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Faust Vrančić
Life of Faust Vrančić

The story of Faust Vrančić even today, after a century of research into his life, has not yet been fully told. This versatile scientist and inventor, author of many lexicographical, philosophical and poetic works, was born in Šibenik in 1551, where he gained a basic humanities education. He came from an well-known Šibenik family whose best known member is Antun Vrančić, who took him in during his early youth and cared for his formation and education.

Faust spent his childhood on the Island of Prvić in Šepurina.

At that time, as Mihovil Vrančić wrote to his brother Antun, Faust is a "lively-spirited child, possessing a beautiful and truly noble exterior; he is not unreasonable no excessively childish, it seems that he has a significant future ahead of him..." and asks him to take care of him so that "he might not absorb these savage customs in his childhood, but instead from an early age acquire a purer teaching and learn languages ."

Although Antun Vrančić did not only took care of Faust, he vested in his education mostly love, effort and money. He provided him with the opportunity to study law at Padua and Venice. Here the young Faust learnt and made progress, but he liked having fun, the company of others and friends, and experience the typical life of a student; hence, from that period we read quite a few letters in which Antun scolds him for his extravagance, life of luxury and youthful fire.

Only for a short time, upon graduation he returned to his beloved Šibenik, which was however too cramped for Faust's curious soul, so he went to Hungary, where his uncle Antun was the regal governor. During his stay in Šibenik, he became a member of the brotherhood of St. Jerome, with whom he always maintained close ties due to his love of his homeland and hometown.

In Hungary, his interests became absorbed in studying engineering and science. Unfortunately, it is also a time when his patron died, his uncle Antun. Faust was appointed administrator of the bishop's estates in Veszprem where he encountered the problems of maintaining and managing a large fortress. His practical knowledge gained at the Veszprem property will service him well in developing the machines later published in his book Machinae Novae.

On 1578, he married Maria Zarensis from whom he received a daughter Alba Roza and a son who died very young. He became secretary at the court of Rudolf II, of the Roman-German Emperor and of the Croatian-Hungarian king who resided in Prague. Rudolf II, a patron of the arts and sciences, an enthusiast in astronomy, astrology, and alchemy, gathered at the Hradčan court the greatest minds of the time and it was Faust's stay in Prague that will be important for the future work and progress of our Faust. Here he becomes friends with Jacopo Strada who most influenced the shaping of Faust's ideas on technical discoveries.

He leaves the Prague capital abruptly, probably affected by the sudden death of his wife. He leaves the position of royal secretary, briefly returns to his Šibenik, and then goes to Venice where his is ordained.

In 1598, Rudolf II proclaims him the Titular Bishop of Csanád, the title Faust renounced in 1605, after which headed off to Rome, where he joined the religious order Barnabites. Again, after years spent in diplomacy and politics, he again dedicates himself to his old occupations, studying the construction of machines and solving architectural problems.

Specifically, we must not forget that at the time Faust's life, technical sciences as we know them, physics, mechanics and mathematics were in their infancy and that his innovating solutions were largely intuitively based. Through observation and experience, which he acquired as the administrator of the Veszprem estates, he made sketches of 56 devices, which included the development of innovative solutions for mills that were water and wind-powered, various devices for carrying heavy construction, bridges, of which the most were those made of bronze, many different watches... These inventions gathered in the volume Machinae Novae, was released before the end of his life. The book contains 49 sketches with commentaries in Latin, Italian, Spanish, French and German.

Though the world today knows of him as the inventor of the Homo Volans, the flying man, we should not forget his other works, historical, and philosophical and lyrical, written in Latin, which reflect the spirit of the Renaissance.

A very important legacy of Faust Vrančić is his five-language dictionary named Dictionary of the Five Most Noble European languages (Dictionarium quinque nobilissimarum Europaea linguarum, latinae, italicae, germanicae, dalmaticae et ungaricae) which was not only the first Croatian, but also the first Hungarian dictionary.

Overcome with illness, Faust died in Venice on 27th January 1617. Sensing that the end of his earthly times was near, in his last testament, he stated his desire to have his body was laid in the church of St. Mary of Mercy in Prvić Luka.

It was In this way that this great man, a resident of the grandest European courts, a valued secretary of Emperor Rudolf II, Bishop of Csanád and royal governor of Hungary and Transylvania, a brilliant renaissance spirit was buried in a modest Prvić church on the island where he spent the happiest days of his childhood in the the country of Croatia of which he was proud, and whose origin he constantly emphasised by signing himself as Fausto Verancio Siceno, where the latter adjective emphasised his nationality and patriotism.

The most important works
Machine novae
Machine Novae
Dictionarium quinque nobilissimarum Europae linguarum, latinae, italicae, germanicae, dalmaticae et ungaricae
Dictionarium quinque nobilissimarum Europae linguarum
Homo Volans
(Leteći čovjek, Machinae Novae)
Homo Volans