Giambelli - Encyclopedia

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GIAMBELLI (or [[Gianibelli), Federigo]], Italian military engineer, was born at Mantua about the middle of the 16th century. Having had some experience as a military engineer in Italy, he went to Spain to offer his services to Philip II. His proposals were, however, lukewarmly received, and as he could obtain from the king no immediate employment, he took up his residence at Antwerp, where he soon gained considerable reputation for his knowledge in various departments of science. He is said to have vowed to be revenged for his rebuff at the Spanish court; and when Antwerp was besieged by the duke of Parma in 1584, he put himself in communication with Queen Elizabeth, who, having satisfied herself of his abilities, engaged him to aid by his counsels in its defence. His plans for provisioning the town were rejected by the senate, but they agreed to a modification of his scheme for destroying the famous bridge which closed the entrance to the town from the side of the sea, by the conversion of two ships of 60 and 70 tons into infernal machines. One of these exploded, and, besides destroying more than l000 soldiers, effected a breach in the structure of more than 200 ft. in width, by which, but for the hesitation of Admiral Jacobzoon, the town might at once have been relieved. After the surrender of Antwerp Giambelli went to England, where he was engaged for some time in fortifying the river Thames; and when the Spanish Armada was attacked by fireships in the Calais roads, the panic which ensued was very largely due to the conviction among the Spaniards that the fireships were infernal machines constructed by Giambelli. He is said to have died in London, but the year of his death is unknown. See Motley's History of the United Netherlands, vols. i. and ii.

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