February 17, 1600—Giordano Bruno burned at the stake

On February 17th 1600, Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake in the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome.

Giordano Bruno’s 19th C statue looking over the Campo de’ Fiori

He had been the guest in Venice of one Giovanni Mocenigo, staying in the Ca’ Mocenigo Vecchia, the right-hand of the four contiguous Mocenigo palaces on the Grand Canal. It seems that this dim patrician, disappointed that Bruno’s teachings failed to give him easy access to the arcane mysteries, unsportingly denounced his guest to the Venetian Inquisition, in a letter accusing him of ‘blasphemy, contempt of religion, doubting the divine Trinity and transubstantiation, believing in the eternity of the world and the existence of infinite parallel worlds, practising the magic arts, believing in metempsychosis, denying the virginity of Mary and disbelieving in divine punishment.’ – on the whole a remarkably modern cocktail.

The Venetians, to their great discredit, permitted his extradition to Rome in 1593, where imprisonment, torture and trial failed to procure a full recantation, and he was handed over to the civil authorities for execution. His ghost is said to haunt the Ca’ Mocenigo at this time of year, as well it might.