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Cosmos: A Spacetime Inquisition *

After supporting Copernicus, writing a number of controversial books on science and commenting on the nature of the universe (and dark mysticism) Father Giordano Bruno has returned to Italy. Unfortunately a few of his books have come under the scrutiny of the Inquisition and they are ... unhappy. He is extradited to Rome and spends several months in prison, awaiting the Inquisition to charge him. His trial begins in December and it will continue on-and-off for the next 7 years. It will not end well for Father Bruno. After declining several opportunities to recant the religious passages in his books he will accept the final judgement of the Pope. The Pope will judge him to be a heretic and Father Bruno will be burned at the stake. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The TV science show "Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey" implied that Father Bruno was put to death because of science, but that is an exaggeration. The trial never mentioned scientific issues. He died because he stood up for his personal understanding of God... not his scientific teachings. Given the Reformation conflict at the time, the Catholic and Protestant churches were more concerned with religious conformity than how many alien races could dance on a pin. The Cosmos TV show implied that Father Bruno rejected religion. Far from it, but science needs its saints and sinners as much as any church. I resent when the facts must be sacrificed on the altar of science, though. Life is not black or white, on or off. One can be both religious and scientific. The two disciplines can overlap in a few places if we will stop fretting so much. [4]

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

The famous playwright, Christopher Marlowe, dies in a knife fight over the payment of the bill after dining with friends. (With friends like these, who needs enemies?) His killer is brought to justice and then let go. Odd. There is one more thing you need to know. The Late Mr. Marlowe was a spy for the Queen of England and so was the man who killed him. Very odd. Every government has an intelligence service run by people with very few scruples and a lot of initiative. In the court of Queen Elizabeth the 1st, the job of a spy is to uncover assassination plots and thwart religious fanatics planning the general massacre of Protestants. (That is a REAL possibility, by the way.) The Queen is willing to pay for good intelligence and good agents. Since playwrights are always hobnobbing with the aristocracy, they have the perfect cover for a spy. Shortly after Marlowe's death, William Shakespeare becomes prominent in the theater. Conspiracy theorists wonder if Marlowe faked his own death and took up the identity of William Shakespeare. We'll never know. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Spies were common in those days (and perhaps in the modern day as well). Theaters were located in the seedy side of town but frequented by the aristocracy, often attending in masks or disguises. Clergy were hidden by their church members to avoid being killed by their religious opponents, but that hidden network of ritual provided a built-in network for spies. Merchants, bankers and legally sanctioned fences for stolen goods (now called pawn shops) allowed military information to be passed along at several levels of society. Frankly, the Spanish Armada could not have been thwarted without a vigorous English and Dutch spy network. It's not a conspiracy when two of the greatest financial centers are building spy networks. It's simple self-interest. If a bank makes a war loan to a government then that bank will want to provide the information needed for his client to win the war. Occam's Razor applies. The simple explanation is usually the correct one. [15]

