[Paris], s.n. c. 1640-53.
8vo (171 x 109 mm.). [xxxvi], [ii], , [4 blank]p. AND THREE FOLDING ENGRAVED PLATES and [ii], p. ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY-EIGHT FULL-PAGE WOODCUTS FROM SIXTY-SIX BLOCKS. In a single easily legible cursive hand.
Contemporary gilt-ruled mottled calf with a central medallion of volutes and foliage around the gilt monogram ?LDDE and S fermés (neatly restored, front hinge cracked, two corners scuffed), spine and red morocco label gilt, marbled edges.
FORERUNNERS OF TWO PRINTED BOOKS — Bourdin’s posthumous L’Architecture militaire and Le Dessein ou la perspective militaire — both of 1655. The author created these three suites of proprietary technical woodcuts and prose explanations to profitably supply the nobility and the wealthy with textbooks for his courses and his private classes, during his fifteen years teaching mathematics and fortification at the elite Jesuit Collège de Clermont in Paris.
BOURDIN MADE UP THE PRESENT MANUSCRIPTS NOT LONG AFTER CUTTING THE BLOCKS, which show almost no wear.
The initial suite of sixteen unnumbered woodcuts is repeated thrice — first to introduce concepts and terminology, then to illustrate permanent regular fortifications (current French, Dutch and Italian practice), artillery and defensive structures. Its third use is keyed to text on sketching plans in the field.
The following suite of fourteen numbered blocks treats irregular fortifications and appears twice — for the siting, dimensions and angles of eight kinds of irregular structures and then for building them.
The Design, on military or orthogonal perspective, uses each of the thirty-six unnumbered blocks of the third suite from one to six times to demonstrate various projection techniques for drafting defensive designs on the fly for immediate construction.
These complex hybrid manuscripts may represent “an authoritative abridged text on ‘what to teach’ and ‘what not to teach’ about military architecture, for universal application in the French Jesuit colleges” (De Lucca).
I have identified a second manuscript of Military Architecture (blocks in a later state; Newberry Library). I have not found another manuscript of the Design. In good condition.
¶De Lucca, Jesuits and Fortifications 96-104.
For the printed editions see D’Orgeix’s “Fortification and Military Perspective in Seventeenth-Century France” in Perspective, Projections and Design edd. Carpo & Lemerle 127-40 esp. 130-1 & 136-7 and Jähns’s Geschichte der Kriegswissenschaften II: 1339 and Pollak’s Military Architecture…& the…Early Modern European City 4 and Sommervogel-deBacker’s Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus I: 29,6-7.