Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 1, Volume 13, Familiar Correspondence: Letters from Women to Galileo Galilei

This codex contains letters to the Italian scientist, philosopher, and mathematician Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), including those written by his daughter Virginia, a nun in the convent of San Matteo in Arcetri, who had taken the name Sister Maria Celeste. From 1623 to 1633, Virginia faithfully wrote to her father, and her letters are a touching testimony of filial love. In 1633, Galileo was convicted of heresy for arguing the Copernican view that the Earth moves around the sun and was sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was commuted to life-long house arrest, and in 1634 he was sent to his villa in Arcetri, where he could be near Virginia. By then he was ill and losing his sight. Virginia cared for him, but she died a few months after his arrival in Arcetri. For a time he lost all interest in life, but he eventually returned to his work, completing his last book, Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche, intorno a due nuove scienze (Discourses and mathematical demonstrations relating to two new sciences), in 1638.

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 4: Astronomical Works, that is, all that Appertains to the Copernican System, and to the Project on Longitudes, Volume 1, Astronomy

This codex contains important manuscripts in which Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) defended the Copernican theory that the Earth moves around the sun, which he had confirmed by observation with the telescope he had designed, which offered greatly enhanced magnification compared to older telescopes. The principal documents in the volume are letters, dating from 1614-15, to his friend and student Benedetto Castelli, to the Jesuit priest Piero Dini, and to the grand duchess of Tuscany, Christina of Lorraine. In each of these letters, Galileo discussed the relationship between scientific theory and the Bible. He argued that neither the Bible nor nature could speak falsely, but that theologians should not interfere in purely scientific questions. In his letter to Castelli, Galileo demonstrated his approach to scripture by arguing that the Bible was not intended to be an exact description of reality but was conceived as moral teaching. He also held that the ancient texts of the Bible attributed many anthropomorphic characteristics to the divinity. Proceeding from this basis, Galileo argued that the famous passage in the Bible in which Joshua asked God to stop the sun in order to prolong the day represented a metaphorical rather than a literal truth.

Works of Galileo Galilei, Part 1, Volume 16, Records

Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), in addition to being an important scientist and mathematician, was an accomplished instrument maker, who in 1597 invented a military compass to assist in artillery bombardments and other military activities. While occupying the chair in mathematics at the University of Padua, Galileo established a workshop where, assisted by the mechanic Marcantonio Mazzoleni, he built precision instruments, above all compasses, which he then sold to supplement his university stipend. This document contains the list of accounts for the workshop. Recorded are the debits and credits of the shop, along with brief notes and comments, all in Galileo’s own hand.

Letter to Guillaume Budé, March 4, 1521

François Rabelais (1494?-1553) was a French Renaissance writer remembered for his comic masterpiece, Gargantua and Pantagruel. This letter is the first known text by Rabelais. It was written in 1521, when Rabelais was a young monk at the Franciscan monastery of Fontenay-le-Comte, and deeply immersed in the study of Greek and the humanities. The letter is addressed to Guillaume Budé, a classical scholar whom Rabelais admired. Intended to attract Budé’s attention and elicit his encouragement, the letter employs the conventional motifs of classical humanism. Rabelais left the cloister in 1530, studied and later practiced medicine, and published the first part of Gargantua and Pantagruel in 1532. The book is the story of two giants, Gargantua, and his son, Pantagruel, and their many adventures, which Rabelais used to satirize the church hierarchy, lawyers, schools and universities, philosophers, and other aspects of the society in which he lived.