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The Pope and the Heretic: The True Story of Giordano Bruno, the Man Who Dared to Defy the Roman Inquisition

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Giordano Bruno challenged everything in his pursuit of an all-embracing system of thought. This not only brought him patronage from powerful figures of the day but also put him in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Arrested by the Inquisition and tried as a heretic, Bruno was imprisoned, tortured, and, after eight years, burned at the stake in 1600. The Vatican "reg Giordano Bruno challenged everything in his pursuit of an all-embracing system of thought. This not only brought him patronage from powerful figures of the day but also put him in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Arrested by the Inquisition and tried as a heretic, Bruno was imprisoned, tortured, and, after eight years, burned at the stake in 1600. The Vatican "regrets" the burning yet refuses to clear him of heresy. But Bruno's philosophy spread: Galileo, Isaac Newton, Christiaan Huygens, and Gottfried Leibniz all built upon his ideas; his thought experiments predate the work of such twentieth-century luminaries as Karl Popper; his religious thinking inspired such radicals as Baruch Spinoza; and his work on the art of memory had a profound effect on William Shakespeare. Chronicling a genius whose musings helped bring about the modern world, Michael White pieces together the final years -- the capture, trial, and the threat the Catholic Church felt -- that made Bruno a martyr of free thought.


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Giordano Bruno challenged everything in his pursuit of an all-embracing system of thought. This not only brought him patronage from powerful figures of the day but also put him in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Arrested by the Inquisition and tried as a heretic, Bruno was imprisoned, tortured, and, after eight years, burned at the stake in 1600. The Vatican "reg Giordano Bruno challenged everything in his pursuit of an all-embracing system of thought. This not only brought him patronage from powerful figures of the day but also put him in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Arrested by the Inquisition and tried as a heretic, Bruno was imprisoned, tortured, and, after eight years, burned at the stake in 1600. The Vatican "regrets" the burning yet refuses to clear him of heresy. But Bruno's philosophy spread: Galileo, Isaac Newton, Christiaan Huygens, and Gottfried Leibniz all built upon his ideas; his thought experiments predate the work of such twentieth-century luminaries as Karl Popper; his religious thinking inspired such radicals as Baruch Spinoza; and his work on the art of memory had a profound effect on William Shakespeare. Chronicling a genius whose musings helped bring about the modern world, Michael White pieces together the final years -- the capture, trial, and the threat the Catholic Church felt -- that made Bruno a martyr of free thought.

