On this day in 1600, the Italian friar, astronomer and philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy. His ideas were controversial for his day, but are now hailed as precursory to modern scientific understanding. Bruno proposed the concept of an infinite universe populated by other intelligent life and rejected traditional geocentric astronomy. He agreed with Copernicus that the planets revolve around the Sun, but expanded on this by suggesting that the Sun is just another star. For these unorthodox views (and others beyond astrology) which challenged traditional Christian ideas about the universe, Bruno was found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition and burned at the stake. For his refusal to renounce his beliefs, Giordano Bruno is often remembered as a martyr for free thought.
“Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it” - Giordano Bruno to the judges upon hearing his death sentence
“Invisible lines link small earthly things like, for instance, the power of men, to the stars, to the infinite worlds that we don’t yet know. The moon causes the tides and women’s menstruation. The life or death of plants depend on the sun, as does the alternation of the seasons, and even the life or death of men.
To a new vision of the universe, we must associate a new vision of man. We must associate a new vision of man. If the earth goes around the sun, as the other planets go around the sun, if other suns, solar systems, exist, all around the universe, if this is true - and it is true - then God is not up above us, outside the world, but everywhere, in any living or inert particle of matter. God is matter itself.”
All things are in the Universe, and the universe is in all things: we in it, and it in us; in this way everything concurs in a perfect unity.
It is manifest that every soul has a certain continuity with the soul of the Universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity. The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the Universe. It is not mixed, yet is there in some presence.
Anything we take in the Universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way, the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
Leonora Carrington -
The Burning of Giordano Bruno (1964)
The Universe is one, infinite, immobile. The absolute potential is one, the act is one, the form or soul is one, the material or body is one, the thing is one, the being in one, one is the maximum and the best… It is not generated, because there is no other being it could desire or hope for, since it comprises all being. It does not grow corrupt. because there is nothing else into which it could change, given that it is itself all things. It cannot diminish or grow, since it is infinite.
- Girodano Bruno
De la Causa, Principio e Uno (1584)
“I spread confident wings to space and soared towards the infinite. Leaving far behind me what others strained to see from a distance. Here there was no up. No down. No edge. No centre. I saw that the sun was just another star, and the stars other suns - each escorted by other Earths like our own. The revelation of this immensity was like falling in love." Giordano Bruno//via Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey.