Artificial castle with fireworks, 1635.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving showing a wooden castle bristling with fireworks and below it, two such castles connected by a mechanism to simulate two figures jousting. Firework displays have been widely used for celebrations in Europe since the 16th century. Elaborate pyrotechnic effects were often created and used in a theatrical setting. In 1635, the master pyrotechnician John Babington published a book from which this illustration comes, and which describes many effects available at the time, some of which he had devised. This work, 'Pyrotechnia or, A discourse of artificiall fire-works', dealt with geometry and the use of fireworks for military purposes.