30 review for The Pope and the Heretic: The True Story of Giordano Bruno, the Man Who Dared to Defy the Roman Inquisition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    A lion cornered by jackals. That is how I think of Giordano Bruno, one of the great men of the Renaissance, a profound, original thinker, a seeker of Truth with a capital T, and a visionary who saw the essential unity of all creation. So of course he was excommunicated, betrayed to the Inquisition, imprisoned and tortured for seven years, and finally burned at the stake. The Jackals won, at least in the short term, but they could no more destroy his ideas than the murder of Martin Luther King Jr A lion cornered by jackals. That is how I think of Giordano Bruno, one of the great men of the Renaissance, a profound, original thinker, a seeker of Truth with a capital T, and a visionary who saw the essential unity of all creation. So of course he was excommunicated, betrayed to the Inquisition, imprisoned and tortured for seven years, and finally burned at the stake. The Jackals won, at least in the short term, but they could no more destroy his ideas than the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. destroyed the civil rights movement. Schooled as a monk, he got into trouble early by asking hard questions, and reading banned books such those of Erasmus, who was himself almost excommunicated for pointing out superstition and corruption in the Church. Threatened with being denounced to the local version of the Inquisition, he fled the monastery and began a peripatetic life trying to stay one step ahead of those who wanted to silence him. He was a brilliant and persuasive lecturer, and gained influential followers everywhere he went. He was contemporary with Isaac Newton, and shared with him a deep interest in the occult (Newton is often called both the last medieval mind and the first modern one.) Occult studies seemed to offer an alternative path to knowledge that could grant deep insight in the essential truths of the universe, and from there lead to physical control over the elements. Bruno was an authority on the occult science of memory, which is not one of the things that we think of today as occult. He was born within a few years of Gutenberg’s printing press, which led to a vast diffusion of books and the knowledge they contained, so even in his lifetime the need for people to be able to memorize large amounts of information was starting to fade. He taught memory as an occult discipline, a way to expand one’s understanding of the interconnectedness of knowledge, and thus a gateway to a deeper appreciation of reality. Although he always considered himself a good Catholic, his views were far from orthodox, in an age when orthodoxy was more important than understanding, and people were killed for much more minor deviations from dogma that Bruno’s beliefs. He thought the Council of Nicea in 325 AD had made a grave error when they accepted the concept of the Trinity, where Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were three and yet one. The Trinity has puzzled many people over the years, the idea that god sacrificed himself to himself to save mankind, whom he created flawed yet would punish for their flaws. Whatever happened to the idea of simple forgiveness? Bruno leaned toward Arianism, which held that god was god, the one and only, and Jesus was his divine but subordinatee first creation. He believed that the universe is infinite, with an infinite number of worlds, and did not believe in god as an individual being or in divine judgment of any kind. It’s no wonder he agitated so many people. Part of his appeal was from the novelty of his beliefs, and part of it was from his reputation as an occult magus, but he was also a compelling orator. Both Henry III of France and Elizabeth I of England were students of his, but they could never give him the level of support he really wanted, which was nothing less than a revolution in beliefs that would sweep away the world’s existing religions and replace them with his vision of universal harmony and justice. None of his followers were ready to go down the path of overturning society altogether. When he realized that he was not going to be able to use the kings and queens of his day to put his revolution into effect he decided that he needed to convince the pope. Bruno was certain that if he could just meet the pope in person he could persuade him to dissolve the existing Catholic church and create a new religion. It’s not hard to see how this was going to end. The Catholic church had long since ceased being the humble representative of Christ on earth, and was now a powerful state in its own right, and it was infamously, scandalously corrupt. The princes of the church, with their palaces and their whores, were never going to give that up for the sake of mere religion. Popes had been murdered for proposing far more minor reforms. Was Bruno mad? It has certainly been argued that he was, but the record of his responses to the Inquisition’s questioning show him presenting his arguments forcefully and cogently. It appears that he was so consumed by his vision of Truth that he was willing to risk anything and everything for it. He was brave to the point of foolhardiness. When he was invited back to Italy his friends tried to dissuade him from going, because the invitation seemed like an obvious trap. He went anyway. It was a trap. He never got to see the pope, but he did get to see the Church at its inhuman worst, in the form of the Roman Inquisition. The book describes the forms of torture that were routinely used, and they make for horrific, stomach-churning reading. The Gestapo and the KGB torturers were no more brutal; the difference was that the Inquisition tortured in the name of love, in an attempt to bring the sinners back into the bosom of the Church. Reading it made me want to vomit. Saint Augustine was used to justify the Inquisition based on his interpretation of Luke 14:23 (“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”), which he said permitted violence and murder against heretics and unbelievers. Bruno was immediately recognized as a martyr to the cause of Truth, an intellectual giant murdered by ignorant pygmies terrified that they would lose their privileges and their loot. His syncretic views of science fell out of favor in the coming age of math and engineering, but in the 20th century his teachings found a following as strict Newtonianism gave way to the uncertainties of quantum mechanics and relativity. Almost all of his books are still in print today, and no one remembers his murderers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Armin

