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Copernicus-art - 11/10/09


"Copernicus: Scientific and Planetary Revolutions" by Lord James Northfolke. Nominated Best Article, William Blackfox Award, AS 43.


NOTE: See also the files: Charlemagne-art, Margery-Kemp-msg, cl-Italy-msg, Italy-lnks, Italy-msg, Art-of-Arith-art, Med-Math-Sci-bib.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



This article was first published in the February 2008 issue of "Quoth the Raven", the newsletter of the Barony of Raven's Fort, Ansteorra.


Copernicus: Scientific and Planetary Revolutions

by Lord James Northfolke

Nominated Best Article, William Blackfox Award, AS 43


Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik) was born 19 February 1473 in the town of Torun, Poland which lies along the Vistula River. He was raised by his mother's brother after his merchant father died while Nicolaus was still young. His uncle enabled him to attend several universities for study, notably The Jagiellonian University in Krakow which was well known in mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy (see Jadwiga, Queen, King of Poland, November Quoth). His studies included liberal arts and medicine, ending at the University of Ferrara where he earned his doctorate in canon law. His true interest lie in science and mathematics, primarily astronomy. For 30 years Copernicus studied his stellar observations and calculations in Italy. His work, The Revolution of the Celestial Sphere was completed in 1530, but not published until 1543; the year of his death. His revolutionary hypothesis was that the earth and planets revolved around the sun, which was the center of the universe. The Church had maintained that the earth was the center of the universe. Out of fear of ridicule and the Long Arm of the Church, Copernicus prefaced the work with an apologetic dedication to Pope Paul III. Of course, this was not a new idea as Aristarchus of Samos had suggested this heliocentric cosmology centuries (3rd-century BC) before Copernicus. But was this heresy?


In his "Venice's Hidden Enemies: Italian Heretics in a Renaissance City" (used here as a descriptive model), John Martin suggests that the issue of heresy at this time must be approached with a sense of the dialectic between cultural (i.e., religion conceived as a cultural system) and social history. That is, religion being not only a reflection of society but also as a model for society. For him this point is essential. While we in the 21st-century are more likely to separate religious and social issues, cities of the Renaissance did not, as religion was a public and civic affair.


Martin also states that, as with politics, in religion class appears to have been the decisive factor in shaping the interpretation of tradition. Evangelical ideals attracted a broad cross section of the Venetian population: patricians and popolani, rich and poor, clerical and lay. However, the social and political experiences of their new adherents often transformed the original message. During the 1530s and 1540s, under influences of the Protestant reformers, a more dogmatic and civic evangelism emerged. Though certain men who were "sympathetic" to the individualistic ideals of reform did not hesitate to cooperate with Rome in the persecution of heresy and even assisted in the reorganization of the Venetian tribunal of the Roman Inquisition (1547). The interesting aspect of this Inquisition was the fact that condemned heretics were not executed in public display, such as other "criminals". Contrarily, it was to be carried out in secret at night, by drowning. Martin asserts that Venice had devised this different means of execution partly because of the ruling group's desire to protect its reputation for tolerance and openness with the Protestant nations with whom it traded. The ruling group, that is, understood the diplomatic value of the fiction of toleration.


How did Copernicus fit into this? Even Protestant Reformer Martin Luther suggested that, "there is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth."


It has been told that Copernicus received the first copy of his Revolution on the day he died; 24 May 1543.


Jensen, De Lamar. "Reformation Europe: Age of Reform and Revolution". Lexington: DC Heath, 1992.


Martin, John. "Venice's Hidden Enemies: Italian Heretics in a Renaissance City". Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.


Copyright 2008 by James Van Roekel, 209 Royal Oaks Street, Huntsville, TX  77320. <jamesnorthfolke at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


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Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org