Talk:De revolutionibus orbium coelestium

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Needs correction[edit]

The current entry has some very incorrect things in them -- especially the initial assertion that Copernicus offered a "drastically simplified" system. His only "simplification" was getting rid of the equant -- other than that, it contains all of the complexity of the Ptolemaic system. There are a number of other errors which sound like they came out of a science textbook rather than a history one. It is fairly clear that the books listed in the bibliography were not actually the sources for this article, for they say nothing of the sort! --Fastfission 04:00, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

I think, for the English reader, a German translation of the Latin title is unimportant. Actually it is not easy to translate it properly, and in any case the English version is all which is of interest.--Dagox 16:37, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Jean Calvin was not anti-Copernican. Rather, he said that he had no interest in the matter and that people could believe what they wanted as long as it did not disrupt the unity of the church. 04:42, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Calvin was clearly anti-Copernican in his comments on Psalm 93.1. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:40, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Most expensive book? museum seems to be wrong...[edit]

The pl:Muzeum Okręgowe w Toruniu (museum here in Toruń) claims that De revolutionibus is "the most expensive book in the world" (,,najdroższa książka świata"). i was just wondering if anyone had any reliable source for that... The claim is printed in an invitation to see the book at an exhibition tonight and is also online. OK, claim disproved. The claim puts de revolutionibus at 1 million euros - while Shakespeare's First Folio was recently sold for about 4 times that (5 million us dollars) - Exaggerated claim looks wrong. OK, enough trivia. Boud (talk) 13:41, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

On a related note, a copy of the book sold recently for $2.2M, if anyone thinks this is worth mentioning. faithless (speak) 04:53, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

Dedication to Pope Paul III should be merged into this article. The Dedication article is very short and has no prospect of significant expansion. The dedication has no existence or history that is independent of the book. Only about one sentence in the Dedication article is actually about the dedication; the rest of the article is about De revolutionibus. Finell (Talk) 07:10, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

I looked at that article; there was nothing to merge, so it has been redirected. –Outriggr § 03:23, 28 February 2008 (UTC)


Tycho is under the heading "Copernicans", although his system differed considerably. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:26, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

The Model[edit]

The last paragraph of the History subsection asserts that Copernicus was forced to use the epicycle model. Actually, Copernicus retained the epicycle model because his work was a revision of Ptolemy's model with the motion of the planets centered on the Sun rather than on the Earth. The epicycle model sufficed to approximate the elliptical orbital motion of the planets. The notion of elliptical orbits was unknown until Johannes Kepler figured it out a hundred or so years later.

The preface of the book is correct in its assertion that mathematics, not physics, is the basis for the theory. Both models - Ptolemaic and Copernican - are mathematical fits to observational data. It is because of this that their usefulness as predictive models was limited. The Copernican model is simpler because planetary motion seen from the Sun is simpler than that seen from the Earth.

The physics of planetary motion really did not exist until Sir Isaac Newton devised his Law of Gravitation and developed the Calculus to provide the basis for modern models. Modern Newtonian models are extremely accurate in their predictive ability compared to the epicycle models.

As a side-light, it is interesting to note that an epicycle model is used to compute the position of the Moon in the derivation of the modern Hindu calendar. (Nachum Dershowitz and Edward M. Reingold: Calendrical Calculations, Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Virgil H. Soule (talk) 05:03, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Welcome, Virgil! Please feel free to make whatever corrections you believe are needed in the article, provided that you cite reliable sources that support your changes. That is how Wikipedia works. By the way, Kepler came close to figuring out the physics. He wrote that that the sun was responsible for the the planets' orbital motion, which is the first inkling of the notion of force from astronomer. Newton borrowed more from Kepler than he acknowledged, which was not out-of-character for Newton. Finell (Talk) 06:31, 10 September 2008 (UTC)


Gingerich is said to have been awarded the Order of Merit in 1981. His book was published in 2004 and is said to have been the reason for the award. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:01, 4 November 2008 (UTC) It seems that he was actually awarded the Order in 1981, before the publication in 2004. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:07, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

I made a small change to resolve this conflict. In "The Book Nobody Read", Gingerich describes how it was preparing for the quinquecentennial (500th?) of Copernicus' birthday in the early 1970s that started him on his quest, so he'd had over a decade of research done by the time he received the order. I double checked, though, and this site confirms the 1981 date.Quietmarc (talk) 20:21, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Thill's list of Copernicans and anti-Copernicans[edit]

In my opinion this list should be deleted. Since the source—Olivier Thill's The Life of Copernicus (1473-1543)—was printed by a vanity press (Xulon Press) it constitutes a self-published work and therefore does not qualify as a reliable source by Wikipedia's criteria. More worrisome is that the article's list of "Copernicans" includes such people as:

  • Tycho Brahe, who does not satisfy the definition of "Copernican" used by any reliable source I am aware of;
  • Johannes Amos Comenius, whose Synopsis Physicae was, according to Alexandre Koyré, "violently antagonistic to the new astronomy";
  • Nicholas Mulerius (aka Nicolas Müller) who, according to J.L.E.Dreyer, had written "that he had never yet met with any valid reason for rejecting the old system";
  • Erasmus Reinhold, who is believed by some Copernican scholars (Edward Rosen, for instance) to have explicitly rejected heliocentrism, despite having praised Copernicus enthusiastically for his mathematical contributions to astronomy; and
  • Didacus a Stunica, who eventually rejected Copernicus's theory on physical grounds after having initially defended it.