    آن کس که شوق پرداختن به تفکر فلسفی را دارد، اول از همه باید درباره‌ی همه‌چیز شک کند. در خلال مباحقه و قبل از شنیدن عقاید گوناگون و بررسی و مقایسه‌ی دلایلی که در دفاع یا رد آن مطرح می‌شود، نباید موضع اختیار کند. هرگز نباید در دفاع یا اثبات آنچه شنیده، درباره‌ی عقاید اکثریت، سن، مزیت‌ها یا اعتبار سخنران قضاوت کند، بلکه باید آموزه‌ی منسجمی را دنبال کند که هوادار چیزهای واقعی و حقیقی باشد که قابلیت ادراک با نور منطق را داشته باشد. جوردانو برونو در قرنِ شانزدهم _یعنی دقیقا در همان عصری که دادگاه تفتی آن کس که شوق پرداختن به تفکر فلسفی را دارد، اول از همه باید درباره‌ی همه‌چیز شک کند. در خلال مباحقه و قبل از شنیدن عقاید گوناگون و بررسی و مقایسه‌ی دلایلی که در دفاع یا رد آن مطرح می‌شود، نباید موضع اختیار کند. هرگز نباید در دفاع یا اثبات آنچه شنیده، درباره‌ی عقاید اکثریت، سن، مزیت‌ها یا اعتبار سخنران قضاوت کند، بلکه باید آموزه‌ی منسجمی را دنبال کند که هوادار چیزهای واقعی و حقیقی باشد که قابلیت ادراک با نور منطق را داشته باشد. جوردانو برونو در قرنِ شانزدهم _یعنی دقیقا در همان عصری که دادگاه تفتیش عقاید کوچکترین تخطی از موازین کلیسا را برابر با اعدام می‌داند_ از دلِ کلیسا برمی‌خیزد و به تبلیغ مفاهیمی می‌پردازد که نه تنها کاملا بر خلاف رای و نظر کلیسا است، بلکه کلیسا از رواج یافتن این حقایق نیز بیم دارد. اکنون دیگر اعدام به تنهایی کافی نیست، می‌کوشند تا برونو را مجبور به توبه کنند تا باور و اعتماد مردم به خرافات و آموزه‌های کلیسا دچار تزلزلی نگردد. اما جوردانو برونو درست در زمانی که در چنین دادگاهی حاضر است و می داند که سرنوشتش با آتش گره خورده‌است، ذره‌ای از باورهایش کوتاه نمی‌آید و اگرچه از تاثیرگذاریِ آن بر زمانه‌ی خود ناامید است اما آگاه است که صدایش به گوش آیندگان خواهد رسید. افکار، رفتار و شیوه‌ی نامتعارف مبارزه‌ای که او در پیش می‌گیرد همه گواه بر این است که او فراتر از زمانه‌ی خود می‌اندیشد. شالوده‌ی کتاب بر دو فصل "دین" و "عرفان" نهاده‌شده‌است که به نظرِ من جذاب‌ترین بخش‌های آن است. در فصل دین، میخوانیم که در سال 325میلادی شورایی تشکیل شد تا نارسایی دین در حکومت‌داری، ساختارسیاسی و موقعیت‌های گوناگون اجتماعی را پوشش دهد. نتیجتا، اصول بنیادی‌ِ تصویب شده توسط این شورای اسقفان طی قرن‌های متمادی دچار گسترش و تقدیس‌سازی شد و در نهایت، کلیسا را تبدیل به دژی رسوخ‌ناپذیر کرد. فصل عرفان نیز نگاهی‌است از ارسطو تا کوپرنیک؛ مردی که "تفکر بشر را دگرگون کرد، ارسطو را به خاک سپرد و به مبانی الهیات مسیحی ضربه زد." در خلال این دو فصل و درلابه‌لای صفحات تاریخ، اطلاعاتی جامع از نوع تفکر جوردانو برونو در رابطه با این دو مبحث بدست می‌آوریم. اکنون در ونیز، چشم انتظارِ جوردانو برونو می‌نشینیم که پس از سال‌ها به ایتالیا بازگردد و پستی و بلندی‌های زندگی‌اش را نه برای ما، که برای مفتشان شرح دهد! به صورت کلی، کتاب در نگاهِ اول بیوگرافیِ کشیش جوانی‌است که عقایدش برای کلیسای رُم دردسرساز است و به همین دلیل برای حفظ جانِ خود از ایتالیا می‌گریزد و به سراسر اروپا؛ از جمله سوییس، آلمان، فرانسه و در نهایت انگلستان سفر می‌کند و با تفکراتش کاتولیک‌ها، کالوینیست‌ها و لوتری‌ها را به وحشت می‌اندازد. اما با نگاهی عمیق‌تر درمی‌بابیم که نویسنده با تعمیم دادن‌های گاه و بیگاه پرونده‌ی این فیلسوف به بزرگان دیگرِ تاریخ که درگیر موارد مشابهی بودند، سعی در مطرح کردن حقیقتی مهم‌ دارد؛ حقیقتی که بعضی جوامع را تاکنون تعقیب و پیشروی آن‌ها را کند یا مختل کرده‌است. تاریخ متعصبانِ بسیاری را به خود دیده‌است که حاضر بوده‌اند برای منافع شخصی خود جوامع انسانی را به عقب برانند و در مقابل با هر پدیده‌ای نوپا مقاومت نشان دهند و سُنَت را کورکورانه و بدون تحلیل عقلی برتر بدانند و هر ایده‌ای برخلاف آن را رد کنند. مایکل وایت، زندگی جوردانو برونو را به عنوان مثالی از "تقابل متعصبان دینی با دانش‌پژوهان" ارائه می‌کند و با کلامی روان و جذاب آن را بسط می‌دهد و همچنین، به صورت فشرده اما موفق، از آنچه بر مسیحیت و فلسفه گذشته‌است می‌نویسد تا خواننده قادر باشد برونو را در روزگارِ خودِ او بشناسد، با او همدردی کند و ستایشش کند. من از مرگ نهراسیده‌ام، به همتایانم تسلیم نشده‌ام، به دلیل طبیعت قاطعم مرگی شجاعانه را ترجیح داده‌ام بر زندگی بدون مبارزه.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Labijose

