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Bography of Nicolaus Copernicus



Uppdated 2009-08-25



Acording to the researches, the house of Copernicus originates from Silesia. Mentions about Copernicus family living in Silesian towns and the others can be found in the fourteenth and fifteenth century . The grandfather of the astronomer, Jan, was a wealthy Cracovian merchant and his father was a wholesaler. Parents of the astronomer, Barbara and Nicholaus had four children : Andrew, Nicholaus, Barbara and Katherine. Nicholaus Copernicus was born on 19th February 1473 in Torun in Saint Anna's Street. Today this street is called Copernicus Street and his museum is situated in the building number 17. In 1483 died his father. Protection of the family was taken by the wealthy uncle, the bishop Lucas Watzenrod. In autumn 1491, an 18-year-old Nicholaus with his brother Andrew started their studies in the department of Liberated Arts in the University of Cracow. The record of enrolling the University remained to these days :" Nicholaus, the son of Nicholaus from Torun paid the whole ( of the entrance fee )". The time of Nicholaus Copernicus ' stay in Cracow falls on the period of the great development of the Cracovian University. The college was found by the king Kazimierz the Great in 1364 and later in 1400 was totally renewed by the king Wladyslaw Jagiello and his wife, the queen, Jadwiga. The Nurembergian chronicler Schedel, at the end of XV century, wrote that in Cracow ".. next to Saint Anna's Church there is a famous, for a lot of clever scientists, University, where all the skills are cultivated... The most popular discipline is astronomy, and as regards it, as I am informed from plenty of people, there is no more famous college in all Germany ." Nicholaus Copernicus used to meet in Cracow great scientists and listened to their lectures. One of the outstanding Cracovian scientists living those times was Wojciech from Brudzewo. During Nicholaus Copernicus' stay in Cracow, he didn't lecture in astronomy because he was occupied with Aristotle's works. Copernicus attended the various lectures: in grammar, rhetoric, poetry, and also lectures in mathematical-astronomical issues. It is possible that just in this time, in Nicholaus Copernicus' mind, an idea of the theory of the world structure, different from the current one, was born. In 1495 Nicholaus Copernicus left Cracow and in 1496 he received the lower holy orders in Warmia canonry. In this same year he left for Bologne to study the canon law, so that he could be prepared to manage the church properties. Copernicus' stay in Bologne lasted three years. He didn't graduate the juristical studies. On 31st May 1503 he received the doctorate in canon law in Ferrara. In 1510 Nicholaus Copernicus settled down in Frombork permanently, where he was appointed a canon. Fulfiling the duties of the cathedral canon in Frombork, he had splendid conditions to devote to scientific researches. For some time he used to work as a doctor and in his spare time he was busy with astronomy. In 1521 Nicholaus Copernicus resigned from being a manager of chapter properties. It doesn't mean he gave up the active participation in the chapter activity. Later he fulfiled various, sometimes responsible functions there. He was an inspector and later a manager of the chapter. Nicholaus Copernicus was active in many disciplines of science such as physics, geography, economy. As the canon of Warmia, holding different posts in the bishop administration, he was occupied with different matters connected with the defence of the city of Olsztyn. He wrote economical thesis and gave some advice to Polish king in the matters connected with the money circulation. That time monetary relations were complicated because of the fact that there were four mints in four Polish cities : in Torun, in Elbląg, in Gdansk and in Konigsberg. A very often practice was to melt down a good coin for a worse one and later on, not only the mentioned cities but also the Tetonic Order benefited from this fact. To counteract it, Nicholaus Copernicus wrote a treatise" Modus cudendi monetam" and between 17th and 21st March in Grudziądz on the Prussian Seym, he deliverd a speech about it. In his treatise Copernicus said that because of the falling of the value of money, prices still rise and foreign trade gets more difficult and difficult. Good silver coins are seized and melted for worse ones and in consequence the cities which permit the right to mint coins, and merchants, who sell their goods according to the value of gold, derive the profits. But the monetary treatise is not the only economical one by Nicholaus Copernicus. During his journeys in Warmia, he found out that the villagers lived in a big poverty. The reason was the low prices of corn in realation to both - the price of other goods and small salaries which villagers received. This situation made the great astronomer study the prices of bread. In about 1530 he wrote a short memorial" Panis coquendi ratio" ( Account of baking bread ) with the tables of honest prices of bread and the description of its baking. The purpose of this memorial was calculation the real finances, connected with baking the bread in order that the price could ride according to its work and the prices of the materials. Nicholaus Copernicus died on 24th May 1543 because of the cerebral hemorrhage. He was buried under the floor in the Cathedral of Frombork.


Nicolaus Copernicus
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