Gloskowski Maciej (c.1590 – 1658), mathematician, cartographer and a poet writing in Polish and Latin, was born to a Greater Poland family, which, in the XVII c. inhabited the villages of Gloski (now Gluski), Sowina and Koraby in today's district of Pleszew. The family was most certainly of the Korab coat of arms; the Przerow coat of arms was first assigned to them by Juszynski, who mistakenly interpreted a reference made by Niesiecki; Juszynski was then followed by others (even by the cautious Lukaszewicz). Maciej's father, Bartlomiej (the son of Stanislaw) died in 1601 leaving a widow Florentyna nee Tymieniecki and three minor sons: Krzysztof, Maciej and Jan, which means that his middle son was born soon before the end of the XVI c.; whether it was in Sowina (to which he used to refer to later on as either its owner or co-owner) is not certain, as his father also possessed part of the village of Gloski Kaliskie. It is not known when or where he received his primary education; it is certain though that he belonged to the Czech Brethren who used to have a large chain of schools and churches in the Greater Poland. According to Lukaszewicz, his parish church was the Brethren's church in Karmin, but the local church school can't have been his only source of education, since (again according to Lukaszewicz) he acquired fluency not only in Latin but also in Greek; moreover, his works (especially Geometria) prove he was well-read in ancient prose writers and poets. The same Lukaszewicz, drawing from unknown today, but certainly credible sources, mentions the incident when in 1630 Gloskowski appeared on a certain charge before the archbishop court in Gniezno, the noblemen of the Greater Poland, convening in those days for the regional council in the nearby Sroda, unanimously resolved to immediately lay the case before the Parliament and the King in support of Gloskowski. This episode, being the first dated one in his life, proves popularity he won, even among the Catholics. Today however, thanks to Dworzaczek (see bibliography) we can go further back into the past, till 31 May 1623 when Jan Szlichtyng, the magistrate of Wschowa, appointed Gloskowski one of the tutors of his children. Since then all Gloskowski's life was bound up with the Szlichtyngs family of the Greater Poland; nevertheless Estreicher wrongly extends this to the famous Arian - Jonasz Szlichtyng, whom Gloskowski also met, though - as it seems - only in 1645. Whereas his familiarity with the magistrate Jan Szlichtyng helped Gloskowski to establish close contacts with the town of Leszno, especially with the local school of Czech Brethren, with the school's patron Rafal Leszczynski and its organizer J.A. Komenski. According to Danysz, the Leszno school appointed the position of the so called ”civic scholars”, corresponding to today's position of the inspectors of schools. The officials were selected from the local gentry. J.Szlichtyng held this office and Gloskowski was his deputy. According to two letters (unfortunately not dated precisely) by Komenski, they both supported the plan of starting a printing house at the school in order to publish manuals, dictionaries and various texts. Around 1634 Gloskowski married Urszula Sczaniecka, a daughter of Jerzy and Ewa nee Szlichtyng, which bound him even stronger to the family of the magistrate of Wschowa.
His earliest known work is a Latin poem on the death of Jan Cyrillus, who had crowned Frederick V, Elector Palatine, the Czech king, and who later on became the prominent figure among Czech and Moravian emigrants in the Greater Poland and also Komenski's father-in-law. The poem in question was part of a collection Lachrymae super insperato ex hac mortalitate obitu which was printed in 1632 in Leszno. The book hasn't survived till the present day, but Juszczynski was in possession of it and he reprinted Gloskowski's 12 hexameters, which had previously been part of the collection. His further Latin poems may be found both in a published collection of epithalamia for the wedding (which took place in Leszno on 19.05.1637) of Jan Jonston, then a physician in ordinary at the court of the Leszczynskis and in a collection of short funeral poems on the death (18.05.1639) of Aleksander Szlichtyng, the magistrate Jan Szlichtyng's son. To the same circle of people and events refers Gloskowski's earliest known Polish work entitled Slawa potomna J.Wznego … Rafala hrabie z Leszna, Wojewody Belzkiego (The postumous Fame of Honourable … Rafal, the Count of Leszno, the Voivode of Belz) published in Warsaw on the occasion of Leszczynski's funeral (which took place in Wlodawa on 1.09.1636). In it Gloskowski refers to as “a friend and a servant of the deceased”. After the voivode's death, Gloskowski's friendship with him passed to the voivode's children , especially Boguslaw Leszczynski, who inherited Leszno from his father.