    Me hizo interesarme por uno de los personajes más fascinantes de la historia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    D.L. Morrese

    Whereas this does not go into much about detail on Bruno's writings, I found it an informative (and disturbing) account of what the Inquisition did to those who doubted Church dogma. It is an account of his life, not his philosophy. Despite some surprisingly modern sounding ideas, Bruno was not a scientist. He was a philosopher, but, as this biography demonstrates, he was a man of remarkable intelligence and courage. He dared to challenge violently enforced concepts that did not make sense, he d Whereas this does not go into much about detail on Bruno's writings, I found it an informative (and disturbing) account of what the Inquisition did to those who doubted Church dogma. It is an account of his life, not his philosophy. Despite some surprisingly modern sounding ideas, Bruno was not a scientist. He was a philosopher, but, as this biography demonstrates, he was a man of remarkable intelligence and courage. He dared to challenge violently enforced concepts that did not make sense, he did not back down, and he paid for it in 1600 with an ugly death. I recommend this one, in part because it is a well written book, but also because Giordano Bruno was a man history must not forget.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paulomonic

    The author seems to be incapable of hiding a profound dislike for the Catholic Church as a whole, without circumscribing his dislike to the wrongs this institution did within the context of the topic at hand. Kind of disliking mustaches, due to the Hitlers of this world. Other than that, not much more could have been said about Bruno, but more could have been said about his ideas.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Bruno was a visionary and philosopher who challenged everything, including the Catholic Church. Arrested and tortured by the inquisition, he ultimately was burned at the stake as a heretic. His influence was not diminished by his death. His view of the world,the universe as heliocentric paralelled that of Galileo. While aware of the brutality of the Inquisition, the perverse nature of their ways was astonishing to me. Two priests were allowed to witness torture so that they could absove one anot Bruno was a visionary and philosopher who challenged everything, including the Catholic Church. Arrested and tortured by the inquisition, he ultimately was burned at the stake as a heretic. His influence was not diminished by his death. His view of the world,the universe as heliocentric paralelled that of Galileo. While aware of the brutality of the Inquisition, the perverse nature of their ways was astonishing to me. Two priests were allowed to witness torture so that they could absove one another of the brutaland inhumane treatment of prisoners. This is a clear and honest portrayal of a brilliant intellect, man of science, strong in conviction right up to the moment of his death.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Farkhondeh

    از نظر نوشتار روون و جالب بود. زندگی برونو رو هم خیلی خوب و کامل توضیح داده بود. اما حرف زیادی در مورد افکار و عقاید برونو نداشت. کاش درمورد این بیشتر حرف زده بود.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pejman Norouzi

    کتابی جذاب که روایتی مستدل(تا حد امکان) با ارجاع به نوشته‌های تاریخی و اسناد از زندگی «جوردانو برونو »می‌دهد. البته که غرض فقط زندگینامه‌ی او نیست و مروری جامعه شناسانه و تاریخی به عصر او و رخدادهای تقابلی بین کلیسا و‌دانشگران نیز هست. متن کتاب روایتی جذاب و پر کشش است که حتی به عنوان یک رمان هم میتوان آن را خواند و به پیش برد.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve Scott

