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Cracow Contributions
May 18, 1964

Nicholas CopernicusEminent Representative of 16th Century Polish Medicine

JAMA. 1964;188(7):668-670. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060330048012

NICHOLAS COPERNICUS, future genial astronomer and eminent physician of Poland, was born in 1473 into a well-to-do middle-class family, which had emigrated from Lower Silesia to Cracow and finally to Toruń a century earlier.1 Thus Nicholas' early associations were with the class of craftsmen; later they were with the wealthy merchant class. Because his father died when Nicholas was yet a boy, he was reared by his uncle, Lucas Waczenrode, bishop of Varmia, who, in accord with the times, prepared him for the clerical state. The young Copernicus' teacher was the well-known practical physician, humanist, and astronomer, Nicholas Wodka of Kwidzyn on the Vistula. At the age of 17 Copernicus assisted his preceptor in adorning the wall of the cathedral in Wloclawek with a fine sundial.2 Presumably, Dr. Wodka also aroused his pupil's interest in medicine.

The face of the Cracow University at the end of the 15th century

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