Giordano Bruno
Overview
Giordano Bruno born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

, philosopher, mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

 and astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican
Copernican heliocentrism
Copernican heliocentrism is the name given to the astronomical model developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543. It positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets rotating around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform...

 model in proposing that the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 was essentially a star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. He was burned at the stake
Execution by burning
Death by burning is death brought about by combustion. As a form of capital punishment, burning has a long history as a method in crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft....

 by civil authorities in 1600 after the Roman Inquisition
Roman Inquisition
The Roman Inquisition was a system of tribunals developed by the Holy See during the second half of the 16th century, responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of a wide array of crimes related to heresy, including Protestantism, sorcery, immorality, blasphemy, Judaizing and witchcraft, as...

 found him guilty of heresy
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

 for his pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 and turned him over to the state, which at that time considered heresy illegal.
Quotations

The Divine Light is always in man, presenting itself to the senses and to the comprehension, but man rejects it.

As quoted in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno : Philosopher, Martyr, Mystic 1548 - 1600 (1913) by Coulson Turnbull

Nature is none other than God in things... Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; Whence all of God is in all things... Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion.

As quoted in Elements of Pantheism (2004) by Paul A. Harrison : La cena de le ceneri (1584)

The universal Intellect is the intimate, most real, peculiar and powerful part of the soul of the world. This is the single whole which filleth the whole, illumineth the universe and directeth nature to the production of natural things, as our intellect with the congruous production of natural kinds.

We find that everything that makes up difference and number is pure accident, pure show, pure constitution. Every production, of whatever kind, is an alteration, but the substance remains always the same, because it is only one, one divine immortal being.

Encyclopedia
Giordano Bruno born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian
Italian people
The Italian people are an ethnic group that share a common Italian culture, ancestry and speak the Italian language as a mother tongue. Within Italy, Italians are defined by citizenship, regardless of ancestry or country of residence , and are distinguished from people...

 Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

, philosopher, mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

 and astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican
Copernican heliocentrism
Copernican heliocentrism is the name given to the astronomical model developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543. It positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets rotating around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform...

 model in proposing that the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 was essentially a star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. He was burned at the stake
Execution by burning
Death by burning is death brought about by combustion. As a form of capital punishment, burning has a long history as a method in crimes such as treason, heresy, and witchcraft....

 by civil authorities in 1600 after the Roman Inquisition
Roman Inquisition
The Roman Inquisition was a system of tribunals developed by the Holy See during the second half of the 16th century, responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of a wide array of crimes related to heresy, including Protestantism, sorcery, immorality, blasphemy, Judaizing and witchcraft, as...

 found him guilty of heresy
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

 for his pantheism
Pantheism
Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

 and turned him over to the state, which at that time considered heresy illegal. After his death he gained considerable fame, particularly among 19th and early 20th century commentators who, focusing on his astronomical beliefs, regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas.

Some assessments suggest that Bruno's ideas about the universe played a smaller role in his trial than his pantheist beliefs, which differed from the interpretations and scope of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 held by the Catholic Church. In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensive works on the art of memory
Art of memory
The Art of Memory or Ars Memorativa is a general term used to designate a loosely associated group of mnemonic principles and techniques used to organize memory impressions, improve recall, and assist in the combination and 'invention' of ideas. It is sometimes referred to as mnemotechnics...

, a loosely organized group of mnemonic
Mnemonic
A mnemonic , or mnemonic device, is any learning technique that aids memory. To improve long term memory, mnemonic systems are used to make memorization easier. Commonly encountered mnemonics are often verbal, such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something,...

 techniques and principles. The pioneering work of Frances Yates
Frances Yates
Dame Frances Amelia Yates DBE was a British historian. She taught at the Warburg Institute of the University of London for many years.She wrote extensively on the occult or Neoplatonic philosophies of the Renaissance...

, especially influential in anglophone scholarship, argues that Bruno was deeply influenced by the astronomical facts of the universe inherited from Arab astrology, Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 and Renaissance Hermeticism
Hermeticism
Hermeticism or the Western Hermetic Tradition is a set of philosophical and religious beliefs based primarily upon the pseudepigraphical writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus...

. Other recent studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.

Early years, 1548–1576

Filippo Bruno was born in Nola
Nola
Nola is a city and comune of Campania, southern Italy, in the province of Naples, situated in the plain between Mount Vesuvius and the Apennines...

 (in Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

, then part of the Spanish Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

) in 1548, the son of Giovanni Bruno, a soldier, and Fraulissa Savolino. In his youth he was sent to Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 for education. He was tutored privately at the Augustinian monastery there, and attended public lectures at the Studium Generale
Studium Generale
Studium generale is the old customary name for a Medieval university.- Definition :There is no clear official definition of what constituted a Studium generale...

