Nicolaus Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus

Overview
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric
Heliocentrism
Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe. The word comes from the Greek . Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center...

 cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 which displaced the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 from the center of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

.

Copernicus' epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

(On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death in 1543, is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and the defining epiphany
Epiphany (feeling)
An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something...

 that began the scientific revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

. His heliocentric model
Copernican heliocentrism
Copernican heliocentrism is the name given to the astronomical model developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543. It positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets rotating around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform...

, with the Sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting Earth at rest in the center of the universe.
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Quotations

Finally we shall place the Sun himself at the center of the Universe. All this is suggested by the systematic procession of events and the harmony of the whole Universe, if only we face the facts, as they say, "with both eyes open."

As quoted in The Copernican Revolution : Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought (1957) by Thomas S. Kuhn

To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate, in degree, the wonderful workings of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge.

As quoted in Poland : The Knight Among Nations (1907) by Louis E. Van Norman, p. 290; also in The Language of God (2006) by Francis Collins|Francis Collins, pp. 230-31.

For when a ship is floating calmly along, the sailors see its motion mirrored in everything outside, while on the other hand they suppose that they are stationary, together with everything on board. In the same way, the motion of the earth can unquestionably produce the impression that the entire universe is rotating.

Book 1, Ch. 8

Hence I feel no shame in asserting that this whole region engirdled by the moon, and the center of the earth, traverse this grand circle amid the rest of the planets in an annual revolution around the sun. Near the sun is the center of the universe. Moreover, since the sun remains stationary, whatever appears as a motion of the sun is really due rather to the motion of the earth.

Book 1, Ch. 10
Encyclopedia
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric
Heliocentrism
Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe. The word comes from the Greek . Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center...

 cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 which displaced the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 from the center of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

.

Copernicus' epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

(On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death in 1543, is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and the defining epiphany
Epiphany (feeling)
An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something...

 that began the scientific revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

. His heliocentric model
Copernican heliocentrism
Copernican heliocentrism is the name given to the astronomical model developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543. It positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets rotating around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform...

, with the Sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting Earth at rest in the center of the universe. His work stimulated further scientific investigations, becoming a landmark in the history of science
History of science
The history of science is the study of the historical development of human understandings of the natural world and the domains of the social sciences....

 that is often referred to as the Copernican Revolution
Copernican Revolution
The Copernican Revolution refers to the paradigm shift away from the Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which postulated the Earth at the center of the galaxy, towards the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of our Solar System...

.

Among the great polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

s of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, Copernicus was a mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

, astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

, jurist
Jurist
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...

 with a doctorate in law, physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

, quadrilingual polyglot
Polyglot (person)
A polyglot is someone with a high degree of proficiency in several languages. A bilingual person can speak two languages fluently, whereas a trilingual three; above that the term multilingual may be used.-Hyperpolyglot:...

, classics scholar, translator, artist
Visual arts
The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts and architecture...

, Catholic cleric
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, governor, diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 and economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

.

Life


Nicolaus Copernicus was born on 19 February 1473 in the city of Toruń
Torun
Toruń is an ancient city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Its population is more than 205,934 as of June 2009. Toruń is one of the oldest cities in Poland. The medieval old town of Toruń is the birthplace of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus....

 in Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia was a Region of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth . Polish Prussia included Pomerelia, Chełmno Land , Malbork Voivodeship , Gdańsk , Toruń , and Elbląg . It is distinguished from Ducal Prussia...

, part of the Kingdom 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...



His father was a merchant from Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

 and his mother was the daughter of a wealthy Toruń merchant. Nicolaus was the youngest of four children. His brother Andreas (Andrew) became an Augustinian canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 at Frombork
Frombork
Frombork is a town in northern Poland, on the Vistula Lagoon, in Braniewo County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. It had a population of 2,528 as of 2005....

 (Frauenburg). His sister Barbara, named after her mother, became a Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

 and, in her final years (she died after 1517), prioress of a convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

 in Chełmno (Culm, Kulm). His sister Katharina married the businessman and Toruń city councilor Barthel Gertner and left five children, whom Copernicus looked after to the end of his life.

Copernicus never married or had children.

"Towards the close of 1542, he was seized with apoplexy and paralysis." He died on 24 May 1543, on the day that he was presented with an advance copy of his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

.

Father's family


The father’s family can be traced to a village in Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

 near Nysa
Nysa, Poland
Nysa is a town in southwestern Poland on the Nysa Kłodzka river with 47,545 inhabitants , situated in the Opole Voivodeship. It is the capital of Nysa County. It comprises the urban portion of the surrounding Gmina Nysa, a mixed urban-rural commune with a total population of 60,123 inhabitants...

 (Neiße). The village's name has been variously spelled Kopernik, Köppernig, Köppernick, and today Koperniki
Koperniki
Koperniki is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Nysa, within Nysa County, Opole Voivodeship, in south-western Poland....

. In the 14th century, members of the family began moving to various other Silesian cities, to the Polish capital, Kraków (Cracow, 1367), and to Toruń (1400). The father, likely the son of Jan, came from the Kraków line.

Nicolaus was named after his father, who appears in records for the first time as a well-to-do merchant who dealt in copper, selling it mostly in Danzig (Gdańsk). He moved from Kraków to Toruń around 1458. Toruń, situated on the Vistula River, was at that time embroiled in the Thirteen Years' War (1454–66), in which the Kingdom of Poland and the Prussian Confederation
Prussian Confederation
The Prussian Confederation was an organization formed in 1440 by a group of 53 gentry and clergy and 19 cities in Prussia to oppose the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. It was based on the basis of an earlier similar organization, the Lizard Union...

, an alliance of Prussian
Prussia (region)
Prussia is a historical region in Central Europe extending from the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea to the Masurian Lake District. It is now divided between Poland, Russia, and Lithuania...

 cities, gentry and clergy, fought the Teutonic Order over control of the region. In this war predominantly German-culture and German speaking Hanseatic
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 cities like Danzig (Gdańsk) and Thorn (Toruń), the hometown of Nicolaus Copernicus, chose to support the Polish king, who promised to respect the cities' traditional vast independence, which the Teutonic Order had challenged. The father of Nicolaus was actively engaged in the politics of the day, and supported Poland and the cities against the Teutonic Order. In 1454 he mediated negotiations between Poland’s Cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicki and the Prussian cities for repayment of war loans. In the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), the Teutonic Order formally relinquished all claims to its western provinces, which as Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia was a Region of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth . Polish Prussia included Pomerelia, Chełmno Land , Malbork Voivodeship , Gdańsk , Toruń , and Elbląg . It is distinguished from Ducal Prussia...

 remained a region of Poland for the next 300 years.

The father married Barbara Watzenrode, the astronomer's mother, between 1461 and 1464. He died sometime between 1483 and 1485. Upon the father’s death, young Nicolaus’ maternal uncle, Lucas Watzenrode the Younger
Lucas Watzenrode
Watzenrode may refer to:*Lucas Watzenrode the Younger , prince-bishop of Ermland, Warmia, uncle of Nicolaus Copernicus*Lucas Watzenrode the Elder , Hanseatic League tradesman in Thorn , Prussia, grandfather of Nicolaus Copernicus...

 (1447–1512), took the boy under his protection and saw to his education and career.

Mother's family


Nicolaus’ mother, Barbara Watzenrode, was the daughter of Lucas Watzenrode the Elder
Lucas Watzenrode the Elder
Lucas Watzenrode the Elder was a merchant in the Hanseatic Prussian city of Thorn , father of Bishop Lucas Watzenrode the Younger, and grandfather of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.-Life:...

 and his wife Katherine (née Modlibóg). Not much is known about her life, but she is believed to have died when Nicolaus was a small boy. The Watzenrodes had come from the Świdnica
Swidnica
Świdnica is a city in south-western Poland in the region of Silesia. It has a population of 60,317 according to 2006 figures. It lies in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, being the seventh largest town in that voivodeship. From 1975–98 it was in the former Wałbrzych Voivodeship...

 (Schweidnitz) region of Silesia and had settled in Toruń after 1360, becoming prominent members of the city’s patrician class. Through the Watzenrodes' extensive family relationships by marriage, they were related to wealthy families of Toruń, Danzig and Elbląg
Elblag
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland with 127,892 inhabitants . It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. Before then it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship and a county seat in Gdańsk Voivodeship...

 (Elbing), and to the prominent Czapski, Działyński, Konopacki and Kościelecki noble families. The Modlibógs (literally, in Polish, "Pray to God") were a prominent Roman Catholic Polish family who had been well known in Poland's history since 1271. Lucas and Katherine had three children: Lucas Watzenrode the Younger, who would become Copernicus' patron; Barbara, the astronomer's mother; and Christina, who in 1459 married the merchant and mayor of Toruń, Tiedeman von Allen.

Lucas Watzenrode the Elder
Lucas Watzenrode the Elder
Lucas Watzenrode the Elder was a merchant in the Hanseatic Prussian city of Thorn , father of Bishop Lucas Watzenrode the Younger, and grandfather of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.-Life:...

 was well regarded in Toruń as a devout man and honest merchant, and he was active politically. He was a decided opponent of the Teutonic Knights and an ally of Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon
Casimir IV Jagiellon
Casimir IV KG of the House of Jagiellon was Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1440, and King of Poland from 1447, until his death.Casimir was the second son of King Władysław II Jagiełło , and the younger brother of Władysław III of Varna....

. In 1453 he was the delegate from Toruń at the Grudziądz
Grudziadz
Grudziądz is a city in northern Poland on the Vistula River, with 96 042 inhabitants . Situated in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship , the city was previously in the Toruń Voivodeship .- History :-Early history:...

 (Graudenz) conference that planned to ally the cities of the Prussian Confederation
Prussian Confederation
The Prussian Confederation was an organization formed in 1440 by a group of 53 gentry and clergy and 19 cities in Prussia to oppose the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. It was based on the basis of an earlier similar organization, the Lizard Union...

 with Casimir IV in their subsequent war against the Teutonic Knights. During the Thirteen Years' War that ensued the following year, he actively supported the war effort with substantial monetary subsidies, with political activity in Toruń and Danzig, and by personally fighting in battles at Łasin (Lessen) and Marienburg
Malbork
Malbork is a town in northern Poland in the Żuławy region , with 38,478 inhabitants . Situated in the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, it was previously assigned to Elbląg Voivodeship...

 (Malbork). He died in 1462.

Lucas Watzenrode the Younger
Lucas Watzenrode the Younger
Lucas Watzenrode the Younger was Prince-Bishop of Warmia and patron to his nephew, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.-Early life:...

