February 17, 1600: Giordano Bruno dies. He was born Filippo Bruno in Nola, Kingdom of Naples in what is now Italy in 1548. His father was a soldier and he was educated in Naples. He was tutored privately in an Augustinian monastery and at the age of 17 entered the Dominican Order where he took the name of Giordano, his metaphysics tutor. He continued his studies at the monastery until he was 24 when he became a Roman Catholic priest. He was noted for his memory and twice went to Rome to meet with the Pope and demonstrate his mnemonic system. However, he was soon in trouble because his taste in books were not always those approved by the church.
His free thinking and immodest reading material brought him into conflict with the Church. A banned book by Erasmus was found in his possession and as charges were being prepared Bruno fled the monastery and Naples and took to wandering (dressed as a civilian). He traveled around present day Italy, wrote On The Sign of the Times, and eventually was talked back into wearing the habit in Padua. He did not give up travel and went to what is now France. There is some question as to whether or not he left the Catholic Church, but it seemed unlikely.
His works were not only Copernican in nature, but went far beyond into the realm of what could only, during that time, be called heresy. He subscribed to the heliocentric solar system but went farther and claimed that the Sun was just another star moving through space. He claimed the universe held infinite worlds inhabited by other intelligent beings. While in France, he was protected by powerful French patrons and under their auspices was able to publish some more. On The Shadows of Ideas, The Art of Memory, and Circe’s Song were all written in 1582 and were about his mnemonic models which were far different than the popular models of the time. He moved on to England and visited Oxford. His time there was also fruitful.
He left England in 1585 and wandered through mainland Europe, taking teaching posts where he could find them. He finally took a post as an in-house tutor to Mocenigo. When Bruno announced he was leaving, Mocenigo (who was unhappy with his curriculum) denounced him to the Venetian Inquisition and charged him with blasphemy and heresy. During his trial, Bruno’s skill with philosophical methods allowed him to defend himself brilliantly. However, that was no match for the Inquisition. Although the trial lasted for seven years, Bruno was sentenced to death and was burned at the stake on this day.
If it is not true it is very well invented.
Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.
Divinity reveals herself in all things… everything has Divinity latent within itself.
All things are in the Universe, and the universe is in all things: we in it, and it in us; in this way everything concurs in a perfect unity. – all from Giordano Bruno
Also on this day: H L Hunley – In 1864, the first successful sinking of a ship by a submarine.
Newsweek – In 1933, Newsweek was first published.
Miles Standish – In 1621, Miles Standish was appointed first commander of Plymouth colony.
Butterfly – In 1904, Madame Butterfly opened in Milan.