Cosimo Boscaglia

photo neededIn science, Cosimo Boscaglia (c.1550-1621) was an Italian philosopher who in 1613 launched a crusade to have Italian physicist Galileo Galilei tried for heresy for his experimental findings in support of his so-called “theory of the moving earth”, and moreover to have the Medici, a leading philosophical association of philosophers in Florence and Pisa, expunge and “oppose Galileo’s conception of science.”

Dinner party talk
In debates, it is said that a certain snippet of table talk, occurring at a dinner or breakfast party in December of 1613 at the house of the Grand Duke (Ferdinando I de Medici) and Duchess (Christina) of Tuscany, between Boscaglia and the Duchess (the person who appointed Galileo to the professorship of mathematics at the University of Pisa in 1588) is what sparked the start of the Galilean inquisitions and eventual 1633 trial and conviction of Galileo for heresy.

As the story goes, the Duke and Duchess asked physics professor Benedetto Castelli, a student and friend of Galileo, to explain the latest findings in astronomy, which naturally enough led to an explanation of Galileo’s version of heliocentric theory with its implicit conclusion that the earth moves. [1] This “earth movement” view point, however, goes directly against the Bible, including passages such as: [2]

“The world is established and cannot be moved.”

In objection to the heliocentric view, it is said that Boscaglia began to whisper in the Duchess’ ear something to the effect that earth’s motion theory is doubtful and most importantly that it contradicts Biblical scripture.

The Grand Duchess, a pious and devout lady, was concerned about these objections, queried Castelli and he answered as best he could. Later, however, Castelli wrote to Galileo telling him of the incident. [2] This, in turn, sparked a series of response defense letters by Galileo, including one famous Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, on the topic concerning the use of Biblical quotations in matters of science. To quote Galileo in this letter: [3]

“I hold the sun to be situated motionless in the center of the revolution of the celestial orbs while the earth rotates on its axis and revolves about the sun.”

Although he wrote these letters in attempt at defense, they only acted to irritate Church authorities and two draw them into the debate. A domino effect of this eventually led to Galileo being tried and found guilty of heresy in 1633.

In 1613, Boscaglia was a professor of philosophy at the University of Pisa.

1. Benedetto Castelli – Wikipedia.
2. Psalm 93, King James Bible.
3. Moniot, Robert. (2004). “Events leading to the first trial”,
4. (a) Galileo, Galilei. (1613). “Letter to Castelli”, Dec 21 (excerpt), in: Galileo Galilei (pg. 46-48), Karl von Gebler, 1879.
(b) Galileo, Galilei. (1615). “Letter to Madame Christian of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany: Concerning the Use of Biblical Quotations in Matters of Science.” (Lettera a Cristina di Lorena, Granduchessa di Toscana); in Opere , edited by Antonio Favaro, Giunti-Barbera, Firenze 1968, vol. V, pp. 309-348]
(c) Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina – Wikipedia.

Further reading
● Farina, Fabio J.A. (2003). Four Treatises for the Reconsideration of the History of Science (pg. 22-23).

External links
Cosimo Boscaglia – Wikipedia.

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