The Trial of Galileo
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Church Team #5
Show how Galileo's interpersonal and court politics have been misguided and unduly challenge the Church's authority.

  • Discuss precedent cases of: Giordano Bruno (1600) and Paolo Foscarini (1616). Discuss the Church's exceptional support for Galileo on earlier occasions, in 1616 and 1624.
  • Discuss the relationship between Galileo and Pope Urban VIII (formerly Maffeo Barberini). Show how (Copernicanism aside) Galileo failed Urban's trust, especially in revising the Dialogue. Be sure to discuss the relevance of Galileo's earlier work, The Assayer(!).
  • Discuss the context of political challenges for the Catholic Church in Europe [events later known as the Thirty Years' War]. Note the role of Spanish Cardinal Borgia in Rome. For further depth, be aware of Urban's state of mind during this period (partly evident in events to follow).
For further depth, consider:
  • the relevance of the case of Ciampoli
  • the threat of a potential case of deeper heresy (now suppressed) concerning Galileo's alleged atomism and its implications for the doctrine of the Eucharist. [Consult with Instructor.]


    For orientation and background, see:
  • *Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, Chap. 20
  • Blackwell's Behind the Scenes at Galileo’s Trial, Chap. 1

    On Bruno, see:
  • Yates's Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition
  • Gatti's Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science
  • Blackwell (1991), Ch. 2

    On Foscarini, see:
  • Fantoli's Galileo: For Copernicanism and the Church
  • Bellarmine's letter to Foscarini (also central to Team #4)
  • Blackwell (1991), Ch. 4
  • Santillana, chapter on "The Decree"

    On Galileo and Barberini/Urban, see:
  • [essential] Heilbron's introduction to the Dialogue(!), and footnote to p.538.
  • [essential] Biagioli's Galileo: Courtier, esp. Chaps. 5-6
  • Sobel's Galileo's Daughter
  • Annibale Fantoli's Chap. 5 in McMullin's The Church and Galileo
  • Feldhay's Galileo and the Church

    On Urban and the Thirty Years War, see
  • Sobel, Galileo's Daughter, pp. 223-226
  • Santillana, The Crime of Galileo, pp.204-214, 222, 229-231.
  • Biagioli, Galileo, Courtier, pp. 333- 340
  • general histories of Europe and accounts of Urban VIII's papacy

    On Ciampoli, see:
  • Biagioli, Galileo, Courtier
  • Santillana, The Crime of Galileo

    On atomism, see:
  • Redondi's Galileo: Heretic, esp. Chaps. 7 (pp.203-226), 8 (232-240, 258) and 9 (283-284, 301).
  • Galileo's, The Assayer, in Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, pp. 308-314.
  • Chaps. 4,8 in McMullin's The Church and Galileo
  • *Mariano Artigas, Rafael Martínez and William Shea, "New Light on the Galileo Affair?", inMcMullin's The Church and Galileo, pp. 213-233. Also available online (URL: