Last Reviewed and Updated on July 12, 2022
Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer. His work in astronomy led him to be one of the first to propose that the sun was part of an infinite universe filled with worlds like our own. Learn some of the more interesting facts about Giordano Bruno, a free thinker that was ahead of his time.
1. He was given the name Filippo Bruno at birth
Giordano Bruno was born as Filippo Bruno in January or February 1548 in Nola, Kingdom of Naples. When he was 17 years old, he entered the Dominican Order at the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. His metaphysics tutor was Giordano Crispo after whom Giordano Bruno took his name.
2. Bruno was known for his skills with the art of memory
Bruno was distinguished for his outstanding mnemonic system. By some, his excellent memory was attributed to magical powers. He even traveled to Rome to demonstrate his techniques and abilities to Pope Pious V and Cardinal Rebiba.
3. He published many works on mnemonics (as well as other topics)
Bruno wrote extensively on the art of mnemonics, these works were what made him distinguished. He wondered and wrote about many other topics as well, he was a free thinker and many of his works other weren’t well received.
4. He proposed stars were distant Suns with their own planets
The Copernican model, placing the Sun in the center of the Universe and other planets orbiting the Sun was published in 1543, not long before the birth of Giordano Bruno. This theory wasn’t really widely accepted by astronomers of that time, or long after as it would be only in about 1700 that this theory would be a prominent one.
In Giordano Bruno’s time, most astronomers subscribed to a geocentric view of the universe, with Earth being the center of it. But not Bruno. Bruno affirmed and expanded on the theory of Copernicus, proposing stars were distant Suns surrounded by their own planets.
5. He believed distant planets harbor life
Bruno wrote that other worlds around stars are no different from our Earth and like Earth contain animals and inhabitants.
6. He claimed the universe was infinite
He was one of the first to propose the universe was infinite.
7. He believed in reincarnation
His teachings on the transmigration of the soul (reincarnation) and denial of Catholic doctrines were something that wasn’t taken lightly by the Roman Inquisition.
8. Bruno was tried for heresy
He was accused and tried with multiple charges including blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology.
9. He was found guilty and was burned at the stake
The trial was overseen by Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine. It was demanded Bruno makes a full recantation but Bruno refused. Pope Clement VII declared Bruno a heretic and the sentence of death was issued.
According to a witness, Bruno made a statement to the judges upon his verdict;
“Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it”Bruno
He was burned at the stake on February 17th, 1600.
10. He gained fame after death as a martyr of science
Last on the list of facts about Giordano Bruno is his martyrdom. The views on this were split though. Some scholars viewed him as the martyr of science, a man that was silenced because of his free-thinking views, while others claimed his fate was sealed solely because of his religious views and not scientific ones. Whatever the case may be, his views on cosmology were pretty advanced for the age he lived in.