Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus is a very famous mathematician and astronomer. He was the first person to discover that the earth goes round the sun and not the sun round the earth. He was born in Poland in 1473 and died in 1543. He went to university first in Kraków which was then the capital of Poland. At university he studied maths and optics. After Kraków he studied at three more universities: in Bologna, Padua and Ferrara in Italy. Obviously in the 16th century you needed to be very clever to discover that the earth goes round the sun! As well as maths he studied medicine and Greek. At the time maths was very important for doing medicine. When he was in Italy Copernicus also taught maths in Rome.

Copernicus is most famous for his theory about the earth going round the sun. He developed this theory in about 1513. However, he didn't publish the theory in a book until 1543, many years later, just before he died. This may have been because his theory was very controversial at the time. The book that he did publish was called De revolutionibus orbium coelestium which is Latin for 'On the revolutions of the heavenly sphere'. In 1616 De revolutionibus was banned by the Pope and people were forbidden from teaching Copernicus's theory. Nevertheless one famous person stood up for Copernicus's theory. This person was Galileo. Galileo was put on trial by the Pope for defending Copernicus's theory. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, although this was later reduced to house arrest.