In fact, Thill does not quite say that these people were Copernicans anyway, but that they were "at least not opposed to his system if a proof could be brought to them." This criterion, based as it is on a counterfactual conditional, is so loose as to be practically worthless. If the criterion were to be applied strictly, I don't see why there should be anyone at all in the anti-Copernican column. How does Thill know that any of his supposed "anti-Copernicans" would have remained opposed to heliocentrism even "if a proof could be brought to them"? In view of all this, I don't believe Thill's lists can be trusted to provide much useful information about the attitudes of the people listed towards Copernicus's theory, and should therefore be removed from the article.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:16, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, deletion of this helpful list is not acceptable to me. It is clearly marked as Thill's POV anyway, feel free to add another author's POV. Arthur Koestler in 1959 wrote that "De revolutionibus" was "The Book that Nobody Read", a statement explicitly disproven by Owen Gingerich. Do you now propose that Koestler "should therefore be removed" from Wikipedia due to his proven unreliability? Thill's book (which is, vanity published or not, cited by others) mentions many old scholars "who knew Copernicus' theory before 1615", giving examples, as "It is a mistake to believe that Copernicus' theory would not have been known without Galileo". That is uncontroversial and very helpful (I have created, translated or expanded articles on some of the figures mentioned). He simply could have listed the names alphabetically or chronologically, but on his now offline website (I don't think this list appears in the book), he had chosen to divide them into pro and con. That may be oversimplification, as he did not add a third neutral category for those "not opposed to his system if a proof could be brought to them", but at least it gives a general orientation. It is no reason for deletion. Now to the names mentioned above: no matter what people write about Comenius, it is undisputed that he had purchased the manuscript. Mulerius even published a third edition. Reinhold based his Prussian Tables on Copernicus work. How on earth could these three be considered "anti-Copernicans"?</spam> Why is it worrisome to you when, tertium non datur, these are called "Copernicans" then? Currently, the article is tagged with Category:Science and technology in Poland. That is something I suggest to delete, as it is vanity. -- Matthead  Discuß   18:52, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
As demonstrated by David Wilson, there are some clearly misleading examples in Olivier Thill's lists. Would it not be better to replace these lists with reliable ones—if such can be devised? Nihil novi (talk) 19:51, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I tend on the whole to agree with David Wilson as this list is anything but helpful; it is at best confusing, at least highly misleading and at worst simply wrong. To give one more example, on the basis of Thill's categorisation as described here then Magini must be placed in the pro Copernicus column as he used all of Copernicus' mathematical novelties to produce a new geocentric model making him more of a Copernican than for example Reinhold.

On the comment on Koestler, Gingerich is in fact incorrect in his claims. In the section of his book "The Sleepwalkers" with the heading "The Book Nobody Read" Koestler refers specifically, by name, to those historians of science and philosophy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who claimed that Copernicus' system was simpler then the then current Ptolemaic system as those who had not read De Revolutionibus, it wasn't simpler. As Koestler shows the Copernican system required many more circles than its rival and so was more complex. Gingerich's claim is actually a straw man.Thony C. (talk) 18:12, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Does Thill list only those individuals who were discussed by Pierre Gassendi? If Thill adds his own nominees, then that fact should be stated and the individuals that he adds should be identified in some way. Nihil novi (talk) 19:58, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Would it be useful to replace the existing lists with bullet-pointed lists of indisputably-documented important individuals who declared for or against Copernicus' theory in its original form? Or might there be too few unambiguously identifiable individuals to be worth listing? Nihil novi (talk) 18:38, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I have now amended the article so that it represents Thill's position more accurately. As a consequence it at least no longer misleadingly attaches the label "Copernican" to people for whom that characterisation is demonstrably false. I have not changed my opinion that Thill's lists should be deleted, but it may be a few days before I will be able to respond to the comments above.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 15:39, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately your ammended version is just as problematic, as at least Melanchthon, Clavius and Magini, and probably several others on the anti-Copernican list, would have had no problems accepting heliocentricity if there had been solid scientific proof for it. Why don't we just stick to historical fact instead of indulging in speculation. It is well know who actually accepted the whole of Copernicus' central thesis, who utilised his work without accepting his central thesis and who rejected it and why. Thony C. (talk) 17:51, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I'm certainly not going to complain if someone else decides to remove the lists entirely. However, I would not feel comfortable doing so myself as long as there remains an apparently unresolved dispute over their removal.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 23:36, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
On the basis of information so far presented, I concur about the necessity of deleting these lists. Nihil novi (talk) 02:59, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Matthead wrote:
"Sorry, deletion of this helpful list is not acceptable to me."
I can't see how removal of the lists from the article will prevent you from making whatever use of them you may consider "helpful". They will still be available on the internet archive of Thill's web site and in the article's history. If you would like more convenient access, you can copy them or create a link to them in your user space.
"It is clearly marked as Thill's POV anyway, feel free to add another author's POV."
With all due respect to Mr Thill, he does not appear to be recognised as an established expert in the the history of science. On the back cover of his book, he describes himself as "a computer engineer and specialist of the European Renaissance", and here he describes himself as a "Computer programmer, amateur historian of Copernicus, Descartes, and Peiresc." Nor does he appear to have had any of his work in the history of science published by reliable third-party publications. His book would therefore appear to fail the criteria required by Wikipedia policy for self-published material to qualify as an acceptable source. And if, as appears to be the case on this issue, his POV is not documentable from reliable sources by established experts in the field, Wikipedia policy prohibits it from being included in the article.
"Arthur Koestler in 1959 wrote that "De revolutionibus" was "The Book that Nobody Read", a statement explicitly disproven by Owen Gingerich. Do you now propose that Koestler "should therefore be removed" from Wikipedia due to his proven unreliability?"
I don't see the relevance of this. Again, with all due respect to Mr Thill, he does not appear to me to enjoy anywhere near the same notoriety as Arthur Koestler. I shouldn't be surprised if there are circumstances where it would be appropriate to cite Koestler's opinion on some matter simply because it was Koestler's opinion. Nevertheless, I do not, in fact, regard Koestler as reliable source on the history of science. So, yes, if Koestler were the only source cited in support of a contentious historical assertion made on Wikipedia, if that assertion were challenged, and if no genuinely reliable source could be found to support it, then I do indeed believe that it should then be removed.
"Thill's book ... mentions many old scholars "who knew Copernicus' theory before 1615", giving examples, as "It is a mistake to believe that Copernicus' theory would not have been known without Galileo". That is uncontroversial ... "
Indeed. So uncontroversial, in fact, that it is easily documentable by any number of genuinely reliable sources without any assistance being needed from Thill's lists.
" ... no matter what people write about Comenius, it is undisputed that he had purchased the manuscript. Mulerius even published a third edition. Reinhold based his Prussian Tables on Copernicus work. How on earth could these three be considered "anti-Copernicans"?"
I'm afraid I don't follow the logic here. Note first, however, that I did not say or imply that any of these people were "anti-Copernicans". My first objection was to the article's labelling these people as Copernicans. Since I have now amended the article so that it no longer does so, the grounds for that objection have now been eliminated.
In the case of Comenius, however, if it is true, as Koyré says, that his Synopsis Physicae was violently antagonistic to the new astronomy (and presuming that he never revised his opinion), then I don't see how he could be classified as anything other than "anti-Copernican". Surely any reasonable definition of "anti-Copernican" would have to include anyone who wrote violently antagonistic diatribes against Copernicanism. And I'm afraid I can't see how anyone's buying a Copernicus manuscript can tell you anything very definite about what their attitude towards his theory was, let alone nullify the obvious implication of their having written violently antagonistic diatribes against it.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 16:09, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Nihil novi wrote:

