Arte para fabricar, aparejar naos de guerra y merchante

Tomé Cano, 1611

Tomé Cano's Arte para fabricar, aparejar naos de guerra y merchante was printed in Seville in 1611 and is the first monograph published on shipbuilding in Spain. 

Tomé Cano was born in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, in 1545, and died in Seville in 1618.  He wrote his treatise around 1608 in the form of a dialogue between three men - one of whom is the author himself - sailing down the Guadalquivir to their ships, which were undergoing some repairs at a place called los Pajares. 

Following a short introduction that he calls dialogo primero, Cano describes a nau of 12 codos of beam (6.90 m) in the dialogo segundo, with all the proportions required for a good performance.  He follows the norms of 1607, but defends a practice that was strictly forbidden at that time, which consisted of adding a second deck to the vessel by connecting the stern and forecastles.  In the third dialogue, he details a way to find the tonnage of his ship.  The fourth and final dialogue pertains to the dimensions of the flat of the midship frame, and its narrowing and rising to the bow and the stern.

We learn from Cano's Arte para fabricar, aparejar naos de guerra y merchante that a master shipwright from Rentería, in the Basque country, was developing a new way -  "nueva fábrica" - to build ships, which was followed in  Portugal since 1597, the date of the construction of the galleon San Mateo in Lisbon, following the "fábrica neuva de Rentería." 



Translation into English




Cano, Tomé, Arte para fabricar, fortificar y apareiar naos de guerra merchante, con las reglas de arquearlas reduzido a toda cuenta y medida, y en grande utilidad de la navegación (1611) transcribed by Duro, Cesário Fernandez in Disquisiciones nauticas, 5 Vols., (1880), Madrid: Instituto de Historia y Cultura Naval, 1996, 5:36-97.

It is fully reproduced in facsimile in a CDRom edition by the Fundación Histórica Tavera. 

Citation Information:

Filipe Castro,
2002, Ship Treatisis and Books: Tome Cano's
Arte para fabricar, aparejar naos de guerra y merchante, World Wide Web, URL,, Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University