17 Feb 1600: Giordano Bruno burned at the stake

Last night I watched a segment of The Hollow Crown.  Series 1 (Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, Henry V) US HERE – Series 1 UK HERE – Series 2 (Henry VI Part 1, Henry VI Part 2, Richard III) US HERE – Series 2 UK HERE.  These are a mini-series which connect history plays of Shakespeare with actor continuity with the roles.  So, Tom Hiddleston is Hal/Prince Harry/Henry V all the way through, Benedict Cumberbatch is Richard of Glouschester/Richard III, etc.  The acting is great, the sets and filming are marvelous.  The language is Shakespeare.  What’s not to like?

In any event, last night I watched Henry VI Part I, during which Joan of Arc is burned at the stake.  Did you, dear reader, know that St. Joan of Arc is depicted in a play by William Shakespeare?   Well, she is.  In The Hollow Crown series, she got a fairly decent treatment.  She was rather wild-eyed, but, hey, why not.  I had a sense that she was being mistreated – the whole burning at the stake being part of that, of course.

Turning the page, The Great Roman Fabrizio reminded me and my Roman SMS group that today is the anniversary of Giordano Bruno’s own meeting with the stake in the Campo de’ Fiori.  Anti-Catholics and masons put up a gloomy, ugly huge statue of him, the base decorated with plaques of famous heretics and Church haters.

Giordano Bruno was a seriously weird cat and a heretic.  He would find himself welcomed and right at home at the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter).

A few years ago, The History Blog had a longish piece about the heretic.  It included a screen shot of a smart phone app which would let you burn Giordano at the stake.  Here is a shot:


So, it’s a little grisly.  Heresy is a serious matter, after all.

Don’t be a heretic!

On that note, please consider buying some well-roasted …


When your’re facing a hard day battling theological error and the miscreants who teach it, start out with a blazing hot Fr. Z swag mug of MYSTIC MONK Coffee!  It’s just what you need to get fired up to face that To Do List.  I like the dark roast.

The Wyoming Carmelites offer Mystic Monk TEA as well, if tea is your thing.  They also have lots of gear.


Did you know that they have chocolate covered cherries?  Did you know that they have Sampler Gift Sets?  Well, they do.  And you can get them.

And don’t be stingy with your MYSTIC MONK COFFEE!  Buy lots of it and give it as gifts.  Talk your office manager into getting MYSTIC MONK coffee (using my link, of course… always use my link) for everyone!


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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. jazzclass says:

    >In before some rad trad has a nutty about you watching a secular show with secular actors..

  2. Huber says:

    It is too bad we don’t burn heretics at the stake today. Better one burn than drag thousands or millions of souls to hell.

    Perhaps instead of Peter’s Pence, we should just start sending kindling to the Vatican. [Surely you are indulging in black humor.]

  3. acardnal says:

    Fr. Z, have you had a chance to watch any of the Globe Theatre-On Screen dvds you had on your
    Wish List and what did you think of them?

  4. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Father, when you say ” she got a fairly decent treatment”, what do you mean? I think it was bad because not only is Joan of Arc portrayed as the witch (most of , she also says the lines of the bastard of Orleans about hacking the bodies to pieces, and she knifes Talbot in the back.

    Is there ever a good version of Joan of Arc in this play?

  5. iamlucky13 says:

    Well roasted coffee, eh? You’re incorrigible.

    I can’t in any way imagine supporting burning, but in the historical context, it was seen as perfectly rational response to threatening ideas, especially since sometimes the ideas were not benign. This was the same general era, of course, when St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher lost their heads for merely being loyal to their monarch, instead of openly endorsing his every fancy.

    200 years worth of enlightenment later (literally called the Age of Englightenment), we had that charming episode known as the Reign of Terror in France, but by that time, there may have actually been a sense in retrospect that they cross the line.

  6. edwardswyco says:

    Yeah, the UK’s Telegraph posted an article on FB saying that he was burned “for his science.” Had nothing to do with his pantheism, calling Jesus an “unusually skillful magician”, saying that the devil will be saved, or that the Holy Ghost is the planet earth’s soul at all…..

  7. Charles E Flynn says:

    Is there no prize for “Best segue from the commemoration of a pubic burning of a heretic to a coffee bean commercial”? Such an oversight!

  8. robtbrown says:

    The inscription below the statue reads: QUI DOVE IL ROGO ARSE. One evening, inspired by too much wine but too little Italian, I translated it as: HERE, WHERE HE BEGGED FOR HIS ARSE.

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “What’s not to like?” The cuts! – how aggravating and humiliating it must be to act in something so ruthlessly pared down (without the charm or wit of Sir Tom’s 15-Minute Hamlet).

    The cuts may, however, also be what you mean in saying so succinctly, “In The Hollow Crown series, she got a fairly decent treatment.” I haven’t seen that episode, but can imagine that maybe what CrimsonCatholic notes as so objectionable in the original, has become comparatively “a good version of Joan of Arc in this play”, by the cutting. (Not that one can’t, on a certain level, enjoy the villainous travesty of Joan as one does what I take to be the equally villainous travesty of Richard III.)

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