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Content

THE MONUMENT OF PROKOP DIVIŠ


 

The monument is a symbolic reminder of the life and work of the Premonstratensian friar, a scientist conducting research in the field of electricity and the inventor of the lightning rod of Prokop Diviš. 
Prokop Diviš (real name Václav Divíšek) was born on March 26th 1698 in Žamberk. Between the years 1716 - 1719, he studied at the Jesuit Latin College in Znojmo, supported by the renowned Premonstratensian monastery in Louka near Znojmo, where he took his monastic vows and assumed the monastic name Prokop. As a Premonstratensian, he studied philosophy and theology in the monastery school, in 1726 he was ordained and in the years 1729 - 1735 he taught philosophy at the same school. On the basis of a successful defence of a doctor's dissertation the University of Salzburg made Diviš a Doctor of Theology in 1733. In the same year he became the sub-prior of the Louka monastery and as of 1736 he took over the parish in Přímětice near Znojmo. He stayed there until 1741, when, on April 7th, the abbot of Louka, Antonín Nolbek, appointed him the prior of the monastery. When Znojmo was occupied by Prussian armies in the spring months of 1742, he paid out a generous payoff to the Prussians for the interned abbot and thus earned his displeasure. It is probably the reason why he was sent back to the parish in Přímětice in the July of the same year. He was based here for the rest of his life (he died on December 21st 1765) and here is also where he began conducting his research work. Administration of the parish farm first turned Diviš's attention to hydro-technical works. In 1742-1744 he built several water mains here. Later, his interest focused on constructing musical instruments, in connection with the monastery's musical culture. His peak achievement was an original cabinet instrument with metal strings, the so-called "denisdor" (Denis d'or - golden Diviš), documented for certain in 1753. The instrument imitated the sounds of various musical instruments. After 1748, under the influence of the then fashionable interest, Diviš started experimenting with electricity. He used frictional electricity and Leyden bottles of his own making; he was also able to successfully work with basic electrostatic phenomena. He even had the opportunity to present them at the imperial court in Vienna. The news of the death of the Petersburg professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, who was killed by lightening in 1753 when attempting to measure the intensity of the electric field in the atmosphere, had awakened Diviš's interest in atmospheric electricity and the decision to build a "meteorological machine" in Přímětice. Basically it was an iron cross-laid horizontally on a 15 m (later 41,5 m) tall pole, its ends were overlaid with shorter iron rods in right angles. There were 12 boxes with iron shavings on the 12 ending points thus created, through which passed around 400 sharp metal points. The whole structure was connected with three conductive chains to the ground.

Under the influence of contemporary ideas, Diviš understood the function of the metal boxes as that of the Leyden bottle - electricity "sucked out" of the atmosphere was supposed to gather in them. This was to prevent lightening strikes and the origination of storms per se. Although the function that Diviš ascribed to his "meteorological machine" was fundamentally different from the principle of the lightning rod, objectively he did construct one. For the first time he erected it in June 1754 and, after it was considered to be the cause of a great draught in the summer of 1759, the Louka monastery had it put down. Diviš placed the second structure on the tower of the Přímětice church after 1761. Another area of scientific interest for Diviš was the effect of electricity on a live organism and the related electro-therapy, to which he devoted himself intensely since 1754. In his research, Diviš stayed in close touch with the representatives of contemporary science - the professor of mathematics and physics at the Vienna University Joseph Franz, the professor of experimental physics at the Prague University Jan Antonín Scrinci, Leonhard Euler, professor of the medical faculty of the Prague University Jan Křtitel Boháč and others. Among else, he was also familiar with the experiments of Benjamin Franklin. He set down his findings in the theoretical thesis Magia naturalis (Natural magic), published in German translation in 1765 in Tübingen and in 1768 in Frankfurt am Meinz - it made a distinct impression on the circle of German Pietist philosophers and Evangelical theologians around Friedrich Christoph Oetinger.

The monument was designed by the Brno architect Bohuslav Fuchs. A replica of the lightning rod was constructed by the apprentice school of the Brno arms factory Zbrojovka on the basis of a plan made from the contemporary description of Diviš's "meteorological machine" by the expert on the life and works of Prokop Diviš, Dr. Ing. Vladimír Sach. The bust of P. Diviš made by Prof. Vincenc Makovský in 1936 was replaced in 1948 by a cast iron copy, restored in 1998 by the Technical museum in Brno. The sculpture in the interior of the monument, symbolising the entrapment of lightning, was made by the Brno sculptor František Hořava in 1941. The monument was first open to the public on June 28th 1936. It was reinstalled by the South Moravian Museum in Znojmo on the occasion of the 300-year anniversary of the birth of Diviš in 1998. Exhibits document the life and work of P. Diviš, as well as the celebrations of his anniversary in Znojmo and Přímětice in the years 1898 to 1998.

source: http://www.znojmuz.cz/divis.htm

Contact: 
Znojmo - Přímětice
tel. 736 465 085

 

Open May 1st to September 27th 2015

 

Entrance fee

10 CZK

No discounts apply to the entrance fee

 

Entry free of charge:

 

Day of open doors

 

Upon arrangement on the tel. no.: 736 465 085, min. 5 persons

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