The Trial of Giordano Bruno
In 1600, Giordano Bruno, one of the leading intellectuals of the Renaissance, was burned at the stake on the charge of heresy by the Roman Inquisition. He is remembered primarily for his cosmological theories, particularly that the universe was infinite with the Earth not being at its centre. Today, he has become a symbol of the struggle for religious and philosophical tolerance.
The Trial of Giordano Bruno, originally published in Italian in 2018, provides English audiences with a complete and updated reconstruction of the inquisitorial trial by analysing the accusations, witnesses, and legal proceedings in detail. The author also gives a detailed profile of Bruno as well as the body which arrested and accused him – the Inquisition.
This book will appeal to all those interested in the life and death of Giordano Bruno, as well as those interested in Early Modern legal proceedings, the Roman Inquisition, and the history of religious and philosophical tolerance.
Part 1 "Because When It Was Time He Wanted To Be A Captain"
Chapter 1 "My Profession Has Been and Is Letters and All Science". Profile of a Defendant
A Restless Novice
In Trouble in Geneva
Towards the East
Return to Italy: A Grand Project
Chapter 2 The Circle Closes
A Man in Danger
Stories of Conclaves
Chapter 3 Return to the Past
Who is a Christian?
The Church’s Judiciary
"Agents of a power that intends to dominate the world"
Chapter 4 The Machine of the Inquisition
The Eradication of Heresy
The Law and Discretion
Part 2 "Many times have I been threatened that I would be made to come to this Holy Office"
Chapter 5 The End in the Beginning
An Illegitimate Arrest?
A Flood of Accusations
The Many Reasons for a "causa ardua"
Chapter 6 The Stalemate
The Parade of Witnesses
The Accused Takes the Floor
The Investigation Languishes
Chapter 7 In the Prisons of the Inquisition
The Secrets of the Capuchins
Magic in the Monastery
"Listen to the blasphemy this man speaks!"
A Protected Enclosure
Spies, Spies and More Spies
Geography of a Venetian Trial
Chapter 8 Before the Throne of Peter
A Question of Opportunity
One Eye on Rome, One on Venice
Families, Kinship and Careers: What Revolved Around Bruno?
Part 3 "A Willing Martyr"
Chapter 9 The Choice
Bellarmino the Jesuit
The Way to Salvation
The Procedural Scheme
Chapter 10 The Mysteries of the Capuchin
Outside the Protected Enclosure
Celestino as Bruno?
Chapter 11 The Summer of 1599
Movements behind the Scenes
Becoming a Bishop
Life in Prison
Chapter 12 "Perhaps it is with greater fear that you pronounce the sentence against me…"
Follow the Money!
The Capuchin’s Shoes
Giordano and Celestino
Squaring the Circle
Epilogue. On the Ground of Truth
Do we need another book about Bruno and his inquisitorial trial? In the case of this new volume the answer is unreservedly yes. Germano Maifreda brings new interpretations and documentary evidence along with a fresh point of view to the conversation. Taking up the perspective of post-Tedeschi historiography and building upon the work of Tom Mayer and others, Maifreda demonstrates that although the Black Legend may be exaggerated, the logic and rule of law in ancien regime Europe was definitely not that of the twentieth century, and that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to try to make the distinction between legal and moral justice in that past world of factionalism and power politics.
Simon Ditchfield, University of York
Germano Maifreda is a leading scholar of the Inquisition, as his new book on the trial of Giordano Bruno shows. Thanks to groundbreaking archival research, he gives a convincing reappraisal of the power dynamics and the religious repression that brought the philosopher to death. Further, The Trial of Giordano Bruno is written like a true spy story: engaging and surprising!
Simone Maghenzani, University of Cambridge