Previously on the SmackdownGalileo has just published his Magnum Opus.
Several things have combined to create the perfect sh*tstorm.
- The best minds from the time of Aristotle to the then-present had held the earth is stationary for sound empirical reasons.
- Because it was "settled science," the early Church Fathers had taken it for granted in their reading of the Scriptures, and so Patristic writings are full of rhetorical invocations of the stationary earth.
- While there is no dogmatic bar to reinterpreting scripture when some literal reading was known to be wrong, no one is about to do so for a merely plausible hypothesis. Hence, heliocentrism must be proved beyond doubt.
- The Pope thinks that scientific theories can never be proved with certainty. They are either useful as instruments for prediction or not. (This is called instrumentalism.) In particular, he does not think that the motion of the Earth can ever be proved contrary to plain experience. In this, he is way ahead of Popper.
- The Pope had been an old friend of Galileo and had helped him out on several occasions.
- Galileo has taken the Pope's instrumentalist argument and placed it in the mouth of Simplicio, in the Conclusion, apparently assuming that having done so and having his characters nod in agreement to it, he has touched the right bases in satisfying the requirements.
- But when read after the entire rest of the Dialogue, it comes across as a fatuous objection made by a simpleton and the nodding agreement a patronizing pat on "the Simpleton's" head.
- Prince Cesi, who had the street smarts (and connections and lived in Rome) could have headed off the collision, but Cesi died before the manuscript was ready for publication.
- The plague has shut down travel and the post, so Galileo cannot either send or take the ms. to Rome and wants to publish it in Florence.
- Galileo has used Medici political muscle to force an imprimatur from Riccardi (or, more precisely, forced Riccardi to pass the buck to Egidi, the Florentine Inquisitor.)
- Father Riccardi (aka Fr. Monster), the master of the palace, has read only the Preface before passing the buck. He tries to brief the Inquisitor on the Pope's concerns, but the Inquisitor does not have the Preface and Conclusion, only the body of the manuscript. It is not clear whether anyone -- Riccardi, Egidi, Stefani (Galileo's hand-picked reviewer in Florence), or the Grand Duke's secular book reviewers -- has read the Conclusion in conjunction with the Dialogue.
- Given the international situation -- and a fistfight in his own consistory between Bourbon and Hapsburg cardinals! -- Urban has no time or patience for an argument on astronomical mathematics. But an ingrate must be shown his place.
The SideshowThese posts started out to be a chronology of how the geostationary models gave way to a geomobile model; but TOF has gotten sucked into the black hole of Galileo. Suffice it to say that the Dialogue did nothing to establish geomobility as fact. The arguments were plausible; though the main argument -- the tides -- was simply wrong. And the main objection to Copernicanism -- the lack of stellar parallax -- was dismissed by adding an epicycle, that is, a second unproven hypothesis: that the stars were much farther away than currently believed. (That would indeed account for the lack of visible parallax; but there were sound observational reason for supposing the stars to be closer: the visible discs they showed to Tycho's eyes and Galileo's telescopes. They couldn't be too far off and show such discs without being absurdly enormous, bigger than the solar system.) Galileo proposed looking for parallax in close optical doubles; but he himself had done so with Mizar and failed to find any angular change. Theoretically, this falsified his theory, but the fact (much later) turned out to be that Mizar is a binary star, not an optical double and really would not have shown parallax due to the Earth's motion.
So let's finish the trial briskly and get back on track.
First Rule: Don't Piss Off the PrinceSunday, February 22, 1632. Galileo presents a copy of the Dialogue to the Grand Duke of Tuscany in a ceremony at the Palace. Hooray.
28 Mar 1632. Niccolini advises Galileo not to send copies to Rome until May, because books will not pass through the quarantine "without first being perfumed, and the covers and strings and all that may be suspected of contagion smoothed and scorched."
29 May 1632. Castelli, Campanella, and others express their amusement and laughter over the character of Simplicio. Castelli: "I had to hold back my laughter when I met up with Master Simplicius." Campanella: "Simplicius seems to be the plaything of this philosophical comedy, which at one and the same time shows up the foolishness of his sect, the empty words, the instability and obstinacy, and whatever else you like to mention."
But others, whose faces "changed color" on hearing these anti-Aristotelian comments, make sure that the Pope thinks that Simplicio is meant to be him. Bummer! That @#$% ingrate, Galileo!
July 1632 Urban VIII orders the Dialogue removed from bookshops and subjected to a rigorous review.
21 July 1632. Niccolo Riccardi (master of the palace, who had been bullied into granting an imprimatur) writes to the Florentine Inquisitor (think: district attorney) to block further distribution and requisition all copies still on sale. "In the book there are many things that displease..." Riccardi himself has no personal problem with the book and, with Cardinals Orsini, Dini, Zollern, and others, does not think that astronomy is a matter of the faith. He appears to neither know nor care how the planets move, thus scandalizing Late Moderns, who cannot imagine that Science!™ is not the foremost concern of every person in history. However, he does have a personnel problem: viz., his job, and must begin immediate butt-covering proceedings.
