilei (1564–1642). Yet Stevin’s work in mechanics is superior to Del Monte’s. I will discuss the way in which Stevin’s mechanical work, like Del Monte’s, was influenced by the medieval science of weights. For example, the central notion “stalwicht” in Stevin’s work, translated as “apparent weight’ by the editors of Stevin’s Works, clearly corresponds to the notion of positional weight (ponderis secundum situm) in the science of weights. I will also argue that while Del Monte remained caught in the conceptual framework of the science of weights the use of the Dutch language helped Stevin in liberating himself from those ideas. For Stevin the use of Dutch was part of his success. Finally I will discuss Stevin’s work on windmills. Not only his original theoretical contributions to statics and hydrostatics but also the unity of theory and practice in Stevin’s work make him in mechanics the first true successor of Archimedes in the Renaissance.


Positional Weight Incline Plane Dutch Language Gear Train Gear Wheel 
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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics, Faculty of ScienceVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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