Article ID: CBB100723559

Reading Cardano with the Roman Inquisition: Astrology, Celestial Physics, and the Force of Heresy (2019)


In the first decades after the founding of the modern Roman Inquisition in 1542, Girolamo Cardano was the most prominent natural philosopher to face imprisonment and trial. A trove of Inquisitorial letters, decrees, and censurae have survived, offering a detailed picture of how, in the early years of its existence, the Roman Inquisition placed theological boundaries around astrology and natural philosophy. This essay covers the trial and identifies a critical point of contention: that Cardano allegedly naturalized heresy. It suggests that we view the Cardano affair as a reaction against a natural philosophy which threatened to constrain the Inquisition’s right to judge enemies and execute that judgment. Finally, it discusses how, in light of the Inquisition’s reading, we might consider Cardano’s astrology as accommodating Christian doctrine.

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Authors & Contributors
Regier, Jonathan
Cardano, Girolamo
Tarrant, Neil
Canziani, Guido
Baldi, Marialuisa
Nenci, Elio
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Asclepio: Archivo Iberoamericano de Historia de la Medicina
Journal for the History of Astronomy
Franco Angeli Editore
Scribe Publications
Natural philosophy
Science and religion
Roman Catholic Church
Cardano, Girolamo
Vanini, Giulio Cesare
Della Porta, Giovan Battista
Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni
Bellarmine, Roberto Francesco Romolo
Time Periods
16th century
17th century
Early modern
Padua (Italy)
Milan (Italy)

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