Wawrzyniec Goślicki 1530-1607

He was born in the ancestral estate of Goślice, near Płock, about the year 1530 into an aristocratic family. In 1556-62 he studied at the Cracow Academy, achieving the degree of Master of Liberal Arts. Then he went to study in Italy for several years and began his education in Padua in 1564, where he published his occasional Latin poem commemorating the military triumphs of King  Sigismund II Augustus in 1560, entitled De victoria Sigismundi Augusti. Then he studied in Bologna, where he received the doctorate in canon and civil law, and finally in Rome. His most important work, De optime senatore libri duo. In quibus magistratuum officia, civium vita beata, rerumpublicarum foelicitas explicantur [The Accomplished Senator] came out in Venice in 1568 (published by the same printing house that had issued Jan Zamoyski’s De senatu romano libri II eight years earlier); a quarter of a century later it was printed in Basel; but in England it was confiscated and only its excerpts appeared in 1598 and 1607 entitled The Counsellor. Exactly poutraited in two Bookes. The entire work was only published in 1773 as The Accomplished Senator in two books written. In the opinion of some scholars, the Polish Renaissance thinker’s popularity in the English-speaking world justifies thee surmise that Shakespeare knew his work, too, and that Goślicki was an important author for the Founding Fathers of the United States and thus one of the inspirers of American democracy. Having returned to his homeland, Goślicki became the secretary of King SIgismund II Augustus and kept this post also during the reign of King Stephen Báthory. In that period he completed numerous diplomatic missions; with the eminent Spanish lawyer Pedro Ruiz de Moros (Petrus Roysius Maureus Alcagnicensis) he took part in the works of the so-called ‘Karnkowski’s Commission’ that dealt with the maritime policy of King Sigismund II Augustus which consisted in building a fleet of warships and merchant navy in Gdańsk. During the first interregnum, probably having taken the holy orders, he entered into collaboration with Stanislaus Hosius, and declared himself in favour of the Hapsburg candidates in both the first and the second royal election. However, after Stephen Báthory was elected king, Goślicki abandoned the pro-Hapsburg camp and joined the adherents of the new monarch, supporting the political line of Jan Zamoyski, through whose protection he became the abbot of Mogiła and Bishop of Kamianets-Podilskyi (previously he had been a canon of Cuyavia, Kraków, and Sandomierz). After King Báthory’s death, Goślicki was the only ecclesiastic to sign the confirmation of the Warsaw Confederation included in the Pacta conventa for King Sigismund III Vasa (1587), thus starting a long-term conflict with other Polish bishops and the Apostolic See, which resulted in his long period of waiting for the confirmation by Rome of his nomination to the bishopric of Chełm (1590). He was only allowed to assume the latter office after the coronation of Sigismund III, whose efforts to obtain the Polish crown he had supported and whom he welcomed with a solemn speech in Kraków’s Main Market Square, only to start, soon afterwards, a controversy with the Jesuits (as both an ecclesiastic and senator) on account of his attempt at supporting the declining Cracow Academy which faced competition from the educational institutions of this new monastic order. In 1589 Goślicki was appointed the chairman of the commission for the correction of the land law, established by the General Sejm in Warsaw; he also participated in the adjusting of the quarrel between the Chancellor Jan Zamoyski and the King supported by the camp of his followers headed by the Primate Stanisław Karnkowski. In 1591 he assumed the office of Bishop of Przemyśl, and three years later he convoked a Diocesan Synod which laid the groundwork for the union of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church formed in Brest in 1596. In 1598 he issued a proclamation calling for peace between Catholics, Uniates, and members of the Orthodox Church, in which document he also criticised the intolerant policies of some catholic bishops who boycotted the Union of Brest. In 1601 he was ordained Bishop of Poznań, taking up the effort to prepare the ground for the reception of the decisions taken by the Council of Trent and revindicate those churches in that diocese that had been taken over by Protestants. He was suspicious of the support given by the Poles to Pseudo-Demetrius I, a runaway monk pretending to be the youngest son of Tsar Ivan the Terrible (while the tsarevich had long been dead), who, with the Polish help, seized the Russian throne. Goślicki died in Ciążeń, near Oborniki, on the 31st of October 1607. His works have been published in the following volumes: O senatorze doskonałym (tr. T. Bieńkowski), [in:] L. Szczucki, (ed.), 700 lat myśli polskiej, Filozofia i myśl społeczna XVI wieku (Warsaw, 1978, pp. 305-316; English edition: The Accomplished Senator, tr. and ed. K. Thompson, Miami, 1992); O senatorze doskonałym księgi dwie. W których są wyjaśnione obowiązki urzędników oraz szczęśliwe życie obywateli i pomyślność państwa (1568; tr. by T. Bieńkowski, ed. by M. Korolko; Kraków, 2000).


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