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Galileo Galilei and the Polish World

boletus 30 | 1,366
19 Oct 2011 #1
- Translated from Polish article [2] with some abridments

Italian celebration of the 400th birthday of Galileo has brought a series of lectures, delivered in Rome in the years 1964-1965 and then simultaneously published in Poland and Italy [1]. Their author, deceased a few years ago, Bronislaw Bilinski (1913-1996), a classical philologist by profession, and the longtime director of the Rome Library and the Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences, was a tireless hunter of Polonica and Polish-Italian cultural relations across centuries. His collection of studies on "Galileo and the Polish World" is part of his extensive achievements.

In his introduction to a series of four lectures (Introduzione Copernicana e romantica) Bilinski presents, among others, his hundred-years-earlier predecessor in this field of research - Artur Wołyński (1844-1893). The emigrant from Warsaw after the 1863 January Uprising, he eventually settled in Italy and founded Museo Copernicano in Rome. He published several articles on Galileo, and what's more - about his connections with Poland. Wołyński was the first to study the original sources in Italy and he included some of them in his study. It is worthy to emphasize that at that time the monumental Italian edition of Galileo works did not exist yet. What's more, the author-immigrant had no access to Polish materials, neither had he an opportunity to more fully present Polish cultural background and specific important figures from the Polish side.

Therefore Biliński went searching primarily in this direction. Using publications that appeared in the meantime, about the history of Polish culture and science and its seventeenth-century representatives, the author put also forward a number of suggestions regarding further research.

Because both publications of Wołyński and Biliński - in Italian and hardly available - are very little known, my goal is to provide their basic findings, and also to introduce newer studies that have appeared in recent decades, together with additional observations and digressions(*).
- Karolina Targosz

[1] B. Bilinski, Galileo Galilei e il mondo polacco, Conferenze fasc. 40, Bibliotecae Centro di Studi a Roma, Accademia Polacca delle Scienze, Wroclaw (Ossolineum)1969, ss. 136 (rec. L. Gadomski w "Studia Filozoficzne" XV. 1971, nr 4, s. 192-195). According to information on the reverse of the tittle page, the text has been also published in Saggi by Comitato Nazionale Italiano per le Celebrazioni del IV Centenario della nascita. di Galileo Galilei.

[2] Polish thread in Life and Question of Galileo, "Galileo Galilei e il mondo polacco" by Bronislaw Bilinski (1969) with supplements, Karolina Targosz, Institute of History of Science PAN, Krako.

(*)Boletus: Nine years after the lecture of Professor Karolina Targosz (2002) the internet delivers many other related articles, including [1] in Italian, available via Google books

Boletus: Since I am not sure whether I would find motivation for translation of all four chapters (abbreviated and commented by prof. Targosz), I am going to start with chapter four - for some reason. I have to add that the other three chapters are equally fascinating. For example, Chapter One deals with about 20-30 Polish students that Galileo tutored and boarded in his own house. Yes, yes - he had big family and he needed money badly. :-)

Chapter 4 - The fortune of Galileo in Poland
The last chapter of the book deals with the reception of Galileo's scientific thought in Poland: "La fortuna di Galileo in Polonia". The author stipulates that this is just an attempt to sketch the topic and that it requires a deeper study. Since the publication of "Galileo Galilei and Polish World" this question already been filled in many areas via detailed studies, which are briefly presented here. They relate to the declining years of life of the great scholar and to the next decades, falling in the second half of the seventeenth century.

Bilinski goes back to the first surviving copies of Galileo's works in Poland, mainly from the Jagiellonian Library, many of them donated to Collegium Maius by Jan Brożek on his death.

Brożek acquired several books and brochures written by Galileo - all of them carefully annotated with his name, the date and circumstances of the purchase. For example, one of the books - "The operation of the military geometrical compass" - was bought by Brożek during his stay in Padua for one Hungarian Golden, from Marcantonio Mazzoleni, who also made for him a compass and other instruments.

