[Feuerwerkbuch] Firework book showing the manufacture and use of gunpowder

Object Title

[Feuerwerkbuch] Firework book showing the manufacture and use of gunpowder

[Feuerwerkbuch] Firework book showing the manufacture and use of gunpowder


first quarter of the 15th century





Scope and Content

South German. Illustrations comprise:

Plate 84r. : An attack on a castle: the besiegers are using scaling ladders and are armed with a crossbow being spanned by a cranequin, with handguns and with swords and staff weapons: the defenders are replying with barrels containing incendiary material. Armour includes kettle-hats and scull caps with circular ear protection, complete plate armour, breastplate and padded jack. The crossbowmen are unarmoured,
Plate 84v. : A long cart, the sides of base of which are fitted with short spikes at regular intervals, Plate 85r. : An attack on a fortress. In addition to the weapons shown on 84r., the besiegers and using a cannon on a two-wheeled adjustable carriage and the defenders have lowered an external portcullis over the main gate,
Plate 85v. : The Master Gunner directing the weighing of ingredients and the preparation of fire-pots, which are apparently fitted with fuses and ? carrying ropes,
Plate 86r. : An attack directed by the Master Gunner, using a cannon on a four-wheeled carriage and fire-arrows propelled by crossbows. One crossbowman has a belt-hook. The defenders are removing the flaming arrows from the roof with hooked staves and are defending their walls with crossbows and small cannon or wall guns,
Plate 86v. : The Master Gunner again directing the weighing and the preparation of the ingredients for making ? gunpowder,
Plate 87r. : The Master Gunner supervising the pounding of the powder. An hourglass regulates the length of time taken for the operation,
Plate 87v. : The Master Gunner supervising the cutting out by a tailor and the sewing by women of canvas casings for fire-arrows,
Plate 88r. : and the assembling of the completed arrows,
Plates 88v., 89r. and 89v. : The preparation of similar incendiary devices, including tubes and balls, and the distilling or heating of ingredients,
Plate 90r. : An attack on a fortress, using a rope scaling ladder and protective basket-work shields. In the foreground a man loading a handgun,
Plate 90v. : The preparation of a siege battery with gabions. A cannon behind a wooden shelter being loaded from a ladle by the Master Gunner,
Plates 91r., 91v. and 92r. : Movable shelters for men and cannons,
Plate 92v. : A gun-boring machine. The gun is held in a frame and rotated over a drill, even pressure being ensured by the gun's own weight,
Plate 93r. : Another gun-boring machine in which the drill is forced down into the gun [cf Munich ms. 734, Gill, Renaissance engineers, p. 76] Both 92v. and 93r. appear in Nuremberg Germanisches Museum ms. 719 (Essenwein, Axxxviii), also Berlin 94 and Weimar ms. Q342 (Hassenstein, pp. 158-9),
Plate 93v. : Scaling ladders with spiked feet and wheels at the top, one in two parts. A spiked hook, perhaps for pulling down burning roofs, etc. [cf 86r.] Similar ladders exist in Geneva, Musee d'art et d'Historie,
Plate 94r. : A rope scaling ladder, with the grappling hooks in separate parts. Incendiary devices, including fire pots with throwing ropes attached and arrows portruding from them,
Plate 94v. : More incendiary devices including ? Greek fire throwing tubes. Hassenstein describes objects like these as 'projectiles containing a mixture of fire and poison (vitriol, etc.) and gunpowder',
Plates 95r. and 95v. : Patterns for the canvas covers for fire-pots, fire-arrows and fire-balls,
Plate 96r. : Gun on a carriage with four wheels and provision for at least four draught animals, trunnions and one lifting ring, narrow chamber and flared muzzle,
Plates 96v : Two gun carriages, one for 1 gun, and the other for 3 guns to be drawn by animals in a single train. All guns facetted at breech and with a semi-circular block at the breech,
Plates 97r., 97v., 98r. and 98v. : Missing,
Plate 99r. : A mortar and gun on fixed beds, with a curved adjustment device. Both with trunnions,
Plate 99v. : Lifting gear,
Plate 100r. : Gun on a carriage ? showing capsquares and forelocks and trunnions,
Plate 100v. : A bed for a large gun,
Plate 101r. : A large gun on a block bed with a structure of logs to absorb the recoil,
Plate 101v. : Fire-barrels and rings,
Plate 102r. : A device for forcing a door out of its frame or ? forcibly lowering a drawbridge,
Plate 102v. : Ladders with protective sides and top,
Plate 103r. : Cart with a removable section in the base,
Plate 103v. : Double cart with protective basket-work screen,
Plate 104r. : Wooden platform with removable centre section, ? protective screen for gunner, without support,
Plate 104v. : Four-legged lifting tackle,
Plate 105r. : gun on a two-wheeled carriage. ? ammunition boxes parrallel to the gun,
Plate 105v. : Two guns on carriages, showing two types of elevating gear, one adjusted by a wedge, the other by an elevating screw. The guns are sunk into the carriage beds and held in place by capsquares and forelocks,
Plate 106r. : Gun on carriage with protection hut over the gun; an exploded drawing of the carriage, including ? ammunition boxes,
Plate 106v. : Gun on carriage with an angled trail; drawing of the separate parts,
Plates 107r. and 107v. : Missing,
Plate 108r. : Organ gun on carriage and carriage in parts,
Plate 108v. : Guns in a furnace; the exact process being carried out is not clear, not casting, ? annealing, ? breech-sheathing,
Plate 109r. : A pile driver or ? ram [cf Mittelalterliches Hasbuch pl. 44],
Plate 109v. : Attackers approaching a fortress under basket-work shields; one is treading on a caltrop,
Plate 110r. : Blank,
Plates 110v. to 112r. : Four views of a wooden construnction on four wheels with two sets of doors. All marked 'f' ? 'Hussite Wagon'. [cf Wagenburg in Wagenburg, Mittelalterliches Hausbuch, pl. 61],
Plate 112v. : Gunshield, on ? two wheels, with serpentine gun-muzzle protruding forom an upright rectangular post. ? 'Hussite Wagon' All marked 'f',
Plate 113r. : A water-raising wheel with a continuous chain of round pots,
Plate 113v. : A suction pump, with pictures of pump parts,
Plate 114r. : A water-raising wheel with a chain of pear-shaped pots.



Physical Characteristics / Technical Requirements

11.9 inches x 8.5 inches (300mm x 220mm).

140 leaves, in twelve gatherings each of six sheets folded in half, numbered straight through at the top of each page from f.i to f.cxliii, the front flyleaf being un-numbered.

4 leaves, which should have been numbered lxxxxvij, lxxxxviij, cvj and cxlj were torn out after the foliation was inserted.

fflxjv. - lxxxiijv. blank. All leaves are pricked and ruled as if it had been intended to show an illustration opposite a page of text throughout.

fflxxxiiij - cxiiij illustrated atlas of military stratagems and devices, some showing the firemaster in action, none captioned.

ff.cxiiijv. - cxliijv. blank. Some water damage to last few pages.

Limp parchment binding, reinforced down the back, with two decorative studs, possibly for a loop fastening, inserted.

Centres of each gathering reinforced with narrow strip of re-used parchment.

Pencilled notes in German, on contents and comparanda, and bookplate, Ex Libris Liechtensteinianis, inside front cover.

Water marks: Gatherings 1-7 and 12: a triple-crenellated tower. ? Piccard II 307. Gatherings 8-11: Oxhead with flower between its horns. ? Piccard XII 486. 1 sheet (5/12 of gathering 7) has a mark of a Greek cross patee. ? Piccard XI 314

Access Conditions

Open access