The Trial of Galileo, 1612-1633

The Trial of Galileo, 1612-1633

Weight 0.00 lbs
Edited by Thomas F. Mayer
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2012
World Rights
224 Pages
ISBN 9781442605190
Published Oct 2012
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442605213
Published Oct 2012
Full purchase $21.95
Teaching Materials

This unique reader allows students to examine Galileo's trial as a legal event and, in so doing, to learn about seventeenth-century European religion, politics, diplomacy, bureaucracy, culture, and science. Noted scholar of the trial Thomas F. Mayer has translated correspondence, legal documents, transcripts, and excerpts from Galileo's work to give students the opportunity to critically analyze primary sources relating to Galileo's trial.

To help contextualize the trial, Mayer provides an introduction that details Galileo's life and work, the Council of Trent, the role of the papacy, and the Roman Inquisition, and gives a clear explanation of how a trial before the Inquisition would have been conducted. Each primary source begins with a headnote, questions to guide students through each source, and suggested readings. The book includes a comprehensive cast of characters, a map of Galileo's Rome, a chronology of Galileo's life, and a list of secondary readings.

The late Thomas F. Mayer was Professor of History at Augustana College and author of The Roman Inquisition: A Papal Bureaucracy and Its Laws in the Age of Galileo (2013), Reginald Pole, Prince and Prophet (2000), Cardinal Pole in European Context: A Via Media in the Reformation (2000), and Thomas Starkey and the Commonwealth: Humanist Politics and Religion in the Reign of Henry VIII (1989).
A Note on Language and Translation
List of Abbreviations
Sites in Rome of Importance to Galileo's Trial

Cast of Characters

I. Sunspot Letters: The Cause of Most of the Trouble
II. Formal Proceedings Begin
III. The Inquisition and the Index Take Action
IV. Publication of Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems and the Beginning of the Trial's Second Phase
V. Summons to Rome and Galileo's Resistance
VI. Galileo Arrives in Rome
VII. Formal Proceedings Resume
VIII. Sentence and Abjuration

Here is a fascinating source book of letters and papers concerning Galileo's deteriorating relations with the Vatican. By asking questions of the documents, Thomas Mayer alerts his readers to partially hidden nuances in Galileo's trial. The selections include both the official reports and the behind-the-scenes intrigue as this historic case built to its infamous conclusion.

Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The Trial of Galileo offers a strikingly original perspective on an event that has been shrouded in myth and misunderstanding for centuries. Bringing to bear his vast knowledge of the Roman Inquisition, an expertise shared by few others, Mayer presents Galileo's trial as a legal event determined by the idiosyncratic structures of the seventeenth-century Roman church and its place within early modern Italian society and politics. Supported by a clear and accessible introduction, the documents assembled in this volume, many previously unavailable in English, revive the actual deliberations that transformed Galileo from an audacious scientific celebrity into a condemned heretic. No full historical understanding of Galileo's fate is possible without this legal perspective. The Trial of Galileo is a welcome new addition to the teaching materials available for the study of this epochal event.

J.B. Shank, University of Minnesota

This primary-source reader offers a well-chosen and well-organized collection of letters, publications, and trial records relevant to the Galileo affair, one of the most celebrated yet often misunderstood incidents in early modern European history. The Trial of Galileo will be a valuable tool for the teaching of history, history of science, and science and religion in early modern Europe—especially for those committed to the use of primary sources in undergraduate education.

Stephen D. Snobelen, University of King's College

Mayer provides a sourcebook that is an ideal tool for any instructor introducing students to Galileo's trial and an excellent accompaniment to the insightful analysis found in the secondary literature.

Renaissance Quarterly

Mayer widens our understanding of what affected investigations of Galileo's conflicts with Scripture and authority.

English Historical Review

To read an excellent essay by Thomas F. Mayer, "Condemning Galileo," visit History Matters at