“Fascinating popular history in the great tradition of Barbara Tuchman and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Menocchio was a simple family man—a miller by trade, the father of eleven children, briefly the mayor of his village. But he was also a voracious reader, a man who, possessed of an extraordinary curiosity, constructed a radical cosmology and dared to present it to the world. In 1599 he was burned at the stake as a heretic.” — back cover
“It is necessary in many circumstances to fight; and, in order to fight well, one needs certain quite definite qualities. In olden days I did a good deal of fencing, by which I do not mean receiving stolen goods. I mean the play of rapier and small-sword. I learned that I must be entirely concentrated on the business on hand, and that elaborate arguments purporting to prove that my opponent was a Chinaman or a heretic, were out of place.” [via]
“Dee would certainly have known of the famous first translation into Latin by the Neoplatonist and suspected heretic, Johannes Scotus Erigena/Eriugena, (c. 815–877), but it seems unlikely that he was aware of Eriugena’s rather controversial commentaries. These commentaries were not rediscovered until 1681 along with the condemned De division nature.” [via]
“LIBERTY, A WORD WITHOUT WHICH ALL OTHER WORDS ARE VAIN.
WHOEVER has an opinion of his own, and honestly expresses it, will be guilty of heresy. Heresy is what the minority believe; it is the name given by the powerful to the doctrine of the weak. This word was born of the hatred, arrogance and cruelty of those who love their enemies, and who, when smitten on one cheek, turn the other. This word was born of intellectual slavery in the feudal ages of thought. It was an epithet used in the place of argument. From the commencement of the Christian era, every art has been exhausted and every conceivable punishment inflicted to force all people to hold the same religious opinions. This effort was born of the idea that a certain belief was necessary to the salvation of the soul. Christ taught, and the Church still teaches, that unbelief is the blackest of crimes. God is supposed to hate with an infinite and implacable hatred, every heretic upon the earth, and the heretics who have died are supposed at this moment to be suffering the agonies of the damned. The Church persecutes the living and her God burns the dead.”