SERVETUS: THE “CHRISTIANISMI RESTITUTIO”
EVER SINCE HIS ARRIVAL in France, Servetus had felt constrained to keep his own counsel as to the subject nearest his heart. Apart from the abortive attempt to have a debate about it with Calvin in Paris, there is no evidence that he ventured to discuss religious questions with any one. If they still concerned him, they had to all outward appearance lain dormant with him for ten long years. But in Jean Frellon, printer and publisher at Lyon, for whom, as mentioned in the previous chapter, he corrected several works, he seems to have found a sympathetic spirit. Frellon was nominally a Catholic, and he behaved so discreetly that he was supposed to have remained sound in the faith as long as he lived;1 but he had in fact no little sympathy with the re forming movement, and he enjoyed the friendship and confidence of Calvin.2 He was also an intimate friend of Servetus.3 The latter, having his interest in the thorough reformation of Christian doctrine now rekindled by his editing of the Pagnino Bible, and by his work on the Bibles and other religious works corrected for Trechsel and Frellon, was apparently eager to see whether, even though he had failed with Oecolampadius and Butzer, he could not win Calvin over to a radical reformation of the doctrines of Christianity. For Calvin at Geneva was now leading the constructive thought of Protestantism.
Servetus secured (perhaps by way of Frellon) copies of Calvin’s writings,4 read them eagerly, and seemed to find in them endless points where Calvin had gone hopelessly wrong. With the aid of Frellon as confidential go-between, who would undertake to forward to each the letters of the other, he therefore opened correspondence with Calvin by sending him some of his own writings,5 and submitting three questions for him to answer: 1, Whether the man Jesus, the crucified, is the Son of God; 2, Whether the kingdom of Christ is in men, when one enters it, and when one is born again; 3, Whether the baptism of Christ should be received in faith, as the Lord’s Supper is, and to what purpose these were instituted under the new covenant.6 Although in retrospect Calvin felt that Servetus had been only trifling with him,7 for the present he took the questions seriously as those of a sincere seeker after light, and answered them calmly and at length,8 giving a clear statement of the received doctrine, with supporting texts of Scripture. Since there was danger that heretics might betray themselves or their friends through their correspondence, Calvin wrote over the name of Charles Despeville which he had already often used to conceal his identity; while Servetus (now known in France as Villeneuve) seems to have adopted as pseudonym his true name of Servetus.9
Servetus was by no means satisfied with Calvin’s answers, for his real purpose was not so much to seek enlightenment as to bring out the errors and inconsistencies in Calvin’s position. This became clear in his second letter,10 in which he took up Calvin’s answers one by one, and tried to show that they led to inferences which it was impossible to accept. Calvin, he said, had cut his own throat, and left us with three Sons of God instead of one; and his doctrine of regeneration and of baptism were both unsatisfactory, and landed one in inconsistencies. He ended by asking five further questions, at the same time begging Calvin to take the trouble to read what he had Written about baptism, as he seemed not yet to have done. It was some time before Calvin found time to reply, and meantime Servetus grew impatient for an answer. Calvin saw little hope (so he wrote to Frellon)11 of any good result from correspondence with a man of such haughty spirit unless perchance God should give him a change of heart, though he was willing to try once more; but if Servetus were to continue as he was, he was too busy with other matters to be willing to waste time upon one whom he believed to be a Satan trying to tempt him from more useful work. Frellon forwarded the letter to Servetus at Vienne by special messenger.12
This second letter,13 three times as long as the first, expanded and defended what had been said in the previous one, and was written on the whole in surprisingly good spirit; but as Calvin went on he became increasingly irritated at the arrogance and self-conceit of his correspondent, and by the time he was done with the original three questions his patience was exhausted. He was willing, he said, to answer the five new questions proposed, if he could make out what Servetus really wanted; but he was too busy to write whole books for one man. Moreover, Servetus might, if he would, find all the points discussed in his Institutio. He ended with asking pardon if he had spoken too strongly in his resentment at Servetus’s rude attacks upon sound doctrine; then, having briefly answered the five questions, he referred Servetus once more to the Institutio. Servetus replied yet once again, criticizing Calvin’s answers, and then concluded: ‘Since you fear I am your Satan, I stop. So then return my writings, and farewell. If you really believe that the Pope is Antichrist, you will also believe that the Trinity and infant baptism according to the teaching of the Papacy are the doctrine of demons. Again farewell.’ 14
