Tomicki, Piotr

   Polish bishop and royal chancellor, an important patron of Polish humanism and an admirer of the great Dutch humanist Erasmus. Born into a noble family and educated at the court of his uncle, Tomicki accompanied the uncle on an embassy to the Emperor Frederick III in 1486 and remained in Germany until 1488 to study at Leipzig with a private tutor. In 1489 he entered the University of Cracow (B.A. 1490, M.A. 1493) and then, after a visit to the imperial court at Vienna, studied law at Bologna, where he took a doctorate in canon law in 1500. Next he visited Rome, where he observed the procedures of the papal chancery. Later in 1500 Tomicki returned home and became chancellor to the bishop of Cra-cow, for whom he undertook many political and diplomatic missions. He also served the next bishop of Cracow (1503), but in 1506, when Sigismund I, a brother of his first Polish patron, became king, he be-came a secretary in the royal chancery. He travelled widely on diplo-matic missions and through royal patronage accumulated valuable ecclesiastical benefices.
   In 1514 Tomicki became bishop of Przemysl and vice-chancellor of the realm. In 1520 he was translated to the see of Poznán and in 1525 to Cracow. As bishop of Cracow, the principal residence of the monarch, and as vice-chancellor, he had great influence on both do-mestic and international policy. He supported a pro-Habsburg for-eign policy and a religious policy of firm resistance to Lutheran in-fluences. He secured royal edicts forbidding the importation of books from Germany (1523) and study by Polish students in German uni-versities (1520 and 1534).
   Tomicki's study in Italy had given him a taste for Italian customs, in-cluding use of a strictly classical Latin style in documents of the royal chancery. He founded a humanistic palace school in his own household to educate the sons of Polish nobles as preparation for university study. He subsidized study abroad for gifted students and hired foreign hu-manists to teach in his own school. As chancellor of the University of Cracow, he favored "trilingual" study (classical Latin, Greek, and He-brew) of the Erasmian sort and tried to persuade Erasmus to settle at the Polish court. Tomicki even tried to win the German humanist Philipp Melanchthon for the Cracow faculty, hoping to detach him from the doctrinal influence of the arch-heretic Martin Luther. His patronage supported his own nephew Andrzej Krzycki, a celebrated neo-Latin poet, the Hebraist Jan van Campen, the Hellenist Jerzy Liban, and the physician Jan Antonin, a special friend of Erasmus.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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