Written by Joseph Nichol

Above the clouds, upon that lofty site,

When, in my vagrant thoughts, I flash and flare

For my spirit’s refreshment and delight

I build a fiery castle in the air 1

Giordano Bruno

Ideas could get you burned alive in 16th century Europe. Such was the fate of the Renaissance philosopher, Giordano Bruno. After a heresy trial that lasted eight years, the Roman Inquisition convicted him and burned him at the stake in the middle of the square of Campo de’ Fiori, in Rome in the year 1600. He had no last words because a metal clamp had been fastened to his tongue. He was carried to his killing on a mule; a tradition that probably evolved because many of the condemned could no longer walk after prolonged periods of torture prior to their execution.

After being publicly stripped naked, Bruno was tied up at the center of the cobblestone plaza. The authorities opted to carry out his sentence at dawn – the square, which is today Rome’s marketplace, located just a few blocks from where Julius Caesar was murdered, was not yet teeming with its daily hustle and bustle. Moments before the pyre was set ablaze, a cross was thrust in front of Bruno’s face. He turned his head away from it in defiance, his death imminent. And as the chants of a religious congregation echoed across the execution grounds, the obstinate heretic was devoured by the inferno.

Though he is remembered for his life and philosophy, Giordano Bruno is also remembered for his brutal execution. His lethal clash with the Roman Inquisition was a particularly dramatic episode in the wider conflict of religion (and its institutions) against free thought. Ultimately, as we will now see, Bruno was a casualty of the religious and political tensions during his time. This essay is about those tensions and the forces that led to his death.

As a historical figure Giordano Bruno is not as well-known as some of the others who faced prosecution and endured famously dramatic trials. For instance, his story is far less known than those of Socrates, Joan of Arc, or the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. And Bruno’s story is more obscure than that of Galileo Galilei, who was even investigated by the same inquisitor fifteen years after Bruno’s death.

Bruno was one from a small handful of people to conceive of a cosmos in which our planet occupies a vanishingly small part of space. In this, he was adventurous and ahead of his time. Only later, in the seventeenth century (about a hundred years after Bruno’s time), with figures such as Blaise Pascal and John Milton, did anyone start emphasizing the unfathomable vastness of the universe.2

  The thoughts Giordano Bruno developed on the cosmos and on the human condition are intricate and messy, but most people that have spent time delving into his material agree that it has a sense of coherence. “…he can claim to be the first thinker since antiquity to integrate a metaphysics, physics, psychology and ethics into an original, if unsystematically presented, philosophy…” wrote Dilwyn Knox, a Renaissance scholar. 3  


The Europe Giordano Bruno was born into in 1548 was in upheaval. In 1517, Martin Luther, an obscure professor of theology at the time, had nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the heavy wooden doors of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg, Germany.4 The document criticized doctrines of the Catholic Church, the dominant spiritual authority in Europe. 

Luther’s Theses, along with news of an incendiary decree issued against him a few years later, proliferated throughout Germany, and then throughout Europe in the ensuing decades.5 The Reformation was underway. The Catholic Church was threatened, its hegemony was shaken. Papal authority was questioned. As critique of the Catholic Church spread through Europe like wildfire, reformist schools of thought diversified, giving rise to Calvinism in Geneva, Anglicanism in England, and further derivations elsewhere.

Catholic ideology now went head to head with Protestantism, the new and defiant Christianity. Divine providence itself was beginning to be questioned as new perceptions of the relationship between God and men formed. New views perceived heavenly powers as indifferent to the doings of men on Earth. Calvinism was adamant on this point: man doesn’t understand God and cannot appeal to him for intervention in earthly matters. It saw everything as predetermined.6

In response to the popular challenge to its supremacy and Europe’s shifting ideological landscape, the Catholic Church initiated the Counter Reformation, a resurgence of Catholicism channeled through academic and political agendas. The clash between the Reformation and the Catholic Church transformed Europe into an ideological, and actual, battleground. 


