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Encyclopedia > Copernicus' nationality

There is some controversy regarding Nicolaus Copernicus' nationality (Polish, or German or Prussian Baltics, Non-German and Non-Slavic.) Nicolaus Copernicus (MikoÅ‚aj Kopernik) MikoÅ‚aj Kopernik (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543), more commonly known by the Latin form Nicolaus Copernicus, was a Polish[1] astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, administrator and economist. ... The national name Prussia (in Prussian: Prusa, German: Preußen, Polish: Prusy, Lithuanian Prusai, Latin: Prussia or Borussia) was used by a wide variety of political factions during the 2nd millennium. ... The Baltic Sea The Baltic states, or Baltic countries, is a term which usually refers to three countries to the East of the Baltic Sea: Estonia Latvia Lithuania It ought to be noted that although the present-day Baltic countries are republics, the term Baltic Republics refers to the same...


The controversy involves two debates. The first debate is over whether he was Polish or German. The second debate is over whether the language of this question, and the two answers it suggests, is meaningful and appropriate to Copernicus' times, or only to the present time; in other words, did the words "nationality", "Polish", and "German" mean the same thing to Copernicus and his contemporaries as they mean to us, or something else?

Contents


The First Debate

This debate starts with the origins of his surname, Koppernigk.


Many authors consider it to be derived from the name of the village of Koeppernig, near Neisse, in Silesia, while other believe that name is of Slavic origin, and is a Germanized version of Koprnih. Prussian Silesia, 1871, outlined in yellow; Silesia at the close of the Seven Years War in 1763, outlined in cyan (areas now in Czech Republic were Austrian-ruled at that time) Silesia (-Latin, Polish: ÅšlÄ…sk, German: Schlesien, Czech: Slezsko) is a historical region in central Europe. ...


He several times signed as his name Kopperlingk, possibly because his father's family business in the city of Toruń/Thorn was copper and therefore the Low German Kopper (High German Kupfer) and the -lingk ending indicated someone who dabbled in copper. It has been the custom of both Polish and German people to take on the occupations or the town names as last names. Toruń (pronounce: [:tɔruɲ], Kashubian: Torń, German Thorn, see also other names) is a city in northern Poland, on the Vistula river. ...


Those who consider Copernicus to be Polish underline the fact that Copernicus' great-grandfather had obtained citizenship in the city of Kraków around 1400. Kraków, like many medieval cities, had been created under Magdeburg law and later became a Hanseatic League city, but was Polish. Motto: none Voivodship Lesser Poland Municipal government Rada miasta Kraków Mayor Jacek Majchrowski Area 326,8 km² Population  - city  - urban  - density 757,500 (2004 est. ... The Magdeburg Rights (or Magdeburg law) were the laws of the Imperial Free City of Magdeburg during many centuries of the Holy Roman Empire, and possibly the most important set of Germanic medieval city laws. ... The Hanseatic League (German: die Hanse, Dutch: de Hanze) was an alliance of trading cities that established and maintained a trade monopoly over the Baltic Sea and most of Northern Europe for a time in the later Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, between the 13th and 17th century. ...


Copernicus' father moved then to Toruń/Thorn around 1456, shortly after the town had passed from the suzerainty of the Order of Teutonic Knights to that of the King of Poland. In terms of the political geography of his time, the position that Copernicus was born Polish is undoubtedly correct. The counter argument is, that the orphaned Copernicus children "migrated" to Warmia, ruled by their uncle Prince-Bishop Lucas Watzenrode (approved to have that title, by the king of Poland), who then raised them. Copernicus' father was a treasurer of Związek Jaszczurczy (Lizard Organisation) an organisation involved in protecting Polish interests against these of Teutonic Order. Among other things they co-financed the 1466 war between Poland and the Order. Teutonic Knights, charging into battle. ... Warmia (Polish: Warmia or Warmija, Latin: Warmia or Varmia, German: Ermland or Ermeland) is a region between Pomerania and Masuria in northeastern Poland. ... Prince-Bishop was the title given bishops who held secular powers, beside their inherent clerical power. ... Lucas Watzenrode (Łukasz) was born 1400 in Toruń and died in Toruń in 1462. ...


