This entire globe, this star, not being subject to death, and dissolution and annihilation being impossible anywhere in Nature, from time to time renews itself by changing and altering all its parts. There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the Universe, and the observer is always at the center of things.
– Giordano Bruno – De la Causa, Principio, et Uno (On Cause, Principle, and Unity)
Filippo Bruno was born at Nola in southern Italy, in 1548. He took the name Giordano when entering a Dominican monastery in Naples in 1565. While there, he studied philosophy, theology and science. He developed unorthodox views on some Catholic teachings, was suspected of heresy and had to flee monastic life in 1576.
With a love of knowledge and a hatred of ignorance, he became a rebel unwilling to accept traditional authority. The price he paid for his beliefs was persecution and condemnation in many countries, and ultimately, his beliefs cost him his life.
Giordano attempted to deal with the implications of the Copernican universe. He believed that all the stars in the sky were actually suns like our own; each of them having their own planets and possibly supporting life.
Although Giordano was not officially credited with any scientific discoveries, his ideas had much influence upon later scientists and philosophers.
Having sought refuge in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1579, he fled to Toulouse after he criticized a Genevan professor. He spent two years in Toulouse earning a Master's degree and lecturing on Aristotle. In Paris, from 1581 - 1582, he published his first set of writings, a new method for memory training and commenting on the logical system of Raymond Lully.
Giordano spent the next two years in England, where he became friendly with prominent Englishmen and he publicly praised Queen Elizabeth I.
His best works were published in 1583, an example of which is On the Infinite Universe and Worlds which is described as 'the universe is infinite, composed of many worlds and animated by common life and common cause'. In 1591 he wrote a poem, 'De Immenso' ('On the Immense') in which he examined what is infinitely small and infinitely great in the universe.
Death and Legacy
On the invitation of a Venetian nobleman, Giordano went to Venice where he was betrayed to the Catholic Inquisition.
After a trial for heresy and a lengthy confinement, on 17 February, 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome, Italy, after consistently refusing to recant his beliefs. This happened in a place that is known today as the Campo dei Fiori ('Flower Square' or 'Field of Flowers'). A statue of Giordano Bruno is still visible there. Today this is one of the most crowded and most visited places in Rome, which causes discomfort for those who live there. Giordano Bruno is still a thorn in the flesh of the Roman Catholic establishment. Campo dei Fiori is the only major place in Rome without any church or noble palace - a fitting tribute to Giordano, however unintentional.