Calvin did not answer again, but on the same day on which he sent Frellon this letter for Servetus, he wrote another to Guillaume Farel, his fellow-reformer at NeucMtel, saying that Servetus had lately sent him a letter together with a long volume of his boastful ravings, and offering to come to Calvin (for discussion) if he liked. Calvin however would give him no promise; on the contrary, if Servetus came and he had any authority, he would never let him get away alive.15 From this time on Calvin seems to have cherished implacable enmity to Servetus, and Servetus to have grown increasingly irritating and insulting to Calvin. The correspondence between them was now broken off, but Servetus did not yet abandon his efforts to keep it open, though Calvin would no longer reply, and paid no heed to Servetus’s request that his writings be returned.16 These remained in the possession of Calvin, and were afterwards made exhibits in the prosecution of Servetus at Geneva.17 Servetus procured such books of Calvin as he could, made insulting notes on the margin, and sent them to Calvin, leaving, as Calvin remarked, not a page free from his vomit.18 Calvin on his part, convinced by now that Servetus was incorrigibly wicked, and that he desired only to overthrow all traditional religion, held his peace, and paid no more attention than to the braying of an ass.19
Servetus next attempted to gain Calvin’s attention by sending him a series of thirty letters,20 in which he set forth his system of doctrine with supporting scripture texts, much after the manner of his first two works, and with frequent comments on Calvin’s views. Still Calvin made no sign. Servetus therefore turned to Calvin’s fellow-reformers. He addressed three letters to Abel Pouppin, Calvin’s colleague at Geneva; but he, doubtless advised by Calvin, made no reply, so that in his third letter Servetus burst out impatiently, exclaiming, ‘Instead of one God you have a three-headed Cerberus, instead of faith you have a fatal dream, and you say that good works are nothing but empty pictures.’ And then, as if in prophetic foreboding of his approaching fate, he added, ‘That for this matter I must die, I know full well; but for all that I am not faint of heart, that I may become a disciple worthy of my Master. . . . Fare well, expect no further letter from me.’ 21 Yet one more attempt Servetus made. In the summer of 1548 he wrote to Pierre Viret, the reformer at Lausanne, in much the same tone as to the others, and though the letter was unsigned Viret recognized the hand. Disposed to answer, but doubtful what to say, he sent the letter to Calvin and asked his advice. Calvin thought it a waste of time to have further words with so stubborn a man, and would have no more to do with him.22
Servetus had at last to realize that he could hope to make no impression upon the reformers in French Switzerland. With them he had failed as hopelessly as sixteen years before with Oecolampadius and Butzer. Now as then he was driven to the only course remaining, the use of the printing-press. During the next four years or so, therefore, in such leisure time as his profession left him, he gave himself to preparing for the press the text of his magnum opus, of which the main body was to consist of the work of which he had sent a first draft to Calvin for his criticism and which Calvin had failed to return to him, and also of the thirty letters that had followed that. He had of course retained a copy of both. Dr. Jérôme Bolsec, who had fallen into bitter controversy with Calvin at Geneva in 1551 over the subject of predestination, and was consequently banished from Geneva, and who later re turning to the Catholic Church spent much of the rest of his life in open hostility to Calvin and his memory, declared in a life of Calvin published in 1577 that Calvin (it must have been at this period) wrote a letter to Cardinal de Tournon, then Viceroy in France, accusing Servetus of heresy, whereat the Cardinal broke out laughing that one heretic should accuse another. He added that he and several others had been shown this letter by the Cardinal’s secretary.23 Not too great credence need be given this statement in itself; but Servetus apparently believed that Calvin had taken some such action, for Calvin himself, writing in 1554, complained that four years previously Servetus had spread such a story in Venice and Padua.24 It is perhaps not without significance that Calvin, instead of denying the story strongly and categorically, as he could easily have done, contents himself — he had been bred to the law — with dwelling upon the intrinsic improbability of the charge being true.
