Kazimierz Siemienowicz

Kazimierz Siemienowicz

Kazimierz Siemienowicz ( _la. Casimirus Siemienowicz, _lt. Kazimieras Simonavičius, _be. Казімір Семяновіч, born c. 1600 - c. 1651) was a noble from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, General of artillery, gunsmith, military engineer, artillery specialist and pioneer of rocketry. His coat of arms was, possibly, Ostoja. No portrait or detailed biography of him have survived.


Due to the scarcity of documental data, his place of birth and nationality are a matter of dispute between modern Lithuanian and Belarusian researchers.

In the Lithuanian and Polish scientific schools

The Lithuanian scientific school claims that he was born near Raseiniai in Samogitia [Lietuviškoji tarybinė enciklopedija. 1983 T.1 p.166 ] , in a relatively poor szlachta (noble) family of Ostoja Coat of ArmsTadeusz Nowak "Kazimierz Siemienowicz, ca.1600-ca.1651", MON Press, Warsaw 1969, p.182] with military service traditions in Grand Duchy (hence he referred himself as Lithuanian noblemanEncyclopedia Lituanica. Boston, 1970-1978, Vol.5 p.147] ), Siemenowicz was educated in the Academy of Vilnius. The Polish school stresses his identity as member of the Polish or polonized szlachta nobility.

In the Belarusian scientific school

The Belarusian scientific school [Per the information in the article of Tsyarokhin in academic journal "Artifacts of the history and culture of Belarus" (3/1973; "Помнікі гісторыі і культуры Беларусі"); in the book "Great art of artillery" published in the course of academic series "Our famous countrymen" (Tkachow, Byel'ski, Minsk, 1992. ISBN 5-343-00881-X; in the articles on Siemienowicz in "Encyclopedia of Belarusian history" (Vol. 6 part 1, p.286) and in "Belarusian Encyclopedia" (Vol. 14).] claims that he was born in the vicinity of Dubrowna in the Vitsyebsk land, in a family of small Ruthenian princes ("knyaz") of Siemienowicz [Tsyarokhin, Byelski, Tkachow, p.8.] , who possessed the small tracts of land in that part of the Belarusian Dnieper-land ("Падняпроўе") in the 14th—17th centuries. Some examples of lexics used by K.Siemienowicz himself support this interpretation [Byelski, Tkachow, p.10.] .

It is pointed out that there are no records of families with surname Siemienowicz having the right to bear the Ostoja coat of arms, and that it's possible that K. Siemienowicz acquired the right to use the image of Ostoja in his book to facilitate its circulation. He himself, however, was quite vague in his autobiographical notes as to his position in the hierarchy of nobility, possibly because of that. [Byelski, Tkachow, p.16.] Also, the Belarusian scientific school of the 20th century tends to interpret the "Litvin/Lithuanian" denomination of the Medieval/Renessaince period as a politonym rather than ethnonym, and so it's pointed out that Siemienowicz writing about himself "Litvin or Lithuanian" meant just citizen of Great Duchy of Lithuania, not ethnicity [Byel'ski, Tkachow, p.16,17.] . The identity of K. Siemienowicz and the magister of philosophy and liberal arts of same surname recorded in the acts of Vilnius academia of 1650 is contended [Byel'ski, Tkachow, p.16.] .

Military career

As Siemienowicz wrote himself, he was fascinated by artillery since childhood, and he studied many sciences to increase his knowledge (mathematics, mechanics, hydraulics, architecture, optics, tactics). In 1632-1634 he took part in the Smolensk War, in the siege of Biała under Mikołaj Abramowicz (who in 1640 became the first Lithuanian General of Artillery). It is possible in 1644 he took part in the battle of Achmatów.pl icon [http://web.archive.org/web/20050216131152/http://www.cosmo.tadla.net/artismagmae.shtml Reprint of article on Siemienowicz from "Mlody Technik" 07.2001] ] He spent some time in the Netherlands, where he was sent by the King Wladyslaw IV to serve in the army of Duke Frederick Henry of Orange during the war with Spain; he participated in the Siege of Hulst in 1645. In 1646 he returned to Poland, when Wladyslaw created the Polish artillery corps and gathered specialists from Europe, planning a war with Ottoman Empire. He served as an engineering expert in the field of artillery and rocketry in the royal artillery forces.Tadeusz Nowak "Kazimierz Siemienowicz, ca.1600-ca.1651", MON Press, Warsaw 1969, p.183] From 1648 he served as Second in Command of Polish Royal Artillery. In late 1648 the newly elected king John Casimir Vaza who had no plans for the war with Ottomans advised him to return to the Netherlands and publish his studies there. There are also rumors that in 1649 Siemienowicz became embroiled in a conflict with General of the Artillery Krzysztof Arciszewski over a bureaucratic matter; in any case around 1649 he decided to leave the Commonwealth and work on his book in Amsterdam.

In 1650 Siemienowicz famous for his work "Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima" (Great Art of Artillery, the First Part). Only the first part was published before his death, although it is rumored he did write a manuscript for part two before his death.Tadeusz Nowak "Kazimierz Siemienowicz, ca.1600-ca.1651", MON Press, Warsaw 1969, p.184] It is also rumored that he was killed by members of the metallurgy/gunsmith/pyrotechnics guilds, who were opposed to him publishing a book about their secrets, and that they hid or destroyed the manuscript of the second part.

Artis Magnae Artilleriae

"Artis Magnae Artilleriae pars prima" ("Great Art of Artillery, the First Part". also known as "The Complete Art of Artillery"), first printed in Amsterdam in 1650, was translated to French in 1651, German in 1676, English and Dutch in 1729 and Polish in 1963.

The five sections of the Latin first edition deal with caliber, pyrotechnics, rockets, fireballs and the building of firework set-pieces. Due to its specialized nature, this treatise became the standard "recipe book" for firework displays and the ultimate, and often plagiarized, authority on military and recreational pyrotechnics for well over a century. In the first part of his work he also wrote that the second one would contain the "universal pyrotechnic invention, containing all of our current knowledge". According to his short description, this invention was supposed to greatly ease all measurements and calculations.

For over two centuries this work was used in Europe as a basic artillery manual. The book provided the standard designs for creating rockets, fireballs, and other pyrotechnic devices. It discussed for the first time the idea of applying a reactive technique to artillery. It contains a large chapter on caliber, construction, production and properties of rockets (for both military and civil purposes), including multistage rockets, batteries of rockets, and rockets with delta wing stabilizers (instead of the common guiding rods).

Siemienowicz considered the use of poison gases unhonorable. In his work, he wrote: "and most of all, they shall not construct any poisoned globes, nor other sorts of pyrobolic inventions, in which he shall introduce no poison whatsoever, besides which, they shall never employ them for the ruin and destruction of men, because the first inventors of our art thought such actions as unjust among themselves as unworthy of a man of heart and a real soldier".

His inventions were used in many battles. For example, in the Battle of Chocim on November 11, 1673, where Commonwealth military units defeated the Ottoman army.


*"Let better rockets serve Venus than blood-thirsty Mars".

ee also

:Contemporary rocket inventors:
*Vannoccio Biringuccio
*Christoph Friedrich
*Józef Łukaszewicz
*Nathaneal Lye
*Daniel Pavelour


External links

* [http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/Siem.htm Pictures of Siemennowicz designs]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060622152703/http://www.uranos.org.pl/biogr/siemie.html Short bio and 20th century picture on Uranos.org]
* [http://www.brown.edu/Facilities/University_Library/exhibits/Fireworks/4.html Short bio and few pics]

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