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On this day in 1600: Giordano Bruno is burnt alive for his science, 42 years before Galileo

A view of the Vatican across the Tiber
The Vatican persecuted Bruno for his scientific work Credit: Alamy

Filippo Bruno – better known as Giordano Bruno – was born in 1548 in Nola, Italy. He is most famous as an astronomer and early scientist, but was also a mathematician, philosopher, and magician.

After studying in Naples, he became a Dominican in 1565, and was ordained priest in 1572. However, he was soon suspected of heresy for his views on Arianism, and then caught with forbidden writings by Erasmus. He left the Dominicans and moved to Geneva, where he became a proof reader and a Calvinist, before being censured by senior Calvinists for his views. He rejoined the Catholic Church, and was appointed to a lectureship in Paris, where the prevailing attitude was moderate.

In 1583 he moved to London, where he became a regular at Queen Elizabeth I’s court, and was soon also lecturing at Oxford. Around this time he began writing down his theories of a heliocentric solar system within an infinite...

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