As can be seen in the first page, Jaques Perret dedicates the book to the King of France Henri IV, whom he calls lieutenant of god, the one who gives equal justice to all french people and who hence needs to be obeyed and served by everyone.
To give a bit of context, in 1601, France is in a period of peace after many years of religious war and persecution of the protestants. In this time, the king Henri IV wants to recontruct and construct the prior as well as the newly built cities and fortify them to protect the people within the walls from their enemies. Fortification was a crucial part in the creation of new cities and was also an important mean of exercising power. Henri IV wants to rebuild the cities with a new approach: the new city plans are conformed with protestant faith.
In this book, Perret does not only propose systems of fortification, but also models of cities and various buildings.
The book contains perspective drawings and illustrations of floor plans accompanied by a detailed description what is depicted in the image. He was also one of the first to introduce perspective section drawings of buildings. The unit of measurement used is a “toise”
In the first part of the book is about military architecture. Perret presents a series of ways a city or citadelle can be fortified. He describes in detail the geometry and exact measurements of the fortresses’ bastion and curtain wall as well as the positioning of the canons and other munitions within the fortress. He also draws in precision the city in the interior of the walls: the streets, the citadelle, the hospitals, the gardens. The regular geometry of the city is not only pleasing to the eye but also stragetically important for a battle.
The second part of the book is about the war artillery used in defense of the cities.
The third part speaks of civil architecture: reformed temples, hospitals, castles and palaces as well as country houses and farmhouses. On the interior as well as on the exterior he explains the measurements of the buildings in detail. In addition, he describes the different rooms and what they are used for. In the illustrations he payed close attention to the ornaments of the buildings.
Plan – perspective – measurement