"Does Thill list only those individuals who were discussed by Pierre Gassendi?"

No. When a similar issue arose some time ago about the Nicolaus Copernicus article, I obtained a photocopy of Gassendi's original article from a facsimile copy of his collected works, and checked it for the names on Thill's lists. Of the 84 people listed by Thill, I could find only 26 in Gassendi's biography. All 26 belonged to Thill's list of alleged "Copernicans".[withdrawn;see below] Since my schoolboy Latin is now very rusty, I was unable to tell whether the classification of these people as "Copernicans" was justified by whatever Gassendi said about them. Gassendi didn't mention any of Thill's "anti-Copernicans" at all.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 17:05, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

"Reinhold based his Prussian Tables on Copernicus work. How on earth could these three be considered "anti-Copernicans"?"

Reinhold based his tables on the mathematics of the De Revolutionibus in the hope that they would then prove more accurate/reliable than the older tables based on Ptolemaeus, this however proved not to be the case. His use of the De Revolutionibus however does not imply approval of the Copernican cosmology to which he was in fact opposed. Only someone who accepts Copernicus' cosmology can justifiably be called a Copernican and as Robert Westman famously records there were only ten Copernicans in the whole world between 1543 and 1600. Thony C. (talk) 19:26, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Could you please add that to the "Copernicus" and De revolutionibus articles, with source? Nihil novi (talk) 03:35, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

Will do so as sone as I have time to dig out the original articles. Will also add details of his Wittenberg interpretation which details the use of the mathematics of De Revolutionibus without accepting the cosmology by people such as Reinhold.Thony C. (talk) 14:27, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

I have now posted a request on the reliable sources noticeboard [now archived] for opinions on the acceptability of Thill's web-site and book as sources.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 17:09, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Above, I wrote "All 26 [people mentioned in Gassendi's biography] belonged to Thill's list of alleged "Copernicans". ... Gassendi didn't mention any of Thill's "anti-Copernicans" at all." These statements were based on a misreading of my earlier comments on the Nicolaus Copernicus article talk page. My relevant comments there were referring to shorter extracts from Thill's list that then appeared in the Nicolaus Copernicus article. Since I don't now remember much of the details, all I can conclude from those earlier comments is that Gassendi's biography mentioned only about 26 of the people on Thill's lists, and did not mention any of Comenius, Bruno, Mersenne, Descartes, Melanchthon, Luther, Calvin, Julius Caesar Scaliger or Jean Bodin.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:03, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

These appear to be lengthy arguments controverting an assertion which is not Koestler's point.

Did Koestler actually assert that Copernicus was unread in the sixteenth century?

  • If so, that belongs (if anywhere) in the article on his book, with evidence that reliable sources disagree.
  • If not, why belabor it anywhere? We are not here to burn strawmen.

This list is an indiscriminate collection of people who expressed opinions on Copernicus before 1615, divided into negative and positive-to-neutral. It includes people who never saw Copernicus' book, and selects arbitrarily among them; as such it is incomplete - it omits John Donne (and if Copernicus was discussed by English court poets, it doubtless omits thousands more).

