Visiting Mr. Walesa…

For several years now I have been interpreting the meetings of foreign journalists with Mr. Walesa. During such meetings, after all the questions and discussions, there always is a moment for pictures… Going through my photographic archives suddenly I found I have only three pictures with him 🙂

Published in: on 08/12/2011 at 20:33  Leave a Comment  

Bach, Matthias Meyer, work safety and Święta Lipka

Again Święta Lipka (German name: Heiligelinde).

Always associated with Reszel and two neighbors buried there (that is another story yet to be told 😉 ).

Also associated with Matthias Johannes Meyer and his incredible talent.

And last but not least – associated with safety and security at work.

Why so?

Because Matthias Meyer fell from scaffolding while working in July 1737. This was a lethal accident. Therefore, Warmia, or should I say the whole Polish Kingdom lost an extremely talented painter.

Matthias was born in Lidzbark Warmiński – the capital of the Warmia (Ermland) bishopric.

Warmia was lucky to have enlightened rulers and rich ones too… No wonder then that patronage flourished. So this also was the case with the young Meyer. He was noticed by Bishop Teodor Potocki.

While describing the bishop we often add that he was a “fanatic” but it must be admitted that in his time very much has happened in the Episcopal principality. A lot when it comes to renovations, and foundations. Bishop Potocki was responsible, inter alia, for creation of the full of elegance and beauty church in Krosno (near Orneta), also for extension of the founding in Stoczek Klasztorny.

But coming back to Matthias Meyer – Bishop Potocki noticed the young painter working in the nearby parish church.  The youngster was talented whereas he lacked the refined line… Therefore the Bishop sent him to Italy to learn more.

In 1722 the fully educated young painter began work on decoration of the renewed (or may be should be – modernized) Church in Święta Lipka (Heiligelinde).

Mayer introduced to the Polish art quadratura (that is illusionist painting that mimics the architecture) in the decoration of the vaults, has also introduced a panoramic decoration (figural).

Matthias definitely WAS a skilled painter

We know (or we can rather guess) how the artist looked like because in two places in the shrine he left us his self-portrait. One in a vaulted ceiling in the corner over the organ, and the second in the picture “Christ teaches in the temple”.

Mayer’s vaulted ceiling in Św. Lipka

But Heiligelinde it not all that Matthias left us. We’ll meet him in the chapel of St. Bruno in Wozławki (German Wusslack) near Bisztynek (German: Bischofstein). There he worked on the order of Gottfried Heinrich Zu Eulenburg of Gallingen (then the pastor at  Wozławki).


We will meet him also in Frombork, where he ​​painted the chapel of Salvator (Savior). Above the entrance to this magnificent chapel, he left his signature.

Teodor Potocki has not forgotten about his protégé. Once he became Primate of Poland, he ordered Meyer to paint of his funerary chapel in the cathedral of Gniezno. Besides the murals he painted oil paintings too. But these are rarities today, and one such is in the Museum of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

The last works of Meyer were performed in the Święta Lipka (Heiligelinde) church in the years 1733-1937. And those were paintings on the ceiling and walls in the northern part of the church cloister. They are, as experts say, the most mature of his work. Unfortunately, they remain unfinished.


Well, in July 1737 Matt Meyer painted on the ceilings of the cloister.

For convenience he lay on the scaffold. The theme of the painting was the fight between the Angel and the Devil. It was then that the terrible accident happened. The painter had fallen from scaffolding. For few days he struggled with death, but unfortunately he lost the combat.

Because he was so much connected with Święta Lipka, and spent there so many years, he was buried in a crypt under the church floor.

And for his “trip from Here to Eternity” he was given his attributes … 3 brushes, with which he almost never parted. Undoubtedly, he was A Someone on the artistic map of the eighteenth-century Polish Kingdom.
And… I would not be me, if I did not notice the acoustic holes 😉

I got a great lecture on them from Mr. G.B. (the acoustician from the Technical University of Gdansk) – so they attract my eyes, wherever they appear…

acoustic holes

And to conclude this essay, again I have to state I was lucky, to hear an organ recital. I did not call the parish prior to the visit, mindful of the incredible luck that accompanies me there. Namely – every time (I mean the off-season) I visit the Sanctuary I am lucky to hear the mini concert. And so it was this time.

I put a sample of the recital HERE to listen to Bach and look at the brilliant paintings by Matthias Johann Meyer.

