Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought

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1 Cf. Le Laboureur, Mémoires de Michel de Castelnau (2nd ed., Brussels, 1731), III, 109. Le Laboureur prints a charming letter sent by Mary of Scots with a gift to her god-daughter. Queen Elizabeth was godmother to one of the children of Mauvissièe who died in childhood.

2 "My son, you may judge from hence, and all People that shall read these Memoirs, in case they should at any Time come to light, to whom the Breach of the Treaties is to be imputed on both Sides; and likewise see by the Events, that the Spiritual Sword, that is, the good Example of the Pastors of the Church, their Charity, Preaching, and other pious Works, are better means to extirpate Heresies, and restore those who have erred, to the right way, than the Temporal one, which destroys and sheds our Neighbours Blood; especially when Matters are come to that Extremity, that the more People endeavour to remove the Evil by violent Means, the more they increase it." Les memoires de Monsieur de Castelnau seigneur de Mauvissière were first edited by his son J. de Castelnau, Paris, 1621, from whose volume our portrait is reproduced. The Mémoires were republished with copious additions by J. le Laboureur in three vols., Brussels, 1731. An English translation, from which we have copied these closing words, appeared in London in 1724.

3 R. E. G. Kirk and E. F. Kirk, Returns of Aliens Dwelling in the City and Suburbs of London from the Reign of Henry VIII to that of James I, Publication of Huguenot Society of London (Aberdeen, 1900), Vol. X, Parts i-iv, p. xv.

4 Samuel Haynes, Collection of State Papers ... from the Year 1542 to 1570,...left by William Cecil Lord Burghley at Hatfield House (London, 1740), p. 461. It may be noted that 36 of the strangers were "Scottes."

5 Kirk, op. cit., p. xvi, quoting John Strype, Annals.

6 For fuller details concerning John Florio, see Frances Yates, John Florio (Cambridge, 1934).

7 Cf. pp. 35-6.

8 Queen Anna's New World of Words or Dictionarie of the Italian and English tongues (London, 1611).

9 First suggested by Croce (in the Nuove curiosità storiche, pp. 121-22). The temptation to find association with Shakespeare is almost irresistible to writers on characters in Elizabethan England. Such suggestions concerning Bruno are made by W. König, "Shakespeare und Bruno," in Jahrbuch der deutschen Shakespeare Gesellschaft, XI (Weimar, 1876), 97-139. Florio has even been suggested as the original of Falstaff! (See Arthur Acheson, Shakespeare's Last Years in London (Quaritch, 1920).

Reminiscences in Shakespeare of the works of Bruno have been sought by Spampanato, Soglia del secento (Milan, 1926), pp. 57 seqq. He finds echoes of the Candelaio in the etymology of mulier in Cymbeline, V, 5; the necessity of a ring in As You Like It, III, 3 and IV, 2; the attribution of ills through pride to Fate or stars in King Lear, I, 2; the distinction between sharp and gentle madmen in King Lear, I, 4; the view of sorcery in Macbeth, IV, 1; the discourse of the Queen with two gentlemen in the Duke of York's garden, in Richard II, III, 4; the pun against Hotofernes in Love's Labour's Lost. Croce first threw out the suggestion that Berowne in Love's Labour's Lost may have been intended for Bruno. The relation of the Italians in London with the characters in this play has been elucidated by Frances Yates, who discusses also the relation of the play to Raleigh's "School of Night" (A Study of "Love's Labour's Lost" [Cambridge University Press, 1936]).

10 Cf. especially the Essays of Montaigne done into English by John Florio, ed. G. Saintsbury (London, 1878), Book II, Chap. XII, pp. 131, 133, 135. Cf. also Book I, Chap. XXV, p. 167.

11 Ibid., Book I, Chap. XXV, p. 165.

12 In this opinion he was supported by John Hotmann. John's father Francis had been his teacher in Switzerland and perhaps John was now teaching the son of Gentilis. Writing from Oxford to Gentilis, then in London, John Hotmann exclaims in February 1581, "I greatly honour your singular doctrine and piety of which I hear much spoken" ("Magni facio tuam singularem et doctrinam et pietatem, de qua multa audivi praedicari"), Francisci et Joanni Hotomanorcum epistolae (Amsterdam, 1700), Epist. II, p. 261, and Epist. 85, p. 333. For Albericus and Bruno, see also pp. 43 and 140. It should, however, be mentioned that a character Albericus, an attractive recipient of the Lullian method, appears in the Cantus circaeus of 1582 (cf. p. 20). Cf. also Chapter 4, e. A Gentilis Albericus is mentioned by Ambrosio Leo as having pronounced most eloquent funeral orations in Nola in 1512. This figure we are not now considering.

