Thank you, Graham. As I recall you discussed Bruno extensively in The Master Game.
There have been many free thinkers who have paid with their life for standing up to the “Secret Rulers of the World”, as you referred to them. The Catholic Church has been but one manifestation of this, as you discuss; though, in my view, you shied away from truly fingering those Secret Rulers in your and Robert Bauval’s extensive treatise. Perhaps you would not today.
Bruno was such a graphic example, as he willingly suffered the tortured death by slow burning. Perhaps Socrates was another that history has recorded, for whom his Truth was more important than life itself. I would argue that the same applied to the early Christians in Rome, who were willing to give up their lives rather than deny the Truth of themselves, as well as the Cathars and the Knights Templar in their time.
Few today understand that inner knowing, and perhaps we live in the time when that, along with their life risk for living it as Bruno did, will transform. If my understanding is accurate, many of those great souls that came forth as the Cathars, the Knights Templar and the Essenes have reincarnated in this time to help in bringing this forth.
May it be so.
In memoriam of a great free thinker, Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in Rome 414 years ago today, on 17 February 1600. Bruno was a proponent of the Copernican ‘heliocentric’ model of the solar system in which the earth and other planets orbit the sun (whereas it was wrongly believed by the Church and other authorities of the time that the sun and the planets orbit the earth). In his courageous advocacy of the heliocentric model, as in many other things, Bruno was correct and he was killed, quite simply, for speaking this truth aloud and refusing to be silenced by the voices of orthodoxy. His life, and his death, should serve as reminders to us that those who think outside the box, though no longer burnt at the stake, face great risks, persecution and vilification even today and often pay a heavy price for speaking their truth. Yet ultimately, in the longer picture of centuries and millennia we can see that it is precisely those outside-the-box thinkers who allow human society and human knowledge to advance for the benefit of us all.
For his out-of-the-box thinking and his courage in speaking his truth, Bruno suffered an eight-year ordeal at the hands of the Roman Inquisition. Tortured and tormented in the Vatican dungeons, he stood accused of heresy on several counts, including his claims that stars are other suns, such as our own (they are), that they are orbited by planets (they are), that these planets are likely to be populated by intelligent beings (21st century science is just beginning to catch up with this idea), that the earth itself is a planet (it is), and that the symbol of the cross was known to the ancient Egyptians (it was, in the form of the ankh, or crux ansata, symbolising the life-force).
Ordered to retract these and his other “heresies” or face death by burning, Bruno courageously stood firm. Fired by his convictions, he defiantly told his accusers that he had neither said nor written anything that was heretical, but only what was true. When his sentence was passed, Bruno bravely stared at the cardinals lined up in front of him and calmly told them: “Perchance your fear in passing judgement on me is greater than mine in receiving it.”
On the morning of 17 February 1600, Bruno, garbed with a white shirt, was taken to the Campo de Fiori, the Camp of the Flowers, a small piazza not far from the Roman Pantheon. There, he was securely tied to a wooden pole around which were stacked planks of wood and bundles of sticks. “I die a willing martyr”, he is said to have declared as the fire was being lit all around him, “and my soul will rise with the smoke to paradise.” A young protestant, Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, who had recently converted to Catholicism and thus enjoyed the favours of the Pope, was an eyewitness to the burning, and reported that “when the image of our Saviour was shown to him before his death he [Bruno] angrily rejected it with averted face”. The truth is that a Dominican monk had tried to brandish a crucifix in Bruno’s face while he suffered in the flames. Poor Bruno, his legs now charred to the bone, mustered enough strength to turn his head away in disgust.
A few days earlier Bruno had written his own epitaph:
“I have fought…It is much… Victory lies in the hands of Fate. Be that with me as it may, whoever shall prove conqueror, future ages will not deny that I did not fear to die, was second to none in constancy, and preferred a spirited death to a craven life.”
Photo by Santha Faiia. This statue of Bruno, created in his honour in the 19th century, stands on the exact spot of his death in the Campo de Fiori, south of Piazza Navona in Rome.