Wednesday Wedding

There are many places in Gdansk related to the history of Sweden. These so-called Swedish traces in our city today attract tourists from Scandinavia (especially from the families or relatives associated with these places.)

One such place in Gdansk is undoubtedly the popular St. Mary’s Church. But I do not want to write about it again.  What I want to do now, is write about an incident that took place in an overseas country. The incident had an impact on the creation of an interesting epitaph (and a chapel too) in the said church.

And this is how the story goes:

Since he remembered, Johan Nilsson Gyllenstierna (av Ludholmen) had nearly always been in love with Sigrid Brahe (seems with reciprocity).

But… (there always is a BUT in every story)… Sigrid was “promised” to Erik Bielke.

And it is very much possible, that everything would have happened according to the family scenario, if not for… Princess Anne Vasa.

Sigrid was one of the ladies-in-waiting at Anne’s court and at the same time she was one of her favorite ones too. Johann Nilsson on the other hand – was one of the Swedish nobles, who opted for Sigismund III Vasa.

Apart from her beloved Princess, Sigrid, had no one to confide her illicit love to a beautiful cavalier (for this was how the contemporary described Johan Nilsson). Anna remembered her own romantic episode (almost since her childhood she was in love with Gustav Brahe), so who better than she could understand the despair of the girl.

And there was something more… There were rumors about Erik Bielke’s shameful disease. It was believed that he had caught the disease during his trip to Poland. That was more than enough for the girl. She simply fled to Stegeborg, her Lady’s castle.

Soon, Johann came to the castle too… Anne, moved with compassion, trusting in the strength of her authority (after all, she was the king’s sister), arranged a hasty wedding of the couple.

It was Wednesday, 19th March 1595, and the witnesses were Princess Anne and Lindorm Bonde – the envoy to Sigismund III.

Instantly there rose an uproar in the kingdom. In the premises of the three mighty families: Gyllenstierna, Brahe and Bielke there were even rumors about war among the families. However, nothing could be done, because the marriage had been legally concluded. And that, in the presence of the royal sister and royal envoy.

And here – a little digression – what luck, that Sweden was not familiar with the Polish squabbling and lawlessness from a bit earlier times. Because otherwise Sigrid would have inevitably ended as Halszka Ostrogska did.

Going back to the Wednesday Wedding (the only Wednesday Wedding in Swedish history) …

The case has become so famous that it was discussed in the Parliament. Anna was chided by her uncle Charles Duke of Södermanland (regent at that time). It is said that he would have chided her for anything, because he simply disliked her …

The Parliament resolved that national problem in such a way that the Gyllenstierna family was ordered to pay compensation to the Bielke family, and also a so called supplementary for the poor. In total, about 3 thousand thalers. Also it was enacted that the young couple should remain away from the so-called great world for at least 6 months in the year, so as not to annoy the humiliated family of the former fiancé.

During their stay in Kalmar – their son was born, whom they named Sigismund in honor of the Polish king.

Soon, the supporters of King Sigismund III had to leave Sweden because Charles – who yet was only a regent – he made a formal coup and seized power in the country. It was easier for him, as in contrast to the ultra catholic Sigismund – he was a Protestant. Sweden at that time was also Protestant, and the conduct of Sigismund was far from the tolerance of his Polish ancestry on the distaff side.

Johan Nilsson Gyllenstierna settled with his family in Gdansk. In 1608 he became a widower, and died in 1617.

The “fruit” of the famous  Wednesday Wedding – Sigismund – founded the chapel, from which I started my tale…

The chapel is located in the St. Mary’s Church – on the north side of the entrance, near the Shoemakers’ Gate. It is called the chapel of St. Reinhold or very often the Guldenstern Chapel. Above the entrance to it there can be seen a very interesting family epitaph.

The founder, as I said was Zygmunt – or rather, Sigismund Gyllenstierna.

So why Guldenstern?

Those who are unfamiliar with the Swedish language agree that it is extremely difficult to pronounce his name! How much joy do I bring to my Swedish groups everytime I’m trying to say it correctly 😉

Gdansk citizens as well as the Polish courtiers, with whom Johan had contacts had the same problems with the correct pronunciation. Therefore the surname had to be changed… His son was already known as Guldenstern. And as such, is known as the founder of the chapel.

Very important is the message of the founder, that not only members of the family can find the rest in the chapel. It was said that also those who had lost their Swedish homeland… But it is a topic for a separate story.

