Faust Vrančić the father of the parachute

Among many men of knowledge, innovation, and curiosity throughout history, some of the most recognized in the scholar circles of the world came from Croatia, and we couldn’t be more proud! We’ve written about Ruđer Bošković, Nikola Tesla, and others, but does the name of Faust Vrančić ring a bell? No? How about the parachute? Of course, you’ve heard of this handy item that every military in this world owns as well as more and more people enjoyed it as a hobby but did you know that it was invented by a Croatian?


Homo volans

Homo_volans, by Faust Vrančić, Fausto Veranzio
Homo volans, by Faust Vrančić, Fausto Veranzio

Machinae novae

But let’s begin from the start. Faust Vrančić, born in the 16th century in Šibenik, was a man of many interests, from lexicography, philosophy, theology, and technology. Besides that, he fluently spoke seven languages.
He moved to Venice to serve as a secretary at the king’s palace, and during that period he published one of his most famous books “Machinae novae” which included detailed sketches, projects, and constructions of all kinds. The book was written in Latin and Italian and later translated into Spanish, German and French. “Machinae novae” was indeed a book ahead of its time with sketches of ideas such as suspended bridges and, of course, the parachute, or, to be more precise, Homo volans, an illustration of a man in a parachute jump that is often misattributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

Faust Vrančić instalation, Prvić, Memorial center Faust Vrančić, photo credit by Šibenik Knin County Tourist Board
Faust Vrančić instalation, Prvić, Memorial center Faust Vrančić, photo credit by Šibenik Knin County Tourist Board

The parachute is one of the most recognizable inventions of Faust Vrančić who even attempted to jump off with the parachute construction in Venice. His ideas, in most cases, didn’t come to life during his lifetime but already a few centuries later which shows how much ahead of time Vrančić was. After his death in the early 17th century, upon his wish, he was buried on Prvić island nearby Šibenik, and today you can visit there a museum of Faust Vrančić dedicated to the immortal knowledge and spirit of this famous Croatian.



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