Personal Life

On February 15, 1564, Galileo Bonaiuti de'Galilei was born as the first of six children of Giulia Ammannati and Vincenzo Galilei, a famous lute player and music theorist of his time. When he was eight his family moved to Florence, and Galileo eventually enrolled at the University of Pisa to pursue a medical degree. During his studies Galileo changed to mathematics, and in 1589 at the age of 25 he was appointed as chair of mathematics at the university. In 1592 he moved to the University of Padua—one of the oldest in Italy, founded in 1222—where he taught geometry, mechanics, and astronomy until 1610. During this interval Galileo made major discoveries in the kinematics of motion, astronomy, and the strength of materials, and made improvements in the telescope.

Galileo had three children with Marina Gamba, but they were not married so their daughters (Virginia and Livia) were considered unmarriageable and spent their lives in the Convent of san Matteo in Arcetri. Their son, Vincenzio, was legitimized by the church and married sestila Bocchineri.

In 1610 Galileo published a remarkable account of his observations of the moons of Jupiter and used this to argue for a sun-centered (Copernican) model for the universe. In 1611 he went to Rome to show his telescope and the moons of Jupiter to leading philosophers at the Jesuit Collegio Romano, and at this time he was made a member of the Accademia dei Lincei.

In 1612 Father Tommaso Caccini denounced Galileo's models and ideas as being close to heresy, and when Galileo went to Rome in 1616 to defend his observations, Cardinal Roberto Bellamino admonished him and ordered him to stop teaching and advocating Copernican astronomy. In 1630 he applied in Rome for a license to print his book, The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which was published in Florence in 1632, but he was ordered instead to appear in the office of the church in Rome. The church put Galileo on trial for heresy, and from that time on, the pope ordered him to remain under house arrest in his country house in Arceti (near Florence). Galileo went blind in 1638 after suffering from insomnia and a hernia. After suffering additional fever and heart palpitations in 1642, he died at the age of 78.

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