In the 1520s, over twenty years before Bruno was born, the Reformation reached Italy, Bruno’s native country, but due to a swift and decisive response by the Catholic Church, its roots failed to take hold. The Reformation in Italy eventually collapsed. Successful Counter Reformation measures notwithstanding; Italian religious authorities were often on hair-trigger alert, ready to prosecute heretics and dissenters in an attempt to purge people it considered dangerous. 

Bruno’s story should be looked at against a backdrop of anxiety felt by the Catholic Church. The advent of the Reformation, the modes of thought that it gave rise to, the religious violence, and new scientific theories that challenged Catholic doctrines contributed generously to the church’s deep unease during Bruno’s times.  


The upheaval in Bruno’s Europe was also scientific. For millennia, the Ptolemaic model of the cosmos comprised the mainstream paradigm. In the Ptolemaic model, the celestial bodies revolve around a stationary earth at the center of the universe. The church adopted the Ptolemaic model, and over the course of centuries, rebranded it with an ecclesiastical spin, and integrated it into its doctrines. The astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus published his seminal book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543. He published it near the end of his life because he anticipated it would spark controversy.

In contrast with the Ptolemaic model, Copernicus conceptualized the cosmos as heliocentric; the sun was at the center and the celestial bodies orbited around it (note that Bruno held Copernican and ‘post-Copernican’ views of the universe). The heliocentric model contradicted dogmas of Catholicism and Protestantism. Martin Luther accused Copernicus of trying to “to turn the whole art of astronomy upside down.” 7 The Copernican Revolution had begun. 


Filippo Bruno was born in Nola in 1548 in a small town near Naples to parents of a modest background. His father, Giovanni, was a soldier. During the time of Bruno’s childhood, Naples was under Spanish occupation; Giovanni’s military unit mostly did the bidding of its Spanish overlords, who competed with the local nobility for influence and resources in the region. Bruno’s mother’s name was Fraulissa Savolino. The Bruno home was small, located just outside the town walls, but the family enjoyed a slightly elevated social status because of Giovanni’s profession.

Though Bruno was fond of his hometown, it did not keep him anchored. Slight in stature but large in intellect, Bruno travelled to Naples and joined the Dominican order when he was seventeen to train to become a priest. This is where he assumed the name Giordano. As a young novice in the order, Bruno stirred up controversy when he rid his living cell of religious artifacts, leaving only a single crucifix. This was a touchy breach of discipline given the religious turmoil in Europe. “It was the kind of scene that Protestants were making all over Europe, stripping churches of their paintings and statues and calling them pagan idols,” explained Ingrid Rowland in her biography of Bruno.8 Bruno wasn’t punished but he would soon get into trouble again.

Next, he told a young man in the courtyard of the priest college to throw away a pamphlet containing a poem called The Seven Joys of the Virgin and to read something else instead. The book to which Bruno referred the young man was on the Inquisition’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the list of forbidden publications. This time, Bruno was reported to the Inquisition. Still, no severe disciplinary measures were taken.

Despite his infractions and the constricting nature of religious life in the Dominican Order, Bruno earned his doctorate in theology in 1575. He excelled in his studies and became an accomplished orator. He was even sent to Rome to give a lecture to the Pope. 


It’s not entirely clear why, but the following year, the Dominican head of the Order in Naples came knocking at his door; Bruno was under investigation. Feeling smothered and frustrated, Bruno decided to flee. Due to his departure during the impending investigation, the Dominican Order soon excommunicated him. In the ensuing years, Bruno traveled – wandered – through Europe, as a fugitive of the Inquisition.

On the run, he continued to write prolifically, developing the Nolan philosophy and mastering the art of memory. He made ends meet by taking various teaching and consulting positions, at times finding himself in the company of members of the highest echelons of society, e.g. in the royal courts of England and France.

It seems his aim was to find somewhere where he could write and teach unimpeded. But the volatile climate of Reformation Europe made it difficult to find intellectual sanctuary. For example, when he taught philosophy in Toulouse in 1579-81, religious tensions flared between the Huguenot (a Protestant minority) and Catholics, Bruno was forced to flee.

After having traveled to Prague, Germany, France, and England, Bruno reached Venice, the final destination in his European wanderings. He took a job as the personal teacher to a Venetian nobleman named Giovanni Mocenigo in 1592. But their relationship soon soured.