. At the age of 17, he entered the Dominican Order
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 at the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore
San Domenico Maggiore
San Domenico Maggiore is a church in Naples, southern Italy, located in the square with the same name. The square is one of the most interesting in Naples and is on the street popularly called "Spaccanapoli" in the historic center of Naples...

 in Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, taking the name Giordano, after Giordano Crispo, his metaphysics tutor. He continued his studies there, completing his novitiate
Novitiate
Novitiate, alt. noviciate, is the period of training and preparation that a novice monastic or member of a religious order undergoes prior to taking vows in order to discern whether they are called to the religious life....

, and became an ordained priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 in 1572 at age 24. During his time in Naples he became known for his skill with the art of memory
Art of memory
The Art of Memory or Ars Memorativa is a general term used to designate a loosely associated group of mnemonic principles and techniques used to organize memory impressions, improve recall, and assist in the combination and 'invention' of ideas. It is sometimes referred to as mnemotechnics...

 and on one occasion traveled to Rome to demonstrate his mnemonic system before Pope Pius V
Pope Pius V
Pope Saint Pius V , born Antonio Ghislieri , was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church...

 and Cardinal Rebiba
Scipione Rebiba
Scipione Rebiba was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.He is of particular significance as more than 90% of all living Catholic bishops can trace their episcopal lineage back to him.-Biography:...

. In his later years Bruno claimed that the Pope accepted his dedication to him of the lost work On The Ark of Noah at this time.

Such an honor suggests that Bruno was distinguished for outstanding ability. But Bruno's taste for free thinking and forbidden books soon caused him difficulties, and given the controversy he caused in later life it is surprising that he was able to remain within the monastic system for eleven years. In his testimony to Venetian inquisitors during his trial, many years later, he indicates that proceedings were twice taken against him for having cast away images of the saints, retaining only a crucifix, and for having made controversial reading recommendations to a novice. Such behavior could perhaps be overlooked, but Bruno's situation became much more serious when he was reported to have defended the Arian heresy
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, and when a copy of the banned writings of Erasmus, annotated by him, was discovered hidden in the convent privy. When he learned that an indictment was being prepared against him in Naples he fled, shedding his religious habit, at least for a time.

First years of wandering, 1576–1583

Bruno first went to the Genoese port of Noli
Noli
Noli |Ligurian]] Nöi ) is a coast comune of Liguria, Italy, in the Province of Savona, it is about SW of Genoa by rail, about 4 m above sea-level. It has a population of 2,957. In 1901, it had a population of 1,985...

, then to Savona
Savona
Savona is a seaport and comune in the northern Italian region of Liguria, capital of the Province of Savona, in the Riviera di Ponente on the Mediterranean Sea....

, Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 and finally to Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, where he published his lost work On The Signs of the Times with the permission (so he claimed at his trial) of the Dominican Remigio Nannini Fiorentino. From Venice he went to Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

 where he met fellow Dominicans who convinced him to wear his religious habit
Religious habit
A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order. Traditionally some plain garb recognisable as a religious habit has also been worn by those leading the religious eremitic and anachoritic life, although in their case without conformity to a particular uniform...

 again. From Padua he went to Bergamo
Bergamo
Bergamo is a town and comune in Lombardy, Italy, about 40 km northeast of Milan. The comune is home to over 120,000 inhabitants. It is served by the Orio al Serio Airport, which also serves the Province of Bergamo, and to a lesser extent the metropolitan area of Milan...

 and then across the Alps to Chambéry
Chambéry
Chambéry is a city in the department of Savoie, located in the Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France.It is the capital of the department and has been the historical capital of the Savoy region since the 13th century, when Amadeus V of Savoy made the city his seat of power.-Geography:Chambéry...

 and Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

. His movements after this time are obscure.

In 1579 he arrived in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

. As D.W. Singer, a Bruno biographer, notes, "The question has sometimes been raised as to whether Bruno became a Protestant, but it is intrinsically most unlikely that he accepted membership in Calvin's communion" During his Venetian trial he told inquisitors that while in Geneva he told the Marchese de Vico of Naples, who was notable for helping Italian refugees in Geneva, "I did not intend to adopt the religion of the city. I desired to stay there only that I might live at liberty and in security." Bruno had a pair of breeches made for himself, and the Marchese and others apparently made Bruno a gift of a sword, hat, cape and other necessities for dressing himself; in such clothing Bruno could no longer be recognized as a priest. Things apparently went well for Bruno for a time, as he entered his name in the Rector's Book of the University of Geneva in May of 1579. But in keeping with his personality he could not long remain silent. In August he published an attack on the work of Antoine de la Faye, a distinguished professor. He and the printer were promptly arrested. Rather than apologizing, Bruno insisted on continuing to defend his publication. He was refused the right to take sacrament. Though this was eventually reversed, he left Geneva.