Unfortunately, the earliest of these prints became the victims of large-scale perfidious theft, committed in 1999, widely reported in the media. Some of them, put up for auction in London [according to wikipedia: it was German auction house Reiss&Sohn], have already found the way back to the library shelves, but they are unfortunately mutilated, deprived of Brożek's provenance marks - so valuable for providing evidence of their cultural context and affiliation with Polish national heritage.

Another professor of Kraków, who reportedly had in his possession all the works of Galileo - both prints and copies of manuscripts - was Stanisław Pudłowski (1597-1645), named by Biliński "Polish Galileo." Jagiellonian Library has, however, only one copy, with the owner's bookplate affixed (and which felt victim of the same theft and mutilation as Brożek's copies).

Pudłowski studied in Krakow and Rome, where he obtained his doctorate in both laws in 1625. As a law professor he was sent twice to the Eternal City in connection with disputes of the Academy with the Jesuits - in the years 1633-1634, and so immediately after the trial of Galileo, and in 1640.

He also became acquainted with scientists from Padua and Bologna. With his own avocation he became a mathematician, physicist and astronomer, experimenter and observer. In 1634 he brought from Italy, not only books but also a number of instruments, and - being a pastor of St. Nicholas church - he arranged nearby for laboratories and an observatory. On the way back from Rome in 1640 he went to Arcetri. In two letters of recommendation, of May the same year, he was recommended to Galileo by Benedetto Castelli, who had known Pudłowski well in Rome. He stated that he had not met anyone yet as much interested in Galileo's ideas as Pudłowski - both among the Italians and foreigners. This was thus an extremely high level of recommendation. Pudłowski was probably the last Pole, who personally met Galileo, but also the one who benefited most from his achievements and who knew how to inspire others to continue Galileo's works.

In the years 1635-1645 he conducted astronomical observations, illustrating them in handwritten manuscript "Collectanea", where he often referred to Galileo. Here, among others, he sketched the Southern line over the skylight of roofs in the Jewish district of Kazimierz, the threefold shape of Saturn and the heliocentric system. After the death of Pudłowski, a King's secretary and versatile "uomo curioso", Pinocci Girolamo, sought for publication of his works. This however never happened and most Pudłowski's manuscripts disappeared.

Another native of Italy, Tito Livio Burattini (1617-1681) from Agordo, much benefited from the Pole Pudłowski. He came to Kraków in 1641, after distant journeys and a stay in Egypt. It was him who testified later that Pudłowski had all the prints and copies of manuscripts of Galileo works. Thanks to Pudłowski, Burattini had an opportunity to become familiar with the manuscript of the treatise "La bilancetta" from the youthful days of Galileo, concerning the reconstruction of the Archimedes' hydrostatic balance.

Burattini had an idea how to improve on functioning of the instrument and he prepared his own treatise "La bilancia sincera", in which he was stressing that he did not want to take away the great scholar's fame, because "it is easy to improve on things already invented." Referring to that treatise, Pudłowski asked Burattini to make an effort to develop a universal system of measurements - suggesting utilization the isochronous phenomenon of pendulum. Burattini fulfilled his commitment to the Master from Kraków only many years later, by publishing a little work "Misura universale" (Vilnius 1675) - unfortunately much delayed relatively to similar inventions already made in Western Europe.

Drawing from Galileo's works, Burattini also got an inspiration for the bravest idea of his life - construction of a flying machine. With this idea, he entered the court of Wladyslaw IV in the last years of the King's life. But those years were especially rich in important scientific events. The second marriage of the King, in 1646, to Marie Louise Gonzaga (in Polish: Ludwika Maria Gonzaga), a princess descended from the French branch of this Italian family, meant that Frenchmen arrived following the Queen to the court of this Italophile monarch, and that the scholarly environment at the court in Warsaw became henceforth the link in the international scientific Polish-Italian-French relations.

