The Emperor Charles V loved a clock. He had an immense collection. “Someday when I have leisure I’m going to spend time with my clocks,” he thought, and sighed when his troubles were too oppressive in Holland and Flanders.
What did he do with them–listen to them tick?
He liked to take them apart and put them back together again.
“You wouldn’t believe how many different kinds there are,” he told his wife, who smiled for him while she thought of how she would punish one of the maids.
“And their mechanisms are so ingenious.”
The Charles V Automatic Clock in the form of a ship
When he finally retired he took his favorite clocks and astrolabes with him to the Monastery of Yuste in Spain. To care for them he appointed two full-time watchmakers and a helper. And for expert advice he asked (ordered) the famous Italian mathematician and inventor Giovanni Turriano to be at hand.
Charles thought the world of Turriano. “Janellus de Turrianis, probably the best living inventor of clocks, with admirable know-how and talent, made us a truly extraordinary clock never before seen, which shows not only all the moments of the hours of the sun and moon but all the other signs of the planets and the comings and goings and reflexions of the celestial movements truly and exactly and with great ability and to our very great satisfaction…” ran the imperial decree of 1555 in which he awarded Turriano a pension of 100 gold escudos.
While they worked together on the clocks and astrolabes, Turriano would fascinate the Emperor with his great knowledge, not just of clocks. He was a hydraulic engineer of genius, the man who by an ingenious method brought water up from the river to the cliff where the Royal Alcázar of Toledo stood. The Spaniards called him Juanelo.
A guess at the mechanism of Juanelo’s hydraulic device for lifting water to the Royal Alcázar of Toledo (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license image by Yomangani).