Between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Siena not only invented new art forms such as the famous "Sienese Gothic" style, but also developed a series of technical specialities. These were no less sophisticated than those of the great artist-engineers of the city-state's neighbor and traditional rival, Florence. The two most prominent Sienese engineers were Mariano di Iacopo, known as Taccola (1381-1458?), and Francesco di Giorgio (1439-1501), who also enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a master architect.
Siena's artist-engineers put their skills into practice for their small republic (Francesco, however, also worked for the leading Italian lords). In a series of elegant manuscripts, they demonstrated their newly-acquired yet consummate skill in depicting machines and mechanical systems.