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Christoph Hartknoch

Historian and educator Christoph Hartknoch was born in 1644 in Jablonken/Kreis Ortelsburg Prussia. In 1650 his family moved to Passenheim and there he witnessed the brutality and horrors of the Tatar attacks. His life was saved by his teacher, who shoved him out the window. Villages were destroyed and Hartknoch made it to Koenigsberg.

In Koenigsberg he started studying theology at a protestant institute. Soon after his parents died and he had to take on jobs. He became a privat teacher in Kaunas and then rector in the protestant school in Vilnius. He soon returned to Koenigsberg where some books and records got him interested in history.

In 1679 he published a book in Latin about Prussian history and later in German Alt-und Neues Preussen as well as Prussian church history (Kirchen-Historia). The works are accompanied by descriptions and illustrations of Prussian people, history and culture as well as copper etching illustrations of cities in Prussia.

His work in the Lithuanian and Polish commonwealth Kaunas and Vilnius awoke his interest in their history as well. He then wrote a comprehensive work on the commonwealth spanning 300 years, the first of its kind.

The Prussian city of Thorn had become for the most part protestant. In 1677 Hartknoch had been invited to become director at the Thorner Gymnasium. There he worked for ten years. Due to living through years of Tatar attacks and the resulting powerty Christoph Hartknoch's body gave up at age 43 and he died in Thorn, where he was then burried.

His extensive scientific body of works were a great contribution to the knowledge about Prussia, Pomerania, Samogitia[?], Kurland[?] (Couronia) and Poland.

Nicolaus Copernicus Portrait

In his book on Prussian Historia Hartknoch also features an illustration of the famous Borussus Mathematicus Nicolaus Copernicus , a Landsmann (fellow burgher). Hartknoch wrote: Von den Staedten und Schloessern. Der beruehmte Mathematicus Nicolaus Copernicus (About the cities and castles. The famous mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus).

This was written at a late time in Hartknoch's life and at a time when he was director at the Thorner Gymnasium or city of Thorn Educational Institute.


Translation (and Copernicus add.) by H. Jonat based on an article in :Mitteilungsblatt der deutschen Minderheit im Bezirk Ermland und Masuren,Z.A.Janczewski 2002 (Newspaper of German minorities in Ermland and Masuria)



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