    Overall an engaging book, but flawed. White occasionally becomes an omniscient narrator. More often he resorts to speculation and interpretations of events and the reader has to either procure his sources or trust they support his claims and conjectures. He casts Lord Cardinal Santoro di Santa Severina as a ruthless heavy with a record of murder equal to that of an SS officer on the Russian Front, but gives the reader no detailed account of his alleged crimes against humanity. I can find nothing Overall an engaging book, but flawed. White occasionally becomes an omniscient narrator. More often he resorts to speculation and interpretations of events and the reader has to either procure his sources or trust they support his claims and conjectures. He casts Lord Cardinal Santoro di Santa Severina as a ruthless heavy with a record of murder equal to that of an SS officer on the Russian Front, but gives the reader no detailed account of his alleged crimes against humanity. I can find nothing to support White’s claim Severina depopulated whole villages in Italy. Perhaps he did...but don’t let me have a whiff of a meal without a taste. I would have loved to hear more about this. He took me down another cul de sac with his observation on Bruno’s effect on the development of Leibniz’s calculus. On page 201 he writes: “And Leibniz’s method is used instead of Newton’s system of representing mathematical terms was clumsy and unwieldy, whereas Leibniz’s notation was designed for ease of communication and efficiency of use. And this is because Leibniz was steeped in the tradition of memory enhancement using symbols as taught by Bruno.” I’m certainly not a mathematician, and the work doesn’t seem to be written specifically for those who are highly numerate. Yet I was immediately lost, as I wasn’t given anything to solidify a connection between Leibniz’s formula and Bruno’s described methods of memory enhancement and symbols. Why write of it if no exposition is in the offing? For all that, it was an interesting book. The description of Bruno’s murder is graphic and inspires outrage. The ending is powerful, with an inspirational and courageous (if not prescient) quotation of Bruno’s to wrap up the work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bahman Bahman

    هنگامی که نمایش به پایان رسید و دنیا از وجود یک بدعت‌گذار دیگر پاک شد، خاکسترهای برونو روی هُره‌ها و مزارع نزدیک جاگیر شد. باران مولکول‌هایی را که زمانی بدنش را ساخته بود، به درون خاک کشید. با گذشت ایام، مولکول‌هایش باز شدند، اتم‌هایشان جذب گیاهان شد، گیاهان را حیوانات خوردند و برخی از آنها به میزهای رم و نواحی دورتر راه یافتند. عناصر دیگر برونو در آب افتاد و آن‌قدر واچرخید تا به صورت شناگران و نیز در جام‌های نوشیدنی‌شان پاشید. هم از این‌رو، شاید بالاخره، دست کم در سطحی اتمی، خود به بدعت‌گذار پیوس هنگامی که نمایش به پایان رسید و دنیا از وجود یک بدعت‌گذار دیگر پاک شد، خاکسترهای برونو روی هُره‌ها و مزارع نزدیک جاگیر شد. باران مولکول‌هایی را که زمانی بدنش را ساخته بود، به درون خاک کشید. با گذشت ایام، مولکول‌هایش باز شدند، اتم‌هایشان جذب گیاهان شد، گیاهان را حیوانات خوردند و برخی از آنها به میزهای رم و نواحی دورتر راه یافتند. عناصر دیگر برونو در آب افتاد و آن‌قدر واچرخید تا به صورت شناگران و نیز در جام‌های نوشیدنی‌شان پاشید. هم از این‌رو، شاید بالاخره، دست کم در سطحی اتمی، خود به بدعت‌گذار پیوسته باشد.

  11. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    This was an incredibly interesting account about the later years of Giordano Bruno, a brilliant man who needs more recognition than he gets. This was fascinating and at times moving when it explains what Bruno may have faced during his years in prison. White tells the narrative at points as if it is a story, adding atmosphere and movements to the dialogue and moments in time. I was especially interested in the ending explaining how Bruno influenced Shakespeare.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ruby Khaja

    Loved it I can see how erroneous and dangerous is to mix religion with science through Giordano Bruno's story. A story of courage to the point of boldness and sacrifice on one side and rigidness and brutality on the other. How similar is Islam of today to the inquisitive Christianity of the middle ages. This book made me see how knowledge starts with imagination, which when coupled with mathimatics one can perceive the gestalt picture of reality. Definitely recommend. Loved it I can see how erroneous and dangerous is to mix religion with science through Giordano Bruno's story. A story of courage to the point of boldness and sacrifice on one side and rigidness and brutality on the other. How similar is Islam of today to the inquisitive Christianity of the middle ages. This book made me see how knowledge starts with imagination, which when coupled with mathimatics one can perceive the gestalt picture of reality. Definitely recommend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Misneach

