Pietro Cataneo and the Fortified City: The use of the grid plan

Tokushige, Kenta, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Brothers, Cammy, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia

During the Quattrocento and Cinquecento, many architectural treatises were published in Italy and southern Europe. Pietro Cataneo, a Sienese architect, published his own treatise I Quattro Primi Libri di Architettura in 1554. The majority of the treatise was related to the design of fortified cities, an indication of the demand for a new model of fortification due to the advancement of weaponry. The focus on a fortified city in an architectural treatise was unique in this era; however, many scholars considered the content unoriginal.

This thesis will explore not only how Pietro Cataneo became intensely interested and involved in designing fortified cities prior to the publication of his treatise but also the possibility that his treatise, often considered insignificant, might have influenced how a fortified city was drawn in the translation of De architettura by Daniele Barbaro and Andrea Palladio in 1556, the most influential edition of De architettura in the latter half of the Cinquecento and on into the future.

Understanding Cataneo through what was put down in the archival records of Siena and the Taccuino, a collection of drawings done in his youth, would change the way that Cataneo had been viewed as a military architect. Although the majority of the work by Cataneo was designing fortifications, this resulted from the political situation of the Republic of Siena during his residence. His interest in fortification was not for purposes of war like many of the military architects in the following century. On the contrary, he was deeply concerned with how the civic life would be carried out within the fortified city.

The content of the treatise, often thought to have had no influence on contemporary architects due to its lack of appeal as a military fortification, attracted those who understood the importance of planning a fortified city where the civil and military aspects could coexist. These were the reasons why Daniele Barbaro and Andrea Palladio chose to adopt the plan of Cataneo in their translation.

Pietro Cataneo may not be widely appreciated as an individual; however, the impact he had on the illustrations of Andrea Palladio, still widely read, should not be underrated.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Fra Giocondo, wall, Vitruvius, Renaissance, fortification, radial, Leon Battista Alberti, bastion, Filarete, Daniele Barbaro, military architecture, Cinquecento, Italy, Siena, Cesare Cesariano, grid, Pietro Cataneo, Andrea Palladio, Quattrocento, treatise, military, fortified city, city, civil architecture
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