And what about Sigismund? He received excellent education in Torun’s Academic Gymnasium (which was one of the three such schools in the Polish Kingdom with an extremely high level of teaching).

Later he studied at the Universities of Leiden, Strasbourg and Rostock. After returning home he became one of the courtiers of King Sigismund III and even became a royal bed keeper…

In 1633 his nobility was approved by the coronation Diet of Wladyslaw IV.

In 1635, at the king’s command he and Gerhard Denhoff became directors of the Commission of His Royal Highenss’ Fleet.

His wife was Anna von Zehmen (Czema), daughter of Chelmno Castellan  – Fabian Czema.

In 1636 in Torun, he was one of the leaders of funeral services for Princess Anna Vasa, a person who greatly contributed to his birth…

And nine years later at the Torun Town Hall, during the Colloquium Charitativum he chaired the Lutherans of the Polish Kingdom.

To the guides in the Malbork Castle he is known for his failed defense against the Swedes in 1656; and to the Gdansk guides – he is known for holding the castellany since October of that year. We meet him again during the 1660 peace negotiations – when he demanded the return of his property in Sweden…

He died six years later and was buried in the chapel, which he founded…

The times passed, the fame of the family faded away. What remains? The epitaph in the church with a golden star and a memory of Sweden’s only Wednesday Wedding and romantic mediation of Princess Anna Vasa …


Published in: on 08/04/2011 at 22:12  Leave a Comment  
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Joachim Oelhaf

1580 was a crucial year for medicine in Gdansk.

It was when lectures on anatomy were introduced in Gdansk Academic Gymnasium, and the cathedral of anatomy and medicine was opened there. It was headed by the first official professor of anatomy in the Kingdom of Poland – Johann Mathesius (born in Joachimsthal,  Bohemia1544- died 1607).

His successor was Joachim Oelhaf.

This Gdansk citizen was one of the most eminent doctors in the 17th century Kingdom of Poland. He studied at Wittenberg. Then he spent some time at the Polish royal court, where he had the opportunity to benefit from the experience of the court physician of Sigismund III Vasa – Giovanni Battista Gemma.

Scholarship awarded by the City Council of Gdansk allowed Oelhaf to continue his studies in Padua and Montpellier, where he obtained a doctorate in medicine. At that time, Padua was a major center of the anatomical research.

Oelhaf returned to Gdansk in 1602, taking a function of the City’s physician. The year 1602 is a year of plague in Gdansk. It is considered that at least 15,000 lost their lives then – with an estimated population of about 50,000 – counting the suburbs. During this terrible time Dr. Oelhaf demonstrated great dedication, and gave evidence that he became a doctor from vocation. His generosity gained him a great esteem in Gdansk. When the epidemic ended life in the city slowly returned to normal – and also the Gymnasium re-opened. Joachim was appointed professor of  anatomy and medicine there. Now, in addition to medical practice, he lectured, participated in the debates of scholars, which was in good tone, and wrote scientific papers. As he was interested in botany as an auxiliary science for medicine, he founded a garden for medicinal herbs on the city’s ramparts. Medicine was his passion, and cognition – the route to it.

It is known that he conducted three autopsies. The first one was of a child with pathology of liver, the next – was necropsy of professor Keckermann. On February 27th of the year 1613 he conducted the first in this part of Europe public autopsy. In the times of the Franciscans it was the small refectory,  then in the times of Gdansk Academic Gymnasium it became the anatomy hall. Today there is an exhibition of  gold smithery in the room. And the building today houses Gdansk National Museum. This autopsy of 1613 was of a child with multiple defects. The child was born in nearby Pruszcz Gdanski (Praust). The results of the autopsy were published – hence it became known internationally throughout the then medical world.

During his stays in Gdansk, the King gladly visited Oelhaf. Those royal visits undoubtedly raised the prestige of the city physician.

Oelhaf’s life was very intense, because in addition to medical practice, lectures at the Gymnasium, disputes, has conducted experiments, and investigations of the medicinal properties of plants, he participated in surgeries, and he wrote treatises on physiology and anatomy. Unfortunately, this success story and the activity were interrupted by the plague in 1630. Joachim was one of its victims.

Joachim had a son: Nicholas who continued research on the herbs after his famous father. He has published work in the field of herbal medicine. And in this he was a forerunner. He described about  350 plants used in medicine. Nicholas was also the town doctor (physician), and the court physician of King Wladyslaw IV. Considering the kidney illness, from which the King had suffered since his early youth – Nicholas was a very busy court physician.

