Georg Joachim Rheticus

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Georg Joachim Rheticus (also Rhäticus , Rhaeticus , Rhetikus , actually Georg Joachim Iserin ; born February 16, 1514 in Feldkirch , HRR , Tyrol ( Raetia ); † December 4, 1574 in Kaschau ) was a Habsburg mathematician, astronomer, theologian, cartographer , Instrument makers and physicians. After his father's execution, he first called himself after his mother's family name Georg Joachim de Porris , also Germanized as Georg Joachim von Lauchen .


Rheticus was the son of Georg Iserin, the Stadtmedicus von Feldkirch, and the northern Italian nobleman Thomasina de Porris. His father was charged with witchcraft and fraud in 1528 and executed. Georg Joachim Rheticus first learned at the Latin school in Feldkirch and studied mathematics in Zurich from 1528 to 1531 , then at the University of Wittenberg , where he obtained the academic degree of a master's degree in liberal arts in 1536 . Through the patronage of Philipp Melanchthon , he became professor of mathematics and astronomy in Wittenberg in 1537 . In the following year Melanchthon made it possible for him to go on a longer study trip to famous mathematicians and astronomers. In Nuremberg he visited the mathematician and editor Johannes Schöner and the printer Johannes Petreius , who presumably commissioned him to persuade Nicolaus Copernicus to publish his main work in Nuremberg. At least Petreius gave him three books from his publishing house as gifts for Copernicus. He then studied with Peter Apian in Ingolstadt , Joachim Camerarius in Tübingen and Achilles Gasser in his hometown.

From 1539 to 1541 Rheticus stayed with Copernicus in Frauenburg . Heinrich Zell , a student of Sebastian Münster , accompanied Rheticus to Prussia and during his stay with Copernicus, Zell was able to view all documents in the Duchy of Warmia and, together with Copernicus and Rheticus, created a detailed map of Prussia. Then Rheticus taught in Wittenberg, Nuremberg and until 1545 in Leipzig . He was on the road again until 1548, he visited Gerolamo Cardano in Milan and began studying medicine in Zurich. Again at the intercession of Melanchthon, he was accepted into the theological faculty in Leipzig. As a result of a scandal over an affair with one of his students, he had to leave Leipzig in a hurry in 1551 and then studied medicine in Prague. From 1554 he lived in Krakow as a practicing doctor and shortly before his death in 1573 he moved to Kaschau in Upper Hungary , where the imperial governor Hans Rueber zu Pixendorf (1529–1584) took him in.

Rheticus was the first and essential contributor to the spread of the Copernican world system . He was the only pupil of Copernicus and was able to convince him during his stay in Frauenburg to put his main work in print. During this time he published the first communication on the same in the Narratio Prima de libris revolutionum Copernici . On the way to Nuremberg to initiate printing, he published the mathematical part in Wittenberg, supplemented by tables of the sine and cosine functions that he had calculated. He had to leave the correction of the proofs for De revolutionibus to Andreas Osiander . He took out a theological treatise by Rheticus on the compatibility of the heliocentric system with the Holy Scriptures and anonymously replaced it with a new preface written by him, presenting the new system as a mere calculation model. Later Rheticus published the Ephemerides ex fundamentis Copernici (Leipzig 1550).

He also achieved significant merits through his ten-digit tables of trigonometric functions , progressing from 10 to 10 seconds , the calculation of which was only completed by his student Valentin Otho , who also published them in Opus palatinum de triangulis (Heidelberg 1596).

The lunar crater Rhaeticus was named in 1935 and the asteroid (15949) Rhaeticus in 2001. In 1976 the Rheticus Society named after him was founded in Feldkirch .


Narratio Prima

Text editions and translations

  • Henri Hugonnard-Roche, Jean-Pierre Verdet (Eds.): Georgii Joachimi Rhetici Narratio prima. Maison d'Édition de l'Académie Polonaise des Sciences, Wrocław 1982, ISBN 83-04-00764-9 (critical edition with French translation and commentary)
  • Stefan Deschauer (Ed.): The Arithmetic Lecture of Georg Joachim Rheticus, Wittenberg 1536: an annotated edition of the manuscript X-278 (8) of the Estonian Academic Library. Rauner, Augsburg 2003, ISBN 3-936905-00-2
  • Reijer Hooykaas (Ed.): GJ Rheticus' Treatise on holy scripture and the motion of the earth, with translation, annotations, commentary and additional chapters on Ramus-Rheticus and the development of the problem before 1650 . North-Holland, Amsterdam 1984 (Latin text with English translation and detailed commentary)


  • Karl Heinz Burmeister : Georg Joachim Rhetikus 1514–1574. A bio bibliography. 3 volumes. Pressler, Wiesbaden 1967–1968
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister: Georg Joachim Rhetikus and Achilles Pirmin Gasser. A contribution to the history of the natural sciences on Lake Constance , in: Writings of the Association for the History of Lake Constance and its Surroundings , vol. 86, 1968, pp. 217–226 ( digitized version )
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister: Georg Joachim Rhetikus. Herald of the Copernican worldview , in: Alemannisches Jahrbuch 1968/69, ed. v. Alemannic Institute , pp. 18–37.
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister: Georg Joachim Rheticus as a geographer and his contribution to the first map of Prussia . In: Imago Mundi , Volume 23, 1969, pp. 73-76.
  • Stefan Hildebrandt : Rheticus for the 500th birthday. Mathematician - astronomer - doctor. Edition at Gutenbergplatz, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-937219-74-5 .
  • Wolfgang Klose: The Wittenberger Scholar's Studbook: the studbook of Abraham Ulrich (1549–1577) and David Ulrich (1580–1623) , Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle 1999, ISBN 3-932776-76-3 .
  • Andreas Kühne:  Rheticus, Georg Joachim. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 21, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-428-11202-4 , p. 496 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • András Szabó: The Copernicus disciple Georg Joachim Rheticus in Hungary . In: Wilhelm Kühlmann, Anton Schindling (Hrsg.): Germany and Hungary in their educational and scientific relations during the Renaissance (= Contubernium. Tübingen contributions to the history of universities and science , volume 62). Steiner, Wiesbaden 2004, pp. 219-226, ISBN 978-3-515-08551-9
  • Denis Roegel: A reconstruction of the tables of Rheticus' Canon doctrinæ triangulorum (1551) . December 6, 2010, digitized
  • Denis Roegel: A reconstruction of the tables of Rheticus' Opus Palatinum (1596) . January 11, 2011, PDF .
  • Philipp Schöbi, Helmut Sonderegger (ed.): Rheticus, pioneer of modern times. Hohenems 2014, ISBN 978-3-99018-263-5 .

Web links

Wikisource: Georg Joachim Rheticus  - Sources and full texts (Latin)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Karl Heinz Burmeister: Georg Joachim Rhetikus. Herald of the Copernican worldview , in: Alemannisches Jahrbuch 1968/69 , pp. 18–37, here p. 21.
  2. Karl Heinz Burmeister: Georg Joachim Rheticus as a geographer and his contribution to the first map of Prussia , in: Imago Mundi, Volume 23, 1969, pp. 73-76.