Compiled between 1487 and 1490, this is one of the oldest known manuscripts in the corpus of Leonardo’s writings. By someone who was anything but an omo sanza lettere (‘an unlettered man’), this codex reflects Leonardo’s desire to master Latin and organise lexical lists of all the words in the Italian language related to science, philosophy and the humanistic subjects in general. Many words were reinterpreted by Leonardo, who gave them new meanings and used them in different contexts, providing us with a valuable document for the history of language during that period.
In addition to the lists of words, the codex includes an important series of caricature drawings exploring different types of physiognomy that constitute a curious gallery of real and imaginary portraits. Extremely interesting are the studies for the design of the tiburium of the Cathedral in Milan, as well as a number of projects relating to military architecture.