Cornelis Drebbel

About Cornelis Drebbel

Who is it?: Inventor of world’s first navigable submarine
Birth Year: 1572
Birth Place: Alkmaar, Dutch
Died On: 7 November 1633\nLondon, England
Education: Hendrick Goltzius
Occupation: Engineer, inventor
Spouse(s): Sophia Jansdochter Goltzius
Children: Six
Parent(s): Jacob Janszoon Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel Net Worth

Cornelis Drebbel was bornon 1572 in Alkmaar, Dutch, is Inventor of world’s first navigable submarine. Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel was a Dutch builder best remembered as the inventor of the world’s first navigable submarine. He worked initially as a painter, engraver and cartographer before developing a keen interest in mechanics, alchemy and designing optical instruments. Born to a burgher in Netherlands, he studied at the Academy of Harleem after receiving his primary education from a local Latin school and became a student of the famous engraver, Hendrick Goltzius. Although initially apprenticed to an engraver, he soon developed an interest in alchemy and mechanical inventions. Subsequently, he was granted a patent for a ‘perpetual motion machine’ actuated by changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature, an invention which established his reputation in scientific and aristocratic circles in Europe. Later, he journeyed to England upon the invitation of King James I who encouraged him to continue his scientific works. Among the numerous inventions attributed to his name are: construction of the first compound microscope using two sets of convex lenses, a variety of optical instruments, an improved thermometer, a scarlet dye, and self-regulating ovens. But undoubtedly, his most famous and magnificent invention was the first ever navigational submarine which he designed and built while working for the English Royal Navy. A great innovator and a brilliant empiric researcher, Cornelis Drebbel was a spirited man who contributed towards the advancement of mechanics, pneumatics, optics, chemistry, hydraulics and pyrotechnics
Cornelis Drebbel is a member of Inventors & Discoverers

💰 Net worth: Under Review

Some Cornelis Drebbel images

Biography/Timeline

1572

Cornelis Drebbel was born in Alkmaar, Holland in an Anabaptist family in 1572. After some years at the Latin school in Alkmaar, around 1587, he attended the Academy in Haarlem, also located in North-Holland. Teachers at the Academy were Hendrik Goltzius, engraver, Painter, Alchemist and humanist, Karel van Mander, Painter, Writer, humanist and Cornelis Corneliszoon of Haarlem. Drebbel became a skilled engraver on copperplate and also took an interest in alchemy.

1595

In 1595 he married Sophia Jansdochter Goltzius, younger sister of Hendrick, and settled at Alkmaar. They had at least six children, of whom four survived. Drebbel worked initially as a Painter, engraver and cartographer. But he was in constant need of money because of the prodigal lifestyle of his wife. In 1598 he obtained a patent for a water-supply system and a sort of perpetual clockwork. In 1600, Drebbel was in Middelburg where he built a fountain at the Noorderpoort. In that spectacle making center he may have picked up knowledge in the art of lens grinding and later would construct a magic lantern and a camera obscura.

1604

Around 1604 the Drebbel family moved to England, probably at the invitation of the new king, James I of England (VI of Scotland). He was accommodated at Eltham Palace. Drebbel worked there at the masques, that were performed by and for the court. He was attached to the court of young Renaissance crown-prince Henry. He astonished the court with his inventions (a perpetuum mobile, automatic and hydraulic organs) and his optical instruments.

1610

His fame circulated through the courts of Europe. In October 1610 Drebbel and his family moved to Prague on invitation of Emperor Rudolf II, who was preoccupied with the arts, alchemy and occult sciences. Here again Drebbel demonstrated his inventions. When in 1611 Rudolf II was stripped of all effective power by his younger brother Archduke Matthias, Drebbel was imprisoned for about a year. After Rudolf's death in 1612, Drebbel was set free and went back to London. Unfortunately his patron Prince Henry had also died and Drebbel was in financial trouble.

1620

He also built the first navigable submarine in 1620 while working for the English Royal Navy. He manufactured a steerable submarine with a leather-covered wooden frame. Between 1620 and 1624 Drebbel successfully built and tested two more submarines, each one bigger than the last. The final (third) model had 6 oars and could carry 16 passengers. This model was demonstrated to King James I in person and several thousand Londoners. The submarine stayed submerged for three hours and could travel from Westminster to Greenwich and back, cruising at a depth between 12 and 15 feet (4 to 5 metres). Drebbel even took James in this submarine on a test dive beneath the Thames, making James I the first monarch to travel underwater. This submarine was tested many times in the Thames, but it couldn't attract enough enthusiasm from the Admiralty and was never used in combat.

1621

Drebbel's most famous written work was Een kort Tractaet van de Natuere der Elementen (A short treatise of the nature of the elements) (Haarlem, 1621). He was also involved in the invention of mercury fulminate. He also discovered that mixtures of “spiritus vini” with mercury and silver in “aqua fortis” could explode.

1622

He manufactured with his glass-grinding machine optical instruments and compound microscopes with two convex lenses, for which there was a constant demand. In 1622 Constantijn Huygens stayed as a diplomat for more than one year in England. It is quite possible that he learned the art of glass grinding at this time from Drebbel, and that he passed this knowledge to his second son Christiaan Huygens, who became a prominent Dutch Mathematician and scientist. The English natural Philosopher Robert Hooke may have learned the art of glass grinding from his acquaintance Johannes Sibertus Kuffler, the son-in-law of Drebbel.

1633

Towards the end of his life, in 1633, Drebbel was involved in a plan to drain the Fens around Cambridge, while living in near-poverty running an ale house in England. He died in London.

1643

The story goes that, while making a coloured liquid for a thermometer Cornelis dropped a flask of aqua regia on a tin window sill, and discovered that stannous chloride makes the colour of carmine much brighter and more durable. Although Cornelis did not make much money from his work, his daughters Anna and Catharina and his sons-in-law Abraham and Johannes Sibertus Kuffler set up a very successful dye works. One was set up in 1643 in Bow, London, and the resulting colour was called bow dye. The recipe for "colour Kufflerianus" was kept a family secret, and the new bright red colour was very popular in Europe.

1974

A portrayal of Cornelis Drebbel and his submarine can be briefly seen in the film The Four Musketeers (1974). A small leatherclad submersible surfaces off the coast of England, and the top opens clamshell-wise revealing Cornelis Drebbel and the Duke of Buckingham.

2010

Cornelis Drebbel has been honoured on postage stamps issued by the postal services of both Mali and the Netherlands in 2010.

2018

He was known for his Perpetuum Mobile, built an incubator for eggs and a portable stove/oven with an optimal use of fuel, able to keep the heat on a constant temperature by means of a regulator/thermostat. He designed a solar Energy system for London (perpetual fire), demonstrated air-conditioning, made lightning and thunder ‘on command’, and developed fountains and a fresh water supply for the city of Middelburg. He was involved in the draining of the moors around Cambridge (the Fens), developed a predecessors of the barometer and thermometer, and a harpsichords that played on solar Energy.