There is evidence to suggest that Copernicus was Polish by allegiance (in terms of the politics of the time): in 1512, when he was Canon of the Chapter of Frombork (German: Frauenburg), Copernicus swore allegiance to King Sigismund I of Poland (who, before becoming king of Poland, had already become and remained governor of Silesia). While allocating a plot of land to a peasant April 23rd 1517 he wrote this line: "actum dias St Adalberti, Pater Patroni et Apostoli" (given on the day of St Adalbert, patron of the Motherland and apostle). St Adalbert of Prague (Wojciech) is a patron of Poland. On the other hand St Adalbert is the Patron of Prussia, Bohemia & Hungary too and a missionary to Prussia. Events April 11 - Battle of Ravenna. ... Frombork is a town in northern Poland, situated on Vistula Bay in the Warmia i Mazury voivodship with a population of 2700 (in 2000). ... Reign From December 8, 1506 until April 1, 1548 Coronation On January 24, 1507 in the Wawel Cathedral, Kraków, Poland Royal House Jagiellon Parents Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk Elżbieta Rakuszanka Consorts Katarzyna Telniczanka Barbara Zapolya Bona Sforza Children with Katarzyna Telniczanka Jan Regina Katarzyna with Barbara Zapolya Jadwiga Anna with Bona... April 23 is the 113th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (114th in leap years). ... Events January 22 - Battle of Ridanieh. ... Adalbert (Czech:   VojtÄ›ch?, Polish: Wojciech, Germanic equivalent Adalbert - the joy of warrior) (c. ... The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 The word Prussia (German: Preußen, Polish: Prusy, Lithuanian: PrÅ«sai, Latin: Borussia) has had various (often contradictory) meanings: The land of the Baltic Prussians (in what is now parts of southern Lithuania, the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia and... Bohemia This article is about the historical region in central Europe; for other uses, see Bohemia (disambiguation). ...


Also, in 1520, after the outbreak of war between Poland and the Teutonic Knights, Copernicus was a member of Sigismund's embassy to the Grand Master requesting restoration of Braniewo (German: Braunsberg). While these acts might be interpreted as mere formalities or acts of political pragmatism, it must be noted that he also actively organized the defence of Olsztyn (Allenstein) in Royal Prussia's Warmia, against the Teutonic Order. It must also be noted that there was a civil war going on in Teutonic Prussia, where some cities were for the Catholic government of the Teutonic Knights and others were against it and wanted to become Protestant. Copernicus and his uncle Watzenrode remained Catholic. mary elline m. ... Braniewo (German: Braunsberg) is a city in northeastern Poland, in Warmia-Mazury voivodship, with a population of 17,800 (2000). ... Motto: none Voivodship Warmia i Mazury Municipal government Rada Miasta Olsztyn Mayor CzesÅ‚aw Jerzy MaÅ‚kowski Area 87,89 km² Population  - city  - urban  - density 173 850 - 1972/km² Founded City rights - -31. ... Map of Royal Prussia Royal Prussia (Polish: Prusy Królewskie, German: Königliches Preussen) was a Polish province formed from the western part of the Lands of the Teutonic Order following the Thirteen Years War or War of the Cities. During the war, the Prussian Confederation, led by the cities... Teutonic Knights, charging into battle. ...


Those who consider Copernicus a German point out that his grandmother and mother were German inhabitants of Toruń, as was his uncle Watzenrode. They also claim that many Germans came to Toruń from Silesia to live and/or work, and that the town itself had been German for more than two centuries and only came under Polish suzerainty shortly before the family arrived.


Moreover, they point out that, when in Bologna, just like his uncle, he joined the German school especially established by the Vatican to educate German clergy, the "...Natio Germanorum". However, it should also be pointed out that, at that time, there was in fact no country called Germany. Instead there was the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation. Another fact is that "natio" was a student corporation, not a declaration of nationality. In most universities there were Italian, German etc "natio"s and most of Polish students were joining the German "nation". The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (German: Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation ▶(?), Latin Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicae, see names and designations of the empire) was a political conglomeration of lands in Central Europe in the Middle Ages and the early modern period. ...


The Copernicus manuscript book states : [...] Nicolaus Copernicus Canon [in] Warmia, in Prussia Germaniae mathematician...(Nicolai Copernick Canonici Varmiensis, in Borussia Germaniae mathematici)


There are no extant letters written by Copernicus in Polish - those which have survived are all in Latin or German. However, Latin was at the time the international language of scholars and those letters in German might have been addressed to German-speakers and therefore for this specific purpose written in that language. The official languages of the Holy Roman Empire were Latin and German. (The Spanish Habsburg emperor(s) had to sign an agreement, to only use Latin or German in official HRE business.) Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy; also used as the flag of the Austrian Empire until the Ausgleich of 1867. ...


