In 1401 a young man named Michael of Rhodes joined the Venetian navy as a lowly galley oarsman. Over the next four decades, he sailed on more than 40 voyages and took part in five major sea battles, rising through the ranks to become a trusted galley commander.

Michael of RhodesMichael of Rhodes

Michael documented his life and knowledge in a remarkable manuscript. Only recently rediscovered, it chronicles Michael's service record and includes more than 200 pages of commercial and calendrical computations, a beautifully illustrated section on astrology, some of the earliest surviving portolan aids to navigation, and the world's first known treatise on shipbuilding.

Manuscript Viewer
Due to the closing of The Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, the Michael of Rhodes site is now hosted by the Institute and Museum of the History of Science.
Copyright © 2005 Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology

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