Galileo Galilei was born on February 15, 1564,
in Pisa, Italy. He died on January 8, 1642, in
The Renaissance swept
through Europe from the 1400's to the 1600's.
Renaissance is a French
word meaning "rebirth." During this time, Europe
was experiencing a "rebirth" of painting, sculpting,
literature, architecture, and science. Europe
was relearning the lessons of ancient Greece and
Rome. Florence, Italy,
was the center of the Renaissance movement.
Two famous Renaissance
artists are Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was a priest and philosopher
who lived from 1226 to 1274. He wrote about the
teachings of the Greek philosopher, Aristotle.
Aristotle lived from c.384 to 322 B.C.
Aquinas combined the logic
of Aristotle with the faith of the Bible. By 1500,
the Catholic Church embraced the teachings of
Aristotle and Aquinas. The
Church also supported the theory that the earth
was the center of the universe and the sun revolved
around the earth.
People were taught not
to question authority. The authorities were Aristotle
and the Catholic Church. People had to believe
what the authorities said was correct whether
or not common sense or scientific discoveries
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Polish astronomer. He
lived from 1473 to 1543. Copernicus discovered
the earth makes a complete rotation every 24 hours
to make a day and makes a complete orbit around
the sun every 365 days to make a year. He also
developed a theory which stated the earth revolved
around the sun.
Copernicus' ideas were
new and revolutionary. They would change the way
people look at their world. His ideas were also
a serious threat to the teachings of Aristotle
and the beliefs of the Catholic Church.
Copernicus died before
he could prove his theories.
Way of Thinking
Galileo Galilei believed all theories should be
tested through scientific means. He was the first
person to conduct experiments to prove or disprove
what the authorities said. Some of the results
of his experiments went against what the authorities
After Galileo, people began
to rely on observations and experiments as a basis
of their understanding. They did not always follow
what was said to be true just because it was said
by an authority.
In addition, the Reformation was taking place
in Europe and people were challenging the authority
of the Catholic Church.
In 1517, Martin Luther
launched the Protestant Reformation after posting
his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle
In 1533, Henry VIII broke
away from the Catholic Church in Rome and formed
the Church of England.
During this time, Europe was experiencing many
changes, including the Renaissance, the Reformation,
and the study of new sciences. These changes threatened
the authority of the Catholic Church.
As a result, the Catholic
Church established the Inquisition to decide questions
of faith and morality of people and books. If
people did not agree with the Bible, they were
considered heretics and put in prison or sentenced
to death. If books did not agree with the Bible,
they were placed on a list of banned books which
the Church called the Index.
During this time, the Church
condemned many great thinkers and placed their
books on the Index. Galileo was one of these people.
Since then, the Church has re-examined the issue
and has admitted its mistake.