We do not have much firsthand information about Gloskowski's few subsequent years of life; beyond any doubt however, it was then that he traveled to Holland. He might have gone there at Leszczynski's expense and the aim of his travel was the self-improvement in geometry (especially in surveying), in astronomical observation and in military engineering. He might have found an opportunity for this in the school of the military engineering, which had been part of the University in Leyden since 1600; his name hasn't been found in the official register of the university though. However, he must have had some contacts with the court of the Stadtholder Frederic Henry of Orange, and he is even said to have been “a confidant and a teacher of geometry” of his son William (b.1626), if we can rely on some oblique references he made in his Geometria. There he mentions the names of some contemporary Dutch scholars he may have met personally. Having returned to Poland he published a rhymed work entitled Griselida whose subject matter he had modelled upon Boccaccio (Decameron X, 10) and he dedicated it to Anna Leszczynska nee Denhoff, wife of the mentioned above Boguslaw. A.E. Kozmian praises this poem for its “smooth Polish and beautiful and round phrases”. The biggest Leszno manuscript of those times Archelia or Artilleria by Diego Uffan, translated by Jan Dekan from Leszno (1643), contains a long poem written by Gloskowski praising the King Wladyslaw IV. The poem consists of 23 regular octets, written in a melodious verse of 11 syllables. In the poem the author calls himself the bailiff of the voivodeship of Kalisz. The fact that he held this position is confirmed by both his later works and the records of the town of Kalisz from 1646 (Urski, with no reference given, claims that Gloskowski held the position of bailiff already in 1632). The next published thing was his major work Geometria peregrinans, without the information about the place and the date of the publication. It is almost certain that, despite what Franke claims, it was published in Leszno. Geometria came out between the years of 1643 and 1648, since before the March of that year Gloskowski sent it to Hevelius through Komenski.
Geometria would be a much more valuable source of information about the author's life, was it written in the colloquial style of the XVII c. language. However, Gloskowski, apparently on purpose, wrote it in a puzzle form of allegorical dialogue, using a sophisticated language. While mentioning past and contemporary events, he left a lot to the readers' intelligence. So it is difficult to read and its full understanding should be postponed till the times when, with the help of other sources (both Polish and foreign ones), we will be able to clarify the allusions. But even now Geometria gives lots of important and interesting information about the author's life. Among other things, it proves that Gloskowski worked on the cartography of the Greater Poland, conducting geodetic surveys and making astronomical observation (among others in Kalisz, Poznan and Miedzyrzecz) - which may be connected with the Parliament enactments ( passed in 1638 and in 1641) concerning drawing of the demarcation lines between the voivodeships of the Greater Poland and Silesia, Pomerania and Brandenburg. Another interesting thing is a mention (omitted by Franke) about a recent home-coming of the Rev Aleksy Sylvius whose knowledge of astronomy Gloskowski extols to the skies. They must have met in the Greater Poland, if not earlier, in Holland.
