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Copernicus and the List of Forbidden Books *

A short time before his death Copernicus handed his book to the Bishop of Culm who was also a family friend. The Bishop took the book to Nuremberg and published it in 1593. It theorized that the Earth orbits the Sun which was a radical notion, but few realized how radical the book was at the time. It was too technical so only astronomers bought it. Current observations of the heavens by astronomers have brought the book to the attention of the Church. The title has now been entered into the book of prohibited works called The List of Forbidden Books. Many books regarding the heliocentric model of the universe (the idea that the Earth, the planets and the stars orbit the Sun) will be included on the list. Years later the books will fall off of the List. By 1966 the List itself will become more of a suggestion than a rule. It will cease publication long before then. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The people veto embarrassing old laws by simply ignoring them. Changing the law itself becomes an afterthought. By 1742 two Franciscan monks began teaching from Sir Issac Newton's book on mathematics despite its being prohibited. Science and math books eventually fell off of the list as evidence in their favor mounted, but it took decades if not a century. In the Church's defense, the scientists couldn't PROVE their case with actual evidence. They didn't have accurate enough tools to do so. Modern day scientists have a similar problem accepting changes in their pet theories. Albert Einstein was working in a patent office when he published his paper on Special Relativity because he couldn't get a research position at a university. At the time, scientists were certain they had discovered all that could be discovered. In 1905 Einstein overturned everything, but it wasn't until 1919 that he could prove it with physical evidence. In turn, Einstein fought against Quantum Theory saying that "God does not play dice with the universe," and let's not dwell on the issues with String Theory! We all have our blind spots. Let's forgive each other and move forward. [4] [5]

In Search of El Dorado... Again

Sir Walter Raleigh is determined to find El Dorado, the City of Gold, even if it kills him... and it will. He has been detained in the Tower of London for treason but he has managed to talk King James into letting him take an expedition to Guyana in South America to find the lost city of gold... and return with gold for the King, of course. King James extracts a promise on threat of death that Sir Walter will do nothing to upset the Spaniards. The King doesn't want trouble, but Sir Walter is 60 years old. How much trouble could he find? Plenty. By next year he will launch his expedition. His ships will be manned by thugs, so to keep them from mutinying, Sir Walter stays on board and sends his son to do the exploring. His son soon finds a Spanish town and the musket balls start flying. His son his killed and the expedition never finds gold. Sir Walter returns home a failure. Since any shootout with the Spaniards qualifies as a breach of charter... along with the previous treason, Sir Walter Raleigh will lose his head in 1618. As he takes that last long walk to the executioner, he will toss his hat to a bald man and say, "You need this, my friend, more than I do." [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Was Sir Walter Raleigh really guilty of treason? It's hard to say. He was part of Queen Elizabeth's crew of favorites so when King James took the throne, Sir Walter fell out of favor. During an investigation into a plot to kidnap the King, Sir Walter's name came up. I'm not sure he was part of the plot. He was certainly a prominent name so he was tried separately and sent to the Tower of London. But if the King really believed that Sir Walter was guilty, why send him on this expedition to find gold years later? Perhaps it was greed, but if I'm expecting to get gold from some get-rich-quick scheme, I'm not going to trust someone who tried to kidnap me years earlier. That is why I doubt that Sir Walter was guilty of anything more than being a starry-eyed fool in his old age. There is no city of gold despite what Nicolas Cage did in the movie National Treasure. It's fun to imagine, though. [8]

Notable Births and Deaths *

  • The illegitimate son of King Gustav the 2nd of Sweden (that wonderful guy that historians love) is born. His name is Gustav too. [9]
  • "The Big Girl" is born. She will become the tallest woman in history at 8 foot 4 inches. [10]
  • William Shakespeare, the English playwright and poet dies from unknown causes... after a big night of drinking. He was 52. [11]
  • Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, dies from cirrhosis of the liver. One can die of cirrhosis without hard drinking, but probably he was a drinker. [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1616, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Index Librorum Prohibitorum - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “The Index Librorum Prohibitorum (English: List of Prohibited Books) was a list of publications deemed heretical, anti-clerical or lascivious, and therefore banned by the Catholic Church.[”
  2. De revolutionibus orbium coelestium - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) is the seminal work on the heliocentric theory of the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543). The book, first printed in 1543 in Nuremberg, Holy Roman Empire, offered an alternative model of the universe to Ptolemy's geocentric system, which had been widely accepted since ancient times.”
  3. List of authors and works on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “This is a selected list of authors and works listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. The Index was abolished on June 14, 1966 by Pope Paul VI.”
  4. Albert Einstein - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “Based on calculations Einstein made in 1911, about his new theory of general relativity, light from another star would be bent by the Sun's gravity. In 1919 that prediction was confirmed by Sir Arthur Eddington during the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919. Those observations were published in the international media, making Einstein world famous. On 7 November 1919, the leading British newspaper The Times printed a banner headline that read: 'Revolution in Science – New Theory of the Universe – Newtonian Ideas Overthrown'.”
  5. Photoelectric effect - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “A photon above a threshold frequency has the required energy to eject a single electron, creating the observed effect. This discovery led to the quantum revolution in physics and earned Einstein the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.”
  6. El Dorado - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “A second location for El Dorado was inferred from rumors, which inspired several unsuccessful expeditions in the late 1500s in search of a city called Manöa on the shores of Lake Parime. The most famous of these expeditions were led by Sir Walter Raleigh.”
  7. Sir Walter Raleigh's Second Journey to El Dorado. about.com (2015). Retrieved on 31 July 2015. “Surprisingly, King James relented in 1616 and agreed to let Raleigh return to Guyana. James preferred peace with Spain, however, so Raleigh was under strict orders not to antagonize the Spanish. This, of course, would be impossible, as Raleigh would be exploring territory claimed and settled by Spain.”
  8. Main Plot (to kidnap King James I) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 31 July 2015. “The Main Plot was an alleged conspiracy of July 1603 by English courtiers, to remove King James I from the English throne, replacing him with his cousin Arabella (or Arbella) Stuart.”
  9. Gustav of Vasaborg - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “Count Gustav Gustavsson of Vasaborg, 1st Count of Nystad (April 24, 1616 – October 25, 1653) was an illegitimate son of King Gustavus Adolphus (Gustav II Adolf) and his mistress Margareta Slots.”
  10. Trijntje Keever - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “Trijntje Cornelisdochter Keever (April 10 or 16, 1616 – July 22, 1633), nicknamed De Groote Meid (in English, The Big Girl), is alleged to be the tallest female person in recorded history, standing 9 Amsterdam feet or 2.54 metres (8 ft 4 in) tall at the time of her death at age seventeen.”
  11. William Shakespeare - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, at the age of 52. He died within a month of signing his will, a document which he begins by describing himself as being in 'perfect health'. There is no extant contemporary source that explains how or why he died. After half a century had passed, John Ward, the vicar of Stratford, wrote in his notebook: 'Shakespeare, Drayton and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and, it seems, drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted.”
  12. Miguel de Cervantes - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 July 2015. “While 23 April 1616 was recorded as the date of his death in some references, and it is the date on which his death is widely commemorated, Cervantes in fact died in Madrid the previous day, 22 April. He was buried on 23 April. The cause of his death, according to Antonio López Alonso, a modern physician who has examined the surviving documentation, was Diabetes 2, a result of a cirrhosis of the liver. This is the best explanation for the intense thirst he complained of. The cirrhosis was not caused by alcoholism; Cervantes was too productive, especially in his final years, to have been an alcoholic.”

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