Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Fabrizio Mordente
1532-c. 1608

Mathematician from Salerno, known as the inventor of a special model of eight-point proportional compasses, designed to measure the smallest fraction of a degree. Traveled extensively in Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Was in Venice in 1567, where he dedicated to Daniele Barbaro (1513-1570) the first print depicting his compasses. In 1572, visited the court of Emperor Maximilian II (1527-1576) in Vienna. In 1578, went to Prague to work for Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612), to whom he dedicated the treatise on the Compasses published in Antwerp in 1584. In the Flemish town, he met Michel Coignet (1549-1623), who later devoted several writings to Mordente's invention. Also decisive was his 1585 meeting in Paris with Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), which appears to have motivated the philosopher from Nola to examine the compasses and the measurement of minimum values. After going to work for Alessandro Farnese (1545-1592) in 1591, Mordente developed the final version of his compasses, which were intended to increase the precision of astronomical measurements and to perform various practical mathematical operations.