He left for France, arriving first in Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

, and thereafter settling for a time (1580–1581) in Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

, where he took his doctorate in theology and was elected by students to lecture in philosophy. It seems he also attempted at this time to return to the Catholic fold, but was denied absolution by the Jesuit priest he approached. When religious strife broke out in the summer of 1581, he relocated to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. There he held a cycle of thirty lectures on theological topics, and he also began to gain fame for his prodigious memory. Bruno's feats of memory were based, at least in part, on his elaborate system of mnemonics, but some of his contemporaries found it easier to attribute them to magical powers. His talents attracted the benevolent attention of the king Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

. The king summoned him to the court. Bruno subsequently reported "I got me such a name that King Henry III summoned me one day to discover from me if the memory which I possessed was natural or acquired by magic art. I satisfied him that it did not come from sorcery but from organised knowledge; and, following this, I got a book on memory printed, entitled 'The Shadows of Ideas', which I dedicated to His Majesty. Forthwith he gave me an Extraordinary Lectureship with a salary."

In Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 Bruno enjoyed the protection of his powerful French patrons. During this period, he published several works on mnemonics, including De umbris idearum (On The Shadows of Ideas, 1582), Ars Memoriae (The Art of Memory, 1582), and Cantus Circaeus (Circe's Song, 1582). All of these were based on his mnemonic models of organised knowledge and experience, as opposed to the simplistic logic-based mnemonic techniques of Petrus Ramus
Petrus Ramus
Petrus Ramus was an influential French humanist, logician, and educational reformer. A Protestant convert, he was killed during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Early life:...

 then becoming popular. Bruno also published a comedy summarizing some of his philosophical positions, titled Il Candelaio (The Torchbearer, 1582). On The Shadows of Ideas was dedicated to King Henry III. In the 16th century dedications were, as a rule, approved beforehand, and hence were a way of placing a work under the protection of an individual. Given that Bruno dedicated various works to the likes of King Henry III, Sir Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

, Michel de Castelnau
Michel de Castelnau
Michel de Castelnau, Sieur de la Mauvissière , French soldier and diplomat, ambassador to Queen Elizabeth, was born in Mauvissière, , Touraine about 1520...

 (French Ambassador to England), and possibly Pope Pius V
Pope Pius V
Pope Saint Pius V , born Antonio Ghislieri , was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church...

, it is apparent that this wanderer had experienced a meteoric rise and moved in powerful circles.

England, 1583–1585

In April 1583, Bruno went to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 with letters of recommendation from Henry III as a guest of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau. There he became acquainted with the poet Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier and soldier, and is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age...

 (to whom he dedicated two books) and other members of the Hermetic circle around John Dee
John Dee (mathematician)
John Dee was an English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination and Hermetic philosophy....

, though there is no evidence that Bruno ever met Dee himself. He also lectured at Oxford, and unsuccessfully sought a teaching position there. His views spurred controversy, notably with John Underhill, Rector of Lincoln College and from 1589 bishop of Oxford, and George Abbot
George Abbot (Archbishop of Canterbury)
George Abbot was an English divine and Archbishop of Canterbury. He also served as the fourth Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, between 1612 and 1633....

, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, who poked fun at Bruno for supporting “the opinion of Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe....

 that the earth did go round, and the heavens did stand still; whereas in truth it was his own head which rather did run round, and his brains did not stand still.” and who reports accusations that Bruno plagiarized Ficino
Marsilio Ficino
Marsilio Ficino was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance, an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism who was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day, and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin...

's work. Still, the English period was a fruitful one. During that time Bruno completed and published some of his most important works, the "Italian Dialogues," including the cosmological tracts La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper, 1584), De la Causa, Principio et Uno (On Cause, Principle and Unity, 1584), De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584) as well as Lo Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, 1584) and De gl' Heroici Furori (On Heroic Frenzies, 1585). Some of these were printed by John Charlewood
John Charlewood
John Charlewood commenced business as a printer early in Mary's reign in partnership with John Tisdale, in Holborn. He was important as one of the first printer to print Italian works in England - the other being John Wolfe, who printed at roughly the same time as Charlewood.He was a member of the...

