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Giordano Bruno
Bruno, Giordano (1548?-1600), Italian Renaissance philosopher and poet, whose dramatic death gives a special significance to his writings.

Bruno was born at Nola, near Naples. Originally named Filippo, he took the name Giordano when he joined the Dominicans, who trained him in Aristotelian philosophy and Thomistic theology. An independent thinker and tempestuous spirit, he fled the order in 1576 to avoid a trial on doctrinal charges and began the wandering that characterized his life.

Bruno visited Geneva, Toulouse, Paris, and London, where he spent two years, from 1583 to 1585, under the protection of the French ambassador and in the circle of the English poet Sir Philip Sidney. It was a most productive period, during which he composed Ash Wednesday Supper  (1584) and On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584), as well as the dialogue On the Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584). In another poetic dialogue, Gli eroici furori (1585), he praised a kind of Platonic love that joins the soul to God through wisdom.

In 1585 Bruno returned to Paris, then went on to Marburg an der Lahn, Wittenberg, Prague, Helmstedt, and Frankfurt, where he arranged for the printing of his many writings. At the invitation of a Venetian nobleman, Giovanni Moncenigo, Bruno returned to Italy as his private tutor. In 1592 Moncenigo denounced Bruno to the Inquisition, which tried him for heresy. Turned over to the Roman authorities, he was imprisoned for some eight years while questioning proceeded on charges of blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy. Refusing to recant, Bruno was burned at the stake in Campo dei Fiori on February 17, 1600. Late in the 19th century, a statue was erected on the site of his martyrdom to the cause of free thought.

Bruno advocated philosophical theories that blended mystical Neoplatonism  and pantheism. He believed that the universe is infinite, that God is the universal world-soul, and that all particular material things are manifestations of the one infinite principle. Bruno is considered a forerunner of modern philosophy because of his influence on the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza  and his anticipation of the theories of 17th-century monism.
 

"Bruno, Giordano," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


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