Nicolaus Copernicus visits in today’s Pomorskie Voivodeship (part 1)

Nicolaus Copernicus business trips in today's Pomorskie Voivodeship led to Gdansk, Malbork, Sztum and Kwidzyn. In the article, we will focus on journeys that are confirmed in the Gdansk and Torun records and in state records.

Nicolaus Copernicus in Malbork, photo: visit Malbork

Nicolaus Copernicus in Malbork, photo: visit Malbork

Royal Prussia

The Province of the Polish Crown created from the lands of the State of the Teutonic Order in Prussia under the Second Peace signed in Torun (1466). It included the former Gdansk Pomerania, with Gdansk at the mouth of the Vistula, the Chelmno Land with Torun, the right-bank Powisle with Malbork and Elblag, and Warmia.

However, this area had autonomy and separate privileges. It was divided into three provinces: Pomorskie, Chelmno and Malbork. The authority at that time was the Prussian Council, which was composed of senior clergymen headed by the Bishop of Warmia. The chairman of the Prussian Council was always the Bishop of Warmia.

After returning from his studies in Italy, Nicolaus Copernicus learned the art of diplomacy at the side of his uncle Lukasz Watzenrode, Bishop of Warmia. The bishop’s nephew participated in the congresses of the states of Royal Prussia, it was a kind of parliament, attended by representatives of the middle nobility, chapters, monasteries and smaller towns.

The Council met for conventions several times a year, usually in Elblag, Malbork or Grudziadz, and decisions were made on trade, taxes, defence of Prussian privileges, crafts and monetary system, and court issues. Often Nicholas was not treated as an official person in the bishop’s world. He was an assistant to the bishop. Hence, we learn about it by accident, mainly when the internal affairs of the Warmia church were dealt during the official visits of the bishop.

Mikołaj Kopernik i jego pasje

Malbork Castle, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Malbork Castle, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Malbork Castle, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Malbork Castle, photo: Pomorskie Travel/M.Ochocki

Copernicus in Malbork

1. From January 1 to 4, 1504, Lukasz Watzenrode, bishop of Warmia, doctor Jan Sculteti, archdeacon, and Nicolaus Copernicus, canon in Frombork, participated in the Congress of Royal Prussia in Malbork. The purpose of the meeting was to elect deputies to the Sejm in Piotrkow (January 21, 1504) in order to swear an oath of allegiance to King Aleksander Jagiellonczyk on behalf of Prussia.

2. 12—18 May 1504, the royal procession, probably accompanied by Lukasz Watzenrode, Bishop of Warmia, and Nicolaus Copernicus, on their way from Torun to Gdansk via Malbork and Elblag.

Watzenrode left Torun on April 12, the same day as the king (Registers). The king spent the night on May 12/13 in Chelmza, on May 13/14 in Kwidzyn, on May 14 he arrived in Malbork, where he was still on May 17.

3. 11—21 June 1504, Lukasz Watzenrode, Bishop of Warmia, at the congress of the Council of Royal Prussia with Aleksander Jagiellonczyk in Malbork.

4. 29 IX – З X 1504, Lukasz Watzenrode, Bishop of Warmia, at the Congress of the Estates of Royal Prussia in Malbork. 5. Confirmed presence of Copernicus on September 7 and 12, 1506 at the Congress of States with the participation of King Alexander’s commissioners in Malbork. (disputes regarding Szkarpawa issues were resolved, hence all witnesses present there were mentioned)

During Watzenrode’s stay at the Sejm in Radom, he received the Szkarpawa district from the king. The inhabitants of Gdansk, however, refused to give the bishop this district until he would repay the debt that Szkarpawa was burdened with.

In order to settle the dispute, the king delegated commissioners led by the Archbishop of Gniezno, Jan Laski. Interested parties came to this congress in Malbork. When the archbishop demanded proof that Szkarpawa had been released into fief, a relevant document was read out in the presence of the above-mentioned representatives of the Bishop of Warmia.

At Laski’s request, the German text of the document was translated into Latin, Watzenrode’s translator was Nicolaus Copernicus, and Gdansk’s one was Eberhard Ferber (the later bishop’s nephew)

6. Present at three assemblies in Malbork (May 1528, February 1529, November 1530).

The presence of Copernicus is recorded expressis verbis, for sure only at two sejm meetings – in May 1528 and in November 1530. At the sejm on St. Stanislaw and 1528. Copernicus was a member of a special minting commission, so his name had to be mentioned, and at the sejm meeting in November 1530, together with Aleksander Sculteti, he replaced the indisposed bishop Ferber, so also in this case the Gdansk scribe who wrote down the minutes could not omit his name.

Copernicus, as a member of the Warmia chapter, took part in the session of the General Assembly of Royal Prussia after May 9, 1528 in Malbork, where the deputies of the Prussian prince Albrecht also appeared. On May 14, he was elected a member of a special working commission selected by those gathered from among the representatives of Royal and Ducal Prussia; there were also coin makers from Gdansk and Elblag among them. The commission discussed in particular the method of removing the old coins and the form and size of the new Prussian “groszy”, the introduction of which was ordered by the royal decree.

Nicolaus Copernicus visits in today’s Pomorskie Voivodeship (part 2)

Nicolaus Copernicus and his passions



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