, the astronomer's maternal uncle and patron, was educated at the University of Krakow (now Jagiellonian University
Jagiellonian University
The Jagiellonian University was established in 1364 by Casimir III the Great in Kazimierz . It is the oldest university in Poland, the second oldest university in Central Europe and one of the oldest universities in the world....

) and at the universities of Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 and Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

. He was a bitter opponent of the Teutonic Order and its Grand Master, who once referred to Watzenrode as “the devil incarnate.” In 1489 Watzenrode was elected Bishop of Warmia (Ermeland, Ermland) against the preference of King Casimir IV, who had hoped to install his own son in that seat. As a result, Watzenrode quarreled with the king until Casimir IV’s death three years later. Watzenrode was then able to form close relations with three successive Polish monarchs: John I Albert
John I Albert of Poland
John I Albert was King of Poland and Duke of Głogów .-Life:John was the third son of Casimir IV Jagiellon, King of Poland, and Elisabeth of Austria, daughter of Albert II of Germany. As crown prince, he distinguished himself by his brilliant victory over the Tatars at Kopersztyn...

, Alexander Jagiellon
Alexander Jagiellon
Alexander of the House of Jagiellon was the Grand Duke of Lithuania and later also King of Poland. He was the fourth son of Casimir IV Jagiellon...

, and Sigismund I the Old
Sigismund I the Old
Sigismund I of Poland , of the Jagiellon dynasty, reigned as King of Poland and also as the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 until 1548...

. He was a friend and key advisor to each ruler, and his influence greatly strengthened the ties between Warmia and Poland proper. Watzenrode came to be considered the most powerful man in Warmia, and his wealth, connections and influence allowed him to secure Copernicus’ education and career as a canon at Frombork
Frombork
Frombork is a town in northern Poland, on the Vistula Lagoon, in Braniewo County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. It had a population of 2,528 as of 2005....

 (Frauenberg) Cathedral.

Languages


Copernicus is postulated to have spoken Latin, German, and Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 with equal fluency. He also spoke Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and Italian. The vast majority of Copernicus’ surviving works are in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, which in his lifetime was the language of academia
Academia
Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...

 in Europe. Latin was also the official language of the Roman Catholic Church and of Poland's royal court, and thus all of Copernicus’ correspondence with the Church and with Polish leaders was in Latin.

There survive a few documents written by Copernicus in German. Martin Carrier mentions this as a reason to consider Copernicus’ native language to have been German. Other arguments are that Copernicus was born in a predominantly German-speaking town and that, while studying law at Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 in 1496, he signed into the German natio
Nation (university)
Student nations or simply nations are regional corporations of students at a university. Once widespread across Europe in medieval times, they are now largely restricted to the ancient universities of Sweden and Finland...

(Natio Germanorum)—a student organization which, according to its 1497 by-laws, was open to students of all kingdoms and states whose mother-tongue ("Muttersprache") was German. However, according to French philosopher Alexandre Koyre
Alexandre Koyré
Alexandre Koyré , sometimes anglicised as Alexander Koiré, was a French philosopher of Russian origin who wrote on the history and philosophy of science.-Life:...

, this in itself does not imply that Copernicus considered himself German, since students from Prussia and Silesia were routinely placed in that category, which carried certain privileges that made it a natural choice for German-speaking students, regardless of their ethnicity or self-identification.

Name


In Copernicus’ day, people were often called after the places where they lived. Like the Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

n village that inspired it, Copernicus’ surname has been spelled variously. Today the English-speaking world knows the astronomer principally by the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

ized name, "Nicolaus Copernicus."

The surname likely had something to do with the local Silesian copper-mining industry,
though some scholars assert that it may have been inspired by the dill
Dill
Dill is a perennial herb. It is the sole species of the genus Anethum, though classified by some botanists in a related genus as Peucedanum graveolens C.B.Clarke.-Growth:...

 plant (in Polish, "koperek" or "kopernik") that grows wild in Silesia.

As was to be the case with William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 a century later, numerous spelling variants of the name are documented for the astronomer and his relatives. The name first appeared as a place name in Silesia in the 13th century, where it was spelled variously in Latin documents. Copernicus "was rather indifferent about orthography
Orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

." During his childhood, the name of his father (and thus of the future astronomer) was recorded in Toruń as Niclas Koppernigk around 1480. At Kraków he signed his name "Nicolaus Nicolai de Torunia." At Bologna in 1496, he registered in the Matricula Nobilissimi Germanorum Collegii resp. Annales Clarissimae Nacionis Germanorum of the Natio Germanica Bononiae as Dominus Nicolaus Kopperlingk de Thorn – IX grosseti
Groschen
Groschen was the name for a coin used in various German-speaking states as well as some non-German-speaking countries of Central Europe , the Danubian principalities...

. At Padua, Copernicus signed his name "Nicolaus Copernik", later as "Coppernicus." He signed a self-portrait, a copy of which is now at Jagiellonian University, "N Copernic." The astronomer Latinized his name to Coppernicus, generally with two "p"s (in 23 of 31 documents studied), but later in life he used a single "p". On the title page of De revolutionibus, Rheticus published the name as (in the genitive
Genitive case
In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

, or possessive
Possessive case
The possessive case of a language is a grammatical case used to indicate a relationship of possession. It is not the same as the genitive case, which can express a wider range of relationships, though the two have similar meanings in many languages.See Possession for a survey of the different...

, case) "Nicolai Copernici".

Education



Copernicus' uncle Watzenrode maintained contacts with the leading intellectual figures in Poland and was a friend of the influential Italian-born humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

 and Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

 courtier
Courtier
A courtier is a person who is often in attendance at the court of a king or other royal personage. Historically the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

, Filippo Buonaccorsi. Watzenrode seems first to have sent young Copernicus to the St. John's School at Toruń where he himself had been a master. Later, according to Armitage (some scholars differ), the boy attended the Cathedral School at Włocławek, up the Vistula River from Toruń, which prepared pupils for entrance to the University of Krakow, Watzenrode's alma mater in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

's capital.

In the winter semester of 1491–92 Copernicus, as "Nicolaus Nicolai de Thuronia," matriculated together with his brother Andrew at the University of Krakow (now Jagiellonian University
Jagiellonian University
The Jagiellonian University was established in 1364 by Casimir III the Great in Kazimierz . It is the oldest university in Poland, the second oldest university in Central Europe and one of the oldest universities in the world....

). Copernicus began his studies in the Department of Arts (from the fall of 1491, presumably until the summer or fall of 1495) in the heyday of the Kraków astronomical-mathematical school
Kraków School of Mathematics and Astrology
The Kraków School of Mathematics and Astrology was an influential mid-to-late-15th-century group of mathematicians and astrologers at the University of Kraków .-Notable members:...

, acquiring the foundations for his subsequent mathematical achievements. According to a later but credible tradition (Jan Brożek
Jan Brozek
Jan Brożek was a Polish polymath: a mathematician, astronomer, physician, poet, writer, musician and rector of the Kraków Academy.-Life:...

), Copernicus was a pupil of Albert Brudzewski
Albert Brudzewski
Albert Brudzewski, also Albert Blar , Albert of Brudzewo or Wojciech Brudzewski Albert Brudzewski, also Albert Blar (of Brudzewo), Albert of Brudzewo or Wojciech Brudzewski Albert Brudzewski, also Albert Blar (of Brudzewo), Albert of Brudzewo or Wojciech Brudzewski (in Latin, Albertus de Brudzewo;...

, who by then (from 1491) was a professor of Aristotelian philosophy but taught astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 privately outside the university; Copernicus became familiar with Brożek's widely read commentary to Georg von Peuerbach's Theoricæ novæ planetarum and almost certainly attended the lectures of Bernard of Biskupie and Wojciech Krypa of Szamotuły and probably other astronomical lectures by Jan of Głogów, Michael of Wrocław, Wojciech of Pniewy
Pniewy
Pniewy is a town in Szamotuły County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, with 7,477 inhabitants .Pniewy had once been flooded to make way for a reservoir.- People :...

 and Marcin Bylica of Olkusz
Olkusz
Olkusz is a town in south Poland with 37,696 inhabitants . Situated in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship , previously in Katowice Voivodeship , it is the capital of Olkusz County...

.

Copernicus' Kraków studies gave him a thorough grounding in the mathematical-astronomical knowledge taught at the university (arithmetic, geometry, geometric optics, cosmography, theoretical and computational astronomy), a good knowledge of the philosophical and natural-science writings of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 (De coelo, Metaphysics
Metaphysics (Aristotle)
Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. The principal subject is "being qua being", or being understood as being. It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and...

) and Averroes
Averroes
' , better known just as Ibn Rushd , and in European literature as Averroes , was a Muslim polymath; a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy,...

 (which later would play an important role in shaping his theory), stimulated his interest in learning, and made him conversant with humanistic culture. Copernicus broadened the knowledge that he took from the university lecture halls with independent reading of books that he acquired during his Kraków years (Euclid
Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...

, Haly Abenragel
Haly Abenragel
Abû l-Hasan 'Alî ibn Abî l-Rijâl was an Arab astrologer of the late 10th and early 11th century, best known for his Kitāb al-bāri' fi ahkām an-nujūm. He was a court astrologer to the Tunisian prince al-Mu'izz ibn Bâdis in the first half of the 11th century...

, the Alfonsine Tables
Alfonsine tables
The Alfonsine tables provided data for computing the position of the Sun, Moon and planets relative to the fixed stars....

, Johannes Regiomontanus' Tabulae directionum); to this period, probably, also date his earliest scientific notes, now preserved partly at Uppsala University
Uppsala University
Uppsala University is a research university in Uppsala, Sweden, and is the oldest university in Scandinavia, founded in 1477. It consistently ranks among the best universities in Northern Europe in international rankings and is generally considered one of the most prestigious institutions of...

. At Kraków Copernicus began collecting a large library on astronomy; it would later be carried off as war booty by the Swedes during the Deluge and is now at the Uppsala University Library
Uppsala University Library
Uppsala University Library at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, consists of 12 subject libraries, one of which is housed in the old main library building, Carolina Rediviva...

.

Copernicus' four years at Kraków played an important role in the development of his critical faculties and initiated his analysis of the logical contradictions in the two most polular systems of astronomy—Aristotle's theory of homocentric spheres, and Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

's mechanism of eccentrics and epicycles—the surmounting and discarding of which constituted the first step toward the creation of Copernicus' own doctrine of the structure of the universe.

