Portrait of Jerónimo de Ayanz

Portrait of Jerónimo de Ayanz
Portrait of Jerónimo de Ayanz

In this portrait we can see the appearance of Jerome de Ayanz y Beaumont (1553 – 1613), a character as unknown as he was exciting at the time of the Century Spanish Gold.

Born as the second son in a we althy family in Navarra, it seemed that his destiny was focused on a military career. And in fact, from a young age he was trained for it, as well as studied in other various subjects. But soon the army began to occupy all of his time since for years he participated in the many fronts that Spain had open


Portrait of Jerónimo de Ayanz

he Fought inTunisia, inLombardyor in Flanders. In fact, there he stood out for his courage and achieved great prestige for him, so much so that Lope de Vega himself extolled his courage in the playWhat happened in an afternoon, published a few years after his death.

Such a military career was rewarded with the title of Commander of Calatrava granted by King Felipe II. And later he was declared administrator of the kingdom's mines, both in Spain and in America. It is there that he began the works for which he is worthy of passing down to posterity

As manager of mining production he designed a series of inventions to ensure the profitability of these mines and improve working conditions. Thus he created a channeling system to extract the water from inside the mines, avoidingthis way flooding problems. And for this he created a unique system in which he resorted to things like the principle of atmospheric pressure and thermodynamics, when such ideas had not yet been defined. In addition to the fact that he used the power of steam, that is, he created a primitive steam engine, centuries before it became widespread with theIndustrial Revolution

And he also took advantage of all that system to create a kind of air conditioning that regenerated the temperature inside the mines. The good thing is that he put all this into practice, and it was productive. Something that differentiates him from the prototype inventor of the time, Leonardo da Vinci, who rarely got beyond the design phase.

On the other hand, Jerónimo de Ayanz did not stop devising new gadgets, building them and testing them. For example, he created a system for distilling seawater on ships, or he invented a precedent for the submarine. And he even created the first diving suit in 1602, which was successfully tested in the Pisuerga River in Valladolid in the presence of King Felipe III, to later be used on the American coast where divers used it to collect pearls.

All in all, Ayanz was an exciting character. At his death he had up to 48 patents of the time, and as if that were not enough, he also practiced painting, music, dedicated himself to cosmography and even scientific speculation with curious writings on issues of physics such as the existence of the vacuum or perpetual motion.

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