. Some of the works that Bruno published in London, notably The Ash Wednesday Supper, appear to have given offense. It was not the first time, nor was it to be the last, that Bruno's controversial views coupled with his abrasive sarcasm lost him the support of his friends. While conclusive proof is wanting, the theory has been advanced that, while he was staying in the French Embassy in London, Bruno was also spying on Catholic conspirators under the pseudonym 'Fagot' for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

's Secretary of State.

Last years of wandering, 1585–1592

In October 1585, after the French embassy in London was attacked by a mob, Bruno returned to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 with Castelnau, finding a tense political situation. Moreover, his 120 theses against Aristotelian
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 natural science and his pamphlets against the mathematician Fabrizio Mordente soon put him in ill favor. In 1586, following a violent quarrel about Mordente's invention, "the differential compass," he left France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 for Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.

In Germany he failed to obtain a teaching position at Marburg
Marburg
Marburg is a city in the state of Hesse, Germany, on the River Lahn. It is the main town of the Marburg-Biedenkopf district and its population, as of March 2010, was 79,911.- Founding and early history :...

, but was granted permission to teach at Wittenberg
University of Halle-Wittenberg
The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg , also referred to as MLU, is a public, research-oriented university in the cities of Halle and Wittenberg within Saxony-Anhalt, Germany...

, where he lectured on Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 for two years. However, with a change of intellectual climate there, he was no longer welcome, and went in 1588 to Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, where he obtained 300 taler from Rudolf II, but no teaching position. He went on to serve briefly as a professor in Helmstedt
University of Helmstedt
The University of Helmstedt, official Latin name: Academia Julia , was a university in Helmstedt in the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel that existed from 1576 until 1810....

, but had to flee again when he was excommunicated
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 by the Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

ans, continuing the pattern of Bruno's gaining favor from lay authorities before falling foul of the ecclesiastics of whatever hue.

During this period he produced several Latin works, dictated to his friend and secretary Girolamo Besler, including De Magia (On Magic), Theses De Magia (Theses On Magic) and De Vinculis In Genere (A General Account of Bonding). All these were apparently transcribed or recorded by Besler (or Bisler) between 1589 and 1590. He also published De Imaginum, Signorum, Et Idearum Compositione (On The Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas, 1591).

The year 1591 found him in Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

. Apparently, during the Frankfurt Book Fair
Frankfurt Book Fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's largest trade fair for books, based on the number of publishing companies represented. As to the number of visitors, the Turin Book Fair attracts about as many visitors, viz. some 300,000....

, he received an invitation to Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 from the patrician Giovanni Mocenigo, who wished to be instructed in the art of memory, and also heard of a vacant chair in mathematics at the University of Padua
University of Padua
The University of Padua is a premier Italian university located in the city of Padua, Italy. The University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second...

. Apparently believing that the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

 might have lost some of its impetus, he returned to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

.

He went first to Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, where he taught briefly, and applied unsuccessfully for the chair of mathematics, which was assigned instead to Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 one year later. Bruno accepted Mocenigo's invitation and moved to Venice in March 1592. For about two months he functioned as an in-house tutor to Mocenigo. When Bruno announced his plan to leave Venice to his host, the latter, who was unhappy with the teachings he had received and had apparently developed a personal rancour towards Bruno, denounced him to the Venetian Inquisition, which had Bruno arrested on May 22, 1592. Among the numerous charges of blasphemy
Blasphemy
Blasphemy is irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things. Some countries have laws to punish blasphemy, while others have laws to give recourse to those who are offended by blasphemy...

 and heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 brought against him in Venice, based on Mocenigo's denunciation, was his belief in the plurality of worlds, as well as accusations of personal misconduct. Bruno defended himself skillfully, stressing the philosophical character of some of his positions, denying others and admitting that he had had doubts on some matters of dogma. The Roman Inquisition, however, asked for his transferral to Rome. After several months and some quibbling the Venetian authorities reluctantly consented and Bruno was sent to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in February 1593.

Imprisonment, trial and execution, 1592–1600

In Rome he was imprisoned for seven years during his lengthy trial, lastly in the Tower of Nona. Some important documents about the trial are lost, but others have been preserved, among them a summary of the proceedings that was rediscovered in 1940. The numerous charges against Bruno, based on some of his books as well as on witness accounts, included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Luigi Firpo lists these charges made against Bruno by the Roman Inquisition:
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith
    Catholic
    The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

     and speaking against it and its ministers;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity
    Trinity
    The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

    , divinity of Christ
    Christ
    Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

    , and Incarnation
    Incarnation
    Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

    ;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus
    Jesus
    Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

     as Christ;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus
    Mary (mother of Jesus)
    Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

    ;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation
    Transubstantiation
    In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

     and Mass;
  • claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity;
  • believing in metempsychosis
    Metempsychosis
    Metempsychosis is a philosophical term in the Greek language referring to transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. It is a doctrine popular among a number of Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Druzism wherein an individual incarnates from one...

     and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes, and;
  • dealing in magics and divination.