Unfortunately I know nothing more about his further life. Therefore it is all for the time being.


More about Dear Geoffrey C.

What a fantastic idea someone had – to make Dear Geoffrey write a blog!!!

Enjoy reading here: Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog

Dear Geoffrey C.

For years I have been haunted by Geoffrey Chaucer.

This could be the opening sentence as well as the closing one… or the only one here.

But it needs some explanation.

My childhood was quite colorful. Thanks to my Dad, I had no time to be bored. Apart from attending English school – I had English lessons too. So as to catch the accent (or whatever they wanted me to catch)…

Finally I started to speak, and understand. This gave my teacher an idea to educate me more. She demanded reading Chaucer in original. 😉

Skipping several years…

I came to Poland and I was forced to study the English Philology. This was the worst I could do. It was being taught in a wrong way, the teachers had problems with pronunciation…

But one was worth suffering this all – Chaucer 😉

I had to read the Canterbury tales 😀 And once again – I had to read it in Middle English.

After many years – I decided to go and see the grave of this man, who had a great influence on my life… I went to the Westminster Abbey to see his grave. Unfortunately it was forbidden to take pictures there.

Why do I mention Dear Geoffrey here?

Simply because in the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (The Knight’s Tale)  Malbork was mentioned. Not exactly – but let’s see how:

A knight there was, and he a worthy man,

Who, from the moment that he first began

To ride about the world, loved chivalry,

Truth, honour, freedom and all courtesy.

Full worthy was he in his liege-lord’s war,

And therein had he ridden (none more far)

As well in Christendom as heathenesse,

And honoured everywhere for worthiness.

At Alexandria, he, when it was won;

Full oft the table’s roster he’d begun

Above all nations’ knights in Prussia.

In Latvia raided he, and Russia,

No christened man so oft of his degree.

So… definitely the name Prussia (Pruss) means Malbork. But how do we know?

The explanation is in the history of the Teutonic Knights in Europe, and their greed for land an power.  When they built the capital in Marienburg (today Malbork) – they had to impress the arriving knighthood from other countries. Noone would have wanted to come to a simple monastery. Hence  such a huge castle, and splendid rooms. Among them was (and still is) the impressive the Great Refectory. It was the biggest feast room in the then Europe.

Here is some description of this exceptional room – from the brochure “The Grand Masters’ Residential Complex in Malbork Middle Castle. Palace with the Western Wing” – an editorial supported by a grant from Norway through the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.

…A huge hall called the Grand Refectory lies adjacent to the Palace from the north. The interior, supported by three pillars, was built in the first half of the 14th century. The first written record of this room being used comes from August 24th 1337. It was a reception hall, allowing the highest dignitaries of the Order to guest knights from all of Europe, and host lavish feasts made greater still by abundant “artistic programs”. Guests and artists from whole Europe were invited here. This was not only an element of courtly etiquette, but also a part of the Order’s strategy as they fought their battles using chiefly the strength of western European knights. Knights so received and motivated would go to Koenigsberg from whence they would embark on raids against Lithuania. These guests also took part in the wars against Poland, and constituted the core of the Order’s forces. Moreover, the Grand Refectory was also used to guest emissaries and delegations, as well as being the place where the Teutonic chapters were held. These gatherings met to debate on matters of the greatest importance to the Order, such as the election of its Grand Masters…

Among the known who visited the castle  and feasted in the Refectory – was Henry Bolingbroke, later King Henry IV of Enlgland.

How would Geoffrey know about this place on earth – which today seems a bit forgotten? Well, he held a post of a Comptroller of the Customs for the port of London… So he must have met the knights returning from or setting off to Prussia.

Also, it should be remembered that the name “spruce tree” comes from here… From Prussia. But this is another story 🙂

Published in: on 20/01/2011 at 22:10  Comments (1)  

Elisabet Boehm and Village Women

The former East Prussia still amazes…

Some time ago I was captured by a marvelous portrait of Agnes von der Groeben, and now – I have “stumbled” upon another remarkable woman from this land.

And everything – as usual – by accident …

Well, during our short holiday in Galiny (Galingen) – we went to Kętrzyn (Rastenburg), as I wanted very much to see the tomb banner of Botho Zu Eulenburg. The tomb banners were popular in the 17th century and later. Not many of them survived – as the material is not resistant to time and… wars (and those were numerous here throughout the history).