Concerning Servetus’s life during the four years after he broke off his correspondence with the Swiss reformers, we have no direct information. His most absorbing interest, however, will have been in revising and preparing for the press the text of the work that he had for some years previously been composing. Early in 1552 it was at last finished; and the question now arose as to where he should get it printed. He first attempted to have this done in Switzerland; and since at this time he had at Basel an intimate friend, about whom we know no more than that his name was Marrinus, and that he was acquainted with Servetus’s true name,25 he sent him the manuscript to manage. Unfortunately Marrinus found it not safe, even if possible, to get it printed there, and he returned it by a trusty messenger whom Servetus had sent to fetch it. A printer was therefore sought in Vienne itself. Now there happened to be at Vienne a publisher named Balthazar Arnoullet, who had lately arrived from Lyon, and was secretly sympathetic with the Protestant movement, and was at least nominally a friend of Calvin.26 The director of his press was his brother-in-law, Guillaume Gue’roult, who had formerly lived at Geneva as a member of the liberal party opposed to Calvin, but for fear of punishment for his scandalous conduct there had fled and come to Vienne.27 To these two Servetus addressed himself. He gave them to understand that though his book was against Calvin, Melanchthon and other heretics, he had strong reasons for having it printed without indication of author, publisher or place. As an inducement, he would himself bear the expense of printing, would correct the proof, and would pay them the generous bonus of one hundred écus each. This was agreed to.28 Presses were set up in great secrecy in an abandoned house, and three printers, ignorant of the character of the book, were occupied with it from Michaelmas till early in January. The work was done so secretly that no one else at Vienne had the least suspicion of it;29 and the manuscript was burned page by page as fast as printed.30
Throughout Christian history efforts to reform Christianity have commonly aimed at a return to the literal standards of primitive Christianity rather than at adaptation of its principles to changed conditions of thought or life. The idea of a restitution, or restoration, was thus popular in the Reformation period, especially in Anabaptist circles,31 and it had already been accented by Johannes Campanus, Bernhard Rothmann, Urbanus Rhegius, David Joris and others. Hence it was natural enough for Servetus to entitle his work Chri.ctianisini Restitutio: and it has not escaped notice that this title stood in a sort of contrast to that of Calvin’s Institutio. Of this work an edition of 1,000 copies32 was printed. Servetus had all the copies sent to Lyon as soon as printed. Of these, five bales, said to contain only blank paper, were deposited with the type-founder Pierre Merrin to be held until called for that they might (so it was supposed) be sent to Italy; while Frellon undertook to send the rest to Frankfurt.33 Of these latter a part was consigned to Jacques Bertet (a bookseller lately removed from Lyon to Geneva, who acted as agent for Arnoullet’s publications) to be put on sale at the next Easter fair, where he had a stall.34 Yet another lot seems to have been consigned to the well-known printer and bookseller, Robert Estienne (Stephanus), who had part of them held at Frankfurt for sale at the Easter and Michaelmas fairs, and the rest sent to his shop at Geneva, of course without being aware of their heretical nature, for he was a close friend of Calvin.35
Calvin not only had, as we have seen, the original draft of a large part of the Restitutio, but in some way unknown to us he early came into possession of a printed copy of it. It has generally been said 36 that Frellon took the liberty of forwarding one out of the quantity deposited with him, not foreseeing the possible danger to Servetus, since he had already forwarded the draft of the work without evil results. But Servetus may have sent Calvin a copy directly,37 or perhaps a copy came by way of Estienne. At all events, Calvin had a copy several days before the end of February, hence only some six weeks from the time when the first copies had reached Lyon. Nothing was easier than for him to identify the author of the book with his correspondent of a few years before, who again was already identified both with Servetus and with Villeneuve, since he had excused himself to Calvin for using an assumed name in France.38
At about the same time the name of the printer leaked out at Geneva, though through what channel is not known. But Gu&oult had be longed to the party there opposed to Calvin, and had had to flee the city to escape prosecution. He would thus have had a motive for letting it be known that Arnoullet (supposed to be Calvin’s friend) had published a book strongly attacking Calvin and his doctrine. This could have been done through Gueroults nephew at Geneva, one Simon du Bosc; for Gueroults also had a falling-out with Arnoullet over business affairs, and soon afterwards, having returned to Geneva, brought suit against him there.39 If Calvin still cherished in his heart the wish that Servetus’s pernicious activities might be brought to an end, as those of an abandoned heretic infinitely dangerous to the souls of men, and aiming to overthrow the very foundations of the true Christian religion, the stage was now well set for the final act; for the flagrant crime had now been committed on Catholic soil at Vienne, though the evidence was all in Protestant hands at Geneva. But before going on to tell how Servetus was betrayed to the Inquisition at Vienne, and of the trial that followed, something should be said of the book itself.