One of Bruno’s tasks was to teach Mocenigo his memory techniques. These techniques, which relied on associating memories or concepts with an individual’s face and carefully crafting a navigable structure in his mind, enabled Bruno to memorize vast amounts of information. Meconigo wanted in on the secret. But these techniques also relied on hard work and tireless dedication, and Meconigo did not make the required effort. Frustrated and possibly believing Bruno was withholding critical knowledge about how to apply the memory techniques, Meconigo reported Bruno to the Venetian Inquisition. He came forth with accusations claiming Bruno held heretical views.


In a letter addressed to the office of the Inquisition, Meconigo went on a lengthy tirade against his guest. It’s not clear to what extent this mattered with regard to subsequent events, but one among the many accusations was a skeleton in Bruno’s closet: transubstantiation. Meconigo claimed that Bruno didn’t believe bread turned into the body of Christ. Further allegations included charges that Bruno said: Christ was a “wretch;” that virgin birth is impossible; that Christ showed reluctance to die; that Catholicism features blasphemies; Christ was a magician, and more.9 See Maurice Finocchiaro in bibliography for the full list of charges made against Bruno by Meconigo and prosecutors at later parts in his trial.10 

It’s clear from the handwriting that Meconigo wrote the letter in anger. According to Bruno himself, he and Meconigo had had a disagreement. Bruno, having felt that he did his job to the best of his ability, decided to move on, and he had packed his things for Frankfurt. Shortly after, Meconigo placed him under arrest. After being locked up at Meconigo’s for a short period, the Venetian Inquisition took Bruno into custody. 

There were some delays, but when the trial happened, it was brief and Bruno defended himself effectively. It seems that the Venetian Inquisition wanted to see Bruno ask for forgiveness and take accountability for any heretical views he may have expressed. Then, an extradition order was received from Rome. Since Venice was an economic powerhouse for Italy, it usually retained a significant degree of autonomy. It did not generally need to acquiesce to Roman demands. But as we’ll see in the final section of this essay, the circumstances surrounding the Bruno case were critically different. Venice agreed to extradite Bruno to Rome.


The Roman Inquisition appointed a lead inquisitor by the name of Roberto Bellarmino, a theologian, to handle the Bruno case (in English, he’s known as Robert Bellarmine and was canonized as a saint in the 1930s). Bellarmino was sharp and he had a well-defined sense of obedience and discipline. He had extensive philosophical training. His specialty was to untangle theological disputes, simplify them, and then with intellectual dexterity, drive home his point. This is exactly what we see in his investigation of Bruno. 

As the investigation went forward, Bellarmino conducted an in-depth review of all of Bruno’s writings. He extracted eight specific propositions from Bruno’s works and the Inquisition asked Bruno to abjure them as heretical. Unfortunately, the original document containing the eight propositions seems not to have survived, but scholars have succeeded in plausibly reconstructing it. 

There is still some debate with regards to its contents. Some scholars, for instance, think that the list of propositions included Bruno’s Copernicanism and his view of an infinite cosmos. Others disagree. During the trial, Bruno agreed to abjure most of the propositions, but the majority of experts agree that the one proposition Bruno refused to abjure was his view on the soul.

Contrary to the Christian article of faith of the disembodied soul, “Bruno saw the individual soul as unable to survive the dissolution of the body, both of them returning on death into the infinite ocean of universal being,” 11 explained Hillary Gatti, a Bruno researcher. This was the “crux marking the distance between his philosophy and Christian theology…”12

There’s also a summary of the trial, drafted in 1598, that provides some clues about what those eight propositions were. Ingrid Rowland lists four subjects from the summary on which Bruno refused to budge, even knowing he was risking torture and death13: his skepticism of the Trinity, divinity, and incarnation; his belief that there are multiple worlds; his stance “on the souls of men and beast;” and his view “on the art of divination.”14

Bellarmino pushed Bruno on these subjects and pinpointed exactly which elements of Bruno’s works contradicted the church’s doctrines. And as the story goes, Bruno remained steadfast. From there, events proceeded to their tragic conclusion. 


