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Faust Vrančić and his contribution to the development of technical thinking / Marijana Borić

“In a series of prominent Croatian thinkers who have contributed significantly to the development of Western European science, a special place helds Faust Vrančić (Šibenik 1551 – Venice 1617). During his lifetime he was an inventor, constructor, technical writer, linguist, philosopher, theologian and writer of literary and historical works. He made significant contributions in various fields, and wrote a number of works, among which special attention goes to his five-language lexicon entitled Dictionarium (Venice, 1595), the first Croatian dictionary in which he included the “Dalmatian” (Croatian) language among the “five most noble European languages”, and his technical work Machinae novae (Venice 1615/16), which, due to its importance in recent times, had several editions: German (Heinz Moos Verlag München, 1965), Italian (ed. by Umberto Forti, Ferro, Milan, 1968), Hungarian (Magveto Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1985) and Croatian (Novi Liber – Zagreb, City Library of Juraj Šižgorić Šibenik, 1993). The anniversary of the works of Machinae novae is a new opportunity to remind us of Vrančić’s specific traits and to observe his diverse and comprehensive contributions in various areas and aspects of human life. Though he did not write works in the field of mathematics, he was interested in this too. He studied Euclid’s Elements (4th century BC), one of the most important works of ancient science. Euclid, who is considered to be the founder of axiomatics, had a key influence on mathematics in the next twenty centuries. By the end of the Renaissance period, Elements became the basis of further development of mathematics. This Euclid’s work in its integral form was unknown to western European mathematicians in most of the Middle Ages. Medieval mathematicians, following Severin Boeti (480 – 524/525), the most prominent mathematician of the Middle Ages, used only the statements from the theorems and laws without the use of evidence and the strict axiomatic deductive system that represents the essence of Euclid’s work. The first translations of the integral work from Arabic to Latin occurred in the 12th century. The first Latin editions of Euclid’s Elements were printed in the Renaissance, and the work became somewhat more accessible in scientific and mathematical circles. It is interesting to note that in the Franciscan monastery in Šibenik, which stores a valuable collection of incunabula, there is one copy of the incunabula Euclid’s Elements (Venice, 1482), used by Faust Vrančić himself. The preserved copy from the 15th century contains Vrančić’s handwritten note and a brief supplement, probably partly taken from a later edition of Euclid’s Elements. The preserved incunabula from the Franciscan monastery in Šibenik is a precious testimony to Faust’s interest and knowledge of mathematics, since in his formal education, according to the wishes of his uncle Antun Vrančić, who took care of his education, he was focused on humanities.”

Summary of the paper: Borić, M. Faust Vrančić and his contribution to the development of technical thinking. // Poučak: Journal of Mathematics Methodology and Teaching 16, 61 (2015), pp. 5-13.