Mid-August, 1632. A Special Commission reviews the Dialogue and comes up with a list of delinquencies in the book. Excerpts from the investigative report is Item 38 in Mayer, The Trial of Galileo, 1612-1633. Three main charges are:
- that Galileo violated orders by going back from hypothesis, asserting absolutely the earth's mobility and the sun's stability (This refers to the Index decree from 1616.)
- that he has badly reduced the existing flux and reflux of the tides to the non-existent sun's stability and the earth's mobility, which are the principle charges
- further, that he fraudulently kept quiet a precept given to him by the Holy Office in 1616.
- Having put on it (the Dialogue) the license from Rome without an order... (i.e., the Roman imprimatur wasn't valid for a printing in Florence.)
- Having put the preface in distinct characters and rendered it useless as separated from the body of the work, and having placed the medicine of the end in a fool's mouth, and in part that it is also found only with difficulty, then approved coldly by the other interlocutor, and by nodding to it only, and not distinguishing it clearly, making it seem that he spoke grudgingly.
- ...backing away from hypothesis or asserting absolutely the earth's movement and the sun's stability, or qualifying the arguments on which it rests as demonstrative and necessary, or treating the negative case as impossible.
- He treats the matter as undecided....
- The bad treatment of opposing authors...
- Asserting and declaring badly some equivalence between the human and divine intellect in comprehending geometrical things.
- Giving as an argument for the truth that Ptolemaics become Copernicans, and not the reverse.
- Having badly reduced the existing flux and reflux of the tides to the non-existent sun's stability and the earth's mobility.
After listing these "serious" irregularities the extensor goes on to consider what might be done about the delicti. He recommended simply revising the text, as had been done with Copernicus' book and make the absolute statements more conditional.
"All which things could be amended if there is judged to be some utility in the book." The version of the preface which Urban wanted and his order about how to change the conclusion are attached.
Sep 1632. The Special Commission is reconvened to investigate whether Galileo has indeed defended heliocentrism in the Dialogue, and thus in effect had violated the Decree of 1616. They find -- d'uh? -- that he has. But something else turns up.
Petty Code InjunctionThe Commissioners uncover a previously unknown memo in the Holy Office files, stating that on 26 Feb 1616, at a meeting at Cardinal Bellarmine’s residence, Galileo had been served an injunction by Fr. Seghizzi, then Commissary-General of the Holy Office, ordering the said to abandon Copernicanism, “nor henceforth to hold, teach, or defend it in any way, either verbally or in writing.” Given this wording, Galileo’s Dialogue appeared to be a clear violation of the injunction. A trial, rather than a book revision, now becomes inevitable.
|Urban's head explodes when|
he learns of the 1616 Injunction
Remember, in 1616 Maffeo Barberini had been on the Congregation of the Index, not that of the Holy Office. Under the strict rules of secrecy he would not have known of any private injunctions issued by that committee.
The prosecutor now has Galileo dead to rights and an end run around the indisputable fact that he had been given official permission to publish.
But there is something funny about the injunction.
A False Injunction? The injunction contains numerous irregularities. It is not the official document that should have been in the files (and that would have legally stated the results of the meeting), but a clerk's summary of what went down. Further, the memo is not properly signed or witnessed and it is written on the back side of a page dealing with another matter. (The usual practice is to start each new document in the Official Records on a new sheet.) Finally, the Congregation's instructions to Bellarmino were to deliver the Injunction only if Galileo balked at submitting to the admonishment.
Further, Galileo's behavior afterward, writing the Letter on the Tides to Archduke Leopold and the Letter to Ingoli, discussing the idea for the Dialogue with the new Urban VIII, show that he knew nothing of the injunction.
This led De Santillana and other historians to suspect a forgery laid like a cuckoo's egg in the records of the Holy Office to trap Galileo at some opportune future time. Paper, ink, and handwriting tests show that it was written in 1616, but a forged substitute for the missing document laid down seventeen years early seems a bit too much forethought for this crowd.
