Szkoła Podstawowa nr 34
w Katowicach im. Mikołaja Kopernika

Nicholas (Nicolaus; Mikołaj) Copernicus was born as a fourth child into a family of Mikołaj and Barbara Kopernik on 19th February 1473. He spent his early childhood in his family home. Carefree years were over for him when his father died in 1483. The orphaned family turned to Łukasz Watzenrode, the mother’s brother, for help. Uncle Łukasz, as their closest relative, took care of them. Andrzej and young Nicholas took up studying. The unc le most probably sent them to school in Chełmno,where they studied arithmetics, music and Latin. Having graduated from the Chełmno school in 1491, both brothers went to Cracow and signed up for the Academy of Cracow. Nicholas spent four years studying there. In 1495 he returned to his uncle’s house for a short time, after which he and his brother went to Bologna, known in those days as the “mother of studying” thanks to its famous university. Obeying his uncle, Nicholas started studying law, which he wasn’t really interested in. His main interest was astronomy and he devoted all his free time to it. Because of that, his legal studies progressed very slowly, especially that the Copernicus brothers in the meantime made a trip to Rome and later Nicholas decided to take up medicine. Medical studies lasted for three years and in the years that followed he studied both medicine and law, this time in Padova, still devoting as much time as possible to his beloved astronomy and trying to find out the truth about the Universe. In 1503 he got a Doctor’s Degree in Law at the University of Ferrara, after which he continued his education at the Padova University. Having finished, he came back to Poland. In 1507, owing to uncle Nicholas’s protection, Copernicus was made a canon of the cathedral chapter and his main duty was taking care of the bishop’s health. This resulted in his moving to Lidzbark, the bishop’s seat, as his doctor and secretary. In 1512 bishop Watzenrode died. The new bishop did not employ Copernicus any more, so he moved to Frombork. He lived in the north-western tower of the cathedral walls. Here he made his apartment and his study. He spent there the most creative years of his life. We are not entirely sure when exactly he started working on his major work, “De revolutionibus”, but it probably happened around the year 1515. We do not know the details of the work on it as well, as the astronomer from Frombork was a very secretive scientist, only allowing his closest friends, like Tidemann Gize, witness it. In 1520 Copernicus prepared the city of Olsztyn for defence against the forces of Albrecht Hohenzollern. He is also the author of the monetary reform. In 1530 he devised the new, fair, prices of bread. In 1542 Nicholas got very ill. Despite all the care he received from his friends, in 1543 he died, at the age of 70. He was buried in the Frombork cathedral near the altar. At that time also his great work, “De revolutionibus” was published in print.

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