1509. This was the only work published by him in his lifetime. The translation is said to be elegant, but the book itself is of comparatively little importance. He had studied it at the university and utilized his knowledge. The book upon which his fame rests—'De Revolutionibus Orbium Cœlestium'—did not appear until the very day of his death, and was published by the care of others. Scipione dal Ferro, the discoverer of the general method of solving the cubic equation, was in residence at Bologna at the same time, and there is little doubt that Copernicus met him also, although there is no record of the meeting. In recording this name we seem to be well out of the middle age. A general solution of the cubic belongs to the modern period, although the Arabs were working on the question in the tenth century.
In 1497 Copernicus was appointed Canon of Frauenburg, which assured to him, for life, an income corresponding to about $2,250 of our money of to-day, and a leave of absence of three years was granted him to continue his studies in Italy. At a later date he also received a sinecure appointment at Breslau. He had already taken the lesser vows; to the higher he never was dedicated. In 1499 his brother Andreas was likewise consecrated Canon of Frauenburg, and he also matriculated at Bologna (1498) in the faculty of law. Both brothers were represented at home by substitutes, and considerable expense may have attached to this, but it is curious to note that on account of the 'costly living' at the university they needed, and received, remittances from the bishop, their uncle.
In the summer of 1500 his leave of absence expired, and in company with his brother he crossed the Alps to Frauenburg, where both received a new permission to return to Italy. It was stipulated that Nicolaus should study medicine after the completion of his courses in law, in order that he might serve as physician to the Frauenburg chapter. In the autumn of 1501 both brothers were again in Italy, Andreas at Rome, Nicolaus at Padua. The doctor's degree in jurisprudence was conferred upon Nicolaus in 1503, but he remained in Italy till the year 1505 or 1506—nine or ten years in all.
In the archives of Ferrara we read:
m: Venerabilis, ac doctissimus vir Nicholaus Copernich de Prusia Canonicus Varmensis et Scholasticus ecclesie S. crucis Vratislaviensis: qui studuit Bononie et Padue, fuit approbatus in Jure canonico nemine penitus discrepante, et doctoratus per prefatum dominum Georgium Vicarium antedictum etc.