"It is incredible that the central document in Galileo’s trial, which was to have such enormous consequences, is so full of legal, textual, and conceptual problems. The prosecutors in the Galileo trial clearly were concerned in at least a general way about the status of the Holy Office memo." (Blackwell, 2006)
Many Galileo scholars have attempted to explain the existence of these two—seemingly contradictory—pieces of written evidence. Perhaps the most interesting were Stillman Drake's (1999, 1:142-152) and Guido Morpurgo-Tagliabue's (1963: 14-25; they are similar in almost all respects), which suggested that Michael Seghizzi, then Commissary General, was present when Galileo went to visit Bellarmine to receive his injunction in 1616. As a Dominican, Seghizzi may not have trusted Bellarmine to explain Galileo's error in strict terms. According to Drake, "[b]y the time the Cardinal had finished his admonition, the Commissary was ready. Without allowing Galileo time for any reply, he proceeded to deliver his own stringent precept not to hold, defend, or teach Copernicanism in any way, orally or in writing, on pain of imprisonment" (ibid: 145). This was duly recorded by a notary and became the (unsigned) document that Maculano questioned Galileo about. Upset with the way Seghizzi had behaved, Bellarmine then met with Galileo subsequently following the latter's complaints that people were gossiping about his having been silenced. Telling him to discount what he had been told by Seghizzi, who had overstepped his bounds (although Fantoli, 1996: 260 disagreed on this point), Bellarmine wrote a certificate of exactly what he had said to Galileo and then signed it (XIX, 348). This is the second document, which Galileo produced at his interrogation and which no one but he knew of until that time. [bold added]
Trial Offer4 Sep 1632. Tuscan Ambassador Niccolini has what he calls a "battle" with the Pope, who breaks into “an outburst of rage” against Galileo. Niccolini tries to get Galileo notified at least of the charges against him. But Urban replies impatiently:
“This kind of information is never given out in advance to anyone. Such is not the procedure. Besides, he knows very well where the difficulties lie if he wants to, since I discussed them with him, and he heard them from myself."
-- Francesco Niccolini to Andrea Cioli, 5 Sep 1632
Since the Dialogue is officially dedicated to the Grand Duke of Tuscany by one of his courtiers, Niccolini argues, might it not be wise to use clemency and hush the matter up? The Pope replies that he has banned works dedicated to himself and even those with his name on the cover.
11 Sep 1632. Niccolini clues in the Florentine government regarding the 1616 censure. The news hits Florence like a dead fish across the smacker. "Far from being the victim of unscrupulous adversaries," Galileo now appears "a man who acted under a cloak of secrecy." The Grand Duke grows more cautious. (It's only fair to note that the Pope will treat Galileo leniently for the 17th century. Try insulting any other Italian head-of-state back then!)
Later, when Sec. State Cioli notes during the trial that the embassy is not obligated to pay Galileo's board beyond the first week, Niccolini will reply saying he will meet Galileo's expenses from his own pocket, if he has to.25 Sep 1632. Antonio Barberini writes to the Florentine Inquisitor, telling him to get Galileo's butt down to Rome, muy pronto. And get his assent to the summons witnessed and notarized. Capisce?
2 Oct 1632. Castelli, who is still Papal Mathematician, writes to Galileo that he is trying to prevent a "rush to judgment." He writes of the Holy Office that
"while it was indeed their task to prohibit the pages written by the hand of men, their authority did not, however, extend to decreeing that the earth should stand still or move; nor could they forbid God and nature to reveal to us in time His recondite secrets in thousands and thousands of ways."
|Maculano himself is an accomplished|
mathematician and engineer. He will
be assigned a few years later to build
the fortifications on Malta.
13 Oct 1632. Galileo asks for a change of venue to Florence, citing his bad health and claiming to be 70 rather than 68. The Authorities reply by in effect asking him to bring a doctor's note. The Florentine Inquisitor intervenes and gets him a month's delay. Meanwhile, although Galileo himself and many of his friends are blaming the crisis on the Jesuits, there seems to be little mention of them in the official documents. In particular, Orazio Grassi, who had been needlessly slimed by Galileo "knew that the heliocentric theory was the one that best responded to the problems raised by the new astronomy, and that the geocentric theory could not be considered a principle of faith." He writes:
"Since I was asked for my opinion last year on his book about the movement of the earth, I tried with all my strength to mitigate those spirits which had become so incensed with him, and make them aware of the effectiveness of the arguments put forward by him, so that some people were astonished that I, who had been judged to have been offended by Sig. Galileo, and thus would have little affection for him, should have spoken on his behalf with such solicitude." (quoted in Mario D'Addio, The Galileo Case: Trial, Science, Truth)
|Luetzen and the death of Gussie Adolf|
16 Nov 1632. Battle of Lützen. Swedish army under Gustav II Adolf sorta kinda defeats the Imperial army under Wallenstein in a TKO. But Gustav is killed and the "Protestant" side (aided and abetted by Catholic France and the Papacy) loses steam and direction. Beside, it's the Thirty Years War, and there are 16 years left to go. Get ready for aimless, broken armies wandering around the countryside in spasms of violence and looting.