The Pirate Queen Meets the Queen of England

Grace O'Malley is chieftain of the O'Malley clan in Ireland. After the death of her merchant father, Grace has inherited a considerable fleet of merchant ships... sometimes known as pirate ships depending on what they are doing at the time, but let's not quibble. As long as everyone gets their cut, all is well, but an English governor has gotten greedy. After taxing Grace's cargo on trade ships coming into his territory, Grace's sons think that turnabout is fair play. They waylay ships coming from that territory, extract a "tax" and then disappear. Unfortunately her two sons and her half-brother are captured by this English governor so Grace O'Malley petitions the Queen of England to get this governor off of her back. There is no truth to the rumor that Grace was carrying a dagger under her dress in order to murder the Queen. The dagger was for defensive purposes only. [16]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
People just love stories about Grace O'Malley. She is a pip! There was the time when she needed to sneeze so an English woman lent her a lace hanky. Grace sneezed into the pitiful little piece of cloth and then, to the shock of all, she threw the hanky into the fire. Apparently Irish handkerchiefs are all "disposable." It was unfortunate that more didn't come of that visit with Queen Elizabeth, though. Elizabeth removed the English governor but restored him to his position later on. Obviously Grace was not being taken seriously. She continued to agitate and foment rebellion. Grace O'Malley died around the same time that Queen Elizabeth did although the exact circumstances are in dispute.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1593, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Giordano Bruno - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “Beginning in 1593, Bruno was tried for heresy by the Roman Inquisition on charges including denial of several core Catholic doctrines (including the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and Transubstantiation). Bruno's pantheism was also a matter of grave concern. The Inquisition found him guilty, and in 1600 he was burned at the stake in Rome's Campo de' Fiori.”
  2. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy (BOOK), Random House. “Four years later there appeared a greatly enlarged Index, including for the first time a ban on Jewish books. This reflected Clement's besetting sin, his intolerance. Throughout his pontificate he gave every encouragement to the Inquisition, which in his reign sent more than thirty heretics to the stake; they included the former Dominican Giordano Bruno, who met his death on February 17, 1600, in the Campo dei Fiori, where his statue still stands.” 
  3. The Age of Reason Begins: A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo, and Descartes: 1558-1648, The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. “He defended his views, but agreed to accept the decision of the Pope as to the quoted passages. On February 4 Clement VIII and the Congregation of the Holy Office decided that the excerpts were plainly heretical. No mention of Bruno's Copernican views occurs in the record of the trial; the heresies related to the Incarnation and the Trinity. He was allowed forty days more to acknowledge his errors.” 
  4. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “Tyson explains how humanity has not always seen the universe in this manner, and describes the hardships and persecution of Renaissance Italian Giordano Bruno in challenging the prevailing geocentric model held by the Catholic Church. To show Bruno's vision of the cosmic order he uses an animated adaptation of the Flammarion engraving, a 19th century illustration that has now become a common meme for the revealing of the mysteries of the Universe.”
  5. shiv - definition of shiv (2015). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “A knife, razor, or other sharp or pointed implement, especially one used as a weapon.”
  6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (novel) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “Bond meets and falls in love with Contessa Teresa 'Tracy' di Vicenzo during the story. The pair marry at the end of the story but Blofeld kills Bond's wife hours after the ceremony.”
  7. Christopher Marlowe - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “In early May 1593 several bills were posted about London threatening Protestant refugees from France and the Netherlands who had settled in the city. One of these, the 'Dutch church libel', written in rhymed iambic pentameter, contained allusions to several of Marlowe's plays and was signed, 'Tamburlaine'. On May 11th the Privy Council ordered the arrest of those responsible for the libels. The next day, Marlowe's colleague Thomas Kyd was arrested. Kyd's lodgings were searched and a fragment of a heretical tract was found. Kyd asserted that it had belonged to Marlowe, with whom he had been writing 'in one chamber' some two years earlier.”
  8. "Who Killed Christopher Marlowe?", The New York Times, New York Times Company, September 16, 1990. Retrieved on 17 June 2015. “On the morning of May 30, 1593, Marlowe arrived for what appeared to be a friendly meeting with three companions at an inn in Deptford, just outside London. After a day of chatting in the garden, one of them, a man named Ingram Frizer, plunged a dagger into Marlowe's eye while the others looked on.” 
  9. Christopher Marlowe. Elizabethan England Life (2015). Retrieved on 17 June 2015. “It was believed that Marlowe was a government spy working under Sir Thomas Walsingham. It was also said that Marlowe tutored Arbella Stuart, niece of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1589 as a part of his spying activity. Arbella was another competitor for the throne after Elizabeth I's death along with James VI of Scotland.”
  10. Did Christopher Marlowe Fake His Death?. huffingtonpost.com (2015). Retrieved on 17 June 2015. “Two weeks after Marlowe's inquest, the first piece of writing to appear under the name William Shakespeare was published. Shakespeare's early works are very similar to Marlowe's. They are also understandably a long way from the later heights of Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet -- the young writer having not yet developed the skills and style of a more mature one. Scholars acknowledge Marlowe as Shakespeare's chief influence, but it is perfectly possible to read their combined canon as the work of one man.”
  11. In Search of Shakespeare ... Christopher Marlowe. PBS (2015). Retrieved on 17 June 2015. “The coroner's report that followed Marlowe's death, in suspicious circumstances in 1593, claimed Marlowe was killed in a 'dispute over an unpaid bill.' But Marlowe's murder had much more the feel of a 'hit' about it.”
  12. Christopher Marlowe. A&E Television Networks (2015). Retrieved on 17 June 2015. “The nature of Marlowe's service to England was not specified by the council, but the letter sent to Cambridge has provoked abundant speculation, notably the theory that Marlowe had become a secret agent working for Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service. No direct evidence supports this theory, but the council's letter clearly suggests that Marlowe was serving the government in some secret capacity.”
  13. Christopher Marlowe. New World Encyclopedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 June 2015. “The nature of Marlowe's service was not specified by the council, but their letter to the Cambridge authorities has provoked much sensational speculation, notably the theory that Marlowe was operating as a secret agent working for Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service. No direct evidence supports this theory, although Marlowe obviously did serve the queen in some capacity.”
  14. The Age of Reason Begins: A History of European Civilization in the Period of Shakespeare, Bacon, Montaigne, Rembrandt, Galileo, and Descartes: 1558-1648, The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. “On May 30, 1593, three government spies, Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres, and Robert Poley, joined the poet - perhaps himself still a spy – at dinner in a house or tavern in Deptford, a few miles from London. According to the report of William Danby, coroner, Frizer and Marlowe "uttered one to the other divers malicious words for the reason that they could not . . . agree about the payment" for the meal. Marlowe snatched a dagger from Frizer's belt and struck him with it, inflicting some superficial cuts. Frizer seized Marlowe's hand, turned the weapon upon him, and "gave the said Christopher then and there a mortal wound over his right eye, of the depth of two inches ... of which the aforesaid Christopher Morley then and there instantly died"; the blade had reached' the brain. Frizer, arrested, pleaded self-defense, and he was released after a month. Marlowe was buried on June 1, in a grave now unknown.” 
  15. History of the Jews in Europe - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including in, 1290, the banishing of all English Jews;”
  16. Grace O'Malley - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “O'Malley refused to bow before Elizabeth because she did not recognise her as the Queen of Ireland. It is also rumoured that O'Malley had a dagger concealed about her person, which guards found upon searching her. Elizabeth's courtiers were said to be very upset and worried, but O'Malley informed the queen that she carried it for her own safety. Elizabeth accepted this and seemed untroubled.”

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