Photo of barrage balloon from America from the Great Depression to World War II, at the Library of Congress.
Today in Odd History
Galileo Ordered to Give Up Copernican Heresy (February 26, 1616)
Galileo continued to write, and to publish his works, but not without submitting them first to the censors in Rome. In 1624, after 6 audiences with his former patron, Pope Urban VIII, and more audiences with a number of Cardinals, he was given permission to discuss the Copernican theory, so long as he presented it as a hypothesis and not as fact. In 1630, he completed Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, or Diologio. It was carefully examined by the censors. An outbreak of Bubonic Plague had forced quarantine conditions, however, and sending the entire manuscript to the Vatican was impossible. In the end, only the preface and the ending were cleared in Rome. The rest was approved by the Inquisition in Florence. The Diologio was printed in February 1632, but that summer, Pope Urban VIII banned any further distribution of it, and appointed a special commission to examine it. When the commission's report came in, the Pope formally referred the case to the Inquisition. Galileo, who was 68 years old by now and whose health was failing, was summoned to Rome. Although 3 separate physicians agreed that he was too ill to travel, and the Florentine Inquisitor verified that when he had visited, Galileo was sick in bed, Urban threatened to have him arrested and brought to Rome in chains if he would not come voluntarily. He survived the journey, despite a two-week delay because of the continuing quarantine, and upon his arrival in Rome, Grand Duke Ferdinand II de Medici arranged to have him stay at the Tuscan Ambassador's residence.
Galileo was charged with heresy. When the trial began in April, he was moved to the Inquisition's headquarters, but was given comfortable lodgings, as befitted his status. After he was interrogated, a plea bargain was arranged. He would be allowed to plead guilty to reduced charges, and receive a lenient sentence. Galileo, who had never known when it was time to be silent, would not plead, but admitted that he might have overstated the Copernican theory in the Diologio, and offered to correct the error in his next book. The trial dragged on, until finally, in June, the Inquisition formally threatened Galileo with torture. On June 22, 1633, he knelt at the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and formally renounced the Copernican heresy. He was sentenced to house arrest, first at the Tuscan Ambassador's house, which he had been allowed to return to after his brief stay with the Inquistion, and then at the home of the Archbishop in Siena. At the end of the year, he was finally allowed to return to his own home near Florence, but the Inquisition continued to monitor his activities. He published several more works, including the Discourse on Two New Sciences, and was awarded a gold chain by the States General of the Netherlands for his proposal on determining longitude at sea by watching the eclipses of Jupiter's moons. The proposal was ultimately rejected, as it had been deemed impractical, and Galileo refused the chain, for which Pope Urban VIII commended him. In 1638, he went blind, and petitioned the Inquisition to be released. They refused, but allowed him to move to his house in Florence, where he would be closer to his physicians. He remained there until the end of his life, when he moved back to his villa just outside of Florence, where he died on January 8, 1642.
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