More crucially to Galileo, the aftermath of the battle has uncovered the Pope's secret alliance with the Swedes. The Modenan ambassador to Rome writes home regarding Urban:
"Instead of bringing him back to his senses, these events moved him only to fury. He has lost his head to the point that he will act without the least judgment."Urban's diplomatic maneuvers have all been in vain. Richelieu has been playing him like a xylophone, prying apart the Austro-Spanish coalition, forcing the Italian states into his system, and launching the king of Sweden with five tubfuls of gold. Urban has quarreled with the Emperor, been threatened and humiliated by Spain -- with whom Galileo had been dickering for his system for using the moons of Jupiter to determine longitude, and stoppered in Italy by the Venetian Republic (where Galileo keeps a lot of friends). The appearance of the Dialogue, with that sly Simplicio reference, must have seemed just one more attack by his enemies. He calls Riccardi and Ciampoli on the carpet. The former keeps his job, just barely; but Ciampoli is assigned as governor of a small town in the Papal State somewhere and is not allowed to return to Rome.
Now, who else can Urban smack around?
|The Florentine palace in Rome|
Galileo stayed here.
Two months go by while many of Galileo's fair-weather friends lose their party invitations or suddenly have to wash their hair. Galileo is rumored to have Inquisition cooties. The Congregation continues to entertain doubts not only on the appropriateness of deciding a complex question in natural philosophy using the authority of the Scripture -- something that was not allowed during the more enlightened Middle Ages -- but also on the justifications for the process in the first place.
A Note on Inquisitio: The outcome of an inquisitio is not, pace Late Modern myths, a foregone conclusion. It is not the Gestapo or the KGB of the Modern Secular State. It is not even, strictly speaking, a court of law, but a religious exercise; the process is organized as a penitential service. The guiding purpose is to save souls by offering forgiveness. For example, in Galileo’s sentence he will be “absolved from his deficiencies” if he accepts the judgment. The legal proceedings are instrumental to the pastoral ends. Acquittals are not uncommon. Even in capital cases, the Roman Inquisition has handed down fewer than one execution per year during the period 1599-1640. "Life" sentences usually run eight years or less before being commuted. That Galileo's life sentence really lasted for life is a measure of the wrath of a friend once he turns against you.
Mayer, page 8 et seq. outlines the typical steps in an Inquisition trial. Edward Peters' book Inquisition is a thorough study of the legal form from its origin (versus accusatio) in the Late Roman Republic to its modern forms of coroner's inquest, grand jury, and special prosecutor. We still make the distinction today between accusatio (civil law) in which the plaintiff is a private individual and inquisitio (criminal law) in which "the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders." Except in Continental law, the magistrates who investigate and who prosecute are a single group.
The day to day work is carried out by a staff of clerics, traditionally Dominicans, headed up by the Commissary General or chief prosecutor. The usual trial procedure is that this staff carries out interrogations of defendants and witnesses, with a written deposition (not necessarily verbatim) that is read and signed by the accused immediately after the testimony. After all the interrogatories are completed, the Inquisition staff composes a summary report and sends it to the Congregation. The Congregation either makes the decision itself, subject to the pope’s approval, or pass the buck to the pope for his decision.
|All depositions are taken here.|
The Elephant holding up the obelisk
is a popular site for political graffiti.
Fr. Carlo Sinceri, the Proctor Fiscal, conducts the actual interrogations, under the supervision of Fr. Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, O.P., Commissary General. The interrogatories are conducted in three sessions.
|Imaginary 19th cent vision of the deposition.|
Galileo portrayed in defiant stance, as suits
a mythic culture-hero.
12 Apr 1633. The First Interrogatory. Galileo, like any witness, is first asked to identify himself, then whether he knows why he's been summoned. The usual strategy is to look dumb and say "Nope, no idea." But Galileo says that he supposes -- because of that stop-the-presses order -- that it's got something to do with his new book. The book is identified and acknowledged and marked as exhibit B. Then comes an odd question.
Where were you on the night of... No, wait. Where were you in 1616? A little balloon with the words uh-oh forms over Galileo's head. He said he was told by Cardinal Bellarmino of the soon-to-be-published Decree of the Index that heliocentrism "could not be held absolutely, but only suppositionally." Like it says here... Galileo produces a copy of Bellarmino's Letter to Foscarini, where Bellarmino (mistakenly!) mentions Galileo as sharing with Copernicus the instrumentalist view of astronomical theories. Calling on Bellarmino as a defense is a kool move. Galileo got stones.
Maculano presses matters. Galileo thinks WTF? Is there something more? Galileo then produces a copy of the memo given to him by Cardinal Bellarmino, adding that the original is in safe-keeping in Rome.
*Headdesk. Maculano had not known about this letter. Galileo has pulled a rabbit out of his hat before the prosecutor could bring up the injunction, the keystone for the whole case. Bummer. When Maculano compares the two documents he immediately notes that they cannot both be true accounts of the same meeting. Bellarmino’s order to Galileo was simply "not to hold or defend Copernicanism," period. But the Holy Office memo says that the then-Commissary General Seghizzi, not Bellarmino, issued an injunction to Galileo, and it said that he could not “hold, teach, or defend it in any way, either verbally or in writing.” This wording would have denied Galileo permission to deal with Copernicanism even “suppositionally,” which Bellarmino had allowed. And which Urban had asked him to do in writing the book.
