Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci

Autor: Kováč Matej | 25.2.2013 o 18:57 | (upravené 25.2.2013 o 19:06) Karma článku: 0,00 | Prečítané:  77x

This article was released in Travian magazine in January 2013.

Historical background

Leonardo was born in 15th century. Italy, at that time, was ruled by Medici family, who surpassed previous leading family, Albizzi. After their fight for power, the country started prospering and since Medici family made peace with Sforza family, the decades of war with Milan ended and so Medici secured the northern Italy. In 1417 Papacy returned to Rome and thanks to the influence of Medici family, art and phylosophy became dominant. In late 15th century, Italy is attacked by France and due to this attack, many city-states are established in the norhern Italy.


Life of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy (nearby Florence). He was a son of Ser Piero, who worked as a notary and Caterina, a peasant girl. Parents got separated after Leonardo was born and later on, he had totally 17 siblings.

Leondaro was growing up with his father, Vinci family. Thanks to that, he had an access to scholar scripts, texts and painting tradition of Vinci's. When he was 15, he started to work in a local workshop, whose owner was family friend, Verrochio, who was a painter. Growing up in this workshop, he showed his talent as a painter. According to Giorgio Vasari, another Italian painter, Verrochio decided never to paint again because his pupil Leonardo had surpassed him. According to historicians, this story is false.

Later, in 1482, when Leonardo was 30, he moved to Milan to serve to Sforzas. He spent there seventeen years. During these years Leonardo became the most creative. Duke Ludovico Sforza asked him not only to paint or sculpt, but duke also asked Leonardo to design weapons, buildings and other machinery inventions.

From 1485 to 1490, Leonardo worked on mostly anything. He made sketches and prototypes of flying machines, tanks or submarine. He worked with geometry and designed municipal construction, canals, fortresses, and other buildings.

After French invasion in 1499, Leonardo was forced to look for a new patron. Sforza's power was no more, therefore Leonardo travelled through Italy and joined travelling army. He helped them to get into the Constantinopole by designing a bridge.

In 1503, Mona Lisa was being painted. Year after, Leonardo's father dies. From 1513 to 1516, Leonardo, hired by Pope, worked in Rome as a maintainer of a workshop. In 1516, Fransic I, king of France, gives Leonardo a house in France. Leonardo accepted the gift and moved there

Leonardo da Vinci died on May 2, 1519 in Cloux, leaving behing his work and notebooks with siphered notes and scetches.


Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci

Let's have a better look on his inventions, improvements and some other work.



Leonardo was fascinated by birds and flight. Compared to other possible ways of transport, flying was the most researched area by Leonardo. He scetched “ornithopter”, which is skite-like device consisting of two bat-like wings of a wingspan over 10 meters. Whole construction was made of pine wood and covered by silk to create light structure. To flap the wings, a person had to pedal a crank connected to wings. Unfortunatelly, it's not in human nature to create enough power to lift himself into the air.

Another flying machine based on pedal system was “Aerial Screw”, the grandfather of helicopter. It consisted of main screw, which measured more than 5 meters, also made from light materials. When modern engineers tried to simulate his work, they were unable to take flight because the screw didn't created enough air pressure to lift into the air.

To close this aeral transport area I need to mention the parachute. Eventhough, the first parachute was created by Sebastien Lenormand in 1783, Leonardo's notes are an evidence, that people were already thinking about this idea. Da Vinci created his own model, different to others by it's shape. Instead of rectangular one, Leonardo proposed a triangular design. Adrian Nichols constructed mentioned prototype of such parachute and tested it in year 2000. It worked. Nichols even noted it had a smoother ride than the modern parachute.

Leonard worked on a design of a car. Da Vinci sketched a model of a self-propelled cart, which was able to move by itself. No need to push. It had breaks and certain stearing capabilities. When the model was built in 2006, it worked even the critics didn't think it will.

Da Vinci was interested in diving as well. The problem of breathing was obvious. For this purpose, Leonardo made up two ideas, one of them was scuba gear, while the other one was submarine.


War machines

During the time when Leonardo served Sforza, he was a war machinery designer. For this purpose, he designed mentioned scuba gear and submarine.

Scuba gear consisted of a suit from leather and a tube, through which the air was supplied to a person. Then, the diver was supposed to sneak upon the ship and sink it. Gear consisted also of a pouch, where the diver could urinate, and a helm. Submarine was for the same purpose. Both of these inventions were discovered after da Vinci's death. He kept these sketches a secret, becuase he did not like the war.

One of other ideas was to create a sort of a magazine or a machinegun. Leonardo noticed the long times needed for loading the gun. Therefore, he made an organ, a connection of multiple individual guns. This way, he created a gun consisting of 3 rows and each row got 11 single shooting weapons. This way, the device was able to shoot multiple times before getting empty. Similarly, he applied this idea on canoons as well.

Another fine idea was an armoured car, a tank designed to intimidate and scatter an opposing army. This model was also based on pedals. Eight people were hidden inside of such vehicle and pedal a crank. Leonardo didn't trust animals.

The tank, when reconstructed by Leonardo's notes, had a major flaw. Instead of moving forward, the vehicle moved backward, not forward as intented. It is so huge mistake, that scholars think, that Leonardo made this mistake on purpose, to discourage his patron from making such vehicles.


Other works

Da Vinci designed a bridge for Sforza family. The purpose was, as usually, to cross the water. But Sforza wanted it to be transportable and usable in wars. Therefore, Leonardo created a revolving bridge, which was easily constructed and transported.

Leonardo improved clocks. He inserted two mechanisms in his clocks. One was for hours, the second one for minutes. By inserting more springs, Leonardo's clocks became more accurate.

A statute, bronze horse, is also an innovation brought by Leonardo da Vinci. In 1482, the Duke of Milan asked da Vinci to build the largest horse statue ever seen. Leonardo accepted the task and created a horse of total weight of 80 tons of bronze. To make such statue, he needed to find out new mold-making technique as well as make a special design to stabilise the statue. Later on, when the French invaded the Italy, the statue was re-molded into canoons.

Leonardo da Vinci also improved Anemometer – a device to meassure wind's force, he worked on first robots and created “robotic knight”, tried to design ideal city. And much more.



Leonardo is mainly known because of his paintings such as Mona Lisa, or paintings of human body. He is less known for technical inventions. To make them more visible, his works are being recreated and tested by scholars, if they work as intented. The parachute, the car, the bridge, submarine. In 1999, Italy got a copy of the bronze horse. His influence can be felt even in these days. Schools are named after him as well as projects. He came, he built, he conquered.


(Photo in perex comes from this site:

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