Galileo Galilei Timeline


Galileo Galilei


The Renaissance
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.

Early Beliefs
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 proved otherwise.

Nicolaus Copernicus
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.

New 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 taught.

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.

The Reformation
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 Germany.

In 1533, Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church in Rome and formed the Church of England.

The Inquisition
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.

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©  2009 D. K. Malowney

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Galileo Galilei was born on February 15, 1564, in Pisa, Italy. He died on January 8, 1642, in Arcetri, Italy.