It's possible that Galileo has gotten a heads-up from WikiLeaks that the newly discovered injunction memo that had put him on double-secret probation. All these years he had kept that Bellarmino letter in his vest pocket as insurance against just such a moment. Let this be a warning to Patient Reader. Always ask for official summary documents after reaching important oral agreements, not just with the Inquisition, but with really nasty organizations like the phone company or the IRS.
At this point, the prosecutor goes ahead and reads the injunction. Galileo shakes his head. Nope. Don't remember that. What about the witnesses it mentions? I remember some Dominicans came into the room, but I don't recall if that was before, during, or after the meeting with Bellarmino. All these years he has relied on Bellarmino's memo.
Maculano moves on to the imprimatur: had Galileo sought permission to write his book? "No,” because his purpose was not to hold, defend, or teach Copernicanism, but to refute it -- a startling claim for anyone who has actually read the Dialogue. But to say anything else is tantamount to a guilty plea. Oddly, Maculano does not press him on this bald-faced lie uttered with child-like sincerity. Then and now, lying to a federal prosecutor was serious weenie.
Did you seek permission to publish the book? Sure did. In fact he has two imprimaturs. One from Fr. Riccardi, OP, for Rome; then, when the plague prevented traffic between Tuscany and the Papal State, another from Fr. Egidi, OFM, in Florence, where the book was finally printed.
A double imprimatur!? *Facepalm! This puts Maculano in deep legal kimchee. How can the Church condemn Galileo for publishing a book that the Church itself had approved -- twice?
Perhaps Galileo had obtained the imprimatur fraudulently? Had Galileo informed Riccardi of the 1616 injunction? Galileo missteps: instead of falling back on the guidance of Bellarmino's memo, he says “No,” for the curious reason again that his purpose was to refute Copernicanism! No one believes that. But no one wants to prosecute the old man for perjury, either. Perceptive Reader will note how everything has been kept confined to the narrow question of obedience to the 1616 injunction, and the legitimacy of the imprimaturs. The other particulars in the corpus delicti are gone with last winter's snow.
+ + +
Maculano does not sleep that night. His case has fallen apart. He and Galileo had each entered the interrogation with a document he felt resolved the issue in his favor. The problem is that the documents are in contradiction! Both Bellarmino and Seghizzi (Maculano's predecessor) are both dead, so there are no witnesses to call upon.
17 April 1633. A committee of three -- Inchofer, Pasqualigo, and Oregius -- is convened to assess the Dialogue against the charge that it argues for Copernicanism versus Galileo's claim that he was trying to refute it (LOL). They deliver three independent reports saying the book clearly tries to establish Copernicanism, and Inchofer in particular, who is an implacable enemy puts the worst possible spin on everything. "The author claims to discuss a mathematical hypothesis, but he gives it physical reality, which mathematicians never do." But remember, mathematicus was used for mathematicians, astronomers, and astrologers indifferently. Not everyone was yet convinced that astronomy was a physical science rather than a specialized branch of mathematics.
+ + +
21 April 1633. The Congregation approves the judgments against Galileo’s book by the Special Commission.
22 Apr 1633. Maculano writes to Francesco Cardinal Barberini, suggesting a speedy settlement of Galileo’s trial, both because of the Congregation’s decision on the book and because of the deterioration of Galileo’s health.
28 Apr 1633. They decide to end the case by a plea bargain with Galileo. For this, they need the approval of the other cardinals of the Holy Office. Maculano meets with them and reviews the “various difficulties in regard to the manner of continuing the case and leading it to a conclusion.” The Commissary General, eager to spare both Galileo and the Church any more unpleasantness, convinces them to let him try. Galileo will plead guilty to some as yet unspecified minor offense in writing the Dialogue in return for a lighter sentence. Maculano, Barberini (and others who are having second thoughts and believe things have gone far enough) breathe a sigh of relief.
Maculano discusses the matter with Galileo extrajudicially and writes afterward:
"I made him grasp his error, so that he clearly recognized that he had erred and gone too far in his book; he expressed everything with heartfelt words, as if he were relieved by the knowledge of his error; and he was ready for a judicial confession."He asks for a little time to figure how to make the confession credible. Maculano concludes:
"in this manner the case is brought to such a point that it may be settled without difficulty. The Tribunal will maintain its reputation; the culprit can be treated with benignity; and, whatever the final outcome, he will know the favor done to him, with all the consequent satisfaction one wants in this."It was a good plan. It should have worked.
