Giordano Bruno – (1548-1600)
was born at Nola, near Naples in 1548.
An Italian representative of the late Renaissance thought; his teachings and writings, encompassing philosophy, cosmology, theology, mathematics and creative literature, constantly brought him into collision with orthodox opinion and led him to a heretic’s death.
On becoming a Dominican friar he assumed the name Giordano. In the convent he began to develop theological doubts and to profess the necessity of Christian liberty, which led to trouble with the monastic authorities. He had read two forbidden books by Erasmus and freely discussed the theory which denied the divinity of Jesus.
A trial of heresy was prepared against him so in 1576 Giordano fled to Rome. There he was involved in a murder case and had to flee again, first to Liguria and then to Venice.
In 1579 he adhered to Calvinism but after publishing a broadsheet against a Calvinist professor he was imprisoned. On his retracting he was freed and went to Toulouse, where he was granted the degree of Master of Arts.
In 1583 he moved to London giving lectures on the Copernican theory of the movement of the earth but the reception he received was hostile. He moved back to France but continued on to Germany when he found the religious position had changed.
He was to return to Italy when offered the Chair of Mathematics at Padua by the Venetian patrician, Giovanni Mocenigo.
In autumn of 1592 Mocenigo denounced him to the inquisition for his heretical theories. Arrested he was transferred to Rome in 1593 where he remained imprisoned for seven years.
Bruno argued that his ideas were not theological but philosophical. The Church did not accept this. He was twice given 40 days to recant. After a long trial Pope Clement VIII ordered Bruno to be sentenced as an impenitent and pertinacious heretic.
He was burned at the stake on 17th February 1600.
The importance of Giordano Bruno’s books was acknowledged by being placed on the forbidden list on August 7, 1603!
“This entire globe, this star, not being subject to death, and dissolution and annihilation being impossible anywhere in Nature, from time to time renews itself by changing and altering all its parts. There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the centre of things.”
from his book “De la Causa, principio et uno” (“On Cause, Principle, and Unity”)
“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
“Who so itcheth to Philosophy must set to work by putting all things to the doubt.”
The Australian Atheist
Giordano Bruno by D.G. Ellis (April 1977)
Giordano Bruno by Keith S Cornish (September 2000)
By Lee Holmes