The Da Vinci Notebooks at sacred-texts.com
The stability of the arch built by an architect resides in the tie and in the flanks.
The position of the tie is of the same importance at the beginning of the arch and at the top of the perpendicular pier on which it rests. This is proved by the 2nd "of supports" which says: that part of a support has least resistance which is farthest from its solid attachment; hence, as the top of the pier is farthest from the middle of its true foundation and the same being the case at the opposite extremities of the arch which are the points farthest from the middle, which is really its [upper] attachment, we have concluded that the tie a b requires to be in such a position as that its opposite ends are between the four above-mentioned extremes.
The adversary says that this arch must be more than half a circle, and that then it will not need a tie, because then the ends will not thrust outwards but inwards, as is seen in the excess at a c, b d. To this it must be answered that this would be a very poor device, for three reasons. The first refers to the strength of the arch, since it is proved that the circular parallel being composed of two semicircles will only break where these semicircles cross each other, as is seen in the figure n m; besides this it follows that there is a wider space between the extremes of the semicircle than between the plane of the walls; the third reason is that the weight placed to counterbalance the strength of the arch diminishes in proportion as the piers of the arch are wider than the space between the piers. Fourthly in proportion as the parts at c a b d turn outwards, the piers are weaker to support the arch above them. The 5th is that all the material and weight of the
arch which are in excess of the semicircle are useless and indeed mischievous; and here it is to be noted that the weight placed above the arch will be more likely to break the arch at a b, where the curve of the excess begins that is added to the semicircle, than if the pier were straight up to its junction with the semicircle [spring of the arch].
This is proved by the 7th of this which says: The opposite ends of the support are equally pressed upon by the weight suspended to them; hence the weight shown at f is felt at b c, that is half at each extremity; and by the third which says: in a support of equal strength [throughout] that portion will give way soonest which is farthest from its attachment; whence it follows that d being equally distant from f, e .....
If the centering of the arch does not settle as the arch settles, the mortar, as it dries, will shrink and detach itself from the bricks between which it was laid to keep them together; and as it thus leaves them disjoined the vault will remain loosely built, and the rains will soon destroy it.