13 Cf. William Camden, History of Annals of England, Book III, 1583, Ann. 26. "Out of Polonia a country bordering upon Russia, came this Summer into England to see the Queen, Albert Alesco palatine of Siradia [i.e., Voivode of Sieradz], a learned man, well shaped, with a long beard, and very comely and decent apparel: who being graciously welcomed by her, and entertained by the Nobility with. great Respect and Feasting, as also by the University at Oxford with learned Divertisements and several Comedies, after four months stay here, withdrew himself privately, being run far in Debt."

Strype gives an interesting passage which may provide a sidelight on the visit of a Laski: "These strangers who consisted chiefly of Low-Dutch and Germans had once the West Part of the Church of the Augustine Friars in Broad Street granted to them by King Edward VI ... whereof Joannes a Lasco a noble Polonian was their Minister with the title of Superintendent. But under Queen Mary they were dissolved and glad to flee into foreign parts...."The Church was restored to them by Elizabeth (Annals of the Reformation [London, 1709], p. 119, under Chap. VIII, Anno 1559). This Johannes a Lasco (d. 1560) was an important leader of the Polish Protestants. He was perhaps an uncle of Albert a Laski.

14 Etiamdio. A speaker immediately interrupts to point out that this word is obsolete!

15 La cena de le ceneri, Dial. I, pp. 1-2 (Gentile, Op. ital., I, 15-17; Lagarde, Op. ital., I, 120-21). 16 Ibid., Dial. IV, pp. 92-93 (Gentile, Op. ital., I, 101-2; Lagarde, Op. ital., I, 176).

17 The record leading to this identification we owe to Gabriel Harvey, who was in the habit of making marginal scribbles in his books. In one of them occurs the following: "Jordanus Neapolitanus (Oxonij disputans cum Doctore Vnderhil) tam in Theologia, quam in philosophia, omnia reuocabat ad locos Topicos, et axiomata Aristotelis; atque inde de quauis materia promptissime arguebat. Hopperi principia multo efficaciora in quouis argumento forensi." See G. C. Moore Smith, Marginalia of Gabriel Harvey (Stratford, 1913). For Gabriel Harvey, see p. 41.

18 Miss Frances Yates suggests that Bruno's quarrel with Oxford was based on the repudiation by Oxford of scholastic Aristotelian studies and on his own devotion to mediaeval philosophy. She intimates that "Bruno prefers the metaphysics of mediaeval Oxford to the grammar of Renaissance Oxford." ("Giordano Bruno's Conflict with Oxford" in Journal of the Warburg Institute [London, January, 1939]; our quotation is from p. 233.) This view is further developed by Miss Yates in "The Religious Policy of Giordano Bruno," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes [April-July, 1939-40], III, 181-207. Certainly Bruno expresses his contempt for the fashionable preoccupation with grammar and style. He also declares his admiration for St. Thomas Aquinas. On the other hand, he can assuredly be claimed by no single group or creed, least of all by the Schoolmen. Nor was it too great a zeal on his part for mediaeval metaphysics that impelled his judges to condemn him to be burnt alive.

19 Epistola ad excellentissimum Oxoniensis academiae Proeancellarium, clarrissimos doctores atque celeberrimos magistros (Op. lat., II, ii, 76). The Epistle is incorporated in some, though not all, copies of a volume on mnemonics, Recens et completa ars memorandi ... explicatio triginta sigillorum ... sigillus sigillorum (Recent and Complete Art of Memory ... with Explanation of the Thirty Signs ... to Which Is Added the Sign of Signs) (without place or date of printing). It is dedicated to Mauvissière, in whose house it was composed and to whom as always the author expresses passionate gratitude. Cf. App. I, 5 (a) to (e).

20 Cf. p. 21, n. 27; p. 39, n. 39.

21 Cf. p. 29.

22 Cf. p. 29.

23 But Miss Yates draws my attention to the suggestion both in the Cena and in Florio's Second Fruites that Nundinio is connected with Scotland. Chapman was born at Hitchin in Hertfordshire.

24 W. Munk, Roll of the Royal College o! Physicians of London (London, 1878), I, 89-90.

25 Cf. pp. 117-18.

26 Public Record Office, S.P. 78, 14, No. 119, f. 245. Cf. Cal. S.P. Foreign, p. 260. Messages to Raleigh are also in a letter from Mauvissière from Paris to Florio, S.P. 78, 14, No. 118, f. 225. Cf. Cal. S.P. Foreign, p. 175.

27 Cf. p. 43, n. 54.

28 See Yates, A Study of "Love's Labour's Lost" and M. Brabrook, The School of Night (Cambridge, 1936) for discussion of Bruno's relationship with members of the School.