30 April 1633. The Second Interrogatory. Galileo confesses that, after re-reading his book after three years, he realizes that he made some of the Copernican arguments -- the rotation of sunspots and the oscillating motion of the tides -- too strong, when they were really no proof at all.* “My error then was, and I confess it, one of vain ambition, pure ignorance, and inadvertence”
(*) no proof at all. From a scientific POV, they weren't! The tides are due to lunar attraction and the sunspot rotation were shown by Scheiner to be explicable from a Tychonic viewpoint! This is the great irony of the trial. The church lawyers were more right (for the wrong reasons) than the scientist.While leaving the session, Galileo pulls a Columbo, and adds the thought that he could add one or two more days to the Dialogue to refute the Copernican view more effectively. The Holy Office, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, pays no attention and everyone pretends to believe the sudden “confession.”
The prosecutor (who Castelli told us actually agrees with Galileo and thinks the prosecution is ill-conceived) is satisfied that the whole matter is now a done deal.
Galileo durance during the depositions
and later his house arrest.
(*) vow of silence. Because the proceedings are a penitential rite, no one, prosecutors or accused, is allowed to blab about what goes on.10 May 1633. The Third Interrogatory is traditionally reserved for the defense. Galileo presents the original of Bellarmino's letter and a brief written defense of his actions: viz., he had relied on Bellarmino's letter, had not known of the more strongly worded injunction, and had gotten carried away with proving himself clever. He was ready to make amends. He bites his lip and says he's sorry.
Summary is i-cumin in. Lude sing cuckoo.Staffers prepare the Summary Report, an internal Office document that Galileo will never see. It is undated and unsigned -- an irregularity. While some parts are accurate renditions of the three depositions and other documents in the file, other parts are tendentious, deceptive, and misleading.
"Some major factors in the trial documents are simply omitted, and still other parts are deliberate falsifications. No honest lawyer would have written this summary report." (Blackwell, 2006)WTF? This "false and misleading" summary even digs up Lorini's old complaint, which the Office had dismissed in 1616. The falsifications that Lorini made to the Letter to Castelli are quoted verbatim and the author adds disingenuously,
"Despite diligent efforts one could not obtain the original of this letter [to Castelli]."But Bellarmino had gotten a true copy through Cardinal Dini and, as he was then a member of the Congregation, would have added it to the file, one reason why Lorini's complaint was speedily dismissed at the time. So what happened to it? The contradictions between the injunction memo and Bellarmino's letter are sloughed over, and neither document is appended to this "Summary for Policy-Makers." There is no hint of the plea bargain so carefully arranged by Barberini and Maculano. The overall impression of the Summary is that Galileo has been toying with heresy for many years. This pretty much guts his defense -- and his confession.
Pulling off such a fraud is tricky, since the fraudsters are pulling a fast one on a fairly powerful group. Not just the Grand Duke and his peeps, but maybe even the Pope (who had wanted Galileo smacked, but not whacked.) This could not have been done at the staff level. More highly placed Officials, or even members of the Congregation itself-- or even above -- were almost certainly involved. But there is no evidence to identify the author(s), or even to reasonably speculate. De Santillana does speculate and brings up Maculano's boss the Assessor. Another possibility is that the Romans in the Curia want to teach the Tuscans a lesson.
Ignorance is BlissGalileo goes along happily, thinking all the wink-wink, nudge-nudge is over. Ambassador Niccolini, who has ears all over Rome, suspects something is going on, and may have gotten a heads-up, since the coming judgment will reflect on the Grand Duke's honor.
Late May, 1633. A few weeks later the Summary is sent to the Congregation for judgment. WTF? Francesco Barberini, at least, and likely a few others, are expecting something very different. This looks like an effort to sabotage an agreement that he himself had tried to arrange. So why was the Summary not rejected out of hand as misleading? Barberini -- known as Cardinal Nephew -- was influential and would have explained the situation. But there must have been others in the Congregation who favored the false Summary. A plot to sabotage the plea bargain could not even have been started, let alone succeed, without some Bigfeet in the Congregation. Gessi, Verospi, and President Genetti -- Romans all, and brimming with anti-Tuscan prejudice -- are likely candidates. Against them, Galileo had supporters -- Francesco Barberini, Zacchia, Bentivoglio. They decide to pass the buck to the Big Cheese. A guy who is off his nut over the international situation, sees Spanish plots everywhere, and is way mad over being dissed by a friend.
16 June 1633. After two postponements, despite pressures from the pro- and anti-Galileo side, Pope Urban VIII accepts the Summary (but curiously does not sign it). De Santillana claims "There must have been a hot fight of some kind" but the veil of silence means we will never know what happened. Blackwell writes:
Was he [Urban] motivated by other factors (for example, he was an old friend, admirer, and even encourager of Galileo ten to fifteen years earlier, but had become furious with him after he first learned in the fall of 1632 about the disputed Holy Office memo and its apparent injunction to Galileo)? How offended was the pope that his own views on the matter were spoken by the close-minded Simplicio in the Dialogue? Or did he fail to really give the matter adequate attention, being distracted by, and suspicious of, the political and military events going on about him over the Thirty Years War?