En route we dropped to Łabędnik (Groß Schwansfeld) – well, not everything has to match our imagination… And then we drove through Garbno. Just drove… not even giving the place a bit of interest…

What a pity we did not stop there!


To answer this – I have to start from the beginning 😉

Once upon a time…

In the Prussian times Garbno had a different name… In the 14th century it was called Laumygarbis, and in the next – 15th century the place was called Lamegarben. The name of the settlement may derive from Prussian language. “Lamem”, “lama” – meant marshes, swamps, wet place, and “garbis” – meant the hill. And so it was a “Hill among the marshes.” Also it sometimes can be read that the name derives from the word “Lauma” – witch. And the translation of the name as “Hill of Witches.” Probably the will-o’-the-wisps were mistaken for witches. 😉

And then, a standard history of these areas swept through here.  Namely: the Teutonic Knights and their new orders. Castles, manors and firstly the fortified churches were built in these lands. The newly built churches were often placed on the former (pagan) worship sites.

And so it was with the church in Garbno. It was built on a hill, probably on an ancient place of Bartian worship. See the map of the Prussian tribes (clans) in the 13th century.

The castle is not preserved – as it was destroyed during the Thirteen Year’s War .

Of course the new propaganda wanted and had to tame the place, so they made a legend about the lamb appearing at the same time and in the same place. Whenever it was caught – it escaped miraculously just to appear again in harvest time… So the church was built in the place of the lamb’s appearance.

We must however remember that the place was give to the free Prussians. Contrary to the popular belief, the Prussians were not exterminated by the Teutons. The were assimilated probably more or less in the 16th or 17th century. In the 13th century a village was founded – today’s Garbno –  based on the Kulm Law. And then, as it often happened here – the history changed its course.

In the beginning of 1521 the then Teutonic Grand Master – Albert handed ca. 14 włóka (włóka means today’s 17,955 ha, or ca.44,4 acres) of land in Garbno to Heinrich von Egloffstein. And the village stayed in the hands of this family until 1832.

However – probably the village was leased to a von Buddenbrock family while the Egloffsteins lived in their palace in Arklity (Arklitten). Here at the beginning of 1810 Gustav von Buddenbrock was born. Later he became a Prussian army officer and a Knight of the Order Pour La Merite (for participation in the Franco-Prussian War).

In 1832 Garbno gets a new owner, a Christian Bierfreund. After a few years – the property goes into the hands of Lieutenant Konrad von Redecker, who in 1856 sold it to Edward Krause.

(The Redeckers are connected with the wonderful palace in Nakomiady – formerly Eichmedien. 

In 1880 the property was handed to Otto Boehm of Głowbity (d. Glaubitten). And this is where I “stumbled upon” the aforementioned remarkable woman. Otto received the property from his father on the occasion of his wedding with Miss Elisabet  Steppuhn of Łękajny (Landkeim).

Elisabet founded the first in Germany Village Women’s Union (22.02.1898r.). The main goal of this Union was primarily education of village women and enabling them to exchange experiences. This was not all, as the Union also dealt with distribution of preserves.

Elisabeth was the organizer of the school network for women throughout Germany. These schools were aimed at preparing women to conduct household.  The idea was adopted both in Europe and overseas. Polish Village Housewives’ Circles also rose from this movement.

In 1911 the Boehms were forced to sell the property and moved to Konigsberg. The reason for the decision was Otto’s illness. However, this did not slow Elisabet’s activity. With her own funds she set up a foundation, which opened a school for housewives and village women in one of the districts of Königsberg (Princess Cecilia School in Koenigsberg-Metgethen).

The times in which Mrs. Boehm worked were quite difficult for women. In the social sense they were in fact just an addition to the man. All that was expected from them (simplifying of course) was diligence, good manners and the ability to give birth to the successor/heir.

The Village Women’s Union made a bee their sign. It was not only that it was a symbol of what was required of a village woman to be like (work like a busy honey bee). Also because the Union systematically tried to change the mentality of women. So that from the docile and passive (not to say even mindless) robots working on farms, they would become conscious companions of their husbands.

From today’s point of view – nothing extraordinary. But then it was almost a revolution!

And this “revolution” was recognized in 1913. Elisabeth was awarded  silver medal by Her Imperial Majesty – Augusta Victoria during the imperial visit in Königsberg ( Her Imperial Majesty came to visit one of the Boehm schools).

The “work at the foundations” done by the former owner of Garbno was acknowledged and appreciated. In 1920 Departments for Practical Training of Village Women were established within the Governmental Boards of Agriculture .

