Teresa Costa Clain
Mercantile arithmetic treatises published in Portugal in the 16th century - sources and influences
In the sixteenth century began the publication of mercantile arithmetic treatises printed in Portugal, such as the Tratado da Pratica d’Arismetica of Gaspar Nicolas, first published in 1519, the Pratica d’Arismetica of Ruy Mendes, with only one edition in 1540 and the Tratado da arte de Arismetica published by Bento Fernandes in 1555. These treatises present the classical topics but with several particular subjects such arithmetical models
inked to financial transactions with the specific rules of Portuguese trade of spices and its distribution in Europe.
The classical mathematical subjects have been already identified in former treatises, such as progressions, square and cubic roots, but this mathematical approach is further emphasized in the presentation of the business problems, such as the company rules. For instance, by introducing artificial business problems, the authors leads the reader to the more formal subject: the resolution of equations and systems of equations which suggests that the objective is beyond than to produce a simple commercial handbook.
In this talk, we choose the Ruy Mendes treatise whose we present a brief introduction of his Pratica d’Arismetica and locate the masterpiece with respect to the other mercantile arithmetic treatises produced in Portugal. We also evocate the sources and influences that the treatise has benefited from the Iberian context.