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De revolutionibus itself was divided into six sections or parts, called "books":[112

Copernicus' Commentariolus summarized his heliocentric theory. It listed the "assumptions" upon which the theory was based, as follows:[109]

1. There is no one center of all the celestial circles[110] or spheres.[111]
2. The center of the earth is not the center of the universe, but only the center towards which heavy bodies move and the center of the lunar sphere.
3. All the spheres surround the sun as if it were in the middle of them all, and therefore the center of the universe is near the sun.
4. The ratio of the earth's distance from the sun to the height of the firmament (outermost celestial sphere containing the stars) is so much smaller than the ratio of the earth's radius to its distance from the sun that the distance from the earth to the sun is imperceptible in comparison with the height of the firmament.
5. Whatever motion appears in the firmament arises not from any motion of the firmament, but from the earth's motion. The earth together with its circumjacent elements performs a complete rotation on its fixed poles in a daily motion, while the firmament and highest heaven abide unchanged.
6. What appear to us as motions of the sun arise not from its motion but from the motion of the earth and our sphere, with which we revolve about the sun like any other planet. The earth has, then, more than one motion.

7. The app

7. The apparent retrograde and direct motion of the planets arises not from their motion but from the earth's. The motion of the earth alone, therefore, suffices to explain so many apparent inequalities in the heavens.

De revolutionibus itself was divided into six sections or parts, called "books":[112]

  1. Gener

    Georg Joachim Rheticus could have been Copernicus's successor, but did not rise to the occasion.[66] Erasmus Reinhold could have been his successor, but died prematurely.[66] The first of the great successors was Tycho Brahe[66] (though he did not think the Earth orbited the Sun), followed by Johannes Kepler,[66] who had collaborated with Tycho in Prague and benefited from Tycho's decades' worth of detailed observational data.[113]

    Despite the near universal acceptance later of the heliocentric idea (though not the epicycles or the circular orbits), Copernicus's theory was originally slow to catch on. Scholars hold that sixty years after the publication of The Revolutions there were only around 15 astronomers espousing Copernicanism in all of Europe: "Thomas Digges and Thomas Harriot in England; Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei in Italy; Diego Zuniga in Spain; Simon Stevin in the Low Countries; and in Germany, the largest group—Georg Joachim Rheticus, Michael Maestlin, Christoph Rothmann (who may have later recanted),[114] and Johannes Kepler."[114] Additional possibilities are Englishman William Gilbert, along with Achilles Gasser, Georg Vogelin, Valentin Otto, and Thomas Digges and Thomas Harriot in England; Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei in Italy; Diego Zuniga in Spain; Simon Stevin in the Low Countries; and in Germany, the largest group—Georg Joachim Rheticus, Michael Maestlin, Christoph Rothmann (who may have later recanted),[114] and Johannes Kepler."[114] Additional possibilities are Englishman William Gilbert, along with Achilles Gasser, Georg Vogelin, Valentin Otto, and Tiedemann Giese.[114]

    Arthur Koestler, in his popular book The Sleepwalkers, asserted that Copernicus's book had not been widely read on its first publication.[115] This claim was trenchantly criticised by Edward Rosen,[y] and has been decisively disproved by Owen Gingerich, who examined nearly every surviving copy of the first two editions and found copious marginal notes by their owners throughout many of them. Gingerich published his conclusions in 2004 in The Book Nobody Read.[116]

    The intellectual climate of the time "remained dominated by Aristotelian philosophy and the corresponding Ptolemaic astronomy. At that time there was no reason to accept the Copernican theory, except for its mathematical simplicity [by avoiding using the equant in determining planetary positions]."[117] Tycho Brahe's system ("that the earth is stationary, the sun revolves about the earth, and the other planets revolve about the sun")[117] also directly competed with Copernicus's. It was only a half century later with the work of Kepler and Galileo that any substantial evidence defending Copernicanism appeared, starting "from the time when Galileo formulated the principle of inertia...[which] helped to explain why everything would not fall off the earth if it were in motion."[117] "[Not until] after Isaac Newton formulated the universal law of gravitation and the laws of mechanics [in his 1687 Principia], which unified terrestrial and celestial mechanics, was the heliocentric view generally accepted."[117]

    The immediate result of the 1543 publication of Copernicus's book was only mild controversy. At the Council of Trent (1545–63) neither Copernicus's theory nor calendar reform (which would later use tables deduced from Copernicus's calculations) were discussed.[118] It has been much debated why it was not until six decades after the publication of De revolutionibus that the Catholic Church took any official action against it, even the efforts of Tolosani going unheeded. Catholic side opposition only commenced seventy-three years later, when it was occasioned by Galileo.[119]