29 Cf. Doc. Ven. XIII (Spampanato, Documenti della vita di Giordano Bruno, p. 121). When interrogated before the Venice Inquisition, Bruno stated that the supper took place under the roof of Mauvissière. Probably in his work he was following historical fact regarding one such gathering in Sir Fulke Greville's palace, while we may well believe that they took place many times in the French Embassy. Since Mauvissière was a Catholic, Bruno would expect the Inquisition to look with less suspicion on assemblies held under his auspices. 30 Cf. p. 67.

31 Cf. p. Sir T. Smith was both undergraduate at Christ Church and subsequently student there. For other Christ Church connections with the Oxford incident, see p. 97, n. 13.

32 First noted by F. A. Yates, John Florio, p. 102. Miss Yates points out in the speeches of Eliotropio other indications of Florio's coat of arms as well as of his motto, "Chi si contenta gode."

33 "The enterprise which thou hast undertaken," using the word impresa, which means both enterprise and personal emblem. Miss Yates (ibid., p. 102) thinks this phrase may be intended to remind the reader of the heliotrope in Florio's coat of arms.

34 Now Hertford College.

35 Cf. p. 39, n. 39. In Dial. II of On Cause, Prime Origin and the One, Dicson is given the first name of "Arelio."

36 De umbra rationis et iudicii sive de artificiosa memoriae quam publice profititur vanitate (T. Vautrollier, London).

37 A figure mentioned by Cicero and Pliny as famous for memory.

38 Cosmas Rossellus, Thesaurus artificiosae memoriae, concionatoribus, philosophis, medicis, juristis, oratoribus, caeterisque bonarum litterarum amatoribus (Venice [apud Paduanium florentinum] 1579).

39 Cf. p. 40.

40 Cf. p. 97, n. 13. We suggest that Armesso, a sceptic character in the Dialogue, De la causa, principio et uno, may be the Mercurius of Dicson's work, but we have not identified a prototype.

41 La cena de la ceneri, Dial. I, p. 7 (Gentile, Op. ital., I, 23; Lagarde, Op. ital., I, 125). Cf. p. 93, n. 2.

42 The scholarship of Hill is attested by his numerous translations of surgical, medical and chemical works from Italian as well as from Latin, and from the German of Paracelsus. It is possible that the works on gardening are from a different writer. Gentile (Op. ital., I, 287) notes that a character in Tasso's Aminta (first published in 1580) bears the name Elpino, but we find no resemblance between the Elpino of Aminta and Bruno's speaker.

43 Vautrollier? London? 1585? Watson's volume is dedicated to Henry Noel (d. 1597).

44 Richard Carew, best known for his Survey of Cornwall (1602), published in 1594 two volumes translated from the Italian in which he "clad in a Cornish gabardine" the Italian translation by Camillo Camilli of John Huarte's Examen de ingenios. Carew also made a translation in verse of Tasso's Godfrey Bulloigne or the Recouerie of Jerusalem. Only the first five cantos appeared in 1594, but the whole work, edited by A. B. Crosart, was published in 1881.

45 London, 1585.

46 Cf. pp. 64-6.

47 An interesting discussion of the repercussions of Harvey's controversy with Nashe and Greene will be found in Yates' Study of "Love's Labour's Lost."

48 Cf. pp. 182-3.

49 Cf. p. 23.

50 Cf. pp. 184-5.

51 Cf. App. II, c.

52 Cf. pp. 31 and 140. Neither Spampanato (Vita di Giordano Bruno, pp. 416-17) nor Gentile (Op. ital., I, 387) accepts this view, though of course aware that Gentilis was at Oxford in 1583 and that he subsequently befriended Bruno in Wittenberg. They indicate somewhat unconvincingly that perhaps Bruno intended to honour a certain Geronimo Albertino of Nola who was the father of a fellow soldier of his own father Giovanni Bruno.

53 Cf. p. 31, n. 12.

54 Within a few months of the defeat of the Armada by Lord Howard of Effingham, an account of the victory was written in Italian by Petruccio Ubaldini. The original work (British Museum Royal MS 14. A X) was not published, but an English translation appeared in 1590 with plates engraved by Augustine Ryther from drawings by Robert Adams, "surveyor of the Queen's buildings." Lord Howard employed Cornelius Vroom of Haarlem to make ten designs based on these plates for tapestry panels, which were woven by Francis Spiring of Haarlem and hung in Arundel House Strand until in 1616 Lord Howard, now Earl of Nottingham, sold them to James I who hung them in the House of Lords, where they remained until destroyed in the great fire of 1834. Cf. H. Yates Thompson, Lord Howard of Effingham and the Armada (Roxburgh Club, 1919). Ubaldini had come to England from Florence in 1545 but he did not finally settle there until 1562. He enjoyed the favour of the Court and was given a pension by Elizabeth. He was a skilled illuminator and a number of beautiful manuscripts from his hand have survived. His writings are all in Italian.

55 Cf. Chapter 3, c.

56 See App. I, 18. 57 See App. II.

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