On this day (22 June) in 1633, Galileo Galilei (the polymath who is now renown for his contributions to the scientific fields of astronomy, engineering, physics and mathematics) was forced to recant his theory that the earth orbited the sun: a view known as heliocentrism.
Despite operating during the Inquisition and working on innovative and often controversial theoretical approaches, Galileo was still able to make significant scientific discoveries and publish various findings, as he often worked under the protection of powerful patrons (the Medici and the Pope included). However, when Galileo published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the polymath was accused of heresy and called to Rome to defend his writings.
The Inquisition found Galileo guilty of suspected heresy and despite being awarded a prison sentence, this penalty was later commuted to house arrest. He remained under this restriction until his death in 1642.
It was not until 1992 that the Vatican admitted that Galileo’s theory was correct.
Images: Giuseppe Bertini, Galileo Galilei showing the Doge of Venice, Leonardo Donati, How to Use the Telescope, 1858, fresco, Villa Andrea Ponti, Varese. Wikimedia Commons.
Domenico Tintoretto, Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1601-1607, oil on canvas, The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Wikimedia Commons.
Aristodemo Costoli, Statue of Galileo Galilei, 19th Century, marble, Loggiato of the Uffizi, Florence. Wikimedia Commons.
References: Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican, Berkley: University of California Press, 2001.
Rachel Hilliam, Galileo Galilei: Father of Modern Science, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2005.
“Vatican Admits Galileo was Right.” In The New Scientist, 7 November, 1992.