To start with: was Copernicus a German?
Mikołaj Kopernik Sr. was registered as copper wholesaler in Kraków for the trade with Gdańsk. He befriended the first Cardinal to have been born in Poland, Bishop Zbigniew Oleśnicki (1389-1455), who as primate of Poland acted also as chancellor and chief of diplomacy. Oleśnicki nominated Mikołaj Kopernik Sr. to be the envoy of Poland for negotiations with the Prussian estates for the unification of Prussia with Poland. For this purpose Mikołaj Kopernik Sr. moved from Kraków to Toruń in 1458, where fourteen years later was born Mikołaj Kopernik Jr. the father of modern astronomy.
It is worth mentioning that in 1525 the Polish parliament, known as the Seym, accepted the secularization of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Order, committing a political blunder by not evicting from Prussia the remnants of the Teutonic Order. The year of 1525 started one hundred and sixteen years long series of homages to Poland (1525-1641) paid out of the Polish fief of Prussia by the Hohenzollerns, who delivered their payment kneeling before the Polish throne (among the homage payers were ancestors of the future emperors of Germany in 1871-1918). Thus, Albrecht von Hohenzollern (1490-1568) paid the first act of homage to Poland in the market of Kraków and recognized the suzerainty of the Polish king over Prussia; it was the first pact in Europe, torn by religious conflicts, between a Catholic king and a Protestant vassal duke.
Copernican revolution: Mikołaj Kopernik Jr. was among the Polish native leaders of that period. Known as Nicolas Copernicus (1472-1543), in Polish Miko³aj Kopernik (mee-ko-wahy ko-per-ñeek), he was the father of modern astronomy. His alma mater, the University of Kraków, Poland, had an excellent college of astronomy, then the best in Europe. 44% of its students were foreigners. At that time Poland was the most tolerant and free country on the European continent. There, Copernicus discovered the structure of the solar system. Nicolaus Copernicus conceived his heliocentric astronomical theory about 1504. The Copernican calendar was proven to be accurate within two minutes of the correct year’s length – an amazing accuracy considering the condition of European science in early 16th century. [Wojciech of Brudzewo (1445-1497), Copernicus’ professor of astronomy at the University of Kraków was the first to question Earth’s central location in the solar system.]
Copernican heliocentric theory was circulated in his Commentariolus in 1510 and published in 1543 in De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium stating that earth rotates daily on its axis and that planets revolve in orbits around the sun. [In 1613, seventy years later, Galileo (1564-1642) repeated and confirmed the Copernican theory.]
Copernicus ordered the world’s first epidemiological survey and initiated the buttering of bread. During the German siege of the Mazurian fortress of Olsztyn (1519-1521), while serving as a commanding officer, Copernicus successfully combated an epidemic by designing he world’s first epidemiological study which found that bread was the vector. He ordered that all loaves of bread be coated with butter at bakeries so that foreign matter, accumulated during delivery, could be readily detected and discarded. The plague was checked. This event is known in the history of medicine as the inception of bread-buttering by Nicolas Copernicus.
It might surprise Otward Mueller that in 1523 there were very favorable opinions about Poland. In 1523 Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), great Catholic theologian, impressed by Polish achievements wrote about Poland: “I congratulate this nation … which now, in sciences, jurisprudence, morals, and religion, and in all that separates us from barbarism, is so flourishing that it can rival the first and most glorious of nations.” That occured even before the publication of the basic work on astronomy: De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium
In 1543 Nicolaus Copernicus (Mikołaj Kopernik 1473-1543) published his astronomical theory in De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium. It was approved by the Catholic Church, while Luther and Calvin condemned the Copernican theory. The Catholic Church encouraged the publication of the Copernican Theory of Astronomy in 1536 after studying it since 1533, however, eighty six years later the Church placed Copernican works on the index of forbidden books in (1616-1828), while making an uninterrupted use of the Copernican calender. Copernicus moved the leadership of philosophical thought of the western civilization from the Mediterranean basin into the northern middle ground of Europe. The philosophical implications of the great Copernican discoveries were fundamental. The idea that the Earth is a stationary and flat central area in the universe, on which the human drama of personal salvation goes on without privacy under the eyes of God and his angels, was shaken irreparably. Eventually it became apparent that life on earth is a thin surface-effect on a minor celestial body traveling through cosmic space at a high speed.
The age-old human yearning for safety and stability was destroyed by the realization that the Earth is not immovable or the largest celestial body, central in the cosmos. The Copernican universe brought home, as no other idea in the history of the human thought, the frightening realization that all existence is in a permanent flux of ever-changing and ever-becoming
Copernican Monetary Reform of 1526: the złoty as the basic unit of currency and the fundamental Copernican Law of Currency: “Bad money chases good money out of circulation”
Copernicus, a true Renaissance man, served in many capacities. He was an administrator of Warmia on the Baltic in northern Poland, a military commander, and a finance minister; he was a trained astronomer, mathematician, economist, lawyer, and medical doctor. Copernicus published in 1526 the Monetae Cudende Ratio on monetary reform and stabilization of currency. There he stated the law of currency that “the bad money drives the good money out of circulation.” At that time Thomas Gresham (1519-1579) was seven years old. Copernicus was then combating fraudulent schemes by the German House of Hohenzollerns, who were minting debased Polish currency, and tampering with the Vistula River grain trade. Copernicus was acting as Poland’s finance minister and served on the legislative committee for the reform of Polish currency, The Copernican Act of Monetary Reform in Poland (1526)
introduced a system based on the Polish unit złoty (zwo-ti) meaning golden coin; red złoty or dukat equaled 3.5 grams of gold. The Polish monetary system was adopted in Prussia in 1528 and in Lithuania in 1569 (at the time of the founding of the Noble Republic of Poland-Lithuania at the Seym of Lublin).