Lucas Watzenrode the Younger (sometimes Watzelrode and Waisselrod;
Lucas Watzenrode der Jüngere; Polish: Łukasz Watzenrode; 30
October 1447 – 29 March 1512) was
Prince-Bishop of Warmia
Prince-Bishop of Warmia (Ermeland)
and patron to his nephew, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
1 Early life
2 Historic background
7 Further reading
The family and its name stemmed from the Silesian village of Pszenno
(in German Weizenrodau "wheat uprooting"). Watzenrode was born in
Thorn (Toruń), son of the merchant
Lucas Watzenrode the Elder
(1400–62). He studied at
Jagiellonian University and at Cologne and
After his sister Barbara and her husband Niklas Koppernigk died in
about 1483, Lucas cared for their four children, Katharina, Barbara,
Andreas and Nicolaus, the last of whom would become known as
astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
The Bishopric of Warmia, previously part of the Monastic State of the
Teutonic Knights, had, with the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), come
under the protection of the King of Poland. Based on that treaty, the
Polish King had the right to appoint the Bishop. Neither the Warmia
chapter, however, nor their newly elected bishop, Nicolaus von Tüngen
(1467–89), acknowledged the King's right to do so.
Poland contested von Tüngen's election, and this led to the War of
the Priests (1467–79) and the First Treaty of Piotrków Trybunalski
(1479), by which the chapter was obliged to seek consensus with the
Polish king. The
Bishopric of Warmia
Bishopric of Warmia was made suffragan to the
Archbishopric of Riga, then headed by Archbishop Michael Hildebrand.
This agreement was somewhat vague, as shown in the 1489 election of
the next bishop, Lucas Watzenrode, who was mitred by Pope Innocent
VIII against the explicit wishes of King Casimir IV Jagiellon, who
would have preferred that one of his sons, Frederic, become Bishop of
Warmia. Watzenrode resisted, and when Casimir died in 1492 and was
succeeded by John I Albert, Watzenrode could finally establish the
exemption of the Bishopric from Riga. With the Second Treaty of
Piotrków Trybunalski (1512), later bishops accepted a limited
influence of the Polish King on elections. The
Holy See considered the
Bishopric exempt until 1992, when it was made an archbishopric, which
by its nature is exempt.
Watzenrode, a successful organizer of his territory's internal
affairs, resided at Heilsber, now Lidzbark. He reorganized the
cathedral school and planned to found a university at Elbing, now
Elbląg. He argued that the
Teutonic Order had fulfilled its mission
in the Baltic region, by then converted to Christianity, and proposed
sending the Order to more heathen regions. The
Ottoman Empire was an
ongoing threat and had taken over large parts of Europe, and the
Bishop suggested that the Order "do battle with the Turks."
The Bishopric was exposed to repeated armed attacks by the Teutonic
Order, which attempted to regain the territory.
Poland sought to
rescind the Prince-Bishopric's autonomy, hoping to force the surrender
of its prerogatives to the Polish crown. In this area
of conflict, Watzenrode guarded the interests of
Warmia and maintained
friendly relations with Poland. He was a long-time opponent of the
Teutonic Knights, and shortly after his death it was rumored that he
had been poisoned by them.
Watzenrode looked after his orphaned two nephews and two nieces.
Katharina married businessman and city councilor Barthel Gertner,
while Barbara became a
Benedictine nun. Watzenrode sent the brothers
Nicolaus (Copernicus) and Andreas to study at the
Kraków Academy and
in Italy (Bologna, Padua, Ferrara). After his studies, Copernicus
assisted his uncle in administrative matters and was his closest
advisor as well as his personal physician.
Watzenrode also took care of his son Philipp Teschner, whose mother
was the daughter of the rector of the Johannes school in Thorn . When
Watzenrode became bishop he arranged for Philipp Teschner to become
major of Braunsberg.
Lucas Watzenrode the Younger died in Thorn (Toruń) during his return
from an official journey.
Nicolaus Copernicus Gesamtausgabe , Regesta Copernicana 
^ Alan W. Hirshfeld, "Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos",
Macmillan, 2002, pg. 38, 
Bücherei Danzig, J. Kretzmer, Liber de episcopatu et episcopi
Varmiensis ex vetusto Chronico Bibliotheca Heilsbergensis, 1593
Christoph Hartknoch, Preußische Kirchen-Historia, Frankfurt a.M.,
M.G. Centner, Geehrte und Gelehrte Thorner, Thorn 1763
A. Semrau, "Katalog der Geschlechter der Schöffenbank und des
Ratsstuhles in der Altstadt Thorn 1233-1602", in: Mitteilungen des
Copernicus-Vereins für Wissenschaft und Kunst zu Thorn 46 (1938)
Wojciech Iwanczak (1998). "WATZENRODE, Lucas". In Bautz, Traugott.
Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 13.
Herzberg: Bautz. col. 389-393. ISBN 3-88309-072-7.
Poczet biskupów warmińskich, Olsztyn 1998
Jürgen Hamel: Nicolaus Copernicus. - Spektrum Verlag: Heidelberg,
Hans Schmauch (1957), "
Lucas Watzenrode (in Copernicus' article)",
Neue Deutsche Biographie
Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 3, Berlin: Duncker &
Humblot, pp. 349–355
Górski Karol, Łukasz Watzenrode : życie i działalność
polityczna (1447-1512), Wrocław 1973.
Catholic Church titles
Nicolaus von Tüngen
Prince-Bishop of Warmia
Prince-Bishop of Warmia (Ermland)
Fabian of Lozanien
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
Locationes mansorum desertorum
Monetae cudendae ratio
Translations of Theophylact Simocatta
Lucas Watzenrode the Elder (grandfather)
Lucas Watzenrode (uncle)
Nicolaus Copernicus Gesamtausgabe
Astronomer Copernicus, or Conversations with God