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Book/Printed Material The Bellifortis (Strong in War). Bellifortis

About this Item


  • The Bellifortis (Strong in War).

Other Title

  • Bellifortis


  • Many high- and late-medieval manuscripts about technology exist. Most, however, present only the texts without any illustrations. The Bellifortis (Strong in war), in contrast, is the first fully illustrated manual of military technology, dating from the start of the 15th century. It was produced by a person whose name has been passed down to us: Konrad, or Conradus, Kyeser, a native of Eichstätt (Bavaria, Germany). He wrote his treatise between 1402 and 1405, when he was exiled from Prague. At first glance, its content, written in Latin and amounting to a total of nearly 180 images, seems to belong to a clearly-defined topic: warfare. Among the military devices discussed are, not surprisingly, trebuchets, battering rams, movable portable bridges, cannons, rockets, chariots, ships, mills, scaling ladders, incendiary devices, crossbows, and instruments of torture-some rather modern at the time and others that had been well-known since antiquity. But the treatise also describes a sauna, an air mattress, and a chastity belt, items that really do not fit the warlike image. This variety of content makes the Bellifortis so interesting. Kyeser's texts are somewhat difficult to understand and to translate, as the technical terms and his astrological allusions cannot always be deciphered. The Bellifortis is also relevant as a monument of the history of science, for it contains the first-known medieval depiction of the Archimedes screw and the earliest drawing of the above-mentioned chastity belt. Because of its manifest importance, this manuscript copy, produced around 1430, was acquired by the Bavarian State Library in 1998 with generous financial assistance of both Bavarian and German cultural institutions.


  • Kyeser, Conrad, 1366-approximately 1405 Creator.

Created / Published

  • [place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], 1430.


  • -  Germany
  • -  1402 to 1405
  • -  Artillery (Weaponry)
  • -  Hardware
  • -  Machinery
  • -  Mechanical engineering
  • -  Science, Medieval
  • -  Weapons


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  "BSB Shelfmark: Clm 30150"--Note extracted from World Digital Library.
  • -  Original resource extent: 150 folios, paper : illustrated ; 30 x 22 centimeters.
  • -  Original resource at: Bavarian State Library.
  • -  Content in German and Latin.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021668178

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Kyeser, Conrad, Approximately 1405 Creator. The Bellifortis Strong in War. [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, 1430] Pdf.

APA citation style:

Kyeser, C. (1430) The Bellifortis Strong in War. [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Kyeser, Conrad, Approximately 1405 Creator. The Bellifortis Strong in War. [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, 1430] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.