The execution of Giordano Bruno was a dramatic event. Capital punishment has always been an overt act of violence. But the process, the ritual, of execution in Renaissance Europe was very different than any capital punishment we see in the West today. The methods, the ethics, the aesthetics, and the politics, have changed. For example, today in the U.S., capital punishment is carried out in a clinical setting by lethal injection, at most in front of a few select people; it all happens behind closed doors. But in 16th century Europe, and in the pre-modern era in general, public execution was a spectacle of excess.

Though the investigation, and parts of the trial in some cases, of a suspected criminal were most of the time opaque to the public and to the condemned himself, the death sentence was carried out in the public sphere. People (even children) were encouraged to watch.

The execution and all its components – the method; the dramatic walk through town to the killing ground; the architecture of the gallows or the pyre; the chanting of crowds; the death speeches; the swift kicking of the stool; the sentence read aloud by an official; in Giordano Bruno’s case the metal clamp on his tongue and the crucifix thrust in his face – were all carefully engineered details (with symbolic significance) designed to deliver a severe deterring experience.15 Thus even though the condemned was the one undergoing the punishment, the primary target of the public execution was the audience. 

Through the pain and damage inflicted on the body of the condemned and through the aesthetics of the execution, the state sent a warning to the masses. The execution and its brutal but almost-theatrical nature broadcast the power discrepancy between the sovereign and its subjects and asserted the government’s monopoly on violence. Michel Foucault, the philosopher and social theorist that pioneered this line of thought in the 1970s explains:

The public execution…deploys before all eyes an invisible force. Its aim is not so much to re-establish a balance as to bring into play, as its extreme point, the dissymmetry between the subject who has dared to violate the law and the all-powerful sovereign who displays his strength.16

So the practicality of executing a convict in the pre-modern context is not necessarily derived from his resulting absence in the society. It comes from the weaponized symbolism aimed at the audience of the execution. “The various organs of local and national government waged what can fairly be described as a war of signs against the country’s vagrants and criminals before the ‘audience’ of the general populace,” explained William Carroll in an essay on authority in the Renaissance.17 

Each of the meticulously planned details was a tool for affirming the state’s control over the situation, and thus over the populace. For example, consider the metal clamp on Bruno’s tongue. Ostensibly, it was to protect the public from hearing his dangerous heretical propositions should he be inclined to utter any in the moments before he died. But the underlying reason is that the prosecutors carrying out the death sentence used physical props to illustrate the church’s complete control over Bruno and their capacity to silence him.

In other words, the clamp was a weapon in the state’s war of signs and symbolism against the people. Foucault also points out that the condemned and the sovereign are the poles of this lopsided symbolic battleground. The condemned is powerless, broken, with no authority whatsoever, especially not over his own body. He is an “inverted figure of the king,” the latter wields the power and can take life.18 

Publically executing criminals to highlight the state’s supremacy over the populace was part of the government’s strategy for maintaining society’s hierarchical order.19  The Pope, the church, and the monarch were on top and the serfs and peasants were on the bottom. Differences in lineage and political and economic power accounted for the discrepancies between the strata of the social hierarchy. 


In the ensuing centuries, public executions in Europe started to recede. First, they began to be carried out behind barriers permitting a view, but blocking public physical access, rather than in open public squares, where the audience could get close. Then they retreated further, and were carried out inside prisons.

The scholar Steven Wilf argued that this change represented a shift from a sensory effect of the execution to an imagined one. That is, over time states came to believe that it was more effective for the populace to imagine the violent act of justice, rather than see it; witnessing too many executions, Wilf says, rendered people numb to their deterring effects.20  Eventually too, punishments stopped targeting the body of the condemned and instead targeted their rights. 

But at the time of Bruno’s killing, in Rome in the year 1600, punishment, as we saw, was very much against the body and it very much happened in the public sphere. Understanding the state’s deterrence tactics is key to understanding why Bruno died such a violent, theatrical, and fiery death. 


