Kazimierz Siemienowicz

Kazimierz Siemienowicz

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Kazimierz Siemienowicz , was a Polish-Lithuanian
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 of artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

, gunsmith
Gunsmith
A gunsmith is a person who repairs, modifies, designs, or builds firearms. This occupation is different from an armorer. The armorer primarily maintains weapons and limited repairs involving parts replacement and possibly work involving accurization...

, military engineer
Military engineer
In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

, artillery specialist and pioneer of rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

ry. Born in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, he served the armies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a federation of Poland
Kingdom of Poland (1385–1569)
The Kingdom of Poland of the Jagiellons was the Polish state created by the accession of Jogaila , Grand Duke of Lithuania, to the Polish throne in 1386. The Union of Krewo or Krėva Act, united Poland and Lithuania under the rule of a single monarch...

 and the Grand Duchy, and in the armies of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...

, a ruler of the Netherlands. No portrait or detailed biography of him has survived and much of his life is a subject of dispute.

After contributing his expertise to several battles, Siemienowicz published Artis Magnae Artilleriae in 1650. This treatise, which discussed rocketry and pyrotechnics
Pyrotechnics
Pyrotechnics is the science of using materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound...

, remained a standard work in those fields for two centuries.

Early life



Due to the scarcity of documentary evidence, his place of birth and nationality are a matter of dispute between modern Lithuanian and Belarusian researchers.

Lithuanian scientific school


The Lithuanian scientific school asserts that he was born near Raseiniai
Raseiniai
Raseiniai is a city in Lithuania. It is located on the south eastern foothills of the Samogitians highland, some north from the Kaunas–Klaipėda highway.- Grand Duchy of Lithuania :...

 in Samogitia
Samogitia
Samogitia is one of the five ethnographic regions of Lithuania. It is located in northwestern Lithuania. Its largest city is Šiauliai/Šiaulē. The region has a long and distinct cultural history, reflected in the existence of the Samogitian dialect...

. The family, which was relatively poor, bore the Ostoja Coat of Arms with military service traditions in the Grand Duchy. In a book dedication, he refers to himself as a Lietuvos bajoras (Lithuanian nobleman). Siemenowicz was educated in the Academy of Vilnius.

Polish scientific school


The Polish school, traditionally indifferent to strictly defining the ethnicity of each individual within the realm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, most often describes his identity simply as member of the szlachta
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 (i.e. the nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 within the Commonwealth) from Grand Duchy. Through some sources do use the term "Polish", others describe him as "Lithuanian". Those terms should be understood in proper context: "Polish" means "of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth"; "Lithuanian" - from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, a federal part of the Commonwealth. Polish historian Tadeusz Nowak described Siemienowicz as a Polonized Lithuanian nobleman. Polish historians for the most part accept that he used the Ostoja Coat of Arms and that he was an alumnus of the Academy of Vilnius.

Belarusian scientific school


The Belarusian scientific school asserts that he was born in the vicinity of Dubrowna in the Vitsyebsk land, to a family of minor Ruthenian princes (knyaz
Knyaz
Kniaz, knyaz or knez is a Slavic title found in most Slavic languages, denoting a royal nobility rank. It is usually translated into English as either Prince or less commonly as Duke....

) of Siemienowicz, who possessed the small tracts of land in that part of the Belarusian Dnieper-land (Падняпроўе) in the 14th—17th centuries. Some examples of lexicography used by K. Siemienowicz himself support this interpretation.

It is pointed out that there are no records of families with surname Siemienowicz having the right to bear the Ostoja coat of arms, and that it is possible that Siemienowicz acquired the right to use the image of Ostoja in his book to facilitate its circulation. He himself, however, was quite vague in his autobiographical notes as to his position in the hierarchy of nobility, possibly because of that. Also, the Belarusian scientific school of the 20th century tends to interpret the "Litvin
Litvin
Litvin literally means Lithuanian person in several Slavic languages. The term may also refer to:* Litvins, in historical context, Slavic people who identified themselves with the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania...

/Lithuanian" denomination of the Medieval/Renaissance period as a politonym rather than ethnonym, and so it is pointed out that when Siemienowicz writes about himself as "Litvin or Lithuanian", he means just a citizen of Great Duchy of Lithuania, not ethnicity. The identity of Siemienowicz and the magister of philosophy and liberal arts of same surname recorded in the acts of Vilnius academia of 1650 is disputed.

Military career


As Siemienowicz wrote himself, he was fascinated by artillery since childhood, and he studied many sciences to increase his knowledge (mathematics, mechanics, hydraulics, architecture, optics, tactics). In 1632-1634 he took part in the Smolensk War
Smolensk War
The Smolensk War was a conflict fought between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia.Hostilities began in October 1632 when Tsar forces tried to recapture the city of Smolensk, a former Russian possession. Small military engagements produced mixed results for both sides, but the surrender...

