Early Years

Nicolaus Copernicus was born on February 19, 1473, in Toruii, a town on the Vistula River in what is now Poland. His father was a copper trader from Krakow, and his mother, Barbara Watzenrode, was from a wealthy merchant family in Toruii. Nicolaus's father died when he was 10 or 12, at which point his maternal uncle, Lucas Watzenrode the Younger, who became archbishop of Warmier, raised Nicolaus through his school years.

In 1491 Copernicus began his college years by enrolling in the Krakow Academy (the contemporary Jagiellonian University), where he began his studies in astronomy. After four years of study at Krakow, Copernicus returned to Torui, then moved to the Universities of Bologna and Padua, where he studied law and medicine, supported financially by his uncle Watzenrode the Younger.

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