Thill's book is largely unreliable because of the method of publication. If he were the best scholar of Renaissance science now living, his book and website would still have been reviewed only by his own eyes, and he has failed to see bad writing, unclear and misleading exoressions, and outright slips of memory. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:31, 3 July 2009 (UTC)


Arthur Berry, in about 1898, suggested that the last two words of the title, "orbium coelestium" might have been added by Osiander. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:24, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

It seems clear that the original title was De revolutionibus. Can this not be restored to the title of this article? Can someone with more Latin experience clarify if this was a pun and that's why other editors were threatened by it? (Latin: Revolvo, -ere, revolvi, revolutum (tr) Roll back, go back over, consider [again])Jplvnv (talk) 10:30, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

It is by no means clear that the intended title of the book was "De revolutionibus" and as "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" was the title of the book as published then this is also the correct title for this article. If you wish to add a section presenting the arguments, with sources, for a title change during publication please free to do so.Thony C. (talk) 11:50, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

The article's title should remain as is, because this is the most widely recognized title. Any material added to the article about the title must cite reliable sources and represent mainstream scholarship, not fringe viewpoints. Finell (Talk) 19:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Calvin quotation[edit]

The article currently makes the long discredited assertion that John Calvin's Commentary on Genesis contains the rhetorical question: "Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?" This text doesn't appear anywhere in that work, and it hasn't been found in any of Calvin's other works either. A detailed refutation of the assertion can be found in Edward Rosen's Copernicus and his successors, pp.161-167. While the source cited to support the assertion (Thomas Kuhn's The Copernical Revolution) can certainly be considered reliable, it also relies on Andrew Dickson White's long discredited History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom as its sole authority for the quotation—and it also predates Rosen's devastating refutation.

Rosen does cite (ibid, p.159) another statement of Calvin's—from one of his sermons—which was critical of geokineticism and could be cited in the article if other editors think it would be worthwhile to do so (I tend to think it wouldn't). More details can be found in the Heliocentrism article.

It seems to me that a full account of all this would be much too much detail to be included in the article; but condensing it all into a summary which is both sufficiently succinct and NPOV would appear to entail quite a bit of work, so it might be preferable to simply avoid mentioning Calvin at all. At any rate, the article's current treatment of the bogus Calvin quotation cannot be allowed to stand.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 13:22, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Go ahead and amend the text. You are indeed correct so just do it but quote you sources! Thony C. (talk) 07:12, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Someone else already has. Given Kuhn's sloppiness in using the bogus Calvin quotation I would still like to see some more solid sources cited as support for the statement, "Other Protestant leaders joined in condemning Copernicus' theory", which remains in the article. Nevertheless, since I have no good reason for doubting the statement's accuracy, I don't see this as needing urgent attention.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 08:48, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

There are only two known ‘attacks’ on Copernicus and heliocentricity by leading protestant churchmen. The first is the infamous Luther quote, “That fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside down”. To this it has to be said that this comes from the Tischreden (Table Talks), which means that if it was said at all then it is an off the cuff remark by Luther in his cups at the dinner table, and he liked his drink, said to amuse, entertain and impress his dinner guests and not an official pronouncement by a leading reformer on the new astronomy. I say ‘if at all’ because we only have this comment written and published second hand long after Luther’s death and have no separate corroboration that Luther did in fact say this. It should also be remarked that Luther supposedly uttered this criticism in 1539, that is four years before the publication of De revolutionibus and a year before the publication of Rheticus’ Narratio prima.

The other is of course Philipp Melanchthon who attacked the Copernican heliocentricity in his Initia doctrinae physicae, his textbook on physics and astronomy published in 1549. Given Melanchthon’s Aristotelian Ptolemaic standpoint this was not surprising. Although he rejects the possibility that the earth moves with fairly violent expressions he at the same time praises other, mathematical, aspects of Copernicus’ work. It should however be noted that he toned down his criticism considerably in the second edition of the work from 1550. Again it should be pointed out that Melanchthon had a massive influence on the teaching of the mathematical sciences, of which he was an enthusiastic supporter, in Northern Protestant Europe and all of his many influential students taught and worked with the Copernican system as a mathematical hypothesis without necessarily accepting its physical truth. As a result of this Wittenberg Interpretation (as Robert Westman has called it) they were very instrumental in spreading the Copernican theory.

I hope all of the above is enough to show that the Kuhn quote is indefensible and should be removed, which I have already done. Thony C. (talk) 17:08, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

I had both originally added and (after this section was opened) removed the quote in question. I left the "other protestant" clause in along with an indication that I couldn't remember whether the source supported the remainder of the sentence and a promise to check into it. I should have erred of safety and removed the sentence entirely. Thanks for going through all this.--Heyitspeter (talk) 21:51, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm sensing some concern that the people quoted are being framed as irrational in some respect? I don't think that's the case (opposing Copernicanism =/= opposing truth, obviously), but I was thinking maybe you could add the clause "and noted mathematician" to his epithet if you wanted to be careful not to misrepresent his character.--Heyitspeter (talk) 21:55, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Holy Roman Empire[edit]

I have removed the Holy Roman etc. from the box and the text for the following reasons. In the box it stood as "country", the Holy Roman etc. was not a country but a feudal union of sovereign and semi-sovereign states of which the city of Nuremberg was one. The correct country would be The Free Imperial City of Nuremberg. Again, in the text the expression Holy Roman etc. is clumsy and too a certain extent incorrect, if one uses it the one would have to write 'The Free Imperial City of Nuremberg in The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation' not very elegant im my opinion. I think it is better to simple write Nuremberg with a link.Thony C. (talk) 14:52, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

If the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation was not a country what was it then? A cricket ball? And what did the emperor preside over, a cricket team? Won't take long and people will deny that any country with a federate structure such as the United States of America or the Australian union are country. And that the name is too long is a purely aesthetical and thus irrelevant argument. In sum, I don't see why the HRR should be treated apart from the rest. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 10:56, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

The Holy Roman Empire is not and never was a country. To quote Wikipedia,it was

...not a highly centralized state like most countries today. Instead, it was divided into dozens—eventually hundreds—of individual entities governed by kings,[11] dukes, counts, bishops, abbots or other rulers, collectively known as princes. There were also some areas ruled directly by the Emperor. At no time could the Emperor simply issue decrees and govern autonomously over the Empire. His power was severely restricted by the various local leaders.

