Nouvelle invention de lever l'eau plus haut que as source avec quelques machines mouvantes

Caus, Isaac de (1657)

Isaac de Caus (1590-1648) was a French architect engeneer and gardener, elder brother of Salomon de Caus, equally an architect and hydraulic engineer. He was born into a Protestant Huguenot (a religious group of French Protestants who followed the Calvinist tradition of Protestantism) family and spent most of his life outside France. Around 1611, Isaac arrived in Britain while Salomon was working for the Prince of Wales. However, Salomon left England to work at Heidelberg Castle in Germany in 1613, and in 1634 Isaac de Caus was naturalized English. Isaac's first known work was the cave in the basement of Inigo Jones' Banqueting House in 1623. In the following years, De Caus worked at Skipton Castle, Bedford House, Covent Garden, and Wobum Abbey, but his most important project was in collaboration with Inigo Jones in 1636 at Wilton House.

In 1644, De Caus published Nouvelle invention de lever l'eau plus haut que as source avec quelques machines mouvantes, in London, adapted from Salomon de Caus's Les raisons des forces mouvantes avec diverses machines (1615). It is a hydraulic treatise containing 32 pages of text and 26 plates, organized in propositions (propositio) and explanations (declaratio). The plates show, among a variety of inventions, a hydraulic clock, a horse gin, a drilling machine driven by a waterwheel. What is most interesting are the automatons and mechanical works, such as a bird automaton and a hydraulically driven mechanical organ, which Salomon de Caus had already built in the gardens and grottoes of Heidelberg Castle during 1614 till 1619. A second edition of this treatise in French was published in 1657, but with the addition of further illustrations. Furthermore, in 1659 an English translation has been published with the title New and rare inventions of water-works shewing the easiest waies to raise water, which had a second edition in 1701.

Isaac de Caus's treatises are particularly widespread. In the Iberian Peninsula – considering that Spain and Portugal between 1580 and 1640 were under the same crown – the volume Nouvelle invention de lever l’eau is present at the University of Seville, the Complutense University of Madrid, the University of the Basque Country and the National Library of Spain (BNE).


[1] Morgan, L. (2007). Nature as model. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

[2] Tait, A., & Harris, J. (1979). Catalogue of the drawings by Inigo Jones, John Webb and Isaac de Caus at Worcester College Oxford (1st ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.