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A Wrangler's Tale

Part IV: Oh, Oh! Trouble!

Needless to say, The Wrangler got himself in hot water with the Church. Don’t forget, the Inquisition loomed at its greatest height at that time. Admonished by the Pope, the Church warned Galileo not to hold or defend the Copernican theory. He remained silent for nearly fifteen years before publishing Il Saggiatore. This pamphlet contended the recent astronomical discoveries stood in accord with the Copernican View. Ever the diplomat, he dedicated the book to Pope Urban VIII, his friend. Both the scientific and ecclesiastical communities received the inoffensive book quite well and its publication proved no problem for The Wrangler.

Five years later, though, came the publication of the famous Dialogo dei Due Massimi Sistemi (Dialogue on the Two Principal Systems of the World). Galileo wrote the brilliantly crafted Dialogo in Italian, not Latin, so it could reach the mass audience. Though a thinly veiled disclaimer appears at the front of the book, the witty and penetrating discussion destroyed the ancient belief that the Earth stood still.

Summoned before the Inquisition, Pope Urban VIII, possibly feeling betrayed and possibly under political pressure, charged Galileo first with breaking his earlier agreement to keep silent, second with teaching the Copernican Theory as fact and third, with actually believing the Copernican Theory. A forged document led to Galileo’s conviction, and he lived the rest of his life under virtual house arrest.

Continue with Part V - Vindication