In 1929 Elisabet Boehm received Honorary Doctorate from the University of Königsberg and an honorary citizenship of the city.

She died in 1943 in Halle.

At the end of the twentieth century – in 1993, Elisabet image was shown on one of the German post stamps in the series “Famous Women.”

In 1998 a plaque dedicated to his exceptional woman was placed on the wall of the Garbno manor.

Elisabet Boehm was not only clever and wise but also beautiful.

What about Garbno?

Well … In 1911, it was acquired by Erich Schultz-Fademrecht. He was a famous breeder of military and agriculture horses. He ran the farm until January 1945, being also the last mayor of the village.

And then in 1945 the Russian front came, or rather hailed down on this land,  and… again new times stroke. Is this the last curve of the history for this place?

And I would have never learned about this all, if I had not found a “Newspaper in Kętrzyn” from 2006 with an interesting article about this remarkable woman…

*  /   *  

And… I thought it was all, that I could not find anything more. I was wrong 🙂 Internet is a wonderful device – and a splendid way of contacting. Recently I received a note on this article. A VERY precious note, as it comes from a member of the Boehm Family… In fact there were two notes (they can be found in the comments to this article). I put them together – and here I am pasting them as one. A very interesting supplement enriching my notes on Elisabeth. Now, she became even more familiar to me. I like her (I also had a great grand mother wearing breeches, and smoking a pipe, helping the poor in her domain, riding a horse, and… gambling…) 🙂

Dear Madam,

Otto Boehm, was a brother of my grandfather (Julius Boehm), born May 14th, 1855 Glaubitten. He died April 1st 1921 Königsberg i. Pr.

Elisabet (his wife) died at Halle/river Saale May 5th, 1943. Her urn was burried at Glaubitten (Globitty/Poland)

Otto Boehm was a quiet retired military man and his wife Elisabet was an extremely active woman more interested in ruling and working for her women association than in family matters. (She did wear the breeches)

The mother of Elisabet Boehm (Steppuhn) was Emilie Dorothea Caroline Roggerath. She was born at Gardelegen, November 6th, 1826. She died at Liekeim , May 8th, 1896

Her Husband was (acc. my resources) Hermann Julius Steppuhn. He was born at Lackmedien, May 14th 1827 and died at Liekeim May 5th, 1907

I am a member of the Boehm family.

With best regards, Gerhard Boehm, Hamburg/Germany

The Schwartzwald family from Gdansk

Writing about Copernicus I went through my archives in search of photographic illustrations. Among the multitude of images (as I passionately take photos always and almost everywhere,), I found photos of Bartholomew Schachmann’s epitaph.

And I immediately recalled the mystery from the Nowy Dwor Gdanski.

Well, some time ago I participated in another conference – this time it was about Gothic churches in Żuławy. During the conference we had a few trips around the area – and among others we visited the Żuławy Museum in Nowy Dwor Gdanski. I will not elaborate on the conference (not now anyway) – I’ll write about the mystery …

Well, after entering a bit dark interior of the museum in Nowy Dwor Gdanski, where the Mennonite stelae are stored – I noticed a heraldic cartouche, quite incongruous both in style and content.

When I asked the lady showing us around – if she knew whose coat of arms was on the shield (as it was very much destroyed by time and someone’s hand) she said no one knew. The stone was brought here and left without any further explanation– that was all. I returned home and started to rummage through Siebmacher’s armorial because the coat of arms – or should I rather say the crest, seemed familiar to me.

But even before I went through Siebmacher, I fund it in St. Mary’s in Gdansk – where I went with my camera, to put the stress away.

Taking again and again the pictures of the epitaph of Bartholomeo Schachmann – I noticed THE coat of arms.… It was the Schwarzwald family coat of arms. Why then the Schwartzwalds if I am writing about the Schachmann epitaph?

The explanation is seen in the lower part of the epitaph.

I also found some information on his family.

In the incunabula collection of the Gdansk library of the Polish Academy of Science, there are some old books. They once had belonged to the famous marquise d’Oria, also to the church libraries, specifically the St. Peter and Paul Church library. This one was incorporated to the Municipal Library in the 19th century. And P.A. o. S. is in some way its successor. And this book collection was, until present times, considered to be the remains of the so-called Schwartzwald Library (owned by Heinrich Schwartzwald) – 16th century.

