Manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci (1469–1518)

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Manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci


SITE SUMMARY: This site is provided by the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy. It features a detailed history of the ten Leonardo da Vinci manuscripts, including for each one its name, current location, dates when written, and subjects. It contains links to Life of Leonardo, Leonardo on the Net, Leonardo's Machines, and Gallery with his drawings. The links next to the manuscripts' titles lead to the home pages of the institutions where the manuscripts are found.


  1. State the present title (and past title or titles, if any) for each of the ten manuscripts, the subjects (for text and illustrations) that each one features, dates for each, and names of owners (institutions or persons) of the present, and past.
  2. Read, then provide, the precise description of Leonardo da Vinci's ideas on inventors and inventing, at the Inventors Workshop Web site. (Its url is cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Next, go to one of these invention Web sites: Medieval Technology Pages, National Invention Hall of Fame—Index to Inventions, Smithsonian Institution—Inventors and Inventions—Selected Links, International Federation of Invention Associations—Links to Articles, etc., Untimely Inventions, Community of Science, Inc.—U.S. Manual of Patent Classification, or Mothers of Invention. (Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section that follow; in this book's chapter featuring George Margolin's "An Inventor Never Grows Up" which is an article in the Exploring the Inventor's Mind section of the America's Inventor online magazine; or in this book's Appendix B.) Choose an invention. Using da Vinci's basic ideas on inventing, describe the invention, and, if possible, a new yet related invention.
  3. See the online news article "Manuscript Illuminates the Mind of a Genius" by journalist Regina Hackett. (Its url is cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) To what is Hackett referring when she comments on the Codex Leicester and Leonardo, with the phrases "a magpie compilation" and "unique records of…." Complete these comments by Bill Gates in Hackett's article, starting "The notebooks reflect…." Cite two comments from the ones referred to just above; one by Gates, and one by Hackett. Apply each to something in the Codex Leicester manuscript or another da Vinci manuscript, translated or paraphrased. (Hint: See quotations/paraphrases of Leonardo's words in Hackett's article, in areas of this chapter's main Web site: Manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci, or at these Web sites whose urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below: Leicester Codex—A Masterpiece of Science—AMNH Exhibit Online, or Leonardo da Vinci (the Codex Arundel) at the British Library Online.)
  4. See Hackett's article "Manuscript Illuminates the Mind of a Genius" found as cited in Question/Activity no. 3 above. According to Hackett, what is "essentially a medieval notion" and what did da Vinci do with it, with reference to sciences?
  5. Visit the Leonardo Da Vinci Competition Web site. (Its url is cited in this book's Appendix G.) Read: Why Da Vinci? The Exam, How to Participate, Previous Year's Exams and Solutions, and a quotation by da Vinci. Think of something you could contribute to the competition. Describe it following Competition rules. (Tip: For help, see the Idea Finder—Contents Web site. Its url is cited in the Related Internet Sites section in this book's chapter featuring Margolin's article [found as stated in Question/Activity no. 2 above].)


Leonardo da Vinci Notebook (The Codex Arundel Manuscript) in British Library Online

A virtual duplicate of two pages from A Notebook of Leonardo da Vinci (one of the manuscripts), plus data on subjects da Vinci wrote about on these pages, and information on the manuscript's odyssey.

Some Leonardo da Vinci Thoughts Translated and Quoted

This site features quotations on the subjects of genius, mind, rest, and understanding.

Leicester Codex—A Masterpiece of Science—AMNH Exhibit Online

This site relates to an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History featuring the only da Vinci manuscript part owned by an individual (Bill Gates) rather than a library or museum. It contains pages with reproductions of da Vinci's drawings, his original manuscript pages in Italian (written in his unique reverse mirror image style), and his words (in translation or paraphrased) on the moon and the sky page featuring his thoughts on the moon's light. See also other Web pages on the manuscript (e.g., on Nature and Movement of Water, From the Rivers to the Oceans, Measuring and Using Water, and Fossils and the Flood). Note also links to Codex Main and Science.

"Manuscript Illuminates the Mind of a Genius"

Journalist Regina Hackett, in a 1997 issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, describes the Leonardo da Vinci manuscript known as the Codex Leicester, its travels through time, how Bill Gates acquired it, and where and how it has been exhibited since Gates bought it. She provides quotations in translation from the manuscript, a paraphrased translation of material discussed in the manuscript, and a quotation by Gates about da Vinci and the manuscript. Links lead to the Seattle Art Museum 1998 exhibit Leonardo Lives, plus Leonardo's Lab, Life and Legacy, Resources, and excerpts from the Codex.

Leonardo da Vinci at Inventors Workshop

Paragraph four of this site provides a succinct, clear description of da Vinci's "unique attitude about machines" (actually basic aspects of inventing and inventors). Paragraph one reveals his first involvement with machines. Paragraph five reveals what he was the first to write. Paragraph six reveals how his ideas are still of use five hundred years after they were put on paper. Note also links to Visions of the Future, Elements of Machines, and Leonardo's Mysterious Machinery.

Medieval Technology Pages

Access to information on technology that existed, and was known, between 500 a.d. and 1500 a.d., is by clicking links to a timeline, a subject index, or references.

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Manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci (1469–1518)

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