Without taking a degree, probably in the fall of 1495, Copernicus left Kraków for the court of his uncle Watzenrode, who in 1489 had been elevated to Prince-Bishop of Warmia and soon (after November 1495) sought to place his nephew in a Warmia canonry vacated by 26 August 1495 death of its previous tenant. For unclear reasons—probably due to opposition from part of the chapter, who appealed to Rome--Copernicus' installation was delayed, inclining Watzenrode to send both his nephews to study law in Italy, seemingly with a view to furthering their ecclesiastic careers and thereby also strengthening his own influence in the Warmia chapter.

Leaving Warmia in mid-1496—possibly with the retinue of the chapter's chancellor, Jerzy Pranghe, who was going to Italy—in the fall (October?) of that year Copernicus arrived in Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 and a few months later (after 6 January 1497) signed himself into the register of the Bologna University of Jurists' "German nation," which also included Polish youths from Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 and Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

 as well as students of other nationalities.

It was only on 20 October 1497 that Copernicus, by proxy, formally succeeded to the Warmia canonry, which had been granted to him two years earlier. To this, by a document dated 10 January 1503 at Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, he would add a sinecure
Sinecure
A sinecure means an office that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service...

 at the Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross in Wrocław (Breslau), Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

, Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

. Despite having received a papal indult
Indult
An indult in Catholic canon law is a permission, or privilege, granted by the competent church authority – the Holy See or the diocesan bishop, as the case may be – for an exception from a particular norm of church law in an individual case, for example, members of the consecrated life seeking to...

 on 29 November 1508 to receive further benefice
Benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

s, through his ecclesiastic career Copernicus not only did not acquire further prebends and higher stations (prelacies) at the chapter, but in 1538 he relinquished the Wrocław sinecure. It is uncertain whether he was ordained a priest; he may only have taken minor orders
Minor orders
The minor orders are the lowest ranks in the Christian clergy. The most recognized minor orders are porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte. In the Latin rite Catholic Church, the minor orders were in most cases replaced by "instituted" ministries of lector and acolyte, though communities that use...

, which sufficed for assuming a chapter canonry.
During his three-year stay at Bologna, between fall 1496 and spring 1501, Copernicus seems to have devoted himself less keenly to studying canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 (he received his doctorate in law only after seven years, following a second return to Italy in 1503) than to studying the humanities
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

--probably attending lectures by Filippo Beroaldo, Antonio Urceo, called Codro, Giovanni Garzoni and Alessandro Achillini
Alessandro Achillini
Alessandro Achillini was an Italian philosopher and physician.-Biography:He was born and died in Bologna, and is buried in the Church of Saint Martin there...

--and to studying astronomy. He met the famous astronomer Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara
Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara
Domenico Maria Novara was an Italian scientist.-Life:Born in Ferrara, for 21 years he was professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna, and in 1500 he also lectured in mathematics at Rome. He was notable as a Platonist astronomer, and in 1496 he taught Nicholas Copernicus astronomy...

 and became his disciple and assistant. Copernicus was developing new ideas inspired by reading the "Epitome of the Almagest" (Epitome in Almagestum Ptolemei) by George von Peuerbach and Johannes Regiomontanus (Venice, 1496). He verified its observations about certain peculiarities in Ptolemy's theory of the Moon's motion, by conducting on 9 March 1497 at Bologna a memorable observation of Aldebaran
Aldebaran
Aldebaran is a red giant star located about 65 light years away in the zodiac constellation of Taurus. With an average apparent magnitude of 0.87 it is the brightest star in the constellation and is one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky...

, the brightest star in the Taurus
Taurus (constellation)
Taurus is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is a Latin word meaning 'bull', and its astrological symbol is a stylized bull's head:...

 constellation, whose results reinforced his doubts as to the geocentric system. Copernicus the humanist sought confirmation for his growing doubts through close reading of Greek and Latin authors (Pythagoras
Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

, Aristarchos of Samos, Cleomedes
Cleomedes
Cleomedes was a Greek astronomer who is known chiefly for his book On the Circular Motions of the Celestial Bodies.-Placing his work chronologically:...

, Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, Philolaus
Philolaus
Philolaus was a Greek Pythagorean and Presocratic philosopher. He argued that all matter is composed of limiting and limitless things, and that the universe is determined by numbers. He is credited with originating the theory that the earth was not the center of the universe.-Life:Philolaus is...

, Heraclides
Heraclides Ponticus
Heraclides Ponticus , also known as Herakleides and Heraklides of Pontus, was a Greek philosopher and astronomer who lived and died at Heraclea Pontica, now Karadeniz Ereğli, Turkey. He is best remembered for proposing that the earth rotates on its axis, from west to east, once every 24 hours...

, Ecphantos, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

), gathering, especially while at Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, fragmentary historic information about ancient astronomical, cosmological and calendar
Calendar
A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, religious, commercial, or administrative purposes. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months, and years. The name given to each day is known as a date. Periods in a calendar are usually, though not...

 systems.

Copernicus spent the jubilee year 1500 in Rome, where he arrived with his brother Andrew that spring, doubtless to perform an apprenticeship at the Papal Curia. Here, too, however, he continued his astronomical work begun at Bologna, observing, for example, a lunar eclipse
Lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the Sun's rays from striking the Moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a...

 on the night of 5–6 November 1500. According to a later account by Rheticus, Copernicus also—probably privately, rather than at the Roman Sapienza--as a "Professor Mathematum" (professor of astronomy) delivered, "to numerous... students and... leading masters of the science," public lectures devoted probably to a critique of the mathematical solutions of contemporary astronomy.

On his return journey doubtless stopping briefly at Bologna, in mid-1501 Copernicus arrived back in Warmia. After on 28 July receiving from the chapter a two-year extension of leave in order to study medicine (since "he may in future be a useful medical advisor to our Reverend Superior [Bishop Lucas Watzenrode
Lucas Watzenrode
Watzenrode may refer to:*Lucas Watzenrode the Younger , prince-bishop of Ermland, Warmia, uncle of Nicolaus Copernicus*Lucas Watzenrode the Elder , Hanseatic League tradesman in Thorn , Prussia, grandfather of Nicolaus Copernicus...

] and the gentlemen of the chapter"), in late summer or in the fall he returned again to Italy, probably accompanied by his brother Andrew and by Canon B. Sculteti. This time he studied at the University of Padua
University of Padua
The University of Padua is a premier Italian university located in the city of Padua, Italy. The University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second...

, famous as a seat of medical learning, and—except for a brief visit to Ferrara
Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

 in May–June 1503 to pass examinations for, and receive, his doctorate in canon law—he remained at Padua from fall 1501 to summer 1503.

Copernicus studied medicine probably under the direction of leading Padua professors—Bartolomeo da Montagnana, Girolamo Fracastoro
Girolamo Fracastoro
Girolamo Fracastoro was an Italian physician, poet, and scholar in mathematics, geography and astronomy. Fracastoro subscribed to the philosophy of atomism, and rejected appeals to hidden causes in scientific investigation....

, Gabriele Zerbi, Alessandro Benedetti—and read medical treatises that he acquired at this time, by Valescus de Taranta, Jan Mesue, Hugo Senensis, Jan Ketham, Arnold de Villa Nova, and Michele Savonarola, which would form the embryo of his later medical library.

One of the subjects that Copernicus must have studied was
astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, since it was considered an important part of a medical
education. However, unlike most
other prominent Renaissance astronomers, he appears never to have
practiced or expressed any interest in astrology.

As at Bologna, Copernicus did not limit himself to his official studies. It was probably the Padua years that saw the beginning of his Hellenistic interests. He familiarized himself with Greek language and culture with the aid of Theodorus Gaza
Theodorus Gaza
Theodorus Gaza or Theodore Gazis also called by the epithet Thessalonicensis and Thessalonikeus was a Greek humanist and translator of Aristotle, one of the Greek scholars who were the leaders of the...

's grammar (1495) and J.B. Chrestonius' dictionary (1499), expanding his studies of antiquity, begun at Bologna, to the writings of Bessarion, J. Valla and others. There also seems to be evidence that it was during his Padua stay that there finally crystallized the idea of basing a new system of the world on the movement of the Earth.

As the time approached for Copernicus to return home, in spring 1503 he journeyed to Ferrara where, on 31 May 1503, having passed the obligatory examinations, he was granted the degree of doctor of canon law. No doubt it was soon after (at latest, in fall 1503) that he left Italy for good to return to Warmia
Warmia
Warmia or Ermland is a region between Pomerelia and Masuria in northeastern Poland. Together with Masuria, it forms the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship....

.

Work



Having completed all his studies in Italy, 30-year-old Copernicus returned to Warmia, where – apart from brief journeys to Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

 and to nearby Prussian cities (Toruń
Torun
Toruń is an ancient city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Its population is more than 205,934 as of June 2009. Toruń is one of the oldest cities in Poland. The medieval old town of Toruń is the birthplace of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus....

, Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

, Elbląg
Elblag
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland with 127,892 inhabitants . It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. Before then it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship and a county seat in Gdańsk Voivodeship...

, Grudziądz
Grudziadz
Grudziądz is a city in northern Poland on the Vistula River, with 96 042 inhabitants . Situated in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship , the city was previously in the Toruń Voivodeship .- History :-Early history:...

, Malbork
Malbork
Malbork is a town in northern Poland in the Żuławy region , with 38,478 inhabitants . Situated in the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, it was previously assigned to Elbląg Voivodeship...

, Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

) – he would live out the remaining 40 years of his life.

The Prince-Bishopric of Warmia enjoyed substantial autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

, with its own diet
Diet (assembly)
In politics, a diet is a formal deliberative assembly. The term is mainly used historically for the Imperial Diet, the general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire, and for the legislative bodies of certain countries.-Etymology:...

 (parliament), army, monetary unit (the same as in the other parts of Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia was a Region of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth . Polish Prussia included Pomerelia, Chełmno Land , Malbork Voivodeship , Gdańsk , Toruń , and Elbląg . It is distinguished from Ducal Prussia...

) and treasury.

Copernicus was his uncle's secretary and physician from 1503 to 1510 (or perhaps till that uncle's death on 29 March 1512) and resided in the Bishop's castle at Lidzbark Warmiński
Lidzbark Warminski
Lidzbark Warmiński is a town in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the capital of Lidzbark County.- History :The town was originally an Old Prussian settlement known as Lecbarg until being conquered in 1240 by the Teutonic Knights, who called it Heilsberg...