The surviving letters in German were correspondence with Prussian duke Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach, with whom Copernicus coordinated the Prussian coin reform and other internal Prussian government business. Albert (May 16, 1490 - March 20, 1568), (Albertus in Latin, Albrecht in German) Grand Master of the Teutonic Order and first duke of Ducal Prussia, was the third son of Frederick of Hohenzollern, prince of Ansbach and Bayreuth, and Sophia, daughter of Casimir IV Jagiello grand duke of Lithuania and... See Ansbach, Austria for the Austrian town of the same name. ...


One can say summarizing, that Copernicus' working language was Latin, his mother tongue was German, his sovereign was Polish. He is undisputedly a Central-European.


The Second Debate

While the determination of Copernicus' nationality is clearly of great importance to some, others hold that the above debate is at best anachronistic, the attempts by much later generations to impose a modern nationality upon a man whose life belonged to the Late Middle Ages, when the modern geopolitical entities "Germany" and "Poland" did not even exist, and whose contributions to scientific progress should not be overshadowed by the needs of ethnic nationalists. Ethnic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives political legitimacy from historical cultural or hereditary groupings (ethnicities); the underlying assumption is that ethnicities should be politically distinct. ...


Difference between Prussian German and native Baltic Prussian

Germany did not offically exist at the time, there was peoples of the Holy Roman Empire who believed themselves to be of German ethnic background. Also the Austrian Empire had peoples who defined themselves as German. From what I have read on Wikipedia.org, Copernicus was either ethnic Polish or Prussian-Baltic. There needs to be more discussion of being ethnic Polish on former occupied terrorities of Prussia terrorities and of the Baltic native Prussians. Since, under the wikipedia article on Prussia, it seems that the native Non-German Prussian spoke a language that was not German but a Baltic language related to Lithuanian and Latvian. "The name Prussia derives from the Prussians, a Baltic people related to the Lithuanians." Informationguy The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (German: Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation ▶(?), Latin Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicae, see names and designations of the empire) was a political conglomeration of lands in Central Europe in the Middle Ages and the early modern period. ... The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 The word Prussia (German: Preußen, Polish: Prusy, Lithuanian: Prūsai, Latin: Borussia) has had various (often contradictory) meanings: The land of the Baltic Prussians (in what is now parts of southern Lithuania, the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia and... Baltic can refer to: The Baltic Sea Council of the Baltic Sea States - an intergovernmental organization Baltic sea countries - countries with access to the Baltic Sea The Baltic region (Balticum) Baltic States - the independent countries of Estonia Latvia Lithuania Baltic Republics - term refers to the three Baltic states under the... Baltic can refer to: The Baltic Sea Council of the Baltic Sea States - an intergovernmental organization Baltic sea countries - countries with access to the Baltic Sea The Baltic region (Balticum) Baltic States - the independent countries of Estonia Latvia Lithuania Baltic Republics - term refers to the three Baltic states under the... The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 The word Prussia (German: Preußen, Polish: Prusy, Lithuanian: Prūsai, Latin: Borussia) has had various (often contradictory) meanings: The land of the Baltic Prussians (in what is now parts of southern Lithuania, the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia and... Baltic can refer to: The Baltic Sea Council of the Baltic Sea States - an intergovernmental organization Baltic sea countries - countries with access to the Baltic Sea The Baltic region (Balticum) Baltic States - the independent countries of Estonia Latvia Lithuania Baltic Republics - term refers to the three Baltic states under the...


Surroundings of Copernicus, the peoples in Prussia, birth name

Firstly, Mikołaj Kopernik, was his surname, not Koppernigk.


