Vannocio Biringuccio

Vannocio Biringuccio

Biringuccio, Vannocio, 1480-c.1539, Italian metallurgist. He is best known for his practical manual of metallurgy, De la pirotechnia (1540, tr. 1942). As a young man Biringuccio learned about metallurgy through visits to forges and foundries. He directed an iron mine and forge near Siena and was master of its arsenal and mint. Exiled twice because of changing regimes, he served in Venice and Florence as a caster of cannon and as a fortifications engineer. He was later called to Rome to head the papal foundry.
Vannoccio Biringuccio, sometimes spelt Vannocio Biringuccio, (1480–c. 1539) was an Italian metallurgist. He is best known for his manual on metalworking, De la pirotechnia, published in 1540. Biringuccio is considered by some as the father of the foundry industry as De la pirotechnia is the first written account of proper foundry practice. In his career he was in charge of an iron mine near Siena, and also in charge of its mint and arsenal. He was in charge of casting cannons for Venice and later Florence.

Biringuccio was born in Siena. His father, thought to have been an architect, was Paolo Biringuccio and his mother was Lucrezia di Bartolommeo Biringuccio. He was baptised on October 20 1480.

He was a follower of Pandolfo Petrucci, the head of the powerful Petrucci family. Pandolfo employed him as a metallurgist. When Pandolfo died, Biringuccio remained tied to the Petrucci family, being employed by Pandolfo's son Borghese Petrucci. However, the uprising of 1515 forced Borghese to flee from Siena, taking Biringuccio with him. Biringuccio traveled about Italy, and visited Sicily in 1517.

In 1523 Pope Clement VII caused the reinstatement of the Petrucci family, and along with them Biringuccio was able to return from exile. In 1524 he was granted a monopoly on the production of saltpeter across all of Siena. However, this was short lived—in 1526, the people of Siena revolted and threw the Petrucci family out again. The family made an attempt (aided by Biringuccio) to regain Siena by force, but it failed.

In 1530, Siena entered a more peaceful phase, and Biringuccio returned. He was a Senator of the city in January and February of 1531, and took part in various projects.

In 1536, he was offered a job in Rome by the Church, and in 1538 he became head of the papal foundry, and director of munitions.

His exact place and date of death is unknown; all that is known is that a document dated 1539 mentions his death.

See also


  • Vanoccio Biringuccio (1540), Translated by Cyril Stanley Smith and Martha Teach Gnudi, The Pirotechnia of Vanoccio Biringuccio, pp. ix–x. Dover. ISBN 0486261344.

Further reading

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