Nuremberg as a Free Imperial City was a sovereign state! If you wish to include a country of publication for "De revolutionibus" then it is The Free Imperial City of Nuremberg!Thony C. (talk) 11:54, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Please check out the category at the bottom, Thony: "former countries in Europe". I leave it up to you to decide whether we keep the supplementary "free imperial city" or not, but this is not the right place to question whether the HREGN was a country or not. Wiki definitely says yes. Regards Gun Powder Ma (talk) 12:25, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
It seems odd to me that the {{infobox book}} template includes a parameter for the country of publication but not the city. It seems to be an almost universal standard in bibliographic references to give the city of publication, but not the country. For books published in the US, it seems to be usual for the two-letter abbreviation for the State of publication to be given as well, but this doesn't seem to be done for any other country that I know of. In my opinion, therefore, it is more important for the city of publication to be given in the infobox. Whether the country should be given as well is something I don't really much care about one way or the other.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 13:47, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
If the infobox template is such that only the name of the city needs to be given, but not the country, then absolutely fine with me. But that does not seem to be the case, and an appropiate place to ask for a general change would be anyway the talk page of this template, but not any particular article page. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 14:52, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I have already made the appropriate request on the book infobox template talk page.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 16:08, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

GPM: I find it fascinating that you make categorical statements about German constitutional history a subject about which you are obviously totally ignorant; the fact that you think that the HRE is in anyway comparable to the modern federal governments of the US or Australia is a proof of that. First, I assume you are using the word country as a synonym for the more correct expression, sovereign state. You write “Nuremberg, Holy Roman Empire” as if Nuremberg were a city in a sovereign state called Holy Roman Empire; this statement is completely false in all aspects. Firstly The Holy Roman was never a state, let alone a sovereign one, but a feudal alliance of sovereign and quasi-sovereign states. You suggest I should look at the “List of former countries in Europe” the actual relevant page is “List of former sovereign states” where it quite simply states that the HRE was not a state. Secondly Nuremberg was not a city in any state but a self-governing, sovereign city-state that was ruled by a patriciate from 1472 to 1806 like its trading partner and greatest rival in the Renaissance, Venice.Thony C. (talk) 14:44, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Thony, this is hardly the place for a discussion about the intricacies of the political status of the HRE/HREGR. I suggest you take your viewes to Talk:Holy Roman Empire and convince people there to remove the Category:Former countries in Europe, then come back. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 14:52, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
Not to take a side on the appropriate conclusion, but to keep us on track, note that WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS is not an argument. Let's stay focused on WP:V and the specific claims being made.--Heyitspeter (talk) 20:23, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Matthead: You have replaced HRE with “Germany for short”, even more inaccurate as there was no such thing as Germany in 1543.Thony C. (talk) 14:44, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Dear Thony C., you declared Nuremberg a country, and that the Holy Roman Empire is not and never was a country, that Gun Powder Ma is obviously totally ignorant, and that there was no such thing as Germany in 1543. What next? No Germany in 1946, too? And no Germany in 1989 either? -- Matthead  Discuß   16:14, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong about using "Germany" for 1543. Of course "Germany" existed (just as "Italy", "Greece", "India" and doubtless many others did, without being nation states under that name), and if you had asked a Frenchman, an Englishman or an Italian of the 16th century where Nuremberg was, "Germany" would have been their answer. It was a "country" in the sense of a cultural and ethno-geographic concept, and as such very much alive, whether or not it was felt to be coextensive with the "Empire". There is nothing anachronistic about talking of Germany in the 16th century. What is anachronistic, on the other hand, is to project our modern notion back into the 16th century that only politically defined nation states count as "countries". Fut.Perf. 18:29, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
Good one, Fut.Perf. That the HREGN was a very complex political beast, most would agree, but to deny its statehood altogether is taking things clearly too far. By our modern standards, even the classical nation states England (UK est. early 18th c.), France and Spain (est. early 18th c.) were at best embryonic countries in the 16th century, so why has always the HRE to be treated as if it did not exist? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 18:55, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
The obvious compromise wording would be "modern-day Germany."--Heyitspeter (talk) 20:25, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Since it appears to me that all the participants in this dispute would be satisfied with having the place of publication given as Nuremberg, and its being designated as a city, rather than a country, I have been bold and implemented that change in the article. The way I have implemented it is at best a temporary hack, because the book infobox template currently does not support a "City" parameter. If you have any opinion on whether or not it should do so, please contribute to the discussion on the template's talk page.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 02:10, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Omitting the country from the infobox works for me in this case, thanks. There's still the wording in the main text to be worked out, if that's an issue for anybody. Fut.Perf. 06:30, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
What a nonsense discussion! 'Free Imperial City' (Freie Reichsstadt) was a title, granted by the emperor and meant, that the city was a direct subject to the emperor with no prince between. It doesn't meant in any way, that the city was judicial something like a sovereign state! 'State = Nuremberg' would be absolutely nonsense! --Henrig (talk) 21:58, 12 April 2010 (UTC) Just a mistake in writing: In the article stood 'Country = Nuremberg'.--Henrig (talk) 14:42, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

I find it fascinating when I get virulently attacked for things that I never said. Matthead, I did not say that Mr/Mrs/Ms Ma was ignorant, I said that he/she/it was ignorant of German constitutional history, a completely different claim. I’m sure that he/she/it is very knowledgeable about many subjects but German constitutional history does not appear to be one of them. I myself am quite happy to admit to being from mildly to totally ignorant about many things but I know that I am knowledgeable about the history of Nuremberg in the 16th century. On the subject of the existence of Germany in this century, if you look at a map of this period you wont find a state called Germany on it anywhere; you wont find Holland, Italy, The United Kingdom or the USA on it either as none of these states existed at that time.

