History 4101, Humanities 4902 (Fall Term)
The Galileo Affair
Professor W. R. Laird

Tito Lessi, Galileo and Viviani, 1892 (Museo Galileo, Florence)

Tito Lessi, Galileo and Viviani, 1892 (Museo Galileo, Florence)

In 1633, the Roman Inquisition found Galileo Galilei guilty of vehement suspicion of heresy for holding the Copernican view that the earth moved and the sun stood still, contrary to the authoritative interpretation of the Bible and in violation of the decree of 1616. In this seminar, we shall examine the events surrounding the decree of 1616 and the events leading up to the trial of 1633 through the original documents—personal letters, secret depositions, and diplomatic correspondence–and follow the course of the trial through the official records of the Inquisition.

Seminars three hours a week.

The required text (available at All Books, 327 Rideau Street, next to the Bytown Cinema, tel. 789-9544) will be

Finocchiaro, Maurice.  The Galileo Affair:  A Documentary History.  Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: University of California Press, 1989.

Grades for the course will be based on several oral seminar presentations and on written analyses of several of the documents. Students who attend fewer than nine seminars will receive F in the course.

This is a classroom course: no lecture notes will be available electronically. No electronic devices are permitted in the seminar room; notes may be taken only with pen and paper.