Tommaso Campanella

Last updated

Tommaso Campanella

Cozza Tommaso Campanella.jpg
Tommaso Campanella depicted by Francesco Cozza
Born5 September 1568
Died21 May 1639(1639-05-21) (aged 70)
Occupation Philosopher, theologian, astrologer, poet
Years active1597–1634
Tommaso Campanella's house at Stilo Casa di Tommaso Campanella a Stilo.JPG
Tommaso Campanella's house at Stilo
Former Dominican convent at Placanica Convento domenico con campanile placanica.JPG
Former Dominican convent at Placanica

Tommaso Campanella OP (Italian:  [tomˈmaːzo kampaˈnɛlla] ; 5 September 1568 – 21 May 1639), [1] baptized Giovanni Domenico Campanella, was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, theologian, astrologer, and poet.


He was prosecuted by the Roman Inquisition for heresy in 1594 and was confined to house arrest for two years. Accused of conspiring against the Spanish rulers of Calabria in 1599, he was tortured and sent to prison, where he spent 27 years. He wrote his most significant works during this time, including The City of the Sun , a utopia describing an egalitarian theocratic society where property is held in common.


Born in Stignano (in the county of Stilo) in the province of Reggio di Calabria in Calabria, southern Italy, Campanella was a child prodigy. Son of a poor and illiterate cobbler, he entered the Dominican Order before the age of fourteen, [2] taking the name of fra' Tommaso in honour of Thomas Aquinas. He studied theology and philosophy with several masters.

Early on, he became disenchanted with the Aristotelian orthodoxy and attracted by the empiricism of Bernardino Telesio (1509–1588), who taught that knowledge is sensation and that all things in nature possess sensation. Campanella wrote his first work, Philosophia sensibus demonstrata ("Philosophy demonstrated by the senses"), published in 1592, in defence of Telesio. [3]

In 1590 he was in Naples where he was initiated in astrology; astrological speculations would become a constant feature in his writings. Campanella's heterodox views, especially his opposition to the authority of Aristotle, brought him into conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities. Denounced to the Roman Inquisition, he was arrested in Padua in 1594 and cited before the Holy Office in Rome, he was confined in a convent until 1597. [4]

After his liberation, Campanella returned to Calabria, where he was accused of leading a conspiracy against the Spanish rule in his hometown of Stilo. Campanella's aim was to establish a society based on the community of goods and wives, for on the basis of the prophecies of Joachim of Fiore and his own astrological observations, he foresaw the advent of the Age of the Spirit in the year 1600. [5] Betrayed by two of his fellow conspirators, he was captured in 1599 and incarcerated in Naples, where he was tortured on the rack. [6] Even from the confinement of the jail, Campanella managed to influence the intellectual history of the early seventeenth century, by maintaining epistolary contacts with European philosophers and scientists, Neapolitan cultural circles, and Caravaggio's commissioners. [7] Finally, Campanella made a full confession and would have been put to death had he not feigned madness and set his cell on fire. He was tortured further, a total of seven times. Crippled and ill, Campanella was sentenced to life imprisonment. [8] [9] [ page needed ]

Metaphysica, 1638 Campanella - Metaphysica, 1638 - 3891922 301891 1 00009.tif
Metaphysica, 1638

Campanella spent twenty-seven years imprisoned in Naples, in various fortresses. During his detention, he wrote his most important works: The Monarchy of Spain (1600), Political Aphorisms (1601), Atheismus triumphatus ( Atheism Conquered , 1605–1607), Quod reminiscetur (1606?), Metaphysica (1609–1623), Theologia (1613–1624), and his most famous work, The City of the Sun (originally written in Italian in 1602; published in Latin in Frankfurt (1623) and later in Paris (1638).

He defended Galileo Galilei in Galileo's first trial with his work The Defense of Galileo (written in 1616, published in 1622). [10] In 1632, before Galileo's second trial, Campanella wrote to Galileo: [11]

To my great disgust I have heard that wrathful theologians of the Congregation aim to prohibit the Dialogues of Your Excellency, and [that] no one will be present who understands mathematics or recondite things. Be aware that while Your Excellency does state that it was appropriate to prohibit the theory of the earth's motion, you are not obliged to believe that the reasons of those who contradicted you are good. This is a theological rule, and is proved by the second Council of Nicaea which decreed that Angelorum imagines depingi debent, quam‘am vere corporei sunt (Images of angels must be depicted as they are in the flesh): while the decree is valid, the reasoning behind it is not, since all scholars today say angels are incorporeal. There are many other fundamental reasons. I fear violence from people who do not understand this. Our Pope makes a lot of noise against this and speaks as the Pope, but you haven't heard about that, nor can think about it. In my opinion Your Excellency should write to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, that since they are putting Dominicans, Jesuits, Theatines, and secular priests who are against your books in this council, they should also admit Father Castelli and me.

