February 17th 1600: Giordano Bruno executed
On this day in 1600, the Italian friar, astronomer and philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy. Bruno’s 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, 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