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

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Michael White

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Michael White is a former science editor of British GQ, as well as previous Director of Scientific Studies at d'Overbroeck's college, Oxford. He is the author of hundreds of articles covering the cutting edge of science, as well as popular and classical music. A consultant for the Discovery Channel series "The Science of the Impossible," White is the author of a dozen books, including bestselling biographies of Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and Isaac Asimov. He lives with his wife and daughter in London, England.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 260 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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All of which makes it a deeply curious turn of history that Bruno decided to return to Italy in the hope of mending fences with the “relatively liberal” Pope Clement VIII, who, though interested in Bruno as an intellectual specimen, nonetheless allowed the Inquisitors to have their way with him.

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As White points out in an account that is part history of philosophy, part biography and part church history, Bruno drew on the atomistic philosophy of Democritus, the ancient occult rituals of Egypt and other magi, and the teachings of Jesus to develop a philosophical system that challenged trad...

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