 (Heilsberg), where he began work on his heliocentric theory. In his official capacity, he took part in nearly all his uncle's political, ecclesiastic and administrative-economic duties. From the beginning of 1504, Copernicus accompanied Watzenrode to sessions of the Royal Prussian diet held at Malbork
Malbork
Malbork is a town in northern Poland in the Żuławy region , with 38,478 inhabitants . Situated in the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, it was previously assigned to Elbląg Voivodeship...

 and Elbląg
Elblag
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland with 127,892 inhabitants . It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. Before then it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship and a county seat in Gdańsk Voivodeship...

 and, write Dobrzycki and Hajdukiewicz, "participated... in all the more important events in the complex diplomatic game that that ambitious politician and statesman played in defense of the particular interests of Prussia and Warmia, between hostility to the [Teutonic] Order and loyalty to the [Polish] Crown."

In 1504–12 Copernicus made numerous journeys as part of his uncle's retinue—in 1504, to Toruń and Gdańsk (Danzig), to a session of the Royal Prussian Council in the presence of Poland's King Alexander Jagiellon
Alexander Jagiellon
Alexander of the House of Jagiellon was the Grand Duke of Lithuania and later also King of Poland. He was the fourth son of Casimir IV Jagiellon...

; to sessions of the Prussian diet at Malbork (1506), Elbląg (1507) and Sztum
Sztum
Sztum is a town in northern Poland, located in the Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is the capital of Sztum County, with some 10,141 inhabitants .-History:...

 (1512); and he may have attended a Poznań session (1510) and the coronation of Poland's King Sigismund I the Old
Sigismund I the Old
Sigismund I of Poland , of the Jagiellon dynasty, reigned as King of Poland and also as the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 until 1548...

 in Kraków (1507). Watzenrode's itinerary suggests that in spring 1509 Copernicus may have attended the Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

 sejm
Sejm
The Sejm is the lower house of the Polish parliament. The Sejm is made up of 460 deputies, or Poseł in Polish . It is elected by universal ballot and is presided over by a speaker called the Marshal of the Sejm ....

.

It was probably on the latter occasion, in Kraków, that Copernicus submitted for printing at Jan Haller's press his translation, from Greek to Latin, of a collection, by the 7th-century Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 historian Theophylact Simocatta
Theophylact Simocatta
Theophylact Simocatta was an early seventh-century Byzantine historiographer, arguably ranking as the last historian of Late Antiquity, writing in the time of Heraclius about the late Emperor Maurice .-Life:His history of the reign of emperor Maurice is in eight books...

, of 85 brief poems called Epistles, or letters, supposed to have passed between various characters in a Greek story. They are of three kinds—"moral," offering advice on how people should live; "pastoral," giving little pictures of shepherd life; and "amorous," comprising love poems. They are arranged to follow one another in a regular rotation of subjects. Copernicus had translated the Greek verses into Latin prose, and he now published his version as Theophilacti scolastici Simocati epistolae morales, rurales et amatoriae interpretatione latina, which he dedicated to his uncle in gratitude for all the benefits he had received from him. With this translation, Copernicus declared himself on the side of the humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

s in the struggle over the question whether Greek literature should be revived. Copernicus' first poetic work was a Greek epigram
Epigram
An epigram is a brief, interesting, usually memorable and sometimes surprising statement. Derived from the epigramma "inscription" from ἐπιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on inscribe", this literary device has been employed for over two millennia....

, composed probably during a visit to Kraków, for Johannes Dantiscus' epithalamium
Epithalamium
Epithalamium refers to a form of poem that is written specifically for the bride on the way to her marital chamber...

 for Barbara Zapolya
Barbara Zápolya
Barbara Zápolya was Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania as the first wife of king of Poland Sigismund I the Old....

's 1512 wedding to King Zygmunt I the Old
Sigismund I the Old
Sigismund I of Poland , of the Jagiellon dynasty, reigned as King of Poland and also as the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 until 1548...

.

Some time before 1514, Copernicus wrote an initial outline of his heliocentric theory known only from later transcripts, by the title (perhaps given to it by a copyist), Nicolai Copernici de hypothesibus motuum coelestium a se constitutis commentariolus—commonly referred to as the Commentariolus
Commentariolus
The "Commentariolus" is Nicolaus Copernicus's forty-page outline of an early version of his revolutionary heliocentric theory of the universe...

. It was a succinct theoretical description of the world's heliocentric mechanism, without mathematical apparatus, and differed in some important details of geometric construction from De revolutionibus; but it was already based on the same assumptions regarding Earth's triple motions. The Commentariolus, which Copernicus consciously saw as merely a first sketch for his planned book, was not intended for printed distribution. He made only a very few manuscript copies available to his closest acquaintances, including, it seems, several Kraków astronomers with whom he collaborated in 1515–30 in observing eclipse
Eclipse
An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when an astronomical object is temporarily obscured, either by passing into the shadow of another body or by having another body pass between it and the viewer...

s. Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe , born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations...

 would include a fragment from the Commentariolus
Commentariolus
The "Commentariolus" is Nicolaus Copernicus's forty-page outline of an early version of his revolutionary heliocentric theory of the universe...

in his own treatise, Astronomiae instauratae progymnasmata, published in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 in 1602, based on a manuscript that he had received from the Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

n physician and astronomer Tadeáš Hájek
Tadeáš Hájek
Tadeáš Hájek z Hájku , also known as Tadeáš Hájek of Hájek, Thaddaeus Hagecius ab Hayek or Thaddeus Nemicus, was the personal physician of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II and a Bohemian astronomer.Tadeáš Hájek was the son of Šimon Hájek from an old Prague family...

, a friend of Rheticus. The Commentariolus would appear complete in print for the first time only in 1878.
In 1510 or 1512 Copernicus moved to Frombork
Frombork
Frombork is a town in northern Poland, on the Vistula Lagoon, in Braniewo County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. It had a population of 2,528 as of 2005....

, a town to the northwest at the Vistula Lagoon
Vistula Lagoon
The Vistula Lagoon is a fresh water lagoon on the Baltic Sea separated from Gdańsk Bay by the Vistula Spit. It is sometimes known as the Vistula Bay or Vistula Gulf. The modern German name, Frisches Haff, is derived from an earlier form, Friesisches Haff. Both this term and the earlier Polish...

 on the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 coast. There, in April 1512, he participated in the election of Fabian of Lossainen as Prince-Bishop of Warmia. It was only in early June 1512 that the chapter gave Copernicus an "external curia"—a house outside the defensive walls of the cathedral mount. In 1514 he purchased the northwestern tower within the walls of the Frombork stronghold. He would maintain both these residences to the end of his life, despite the devastation of the chapter's buildings by a raid against Frombork carried out by the Teutonic Order in January 1520, during which Copernicus' astronomical instruments were probably destroyed. Copernicus conducted astronomical observations in 1513–16 presumably from his external curia; and in 1522–43, from an unidentified "small tower" (turricula), using primitive instruments modeled on ancient ones—the quadrant
Quadrant (instrument)
A quadrant is an instrument that is used to measure angles up to 90°. It was originally proposed by Ptolemy as a better kind of astrolabe. Several different variations of the instrument were later produced by medieval Muslim astronomers.-Types of quadrants:...

, triquetrum
Triquetrum (astronomy)
The triquetrum was the medieval name for an ancient astronomical instrument first described by Ptolemy in the Almagest . Also known as Parallactic Rulers, it was used for determining altitudes of heavenly bodies...

, armillary sphere
Armillary sphere
An armillary sphere is a model of objects in the sky , consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic...

. At Frombork Copernicus conducted over half of his more than 60 registered astronomical observations.

Having settled permanently at Frombork, where he would reside to the end of his life, with interruptions in 1516–19 and 1520–21, Copernicus found himself at the Warmia chapter's economic and administrative center, which was also one of Warmia's two chief centers of political life. In the difficult, politically complex situation of Warmia, threatened externally by the Teutonic Order's aggressions (attacks by Teutonic bands; the Polish-Teutonic War of 1519–21; Albrecht's plans to annex Warmia), internally subject to strong separatist pressures (the selection of the prince-bishops of Warmia; currency reform), he, together with part of the chapter, represented a program of strict cooperation with the Polish Crown and demonstrated in all his public activities (the defense of his country against the Order's plans of conquest; proposals to unify its monetary system with the Polish Crown's; support for Poland's interests in the Warmia dominion's ecclesiastic administration) that he was consciously a citizen of the Polish-Lithuanian Republic. Soon after the death of uncle Bishop Watzenrode, he participated in the signing of the Second Treaty of Piotrków Trybunalski (7 December 1512), governing the appointment of the Bishop of Warmia, declaring, despite opposition from part of the chapter, for loyal cooperation with the Polish Crown.

That same year (before 8 November 1512) Copernicus assumed responsibility, as magister pistoriae, for administering the chapter's economic enterprises (he would hold this office again in 1530), having already since 1511 fulfilled the duties of chancellor and visitor of the chapter's estates.

His administrative and economic dutes did not distract Copernicus, in 1512–15, from intensive observational activity. The results of his observations of Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 and Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

 in this period, and especially a series of four observations of the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 made in 1515, led to discovery of the variability of Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's eccentricity
Orbital eccentricity
The orbital eccentricity of an astronomical body is the amount by which its orbit deviates from a perfect circle, where 0 is perfectly circular, and 1.0 is a parabola, and no longer a closed orbit...

 and of the movement of the solar apogee in relation to the fixed stars, which in 1515–19 prompted his first revisions of certain assumptions of his system. Some of the observations that he made in this period may have had a connection with a proposed reform of the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 made in the first half of 1513 at the request of the Bishop of Fossombrone, Paul of Middelburg
Paul of Middelburg
Paul of Middelburg was a Flemish scientist and bishop of Fossombrone.-Biography and work:Paul was born in 1446 at Middelburg, the ancient capital of the province of Zeeland, belonging then to the Holy Roman Empire, now to the Netherlands. His family name is unknown, but in one place he is called...

. Their contacts in this matter in the period of the Fifth Lateran Council were later memorialized in a complimentary mention in Copernicus' dedicatory epistle in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

and in a treatise by Paul of Middelburg, Secundum compendium correctionis Calendarii (1516), which mentions Copernicus among the learned men who had sent the Council proposals for the calendar's emendation.

During 1516–21, Copernicus resided at Olsztyn Castle as economic administrator of Warmia, including Olsztyn
Olsztyn
Olsztyn is a city in northeastern Poland, on the Łyna River. Olsztyn has been the capital of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. It was previously in the Olsztyn Voivodeship...

 (Allenstein) and Pieniężno
Pieniezno
Pieniężno is a town on the Wałsza River in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship of Poland. It is located in Braniewo County and had a population of 2,975 in 2004.- History :...

 (Mehlsack). While there, he wrote a manuscript, Locationes mansorum desertorum
Locationes mansorum desertorum
Locationes mansorum desertorum - – manuscript of Nicolaus Copernicus, written between 1516-1521. It is from ledgers handwritten by Copernicus when he was an economic administrator in Warmia.-Bibliography:...

