Letter to Copernicus from Cardinal Schoenberg, included by Copernicus in the introduction to On the Revolutions (1543)


Nicolaus Schoenberg, Cardinal of Capua, sends his greetings to Nicolaus Copernicus.


When several years ago I heard your diligence unanimously praised, I began to feel an increasing fondness for you and to deem our compatriots lucky on account of your fame. I have been informed that you not only have an exhaustive knowledge of the teachings of the ancient mathematicians, but that you have also created a new theory of the Universe according to which the Earth moves and the Sun occupies the basic and hence central position; and that the eighth sphere [i.e., of the fixed stars] remains in an immobile and eternally fixed position and the Moon, together with the elements included in its sphere, placed between the spheres of Mars and Venus, revolves annually around the Sun; moreover, that you have written a treatise [this would be the shorter Commentariolus] on this entirely new theory of astronomy, and also computed the movements of the planets and set them out in tables, to the greatest admiration of all. Therefore, learned man, without wishing to be inopportune, I beg you most emphatically to communicate your discovery to the learned world, and to send me as soon as possible your theories about the Universe, together with the tables and whatever else you have pertaining to the subject. I have instructed Dietrich von Rheden to make a fair copy of this at my expense and send it to me. If you will do me these favors, you will find that you are dealing with a man who has your interests at heart, and wishes to do full justice to your excellence. Farewell.


Rome, November 1, 1536