Why was Giordano Bruno executed by the Roman Inquisition? One part of the answer is that his thought, beliefs, and his unwavering attitude towards the philosophy he had been developing all his life undermined the Catholic Church’s authority. We briefly went over some of the problematic points in an earlier section: for example, that Bruno rejected the Catholic notion of the soul and thought instead that it dies with the body (see Finocchiaro in bibliography).

The documentary evidence of Bruno’s trial has received different interpretations; historians, other scholars, and Vatican officials have debated the specifics of what exactly it is that got Bruno killed. Angelo Mercati, the Vatican official who rediscovered the summary Bruno’s trial in 1940 and published it a couple of years later, wrote that the execution happened “only for legitimate reasons.” 21 By this he meant transgressions of religious orthodoxy, which, in his view, deserved punishment. 

In 1964, the Renaissance historian Frances Yates published a book that argued that the real reason Bruno was killed was his involvement in the Hermetic tradition, magic, and the occult. Her book provoked a huge backlash from the Bruno scholarship community. Hilary Gatti even said it undermined Bruno as an important historical figure and that it stifled academic interest in him. Some authors have seen Bruno as a martyr of science – sort of a Jesus figure. Still others argue that his clash with the church was a conflict between religion and philosophy.22 

One point that is clear from the documentation and on which everyone seems to agree is that Bruno’s attitude during the trial played a role in his death. After refusing to abjure two items on the list of the eight heretical propositions extracted from his works by Bellarmino, Bruno was given forty days to reconsider, yet he didn’t change his mind.

Though he wasn’t tortured during the investigation and his lengthy imprisonment, he must have known that for his inquisitors, the option was on the table. In fact, some officials involved in the prosecution did push for torture, but the Pope decided against it.23  In the end, Bruno just reiterated that he had nothing to abjure. It’s not that he was ignorant of the danger he faced or arrogant about his position. But he stood his ground in the face of danger, so it might be fair to say he was courageous. It’s likely that had he agreed to renounce those views of his that the Inquisition deemed most problematic, he would have faced less severe consequences. 

Debate about the specific content of which of Bruno’s threads of thought most upset the Inquisition notwithstanding, the broad picture is clear: Bruno’s beliefs – philosophical, scientific, or otherwise – undermined the Catholic Church’s authority. This, of course, must have played some role in the Inquisition’s decision to take action against Bruno.

As we saw earlier, the desire to prosecute him was amplified (if not more directly precipitated) by the volatile political landscape in Europe following the advent of the Reformation, and consequently, the Counter Reformation. Public opinion towards the Catholic Church was corroding as the region erupted in religious wars, so the Inquisition needed to work harder to help maintain the church’s hegemony. 


Many authors show, very convincingly, that there is a strong link between Giordano Bruno’s thoughts and his death. But I feel that they do not give enough attention to the geo-political context in Italy during Bruno’s final years. In other words, Bruno’s thoughts and his uncompromising attitude toward core tenets of his philosophy bear some responsibility for his death, no doubt, but there needs to be more emphasis on how Bruno was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

As we saw earlier, following accusations of heresy by nobleman Giovanni Mocenigo (who was Bruno’s host and employer), the Venetian Inquisition put Bruno on trial. Had Bruno’s trial stayed in Venice, he might have avoided lethal punishment. The fervor with which the Venetian Inquisition prosecuted heretical works and their authors peaked in 1569-71.

At the time of Bruno’s arrest and trial in Venice in 1592, the Venetians were far less enthusiastic in seeking harsh sentences for violations of Bruno’s type.24 If his trial had been concluded in Venice and Bruno had been convicted and sentenced, maybe he would have had to pay a fine, submit a confession and an apology, and comply with censorship. But before that could happen, Venice received an extradition request from the Roman Inquisition, asking that Bruno be transferred to Rome. 

The Pope himself, Clement VIII, personally wanted Bruno to be retried in Rome. Why was the Roman Inquisition so interested in retrying Bruno? For one, Bruno had a list of offenses dating back years, and the Inquisition knew him. After all, in 1576 he was excommunicated and became a fugitive following charges against him. And as a prolific writer and advisor to members of the top echelons of society, he was high-profile. The church might have feared Bruno’s potential influence, prompting it to take special interest in him.25 


Though it was still under papal jurisdiction, because of its relative economic prowess and the resultant political privileges, Venice typically did not need to comply with Roman demands – it had the power to resist jurisdictional initiatives from the papacy.26 But when Venice received Bruno’s extradition order from Rome, it didn’t refuse.

