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Information Text: Krakow - Renaissance authors

Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski came to Kraków to study at one of its parish schools when he was eleven years old. He enrolled in the Kraków Academy in 1517. He also studied in Wittenberg where he was influenced by Reformation ideals and became friends with Martin Luther. He was also befriended by Philipp Melanchton. Modrzewski’s most famous work is ”De Republica emendanda” („O poprawie Rzeczypospolitej”, 1551). In politics, he advocated a strong monarchy with democratic elements. He postulated the equality of all citizens before the law (gentry, burghers and peasants). He also supported economic protectionism, the state protection of the poor and public education. He demanded more severe penalties for manslaughter and the death penalty for such felonies as, for example, theft. He was against invasive wars. Many of his ideas were progressive, yet, at the same time, many of them were utopian.

Another example of a political writer is Wawrzyniec Gorlicki. In 1568, he published “De Optimo Senatore”, a programme for a Polish republican system based on the rules of social pluralism, with the perfect balance between power and freedom. He also described the monarch’s responsibilities as the head of state and executive power. He wrote about the human right to seek personal happiness.

In 1518, Mikołaj Rej was included among the students of the Kraków Academy. As his mission, he considered educating the nation and showing the harmony between man and nature. In his opinion, a “natural man” should speak and write in his native tongue. He should be characterized by righteousness, conscience, honour, constancy of mind and personal character, as well as strength coming from God’s grace. Virtue, as well as the development of mind and character, were to lead man towards perfection. It was a visible legacy of Erasmus from Rotterdam, a famous philosopher and philologist.