We will almost certainly never know the answers to these questions. The records simply are not there. Part of what happens in an organization built on a highly centralized authority, operating often in secrecy, is that the top person is too easily shielded from the light of truth (in the double sense that he may not know all the relevant factors in making his decisions and that those outside the inner circle may not know the real reasons for his actions). This is often seen as an advantage by those who think they are protecting that person and the institution, but it can also damage its credibilitySomething that Late Moderns also find hard to grasp is that the Galileo affair did not seem to be of paramount importance to those involved, except to Galileo and a few others. When Niccolini met with Urban, they discussed Galileo until the Pope got mad, then moved on to other matters.
Heresy?Much is sometimes made of the Sentence calling the stability of the Sun "formally heretical" and the motion of the Earth "vehemently suspect of heresy." In itself, this points up the making of fine distinctions for which the schoolmen were justly famous -- and infamous. The Sentence reads:
The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to the Holy Scripture.Perceptive Reader will notice that the Judge-Extensor presumes that the matter is contrary to Scripture because it is philosophically absurd and false (read "scientifically impossible"). That is, the impossibility of an alternate sense is the reason why the texts at those points ought to be understood in the literal sense. Had it not been impossible for the Sun to stand still, then other ways of understanding the words would obviously have been possible. People raised on the modern Scientific-Fundamentalist understanding of literalism are sometimes puzzled by this.
"Formally heretical" uses an Aristotelian term, form. This is distinct from matter. Formally heretical means a writing is heretical in its form. Just like a plastic toy may have the form of a dog without being a dog, a passage may have the form of a heresy without being outright heresy. The problem is that such things could fool people into believing the real thing. In this case, the concern was over "necessitating God." That is, the contention that the world must be a certain way implies that God could not have done otherwise, thus disparaging his Goditude.
But something that is not a heresy ex parte objecti (on the part of the object or "objectively so") may become a heresy ex parte dicentis (on the part of the speaker) when it is held in such a way as to set the speaker against the Church. That is, it becomes a matter of intention more so than the subject matter. Hence, it was possible for Galileo to speak heretically without the subject matter being heretical. Hence, the focus in the trial on Galileo's intentions.
Galileo's house arrest, first stop.
- The Dialogue is to be placed on the Index as prohibited
- Galileo is condemned to “formal imprisonment” at the discretion of the Holy Office
- Galileo is to recite the seven penitential psalms weekly for the next three years. (This will be remitted to his daughter, a nun.)
Castelli, exiled from Rome for the duration of the trial, worries that his old perfessor has perjured himself until he reads the formula of the abjuration. A Renaissance Italian can drive an entire herd of reservations, double meanings, and crossed fingers through that without batting an eye. Going though the proper motions and formalities is something they can do in their sleep. The purpose was social degradation -- though that is what hurt Galileo so much.
Sentenced to house arrest for the crime of being more certain than the data actually allowed. Good thing that doesn't happen today. Oh,wait.
The TribunalGasparo Borgia..........did not sign
Fra Felice d'Ascoli
Fra Desiderio Scaglia
Fra Antonio Barberini
Laudivio Zacchia........did not sign
Francesco Barberini....did not sign
*Bold face are the Romans, known to be anti-Tuscan. Italics are cardinals known to be friendly to Galileo. Three did not sign the sentence. Maybe they had wash their hair that day. Borgia was of the Spanish party and was not about to do Urban any favors; Cardinal Nephew might have been tworked at his neat plea bargain being unexpectedly derailed by the bogus Summary. Zacchia was in Galileo's camp. So was Bentivoglio and (maybe) Barberini the uncle. But go along to get along.
Galileo never learned of the backstage maneuvering. Everyone was sworn to secrecy. From his POV he had been manipulated and betrayed and ever after had nothing but contempt for his judges. Maculano and Franesco Barbieri at least do not seem to deserve it.
OTOH, Urban never lets go of his injured amour propre, and carries the grudge to his grave. He still thinks old Galileo deliberately withheld information from him on the injunction, ridiculed him in the text, and released the book at the most embarrassing diplomatic time. But the Pope could have declared heliocentrism a heresy by speaking ex cathedra, and he never did. He wasn't trying to "get" Copernicanism. He was trying to get Galileo. But he promises Niccolini that he will ensure the actual punishment is minimized. That was the practice in them thar days: formally strict and severe, more relaxed in practice.
The problem is that Galileo is vain, touchy, arrogant, and totally full of himself; whereas Urban is... well, exactly the same. A clash of titanic egos.
|Cardinal Piccolomini's palace (left)|
Galileo's house arrest, second stop.
