On 10 December the Descartes – Huygens Premodern History of Knowledge Colloquium will be held in Amsterdam. Presenter is Prof. Steven Vanden Broecke (University Gent). His lecture is entitled: How to be a Catholic Copernican in the Southern Netherlands.
The notion of Catholic Copernicanism in the aftermath of the Galileo affair remains something of an apparent oxymoron . It has been suggested that after the Galileo affair of 1633, cosmological truth went underground in the Catholic world for many decades, thus creating an asymmetry in the role played by Catholic and Protestant Europe in the so-called “Scientific Revolution” of the 17th century. This story remains an important reference for the history of science in the Spanish Netherlands. Living in a region that the Tridentine Church approached as a northern bulwark against the Reformation, we are told that natural philosophers suffered increasing control by “the hair-splitting orthodoxy of the Counter-Reformation”. Likewise, the Galileo affairs are held to have shaped new doctrinal conformism, under which cosmological reflection became confined to private rooms and correspondence with intimate friends. Interestingly, the claim that Roman orthodoxy determined Catholic attitudes to Copernicanism after 1633 does not seem to apply to France.