Those were times of the family’s ennoblement – so it was natural that, with the ennoblement – came education, and maintaining the library was nearly a necessity. The Schwartzwalds were Calvinists – so the St. Peter and Paul’s library was the place for the books (with their family coat of arms). In Gdansk the Schwartzwalds owned the so-called Lion’s Castle, a house located at No. 35 of the Long Street.

There is historical information about the wedding of Katherine née Schwartzwald with Matthias Zimmermann, which took place in October of 1562. This particular weeding echoed in the city and far beyond – as it broke all the anti-luxury rules (issued in 1540 and restricting the number of meals at weddings). Unfortunately in 1572 Katherine became a widow. In 1573 she remarried – this time it was Michael Kerl. The couple lived in his house at 29 Long Street. In 1586 Katherine again became a widow, and this time an excellent match occurred – it was Bartholomeo Schachmann himself!!!

On the epitaph of Schachmann in St. Mary’s in Gdansk – besides Anna Blemke (equally good match) Katherine is mentioned. She could not be omitted – as she was the daughter of the family ennobled by the Emperor Charles V!

Katherine died in 1599.

This is all could find so far… The men of this family remain much more mysterious ;)

On the epitaph of Bartholomeo Schachmann – Katherine Schwartzwald’s coat of arms is placed on the heraldic right side – above the entablature.

The epitaph can be seen on the south pillar of the transept.

And… that’s all for now :)

Published in: on 27/09/2010 at 17:43  Leave a Comment  

Nicolaus Copernicus

Nicolaus Copernicus is currently a fashionable topic … Especially that this May his remains will be buried in Frombork. After nearly 5 years of investigation – there is a very big probability that the remains found in the Frombork Cathedral – are the ones of the famous astronomer.

The first version of this text was written on the St. Valentine’s Day. I felt deeply disgusted by the press announcements about Dr. Nicolaus and his supposed love affair with his distant cousin and cook – Anne Schilling.

So – please read this as an opening explanation and warning:

In the Valentine’s Day context it is a great abuse (and very much distasteful) – to call Gdansk a city  of the Love Affair of … Nicolaus Copernicus and Anne Schilling.

It is better to carefully read the story of loves and love in the city on the Motława River! So as no to depart from the historical truth, and so that the knowledge of the city is not build if only … rumors.

It would be best to go through the archives – to find the historical truth (which is not at all so obvious) but it would be enough to read some biographical books (but not the most recent ones… being more sensational than true).

Who wants to learn about Cupid in Gdansk, can read the life story of Maurice Ferber, who later in his life became the Bishop of Warmia… and therefore Copernicus’ boss. But before this he was a hero of a real love scandal of his times. I mean the affair with Anna Pilemann. It was a real scandal!

And for those who enjoy love stories I strongly recommend “listening” to the stories told by the epitaphs in Gdansk’s St. Mary’s Church.

For years now I have been developing a “Love Gossip Tour” around Gdansk…  as well as around the former East Prussia. And I assure – there are a lot more spicy stories to hear 😉

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The rest of the article was rewritten and amended after the re-burial.

But back to Dr. Nicholas … Now – suddenly he became fashionable … And especially his private life. As if it was something new! A lot has been written about him. The list of better or worse books (including foreign ones), is quite long.

Let me remind everyone, that on 22nd May – this year (2010) Copernicus was re-buried in Frombork. After 2005 when his remains were found in Frombork Cathedral and after years of research and debate (whether it is him or not) … finally the re-burial was decided…

As I feared, as usually, unfortunately, this ceremony too remained mostly local. Just like the lost race for the tourists – right after the excavation in the cathedral. And yet the findings were at least interesting.

It was a pity therefore that the whole ceremony was not at full blast.

There has been a lot of time to blaze abroad about this exceptional opportunity to participate in the reburial of SUCH a famous person.

Once again – Frombork – from being at the world’s end (as Copernicus wrote about it) did not became the world’s center. At least for a day or two… Maybe then it would have become popular place to stay during summer. It lost its “five minutes” to become famous.

Maybe the so-called infrastructure is not the best yet. Maybe the local authorities cannot handle so much.

But then – Frombork has a splendid location.

It is a charming town on the Vistula Lagoon with a good transport connection – with not only local busses but also boats from Frombork to Krynica. And Frombork has quite a tasty food in its restaurants. Not to mention the delicious cakes and coffee served in the so-called Water Tower…

And it has more… It has this “something”… A unique atmosphere.