(Locations of Deserted Fiefs), with a view to populating those fiefs with industrious farmers and so bolstering the economy of Warmia. When Olsztyn was besieged by the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 during the Polish–Teutonic War (1519–21), Copernicus directed the defense of Olsztyn and Warmia by Royal Polish forces. He also represented the Polish side in the ensuing peace negotiations.

Copernicus worked for years with the Royal Prussian diet
Diet (assembly)
In politics, a diet is a formal deliberative assembly. The term is mainly used historically for the Imperial Diet, the general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire, and for the legislative bodies of certain countries.-Etymology:...

, and with Duke Albert of Prussia (against whom Copernicus had defended Warmia in the Polish-Teutonic War), and advised King Sigismund, on monetary reform
Monetary reform
Monetary reform describes any movement or theory that proposes a different system of supplying money and financing the economy from the current system.Monetary reformers may advocate any of the following, among other proposals:...

. He participated in discussions in the East Prussian diet about coinage reform in the Prussian countries; a question that concerned the diet was who had the right to mint
Mint (coin)
A mint is an industrial facility which manufactures coins for currency.The history of mints correlates closely with the history of coins. One difference is that the history of the mint is usually closely tied to the political situation of an era...

 coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

. Political developments in Prussia culminated in the 1525 establishment of the Duchy of Prussia as a Protestant state in vassalage to Poland.

In 1526 Copernicus wrote a study on the value of money, Monetae cudendae ratio
Monetae cudendae ratio
Monetae cudendae ratio is a paper on coinage by Nicolaus Copernicus...

. In it he formulated an early iteration of the theory, now called Gresham's Law
Gresham's Law
Gresham's law is an economic principle that states: "When a government compulsorily overvalues one type of money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation." It is commonly...

, that "bad" (debased
Debasement
Debasement is the practice of lowering the value of currency. It is particularly used in connection with commodity money such as gold or silver coins...

) coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

age drives "good" (un-debased) coinage out of circulation—70 years before Thomas Gresham
Thomas Gresham
Sir Thomas Gresham was an English merchant and financier who worked for King Edward VI of England and for Edward's half-sisters, Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I.-Family and childhood:...

. He also formulated a version of quantity theory of money
Quantity theory of money
In monetary economics, the quantity theory of money is the theory that money supply has a direct, proportional relationship with the price level....

. Copernicus' recommendations on monetary reform were widely read by leaders of both Prussia and Poland in their attempts to stabilize currency.
In 1533, Johann Widmanstetter, secretary to Pope Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...

, explained Copernicus' heliocentric system to the Pope and two cardinals. The Pope was so pleased that he gave Widmanstetter a valuable gift.
In 1535 Bernard Wapowski
Bernard Wapowski
Bernard Wapowski was a historian and the leading Polish cartographer of the 16th century, known as "the father of Polish cartography."-Life:...

 wrote a letter to a gentleman in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, urging him to publish an enclosed almanac
Almanac
An almanac is an annual publication that includes information such as weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, and tide tables, containing tabular information in a particular field or fields often arranged according to the calendar etc...

, which he claimed had been written by Copernicus. This is the first and only mention of a Copernicus almanac in the historical records. The "almanac" was likely Copernicus' tables of planetary positions. Wapowski's letter mentions Copernicus' theory about the motions of the earth. Nothing came of Wapowski's request, because he died a couple of weeks later.

Following the death of Prince-Bishop of Warmia Mauritius Ferber
Mauritius Ferber
Mauritius Ferber Mauritius Ferber Mauritius Ferber (1471 – 1 July 1537 in Heilsberg was a member of the patrician Ferber family of Danzig (Gdańsk). As Roman Catholic Prince-Bishop of Warmia (Ermeland), he prevented most towns in his diocese from converting to Protestantism while the surrounding...

 (1 July 1537), Copernicus participated in the election of his successor, Johannes Dantiscus (20 September 1537). Copernicus was one of four candidates for the post, written in at the initiative of Tiedemann Giese
Tiedemann Giese
Tiedemann Giese Tiedemann Giese Tiedemann Giese (1 June 1480 – 23 October 1550, Heilsberg (Lidzbark), was a member of the patrician Giese family of Danzig (Gdańsk). The brother of the Hanseatic League merchant Georg Giese and relative of Albrecht Giese he became Bishop of Culm (Chełmno) first...

; but his candidacy was actually pro forma
Pro forma
The term pro forma is a term applied to practices or documents that are done as a pure formality, perfunctory, or seek to satisfy the minimum requirements or to conform to a convention or doctrine...

, since Dantiscus had earlier been named coadjutor bishop
Coadjutor bishop
A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches who is designated to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese, almost as co-bishop of the diocese...

 to Ferber.
At first Copernicus maintained friendly relations with the new Prince-Bishop, assisting him medically in spring 1538 and accompanying him that summer on an inspection tour of Chapter holdings. But that autumn, their friendship was strained by suspicions over Copernicus' housekeeper, Anna Schilling, whom Dantiscus removed from Frombork in 1539.

In his younger days, Copernicus the physician had treated his uncle, brother and other chapter members. In later years he was called upon to attend the elderly bishops who in turn occupied the see of Warmia—Mauritius Ferber and Johannes Dantiscus—and, in 1539, his old friend Tiedemann Giese
Tiedemann Giese
Tiedemann Giese Tiedemann Giese Tiedemann Giese (1 June 1480 – 23 October 1550, Heilsberg (Lidzbark), was a member of the patrician Giese family of Danzig (Gdańsk). The brother of the Hanseatic League merchant Georg Giese and relative of Albrecht Giese he became Bishop of Culm (Chełmno) first...

, Bishop of Chełmno (Kulm). In treating such important patients, he sometimes sought consultations from other physicians, including the physician to Duke Albert and, by letter, the Polish Royal Physician.
In the spring of 1541, Duke Albert summoned Copernicus to Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

 to attend the Duke's counselor, George von Kunheim
George von Kunheim
George von Kunheim, born in the Prussian city of Wehlau and died in Mühlhausen , marriedMargaretha Luther, youngest daughter and child of Martin Luther on August 5, 1555....

, who had fallen seriously ill, and for whom the Prussian doctors seemed unable to do anything. Copernicus went willingly; he had met von Kunheim during negotiations over reform of the coinage. And Copernicus had come to feel that Albert himself was not such a bad person; the two had many intellectual interests in common. The Chapter readily gave Copernicus permission to go, as it wished to remain on good terms with the Duke, despite his Lutheran faith. In about a month the patient recovered, and Copernicus returned to Frombork. For a time, he continued to receive reports on von Kunheim's condition, and to send him medical advice by letter.

Throughout this period of his life, Copernicus continued making astronomical observations and calculations, but only as his other responsibilities permitted and never in a professional capacity.

Some of Copernicus' close friends turned Protestant, but Copernicus never showed a tendency in that direction. The first attacks on him came from Protestants. Wilhelm Gnapheus
Wilhelm Gnapheus
Wilhelm Gnapheus was a Dutch-born Protestant religious figure and writer....

, a Dutch refugee settled in Elbląg
Elblag
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland with 127,892 inhabitants . It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. Before then it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship and a county seat in Gdańsk Voivodeship...

, wrote a comedy in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, Morosophus (The Foolish Sage), and staged it at the Latin school that he had established there. In the play, Copernicus was caricatured as a haughty, cold, aloof man who dabbled in astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, considered himself inspired by God, and was rumored to have written a large work that was moldering in a chest.

Elsewhere Protestants were the first to react to news of Copernicus' theory. Melanchthon wrote:
Nevertheless, in 1551, eight years after Copernicus' death, astronomer Erasmus Reinhold
Erasmus Reinhold
Erasmus Reinhold was a German astronomer and mathematician, considered to be the most influential astronomical pedagogue of his generation. He was born and died in Saalfeld, Saxony....

 published, under the sponsorship of Copernicus' former military adversary, the Protestant Duke Albert, the Prussian Tables, a set of astronomical tables based on Copernicus' work. Astronomers and astrologers quickly adopted it in place of its predecessors.

Heliocentrism



Some time before 1514 Copernicus made available to friends his "Commentariolus
Commentariolus
The "Commentariolus" is Nicolaus Copernicus's forty-page outline of an early version of his revolutionary heliocentric theory of the universe...

" ("Little Commentary"), a forty-page manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 describing his ideas about the heliocentric hypothesis. It contained seven basic assumptions (detailed below). Thereafter he continued gathering data for a more detailed work.

About 1532 Copernicus had basically completed his work on the manuscript of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

; but despite urging by his closest friends, he resisted openly publishing his views, not wishing—as he confessed—to risk the scorn "to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses."

In 1533, Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter
Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter
Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter , was a German humanist, orientalist, philologist, and theologian.-Life:...

 delivered a series of lectures in Rome outlining Copernicus' theory. Pope Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...

 and several Catholic cardinals
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 heard the lectures and were interested in the theory. On 1 November 1536, Cardinal Nikolaus von Schönberg, Archbishop of Capua, wrote to Copernicus from Rome:
By then Copernicus' work was nearing its definitive form, and rumors about his theory had reached educated people all over Europe. Despite urgings from many quarters, Copernicus delayed publication of his book, perhaps from fear of criticism—a fear delicately expressed in the subsequent dedication of his masterpiece to Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

. Scholars disagree on whether Copernicus' concern was limited to possible astronomical and philosophical objections, or whether he was also concerned about religious objections.

The book


Copernicus was still working on De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

(even if not certain that he wanted to publish it) when in 1539 Georg Joachim Rheticus
Georg Joachim Rheticus
Georg Joachim von Lauchen, also known as Rheticus , was a mathematician, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher. He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus's sole pupil...

, a Wittenberg
Wittenberg
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a city in Germany in the Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, on the river Elbe. It has a population of about 50,000....

 mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

, arrived in Frombork. Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon , born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems...

, a close theological ally of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

, had arranged for Rheticus to visit several astronomers and study with them.

Rheticus became Copernicus' pupil, staying with him for two years and writing a book, Narratio prima
Narratio Prima
De libris revolutionum Copernici narratio prima, usually referred to as Narratio Prima , is an abstract of Nicolaus Copernicus' heliocentric theory, written by Georg Joachim Rheticus in 1540. It is an introduction to Copernicus's major work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, published in 1543,...

(First Account), outlining the essence of Copernicus' theory. In 1542 Rheticus published a treatise on trigonometry
Trigonometry
Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that studies triangles and the relationships between their sides and the angles between these sides. Trigonometry defines the trigonometric functions, which describe those relationships and have applicability to cyclical phenomena, such as waves...

 by Copernicus (later included in the second book of De revolutionibus).

