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Wawrzyniec Grzymala Goslicki (aka Laurentius Grimal(di)us Goslicius) bishop, political writer and philosopher best known for his book De optimo senatore (1568; English translation: The Counsellor, 1598).

Grobowiec Wawrzynca Goslickiego, bishop, writer, politician

Born:   c.1530-1540, Goslice near Plock, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Died:  October 31, 1607, Ciazyn, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Summary Translated from Polish: "As usual: we praise the foreign, but don't know our own. Even in such fundamental problem as the birth of modern democracy. Hence we don't know that Goslicki belonged to the most popular Polish political writers in Europe...The textbooks, even some academic, don't mention him." Radoslaw Lolo in Polityka 6/15/07 Early days. Goslicki was born to a noble family (coat of arms Grzymala). During 1556-1562 he studied philosophy at Cracow's Jagiellonian University where he obtained a degree of master of liberal arts. From 1564 he studied at Padua, then in Bologna where in 1567 he got a doctorate of law and finally in Rome. His uncle Marcin, a canon of Plock, had a doctorate of law. He was also a bibliophile whose collection Wawrzyniec inherited.

Politics. In 1569 he also joined the Polish royal chancery and as a secretary served two kings, Zygmunt II August and, since 1576, Stefan Batory, and was successively appointed bishop of Kamieniec Podolski (1586), Chelm (1590), Przemysl (1591), and Poznan (1601). As the bishop of Poznan he called several synods: Pszczew (1602), Krobia (1602), Poznan (1602, 1607), Warsaw (1603). Goslicki was a man of affairs, highly esteemed by contemporaries, and frequently engaged in active politics. He served as an envoy to Saxony, Brandenburg and Sweden. He was also a staunch advocate of religious tolerance in Poland. It was due to his influence and to a letter that he wrote to the Pope against the Jesuits that they were prevented from establishing schools at Cracow during his reign. He was the only prelate who, in 1587, acceded to the Warsaw Confederation.

De optimo senatore libri duo.In quibus magistratuum officia, civium vita beata, rerumpublicarum foelicitas explicantur. Goslicki's Latin book De optimo senatore (published during his stay in Venice, Italy,1568) and dedicated to King Zygmunt August, subsequently appeared in two English translations, as A commonwealth of good counsaile (1607) and as The Accomplished Senator... Done into English... By Mr. Oldisworth (1733). Reports about alleged confiscations of these English editions were negatively verified by Ms.Baluk-Ulewicz. In this book Goslicki shows the ideal statesman who is well versed in the humanities as well as in economy, politics, and law. He argued that law is above the ruler, who must respect it, and that it is illegitimate to rule over a people against its will. He equated godliness with reason, and reason with law. He was in favor of public education. He believed that an URZAD is a reward for virtue. He also believed that his concept of access to power (exclusion of peasants, craftsmen and merchants) is realized in German states, France, Spain and Venice. His knowledge of philosophy and the history of antiquity was impressive. Many of the book's ideas comprised the foundations of Polish Nobles' Democracy (1505-1795) and were based on 14th-century writings by Stanislaw of Skarbimierz. The book was not translated into Polish for 400 years. It was influential abroad, exporting the ideas of Poland's Golden Freedom and democratic system. It was a political and social classic, widely read and long popular in England after its 1598 translation; read by Elizabeth I of England, it was also known by Shakespeare, who used his depiction of an incompetent senator as a model for Polonius in Hamlet. Its ideas might be seen in the turmoil that gripped England around the times of Glorious Revolution. Goslicki's ideas were perhaps suggestive for future national constitutions. Goslicki never wrote that "all men are created equal," but did say, "Sometimes a people, justly provoked and irritated, by the Tyranny and Usurpations of their Kings, take upon themselves the undoubted Right of vindicating their own liberties." There is no evidence of a direct link with Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. Goslicki argued that distinguished senators were more useful to a state than a king.

Source: This article uses, among others, material from the Wikipedia article "Wawrzyniec Goslicki" licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License:

It is supplemented with information from :
Polityka (Radoslaw Lolo in Polish)

English translations of some of his works:
Constance J. Ostrowski

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