In these grim circumstances Bruno continued his Venetian defensive strategy, which consisted in bowing to the Church's dogmatic teachings, while trying to preserve the basis of his philosophy. In particular Bruno held firm to his belief in the plurality of worlds, although he was admonished to abandon it. His trial was overseen by the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine
Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation...

, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused. Instead he appealed in vain to Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII , born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 30 January 1592 to 3 March 1605.-Cardinal:...

, hoping to save his life through a partial recantation. The Pope expressed himself in favor of a guilty verdict, recommending a sentence of death. Consequently, Bruno was declared a heretic
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

, and told he would be handed over to secular authorities. According to the correspondence of one Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, he is said to have made a threatening gesture towards his judges and to have replied:

"Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam (Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it)." He was quickly turned over to the secular authorities and, on February 17, 1600 in the Campo de' Fiori
Campo de' Fiori
Campo de' Fiori is a rectangular square near Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy, on the border of rione Parione and rione Regola. Campo de' Fiori, translated literally from Italian, means "field of flowers"...

, a central Roman market square, "his tongue imprisoned because of his wicked words" he was burned at the stake
Burned at the Stake
Burned at the Stake is a 1981 film directed by Bert I. Gordon. It stars Susan Swift and Albert Salmi.-Cast:*Susan Swift as Loreen Graham / Ann Putnam*Albert Salmi as Captaiin Billingham*Guy Stockwell as Dr. Grossinger*Tisha Sterling as Karen Graham...

. His ashes were dumped into the Tiber river. All of Bruno's works were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum
Index Librorum Prohibitorum
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. A first version was promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form was authorized at the Council of Trent...

in 1603.
Inquisition Cardinals who judged Giordano Bruno were: St. Roberto Francesco Romolo Cardinal Bellarmino (Bellarmine), Carlo Gaudenzio Cardinal Madruzzo (Madruzzi), Cardinal Camillo Borghese (later Pope Paul V
Pope Paul V
-Theology:Paul met with Galileo Galilei in 1616 after Cardinal Bellarmine had, on his orders, warned Galileo not to hold or defend the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus. Whether there was also an order not to teach those ideas in any way has been a matter for controversy...

), Domenico Cardinal Pinelli, Pompeio Cardinal Arrigoni, Paolo Emilio Cardinal Sfondrati, Pedro Cardinal De Deza Manuel, Giulio Antonio Cardinal Santorio (Archbishop of Santa Severina, Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina).

Late Vatican position

In the years since Bruno's execution, the Vatican has published few official statements about the matter. In 1942, Cardinal Mercati, who discovered the lost documents relating to Bruno's trial, stated that the Church was perfectly justified in condemning Bruno. Later, on the 400th anniversary of Bruno's death, Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Angelo Sodano
Angelo Sodano is an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the current Dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican Secretary of State, having held that post from 1990 to 2006, under both popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI...

 declared Bruno's death to be a "sad episode" but, despite his regret, he defended Bruno's prosecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors were "motivated by the desire to serve the truth and promote the common good, also doing their utmost to save his life" by trying to convince him to recant and subsequently by appealing the capital punishment with the secular authorities of Rome.

Retrospective views of Bruno

Some authors have characterized Bruno as a "martyr of science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

," suggesting parallels with the Galileo affair
Galileo affair
The Galileo affair was a sequence of events, beginning around 1610, during which Galileo Galilei came into conflict with the Aristotelian scientific view of the universe , over his support of Copernican astronomy....

. They assert that, even though Bruno's theological beliefs were an important factor in his heresy trial, his Copernicanism and cosmological beliefs also played a significant role for the outcome. Others oppose such views, and claim this alleged connection to be exaggerated, or outright false.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology."

Similarly, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) asserts that "Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skillful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc."

The Vatican Secret Archives discussing the document containing a summary of legal proceedings against Bruno in Rome, asserts: "In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotle’s philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Bruno's heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration."

