The Works of Galileo

Trial of Galileo

Trial Proceedings

Despite the legal wranglings to determine what Galileo had been commanded to do or not to do in 1616, one fact was obvious: Galileo’s Dialogue was not the hypothetical treatment required by the conference with Bellarmine or demanded by Urban VIII. Unofficial negotiations instigated by Cardinal Francesco Barbarini resulted in a compromise where Galileo formally confessed that in writing the Dialogue he was carried away by enthusiasm and vainglorious ambition. The compromise seemed to assure Galileo of leniency, and to leave open the possibility that the Dialogue could be corrected instead of prohibited. There was never any credible threat of torture.

But after a month of waiting the compromise fell through, and Galileo was sentenced as one “vehemently suspected of heresy,” which required the humiliating act of public abjuration. Galileo’s condemnation was signed by 7 of the 10 Inquisitors, with Francesco Barbarini pointedly abstaining. The sentence was distributed widely, and read aloud to mathematicians in Florence. Men like Caccini and Scheiner finally got their way. Unlike in 1616, when neither Galileo nor his works were implicated, now the Dialogue was prohibited. On June 22nd, 1633, Galileo was led in a penitent’s robe before a plenary session of Cardinals meeting in the Dominican convent of Minerva, knelt before them, and recited from the prescribed statement: “with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies....”

Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder, with the assistance of , Marilyn B. Ogilvie, Duane H. D. Roller.

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