Under strong pressure from Rheticus, and having seen the favorable first general reception of his work, Copernicus finally agreed to give De revolutionibus to his close friend, Tiedemann Giese
Tiedemann Giese
Tiedemann Giese Tiedemann Giese Tiedemann Giese (1 June 1480 – 23 October 1550, Heilsberg (Lidzbark), was a member of the patrician Giese family of Danzig (Gdańsk). The brother of the Hanseatic League merchant Georg Giese and relative of Albrecht Giese he became Bishop of Culm (Chełmno) first...

, bishop of Chełmno (Kulm), to be delivered to Rheticus for printing by the German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 printer Johannes Petreius
Johannes Petreius
Johann Petreius was a German printer in Nuremberg.-Life:...

 at Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 (Nürnberg), Germany. While Rheticus initially supervised the printing, he had to leave Nuremberg before it was completed, and he handed over the task of supervising the rest of the printing to a Lutheran theologian, Andreas Osiander
Andreas Osiander
Andreas Osiander was a German Lutheran theologian.- Career :Born at Gunzenhausen in Franconia, Osiander studied at the University of Ingolstadt before being ordained as a priest in 1520. In the same year he began work at an Augustinian convent in Nuremberg as a Hebrew tutor. In 1522, he was...

.

Osiander added an unauthorised and unsigned preface, defending the work against those who might be offended by the novel hypotheses. He explained that astronomers may find different causes for observed motions, and choose whatever is easier to grasp. As long as a hypothesis allows reliable computation, it does not have to match what a philosopher might seek as the truth.

Death




Copernicus died in Frauenburg (Frombork)
Frombork
Frombork is a town in northern Poland, on the Vistula Lagoon, in Braniewo County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. It had a population of 2,528 as of 2005....

 on 24 May 1543. Legend has it that the first printed copy of De revolutionibus was placed in his hands on the very day that he died, allowing him to take farewell of his life's work. He is reputed to have awoken from a stroke-induced coma, looked at his book, and then died peacefully.

Copernicus was reportedly buried in Frombork Cathedral
Frombork
Frombork is a town in northern Poland, on the Vistula Lagoon, in Braniewo County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. It had a population of 2,528 as of 2005....

, where archaeologists for over two centuries searched in vain for his remains. Efforts to locate the remains in 1802, 1909, 1939 and 2004 had come to nought. In August 2005, however, a team led by Jerzy Gąssowski, head of an archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 and anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 institute in Pułtusk, after scanning beneath the cathedral floor, discovered what they believed to be Copernicus' remains.

The find came after a year of searching, and the discovery was announced only after further research, on 3 November 2008. Gąssowski said he was "almost 100 percent sure it is Copernicus." Forensic expert Capt. Dariusz Zajdel of the Polish Police Central Forensic Laboratory used the skull to reconstruct a face that closely resembled the features—including a broken nose and a scar above the left eye—on a Copernicus self-portrait. The expert also determined that the skull belonged to a man who had died around age 70—Copernicus' age at the time of his death.

The grave was in poor condition, and not all the remains of the skeleton were found; missing, among other things, was the lower jaw. The DNA from the bones found in the grave matched hair samples taken from a book owned by Copernicus which was kept at the library of the University of Uppsala in Sweden.

On 22 May 2010 Copernicus was given a second funeral in a Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 led by Józef Kowalczyk
Józef Kowalczyk
Józef Kowalczyk is a Polish Roman Catholic clergyman, canon lawyer and diplomat who serves as the archbishop of Gniezno and primate of Poland. Previously, from 1989 to 2010, he served as the first apostolic nuncio to Poland since World War II....

, the former papal nuncio to Poland and newly named Primate of Poland. Copernicus' remains were reburied in the same spot in Frombork Cathedral
Frombork
Frombork is a town in northern Poland, on the Vistula Lagoon, in Braniewo County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. It had a population of 2,528 as of 2005....

 where part of his skull and other bones had been found. A black granite tombstone now identifies him as the founder of the heliocentric theory and also a church canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

. The tombstone bears a representation of Copernicus' model of the solar system—a golden sun encircled by six of the planets.

Predecessors


Philolaus
Philolaus
Philolaus was a Greek Pythagorean and Presocratic philosopher. He argued that all matter is composed of limiting and limitless things, and that the universe is determined by numbers. He is credited with originating the theory that the earth was not the center of the universe.-Life:Philolaus is...

 (c. 480–385 BCE) described an astronomical system in which a Central Fire (different from the Sun) occupied the centre of the universe, and a counter-Earth, the Earth, Moon, the Sun itself, planets, and stars all revolved around it, in that order outward from the centre. Heraclides Ponticus
Heraclides Ponticus
Heraclides Ponticus , also known as Herakleides and Heraklides of Pontus, was a Greek philosopher and astronomer who lived and died at Heraclea Pontica, now Karadeniz Ereğli, Turkey. He is best remembered for proposing that the earth rotates on its axis, from west to east, once every 24 hours...

 (387–312 BCE) proposed that the Earth rotates on its axis.
Aristarchus of Samos
Aristarchus of Samos
Aristarchus, or more correctly Aristarchos , was a Greek astronomer and mathematician, born on the island of Samos, in Greece. He presented the first known heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe...

 (310 BCE – c. 230 BCE) identified the "central fire" with the Sun, around which he had the Earth orbiting.
Some technical details of Copernicus's system closely resembled those developed earlier by the Islamic astronomers Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Khawaja Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan Ṭūsī , better known as Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī , was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: an astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed...

 and Ibn al-Shāṭir
Ibn al-Shatir
Ala Al-Din Abu'l-Hasan Ali Ibn Ibrahim Ibn al-Shatir was an Arab Muslim astronomer, mathematician, engineer and inventor who worked as muwaqqit at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria.-Astronomy:...

, both of whom retained a geocentric model.

The prevailing theory in Europe during Copernicus' lifetime was the one that Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 published in his Almagest
Almagest
The Almagest is a 2nd-century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman era scholar of Egypt,...

circa 150 CE; the Earth was the stationary center of the universe. Stars were embedded in a large outer sphere which rotated rapidly, approximately daily, while each of the planets, the Sun, and the Moon were embedded in their own, smaller spheres. Ptolemy's system employed devices, including epicycles, deferents
Deferent and epicycle
In the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the epicycle was a geometric model used to explain the variations in speed and direction of the apparent motion of the Moon, Sun, and planets...

 and equant
Equant
Equant is a mathematical concept developed by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD to account for the observed motion of heavenly bodies....

s, to account for observations that the paths of these bodies differed from simple, circular orbits centered on the Earth.

Copernicus


Copernicus' major theory was published in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus...

(On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), in the year of his death, 1543, though he had formulated the theory several decades earlier.

Copernicus' "Commentariolus" summarized his heliocentric theory. It listed the "assumptions" upon which the theory was based as follows:


1. There is no one center of all the celestial circles or spheres.

2. The center of the earth is not the center of the universe, but only of gravity and of the lunar sphere.

3. All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe.

4. The ratio of the earth's distance from the sun to the height of the firmament
Firmament
The firmament is the vault or expanse of the sky. According to Genesis, God created the firmament to separate the oceans from other waters above.-Etymology:...

 (outermost celestial sphere containing the stars) is so much smaller than the ratio of the earth's radius to its distance from the sun that the distance from the earth to the sun is imperceptible in comparison with the height of the firmament.

5. Whatever motion appears in the firmament arises not from any motion of the firmament, but from the earth's motion. The earth together with its circumjacent elements performs a complete rotation on its fixed poles in a daily motion, while the firmament and highest heaven abide unchanged.

6. What appear to us as motions of the sun arise not from its motion but from the motion of the earth and our sphere, with which we revolve about the sun like any other planet. The earth has, then, more than one motion.

7. The apparent retrograde and direct motion of the planets arises not from their motion but from the earth's. The motion of the earth alone, therefore, suffices to explain so many apparent inequalities in the heavens.


De revolutionibus itself was divided into six parts, called "books":
  1. General vision of the heliocentric theory, and a summarized exposition of his idea of the World
  2. Mainly theoretical, presents the principles of spherical astronomy and a list of stars (as a basis for the arguments developed in the subsequent books)
  3. Mainly dedicated to the apparent motions of the Sun and to related phenomena
  4. Description of the Moon and its orbital motions
  5. Concrete exposition of the new system
  6. Concrete exposition of the new system

Successors


Georg Joachim Rheticus
Georg Joachim Rheticus
Georg Joachim von Lauchen, also known as Rheticus , was a mathematician, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher. He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus's sole pupil...

 could have been Copernicus' successor, but did not rise to the occasion. Erasmus Reinhold
Erasmus Reinhold
Erasmus Reinhold was a German astronomer and mathematician, considered to be the most influential astronomical pedagogue of his generation. He was born and died in Saalfeld, Saxony....

 could have been his successor, but died prematurely. The first of the great successors was Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe , born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations...

 (though he did not think the earth orbitted the sun), followed by Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

, who had worked as Tycho's assistant in Prague.

Despite the near universal acceptance today of the basic heliocentric idea (though not the epicycles or the circular orbits), Copernicus' theory was originally slow to catch on. Scholars hold that sixty years after the publication of The Revolutions there were only around 15 astronomers espousing Compernicanism in all of Europe, "Thomas Digges and Thomas Hariot in England; Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei in Italy; Diego de Zuniga in Spain; Simon Stevin in the Low Countries; and in Germany, the largest group – Georg Joachim Rheticus, Michael Maestlin, Christoph Rothmann (who may have later recanted), and Johannes Kepler." Additional possibilities are Englishman William Gilbert, along with Achilles Gasser, Georg Vogelin, Valentin Otto, and Tiedemann Giese.

Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler
Arthur Koestler CBE was a Hungarian author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria...

, in his popular book The Sleepwalkers
The Sleepwalkers
The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe is a 1959 book by Arthur Koestler, and one of the main accounts of the history of cosmology and astronomy in the Western World, beginning in ancient Mesopotamia and ending with Isaac Newton. The book challenges the habitual idea...

, asserted that Copernicus' book had not been widely read on its first publication. This claim was trenchantly criticised by Edward Rosen
Edward Rosen
Edward Rosen was an American historian, whose main field of study was early modern Science and, in particular, the work of Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler.-Academic Life:...

, and has been decisively disproved by Owen Gingerich
Owen Gingerich
Dr. Owen Jay Gingerich is a former Research Professor of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University, and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory...