Following the 1870 Capture of Rome
Capture of Rome
The Capture of Rome was the final event of the long process of Italian unification known as the Risorgimento, which finally unified the Italian peninsula under King Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy...

 by the newly created Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 and the end of the Church's temporal power over the city, the erection of a monument to Bruno
Statue of Giordano Bruno
The Statue of Giordano Bruno, created by Ettore Ferrari, was erected at Campo de' Fiori in Rome, Italy, in 1889.This statue of Giordano Bruno was commissioned by the supporters of the unification of Italy...

 on the site of his execution became feasible. In 1885 an international committee was formed for that purpose, including Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

, Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

, Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan was a French expert of Middle East ancient languages and civilizations, philosopher and writer, devoted to his native province of Brittany...

, Ernst Haeckel
Ernst Haeckel
The "European War" became known as "The Great War", and it was not until 1920, in the book "The First World War 1914-1918" by Charles à Court Repington, that the term "First World War" was used as the official name for the conflict.-Research:...

, Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

 and Ferdinand Gregorovius
Ferdinand Gregorovius
Ferdinand Gregorovius was a German historian who specialized in the medieval history of Rome. He is best known for Wanderjahre in Italien, his account of the walks he took through Italy in the 1850s, and the monumental Die Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter , a classic for Medieval and early...

. The monument was sharply opposed by the clerical party, but was finally erected by the Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 Municipality and inaugurated in 1889.

A statue of a stretched human figure standing on its head designed by Alexander Polzin depicting Bruno's death at the stake was placed in Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is an important public square and traffic intersection in the centre of Berlin, Germany, lying about one kilometre south of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag , and close to the southeast corner of the Tiergarten park...

 station 52°30′35.4"N 13°22′33.5"E in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 on March 2, 2008.

Polygenism

Bruno was a believer in polygenism
Polygenism
Polygenism is a theory of human origins positing that the human races are of different lineages . This is opposite to the idea of monogenism, which posits a single origin of humanity.- Origins :...

, that each race had been created separately, he believed in CoAdamism; that there were more than one Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

, and that there were also an infinite number of Gardens of Eden:
In 1591 Bruno argued that because no one could imagine that the Jews and the Ethiopians had the same ancestry that God must have either created separate Adams or that Africans were the descendants of pre-Adamite races (see Pre-Adamites).

Cosmology before Bruno

According to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, the universe was a finite sphere
Sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...

. Its ultimate limit was the primum mobile, whose diurnal rotation was conferred upon it by a transcendental
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, not part of the universe, a motionless prime mover
Cosmological argument
The cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of a First Cause to the universe, and by extension is often used as an argument for the existence of an "unconditioned" or "supreme" being, usually then identified as God...

 and first cause. The fixed star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s were part of this celestial sphere, all at the same fixed distance from the immobile earth at the center of the sphere. Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 had numbered these at 1,022, grouped into 48 constellation
Constellation
In modern astronomy, a constellation is an internationally defined area of the celestial sphere. These areas are grouped around asterisms, patterns formed by prominent stars within apparent proximity to one another on Earth's night sky....

s. The planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

s were each fixed to a transparent sphere.

In the first half of the 15th century Nicolaus Cusanus (not to be confused with Copernicus a century later) reissued the ideas formulated in Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 by Democritus
Democritus
Democritus was an Ancient Greek philosopher born in Abdera, Thrace, Greece. He was an influential pre-Socratic philosopher and pupil of Leucippus, who formulated an atomic theory for the cosmos....

 and Lucretius
Lucretius
Titus Lucretius Carus was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is an epic philosophical poem laying out the beliefs of Epicureanism, De rerum natura, translated into English as On the Nature of Things or "On the Nature of the Universe".Virtually no details have come down concerning...

 and dropped the Aristotelean cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

. He envisioned an infinite universe, whose center was everywhere and circumference nowhere, with countless rotating stars, the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 being one of them, of equal importance. He also considered that neither were the rotational orbits circular, nor was the movement uniform.

In the second half of the 16th century, the theories of Copernicus (1473–1543) began diffusing through Europe. Copernicus conserved the idea of planets fixed to solid spheres, but considered the apparent motion of the stars to be an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis; he also preserved the notion of an immobile center, but it was the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 rather than the Earth. Copernicus also argued the Earth was a planet orbiting the Sun once every year. However he maintained the Ptolemaic hypothesis that the orbits of the planets were composed of perfect circles—deferents and epicycles—and that the stars were fixed on a stationary outer sphere.

Few astronomers
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 of Bruno's time accepted Copernicus's heliocentric model
Copernican heliocentrism
Copernican heliocentrism is the name given to the astronomical model developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543. It positioned the Sun near the center of the Universe, motionless, with Earth and the other planets rotating around it in circular paths modified by epicycles and at uniform...

. Among those who did were the Germans
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Michael Maestlin
Michael Maestlin
Michael Maestlin was a German astronomer and mathematician, known for being the mentor of Johannes Kepler.-Career:...