Henrig, I never claimed that all free imperial cities enjoyed statehood and would not claim it as it is not true. Firstly I pointed out that if GPM wishes to introduce the superfluous concept “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation” into this article then he should correctly call Nuremberg, “The Free Imperial City of Nuremberg” as this was its official name as a constituent state of the HRE. I also, totally correctly, pointed out that Nuremberg was not a city within a state in the 16th century but was itself a sovereign city-state, as were several other but not all free imperial cities. As you are a native German Speaker I offer you the following from the German Wikipedia:

Von 1256 bis zur französischen Besetzung 1806 wurde Nürnberg vom Rat regiert, wobei bis 1427 noch viele Kompetenzen in der Stadt und dem Umland bei den ab 1105 eingesetzten Burggrafen lagen. Nach dem Kauf des Burggrafenamtes im Jahr 1427 hatte der Rat die alleinige Herrschaft inne. Der Rat Gliederte sich in den „Inneren Rat“ und den „Großen Rat“. Dabei stellte der innere Rat, in dem neben nur acht Vertretern der Handwerke nur patrizische Familien, das Patriziat der Stadt, vertreten waren, das eigentliche Machtzentrum und den Inhaber der Souveränität dar. Die Reichsstadt Nürnberg selbst bezeichnete sich – wie auch andere Reichsstädte – als „Republik“. Neben der Anlehnung an das römische Vorbild bedeutet der Begriff hier auch den Gegensatz zu den ansonsten üblichen monarchischen Regierungsformen. „Republik“ darf aber nicht mit „Demokratie“ gleichgesetzt werden.

On the question of the statehood of the HRE is answered clearly in the negative in the English Wikipedia. Firstly in the HRE article itself we have the following statement:

The Holy Roman Empire was not a highly centralized state like most countries today. Instead, it was divided into dozens—eventually hundreds—of individual entities governed by kings,[11] dukes, counts, bishops, abbots or other rulers, collectively known as princes. There were also some areas ruled directly by the Emperor. At no time could the Emperor simply issue decrees and govern autonomously over the Empire. His power was severely restricted by the various local leaders.

If one goes to here to the List of former sovereign states you will find the following statement:

In and around what is now Germany

   * Holy Roman Empire (843-1806) - not a state

and if one clicks on the link Category:Former countries in Europe that GPM claims is proof of statement that the HRE was a country (state) you will arrive at the following link States of the Holy Roman Empire If you now click on N you will find Nuremberg correctly listed as a state. I rest my case!Thony C. (talk) 11:47, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

What seems certain is that people, even though to a varying degree and each for his own reason, don't follow your view about the HREGN not being a state/country. So what other arguments do you have for repeatedly removing any reference to the country of publication? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 12:08, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
@Thony C. Please review WP:V. Quote-mining Wikipedia is a waste of time. Bring citations from reliable sources or don't bother. I have no opinion on whether you're right or wrong, mainly because you have yet to bring any literature to the table. However, I will note that your quotation from the English Wikipedia does not say that the Holy Roman Empire was not a state. It says it was not a highly centralized state.--Heyitspeter (talk) 19:51, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Thony, not all subjects are correctly or satisfying described in Wikipedia. Regarding the kingdom of East Francia (nicknamed,'Deutschland(Germany)' in the then spelling), which became the main part of the HRE, in the first centuries it was a more centralized state than, for instance France or England. This changed over the centuries, when heir apparents, who had to be elected gave the princes more and more rights. After the Thirty Years' War there were finally a lot of small realms, which were practically widely independant, without objecting the affiliation to the HRE and the suzerainty of the emperor. In the churches the prayer for the emperor was used and there was the duty to give the emperor troops in a war on demand etc. But a Russian saying said, Russia is big and the Zsar is far away. A Free Imperial City in Northern Germany, like for instance Lübeck, the leading city of the powerfull Hanseatic League, had mostly few to do with the emperor. But when emperor Charles IV visited the city, he got a great greeting as the head of the city and headed the powerful City Council in the week of his stay. Nuremberg, the domicile of the Imperial Regalia was among the Free Imperial Cities one, which was especially aligned to the HRE, far more than Lübeck, even if it ruled it's own affairs and had mostly few to do with the emperor. --Henrig (talk) 21:44, 13 April 2010 (UTC)


Heyitspeter, your change for 'flow' turned Osiander into a mathemtician and/or astronomer, as he was neither I have undone your change. If you still wish to improve the sentence you will have to do it in a different way.Thony C. (talk) 20:37, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Oops! Thank you for correcting my mistake. For future reference, my talkpage is the appropriate venue for this remark.--Heyitspeter (talk) 19:52, 15 May 2010 (UTC)


Copernicus is said to have had theological reasons for using perfect circles. I am not sure if there is any proof of this. They, with epicycles, had been used for a long time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:12, 13 May 2010 (UTC) Apollonius used epicycles well before Copernicus and seems to have had very little theological reason for doing so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:10, 15 May 2010 (UTC) See Apollonius of Perga. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:29, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

The reasons are now said to be "philosophical". This is closer to the truth.

