The Early Life and Movements of Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Tuscany in 1564 and was the son of Florentine musician Vincenzo Galilei. Galileo was a very intelligent boy and at age 17, due to his father’s influence, he went to the University of Pisa. He was enrolled as a medical student but later turned to math after persuading his father that he did not want to be a doctor. He was tutored by Ricci, who was a Tuscan court mathematician. Galileo became a talented mathematician and by his early twenties wrote tracts, which added to Archimedes results on center of gravity of shapes.

Due to this he was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at Pisa.

At age 28, in 1592, he moved to Padua, which was in the Venetian Republic. There he married Marina Gamba, 21 years old. They had three children. In 1610 Galileo, at age 46 developed the telescope, which led to many discoveries such as mountains on the moon, the moons of Jupiter, and phases of Venus.

After these discoveries Galileo landed the job of mathematician and philosopher to the grand duke of Tuscany and returned to his homeland.

The discovery of the telescope and all that it has proved strongly favored Copernicus’ view that the sun is at the center of the world and that the sun does not circle the earth but the earth circles the sun. This was opposite to the church’s view and this meant trouble could arise because the church was in power at the time. Galileo, in 1611 went to Rome and met with the Jesuit astronomers.

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He felt that if he could get them on his side he would have little trouble with church in the future. The leader of the Jesuit astronomy Father Clavius had a hard time believing there were mountains on the moon.

In 1611 another of Galileo’s discoveries brought more tension between him and the Jesuits. Galileo had been observing the motion of sunspots-small dark spots on the surface of the sun, which was easily visible through a telescope at sunset. A German Jesuit Christopher Scheiner thought they were small dark objects circling the sun at some distant, Galileo though correctly brought up that they were actually on the sun’s surface. This was another blow to the perfect thought of a heavenly body. Galileo published his findings in 1613.

Some members of another order of the church, the Dominicans were preaching against Galileo and his Copernican views. They attacked mathematicians specially Copernicus. In February of 1615 the Copernican system was condemned. In May of 1615 Galileo was given an affidavit by a Jesuit named Bellarmine stating that he must no longer hold or Defend the idea that the earth moves instead of the sun. There was also another document sent however was not signed. It stated that the Commissary of the Inquisition in the name of the Pope, ordered that Galileo could no longer hold, defend or teach the two propositions. This second document was not given to Galileo. The word, teach meant that he could not even describe the Copernican system. All books that described a moving earth were placed on the index of Prohibited books.

In 1618 three comets had appeared and a book by a Jesuit argued that they followed orbits close their planets. Galileo knew that the comets moved in almost straight-line motion. In 1623, Galileo’s friend and admirer Florentine Maffeo Barberini Became Pope Urban VIII. He was widely educated and appreciated Galileo’s current theory. Galileo felt that now with his friend as Pope and the affidavit from Bellarmine that didn’t forbid him from describing the Copernican system, it was safe to write further about his views. He wanted to prove the Copernican system correct.

Galileo started searching for some real proof and he founded it in the tides. He wondered why all the water on the surface of the earth sloshed around once or twice a day. He decided it was because the earth was rotating and moving around the sun. He worked on a new book, which he called “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of The World-Ptolemaic and Copernican”. In the book he insulted Scheiner, calling him vain. After it was published an order was put out from the Inquisition in Rome to stop publication. Galileo was to go to trial. Apparently someone had shown the Pope the unsigned memo forbidding Galileo from talking about the Copernican system.

Galileo was charged for disobeying an official order. Galileo argued that he was never forbidding from teaching. They brought out the unsigned memo and he argued that he never received it. The trial did not address the scientific studies of Galileo only that he disobeyed an official order. A plea bargain was setup up. If Galileo were to admit to some wrongdoing his sentence would be lighter. He agreed to tone down his book and he plead that he had been carried away by his own arguments. He was condemned to imprisonment but after negotiations were held between Galileo and the Pope he was sentenced to house arrest in his Villa. He died in 1642 and during that period he wrote a book, “Two New Sciences”. It was about the Strength of materials and on the science of motion.

I feel that Galileo was treated unfairly because of his discoveries. There is only one reason why there was a trial. It was because Galileo’s theology went against the churches. Galileo’s wanting to be right angered the Jesuits because they could not accept the fact that what he could be saying could be true. They were not open to new ideas, only on old beliefs. Galileo was very religious, and he did not feel that he was going against his faith by going on with his discoveries. Even though he was put on house arrest, Galileo did receive a fair trial. After a bit of negotiation Galileo was spared from going to prison. Instead, he was left to live in his house for life, which was better than other sentencing. Galileo I feel might not have continued to write about the Copernican system if he had received the memo that forbid him from teaching it. This was one downfall towards Galileo. Overall, even though he was treated unfairly for his discoveries, once he was in court he had a fair trial and they even gave him a plea bargain after he couldn’t prove his innocence.

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The Early Life and Movements of Galileo Galilei. (2022, Jun 08). Retrieved from

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