Library talk: the Trial of Galileo

“The Trial of Galileo” will be the subject of a presentation by Dr Ron B Thomson on November 9 in the Municipal Library of Tavira and on November 10 in the Municipal Library of Lagoa, both at 6pm.

In 1633, Galileo Galilei, a Florentine mathematician, physicist and would-be philosopher, was called before the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Rome to answer charges that he had disobeyed specific orders relating to his research, teaching and publications.

The facts surrounding the charges and the trial itself are confusing, if not ambiguous, but in the end Galileo confessed his “crimes” and was sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life.

This incident was widely considered, both at the time and throughout the centuries which followed, to be the point at which the Roman Catholic Church turned its back on modern science. The trial has been a much debated event ever since 1633.

Dr. Thomson tries to make sense of the record, offering a reasonable explanation for the actions of each of the participants, and for the existence of contradictory evidence at the centre of the trial. In the end, of course, the myths surrounding the trial have proved to be more powerful than the truth itself.

Dr Ron B Thomson earned his doctorate in history (medieval mathematical astronomy) from Oxford University, and spent his career at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and in teaching the history of science at York University, both in Toronto, Canada.

The presentation is being organised by the Algarve History Association.

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