The news of flying models constructed by Burattini and about plans of implementation of the machine itself circulated among many European centers. What remains is a treatise by Burattini " Il volare non e impossibile", and two drawings of a "flying dragon", one of which was sent to be assessed by Pascal.

The death of Wladyslaw IV in 1648 and the period of wars that followed cut short the inventor's hope for grants and opportunities to work on the implementation of the machine. Burattini however remained henceforth in the service of the royal court, at the times of John Casimir and John III Sobieski - as an engineer, architect and minter. An avid mechanic and builder, he designed hydraulic devices for Warsaw - again following in the footsteps of Galileo. At the court of Marie Louise, who was acquainted with astronomy and the Copernican theory, he also became an observer, grinder of lens and constructor of telescopes and microscopes.

Chapter 1: Polish students from the Galileo's circle in Padua
- Gli scholari polacchi nella Cerchia Galilee and Padova

The first and the most comprehensive of the four Bilinski's chapters concerns Polish students from the Galileo's circle in Padua. The arrival of Galileo to Padua in 1592 coincided with the date of the constitution of Polish Nationality at that University.

There had been already centuries old traditions of Poles studying in Padua, but only at that year a book of entries was established - both for Polish students, as well as for important Poles passing by Padua in their travels. This Book have been kept uninterruptedly until 1745; it contains 2359 names. The last decade of the sixteenth century was a period of great influx of Polish students - the years 1592-1599 alone showing nearly three hundred entries.

The Poles also become part of the student authorities at the University of Padua. For example, in the list of lectures of Art and Medical Faculty for the year 1593, it is stated, among others: "Excellentissimus D. Galilaeus de Galilaeis Florentinus leget Sphaera Euclide et tertia post meridia hora", and then at the very beginning of the book - after the names of the prefects - as a rector on behalf of the students: "Georgius Dominus Perillustris Pipanus Cracoviensis". In the year 1604 Paweł Boym of Lwów was a trustee and pro-rector there and in the year 1613 Maciej Vorbek-Lettow of Wilno was a trustee at Padua University.

In the years 1592-1593 Walenty Fontanus - formerly a professor of astrology at the University of Cracow, where he lectured in the years 1578-1580 "De revolutionibus" of Copernicus - studied medicine in Padua. It is probable that he and Galileo has met and discussed Copernicus ideas.

At that times private lessons given by professors - mostly for students coming from higher social strata - were quite widespread. They provided additional revenue for professors, and for students - more practical profile of knowledge to better prepare them to their future life tasks. So also Galileo - striving to keep up his mother and siblings - accepted students and residents, whom he educated not only in the 'sphere or cosmography' according to Ptolemy system, but also in the field of mechanics, geodesy, military architecture and fortifications - teaching them how to use proportional military compass (improved by himself). These instruments were made in the Galileo's house by a technician Marcantonio Mazzoleni. His secretary, Mastro Silvestro, drew up copies of the professor's teaching treaties, also purchased by students.

The sector, also known as a proportional compass or military compass, was a major calculating instrument in use from the end of the sixteenth century until the nineteenth century. It is an instrument consisting of two rulers of equal length which are joined by a hinge. A number of scales are inscribed upon the instrument which facilitate various mathematical calculations. It was used for solving problems in proportion, trigonometry, multiplication and division, and for various functions, such as squares and cube roots. Its several scales permitted easy and direct solutions of problems in gunnery, surveying and navigation. The sector derives its name from the fourth proposition of the sixth book of Euclid, where it is demonstrated that similar triangles have their like sides proportional. It has four parts, two legs with a pivot (the articulation), a quadrant and a clamp (the curved part at the end of the leg) that enables the compass to function as a gunner's quadrant.