    Tolosani

    The first notable to move against Copernicanism was the Magister of the Holy Palace (i.e., the Catholic Church's chief censor), Dominican Bartolomeo Spina, who "expressed a desire to stamp out the Copernican doctrine".[120] But with Spina's death in 1546, his cause fell to his friend, the well known theologian-astronomer, the Dominican Giovanni Maria Tolosani of the Convent of St. Mark in Florence. Tolosani had written a treatise on reforming the calendar (in which astronomy would play a large role) and had attended the Fifth Lateran Council (1512–1517) to discuss the matter. He had obtained a copy of De Revolutionibus in 1544. His denunciation of Copernicanism was written a year later, in 1545, in an append

    The first notable to move against Copernicanism was the Magister of the Holy Palace (i.e., the Catholic Church's chief censor), Dominican Bartolomeo Spina, who "expressed a desire to stamp out the Copernican doctrine".[120] But with Spina's death in 1546, his cause fell to his friend, the well known theologian-astronomer, the Dominican Giovanni Maria Tolosani of the Convent of St. Mark in Florence. Tolosani had written a treatise on reforming the calendar (in which astronomy would play a large role) and had attended the Fifth Lateran Council (1512–1517) to discuss the matter. He had obtained a copy of De Revolutionibus in 1544. His denunciation of Copernicanism was written a year later, in 1545, in an appendix to his unpublished work, On the Truth of Sacred Scripture.[121]

    Emulating the rationalistic style of Thomas Aquinas, Tolosani sought to refute Copernicanism by philosophical argument. Copernicanism was absurd, according to Tolosani, because it was scientifically unproven and unfounded. First, Copernicus had assumed the motion of the Earth but offered no physical theory whereby one would deduce this motion. (No one realized that the investigation into Copernicanism would result in a rethinking of the entire field of physics.) Second, Tolosani charged that Copernicus's thought process was backwards. He held that Copernicus had come up with his idea and then sought phenomena that would support it, rather than observing phenomena and deducing from them the idea of what caused them. In this, Tolosani was linking Copernicus's mathematical equations with the practices of the Pythagoreans (whom Aristotle had made arguments against, which were later picked up by Thomas Aquinas). It was argued that mathematical numbers were a mere product of the intellect without any physical reality, and as such could not provide physical causes in the investigation of nature.[122]

    Some astronomical hypotheses at the time (such as epicycles and eccentrics) were seen as mere mathematical devices to adjust calculations of where the heavenly bodies would appear, rather than an explanation of the cause of those motions. (As Copernicus still maintained the idea of perfectly spherical orbits, he relied on epicycles.) This "saving the phenomena" was seen as proof that astronomy and mathematics could not be taken as serious means to determine physical causes. Tolosani invoked this view in his final critique of Copernicus, saying that his biggest error was that he had started with "inferior" fields of science to make pronouncements about "superior" fields. Copernicus had used mathematics and astronomy to postulate about physics and cosmology, rather than beginning with the accepted principles of physics and cosmology to determine things about astronomy and mathematics. Thus Copernicus seemed to be undermining the whole system of the philosophy of science at the time. Tolosani held that Copernicus had fallen into philosophical error because he had not been versed in physics and logic; anyone without such knowledge would make a poor astronomer and be unable to distinguish truth from falsehood. Because Copernicanism had not met the criteria for scientific truth set out by Thomas Aquinas, Tolosani held that it could only be viewed as a wild unproven theory.[123][124]

    Tolosani recognized that the Ad Lectorem preface to Copernicus's book was not actually by him. Its thesis that astronomy as a whole would never be able to make truth claims was rejected by Tolosani (though he still held that Copernicus's attempt to describe physical reality had been faulty); he found it ridiculous that Ad Lectorem had been included in the book (unaware that Copernicus had not authorized its inclusion). Tolosani wrote: "By means of these words [of the Ad Lectorem], the foolishness of this book's author is rebuked. For by a foolish effort he [Copernicus] tried to revive the weak Pythagorean opinion [that the element of fire was at the center of the Universe], long ago deservedly destroyed, since it is expressly contrary to human reason and also opposes holy writ. From this situation, there could easily arise disagreements between Catholic expositors of holy scripture and those who might wish to adhere obstinately to this false opinion."[125] Tolosani declared: "Nicolaus Copernicus neither read nor understood the arguments of Aristotle the philosopher and Ptolemy the astronomer."[121] Tolosani wrote that Copernicus "is expert indeed in the sciences of mathematics and astronomy, but he is very deficient in the sciences of physics and logic. Moreover, it appears that he is unskilled with regard to [the interpretation of] holy scripture, since he contradicts several of its principles, not without danger of infidelity to himself and the readers of his book. ...his arguments have no force and can very easily be taken apart. For it is stupid to contradict an opinion accepted by everyone over a very long time for the strongest reasons, unless the impugner uses more powerful and insoluble demonstrations and completely dissolves the opposed reasons. But he does not do this in the least."[125]

