While the Teutonic Order and its knights that inspire Conqueror’s Blade: Knightfall are known for their crusades and sieges, their rivals were changing the course of history with scientific discoveries that would alter the world and how we see it forever.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) was born in Toruń, Poland, and as well as his famous work as an astronomer, he was a true Renaissance man and also busied himself with the study of medicine, economics, mathematics, military strategy, and law.
Nicolaus was named after his copper merchant father, who was heavily involved in the era’s politics and actively supported Poland against the Teutonic Order. The Teutonic Order built a castle in Toruń in the 13th century, and it became the base for their conquest of Prussia.
However, Copernicus did not stay in Toruń and called many places home throughout his illustrious life and career.
A map of Toruń
Thwarting The Teutonic Order
From 1516–1521, Copernicus lived at Olsztyn (Allenstein) Castle as the economic administrator of Warmia, which included Olsztyn (Allenstein) and Pieniężno (Mehlsack). During this time, he penned a manuscript called ‘Locations of Deserted Fiefs’, which sought to populate those fiefs with farmers and strengthen the economy.
In January of 1521, the Siege of Olsztyn (or the Siege of Allenstein) took place as part of the Polish–Teutonic War. Copernicus directed the defence of Olsztyn and thwarted the attack, and the Teutonic Knights' force was forced to withdraw. Copernicus also represented the Polish side in the ensuing peace negotiations.
Not content with just studying the stars in the safety of his study, Copernicus cemented himself as truly loyal and brave thanks to this act.
Copernicus’ study inside the Frombork Cathedral
Astronomy And Altruism
Possibly Copernicus’ greatest accomplishment and one of the most important discoveries ever made is the heliocentric theory. According to the heliocentric theory, which is now considered common knowledge, Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun and not the other way round, as had been previously thought.
Copernicus' work changed the way people used physics and astronomy to understand the universe and began a scientific revolution.
After Copernicus’ death in 1543, his work ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’, was published. Within this book, Copernicus presented scientific evidence which supported his theory.
“Finally we shall place the Sun himself at the centre of the Universe.”
Copernicus wasn’t just tending to scientific matters during this time, as soon his expertise in medicine would be called upon by a former enemy.
In 1541, Duke Albert, the former Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, summoned Copernicus to Königsberg to see the Duke’s counsellor, George von Kunheim, who had become seriously ill, and whose illness had stumped the Prussian doctors already aiding him. Despite Duke Albert’s affiliations with the Teutonic Order and his Lutheran faith, Copernicus went willingly to help, feeling that Albert and George were not such bad people. A month passed and the counsellor recovered, and Copernicus returned to Frombork.
This selfless act despite the history between Copernicus and the Teutonic Order proves that this astronomer was not only knowledgeable but incredibly kind.
Sometime between 1510-1512, Copernicus finally settled in Frombork, where he continued his astronomy studies of astronomy and observations. Frombork is known as “The Jewel of Warmia” because of its many historical sites, including the Museum of Copernicus, his grave, and the northwestern tower he purchased in 1514.
From this tower, Copernicus did the majority of his stargazing and observations, and his studio within the cathedral in Frombork was where he created ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’.
Stay tuned for more Conqueror’s Tales coming soon!