Among Galileo's private students were Italians, Frenchmen, Germans and Poles. There exist handwritten notes of Galileo, the "Ricordi", where he have listed the names of the students - together with the amounts of money he received from them. Sometimes it is an aggregate record, as the one from 1602 about two Poles, who have started subject of fortifications, or the one from 1607 about seven Poles "learning about the sphere". Galileo described some students only by name and nationality, but there is not lack of people mentioned by their full name and the title.

Most of them came from noble families and magnate clans, so it is not surprising to find there the persons who later put their clear mark on political and cultural history of Poland. The first one, occurring in the Galileo's Ricordi in 1599, was the buyer of his "instrument" and the four-pointed compass - "Giovanni Tencin", i.e., the future governor of Krakow, Jan Tęczyński. He undoubtedly entertained military interests, but he is best known for his literary contribution of his era by participating in translation of Tasso's epic "Goffred or Jerusalem liberated (Kraków 1618)", made by Piotr Kochanowski (also a student of Padua) and also dedicated to him.

From December 6, 1601 to August 26, 1602, Rafał Leszczynski took lessons and also bought the Galileo's compass. Padua was one of the last links of his long-term studies and travels abroad through nearly all of the most important centers, universities and courts of Europe, which started already in 1595. A later governor of Bełz he has won in this way a thorough preparation for the role of one of the greatest patrons in the history of Polish culture in the first half of the seventeenth century, which he was to be. He was to create a magnificent residence and court in Włodawa. A Protestant and a protector of Polish and Czech Protestants, he provided for and established congregations, schools and printing houses - in Baranów and Leszno. Under his guard a prominent naturalist of Scottish origin Jan Jonston and the great Czech pedagogue Jan Amos Komensky worked in the Leszno center. The latter testified in a 1659 letter to Louis Wolzogen of his Governor's Copernican conviction. We know, moreover, that Leszczynski also possessed literary talents and he dealt with translations of French literature.

Leszczyński's steward ("maiordomo"), Daniel, was also recorded In the Galilean "Ricordi". This was actually Daniel Naborowski, who studied for twelve years law and medicine at Wittenberg, Basel, Orleans and Strasbourg, and later became connected to Radziwiłłs as a doctor and the poet.

In the years 1602 and 1604-1605, a name of Krzysztof Zbaraski appears in the records of Galileo. His first and last name is preceded by a title of Prince ("Ilustrissimo et Eccellentissimo S. Duca"). Along with his older brother Jerzy he was in Padua earlier, in 1592, and at the beginning of the seventeenth century, he also studied at Leuven. In contrast to his older brother, the humanist, this Galileo's student from Padua indulged mainly in science and technology. He was later regarded as the inventor of a new type of gun - according to Italian specialist in the artillery employed in Poland, Andrea dell'Aqua. Strong connections of Zbaraski brothers with Italy are confirmed by the fact, that the design of a new residence of their ancestral seat - Zbaraż, in the type of "palazzo in fortezza", was ordered from the renowned Venetian architect, Vincenzo Scamozzi.

In his polemical writing "Difesa contro ed alle calunnie Baldessar Imposture di Capra" (Venice 1607) Galileo invokes the names of three private students, mentioned above - Jan Tęczyński (along with his brother Gabriel), Rafał Leszczyński and Krzysztof Zbaraski - as the ones who knew the functionalities of his military compass. It is worthy to emphasize that they found themselves in a great group of other users of the compass, including dukes of Florence and Mantua, and Archduke Ferdinand.

Still one more of the Polish students of Galileo from the turn of 1607 and 1608, Marcin Zborowski, acquired the ability to use the compass and he handed it down to Professor Jan Brożek in Kraków. In connection with Zborowski, one interesting subject from "Ricordi" was omitted or neglected by the previous researchers: On January 19, 1608, Galileo received from him a sable muff ("di una manizza zibellini"), valued 150 lire. It is not known whether it was a gift, or a subject material in place of the due cash. Anyway, a professor of Padua - thanks to the Polish disciple - became an owner of the garment, typical of northern Europe, made of very valuable fur.