 (1550–1631), Christoph Rothmann
Christoph Rothmann
Christoph Rothmann was a German mathematician and one of the few well-known astronomers of his time...

, Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

 (1571–1630), the Englishman
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 Thomas Digges
Thomas Digges
Sir Thomas Digges was an English mathematician and astronomer. He was the first to expound the Copernican system in English but discarded the notion of a fixed shell of immoveable stars to postulate infinitely many stars at varying distances; he was also first to postulate the "dark night sky...

, author of A Perfit Description of the Caelestial Orbes, and the Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 (1564–1642). Curiously, Bruno's Nolan compatriot, Nicola Antonio Stigliola
Nicola Antonio Stigliola
Nicola Antonio Stigliola was an Italian philosopher, printer, architect, and medical doctor...

, born just two years before Bruno himself, believed in the Copernican model. The two, however, probably never met after their youth.

Bruno's cosmology

Bruno believed (and praised Copernicus for establishing a scientific explanation for the fact) that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that the apparent diurnal rotation of the heavens is an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth around its axis. Bruno also held (following Nicholas of Cusa
Nicholas of Cusa
Nicholas of Kues , also referred to as Nicolaus Cusanus and Nicholas of Cusa, was a cardinal of the Catholic Church from Germany , a philosopher, theologian, jurist, mathematician, and an astronomer. He is widely considered one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century...

) that because God is infinite the universe would reflect this fact in boundless immensity.

The universe is then one, infinite, immobile.... It is not capable of comprehension and therefore is endless and limitless, and to that extent infinite and indeterminable, and consequently immobile.


Bruno also asserted that the stars in the sky were really other suns like our own, around which orbited other planets. He indicated that support for such beliefs in no way contradicted scripture or true religion.

In 1584, Bruno published two important philosophical dialogues, in which he argued against the planetary spheres (two years later, Rothmann did the same, as did Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe , born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations...

 in 1587). Bruno's infinite universe was filled with a substance—a "pure air," aether
Aether (classical element)
According to ancient and medieval science aether , also spelled æther or ether, is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere.-Mythological origins:...

, or spiritus -- that offered no resistance to the heavenly bodies which, in Bruno's view, rather than being fixed, moved under their own impetus (momentum). Most dramatically, he completely abandoned the idea of a hierarchical
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

 universe. The Earth was just one more heavenly body, as was the Sun. God had no particular relation to one part of the infinite universe more than any other. God, according to Bruno, was as present on Earth as in the Heavens, an immanent
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

 God, the One subsuming in itself the multiplicity of existence, rather than a remote heavenly deity.
Bruno also affirmed that the universe was homogeneous, made up everywhere of the four elements (water, earth, fire, and air), rather than having the stars be composed of a separate quintessence
Aether (classical element)
According to ancient and medieval science aether , also spelled æther or ether, is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere.-Mythological origins:...

. Essentially, the same physical law
Physical law
A physical law or scientific law is "a theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present." Physical laws are typically conclusions...

s would operate everywhere, although the use of that term is anachronistic. Space
Space
Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

 and time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 were both conceived as infinite. There was no room in his stable and permanent universe for the Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 notions of divine creation and Last Judgement.

Under this model, the Sun was simply one more star, and the stars all sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

s, each with its own planets. Bruno saw a solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 of a sun/star with planets as the fundamental unit of the universe. According to Bruno, infinite God necessarily created an infinite universe, formed of an infinite number of solar systems, separated by vast regions full of Aether, because empty space could not exist (Bruno did not arrive at the concept of a galaxy
Galaxy
A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

). Comet
Comet
A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet...

s were part of a synodus ex mundis of stars, and not—as other authors maintained at the time—ephemeral creations, divine instruments, or heavenly messengers. Each comet was a world, a permanent celestial body, formed of the four elements.
Bruno's cosmology is marked by infinitude, homogeneity, and isotropy
Isotropy
Isotropy is uniformity in all orientations; it is derived from the Greek iso and tropos . Precise definitions depend on the subject area. Exceptions, or inequalities, are frequently indicated by the prefix an, hence anisotropy. Anisotropy is also used to describe situations where properties vary...

, with planetary systems distributed evenly throughout. Matter
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

 follows an active animistic
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

 principle: it is intelligent and discontinuous in structure, made up of discrete atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s. This animism (and a corresponding disdain for mathematics as a means to understanding) is the most dramatic respect in which Bruno's cosmology differs from a modern scientific understanding of the universe.

