The Trial of Galileo
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Galileo Team #5
Present a case that this trial is based primarily on interpersonal politics, not Church doctrine -- and thus that all charges should be dismissed.

  • Discuss (on a general level) the system of patronage and professional recognition and the structure of court politics. Discuss, in particular, the series of events known as "the fall of the favorite" as background for understanding Galileo's circumstances in the papal court.
  • Discuss how the general framework articulated above applies, in particular, to the relationship between Galileo and Pope Urban VIII (formerly Maffeo Barberini). Include the historical events (through 1624) that led to the writing of the Dialogue.
  • Discuss Jesuits antipathies towards Galileo and how they are relevant to the current charges against Galileo. Note, in particular, the controversies involving Christopher Sheiner (on sunspots) and Horatio Grassi (on comets and interpreting nature). For further depth, coordinate with the Instructor and Team #6 on "the false injunction."
Note that Team #6 will be addressing the Inquisition's process of approving the final book manuscript.
For further depth, consider:
  • the vulnerable political stature of Pope Urban VIII in 1632-33
  • the questionable behavior and mental state of Pope Urban VII in late 1632 and early 1633
  • the case of Giovanni Ciampoli as a parallel


  • [essential] Biagioli's Galileo, Courtier (especially Chap. 6 on "the fall of the favorite")
  • Shea and Artigas's Galileo in Rome
  • Feldhay's Galileo and the Church, Chaps. 6,9,10-13
  • Sobel, Galileo's Daughter

    On the Jesuits, see:
  • Fantoli, Galileo: For Copernicanism and the Church, Chaps. 2.5-2.6, 4.1-4.5.
  • Westfall's essay on the Jesuits in his Essays on the Trial of Galileo.
  • Biagioli's Galileo, Courtier, Chap. 5 (on Grassi)
  • Feldhay's Galileo and the Church (esp. Ch. 9 and 12-13, and passages on Scheiner)
  • Blackwell's Behind the Scenes at Galileo’s Trial, Chaps. 1,4 (esp. on Scheiner)
  • Freedburg, The Eye of the Lynx

    On Urban VIII, see:
  • Sobel, Galileo's Daughter

    On Ciampoli, see:
  • Santillana, The Crime of Galileo (use index)