Tiedemann Giese

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Tiedemann Giese
Schenck Bildnis Tiedemann Giese.jpg
Tiedemann Giese, around 1525–1530, painting by Hans Schenck
Born1 June 1480
Died23 October 1550
Lidzbark (Heilsberg)
Occupation(s)Theologian author, Bishop of Chełmno, Prince-Bishop of Warmia (Ermland)
Notable work
  • Antilogikon flosculorum Lutheranorum, 1523
  • Anacrisis nominis Jesus, 1542
  • De Regno Christi

Tiedemann Giese (1 June 1480 – 23 October 1550), was Bishop of Kulm (Chełmno) first canon, later Prince-Bishop of Warmia (Ermland) whose interest in mathematics, astronomy, and theology led him to mentor a number of important young scholars, including Copernicus. He was a prolific writer and correspondent, publishing a number of works on the reformation of the church. Tiedemann was a member of the patrician Giese family of Danzig (Gdańsk) in Poland. The Giese family ancestors originated from Unna in Westphalia, near Dortmund. [1] His father was Albrecht Giese and his younger brother, the Hanseatic League merchant Georg Giese.


Life and career

Giese was the fifth child of Albrecht Giese and his wife, Elisabeth Langenbeck, both members of wealthy merchant families. His paternal family had emigrated from Cologne to Danzig in the 1430s. His father was the Mayor of Danzig, and his mother's uncle, Johann Ferber, had been Mayor of Danzig. [2]

At the age of 12 years, Tiedemann, along with his cousin, Johann Ferber, entered the University of Leipzig, and subsequently studied at Basel and in Italy. He earned a Master of Theology degree. [3] Giese was one of the best educated scholars in Prussia, well versed in both theology and the sciences. [4] At age 24, he and Mauritius Ferber (possibly a cousin) became priests at the Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.[ citation needed ]

He was secretary to the King of Poland, and later appointed canon of Frauenburg (Frombork), where he remained for 30 years. His residence was the Episcopal Castle at Frauenburg. The King appointed him Bishop of Kulm on 22 September 1537 (ratified by the Pope on 11 January 1538). [3] Toward the end of his life, he became Bishop of Ermland. [5]

Giese was supported by Chancellor Lucas David. He was a humanist and a liberal in the Erasmian mould. Although a Catholic, he demonstrated relative tolerance towards Lutherans. [6] He made himself the spokesperson for a group of liberal and tolerant men who wanted to mediate between the "old-believers" and "the new-believers". [7] In his writings, he expressed the aim of reconciling the Catholic and Protestant branches of the church, but ultimately alienated both of them. [8]

Bishop Giese was a lifelong friend and frequent companion of the astronomer and proponent of heliocentrism Nicolaus Copernicus [9] and shared his interest in astronomy. [10] As a very wealthy man, Giese had the best instruments which, [11] from time to time, he loaned to Copernicus. [12] Giese, seven years younger than Copernicus, was sufficiently well educated to be able to follow Copernicus' studies. Giese bought his friend an ingenious sundial, and gave him an instrument with which he could observe the equinoxes. [13] The mathematician, Rheticus, published a list of Giese's astronomical instruments, which he considered to have been made by men who really understood their mathematics. [11]

Giese actively encouraged his friend, Copernicus, to publish his findings in relation to the movement of the planets in the solar system. In turn, Copernicus regularly acknowledged his indedebtness to the many friends, especially Giese and Rheticus, who had supported him and encouraged him to publish. [14]

In 1516, Giese was the co-author, with Copernicus, of a letter to the Polish King Sigismund I the Old asking for the King's protection of Prussia against the Teutonic Knights, and generally supported the interests of the Polish Crown against that of the Teutonic Order. [15] Danzig had been part of the State of the Teutonic Order since the Teutonic invasion of Gdańsk Pomerania in 1308. [16] Its population became ethnically German as a result. [17] In 1466 Danzig reverted to the Kingdom of Poland, within which it retained considerable independence (e.g. had its own judiciary and minted its own coinage). The region's ethnic German inhabitants resisted full incorporation into Poland, but turned to the Polish King for support against the Teutonic aggressors. [18]

He also worked on updating the Kulm law while a canon in Ermland . On 1 July 1536 he was designated by King of Poland, Sigismund I, who considered him a very valuable diplomat, as Bishop of Kulm, which was later confirmed by the Pope.[ citation needed ] After Mauritius Ferber's death, Giese became prince-bishop. [19]

Giese was described by his contemporaries as a very pious man, an extremely learned man, a loyal friend, generous and a man who supported those in need. Nicolaus Copernicus explained that his "devoted friend, Tiedeman Giese, [was] a man filled with the greatest zeal for the divine and the liberal arts." [20]

Giese was a prolific writer and correspondent. He regularly corresponded with young, ambitious scholars, encouraging them and following their careers with interest. In the preface of his book, De revolutionibus, Copernicus credits Giese with encouraging publication and urging him not to conceal the principles on which he deduced his theory of planetary motions. [21] He carried out active correspondence with the humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Lutheran reformer, Philip Melanchthon and the humanist philosopher, Damião de Gois. [22]

Among his known publications is Centum et decem assertiones, quas auctor earum Flosculos appellavit de homine interiore et exteriore and Antilogikon, a polemical refutation of Lutheran reformer Johann Briesmann. [23] He also wrote De Regno Christi in which he envisions a reformed, reunited and reinvigorated church, but which now only survives in fragments. [24] He also wrote a treatise defending Copernicus's theory of planetary motions. Most of his other works have been lost, including a treatise on Aristotle.[ citation needed ]

His friend, Copernicus (who died in 1543) willed his writings to Giese and left his library to the church administration of the Prince-Bishopric of Ermland (Warmia). Bishop Giese died in Heilsberg (Lidzbark) and was laid to rest next to Copernicus at the Frauenburg (Frombork) cathedral. [25]


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  1. 1 2 Anneliese Triller (1964), "Giese, Tiedemann Bartholomäus", Neue Deutsche Biographie (in German), vol. 6, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 379–379; ( full text online )
  2. Gassendi, P. and Thill, O., The Life of Copernicus (1473–1543), p. 179; Ostdeutsche Familienkunde, [East German Family Studies], Volumes 10–12, Degener & Company, 1962, p. 330
  3. 1 2 Gassendi, P. and Thill, O., The Life of Copernicus (1473–1543), pp. 179–180
  4. Fudge, J.D., Commerce and Print in the Early Reformation, BRILL, 2007, p. 111
  5. Kesten, H., Copernicus and His World, Secker & Warburg Ltd., 1945, p. 311
  6. Fudge, J.D., Commerce and Print in the Early Reformation, BRILL, 2007, pp. 110–112; Gassendi, P. and Thill, O., The Life of Copernicus (1473–1543), p. 181
  7. Kesten, H., Copernicus and his World, Secker & Warburg Ltd., 1945. p. 228
  8. Kesten, H., Copernicus and his World, Secker & Warburg Ltd., 1945, p. 230
  9. Fudge, J.D., Commerce and Print in the Early Reformation, BRILL, 2007, p 110; one source indicates that Giese and Copernicus may have been cousins, See Gassendi, P. and Thill, O., The Life of Copernicus (1473–1543), Secker & Warburg Ltd. 1945, p. 179
  10. Freely, J., Celestial Revolutionary: Copernicus, the Man and His Universe, I.B.Tauris, 2014, p. 126
  11. 1 2 Koestler, A., The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe, Penguin, 2017, [E-book edition]
  12. Gassendi, P. and Thill, O., The Life of Copernicus (1473–1543), pp. 181–182
  13. Kesten, H., Copernicus and his World, Secker & Warburg Ltd. 1945, p. 169
  14. Black, J.N., The Death of Evolution: Restoring Faith and Wonder in a World of Doubt, Zondervan, 2010, p. 42; Galileo, Selected Writings, Oxford University Press, p. 405; The Gradual Acceptance of the Copernican Theory of the Universe . p. 29
  15. University of Colorado, "East European quarterly, Volume 7", University of Colorado, 1973, pg. 239
  16. Davies, N., Vanished Kingdoms, Penguin Group, 2011 pp. 344, 345; Rampley, M., Heritage, Ideology, and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe, Boydell Press, 2012, p. 115; Davies, N., God's Playground A History of Poland: Volume 1: The Origins to 1795 Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 197; Frankot, E., Of Laws of Ships and Shipmen, Edinburgh University Press, 2012 p. 78
  17. Atkin, N., Biddis, M. and Tallett, G., The Wiley-Blackwell Dictionary of Modern European History Since 1789, John Wiley & Sons, 2011 [E-book edition], n.p.; Rampley, M., Heritage, Ideology, and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe, Boydell Press, 2012, p. 116
  18. Davies, N., God's Playground A History of Poland: Volume 1: The Origins to 1795 Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 197; Frankot, E., Of Laws of Ships and Shipmen, Edinburgh University Press, 2012 p. 78; Rampley, M., Heritage, Ideology, and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe, Boydell Press, 2012, p. 115; Rampley, M., Heritage, Ideology, and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe, Boydell Press, 2012, p. 115; Davies, N., God's Playground A History of Poland: Volume 1: The Origins to 1795 Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 197; Frankot, E., Of Laws of Ships and Shipmen, Edinburgh University Press, 2012 p. 78; Rampley, M., Heritage, Ideology, and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe, Boydell Press, 2012, p. 115
  19. Pearson, Richard. The History of Astronomy. Lulu.com. ISBN   978-0-244-86650-1.
  20. Copernicus, "The Heliocentric Theory," in: Dolling, L.M., Gianelli, A. and Statile, G.N., (eds), The Tests of Time: Readings in the Development of Physical Theory, Princeton University Press, 2003, pp. 44–45
  21. Westman, R., The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order, University of California Press, 2011 p. 138
  22. Hirsch, E.F., Damião de Gois: The Life and Thought of a Portuguese Humanist, 1502–1574,Springer Science & Business Media, 2012, p. 36
  23. Unger, R. and Basista, B., Britain and Poland-Lithuania: Contact and Comparison from the Middle Ages to 1795, BRILL, 2008, p. 225
  24. Nowakowska, N.,King Sigismund of Poland and Martin Luther: The Reformation Before Confessionalization, Oxford University Press, 2018, p. 163
  25. Bishop Giese buried next to Copernicus


Catholic Church titles
Regnal titles
Preceded by Bishop of Warmia (Ermland)
Succeeded by