In the Museum there is a very interesting – though small department of the history of medicine. It also has the famous “three-cows-on-the gable”…

And it has … a sensational Last Judgment painting!!!

And… it all has just reminded me of the Copernicus Trail.

I have been working on it for several years now, and I call it a Subjective Copernicus Trail. Or – Copernicus Trail by Kasia

Of course, the trail begins far from Frombork – in Torun. It was there that our hero was born as the son of a merchant. Being in Torun it is necessary to see the Saint Johns’ Church, as he was baptized here.

But Torun is a unique city in general. Not only because of Copernicus.

There actually one can really touch gothic…

Going back to the trail – it leads then to Warmia Region – tracing the locations of the “abandoned fields” (it took me some time to develop this route – it is very interesting, and in summer – beautiful).

Also the towns en route are a MUST. The towns connected with the Administrator of the Chapter lands.

So… Driving along the Copernican route Gdańsk should not be forgotten. Doctor Nicolaus visited the town at least twice. Once in 1504 – the occasion was his cousin’s wedding (Kordula von Allen married Reinhold Feldstedt, a Gdansk wealthy merchant). And the second time was a six months’ visit in 1526.

After Reinhold’s death Copernicus was one of the three protectors of the widow and children. Other caregivers were Arendt Schilling and Michael Loitz. Arendt is the alleged husband of Anna. And Anna Schilling (supposed to have been Copernicus’ mistress) was the daughter of Nicolaus’ cousin. And who was Michael Loitz? He was a representative of the well-known family of Szczecin-Gdansk bankers. About Michael we should think, while driving to or from Nowy Dwor Gdanski (an hour’s drive from Gdansk to the east). And it was he, who was riding with his son Johann to Frombork at the news about the sickness of Doctor Nicolaus. All so that Johann could take over his canonry… But this is another story….

Going further along the Copernicus Trail – we also need to visit Malbork. Indeed, he was here few times. One can see an appropriate plaque on one of the castle walls…

It is in Malbork, in May 1528 that a Prussian Diet (Royal Prussia Seym – Council) was held. At the Diet Doctor Nicholas gave the speech “About minting.” He also reformed the Bread Rate.

We also must necessary visit Elblag! Here, walking the so called Church Path one can consider whether Nicolaus has ever walked this way?

He walked for sure! During his numerous visits to the town. We must remember that Elblag  is not far from Frombork, and at Copernicus’ times it was a very rich  town. And therefore it was a very important town too. It is enough to remember that Queen Elisabeth I of England established the branch of the Eastland Company there!!! There are many English names in the history of Elbląg (Elbing).

Unfortunately, our trail does not include Königsberg (today Kaliningrad). Nicholas stayed there too, at the invitation of Prince Albert Hohenzollern. Königsberg is not on the trail map, because after the last war there is nothing left of the known and historical Königsberg.

Deliberately I did not mention Copernicus’ observations of the sky, mainly because this is well-known, and is not the purpose of this article. It is enough to say, that he was definitely not detached from reality, and not only a “researcher of sky” – as we were made believe during years of  boring school lessons. Doctor Copernicus however was an active and excellent administrator. And also a talented strategist. This can be traced – while reading about the preparations of Olsztyn’s defense against the Teutons…. He was also an energetic land governor. The evidence of this can be traced in the documents. For example – once fishermen from the Teutonic territory were arrested for fishing on Pasłęka, the then border river. It was a typical preventive detention and it was ordered by the administrator of the chapter – Dr. Nicolaus. It was fully justified – because it took place in times of war. He twice held the post of the Chancellor of the Chapter.

He was also a consultant for Bernard Wapowski (Polish nobleman and a genius cartographer), when he worked on the map of the Polish Kingdom and Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Consultation related to the topography of Prussia. Copernicus developed a map of the western part of the Vistula Lagoon.

But above all he was a doctor. Although today his prescriptions might be shocking. Well, for example, where to get powdered unicorn horn (I know, I know it could be a narwhal …). Or who would care for collecting frogs’ dung…

Visiting Frombork, a place at the end of the world (as Dr. Nicholas wrote in his letters to friends), we must necessarily climb the so-called Radziejowski Tower. Look around then – and far into the Holy Warmia.

How often must have Copernicus traveled to locate abandoned land. We sometimes drive through a place – a village or small town, which for us is just a point on the map. We do not even realize that it was located by Copernicus.

So much for Nicholas – without the unhealthy sensation.

So… till the next season – to again set off on the Subjective Copernicus Trail…