Polish Galileo's disciples were also Jan Krzysztof Buczacki, Paweł Palczowski and hard to identify abbot ('il. S. Abate polacco "). Not only just students, but also residents in the house of Galileo were listed by name - "Signor Stanislao Polacco" - Stanislaw Lasocki; "Signor Giovanni Lituano" - probably Jan Pac, "Signor Marco" - Marek Lentowicz and "Illustrissimo Signor Conte di Zator" along with entourage, two noblemen and five servants - the governor of Zator, Jan Paweł Leśniowolski.

In total, about twenty Poles passed through Galileo's house, and even lived in it. Wolynski already calculated that in the "Ricordi" years, of the total sum of 25 709 lire for the board - 5 728, or almost one quarter, have been paid the Poles. Similarly out of the sum of 14 291 lire for lessons, instruments and manuals - 3 604 lire have been paid by Polish students. Galileo indicates that the writing of Polish names caused him much difficulty, so one must not be surprised that he sometimes was leaving them out. His entries are usually phonetic - Sboroschi, Sbaraschi. The hardest one was the name Leszczynski, listed variously as Lencischi or Lescinschi.

[Boletus: In the same vain Italian names were often polonized. For example, ironworks and smelters in Wąchock and Samsonów in 17th c. were named: Caccio, Seravalle, "Dzianetty" and "Dziboni" - From "Historya Artyleryi Polskiej" by Konstanty Górski]

The only case of bad memory, left in the circle of Galileo's students from Poland, was a case of brothers £yczko, who borrowed 300 crowns from his old servant, went back to Poland and did not reply to any letter. The trace of this story remains in one of Galileo's letters of 1609 to the Secretary of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Belisario Vinty, where the scholar presented the affair of his servant, Alessandro Piersanti, who three years earlier had lost in this way all his security, and now he was terminally ill and was entirely dependent on Galileo. Galileo wrote that they were "Giovanni Liczko di Ryglice et un su o fratello" and that they were well known to Montelupi family (a family of Polish Post Masters). He earnestly asked for intervention at the secretary of the Polish court. According to historical records the brothers Jan and Stanisław £yczko, Sulima clan, of Ryglice near Tarnów, studied at that time in Padua and they had to be debtors to Piersanti. It is not confirmed though whether they were really disciples of Galileo.

There are however a number of written records, witnessing to the best bonds, which existed between the Polish students and their teacher. The letters sent to him by some of them testify to this fact. And so Mark Lentowicz, soon after his return home, as a secretary of King Sigismund III, wrote to Galileo from Krakow on August 13, 1604, dreaming of inviting him to Poland: "Faxint caelites ut hic noster Septentrio eius viri vultum videat, cuius famam et virtutem iamdudum stupet et admiratur". He asserted that he would use all possible effort to ensure that this could come true.

During his next visit to Italy, in the years 1611-1612, Krzysztof Zbaraski, no longer finding Galileo in Padua, sent him two letters from Bologna, reflecting on the best memories that he retained from the time of the Galileo's tutoring and of his unchanging admiration to him. In his letter of March, 8, 1611 there are dominating words of his sincere regret and disappointment of not being able to meet him in person and to enjoy the conversation with the master ("Mi di molto rincresce non haverla Trovato and Padova, come to me pensavo, per Potter godere Conversation dolcissima la della sua qual, per esser tant'anni Privo, con quest occasione della mia venuta in Italia di Poter credevo sodisfare all'animo mio "). From this letter it is clear that one of his friends s
21 Oct 2011 #2 TR=68&REC=9

a scan of Gallileo Sidereus Nuncius first edition
starting on page 17 are observations of positions of Jupiter moons, wich proves heliocentric Copernicus theory, and wich prompted Gallileo to adopt Keplers work (based on Copernicus theory and precise measurements by Tycho Brahe) .

I made a mistake :
observations on Jupiters moons shows that Ptolemy theory was false, and doesn't prove Copernicus theory

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