Tommaso Campanella, La Citta del Sole, Carabba, 1915 Tommaso Campanella-La Citta del Sole-Carabba-1915.png
Tommaso Campanella, La Città del Sole, Carabba, 1915

Campanella was finally released from prison in 1626, [2] through Pope Urban VIII, who personally interceded on his behalf with Philip IV of Spain. Taken to Rome and held for a time by the Holy Office, Campanella was restored to full liberty in 1629. He lived for five years in Rome, where he was Urban's advisor in astrological matters.

In 1634, a new conspiracy in Calabria, led by one of his followers, threatened fresh troubles. With the aid of Cardinal Barberini and the French Ambassador de Noailles, he fled to France, where he was received at the court of Louis XIII with marked favour. [2] Protected by Cardinal Richelieu and granted a liberal pension by the king, he spent the rest of his days in the convent of Saint-Honoré in Paris. His last work was a poem celebrating the birth of the future Louis XIV (Ecloga in portentosam Delphini nativitatem).

Campanella's De sensu rerum et magia (1620) partly inspired the first fully-fledged it-narrative in English, Charles Gildon's The Golden Spy (1709). [12]


See also


  1. Firpo, Luigi (1974). "CAMPANELLA, Tommaso". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). 17.
  2. 1 2 3 Ernst, Germana, "Tommaso Campanella", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  3. Chisholm 1911.
  4. "Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639)", The Galileo Project, Rice University
  5. Corrado Claverini, Tommaso Campanella e Gioacchino da Fiore. "Riaprire il conflitto" a partire dal pensiero utopico e apocalittico, "Giornale Critico di Storia delle Idee" 11, 2014 (in Italian)
  6. C. Dentice di Accadia, Tommaso Campanella, 1921, pp. 43-44 (in Italian)
  7. Alessandro Giardino, The Seven Works of Mercy , 2017.
  8. Tommaso Campanella Biography
  9. Norman Douglas, The Death of Western Culture
  10. Apologia pro Galileo, Published in Latin by Impensis Godefridi Tampachii, Typis Erasmi Kemfferi in Frankfort, Germany.
  11. Memorie y lettera inedita di Galileo Galilei, Second part, published in Modena, 1821, page 144. Il Padre Tommaso Campanella al Galileo. (Libreria Nelli) Roma 25 Settembre 1632. Con gran disgusto mio ho sentito che si fa Congregazione di Teologi irati, a proibire i Dialoghi di V. S.; e non ci entra persona. che sappia matematica, nè cose recondite. Avverta che mentre V.S. asserisce che fu ben proibita l’opinione del moto della terra, non è obbligata a creder che anche e ragioni de’ contraddicenti sien buone. Questa è regola teologica; e si prova perchè nel Concilio Niceno secondo fu decretato che Angelorum imagines depingi debent, quom‘am vere corporei sunt: il decreto è valido, e non la ragione; giacché tutti i scolastici dicono che gli Angeli sono incorporei a tempo nostro. Ci son altri fondamenti assai. Dubito di violenza di gente che non sa. Il Padre Nostro fa fracassi contra, e dice ex ora Papa: ma tu non è informato, nè può pensare a questo. V. S. per mio‘ avviso faccia scriver dal Gran Duca, che siccome mettono Domenicani e Gesuiti e Teatini e Preti secolari in questa Congregazione contro i vostri libri, ammettano anche il Padre Castelli e me.
  12. J. Wu, " 'Nobilitas sola est atq; unica Virtus': Spying and the Politics of Virtue in The Golden Spy; or, A Political Journal of the British Nights Entertainments (1709)", Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 40:2 (2017), 237-253 doi: 10.1111/1754-0208.12412

Related Research Articles

Calabria Region of Italy

Calabria, known in antiquity as Bruttium, is a region in Southern Italy.

Reggio Calabria city in Calabria, Italy

Reggio di Calabria (Reggino: Rìggiu; Bovesia Calabrian Greek: Rìji; Ancient Greek: Ῥήγιον, romanized: Rhḗgion; Greek: Ρήγιο, romanized: Ríyio; Latin: Rhēgium), commonly known as Reggio Calabria(listen) or simply Reggio in Southern Italy, is the largest city and the most populated comune of Calabria. It is the capital of the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria and the seat of the Regional Council of Calabria.