    Tolosani declared that he had written against Copernicus "for the purpose of preserving the truth to the common advantage of the Holy Church."[126] Despite this, his work remained unpublished and there is no evidence that it received serious consideration. Robert Westman describes it as becoming a "dormant" viewpoint with "no audience in the Catholic world" of the late sixteenth century, but also notes that there is some evidence that it did become known to Tommaso Caccini, who would criticize Galileo in a sermon in December 1613.[126]

    Theology

    Tolosani may have criticized the Copernican theory as scientifically unproven a

    Tolosani declared that he had written against Copernicus "for the purpose of preserving the truth to the common advantage of the Holy Church."[126] Despite this, his work remained unpublished and there is no evidence that it received serious consideration. Robert Westman describes it as becoming a "dormant" viewpoint with "no audience in the Catholic world" of the late sixteenth century, but also notes that there is some evidence that it did become known to Tommaso Caccini, who would criticize Galileo in a sermon in December 1613.[126]

    Tolosani may have criticized the Copernican theory as scientifically unproven and unfounded, but the theory also conflicted with the theology of the time, as can be seen in a sample of the works of John Calvin. In his Commentary on Genesis he said that "We indeed are not ignorant that the circuit of the heavens is finite, and that the earth, like a little globe, is placed in the centre."[127] In his commentary on Psalms 93:1 he states that "The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion.... How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God's hand? By what means could it maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it."[128] One sharp point of conflict between Copernicus's theory and the Bible concerned the story of the Battle of Gibeon in the Book of Joshua where the Hebrew forces were winning but whose opponents were likely to escape once night fell. This is averted by Joshua's prayers causing the Sun and the Moon to stand still. Martin Luther once made a remark about Copernicus, although without mentioning his name. According to Anthony Lauterbach, while eating with Martin Luther the topic of Copernicus arose during dinner on 4 June 1539 (in the same year as professor George Joachim Rheticus of the local University had been granted leave to visit him). Luther is said to have remarked "So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth."[117] These remarks were made four years before the publication of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres and a year before Rheticus' Narratio Prima. In John Aurifaber's account of the conversation Luther calls Copernicus "that fool" rather than "that fellow", this version is viewed by historians as less reliably sourced.[117]

    Luther's collaborator Luther's collaborator Philipp Melanchthon also took issue with Copernicanism. After receiving the first pages of Narratio Prima from Rheticus himself, Melanchthon wrote to Mithobius (physician and mathematician Burkard Mithob of Feldkirch) on 16 October 1541 condemning the theory and calling for it to be repressed by governmental force, writing "certain people believe it is a marvelous achievement to extol so crazy a thing, like that Polish astronomer who makes the earth move and the sun stand still. Really, wise governments ought to repress impudence of mind."[129] It had appeared to Rheticus that Melanchton would understand the theory and would be open to it. This was because Melanchton had taught Ptolemaic astronomy and had even recommended his friend Rheticus to an appointment to the Deanship of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at the University of Wittenberg after he had returned from studying with Copernicus.[130]

    Rheticus' hopes were dashed when six years after the publication of De Revolutionibus Melanchthon published his Initia Doctrinae Physicae presenting three grounds to reject Copernicanism. These were "the evidence of the senses, the thousand-year consensus of men of science, and the authority of the Bible".[131] Blasting the new theory Melanchthon wrote, "Out of love for novelty or in order to make a show of their cleverness, some people have argued that the earth moves. They maintain that neither the eighth sphere nor the sun moves, whereas they attribute motion to the other celestial spheres, and also place the earth among the heavenly bodies. Nor were these jokes invented recently. There is still extant Archimedes' book on The Sand Reckoner; in which he reports that Aristarchus of Samos propounded the paradox that the sun stands still and the earth revolves around the sun. Even though subtle experts institute many investigations for the sake of exercising their ingenuity, nevertheless public proclamation of absurd opinions is indecent and sets a harmful example."[129] Melanchthon went on to cite Bible passages and then declare "Encouraged by this divine evidence, let us cherish the truth and let us not permit ourselves to be alienated from it by the tricks of those who deem it an intellectual honor to introduce confusion into the arts."[129] In the first edition of Initia Doctrinae Physicae, Melanchthon even questioned Copernicus's character claiming his motivation was "either from love of novelty or from desire to appear clever", these more personal attacks were largely removed by the second edition in 1550.[131]

