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12 April 2008

On this day in history: Galileo interrogated by the Inquisition, 1633

Following the publication of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the Inquisition summoned Galileo Galilei to Rome for interrogation. Galileo had managed to alienate Pope Urban VIII by ridiculing Urban's geocentric opinions in the Dialogue, ending the protection that the Pontiff had extended to Galileo. The insult was probably unintentional but it was enough for the Pope to allow the Inquisition to effectively charge Galileo with heresy, for promoting the heretical Copernican idea that the Earth orbited the Sun, rather than being the centre of the Universe as per the geocentric view.

The interrogation began on 12th April, 1633, and lasted for until the 30th April. During the questioning, Galileo was detained in the Inquisition's building, albeit in luxurious apartments. Following a plea bargain by which Galileo would recant some of his claims in return for a more lenient sentence, he was finally sentenced to house arrest, under which he remained for the rest of his life.

To learn more about Galileo see the Galileo Project website at Rice University.


Shan-ul-Hai said...

Don't you love the concept of heresy? If you don't like what somebody says, just charge them with heresy and you'll never have to worry about them again.


Stepterix said...

I do love the history of the subject, and your argument holds up to a point.

I read a very good book on the subject: David Christie-Murray, A History of Heresy (Oxford, 1989).

This book focuses on Catholicism, which has more than its fair share of heresies.

Cheers K