The breakdown of Galileo's Roman network: Crisis and community, ca. 1633.

Research paper by Paula P Findlen, Hannah H Marcus

Indexed on: 30 Dec '16Published on: 30 Dec '16Published in: Social studies of science


Rome has long been central to the story of Galileo's life and scientific work. Through an analysis of the metadata of Galileo's surviving letters, combined with a close reading of the letters themselves, we discuss how Galileo used correspondence to build a Roman network. Galileo initially assembled this network around the members of the Lincean Academy, a few carefully nurtured relationships with important ecclesiastics, and the expertise of well positioned Tuscan diplomats in the Eternal City. However, an analysis of Galileo's correspondence in the aftermath of the trial of 1633 provides us with a unique opportunity to interrogate how his altered circumstances transformed his social relations. Forced to confront the limitations on his activities imposed by Catholic censure and house arrest, Galileo experienced the effects of these restrictions in his relationships with others and especially in his plans for publication. In the years following 1633, Galileo turned his epistolary attention north to the Veneto and to Paris in order to publish his Two New Sciences. While Galileo's Lincean network and papal contacts in Rome were defunct after 1633, we see how Rome remained important to him as the site of a number of Roman disciples who would continue his intellectual project long after his own death.