    Another Protestant theologian who disparaged heliocentrism on scriptural grounds was John Owen. In a passing remark in an essay on the origin of the sabbath, he characterised "the late hypothesis, fixing the sun as in the centre of the world" as being "built on fallible phenomena, and advanced by many arbitrary presumptions against evident testimonies of Scripture."[132]

    In Roman Catholic circles, German Jesuit Nicolaus Serarius was one of the first to write against Copernicus's theory as heretical, citing the Joshua passage, in a work published in 1609–1610, and again in a book in 1612.[133] In his 12 April 1615 letter to a Catholic defender of Copernicus, Paolo Antonio Foscarini, Catholic Cardinal Robert Bellarmine condemned Copernican theory, writing "...not only the Holy Fathers, but also the modern commentaries on Genesis, the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Joshua, you will find all agreeing in the literal interpretation that the sun is in heaven and turns around the earth with great speed, and that the earth is very far from heaven and sits motionless at the center of the world...Nor can one answer that this is not a matter of faith, since if it is not a matter of faith 'as regards the topic,' it is a matter of faith 'as regards the speaker': and so it wo

    In Roman Catholic circles, German Jesuit Nicolaus Serarius was one of the first to write against Copernicus's theory as heretical, citing the Joshua passage, in a work published in 1609–1610, and again in a book in 1612.[133] In his 12 April 1615 letter to a Catholic defender of Copernicus, Paolo Antonio Foscarini, Catholic Cardinal Robert Bellarmine condemned Copernican theory, writing "...not only the Holy Fathers, but also the modern commentaries on Genesis, the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Joshua, you will find all agreeing in the literal interpretation that the sun is in heaven and turns around the earth with great speed, and that the earth is very far from heaven and sits motionless at the center of the world...Nor can one answer that this is not a matter of faith, since if it is not a matter of faith 'as regards the topic,' it is a matter of faith 'as regards the speaker': and so it would be heretical to say that Abraham did not have two children and Jacob twelve, as well as to say that Christ was not born of a virgin, because both are said by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of prophets and apostles."[134]

    Perhaps the most influential opponent of the Copernican theory was Francesco Ingoli, a Catholic priest. Ingoli wrote a January 1616 essay to Galileo presenting more than twenty arguments against the Copernican theory.[135] Though "it is not certain, it is probable that he [Ingoli] was commissioned by the Inquisition to write an expert opinion on the controversy",[136] (after the Congregation of the Index's decree against Copernicanism on 5 March 1616, Ingoli was officially appointed its consultant).[136] Galileo himself was of the opinion that the essay played an important role in the rejection of the theory by church authorities, writing in a later letter to Ingoli that he was concerned that people thought the theory was rejected because Ingoli was right.[135] Ingoli presented five physical arguments against the theory, thirteen mathematical arguments (plus a separate discussion of the sizes of stars), and four theological arguments. The physical and mathematical arguments were of uneven quality, but many of them came directly from the writings of Tycho Brahe, and Ingoli repeatedly cited Brahe, the leading astronomer of the era. These included arguments about the effect of a moving Earth on the trajectory of projectiles, and about parallax and Brahe's argument that the Copernican theory required that stars be absurdly large.[137]

