European statics during the XVI and XVII centuries

  • Danilo Capecchi
Part of the Science Networks. Historical Studies book series (SNHS, volume 42)


This chapter presents Dutch and French contributions to mechanics, with a nod to the English in the XVI and XVII centuries. The first part describes the contribution of Gille Personne de Roberval who proved the rule of composition of forces with Jordanus’ displacement VWL. The central part describes the contribution of René Descartes who was among the first to base statics on a VWL according to the idea of Jordanus de Nemore. Descartes also introduces the idea of virtual displacements as the birth of virtual motion (draft of infinitesimal displacements). An important part is devoted to Simon Stevin. Given his role as the founder of modern statics I did not limit myself to presenting his contribution to the VWLs, which is controversial, but I also present some of his other contributions that are less documented in the manuals of the history of mechanics. The final part shows that Isaac Newton does not avoid important considerations on VWLs based on velocities, despite the fact that his mechanics is normally considered an alternative to them.


Virtual Work Incline Plane Virtual Displacement Absolute Gravity Heavy Body 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danilo Capecchi
    • 1
  1. 1.Università La SapienzaRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations