Luca Pacioli – Father of accounting, developer of double entry accounting and the man who taught DaVinci maths and proportion!
Luca Pacioli was born into poverty in 1447 in Sansepolcro, Tuscany. Schooled by friars initially, he was an apprentice but chose to abandon his apprenticeship, redirecting his life away from his poor upbringing by studying with a mentor; Piero della Francesca. Piero Francesca was a painter who began teaching the young Luca Pacioli Science and Mathematics. Together they went to Duke Fredrico of Urbino’s library to further their knowledge and the pair struck up friendships with both the duke and his son. It is at this time that Luca Pacioli decided to develop further and put his knowledge of mathematics to practical use.
Meeting new people was very much what the renaissance was about and The next chapter was when Piero introduced Luca to Leon Battista Alberti a writer, architect and scientist.
Here was a man who believed in the God given validity of mathematics and schooled Luca in ways of proportion and the the importance of ratios in arches, columns, etc. It was around this time that Luca Paciolli wrote his first paper on Mathematics and with Leon Battista Alberti the pair would head to Rome and meet the Pope. The Pope convinced Luca Pacioli he should join the church and it was here he started writing in italian and applying mathematical concepts and techniques to the market place (written in common tongue so everyday men could apply the concepts). It was in Rome when Leon Battista Alberti died, so Luca Pacioli became a Monk and then his academic career took off. In 1485 he became a teacher and scholar at the University of Perugia and then he became a celeb with the publication of his masterpiece Summa de arithmetica, geometria. Proportioni et proportionalita which was published in Venice in 1497. This work was deemed so important it was one of the first to be commissioned by the new fangled Guttenberg press – and I should add it to my list of things to read as it sounds a bit badass – It covered a great deal of business and general renaissance genius such as what makes a merchant successful: cash/credit (on good faith)/maths and good bookkeeping (where no order there is confusion) but one small section stood out from the rest, it was on a system called the Venetian Method (double entry accounting).
I’ve explained Double entry bookkeeping in lay-mans terms here
It basically covers the simple mathematical formula of Assets = Liabilities + owners equity. This was groundbreaking in the fifteenth century and the book was translated all over Europe and is considered the most widely read maths book ever to come out of Italy.
Soon after he was asked to move to Milan by Ludovico Sforza. It was here he became good mates with a chap called Leonardo DaVinci (the pair shared an apartment together – sort of). He taught Leonardo maths, proportion and probably influenced DaVinci’s link to architecture. The pair collaborated on a book called ‘De divina proportione’ (of devine proportions) which Luca Pacioli wrote and Leonardo illustrated.
While they were also hanging out together Leonardo came out with his smash hit ‘the last supper’ which you might have heard of.
So it was in collaborating and networking that the likes of DaVinci could come up with the incredible stuff they did. Cross contamination is something the likes of Elon Musk talk about and it’s importance was apparent back in 15th century renaissance Italy. Most genius’ are great men who walk and work with other great men which means I must now probably go to a this jaguar-land rover lecture my sister has invited me too this evening. (do a bit of networking).
Luca Pacioli died in 1517 aged 70. In San Sepolcro in the Medici ruled city state of Florence, where he was born. To read more about the Medici Banking Family that rule Florence click Here.
Further Reading – Click On Each Book For More Info!
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