Bernard Forest de Belidor was a French engineer that lived in the 18th century. As a professor at the artillery school in Ainse, he published several volumes about hydraulics, ballistics, physics, and mathematics that were revolutionary for his time. One of these books included “La Science des Ingenieurs dans la Conduite des Travaux de Fortification et d’Architecture Civil.”
The title of the book alone reveals the general topics discussed throughout the chapters – the physics and statics needed to construct a structurally sound building. Diving into each of the four parts, however, shows from just how many perspectives he tackles the main idea. The first part discusses the principles of mechanics in general. Its goal is for architects and engineers to be able to create stable buildings in their given environment. The second part describes the mechanics of vaults and arches. The third part focuses on the construction of military and civil buildings. The final and fourth part delves into the decoration of buildings. This section, specifically, leans on the concept of the orders, their dimensions, and purposes.
Throughout each chapter, Belidor uses pictures and diagrams to support his explanations. Some, such as the ones that illustrate the principles of physics, can be understood on their own. Others, such as the ones comparing column decorations, need further information to be interpreted correctly. It makes sense, as a result, that the book is so large and thick, encompassing over 600 pages. There is simply a vast amount of information that Belidor wishes to transmit, not only to experts in the field, but in a way that also less experienced individuals can understand.