In 1644 Gloskowski became a more public figure. Primate M. Lubienski, on behalf of the King Wladyslaw IV, turned to the rector and the professors of the Leszno school with the proposal to organize “colloquium charitativum” between the Catholics and the dissenters in Poland. At the same time the synod of the Czech Brethren, which assembled in Leszno on 15th of April, asked Gloskowski to go to the next synod, that was supposed to take place in Chmielnik on 15th of July, in order to work out a common strategy with the Calvinists of the Lesser Poland. Gloskowski made the journey at his own expense. He might have also taken part in the general synod of the Crown and Lithuanian Calvinists which assembled on 24 of August in Orla. The next synod of the Czech Brethren (28.08.1645 in Orla) chose Gloskowski as one of its delegates to “colloquium” in Torun. It was probably on that occasion that Jonasz Szlichtyng wrote Epistola ad Matthiam Gloskovium, camerarium Calissiensem, in material de satisfactione et merito Christideque redemtioneper sanguinemEius; ad asserendamSocini Confessione DominorumReformatorumaccusati innocentiam, a. 1645”, which Sandius once read in the manuscript. However, this is not a good reason to claim (after Oloff) that the leader of the Arians engaged here in polemics with Gloskowski, since, as far as we know, it was unusual for him to get into strictly dogmatic polemics and the above title indicates that Szlichtyng's “letter” was rather aimed at the Protestants of Augsburg Confession. The fact that he chose this particular recipient to announce his apology of Socyn can be explained by his close friendship with the Szlichtyngs (Jonasz was Jan Szlichtyng's cousin), by his conciliatory attitude to religious controversies and also by his active participation in the preliminaries to the Torun “debate”. We can also assume that there is a connection between his religious activities and one of his works of art that would be most widely read in the future:Zegarek albo pamiatka gorzkiej meki…Jezusa Pana na XXIV godzin rozdzielon (The Clock or the Remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ Divided Into XXIV Hours), which was supplemented with meditations and short prayers for every hour. All that written in a typical, monotonous 13-syllable verse in doggerel rhyme. Its first edition, without the date or place of publishing, came out from the same printing house and in a similar typography as Geometria (see Estr.) so they may have been contemporaneous (1643-48). The author dedicated it to Boguslaw Leszczynski. Subsequent editions of The Clock were brought out in 1653 (in Lubecz), in 1714 (in Królewiec) and in 1740 (in Gdansk?); it also circulated in copies. According to Maciejowski, “the work is worthy of notice because it gave rise to numerous religious hymns, which are still sung by our people as Lenten Psalms, Canonical Hours on the Passion of Christ, etc”, which yet does not seem to be probable. It is hard to expect of the dissenters' Clock (reprinted only by non-catholic printing-houses) to influence the religious songs of the Catholic people. Gloskowski, despite his unquestionable attachment to the Czech Brethren, wasn't a zealous heretic. His participation in the “colloquium charitativum” testifies to his conciliatory attitude. Well informed Lukaszewicz records further on that Gloskowski “ being a model father, a respectable citizen, a person endowed with a good sense of humour, was popular even among the Catholic noblemen”. What's more, Catholics were among his close relatives. According to Boniecki, who refers to Gloskowski's letter which is unknown to me, Maciej's elder brother Krzysztof converted into Catholicism in the middle of the XVIIc. One of his close relatives must have also been the Jesuit Ludwik Gloskowski, who, in 1645, built in Sowina a new church under the invocation of the Annunciation of Our Lady.
To the year 1648 date back two Gloskowski's letters to Jan Hevelius; in one of them he is asking the astronomer from Gdansk to send him a telescope which would enable him to complete the map of the Greater Poland, on which he'd been working for a long time and gathering a lot of data. Next year (1648) he published in Leszno a new rhymed panegyric commemorating the King Wladyslaw IV (the manuscript hasn't survived till the present day). However, soon after that came hard times for Gloskowski. They had to do with the Swedish Deluge during the reign of the King Jan Casimir. The citizens of Leszno, on the Komenski's advice, surrendered the town to the Swedish army, for which the Poles took revenge in a pogrom in April 1656. We do not know if Gloskowski was in Leszno when in was on fire at that time, it is certain though, that escaping from trouble, he and other coreligionists sheltered themselves in Wroclaw. His stay there on 18 VIII 1657 is confirmed by a unique contemporary leaflet (see bibliography). It is the last known to me event in his life. On its basis we should give credit to Lukaszewicz who claims that Gloskowski died in 1658, and definitely reject Franke's suggestion that he was dead already in 1653. Of all his works Geometria is the most interesting one. Its content and the response it produced were thoroughly discussed by Franke (who did not always understand the author's intricate style though). It is mainly about a sequence (16+5+2) of practical geometry problems, which are supposed to be solved in an area (either rural or wooded one) by means of the most elementary surveying instruments and using only straight lines. The author only brought up the problems, he didn't give the answers. His purpose was undoubtedly to challenge other mathematicians to take part in a kind of scientific tournament; such challenges were quite popular in the west of Europe in those days and it is probably where he got to know them. The challenge was accepted by the Dutch mathematician Franciscus van Schooten, who published the first set of problems brought up by Gloskowski in the supplement to the second volume of his Exercitationes mathematicae (Leyden 1656), enclosing solutions to most of them ( two of the problems, as he claims, cannot be solved without the use of the circle) and giving different solutions to some of them. We do not know how Gloskowski solved the problems himself; though he must have been able to solve (at least most of) them, as his Geometry gives ample evidence of his good knowledge of the contemporary mathematics in the western Europe. He was also competent to make simple astronomical observations (determining time and geographic coordinates) and he invented new astronomical-surveying instruments. Against the history of the mathematical sciences in theXVIIc. Poland, this modest “bailiff”, in part a self-taught man, was an outstanding figure, though he never succeeded in completing the map of the Greater Poland.
