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2 The Silence of the Wolves, Or, Why It Took the Holy Inquisition Seventy-Three Years to Ban Copernicanism

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Chapter Summary

In his little book Sidereus Nuncius Galileo reports the discovery of the four satellites of Jupiter. Galileo's Copernicanism became even more visible after the subsequent discoveries of the phases of Venus and Mercury. Apart from the public developments, two denunciatory letters had reached the Holy Office. Galileo did not obey in the long run and was sentenced to prison for life. The Roman wolves, finally, had howled triumphantly. The hardening of the ecclesiastical line against Copernicanism has its main roots in the Council of Trent, which aimed at reforming the Catholic Church, thereby giving rise to the counter-reformation by strengthening the principle of authority. The first session was devoted to the Scripture. A special philosophical view of nature is commanded by the Scripture, an idea so bizarre and so contingent on Cardinal Robert Bellarmine's authoritarian character that it comes as no surprise that it took seventy-three years to develop.

Keywords: Cardinal Robert Bellarmine; Catholic Church; Council of Trent; Galileo's Copernicanism; Roman wolves

10.1163/9789004281127_004
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