    Two of Ingoli's theological issues with the Copernican theo

    Two of Ingoli's theological issues with the Copernican theory were "common Catholic beliefs not directly traceable to Scripture: the doctrine that hell is located at the center of Earth and is most distant from heaven; and the explicit assertion that Earth is motionless in a hymn sung on Tuesdays as part of the Liturgy of the Hours of the Divine Office prayers regularly recited by priests."[138] Ingoli cited Robert Bellarmine in regards to both of these arguments, and may have been trying to convey to Galileo a sense of Bellarmine's opinion.[139] Ingoli also cited Genesis 1:14 where God places "lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night." Ingoli did not think the central location of the Sun in the Copernican theory was compatible with it being described as one of the lights placed in the firmament.[138] Like previous commentators Ingoli also pointed to the passages about the Battle of Gibeon. He dismissed arguments that they should be taken metaphorically, saying "Replies which assert that Scripture speaks according to our mode of understanding are not satisfactory: both because in explaining the Sacred Writings the rule is always to preserve the literal sense, when it is possible, as it is in this case; and also because all the [Church] Fathers unanimously take this passage to mean that the Sun which was truly moving stopped at Joshua's request. An interpretation which is contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers is condemned by the Council of Trent, Session IV, in the decree on the edition and use of the Sacred Books. Furthermore, although the Council speaks about matters of faith and morals, nevertheless it cannot be denied that the Holy Fathers would be displeased with an interpretation of Sacred Scriptures which is contrary to their common agreement."[138] However, Ingoli closed the essay by suggesting Galileo respond primarily to the better of his physical and mathematical arguments rather than to his theological arguments, writing "Let it be your choice to respond to this either entirely of in part—clearly at least to the mathematical and physical arguments, and not to all even of these, but to the more weighty ones."[140] When Galileo wrote a letter in reply to Ingoli years later, he in fact only addressed the mathematical and physical arguments.[140]

    In March 1616, in connection with the Galileo affair, the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation of the Index issued a decree suspending De revolutionibus until it could be "corrected," on the grounds of ensuring that Copernicanism, which it described as a "false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether contrary to the Holy Scripture," would not "creep any further to the prejudice of Catholic truth."[141] The corrections consisted largely of removing or altering wording that spoke of heliocentrism as a fact, rather than a hypothesis.[142] The corrections were made based largely on work by Ingoli.[136]

    On the orders of Pope Paul V, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine gave Galileo prior notice that the decree was about to be issued, and warned him that he could not "hold or defend" the Copernican doctrine.[z] The corrections to De revolutionibus, which omitted or altered nine sentences, were issued four years later, in 1620.[143]

    In 1633 Galileo Galilei was convicted of grave suspicion of heresy for "following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture",[144] and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.[145][146]

    At the instance of Roger Boscovich, the Catholic Church's 1758 Index of Prohibited Books omitted the general prohibition of works defending heliocentrism,[147] but retained the specific prohibitions of the original uncensored versions of De revolutionibus and Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Those prohibitions were finally dropped from the 1835 Index.[148]

    There has been discussion of Copernicus' nationality and of whether it is meaningful to ascribe to him a nationality in the modern sense.

    Nicolaus Copernicus was born and raised in Royal Prussia, a semiautonomous and polyglot region of the Kingdom of Poland.[149][150] He was the child of German-speaking parents and grew up with German as his mother tongue.[151][152][153] His first alma mater was the University of Kraków in Poland. When he later studied in Italy, at the University of Bologna, he joined the German Nation, a student organization for German-speakers of all allegiances (Germany would not become a nation-state until 1871).[154][155] His family stood against the Teutonic Order and actively supported the city of Toruń during the Thirteen Years' War (1454–66). Copernicus' father lent money to Poland's King Casimir IV Jagiellon to finance the war against the Teutonic Knights,[156] but the inhabitants of Royal Prussia also resisted the Polish crown's efforts for greater control over the region.[149]

    Encyclopædia Britannica,[157] Encyclopedia Americana,[158] The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia,[159] The Oxford World Encyclopedia,[160] and World Book Encyclopedia[161] refer to Copernicus as a "Polish astronomer". Sheila Rabin, writing in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, describes Copernicus as a "child of a German family [who] was a subject of the Polish crown",[10] while Manfred Weissenbacher writes that Copernicus's father was a Germanized Pole.[162]

    No Polish texts by Copernicus survive due to the rarity of Polish literary language before the writings of the Polish Renaissance poets Mikołaj Rej and Jan Kochanowski (educated Poles had generally written in Latin); but it is known that Copernicus knew Polish on a par with German and Latin.[163]

    Historian Michael Burleigh describes the nationality debate as a "totally insignificant battle" between German and Polish scholars during the interwar period.[164] Polish astronomer Konrad Rudnicki calls the discussion a "fierce scholarly quarrel in ... times of nationalism" and describes Copernicus as an inhabitant of a German-speaking territory that belonged to Poland, himself being of mixed Polish-German extraction.[165]

    Czesław Miłosz describes the debate as an "absurd" projection of a modern understanding of nationality onto Renaissance people, who identified with their home territories rather than with a nation.[166] Similarly, historian Norman Davies writes that Copernicus, as was common in his era, was "largely indifferent" to nationality, being a local patriot who considered himself "Prussian".[167] Miłosz and Davies both write that Coperni