Earlier literature, mentioned frequently by Estreicher (XVII 188-9), has a form of secondary, scattered pieces of information. However, it is of great importance, because it is based on sources which haven't survived till the present day. It was mainly used (and supplemented with archive material) by J.N. Franke and A. Jakubowski in a monography on Gloskowski, Kraków 1878 (copy of a dissertation of Maths and Science Faculty, AU, V). However, this does not concern the following items: Narre veritable… de la persecution souferte par les Eglises Reformees de la Grande Pologne, (Wroclaw 1657; see Estr. XXIII 45); Chr. Sandius, Bibliotheca Antitrinitariorum,Freistadii 1684 p.128; E. Oloff, Poln. Liedergeschichte, Gdansk 1744 pp.71-4 (this booklet was republished by Ringeltaube as the first volume of “Beytrage zu der Pohlnischen Gelahrtengeschichte”, Gdansk 1764), H. Juszynski, Dictionary of the Polish Poets , Kraków 1820 I 98-9 (further hints about the collection Lachrymae are in Estreicher( XIV 498 and XXXII 292), who must have lost the appropriate passage from Juszynski's dictionary, since he does not mention the collection); J. Lukaszewicz in “Kwartalnik Naukowy”, Kraków 1834 I 173-175 (which was plagiarized by St.Wegner in “Ruch Literacki”, Lwów, 1876, III, II issue 40, p.215); A.E. Kozmian, Wyciagi piotrowickie, Wroclaw 1845 II 165-7; Numerous references to Gloskowski are also made by A Wojtkowski, Bibliografia historyczna Wielkopolski, P. 1938 I 51. See also: Zychlinski I 261 (on Urszula Gloskowska), J.A. Komenski Korrespondenec (collected be A.Patera), Praha 1892 VII-VIII, Korrespondence, new selection (published by J.Kvacala), Praha 1898, CLXXVI; Boniecki, Uruski, Danysz A. Studia z dziejów wychowania w Polsce (studies on the history of upbringing in Poland), Kraków 1921; Estreicher XXVII 206 (see: Schlichtyng Aleks.); T. Bilikiewicz, Jan Jonston, W. 1931; W. Dworzaczek, Schlichtyngowie w Polsce, P. 1938 p.6, in the footnote; - According to Lukaszewicz, in his times (1835), the Raczynski Library had “a considerable number of Gloskowski's poems which have never been published so far”. In the Sosnowski-Kurtzmann catalogue (P. 1885 I p.CCXXVI) I found only one of the these poems – “Carmen Latinum” (manuscript II. H. c. 19 k. 136) - probably the one which was published by Lukaszewicz (and then republished by Wagner); - On the Rev. Ludwik Gloskowski see Slownik geograficzny XI 99 (in the same source a note on Florentyna Gloskowska, Maciej's mother, from 1618).