In Servetus’s final work he set forth, though by no means in systematic form, his whole plan for a thorough reformation of Christianity by restoring the doctrine and teaching of the Christian religion to their original form.40 The whole work consists of six main parts. The first part comprises seven books on the divine Trinity, of which the last two are two Dialogues on the divine Trinity. Although these have sometimes been confounded with Servetus’s first two works of 1531-32 they are by no means identical with the earlier works or even revisions of them, of which Servetus apparently dared bring no copy into France. In a reverently expressed preface 41 Servetus declares his purpose to set forth that way of light without which no one can read the Holy Scriptures, nor know God, nor become a Christian, and says that having formerly treated this subject he now feels compelled out of regard to divine truth to treat of it again, being moved thereto by some divine impulse, since the time is fulfilled.42 The five books on the Trinity in a broad sense cover the same ground as the seven books on the Errors of the Trinity (1531), and the essence of their teaching remains the same; but though Servetus sometimes repeats the very words or phrases as though remembered after over twenty years, there are many differences of matter and order and expression, and many omissions and additions. The two Dialogues have a closer resemblance to their prototype, which suggests that of this he may have retained a copy.
The second part of the work is made up of three books on Faith, the Righteousness of Christ’s Kingdom, and Love. They are only a more detailed statement of the doctrine previously set forth in the four brief chapters following the Dialogues of 1532. The third part consists of four books on Regeneration from above, and on the Kingdom of Antichrist. Here Servetus leaves speculative doctrines behind and enters a new field in which he deals with the practical side of the Christian faith; especially with the means of grace, preaching, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The fourth part contains the thirty letters of Servetus to Calvin mentioned above; the fifth enumerates sixty signs of the kingdom of Antichrist; and the final part is an Apology in which he passionately defends himself against the attacks which Melanchthon in the second edition of his Loci Communes has made upon his earlier works on the Trinity, even turning his defence into a violent attack. This Apology is deemed the best part of the whole work, and an excellent compendium of Servetus’s system of thought.
It would little serve the purpose of the present work, and it would be tedious in itself, to give anything like a detailed summary of the contents of this chief work of Servetus.43 It will be enough briefly to sketch the most striking features of his proposed reformation of Christianity in its relation to his personal fate and to the development of religious thought. After more than twenty years of dwelling upon the subject, Servetus was more firmly convinced than ever that the Church wanted thorough reformation, and that the reforms introduced by Luther and Calvin had not gone nearly far enough, nor reached the heart of the matter. Of three fundamental points in Christian theology, Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, the reformers had not ventured to revise the first two at all, and they had dealt with the third only in very unsatisfactory fashion. He felt that Christian theology urgently required to be reconstructed from bottom to top, both in its speculative doctrines and in its relation to practical life; and it was his distinction in this book to be the first to propose a thorough-going plan, however imperfect, for carrying out such a reconstruction. in doing this he took a position independent of both the Catholic and the Protestant systems, and in his new construction he aimed to reject the false and retain the true in each.
Servetus was the more impatient to see this work set on foot, because he was convinced that the fall of the kingdom of Antichrist (the Roman Church), and the consequent establishment of the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth, was at hand; and he had lost hope that a thor ough restoration of pure Christianity might be expected from the re formers. He dated the beginning of the corruption of the Church and the rise of Antichrist from the time of the Emperor Constantine and Pope Sylvester in the fourth century, when the Emperor became a monk and Bishop Sylvester was transformed into a Pope-king 44 (i.e., when the civil State began to interfere in the affairs of the Church, and the Papacy entered upon temporal power), and the world was thus turned upside down; when moreover at the Council of Nicaea the doctrine of three persons in the Godhead, invented by Satan to draw the minds of men away from the knowledge of the true Christ,45 was imposed, and the practice of infant baptism began to prevail. Reckoning from the mystical number in Rev. xii. 6, he concluded that the 1260 years of the reign of Antichrist were nearly at an end. Though his ideas of the millennium were not gross and material like those of many of the Anabaptists, yet he expected to live to see its advent. He thought that he saw many signs of the approaching fight between the archangel Michael and his hosts against Antichrist (Dan. xii. i; Rev. xii. 7), in which he expected to take part as one of the first flghters.46 He deemed both Catholic and Protestant Christianity hopelessly corrupted in doctrine and practice. He exhausted the vocabulary of epithets by which to express the abomination of Antichrist (the Pope) and of Babylon (Rome), and outraged religious feeling by referring to the Trinity as a three-fold Geryon, a three-headed Cerberus, and a triple monster Chimaera47. Nor did he spare the reformers, heaping upon them the names of ancient heretics, and calling Calvin a thief and a robber.48 His attitude toward them grew increasingly violent as his indignation continued to grow, and he concluded one section of his work with this reproach of the re formers for their halting attitude toward a thorough reform: ‘Whoever truly believes that the Pope is Antichrist will also truly believe that the papistical Trinity, infant baptism, and the other sacraments of the Papacy, are the doctrines of demons.’49