    The church has built its empire with ashes and ignorance of devotees. Great minds lost, yet their words and thoughts and musings manage to stay alive. Proof that ideas, knowledge and bravery are stronger than the evil of and the thirst of religions for power. I was expecting a bit more from this book, yet I wasn't disappointed per se. The church has built its empire with ashes and ignorance of devotees. Great minds lost, yet their words and thoughts and musings manage to stay alive. Proof that ideas, knowledge and bravery are stronger than the evil of and the thirst of religions for power. I was expecting a bit more from this book, yet I wasn't disappointed per se.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matías Glasner

    El personaje es muy interesante, me parece que falta un poco de desarrollo respecto de las ideas de Bruno y su influencia en los pensadores posteriores, para realmente poder apreciar su aporte más allá de haber sido un mártir del libre pensamiento. Quedo con ganas de saber algo más.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paulo Cantillano Lizana

    Excelente libro sobre un mítico personaje, especial para aquellos que amamos la historia y la justicia

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gary Archuleta

    Excellent book. A bit short on details due to the lack of documentation of Bruno's time in the Vatican prison, but overall a good broad brush recap of the egregious abuses of the church. Excellent book. A bit short on details due to the lack of documentation of Bruno's time in the Vatican prison, but overall a good broad brush recap of the egregious abuses of the church.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robynne Lozier

    Going to have to DNF this one for now. Got up to page 75. Its a physical book and I just cannot read physical books any more. I may come back to this one later

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Gauss

    This book is too easy. Nothing about what Bruno really believed. Just a very light and breezy account of Bruno's life and very basic explanations of his ideas. You can dig deeper into Bruno through other books. I wouldn't recommend this one. This book is too easy. Nothing about what Bruno really believed. Just a very light and breezy account of Bruno's life and very basic explanations of his ideas. You can dig deeper into Bruno through other books. I wouldn't recommend this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    I have mixed feelings about this short biography of Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake in 1600 by the Roman Inquisition for heretical views. On the one hand, there are unknown gaps in his life , so there may not be that much to say, accounting in part for the relative shortness of the book (183 pages). But for such an influential thinker as White makes Bruno out to be, specifics seem lacking. Bruno was born in l548 near Naples and went into a Dominican monastery at the age of 15 to beco I have mixed feelings about this short biography of Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake in 1600 by the Roman Inquisition for heretical views. On the one hand, there are unknown gaps in his life , so there may not be that much to say, accounting in part for the relative shortness of the book (183 pages). But for such an influential thinker as White makes Bruno out to be, specifics seem lacking. Bruno was born in l548 near Naples and went into a Dominican monastery at the age of 15 to become a priest and was there for roughly eleven years. He read widely, according to White, and began to have doubts about many facets of church teaching, particularly its reliance on Aristotelian thinking and the doctrine of the Trinity. He also became interested in the writings of mystics and alchemists and left the priesthood. He studied the doctrines of Calvin and Luther but decided that they were as lacking in wholeness as much as Catholicism. He was scrutinized by church officials for his unorthodox views, and beginning to feel threatened, he traveled north to Geneva, and later spent time in France, and at the court of Elizabeth I of England where he became good friends with Sir Philip Sidney. He continued to travel widely across Europe and while in Germany he accepted an invitation from a Venetian nobleman, Mocenigo, to return to Venice. Mocenigo turned on him and compiled a long list of transgressions against Church doctrine, leading to a heresy trial in Venice. The trial was transferred to Roman jurisdiction and Bruno spent six years, an unusually long time, in a wretched Roman prison, awaiting his new trial. He defended himself at his trial, his chief defense being that his inquiries were purely philosophical and that he had no desire to dispute divine authority, but not as interpreted by the church. He had hoped to meet with the pope, Clement VIII, to plead his case personally, but that meeting never took place. All of this is told in a straightforward way. The details of what Bruno was accused of consisted of a long list of "errors and heresies" most of which have limited interest 400 years later. I was frustrated by a general vagueness with regard to what he actually said in his many writings. White does mention in a general way that Bruno was a pantheist and had as his goal a "presca sapienta", a truth that would unite all knowledge which he links to present attempts to find a "grand unified theory" such as Stephen Hawking is pursuing. He emphasizes Bruno's work with memory as of crucial importance, and above all, Bruno's commitment to freedom of thought, wherever it might take an individual. To his credit, White does contrast Bruno's intuitive approach to thinking with Galileo's empirical and mathematically-driven work which a few years later would also land Gaileo before an Inquisition trial I just didn't get much of a sense, though, of Bruno's specific intellectual accomplishment, but perhaps I was asking too much of a short work.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    When I bought this book I was kind of curious about the character. I remembered his name from the history lessons when I was young, but little more. Now I'm more than impressed about Bruno,his work - which I trully hope can find translated to portuguese or english - his intellect, his courage, his life, his contemporaries and their own work. It´s a pitty so much was lost and it was shamefull what he was put through but it brings a smile to my lips knowing that, despite all the efforts to make hi When I bought this book I was kind of curious about the character. I remembered his name from the history lessons when I was young, but little more. Now I'm more than impressed about Bruno,his work - which I trully hope can find translated to portuguese or english - his intellect, his courage, his life, his contemporaries and their own work. It´s a pitty so much was lost and it was shamefull what he was put through but it brings a smile to my lips knowing that, despite all the efforts to make him disapear into oblivion, his word as survived and even thrived. Now I have a new goal: return to Rome and visit Campo dei Fiori. Thank you Bruno, and thank you all that dared (and dare!) to think and speak different throughout the ages. Your efforts freed us from ignorance, thought us to think for ourselves and keep guinding us to new levels of knowledge.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Mirzaali