, in the siege of Biała
Biała
Biała is a Polish word for white. It appears in many Polish toponyms:-Towns:* Biała, also called Biała Prudnicka, in Opole Voivodeship* Biała Piska, in Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship* Biała Podlaska, in Lublin Voivodeship...

 under Mikołaj Abramowicz (who in 1640 became the first Lithuanian General of Artillery). It is possible that in 1644 he took part in the Battle of Ochmatów. He spent some time in the Netherlands, where he was sent by the King Wladyslaw IV to serve in the army of Duke Frederick Henry of Orange during the war with Spain
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...

; he participated in the Siege of Hulst
Siege of Hulst
The Siege of Hulst was the last major siege of the Eighty Years' War. The heavily fortified town of Hulst was conquered by Dutch troops commanded by Frederick Henry after only 28 days. The Spanish were informed of the siege only two days before it started. The Spanish army compromised 2,500...

 in 1645. In 1646 he returned to Poland, when Wladyslaw created the Polish artillery corps and gathered specialists from Europe, planning a war with Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. He served as an engineering expert in the field of artillery and rocketry in the royal artillery forces. From 1648 he served as Second in Command of Polish Royal Artillery. In late 1648 the newly elected king John Casimir Vaza who had no plans for the war with Ottomans advised him to return to the Netherlands and publish his studies there. There are also rumors that in 1649 Siemienowicz became embroiled in a conflict with General of the Artillery Krzysztof Arciszewski
Krzysztof Arciszewski
Krzysztof Arciszewski Krzysztof Arciszewski Krzysztof Arciszewski (December 9, 1592 in Rogalin – April 7, 1656 near Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland, was a Polish-Lithuanian nobleman (szlachcic), military officer, engineer, and ethnographer. General of artillery of Holland, and Poland ....

 over a bureaucratic matter; in any case around 1649 he decided to leave the Commonwealth and work on his book in Amsterdam.

Siemienowicz considered the use of poison gases dishonorable. In his work, he wrote: and most of all, they shall not construct any poisoned globes, nor other sorts of pyrobolic inventions, in which he shall introduce no poison whatsoever, besides which, they shall never employ them for the ruin and destruction of men, because the first inventors of our art thought such actions as unjust among themselves as unworthy of a man of heart and a real soldier. In a historically early instance of biowarfare, Siemienowicz sponsored the firing of artillery containing the saliva of rabid
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

 dogs during a 1650 battle. While the success of this experiment is unknown, it demonstrated an educated guess about the disease's communicability that was not confirmed until the 18th century.

Artis Magnae Artilleriae


In 1650 Siemienowicz published a notable work, Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima (Great Art of Artillery, the First Part). Its name implies a second part, and it is rumored that he wrote its manuscript before his death. It is also rumored that he was killed by members of the metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

/gunsmith
Gunsmith
A gunsmith is a person who repairs, modifies, designs, or builds firearms. This occupation is different from an armorer. The armorer primarily maintains weapons and limited repairs involving parts replacement and possibly work involving accurization...

/pyrotechnics
Pyrotechnics
Pyrotechnics is the science of using materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound...

 guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s, who were opposed to him publishing a book about their secrets, and that they hid or destroyed the manuscript of the second part. Siemienowicz disparaged what he saw as a culture of secrecy based on "canting Alchymists
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

 of the times Past...they dealed in nothing but Smoke, yet arrogantly took upon them to be Professors of so noble and excellent an art as Chymistry."

Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima was first printed in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 in 1650, was translated to French in 1651, German in 1676, English and Dutch in 1729 and Polish in 1963.

In the first part of his work he also wrote that the second one would contain the universal pyrotechnic invention, containing all of our current knowledge. According to his short description, this invention was supposed to greatly ease all measurements and calculations.

For over two centuries this work was used in Europe as a basic artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 manual. Its pyrotechnic formulations were used for over a century. The book provided the standard designs for creating rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s, fireballs
Incendiary device
Incendiary weapons, incendiary devices or incendiary bombs are bombs designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using materials such as napalm, thermite, chlorine trifluoride, or white phosphorus....

, and other pyrotechnic devices. It discussed for the first time the idea of applying a reactive technique to artillery. It contains a large chapter on caliber, construction, production and properties of rockets (for both military and civil purposes), including multistage rocket
Multistage rocket
A multistage rocket is a rocket that usestwo or more stages, each of which contains its own engines and propellant. A tandem or serial stage is mounted on top of another stage; a parallel stage is attached alongside another stage. The result is effectively two or more rockets stacked on top of or...

s, batteries of rockets, and rockets with delta wing
Delta wing
The delta wing is a wing planform in the form of a triangle. It is named for its similarity in shape to the Greek uppercase letter delta .-Delta-shaped stabilizers:...

 stabilizers
Stabilizer (aircraft)
In aviation, a stabilizer provides stability when the aircraft is flying straight, and the airfoil of the horizontal stabilizer balances the forces acting on the aircraft....

 (instead of the common guiding rods).

Quotes

  • "Let better rockets serve Venus than blood-thirsty Mars".

External links