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Faust Vrančić (1551, Šibenikmarker – January 17, 1617) was a Croatian and Venetianmarker bishop, humanist, philosopher, historian, diplomat, linguist, lexicographer, and inventor.

He died in Venicemarker and was buried in Prvić Luka (a village on the island of Prvićmarker near Šibenik).

His name is rendered Faust Vrančić in Croatian, Fausto Veranzio in Italian, and in older sources, he's also known as Verancsics Faustus (sources from Kingdom of Hungary) and Faust Verantius (Latin).

Family history

The Veranzio family came to Šibenikmarker, (Dalmatia), today's Croatiamarker, where a member of the family was mentioned for the first time in 1360. While the family's main residence was in Šibenik, they owned a summer house in Šepurine, a village neighbouring Prvić Luka, where he is buried. The family owned substantial amounts of land on the island of Prvić and acquired an impressive art collection. Descendants of the family still live in the summer house in Šepurine. His uncle, Antun Vrančić (in Hungarian: Verancsics Antal (1504-1573), diplomat and high civil servant, was in touch with Dutchmarker philosopher, humanist and writer Erasmus (1465-1536); with German philosopher, theologian and reformer Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560); and with Nikola Zrinski (1508-1566), Croatian ban, poet, statesman and soldier.


As a youth, Veranzio was interested in science. He attended schools in Paduamarker (Padovamarker) and Venicemarker, where he focused on physics, engineering and mechanics. At the court of King Rudolf the II in Hradcanymarker in Praguemarker Veranzio was Chancellor for Hungarymarker and Transylvania often in contact with Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe. In 1598 he got the title of bishop of Csanad.

After his wife's death, Veranzio left for Hungary and later for Venice to join the brotherhood of Saint Paul (barnabites) in 1609, where he committed himself to the study of science. He died in 1617 in Venice, he was buried on Prvićmarker island by his own request.


He was the author of a five-language dictionary, Dictionarium quinque nobilissimarum Europeae linguarum; Latinae, Italicae, Germanicae, Dalmaticae et Hungaricae, published in Venicemarker in 1595, with 5,000 entries for each language. The term Dalmatian was at that time used to define the Croatian language , (not to be confused with a minor Romance Dalmatian language). Particularly, he used the words from Chakavian dialect of Croatian language.

When Peterus Lodereckerus published the second edition of Veranzio's dictionary in Prague, he referred to the Dalmatian language as Croatian. Since that publication the language has continued to be known as Croatian.

In an extension of the dictionary called Vocabula dalmatica quae Ungri sibi usurparunt, there is a list of Croatian words that entered the Hungarian language. The book greatly influenced the formation of both the Croatian and Hungarian languages orthography; the Hungarian language accepted his suggestions, for example, the usage of ly, ny, sz, and cz. It was also the first dictionary of the Hungarian language, printed four times, in Venicemarker, Praguemarker (1606), Pozun (1834), what is nowadays Bratislavamarker in Slovakiamarker, and in Zagrebmarker, Croatiamarker, in 1971. The work was an important source of inspiration for other European dictionaries; among them:

Technical research

Homo Volans

Veranzio's book on mechanics, Machinae Novae (Venice 1595), contained 40 large pictures depicting 56 different machines, device, and technical concepts. The sensational book was soon translated into Italian, Spanish, French and German.

Veranzio had examined Leonardo da Vinci's rough sketch of a parachute, and set out to implement a parachute of his own. A now-famous sketch of a parachute that he dubbed Homo Volans (the Flying Man) appeared in the aforementioned book. Twenty years later, he implemented his design and tested the parachute by jumping from a tower in Venice in 1617. The event was documented some 30 years after it happened in a book written by John Wilkins, the secretary of the Royal Society in Londonmarker.

His areas of interest in engineering and mechanics were broad. Mills were his main point of research, where he created 18 different designs. He envisioned windmills with both vertical and horizontal axes, with different wing construction to improve their efficiency. The idea of a mill powered by tides incorporated accumulation pools filled with water by the high tide and emptied when the tide ebbed, simply using gravity; the concept has just recently been engineered and used.

By order of the Pope, he envisioned and made projects needed for regulating rivers, since Romemarker was often flooded by the Tiber river. He also tackled the problem of the wells and water supply of Venice, which is surrounded by sea. Devices to register the time using water, fire, or other methods were envisioned and materialized. His own sun clock was effective in reading the time, date, and month, but functioned only in the middle of the day. The construction method of building metal bridges and the mechanics of the forces in the area of statics were also part of his research. He drew proposals which predated the actual construction of modern suspension bridges and cable-stayed bridges by over two centuries. The last area was described when further developed in a separate book by mathematician Simon de Bruges (Simon Stevin) in 1586.

History and philosophy

Only a few of his works related to history remain: Regulae cancellariae regni Hungariae and De Slavinis seu Sarmatis in Dalmatia in manuscript form, while Scriptores rerum hungaricum was published in 1798. In Logica nova and Ethica christiana, in a single Venetian edition in 1616, he dealt with the problems of theology regarding the ideological clash between the Reformation movement and Catholicism. Tommaso Campanella (1568 - 1639) and the Archbishop of Split Marco Antonio de Dominis (1560 - 1624) were his intellectual counterparts.

Lost works

Veranzio published some of his works under the name Veranzo. Many of them were never printed, left in the form of manuscripts. Some were sold to stay in big archives in the capitals of Austriamarker or Hungary, while some were lost forever.


Today, one of oldest astronomical societies in Croatia wears the name of Faust Veranzio, and a warship of Croatian navy (ship for rescues).


  • The book mentioning Veranzio's parachute jump is John Wilkins's Mathematical Magic of the Wonders that may be Performed by Mechanical Geometry, Part I: Concerning Mechanical Powers Motion, and Part II, Deadloss or Mechanical Motions (London, 1648).

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