, who examined every surviving copy of the first two editions and found copious marginal notes by their owners throughout many of them. Gingerich published his conclusions in 2004 in The Book Nobody Read.

The intellectual climate of the time "remained dominated by Aristotelian philosophy and the corresponding Ptolemaic astronomy. At that time there was no reason to accept the Copernican theory, except for its mathematical simplicity [by avoiding using the equant
Equant
Equant is a mathematical concept developed by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD to account for the observed motion of heavenly bodies....

 in determining planetary positions]." Tycho Brahe's system ("that the earth is stationary, the sun revolves about the earth, and the other planets revolve about the sun") also directly competed with Copernicus'. It was only a half century later with the work of Kepler and Galileo that any substantial evidence defending Copernicanism appeared, starting "from the time when Galileo formulated the principle of inertia...[which] helped to explain why everything would not fall off the earth if it were in motion." It was not until "after Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 formulated the universal law of gravitation and the laws of mechanics [in his 1687 Principia], which unified terrestrial and celestial mechanics, was the heliocentric view generally accepted."

Controversy



Only mild controversy (and no fierce sermons) was the immediate result of the publication of Copernicus' book. At the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 neither Copernicus' theory nor calendar reform (which would later use tables deduced from Copernicus' calculations) were discussed.

The first notable to move against Copernicanism was the Magister of the Holy Palace (i.e., the Catholic Church's chief censor
Censor Librorum
In the Roman Catholic Church, the Censor Librorum is an ecclesiastical authority charged with reviewing texts and granting the nihil obstat. The Latin Censor Librorum translates as "censor of books."...

), Dominican Bartolomeo Spina, who "expressed a desire to stamp out the Copernican doctrine." But with Spina's death in 1546, his cause fell to his friend, the well known theologian-astronomer, the Dominican Giovanni Maria Tolosani of the Convent of St. Mark in Florence. Tolosani had written a treatise on reforming the calendar (in which astronomy would play a large role), and had attended the Fifth Lateran Council to discuss the matter. He had obtained a copy of De Revolutionibus in 1544. His denouncement of Copernicanism appeared in an appendix to his work entitled On the Truth of Sacred Scripture.

Emulating the rationalistic style of Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, Tolosani sought to refute Copernicanism on philosophical arguments. While still invoking Christian Scripture and Tradition, Tolosani strove to show Copernicanism was absurd because it was unproven and unfounded on three main points. First Copernicus had assumed the motion of the Earth but offered no physical theory whereby one would deduce this motion. (No one realized that the investigation into Copernicanism would result in a rethinking of the entire field of physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

.) Second Tolosani charged that Copernicus' thought processes was backwards. He held that Copernicus had come up with his idea and then sought phenomena that would support it, rather than observing phenomena and deducing from that the idea of what caused it. In this Tolosani was linking Copernicus' mathematical equations with the practices of the Pythagoreans
Pythagoreanism
Pythagoreanism was the system of esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans, who were considerably influenced by mathematics. Pythagoreanism originated in the 5th century BCE and greatly influenced Platonism...

 (whom Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 had made arguments against, which were later picked up by Thomas Aquinas). It was argued that mathematical numbers were a mere product of the intellect without any physical reality, and as such "numbers could not provide physical causes in the investigation of nature." (This was basically a denial of the possibility of mathematical physics
Mathematical physics
Mathematical physics refers to development of mathematical methods for application to problems in physics. The Journal of Mathematical Physics defines this area as: "the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and...

.) The Astronomical hypotheses such as epicycles and eccentrics were seen as mere mathematical devices to adjust calculations of where the heavenly bodies would appear, rather than an explanation of the cause of those motions. (As Copernicus still held to the idea of perfectly spherical orbits, his system still relied on some of these hypotheses). This "saving the phenomena" was seen as proof that Astronomy and Math could not be taken as a serious means to determine physical causes. Lastly, according to Tolosani, Copernicus' biggest error was that he started with "inferior" fields of science to make pronouncements about "superior" fields. He used Mathematics and Astronomy to postulate about Physics and Cosmology, rather than beginning with the accepted principles of Physics and Cosmology to determine things about Astronomy and Math. In this way Copernicus seemed to be undermining the whole system of the philosophy of science at the time. Tolosani held that Copernicus had just fallen into philosophical error because he hadn't been versed in physics and logic - anyone without such knowledge would make a poor astronomer and be unable to distinguish truth from falsehood. Because it had not meet the criteria for scientific truth set out by Thomas Aquinas, Tolosani held that Copernicanism could only be viewed as a wild unproven theory.

Tolosani recognized that the Ad Lectorem preface to Copernicus' book wasn't actually by him. Its thesis that astronomy as a whole would never be able to make truth claims was rejected by Tolosani, (though he still held that Copernicus' attempt to describe physical reality had been faulty), he found it ridiculous that Ad Lectorem had been included in the book (unaware that Copernicus hadn't authorized its inclusion). Tolosani wrote "By means of these words [of the Ad Lectorem], the foolishness of this book's author is rebuked. For by a foolish effort he [Copernicus] tried to revive the weak Pythagorean opinion [that the element of fire was at the center of the Universe], long ago deservedly destroyed, since it is expressly contrary to human reason and also opposes holy writ. From this situation, there could easily arise disagreements between Catholic expositors of holy scripture and those who might wish to adhere obstinately to this false opinion. We have written this little work for the purpose of avoiding this scandal." Tolosani declared "Nicolaus Copernicus neither read nor understood the arguments of Aristotle the philosopher and Ptolemy the astronomer." He wrote that Copernicus "is very deficient in the sciences of physics and logic. Moreover, it appears that he is unskilled with regard to [the interpretation of] holy scripture, since he contradicts several of its principles, not without danger of infidelity to himself and the readers of his book. ...his arguments have no force and can very easily be taken apart. For it is stupid to contradict an opinion accepted by everyone over a very long time for the strongest reasons, unless the impugner uses more powerful and insoluble demonstrations and completely dissolves the opposed reasons. But he does not do this in the least." He declared that he had written against Copernicus "for the purpose of preserving the truth to the common advantage of the Holy Church." Despite the efforts Tolosani put into his work it remained unpublished and it "was likely shelved in the library of the Dominican order at San Marco in Florence, awaiting its use by some new prosecutor" (it is believed that Dominican Tommaso Caccini
Tommaso Caccini
Tommaso Caccini was an Italian Dominican friar and preacher.Born in Florence as Cosimo Caccini, he entered into the Dominican order of the Catholic Church as a teenager. Caccini began his career in the monastery of San Marco and gradually became renowned for his passionate sermons...

 read it before delivering a sermon against Galileo in December 1613).

It has been much debated why it was not until six decades after the publication of De revolutionibus that the Catholic Church took any official action against it, even the efforts of Tolosani had gone unheeded. Proposed reasons have included the personality of Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 and the availability of evidence such as telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

 observations.

How entwined the pre-Copernican theory was in theological circles can be seen in a sample of the works of John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

. In his Commentary on Genesis he said that "We indeed are not ignorant that the circuit of the heavens is finite, and that the earth, like a little glove, is placed in the centre." Commenting on Job 26:7 Calvin wrote "It is true that Job specifically says 'the north,' and yet he is speaking about the whole heaven. And that is because the sky turns around upon the pole that is there. For, just as in the wheels of a chariot there is an axle that runs through the middle of them, and the wheels turn around the axle by reason of the holes that are in the middle of them, even so is it in the skies. This is manifestly seen; that is to say, those who are well acquainted with the course of the firmament see that the sky so turns." Calvin's commentaries on the Psalms also show a reliance on the pre-Copernican theory; for Psalms 93:1 "The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion – no disturbance in the harmony of their motion. The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point. The planets, in all their wanderings, maintain their respective positions. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God's hand? By what means could it maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it." Commenting on Psalms 19:4 Calvin says "the firmament, by its own revolution draws with it all the fixed stars". There is no evidence that Calvin was aware of Copernicus, and claims that after quoting Psalm 93:1 he went on to say "Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above the Holy Spirit", have been discredited and shown to originate with Frederic William Farrar's Bampton Lecture in 1885. Unlike Calvin many theologians did become aware of Copernicus' theory which became increasingly controversial.

The sharpest point of conflict between Copernicus' theory and the Bible concerned the story of the Battle of Gibeon in the Book of Joshua where the Hebrew forces were winning but whose opponents were likely to escape once night fell. This is averted by Joshua's prayers causing the sun and the moon to stand still. Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 would question Copernicus' theory on these grounds. According to Anthony Lauterbach, while eating with Martin Luther the topic of Copernicus arouse during dinner on 4 June 1539 (as professor George Joachim Rheticus of the local University had been granted leave to visit him). Luther is said to have remarked "So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these thing that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth." These remarks were made four years before the publication of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres and a year before Rheticus' Narratio Prima. In John Aurifaber's account of the conversation Luther calls Copernicus "that fool" rather than "that fellow", this version is viewed by historians as less reliably sourced.

Luther's collaborator Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon , born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems...

 also took issue with Copernicanism. After receiving the first pages of Narratio Prima from Rheticus
Georg Joachim Rheticus
Georg Joachim von Lauchen, also known as Rheticus , was a mathematician, cartographer, navigational-instrument maker, medical practitioner, and teacher. He is perhaps best known for his trigonometric tables and as Nicolaus Copernicus's sole pupil...

 himself, Melanchthon wrote to Mithobius (physician and mathematician Burkard Mithob of Feldkirch) on October 16, 1541 condemning the theory and calling for it to be repressed by governmental force, writing "certain people believe it is a marvelous achievement to extol so crazy a thing, like that Polish astronomer who makes the earth move and the sun stand still. Really, wise governments ought to repress impudence of mind." It had appeared to Rheticus that Melanchton would understand the theory and would be open to it. This was because Melanchton had taught Ptolemaic astronomy and had even recommended his friend Rheticus to an appointment to the Deanship of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at the University of Wittenberg after he had returned from studying with Copernicus.

Rheticus' hopes were dashed when six years after the publication of De Revolutionibus Melanchthon published his Initia Doctrinae Physicae presenting three grounds to reject Copernicanism, these were "the evidence of the senses, the thousand-year consensus of men of science, and the authority of the Bible". Blasting the new theory Melanchthon wrote "Out of love for novelty or in order to make a show of their cleverness, some people have argued that the earth moves. They maintain that neither the eighth sphere nor the sun moves, whereas they attribute motion to the other celestial spheres, and also place the earth among the heavenly bodies. Nor were these jokes invented recently. There is still extant Archimedes' book on The sand-reckoner; in which he reports that Aristarchus of Samos propounded the paradox that the sun stands still and the earth revolves around the sun. Even though subtle experts institute many investigations for the sake of exercising their ingenuity, nevertheless public proclamation of absurd opinions is indecent and sets a harmful example." Melanchthon went on to cite Bible passages and then declare "Encouraged by this divine evidence, let us cherish the truth and let us not permit ourselves to be alienated from it by the tricks of those who deem it an intellectual honor to introduce confusion into the arts." In the first edition of Initia Doctrinae Physicae, Melanchthon even questioned Copernicus' character claiming his motivation was "either from love of novelty or from desire to appear clever", these more personal attacks were largely removed by the second edition in 1550.