Luther connection[edit]

Is there conclusive evidence that Martin Luther read or heard about the Commentariolus before he wrote the 95 theses? This would be noteworthy. -Chumchum7 (talk) 21:00, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

There is no evidence what so ever that Luther ever read the Commentariolus and if and when he heard of it is not knownThony C. (talk) 07:42, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Edit warring over citation to Ivars Peterson[edit]

A dispute An edit war appears to have recently broken out over how an opinion of Ivars Peterson's expressed on this web page should be described in the article. Please try to resolve the issue by discussing it here, rather than continuing to edit war over it.

I strongly disagree with Kuguar03 that the word "apparently" is unnecessary in the description of Peterson's opinion. The statement that the trigonometry outlined by Copernicus was "apparently inspired" by Jabir_ibn_Aflah is quite a bit weaker than the unqualified statement that it was so inspired, and Peterson makes the former statement, not the latter. In my opinion, omitting the word "apparently" amounts to a misrepresentation of the source.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 07:11, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

This seems to happen a lot on WP. A source has a weak statement, and somehow a WP article has a much strong statement. I guess I can understand wanting to avoid words like "apparently", but if that is all the source willing to say, then that is all WP should say. Roger (talk) 07:44, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

I have completely deleted the disputed statement for the following reasons. Firstly the claim is a hearsay statement made in passing in an op-ed piece about an informal talk given by Victor Katz and as such certainly doesn’t qualify as a reliable source according to Wikipedia criteria.

Also if one consults Glen van Brummelen’s book, which is the most up to date and reliable history of trigonometry then one learns the following. After having dealt with the work of Jabir ibn Aflah, which is mostly derivative and copied from other sources van Brummelen discusses the work of Regiomontanus and the possible sources including ibn Aflah that he used, then he turns his attention to Copernicus’ trigonometry in the De Revolutionibus where he writes:

One of his results is equivalent to Geber’s [ibn AFlah] Theorem for right-angled triangles. Copernicus received a copy of Geber’s work from Rheticus in 1539 and uses Geber’s Theorem in the De revolutionibus to find the angle of intersection of the ecliptic with the meridian. However, the theorem was also available in Regiomontanus’s Epitome and De triangulus, so we cannot conclude that Geber was Copernicus’s source.

Glen van Brummelen, The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth: The Early History of Trigonometry, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2009, p 268 n 144.

So Copernicus uses one single theorem that he might or might not have taken from Jabir ibn Aflah, who might or might not have taken it from somebody else. This circumstance might be of interest in an academic discussion on the transmission of mathematical knowledge but it really does deserve to be in the Wikipedia article on the De revolutionibus.Thony C. (talk) 19:05, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