Adriano Banchieri

Adriano Banchieri was an Italian composer, music theorist, organist and poet of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He founded the Accademia dei Floridi in Bologna.

Bernardino Telesio

Bernardino Telesio was an Italian philosopher and natural scientist. While his natural theories were later disproven, his emphasis on observation made him the "first of the moderns" who eventually developed the scientific method.

The 1711 Sales Auction Catalogue of the Library of Sir Thomas Browne highlights the erudition of the physician, philosopher and encyclopedist, Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682). It also illustrates the proliferation, distribution and availability of books printed throughout 17th century Europe which were purchased by the intelligentsia, aristocracy, priestly, physician or educated merchant-class.

Gianni Amelio Italian film director

Gianni Amelio is an Italian film director.

Strongoli Comune in Calabria, Italy

Strongoli is a comune and town with a population of over 6000 people in the province of Crotone, in Calabria, southernmost Italy.

San Giorgio Morgeto Comune in Calabria, Italy

San Giorgio Morgeto is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Reggio Calabria in the Italian region Calabria, located about 70 kilometres southwest of Catanzaro and about 50 km (31 mi) northeast of Reggio Calabria. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 3,356 and an area of 35.1 square kilometres (13.6 sq mi).

Antonio Serra was a late 16th-century Italian philosopher and economist in the Mercantilist tradition.

Cesare Cremonini (philosopher)

Cesare Cremonini, sometimes Cesare Cremonino, was an Italian professor of natural philosophy, working rationalism and Aristotelian materialism inside scholasticism. His Latinized name was Cæsar Cremoninus. or Cæsar Cremonius.

Giuseppe Musolino Italian brigand

Giuseppe Musolino, also known as the "Brigante Musolino" or the "King of Aspromonte", was an Italian brigand and folk hero.

Tommaso Palamidessi

Tommaso Palamidessi was an Italian esotericist. Precociously attracted by astrology, parapsychology, and yoga-tantric doctrines, he was led by his manifold interests in the field of the occult and by his intense spiritual pursuit to build up an original form of Esoteric Christianity, which he called Archeosophy. In 1968, he founded in Rome the Archeosophical Society, which is still active and counts a few thousand members both in Italy and in the rest of Europe.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Lamezia Terme

The Italian Catholic Diocese of Lamezia Terme is in Calabria. In 1818 the ancient see of Martirano, the former Mamertum, was united to the diocese of Nicastro. The diocese was then a suffragan of the archdiocese of Reggio in Calabria. In 1986, the historic Diocese of Nicastro had its name changed. It is currently called the Diocese of Lamezia Terme, and it is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Catanzaro-Squillace. The name change reflects the incorporation of the comune of Nicastro into Lamezia Terme, an administrative change of 1968 on the part of the State of Italy.

Niccolò Riccardi was an Italian Dominican theologian, writer and preacher, known today mostly for his role in the Galileo affair.

Villa Il Gioiello Building in Florence, Italy

Villa il Gioiello is a villa in Florence, central Italy, famous for being one of the residences of Galileo Galilei, which he lived in from 1631 until his death in 1642. It is also known as Villa Galileo.

Tommaso Besozzi

Tommaso Francesco Besozzi, also known as Tom, was an Italian journalist and writer. He is considered to be one of the most important post-war journalists of Italy and his writing style earned him the epithet "Hemingway of Europeo".

<i>Atheism Conquered</i>

Atheism Conquered is a philosophical work by the Italian Dominican philosopher Tommaso Campanella.

Giandomenico Martoretta was an Italian Renaissance composer. Little is known of his life, but the style of the dedication of the "master of theology" Giovanfrancesco di Chara in the second book indicates that Martoretta may have been minor gentry or member of an academy. But the preface to the third book of madrigals reveals that he had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and stayed in Cyprus as guest of a certain noble cavaliere, Piero Singlitico. His first book of madrigals was written in the rapid note nere, black note, style introduced by Constanzo Festa. Theodor Kroyer (1902) believed that Martoretta's madrigals demonstrated chromatic keys.

The Lamezia Terme Town Library is located in the historic centre of the former village of Nicastro and more precisely in the Nicotera-Severisio historical building located in the Tommaso Campanella square.

Ferdinando Ruggeri was an Italian painter, mainly painting historical and genre subjects.