There are a few factors that made Venice unable or unwilling to exercise its jurisdictional autonomy in this case. The first point to consider is the lingering aftermath of the Fourth Ottoman-Venetian War, fought between 1570-1573. After suffering a series of military defeats at the hands of the Ottomans, who had a larger and superior military force, Venice lost most of its territories in Cyprus. 

A couple of months later, the Venetians and their Christian allies destroyed the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto, but they weren’t able to capitalize on the victory in a broader strategic sense. The war raged on and the Ottomans struck back. Venice eventually was forced into unfavorable peace conditions. This was a devastating blow because Cyprus, as a distant Venetian colony in the eastern Mediterranean, had high strategic and economic value. Note that this was the fourth war in a series of military conflicts with the Ottomans that had started over a century earlier.

Years of fighting and the territorial advances by the Ottomans made Venice more vulnerable and more desirable of a good relationship with Rome. It saw the Ottomans as an ever-present regional threat, prompting it to continue to nurture diplomatic relations that could be leveraged into military alliances. This included granting Roman requests and acquiescing to Roman demands.

Venice still felt this vulnerability two decades later, by 1592, at the time Bruno was extradited from Venice to Rome. There was also the looming risk of future war and more territory loss pushing the Venetians to stay in Rome’s good favor (and indeed, in 1645, the Fifth Venetian-Ottoman War broke out and Venice would once again need to request military assistance from Rome). Therefore, the Ottoman threat likely played a key role in putting Venice in the position of being unable to refuse Giordano Bruno’s extradition request by Rome.

But there are counterexamples that show that even with the realpolitik considerations pressuring Venice to comply with Roman initiatives in the 1590s, it still sometimes managed to exercise its jurisdictional autonomy. One of them is the case of Cesare Cremonini, a philosopher who also held the view that the soul is mortal and impermanent. Thomas F. Mayer points out that although Rome was “intensely interested” in investigating Cremonini, the Venetians “caused as much obstruction as possible.”27

The relationship between Venice and the Holy Office in Rome was complicated. Even with the geo-political situation putting pressure on Venice, the intricacies of high profile heresy cases varied wildly. Of course, the internal power struggles within the Holy Office were also a factor. Saverio Ricci argued that the decision to extradite Bruno and Venice’s willingness to comply should be seen as a struggle in the Holy Office between what we would today call hawks and doves. In Bruno’s case, the hawks were the winners.28 The critical point: had Venice been in a position where it was willing and able to prevent the Holy Office from extraditing him, Giordano Bruno probably would not have faced the death penalty.


The content of Bruno’s philosophy and thoughts and his defiant attitude during his trial certainly played a part in his death. But these factors should be seen within a broader context that includes Venice’s geo-political situation in the 1590s and its relationship with the Holy Office in Rome. In turn, these Italian dynamics must be looked at within an even wider European context.

The Reformation, which began seventy years prior, posed political and religious challenges to the Catholic Church and the authority of the papacy. This and the ensuing backslash (i.e. the Counter Reformation) caused upheaval and violence in the region, which set the stage for anxiety over issues of religious orthodoxy and doctrines.

The persecution of groups and individuals, including Giordano Bruno, on all sides of the religious fault lines is strongly associated with this anxiety and upheaval. It’s hard to quantify which of these factors – and surely other ones not considered here – most heavily influenced Bruno’s path to execution. But they are all significant. And by examining Bruno’s case in its historical context, we can learn about the forces that animated the struggle between religion and free thought in Renaissance Europe.

Notes and references

1. Rowland, Ingrid D. Giordano Bruno: philosopher/heretic. University of Chicago Press, 2009. Chp 12, pp 90. 

Translation from a text Bruno wrote in 1585 as he was on the road. 