I disagree with the removal of the statement, I think adding a [citation needed] tag would have been a more appropriate action. But I do find your insistence on undermining Jabir's work and the questioning of his sources every time his name is mentioned to be quite bizarre really. You introduced his work to us by quickly claiming that his work was "mostly derivative and copied from other sources", yet no source was cited for this claim. This again was repeated in the concluding sentence where you said: "who might or might not have taken it from somebody else". I really didn't expect this "might" and "might not" talk to come from the person who removed a reasonable claim on the grounds of source reliability and fact-checking. Also, what makes you think that Copernicus only used a single theorem ? Are you suggesting that if Copernicus did actually take Jabir's work, then it's only a single theorem most likely taken from other sources that doesn't deserve any mention here ?
Back to van Brummelen's quote. He suggests two sources for Copernicus' theorem: Geber or Regiomontanus. The latter is the reason that prevents van Brummelen from concluding that Geber was Copernicus’s source. However, we know that much of the material in Regiomontanus' On Triangles was taken directly and without credit from Jabir's work, as noted in the 16th century by Gerolamo Cardano.
(Victor J. Katz, ed (2007). The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691114859. , p.4)
I will try to find better sources on this. I've also read that Copernicus had access to the works of Al-Farghani, Al-Kindi, Thabit ibn Qurra, and Jabir ibn Aflah. Al-Andalusi (talk) 20:10, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
I am in no way undermining ibn Aflah's work and I in no way question his sources. His work like that of many mathematicians was probably not original but remains important because it was highly influential in the transmission and development of trigonometry in mediaeval Europe. All of my statements are based on the account given by van Brummelen. What I said very clearly about Copernicus is that in his trigonometry he only uses one theorem that can be attributed to ibn Aflah and it is impossible to say where he sourced it.
On your comment on Regiomontanus as Copernicus' source for the Geber Theorem, if author C copies from author B who in turn has copied from author A then author C has copied from B and not A. You could write that Copernicus uses the Geber Theorem which he took from Regiomontanus but it is incorrect to say that Copernicus took the Geber Theorem from Jabir ibn Alfah. To include a whole paragraph on the possible or probable transmission routes of one single trigonometrical theorem in an article of a couple of hundred lines about a book of more than 300 large format pages in the English translation appears to me to be totally disproportionate.
The Katz quote is a throwaway remark in the introduction to a book if you seriously want to discuss Regiomontanus' debt to Jabir ibn Aflah then go to Lorch or some other author who has seriously research the subject.
On the references in De revolutionibus to Islamic astronomers, almost all of them can be directly sourced to the Epytoma in almagesti Ptolemei from Peuerbach and Regiomontanus thus implying that Copernicus had very little direct contact with original Islamic sources.Thony C. (talk) 21:35, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Is this a serious discussion? It was clearly stated as an opinion, the qualification was unnecessary. How that constitutes an "edit war" is baffling. If you want to take it out, whatever. Kuguar03 (talk) 20:53, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
The discussion here would seem to affirm what I suspected when I made the original reversion: it was motivated by a NPOV-violating desire to downplay the contribution of non-western astronomers. But I personally don't know enough about the topic nor have the desire to deal with it, so I leave the matter in more capable hands. Kuguar03 (talk) 23:58, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
No, that is false. I was only motivated by wanting to cite the source accurately. The qualification was part of the opinion. But I do agree that it is better to delete the sentence than to misrepresent the source. Roger (talk) 04:06, 7 February 2011 (UTC)
When Kuguar03 wrote "it was motivated by a NPOV-violating desire to downplay the contribution of non-western astronomers" I suspect the "it" he was referring to was the original sentence itself (now deleted) rather than your insertion of "apparently" into it. Otherwise, I can't see how his comment would make any sense. I have just now realised that I was misreading "western" for "non-western" in Kuguar03's comment, so it's my preceding now struck comment that doesn't make much sense. Apologies for the error. Where However, where the sentence was placed it did rather stick out like a sore thumb. It seemed to me to bear all the hallmarks of a clumsy—if perhaps well-meaning—attempt to remedy a bias against non-western contributions to astronomy which the responsible editor apparently thought he detected in the article.
In any case, I also agree that the sentence doesn't belong in the article unless an authoritative secondary source by an expert can be found to support it, and Thony C. has now given convincing reasons why Peterson's articles and books don't qualify.
I apologise for referring to the sequence of edits that drew my attention to this dispute as an "edit war". I could (and should) have chosen a less inflammatory term. I am, however, baffled as to how Kuguar03 could have been baffled by my use of it. I was not using it to refer merely to his assertions that the citation to Peterson's work "was clearly stated as an opinion", and that "the qualification was unnecessary", as his above comment appears to be suggesting. I was using it to refer to a sequence of 6 edits (namely, these: edit 1, edit 2, edit 3, edit 4, edit 5, and edit 6) each of which, apart from the first, did nothing more than reverse the effects of the preceding one, and without the editors responsible, as far as I could see, making any attempt to resolve the dispute by discussion. It therefore seems to me that this sequence of edits fits Wikipedia's definition of an edit war—given in the first paragraph at the top of this page—to a tee. If anyone can provide me with any good reasons why it doesn't I should be very interested to see them.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:46, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Al-Andalusi: There is in fact a very strong contribution from Islamic astronomy to the contents of the De revolutionibus and if you want to add a paragraph to the existing article or even better to write a complete article illustrating and explicating that contribution then I for one would welcome such an article. But to do so you need to read the sources and present the facts as they stand in the historical literature, which involves a lot of hard work and not just the inclusion of inaccurate badly sourced placative statements, which just lowers the tone of the article.Thony C. (talk) 16:00, 7 February 2011 (UTC) P.S. If you wish I can direct you to some of the literature you will need to read to get you startedThony C. (talk) 16:02, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Pico and speculation[edit]

Pico's attack on astrology is all very well, but it has only the faintest connection with Copernicus's book or Osiander's unsigned preface. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:18, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

A lot of silly speculation has been put in the article recently by Wowaconia, who has obviously been reading the silly speculation of Wrightsman. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:19, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
If we are going to have a lot of speculation as to why someone was not put in the book, we might as well speculate as to why millions were not put in the book. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:52, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Rheticus was not mentioned but then neither were millions of others. Many of the millions not mentioned by Copernicus were Protestants. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:55, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
We are told that it was "possible" that Protestant Nurnberg could fall to the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor. It was and is possible that it could fall to the Mongols. Perhaps Copernicus was worried about this possible Mongol military victory and excluded millions of names to avoid offending Mongol invaders. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:00, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Book 1[edit]

"Book I is a general vision of the heliocentric theory, and a summarized exposition of his cosmology".

I would say this statement is a bit vague. Book 1 very specifically lays down the trigonometric framework deployed in the various calculations throughout the entire work.

Neil Parker (talk) 07:56, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

Removal of citation to Gingerich's The Book Nobody Read[edit]

I have removed the citation to p.23 of Owen Gingerich's The Book Nobody Read which had been given in the article as support for the following statement:

"For philosophical reasons, Copernicus clung to a belief in the unobserved crystalline spheres and to the belief that all the orbits of celestial bodies must be perfect circles."

because it very clearly does not support it. What Gingerich says in the cited source is that a motto, later identified as having been wriitten not by Copernicus but by Erasmus Reinhold, had been written across the title page of a first edition of De revolutionibus held by the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. The motto is "Axioma Astronomicum: Motis coelestis aequalis est & circulans vel ex aequalibus & circularibus compositur", but since it wasn't written by Copernicus it tells us nothing about his beliefs or why he held them.

I have also removed the assertion that Copernicus subscribed to a belief in "unobserved crystalline spheres". While some historians of science—Noel Swerdlow I believe was one—have argued that this was the case, this has been contested by others—very forcefully, in the case of Edward Rosen.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 07:26, 5 December 2016 (UTC)


It is not clear if Reimers' translation into German of 1587 was printed or not. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:59, 6 December 2016 (UTC)

It wasn't Thony C. (talk) 06:53, 7 December 2016 (UTC)

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