When we come to the constructive part of Servetus’s system as shown in his Restitutio, we see that his teaching here, although it shows maturer thought, is not so much new as it is a fuller development of that in his early works. His proposed reconstitution of Christianity springs largely from two roots, the one the speculative doctrine of God, the other the more nearly practical doctrine of baptism. He firmly believed that thorough reconstruction of Christianity must begin with a reform of its teaching about God, as expressed in the doctrine of the Trinity. His objections to this doctrine in the form then current in the Church have been stated in a previous chapter in connection with his first book. His treatment of it now shows that in the meantime his thinking has been much influenced by the Platonic philosophy into which he had been initiated years before by Dr. Champier, and by reading of Hermetic literature, from both of which sources he frequently quotes. One that would well understand Servetus’s latest thought of God must first familiarize himself with these sources. His doctrine of God is very noble: the mind fails when thinking of him, for he is incomprehensible, invisible, inaudible, intangible, ineffable, immeasurable, transcending all things, above all light, being, spirit or any object of thought.50 Hence he can be known only through the ways in which he has chosen to manifest himself to us, through eternal wisdom, through the word that he has uttered, through Christ, through created things.51 For he fills all things, on earth and even in hell. It is his presence in them that gives them their existence. God creates nothing to which he does not present and communicate himself. He is everywhere, the complete essence of all things. He so contains in himself the essence of all things that by his own essence alone, without another creature, he can here manifest himself as fire, as air, as stone, as amber, as a twig, as a flower, as whatever else you will.52
Small wonder that in view of such teachings Servetus should have been set down as a pantheist; for though he does not indeed identify God with the created universe, but rather makes the universe a manifestation of God dwelling within it, yet pantheism is the nearest system of thought to which most would incline to assign it.53 Of course in such a doctrine of God there was no room for anything like the accepted doctrine of the Trinity. In his former works, as we have seen in a previous chapter, Servetus still accepted belief in a Trinity, not in the traditional sense, indeed, but as a threefold manifestation of divinity in three wonderful ‘dispositions.’ Here, however, even this view has faded away be fore the grander conception of a God who is manifested in everything. His previous views of the Holy Spirit and of Christ are retained in somewhat expanded form, but actually they stand in the shadow of the all-embracing doctrine of God. The God-man of the theologians has disappeared from the plan; though as an object of religious worship in mystical devotion Christ continues to be the centre of Servetus’s personal religious experience.
Turning from speculative doctrine to practical, Servetus finds in baptism the second cardinal doctrine calling for reformation. In the practice of infant baptism he sees the source of all the corruption in the life of the Church; for as it is baptism that is supposed to regenerate one and introduce him into the kingdom of heaven, infant baptism is a delusion, formally admitting into the Church those that in the nature of the case are not yet capable of regeneration; since one can not really be regenerated unless he is guilty of sin, and he can not sin without knowledge of good and evil, which is not attained before the twentieth year.54 Baptism must be preceded by faith and repentance, which are inconceivable for children; and baptism itself, if the example of Jesus be followed, will not be sought before the thirtieth year.55 At length, after canvassing through many pages the harm that comes to individuals, and the corruption to the Church, through this practice, Servetus’s indignation breaks its bonds as he concludes this topic with the main part of his work thus: ‘I call infant baptism a detestable abomination, a quenching of the Holy Spirit, a laying waste of the Church of God, a confounding of the whole Christian profession, an annulling of the renewal made by Christ, and a trampling under foot of his whole kingdom.’ 56 As a natural consequence of his view of baptism, the effort was made in his trial at Geneva to prove Servetus an Anabaptist, and thus to fasten upon him the stigma generally attaching to that sect. However, he need not necessarily have got this view from Anabaptist sources, and he did not adopt the most conspicuous and objectionable doctrines of their movement. As has been said, he did not hold their fanatical view of the millennium; and in the present dispensation he approved of one’s acting as judge and holding high office, of bearing the sword to preserve order, though not of killing except as a last resort; and of bearing witness under oath, though not of taking vows for the future.57
It is a surprising circumstance that though Servetus put into his magnum opus the results of a lifetime’s serious reflection on religious subjects, and produced a work which, despite all its eccentricities and shortcomings, showed marked independence of thought in its proposals for a radical reformation of Christian theology, and might, had it not been at once so completely suppressed, have exercised a marked influence in modifying Christian thought, yet his fame in the world to-day tests hardly at all upon this work, but upon two things relatively incidental: that under Calvin he was burned at the stake for denying the doctrine of the Trinity, and that he was the reputed discoverer of the pulmonary circulation of the blood. Indeed a competent medical writer has declared that the few pages in which he treated of this latter subject have done more for his reputation than all the rest of his work put together.58 This phase of his work therefore deserves passing mention here.