During the later 16th century, and throughout the 17th century, Bruno's ideas were held up for ridicule, debate, or inspiration. Margaret Cavendish
Margaret Cavendish
Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne was an English aristocrat, a prolific writer, and a scientist. Born Margaret Lucas, she was the youngest sister of prominent royalists Sir John Lucas and Sir Charles Lucas...

, for example, wrote an entire series of poems against "atoms" and "infinite worlds" in Poems and Fancies in 1664. Bruno's true, if partial, rehabilitation would have to wait for the implications of Newtonian
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 cosmology.

Bruno's overall contribution to the birth of modern science is still controversial. Some scholars follow Frances Yates
Frances Yates
Dame Frances Amelia Yates DBE was a British historian. She taught at the Warburg Institute of the University of London for many years.She wrote extensively on the occult or Neoplatonic philosophies of the Renaissance...

 stressing the importance of Bruno's ideas about the universe being infinite and lacking geocentric structure as a crucial crosspoint between the old and the new. Others disagree. Others yet see in Bruno's idea of multiple worlds instantiating the infinite possibilities of a pristine, indivisible One a forerunner of Everett
Hugh Everett
Hugh Everett III was an American physicist who first proposed the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, which he termed his "relative state" formulation....

's many-worlds interpretation
Many-worlds interpretation
The many-worlds interpretation is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts the objective reality of the universal wavefunction, but denies the actuality of wavefunction collapse. Many-worlds implies that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an...

 of quantum mechanics.

Bruno's physical appearance

The earliest likeness of Bruno is an engraving published in 1715 and cited by Salvestrini as "the only known portrait of Bruno". Salvestrini suggests that it is a re-engraving made from a now lost original. This engraving has provided the source for later images.

The records of Bruno's imprisonment by the Venetian inquisition in May of 1592 describe him as a man "of average height, with a hazel coloured beard and the appearance of being about forty years of age".
Alternately, a passage in a work by George Abbot
George Abbot (Archbishop of Canterbury)
George Abbot was an English divine and Archbishop of Canterbury. He also served as the fourth Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, between 1612 and 1633....

 indicates that Bruno was of diminutive stature: "When that Italian Didapper, who intituled himselfe Philotheus Iordanus Brunus Nolanus, magis elaborata Theologia Doctor, &c with a name longer than his body...". The word "didapper" used by Abbot is the derisive term which in period meant "a small diving waterfowl".

Retrospective 'scientific' iconography of Bruno shows him with a Dominican cowl but not tonsured. Edward Gosselin has suggested that it is likely Bruno kept his tonsure
Tonsure
Tonsure is the traditional practice of Christian churches of cutting or shaving the hair from the scalp of clerics, monastics, and, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, all baptized members...

 at least until 1579, and it is possible that he wore it again thereafter.

Works

  • De umbris idearum (Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

    , 1582)
  • Cantus Circaeus (1582) Latin text; English Translation offered by a US publisher.
  • De compendiosa architectura (1582)
  • Candelaio (1582)
  • Ars reminiscendi (1583)
  • Explicatio triginta sigillorum (1583)
  • Sigillus sigillorum (1583)
  • La Cena de le Ceneri (Le Banquet des Cendres) (1584)
  • De la causa, principio, et Uno (1584)
  • De l'infinito universo et Mondi (1584)
  • Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (L'expulsion de la bête triomphante) (London
    London
    London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

    , 1584), allégorie où il combat la superstition
  • Cabala del cavallo Pegaseo- Asino Cillenico(1585)
  • De gl' heroici furori (1585)
  • Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus (1585)
  • Dialogi duo de Fabricii Mordentis Salernitani (1586)
  • Idiota triumphans (1586)
  • De somni interpretatione (1586)
  • Animadversiones circa lampadem lullianam (1586)
  • Lampas triginta statuarum (1586)
  • Centum et viginti articuli de natura et mundo adversus peripateticos (1586)
  • Delampade combinatoria Lulliana (1587)
  • De progressu et lampade venatoria logicorum (1587)
  • Oratio valedictoria (1588)
  • Camoeracensis Acrotismus (1588)
  • De specierum scrutinio (1588)
  • Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatismathematicos atque Philosophos (1588)
  • Oratio consolatoria (1589)
  • De vinculis in genere (1591)
  • De triplici minimo et mensura (1591)
  • De monade numero et figura (Francfort, 1591)
  • De innumerabilibus, immenso, et infigurabili (1591)
  • De imaginum, signorum et idearum compositione (1591)
  • Summa terminorum metaphisicorum (1595)
  • Artificium perorandi (1612)
  • Jordani Bruni Nolani opera latine conscripta, Dritter Band (1962) / curantibus F. Tocco et H. Vitelli

External links

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