2. Elton, William R. “Shakespeare and the thought of his age.” The Cambridge companion to Shakespeare studies (1986): 17-34. pp 183.

3. Knox, Dilwyn, “Giordano Bruno”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

4. Though this is how the story usually goes, there might be no hard evidence that he actually nailed the theses to a door. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/10/31/martin-luther- shook-the-world-500-years-ago-but-did-he-nail-anything-to-a-church-door/

5. The Edict of Worms, also known as The Diet of Worms was, a decree issued by the Holy Roman Empire against Martin Luther in 1521 accusing him of heresy.

6. Elton. pp 189.

7. Kobe, Donald H. “Copernicus and Martin Luther: An encounter between science and religion.” American Journal of Physics. 66.3 (1998): 190-196.

8. Rowland. Chp 5, pp 28.

9. Rowland, Chp 24, pp 226. 

10. Finocchiaro, Maurice A. “Philosophy versus religion and science versus religion: the trials of Bruno and Galileo. “2002. pp 57-61. Republished in Gatti, Hilary, ed. Giordano Bruno: Philosopher of the Renaissance. Routledge, 2017.


  Speaking ill of the Catholic faith, church and officials; holding erroneous views on the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and incarnation; erroneous opinions about Jesus’s life and death; erroneous opinions on transubstantiation and on the holy mass; maintaining the existence of multiple eternal worlds; believing in metempsychosis and the transmigration of human souls into animals; approving of and practicing magic; denying the virginity of Mary; condoning sexual sins; maintaining Jesus had sinned; incorrect opinions about hell; erroneous opinions about Cain and Abel; speaking ill of Moses; speaking ill of prophets; claiming church dogma is not credible; blasphemous gestures; planning to burn down a monastery; speaking ill of doctors of the church; denying that sins deserve punishment; believing the universe is temporally and spatially infinite; maintaining multiple worlds have intelligent life; saying the immortality of the soul is questionable; maintaining that substance can neither be created or destroyed; maintaining the earth moves with Copernican motions; maintaining that the stars and the earth are animate and possess rational souls; claiming the human soul is not the form of the body but is a spiritual substance inhabiting the body in a manner analogous to how a pilot guides a ship; maintaining that some humans existed prior to Adam and Eve.

11. Gatti, Hilary. Essays on Giordano Bruno. Princeton University Press, 2010. Epilogue, pp 315.

12. Gatti. Epilogue, pp 315.

13. Though facing torture and death is – I would say almost universally – intimidating, it’s not clear whether the fear of these consequences influenced Bruno’s stance. That’s because torture was ubiquitous and a regular part of the judicial process.

14. Rowland. Chp 26, pp 226.

15. Conquergood, Dwight. “Lethal theatre: Performance, punishment, and the death penalty.” Theatre Journal 54.3 (2002): 339-367. pp 344. 

16. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Vintage, 2012 (originally 1975). Chp 2, pp 48-49.

17. Carroll, William C. “Semiotic slippage: Identity and authority in the English renaissance.” The European Legacy 2.2 (1997): 212-216. pp 229.

18. Foucault. Chp 2, pp 29.

19. Public execution was not the only ceremony or ritual that used whole arsenals of symbolism to intimidate the public. Foucault notes that a few more include, coronations, entry of a king into a conquered city, and formal submission of rebellious subjects.

20. Wilf, Steven. “Imagining Justice: Aesthetics and public executions in late eighteenth- century England.” Yale JL & Human. 5 (1993): 51. pp 65. 

21. Finocchiaro’s translation of Mercati (1942).

22. Finocchiaro.

23. Mayer, Thomas F. The Roman Inquisition on the stage of Italy, c. 1590-1640. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. Chp 4, pp 126-127.

24. Grendler, Paul F. “The Roman Inquisition and the Venetian Press, 1540- 1605.” The Journal of Modern History 47.1 (1975): 48-65. pp 48.

25. It should also be noted that because of Bruno’s possible political clout, the church was very careful in Bruno’s prosecution.

26. Grendler. pp 48.

27. Mayer. Chp 4, pp 126-127.

28. Saverio Riccir. Referenced by Gatti, epilogue, pp 317.

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