Poland existed long before Copernicus was born, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poland. There were many separate German states, Germans living in the Holy Roman Empire and Austrian Empire, there was no unified Germany, but there was the Kingdom of Poland. It should also be noted that Copernicus did speak several languages and terrorities that formely belonged to Poland were passed to Prussia. And do not forget the native Non-German Baltic Prussians. There are the Baltic Prussians, Polish Prussians, German Prussian, Polonized Baltic Prussians, Germanized Baltic Prussians. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (German: Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation ▶(?), Latin Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicae, see names and designations of the empire) was a political conglomeration of lands in Central Europe in the Middle Ages and the early modern period. ... Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire until 1867 and of the Austrian part of Austria-Hungary until 1918. ... The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 The word Prussia (German: Preußen, Polish: Prusy, Lithuanian: Prūsai, Latin: Borussia) has had various (often contradictory) meanings: The land of the Baltic Prussians (in what is now parts of southern Lithuania, the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia and... Baltic can refer to: The Baltic Sea Council of the Baltic Sea States - an intergovernmental organization Baltic sea countries - countries with access to the Baltic Sea The Baltic region (Balticum) Baltic States - the independent countries of Estonia Latvia Lithuania Baltic Republics - term refers to the three Baltic states under the... The Prussian people, or (old) Prussians, were Indo-European Balts inhabiting the area around the Curonian and Vistula Lagoons (i. ... Baltic can refer to: The Baltic Sea Council of the Baltic Sea States - an intergovernmental organization Baltic sea countries - countries with access to the Baltic Sea The Baltic region (Balticum) Baltic States - the independent countries of Estonia Latvia Lithuania Baltic Republics - term refers to the three Baltic states under the... The Prussian people, or (old) Prussians, were Indo-European Balts inhabiting the area around the Curonian and Vistula Lagoons (i. ...


And just because Kopernik may have signed his name Kopperlingk, does not constitute his mother tongue as German, where is the evidence for this? I can also say that his mother tongue was Polish.


Prussia was part of Poland then and had Balts, Poles and other various groups of people living there, Not only Germans!Informationguy The Baltic Sea The Balts or Baltic peoples (Latvian: balti, Lithuanian: baltai), defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between lower Vistula and upper Dvina and Dneper. ...


Prussia was n o t a part of Poland then- That assumption is nonesense (unfortunately widely perpetuated in Wikipedia, but historically nonefactual). Prussia was first ruled by the Teutonic Knights (under emperor and pope), then by dukes (Herzog, Dux), some of the Dukes of Prussia were also Electors (Kurfuersten) of the HRE Holy Roman Empire as well, others happened to be Dukes of Lithuania , others Kings of Poland and other countries. Prussia was however always with selfgovernment, the governing persons had to be natives of Prussia ( not of Poland). Prussia was n o t a part of Poland.


That's true though, that a variety of different ethnic people from different European countries found refuge in Prussia, due to the fact, that Prussia was the first country to become and to remain (mostly) Protestant.


Prus


Are you aware of the two Prussia's of the time: Royal Prussia (an integral part of Poland) and Ducal Prussia (a Polish fief)? You also seem to be under influence of some stereotypes popular during time before Poland regained independence. I recommend a great book : The Other Prussia by Karin Friedrich. Sincerely Space Cadet 17:38, 29 December 2005 (UTC) Map of Royal Prussia Royal Prussia (Polish: Prusy Królewskie, German: Königliches Preussen) was a Polish province formed from the western part of the Lands of the Teutonic Order following the Thirteen Years War or War of the Cities. During the war, the Prussian Confederation, led by the cities... Ethnic map Ducal Prussia was, between 1525–1657, a fief of Poland. ...


Actually Prussia at that time was under three different types of governing bodies, the ducal part, the royal part and the prince-bishopric part (Wermeland, Ermeland, Warmia). All three parts had o n e official name, Prussia, all three parts were officially reunited under one government under the kings of Prussia and none were an integral part of Poland.


Prus


Can you provide sources other than XIX century Prussian historians, like I did? Space Cadet 18:04, 29 December 2005 (UTC)


Please sign your posts

Could you please sign your posts?


Informationguy


  Results from FactBites:
 
Niclaus Copernicus (1986 words)
Copernicus studied mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, and astrology at the University of Cracow, and he studied law and medicine at the Universities of Bologna and Padua.
After the death of his uncle, in 1512, Copernicus went to Frauenburg for the election of the new bishop, and remained there until 1516, when he was nominated administrator of the diocesan castle of Allenstein.
Three years later Copernicus was urged by Cardinal Schonberg, then Archbishop of Capua, in a letter, dated at Rome, 1 November, 1536, to publish his discovery, or at least to have a copy made at the cardinal's expense.
Nicolaus Copernicus - Academic Kids (3712 words)
Copernicus was born in 1473 in the city of Toruń in Poland.
Monument to Copernicus by Collegium Novum of Jagiellonian University in Krakow
Copernicus' lived in early 16th century Prussia and Poland, and was influenced by the cultural, religious, and social contexts of life at the time.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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