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Mathematical Treasure: Digges' Stratioticos

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

By the 16th century, mathematical books on warfare had begun to appear in Europe. The Stratioticos of Leonard Digges was one such book. Published in 1579 after Leonard’s death, the work was amended and extended by his son Thomas Digges (1546-1595). This was the first book published in England that considered ballistics. Two images of the title page follow, along with images showing troop formations.

Title page spread of Stratioticos

Title page of Stratioticos

On pages 52 and 53, we find mathematical considerations for forming up battle squares where a square of troops with their pikes extended are prepared to meet a cavalry charge. Two images, one of pages 52-53 and one of page 52, follow.

Battle square pp 52-53

Battle square p 52 only

Once again, mathematics was applied to best establish troop formations. Two images follow, one of pages 54-55 and one of page 54 only.

More battle formations pp 54-55

Battle formations p 54 only


See also images from Tectonicon, by Leonard Digges, and from Pantometria, by Thomas Digges.

The Special Collections staff at the Linderman Library of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is pleased to cooperate with the Mathematical Association of America to exhibit this and other items from the Library’s holdings in “Mathematical Treasures.” In particular, Convergence would like to thank Lois Fischer Black, Curator, Special Collections, and Ilhan Citak, Archives and Special Collections Librarian, for their kind assistance in helping to make this display possible. You may use these images in your classroom; all other uses require permission from the Special Collections staff, Linderman Library, Lehigh University.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Digges' [i]Stratioticos[/i]," Convergence (January 2013), DOI:10.4169/loci003955