Nearly 360 years ago a book published in Amsterdam made a significant impact on the development of science and engineering of XVII-XVIII centuries. For more than a century this book remained the most authoritative scientific work on artillery and pyrotechnics in Europe and it was widely used as a textbook. The author of this book was our countryman Kazimir Semenovich.
Unfortunately, the author himself, as well as his book, was nearly forgotten in his homeland. There is no exact information on Semenovich’s date of birth. Presumably, he was born in 1600, but it’s known that he came from an impoverished gentry family of the Semenoviches who owned some land in Vitebsk region.
As Semenovich states in the preface to his book, he had good knowledge of arithmetics, geometry, mechanics, hydraulics, pneumatics, architecture, physics and chemistry as well as fine arts, sculpture , engraving etc. He is believed to have aqcuired such encyclopedic knowledge (right in the spirit of the Renaissance) in Vilnia University.
Although his parents wanted him to become a politician, Semenovich strongly believed that it’s artillery which combines both science and art as well as all the wisdom of the world.
He studied artillery in Holland, took part in the war between Holland and Spain, on returning home he took posts of engineer of the Crown artillery and then leutenant-general. After he retired he went back to Holland to publish in 1650 his treatise “The Great Art of Artillery”. The book was published in Latin (the language of science of the time) and described the multi-staged rocket , the delta wing and the rocket system of volley fire . Next to these scientific aspects the book describes the way people celebrate Kupalle in Belarus. Original Belarussian words such as “berkavets” and “baryla” (old units of measurement) become international scientific terms.
The book consists of