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The Frieze of the Art of War

In about 1475, Federico da Montefeltro commissioned the decoration of a long bench in front of the Ducal Palace of Urbino with 72 panels of carved stone, as a tribute to his valor as warrior-prince. Most of the panels are effectively devoted to military themes.

Francesco di Giorgio helped define the concept of the frieze. Many panels illustrate machines and systems taken from the drawings of the Sienese artist-engineer.

Traditional technology of warfare

The systems and weaponry of classical and medieval warfare predominate in Taccola's studies of military technology. His interest focused on siege machines, such as trebuchets and giant crossbows, articulated ladders, battering rams, and hull-boring devices.

Francesco, as well, recorded the weaponry used in traditional warfare.


Taccola and Francesco di Giorgio were fascinated with the military uses of incendiary mixtures and explosives. Both authors illustrate the preparation of a mine to blow up a fortress.

Bombards, small cannons, and mortars recur in Taccola's works. Francesco classified the different types of bombards by size, shape, and projectile weight. He devised petards and torpedos, and actually engaged in firearms manufacturing.




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