(*) There is a portrait of Ascanio II in De Santillana's book, but TOF cannot find it on-line.
6 July 1633. Galileo "shakes the dust of Rome" from his feet. Archbishop Piccolomini is another of Galileo's many friends and supporters within the Church hierarchy. He is himself a mathematician. One source says he had been Galileo's pupil. (And one of his ancestral relatives will one day have a lunar crater named after him.) While staying in Siena, a salon-atmosphere develops and Galileo begins work on his new book with the bishop's enthusiastic help. This book, Two New Sciences, is by many considered Galileo's real claim to physics fame. The Pope had kept his word at least as regards leniency in the sentence. (Rowland, 2003)
|Galileo's villa near Florence|
Galileo's house arrest, third stop
Patient Reader, having made it thus far, realizes that there has been no particular hostility toward Science!™ in the case. Indeed, the Aristotelians believed they were defending science from unreasonable conclusions inferred from astronomical mathematics that had no basis in known physics, and were in fact falsified by empirical evidence; and the theologians thought they sticking with long-standing interpretations consonant with the settled science.
Certainly, no one at the time thought the affair was anything other than a personal vendetta. So thought Peiresc, Mersenne, Gassendi, Descartes, and others -- including Galileo.
Reaction-ariesIn fact, the reaction at the time was "WTF? Which heresy are you talking about here?"
6 Sept. 1633. In a letter to Gassendi, the great polymath Nicolas de Peiresc reports a remark made by Fr. Athanasius Kircher SJ, who has succeeded Kepler that year as Imperial Mathematician:
"[Fr. Kircher] could not hold himself from admitting… that Fr. Malapertius and Fr. Clavius himself did not really disapprove of the opinions of Copernicus; in fact, that they were not far from it themselves, although they had been pressed and ordered to write in favor of the common doctrine of Aristotle, and that Fr. Scheiner himself followed only by order and through obedience.”1634. Descartes to Mersenne: "As I do not see that this censure has been confirmed either by a Council or by the Pope, but proceeds solely from a committee of cardinals, it still may happen to the Copernican theory as it did to that of the antipodes."
25 July 1634. Father Grienberger remarks that "If Galileo had only known how to retain the favor of the Jesuits,… he could have written what he pleased about everything, even about the motion of the Earth."
Noted in Letter: Galileo to Diodati, reported in (De Santillana 1955)
22 Feb / 16 March 1635. Galileo writes:
"But my most holy intention, how clearly it would appear if some power would bring to light the slanders, frauds, stratagems, and trickeries that were used eighteen years ago in Rome in order to deceive the authorities! … You have read my writings, and from them you have certainly understood which was the true and real motive that caused, under the lying mask of religion, this war against me…"
Letters: Galileo to Peiresc, reported in (De Santillana 1955)
1642. Gassendi: In the absence of papal ratification, the negation of the Copernican theory is not an article of faith.
+ + +
The tragedy then is that Galileo could not truly demonstrate heliocentism -- but he thought he had.
But TOF! (I hear you cry) this is supposed to be the story of how heliocentric models overthrew geocentric ones, and Galileo’s Dialogue didn’t do that. All the models had champions and opponents both within the Church and among the astronomers. The whole trial thingie was a distraction and a sideshow in the progress of Science Marching On! Tell us, O TOF, how it befell that the Sun stood still and the Earth began to move!
TOF is glad you asked. Coming next: the Last Chapter (hooray) From Plausible to Proven.
- Blackwell, Richard J. Behind the Scenes at Galileo's Trial. University of Notre Dame Press, 2006
- Christie, Thony (2013) Galileo not admitting he was wrong
- D'Addio, Mario. The Galileo Case: Trial, Science, Truth. Gracewing Publishing, 2004.
- De Santillana, Giorgio. The Crime of Galileo. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955.
- Fahie, J. J. Galileo, his life and work ( London Murray, 1903)
- The Galilean Library. Non-Intellectual Contexts.
- The Galileo Project. Chronology.
- Lindberg, David C. and Ronald L. Numbers (eds.). God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter Between Christianity and Science. University of California Press, 1986
- Linder, Douglas. The Trial of Galileo.
- Mayer, Thomas F. (ed.) The Trial of Galileo, 1612-1633. University of Toronto Press, 2012 Also found here. (a reader of basic documents in the case; a textbook for law)
- Peters, Edward. Inquisition University of California Press, 1989
- Rowland, Wade. Galileo's Mistake. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2003.
- Sharratt, Michael. (1994) Galileo: Decisive Innovator
- Shea, William R. and Mariano Artigas. Galileo in Rome. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
- Shea, William R. and Mariano Artigas. The Galileo Affair. A short summary of #14, with slides.
- Wedgwood, C.V. (1938, 1995) The Thirty Years War. (Book of the Month Club reprint)