Renaissance technology

Renaissance technology

Renaissance technology is the set of European artifacts and customs, spanning roughly the 14th through the 16th century. The era is marked by such profound technical advancements like the printing press, linear perspectivity, patent law, double shell domes or Bastion fortresses. Draw-books of the Renaissance artist-engineers such as Taccola and Leonardo da Vinci give a deep insight into the mechanical technology then known and applied.

Renaissance technologies

A list of some important Renaissance technologies including both innovations and improvements on existing techniques.

Mining and Metallurgy

Technical drawings of artist-engineers

The revived scientific spirit of the age can perhaps be best exemplified by the voluminous corpus of technical drawings which the artist-engineers left behind, reflecting the wide variety of interests the Renaissance Homo universalis pursued. The establishment of the laws of linear perspectivity by Brunelleschi gave his successors like Taccola, Francesco di Giorgio Martini or Leonardo da Vinci a powerful instrument to depict mechanical devices for the first time in a realistic manner. The extant sketch books give modern historians of science invaluable insights into the standards of technology of the time. Renaissance engineers showed a strong proclivity to experimental study, drawing a most wide variety of technical devices, many of which appeared for the first time in history on paper.

However, these designs were not always intended to be put into practice, and often practical limitations impeded the application of the revolutionary designs. For example, da Vinci's ideas on the conical parachute or the winged flying machine were only applied much later. While earlier scholars showed a tendency to attribute inventions based on their first pictorial appearance to individual Renaissance engineers, modern scholarship is more prone to view the devices as products of a technical evolution which often went back to the Middle Ages.


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