Another Protestant theologican who took issue with Copernicus was John Owen
John Owen (theologian)
John Owen was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford.-Early life:...

 who declared that "the late hypothesis, fixing the sun as in the centre of the world' was 'built on fallible phenomena, and advanced by many arbitrary presumptions against evident testimonies of Scripture.'

In Roman Catholic circles, German Jesuit Nicolaus Serarius was one of the first to write against Copernicus' theory as heretical, citing the Joshua passage, in a work published in 1609–1610, and again in a book in 1612.

In his 12 April 1615 letter to a Catholic defender of Copernicus, Paolo Antonio Foscarini, Catholic Cardinal Robert Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation...

 condemned Copernican theory, writing "...not only the Holy Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

, but also the modern commentaries on Genesis, the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Joshua, you will find all agreeing in the literal interpretation that the sun is in heaven and turns around the earth with great speed, and that the earth is very far from heaven and sits motionless at the center of the world...Nor can one answer that this is not a matter of faith, since if it is not a matter of faith 'as regards the topic,' it is a matter of faith 'as regards the speaker': and so it would be heretical to say that Abraham did not have two children and Jacob twelve, as well as to say that Christ was not born of a virgin, because both are said by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of prophets and apostles."

Perhaps the strongest opponent to Copernican theory was Francesco Ingoli a Catholic priest. Ingoli wrote a January 1616 essay condemning Copernicanism as "philosophically untenable and theologically heretical." Though "it is not certain, it is probable that he was commissioned by the Inquisition to write an expert opinion on the controversy", (after the Congregation of the Index's decree against Copernicanism on 5 March 1616 Ingoli was officially appointed its consultant). Two of Ingoli's theological issues with Copernicus' theory were "common Catholic beliefs not directly traceable to Scripture: the doctrine that hell is located at the center of Earth and is most distant from heaven; and the explicit assertion that Earth is motionless in a hymn sung on Tuesdays as part of the Liturgy of the Hours
Liturgy of the hours
The Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the Catholic Church to be recited at the canonical hours by the clergy, religious orders, and laity. The Liturgy of the Hours consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns and readings...

 of the Divine Office prayers regularly recited by priests." Ingoli also cited Genesis 1:14 where YHWH places "lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night." Like previous commentators Ingoli pointed to the passages about the Battle of Gibeon and dismissed arguments that they should be taken metaphorically, saying "Replies which assert that Scripture speaks according to our mode of understanding are not satisfactory: both because in explaining the Sacred Writings the rule is always to preserve the literal sense, when it is possible, as it is in this case; and also because all the [Church] Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 unanimously take this passage to mean that the sun which was truly moving stopped at Joshua's request. An interpretation which is contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers is condemned by the Council of Trent, Session IV, in the decree on the edition and use of the Sacred Books. Furthermore, although the Council speaks about matters of faith and morals, nevertheless it cannot be denied that the Holy Fathers would be displeased with an interpretation of Sacred Scriptures which is contrary to their common agreement."

In March 1616, in connection with the Galileo affair
Galileo affair
The Galileo affair was a sequence of events, beginning around 1610, during which Galileo Galilei came into conflict with the Aristotelian scientific view of the universe , over his support of Copernican astronomy....

, the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation of the Index issued a decree suspending De revolutionibus until it could be "corrected," on the grounds that the supposedly Pythagorean
Pythagoreanism
Pythagoreanism was the system of esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans, who were considerably influenced by mathematics. Pythagoreanism originated in the 5th century BCE and greatly influenced Platonism...

 doctrine that the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 moves and the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 does not was "false and altogether opposed to Holy Scripture." The same decree also prohibited any work that defended the mobility of the Earth or the immobility of the Sun, or that attempted to reconcile these assertions with Scripture.

On the orders of Pope Paul V
Pope Paul V
-Theology:Paul met with Galileo Galilei in 1616 after Cardinal Bellarmine had, on his orders, warned Galileo not to hold or defend the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus. Whether there was also an order not to teach those ideas in any way has been a matter for controversy...

, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation...

 gave Galileo prior notice that the decree was about to be issued, and warned him that he could not "hold or defend" the Copernican doctrine. The corrections to De revolutionibus, which omitted or altered nine sentences, were issued four years later, in 1620.

In 1633 Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 was convicted of grave suspicion of heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 for "following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture," and was placed under house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

 for the rest of his life.

The Catholic Church's 1758 Index of Prohibited Books omitted the general prohibition of works defending heliocentrism, but retained the specific prohibitions of the original uncensored versions of De revolutionibus and Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was a 1632 Italian language book by Galileo Galilei comparing the Copernican system with the traditional Ptolemaic system. It was translated to Latin as Systema cosmicum in 1635 by Matthias Bernegger...

. Those prohibitions were finally dropped from the 1835 Index.

Nationality


There has been discussion of Copernicus' nationality and of whether, in fact, it is meaningful to ascribe to him a nationality in the modern sense.

Historian Michael Burleigh
Michael Burleigh
Michael Burleigh is a British author and historian.In 1977 he was awarded a first class honours degree in Medieval and Modern History from University College London, winning the Pollard, Dolley and Sir William Mayer prizes...

 describes the nationality debate as a "totally insignificant battle" between German and Polish scholars during the interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

.

Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 astronomer Konrad Rudnicki
Konrad Rudnicki
Konrad Rudnicki is a Polish astronomer, professor at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and priest of the Mariavite Church....

 calls the discussion a "fierce scholarly quarrel in... times of nationalism" and describes Copernicus as an inhabitant of a German-speaking territory that belonged to Poland, himself being of mixed Polish-German extraction. Rudnicki adds that Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

, an opponent of Copernicus' theories, regarded him as Polish and referred to him as a "Sarmatic fool". (At the time, "Sarmatian"
Sarmatism
"Sarmatism" is a term designating the dominant lifestyle, culture and ideology of the szlachta of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Together with "Golden Liberty," it formed a central aspect of the Commonwealth's culture...

 was a term for a nobleman
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...

 of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland.)

According to Czesław Miłosz, the debate is an "absurd" projection of a modern understanding of nationality onto Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 people, who identified with their home territories rather than with a nation.

Similarly historian Norman Davies
Norman Davies
Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom.- Academic career :...

 writes that Copernicus, as was common in his era, was "largely indifferent" to nationality, being a local patriot who considered himself "Prussian
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

".

Miłosz and Davies both write that Copernicus had a German-language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 cultural background, while his working language was Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 in accordance with the usage of the time. Additionally, according to Davies, "there is ample evidence that he knew the Polish language." Davies concludes: "Taking everything into consideration, there is good reason to regard him both as a German and as a Pole: and yet, in the sense that modern nationalists understand it, he was neither."

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a freely-accessible online encyclopedia of philosophy maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from over 65 academic institutions worldwide...

describes Copernicus as a "child of a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 family [who] was a subject of the Polish crown", while others note that his father was a Germanized Pole. Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

, Encyclopedia Americana
Encyclopedia Americana
Encyclopedia Americana is one of the largest general encyclopedias in the English language. Following the acquisition of Grolier in 2000, the encyclopedia has been produced by Scholastic....

, The Columbia Encyclopedia
Columbia Encyclopedia
The Columbia Encyclopedia is a one-volume encyclopedia produced by Columbia University Press and sold by the Gale Group. First published in 1935, and continuing its important relationship with Columbia University, the encyclopedia underwent major revisions in 1950 and 1963; the current edition is...

and The Oxford World Encyclopedia identify Copernicus as a "Polish astronomer".

Copernicium



On 14 July 2009, the discoverers, from the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung
Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung
The GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research GmbH in the Wixhausen suburb of Darmstadt, Germany is a federally and state co-funded heavy ion research center. The current director of GSI is Horst Stöcker who succeeded Walter F...

 in Darmstadt
Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

, Germany, of chemical element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 112 (temporarily named ununbium
Ununbium
Copernicium is a chemical element with symbol Cn and atomic number 112. It is an extremely radioactive synthetic element that on Earth can only be created in a laboratory. The most stable known isotope, copernicium-285, has a half-life of approximately 29 seconds, but it is possible that this...

) proposed to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations that represents chemists in individual countries. It is a member of the International Council for Science . The international headquarters of IUPAC is located in Zürich,...

 that its permanent name be "copernicium" (symbol Cn). "After we had named elements after our city and our state, we wanted to make a statement with a name that was known to everyone," said Hofmann. "We didn't want to select someone who was a German. We were looking world-wide."
On the 537th anniversary of his birthday the official naming was released to the public.

Veneration


Copernicus is honored, together with Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

, in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA)
Calendar of saints (Episcopal Church in the United States of America)
The veneration of saints in the Episcopal Church is a continuation of an ancient tradition from the early Church which honors important people of the Christian faith. The usage of the term "saint" is similar to Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Those in the Anglo-Catholic tradition may...

, with a feast day on 23 May.

See also


  • Copernican principle
    Copernican principle
    In physical cosmology, the Copernican principle, named after Nicolaus Copernicus, states that the Earth is not in a central, specially favored position. More recently, the principle has been generalized to the relativistic concept that humans are not privileged observers of the universe...

  • Monetae cudendae ratio
    Monetae cudendae ratio
    Monetae cudendae ratio is a paper on coinage by Nicolaus Copernicus...

  • List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics
  • Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Toruń
    Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Toruń
    The Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in the home town of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was erected in 1853 by a "monument committee" of the city's residents.-Original plans:...

  • Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Kraków
    Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Kraków
    The Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Kraków is a notable landmark of Kraków, Poland. It memorializes the astronomer Copernicus, who studied at the Kraków Academy and whose father came from that city, then the capital of Poland....

  • Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw

Further reading


External links


Primary Sources

General

About De Revolutionibus

Legacy Copernicus in Bologna – in Italian

Prizes

German-Polish cooperation German-Polish "Copernicus Prize" awarded to German and Polish scientists (DFG website) (FNP website) Büro Kopernikus – An initiative of German Federal Cultural Foundation German-Polish school project on Copernicus