Cometary Theory in Fifteenth-Century Europe by Jane L. Jervis

By Jane L. Jervis

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Some time after Toscanelli's death, Vasari (1511 —1571) referred to him in his Lives o f the Artists. In his Life of Brunelleschi he said that Brunelleschi met Toscanelli at a dinner party and became his student in mathematics and life-long friend. From this reference Uzieili construes an active collaboration between the two men on the construction of the Duomo, fruitful marriage of mathematician and engineer. In the cupola of the Duomo there is a gnomon for measuring the maximum elevation of the sun at summer solstice; this has been plausibly attributed to Toscanelli by Ximenes (1757) and others, but there seems to be no contemporary documentation in the archives of the works of the Duomo or elsewhere.

Et quia etiam apparet in equidistantia Geminorum, signifient quod rex ftomanorum habebit angustias mtiltai et infort uroa, et quod rex Egypti morietur, et regnabit post ipsum fur qui non erit de Egyptus, ct erunt egritudines et mortalitates et fames et mors pueroritrn et abortus [aborsus] pregnant ium et mors avium et tonitura magna ct cormscationes, et comburentur fructus, et quia apparet in oriente, multi magnates cadent de ordinibus suis et, secundum Haly, libro 8 capetulo 41, morietur rex Chnstianorum, et erunt interfectiones et guerre in terra Babilkmie, et multc civitates in terns Christianorum depopulabuntur.

But the relationship of this observation to the other numbers in this section is not at all clear. FOLIOS 245v, 248r: COMET OF 1433 At the top of fol. 245v and in the lower right, there are tables of numbers which seem to be unrelated to the cometary observations (see plate VII). An analysis of these tables is given in Appendix B. With the center portion of this page we come finally to Toscanelli’s cometary observations (Jervis 1977). : 6) as follows, with my corrections in brackets: apparuit comala [sic] stella mihi primo die dommico 4{a] octobris 1433 in die sancti Francisci prima hora noctis in imagine corone Adriatic versus eius partem meridionalem, ut in figura patet.

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