In the fifth book of the Restitutio, while treating of the Holy Spirit, Servetus reaches a point where he thinks the matter may be made plainer by an illustration from anatomy (p. 169). In order to understand how the divine spirit is communicated to man, one must understand how its real complement, the human spirit, is produced in the human body; and the human spirit, as Scripture teaches (Gen. ix. 3; Lev. xvii. I Deut. Xii 23, though not so obviously in the English version) has its seat in the blood. Now the living spirit, he says, is produced by a mixture in the lungs of inspired air with blood which the right ventricle of the heart communicates to the left; but this communication does not take place through the middle partition of the heart, as is commonly believed, but by a grand device the blood is driven from the right ventricle of the heart by a long course through the lungs.59 This brief and clear statement, made only by the way, in order to illustrate a theological point, marks a revolutionary step in the development of the anatomy of the human body.
It was well known that the blood in some way passes from the right ventricle to the left. But Galen, the father of physiology, had taught in the second century that the blood passes from the one ventricle to the other through minute orifices in the middle partition which, though not discernible in a dead body, are open in a living one. This teaching, to be sure, was not based on experiment, but it seemed a necessity of the case, since no other explanation could be discovered to account for the facts. So completely, in fact, did Galen dominate medical opinion that for fourteen centuries this view was blindly accepted on his authority, and until Servetus no one had ventured to challenge it. Servetus’s statement contained two important new contributions to human knowledge: that the middle partition of the heart is not permeable as formerly believed, and that the blood passes from one side of the heart to the other through the lungs by the network of the pulmonary arteries and the pulmonary veins. This did not indeed mark the discovery of the general circulation of the blood — that distinction was reserved for William Harvey in his De circulatione san guinis, published seventy-five years later, in 1628—but it did establish the fact of the lesser or pulmonary circulation, which was an important step toward Harvey’s discovery.
Epoch-making in anatomy as was the doctrine here stated by Servetus, it was lost to contemporary thought since, as we shall see, the book in which it was published was so soon and so thoroughly suppressed; and it was not until 1694 that the passage on the circulation was brought to light and reprinted in England.60 Meantime, in 1559, six years after the publication of Servetus’s work, Matteo Realdo Colombo, who had in 1554 succeeded Vesalius in the chair of anatomy at Padua, published (posthumously) an account of the pulmonary circulation in terms which in some respects resemble those used by Servetus;61 and in this he declares that no one hitherto has noticed or written of the obvious facts.62 Colombo states that he had begun his work many years before.63 What is thought to have been perhaps a copy of a first draft of Servetus’s work, dating from as early as 1546, is also extant.64
Hence a heated controversy has long been rife between those that would credit the discovery of the pulmonary circulation to Servetus who first published it, and those maintaining that he discovered nothing, but was simply the first to print, without suggesting the slightest claim to originality, a reference to a discovery made by Colombo or some other. Three competing views of the question are put forth. First, that Servetus made the discovery, and that some printed or manuscript copy of the Restitutio reaching Italy fell into the hands of Colombo, who a few years later, relying on the fact that Servetus’s book had never become known to the world, published the discovery as his own. This view rests upon assumptions of which there is no proof. Second, that Servetus had either been at Padua in the forties, and had there heard Colombo lecture on the subject (of this also there is no proof, since the matriculation records for Padua before 1600 are no longer extant) ,65 or else had learned of the new view from students that brought it from Padua to Paris (of which again no proof is extant), and so published it incidentally as an established though not yet generally recognized truth. Finally, that Servetus and Colombo each made the discovery independently of the other, as has more than once been the case in the history of science. Plausible arguments are made for each of these views, though each is open to objections that make acceptance of it more or less difficult. In the absence of positive and decisive evidence it is not likely that the question can ever be settled beyond controversy. The one fact placed beyond all dispute is that, whoever first made the discovery, and whatever its importance, the first to publish it in print was Servetus.66
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