Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno

The Telegraph tells me that “On this day [the 17th] in 1600, Giordano Bruno is burnt alive for his science, 42 years before Galileo.”

Just one problem – it’s not exactly true.

Giordano Bruno was a Catholic (Dominican) priest with a taste for unorthodox beliefs. He was first accused of heresy in 1576, four years after being ordained. He flirted with Calvinism and spent time in England, France, and Germany, but quarrelled with people wherever he went, and eventually returned to Italy. There the Inquisition condemned him, primarily for stating that “Christ was not God but merely an unusually skillful magician” (he was not condemned for Copernicanism, because that was not declared heretical until 1616).

Bruno was a philosopher and theologian with interests in astronomy and magic, rather than a scientist. He wrote no scientific works, although he did have several interesting ideas on the “art of memory,” and discussed the ideas of Copernicus with approval (though not always with understanding). He also suggested that distant stars had their own planets and life, although he had no evidence for this speculation. Few of Bruno’s works have been translated. Two that have been are Gli Eroici Furori and La Cena de le Ceneri. The latter includes a mix of religious, philosophical, and astronomical ideas.

Bruno before the Roman Inquisition

1 thought on “Giordano Bruno

  1. Pingback: The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science: a book review | Scientific Gems

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