    جوردانو برونو یه کشیش عارف و فیلسوفی بوده تو قرن شونزده که به نظرای بدعت‌آمیزی رسیده بوده مثلان می‌گفته حضرت عیسا نمی‌تونسته واقعاً خدا باشه یا تبدیل نان و شراب به گوشت و خون ممکن نیست تو عشای ربانی دادگاه تفتیش عقاید می‌گیردش و کتاب داستان مقدمات و خود محاکمه‌اشُ روایت می‌کنه پره از نکات جالب راجع به حال-و-هوای رنسانس و کلیسا و عرفانای قدیمی و غیره اس

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Just finished this book. I liked it a lot more than i thought I would. While this text was not as intellectual as Yates' "Giordano Buno and the Hermetic Tradition", Couliano's "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance" or Walker's "Spiritual and Demonic Magic" it filled in the whole back story and it kind of explained the state of Europe in the late 1600. Just finished this book. I liked it a lot more than i thought I would. While this text was not as intellectual as Yates' "Giordano Buno and the Hermetic Tradition", Couliano's "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance" or Walker's "Spiritual and Demonic Magic" it filled in the whole back story and it kind of explained the state of Europe in the late 1600.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cory

    When I started, I had only heard bits and pieces about Bruno. This book was the first one about Bruno that I read. It has wetted my appetite to read more, not just about Bruno, buy others from that time. Anyone that wants to learn about Bruno, this book is a good place to start.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Oscar

    Really liked this writer. One, he is well read and studied, and two, he puts it into words concisely with pith. He covered the subject well, and to me it read like a novel; which is unusual for fiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Meyer

    I really enjoyed this book. The focus is mainly on his imprisonment and trial with the Inquisition. I would of liked to have had more information on his life before this period as well as a more indepth delving into his philosophy, but what can one say.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nancy McCann

    This book deals with his trials. There is little information on the man himself. I might have rated it higher had I not started Ingrid Rowland's Giordano Bruno, Philosopher and Heretic, which is full of info. This book deals with his trials. There is little information on the man himself. I might have rated it higher had I not started Ingrid Rowland's Giordano Bruno, Philosopher and Heretic, which is full of info.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    An exceptional book not only detailing the life of Bruno but also the influence of minds like Copernicus and Galileo and the impsct he had on great thinkers that came after him. Well-written and clear of thought.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julieta

    I love this book. I kept coming across Giordano Bruno while reading astronomy books. Everybody should read this book. Bruno's story should never be forgotten. I love this book. I kept coming across Giordano Bruno while reading astronomy books. Everybody should read this book. Bruno's story should never be forgotten.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jack Coleman

    The story of Giordano Bruno and a man who thought for himself during a time when that was not wise, much like today in more places than we wish to admit.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike Stuchbery

    Serviceable account of the life of the bloke they actually did end up burning for espousing a Copernican view of the universe, decades before Galileo.

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