Plato. For his insights, Galileo was threatened with death at the stake and would eventually face lifelong house arrest after recanting his claims.
The geocentric model was generally accepted at the time not only for scriptural reasons. By the time of the controversy, the Catholic Church had in fact abandoned the Ptolemaic model for the Tychonian model in which the Earth was at the centre of the Universe, the Sun revolved around the Earth and the other planets revolved around the Sun. This model is geometrically equivalent to the Copernican model and had the extra advantage that it predicted no parallax of the stars, an effect that we now know was impossible to detect with the instruments of the time.
An understanding of the controversies, if it is even possible, requires attention not only to the politics of religious organizations but to those of academic philosophy. Before Galileo had trouble with the Jesuits and before the Dominican friar Caccini denounced him from the pulpit, his employer heard him accused of contradicting Scripture by a professor of philosophy, Cosimo Boscaglia, who was neither a theologian nor a priest. The first to defend Galileo was a Benedictine abbot, Benedetto Castelli, who was also a professor of mathematics and a former student of Galileo's. It was this exchange that led Galileo to write the Letter to Grand Duchess Christina. (Castelli remained Galileo's friend, visiting him at Arcetri near the end of Galileo's life, after months of effort to get permission from the Inquisition to do so.)
In 1616, the Inquisition warned Galileo not to hold or defend the hypothesis asserted in Copernicus's On the Revolutions, though it has been debated whether he was admonished not to "teach in any way" the heliocentric theory. When Galileo was tried in 1633, the Inquisition was proceeding on the premise that he had been ordered not to teach it at all, based on a paper in the records from 1616; but Galileo produced a letter from Cardinal Bellarmine that showed only the "hold or defend" order. The latter is in Bellarmine's own hand and of unquestioned authenticity; the former is an unsigned copy, violating the Inquisition's own rule that the record of such an admonition had to be signed by all parties and notarized. Leaving aside technical rules of evidence, what can one conclude as to the real events? There are two schools of thought. According to Stillman Drake, the order not to teach was delivered unofficially and improperly; Bellarmine would not allow a formal record to be made, and assured Galileo in writing that the only order in effect was not to "defend or hold". According to Giorgio di Santillana, however, the unsigned minute was simply a fabrication by the Inquisition.
Despite his continued insistence that his work in the area was purely theoretical, despite his strict following of the church protocol for publication of works (which required prior examination by church censors and subsequent permission), and despite his close friendship with Maffeo Barberini who later became Pope Urban VIII and presided throughout the ordeal, Galileo was forced to recant his views repeatedly, and was put under life-long house arrest from 1633 to 1642.
The Inquisition had rejected earlier pleas by Galileo to postpone or relocate the trial because of his ill health. At a meeting presided by Pope Urban VIII, the Inquisition decided to notify Galileo that he either had to come to Rome or that he would be arrested and brought there in chains. Galileo arrived in Rome for his trial before the Inquisition on February 13, 1633. After two weeks in quarantine, Galileo was detained at the comfortable residence of the Tuscan ambassador, as a favor to the influential Grand Duke Ferdinand II de' Medici. In April 1633, he was formally interrogated by the Inquisition. He was not imprisoned in a dungeon cell, but detained in a room in the offices of the Inquisition for 22 days.
On June 22, 1633, the Roman Inquisition started its trial against Galileo, who was then 69 years old and pleaded for mercy, pointing to his "regrettable state of physical unwellness". Threatening him with torture, imprisonment, and death on the stake, the show trial forced Galileo to "abjure, curse and detest" his work and to promise to denounce others who held his prior viewpoint. Galileo did everything the church requested him to do. That the threat of torture and death Galileo was facing was a real one had been proven by the church in the earlier trial against Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in 1600 for holding a naturalistic view of the Universe.
The tale that Galileo, rising from his knees after recanting, said "Eppur si muove!" (But it does move!) cannot possibly be true; to say any such thing in the offices of the Inquisition would have been a ticket to follow Bruno to the stake. But the widespread belief that the whole incident is an 18th-century invention is also false. A Spanish painting, dated 1643 or possibly 1645, shows Galileo writing the phrase on the wall of a dungeon cell. Here we have a second version of the story, which also cannot be true, because Galileo was never imprisoned in a dungeon; but the painting shows that some story of "Eppur si muove" was circulating in Galileo's time. In the months immediately after his condemnation, Galileo resided with Archbishop Ascanio Piccolomini of Siena, a learned man and a sympathetic host; the fact that Piccolomini's brother was a military attaché in Madrid, where the painting was made some years later, suggests that the Archbishop may have related a story to his family, and it later became garbled in oral tradition.
Galileo was sentenced to prison, but because of his advanced age (and/or Church politics) the sentence was commuted to house arrest at his villas in Arcetri and Florence. Because of a painful hernia, he requested permission to consult physicians in Florence, which was denied by Rome, which warned that further such requests would lead to imprisonment. Under arrest, he was forced to recite penitentiary psalms regularly, and his social contacts were at times highly restricted, but he was allowed to continue his less controversial research.
Publication was another matter. His Dialogue had been put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the official black list of banned books, where it stayed until 1822 (Hellman, 1998). Though the sentence announced against Galileo mentioned no other works, Galileo found out two years later that publication of anything he might ever write had been quietly banned. The ban was effective in France, Poland, and German states, but not in the Netherlands.
He went totally blind in 1638 (his petition to the Inquisition to be released was rejected, but he was allowed to move to his house in Florence where he was closer to his physicians).
According to Andrew Dickson White and many of his colleagues, Galileo's experiences demonstrate a classic case of a scholar forced to recant a scientific insight because it offended powerful, conservative forces in society: for the church at the time, it was not the scientific method that should be used to find truth -- especially in certain areas -- but the doctrine as interpreted and defined by church scholars, and this doctrine was defended with torture, murder, deprivation of freedom, and censorship.
More recently, the viewpoints of White and his colleagues have become less generally accepted by the academic community, partially because White wrote from a perspective that Christianity is a destructive force. This attitude can also be seen in the works of Bertolt Brecht, whose play about Galileo is one of the chief sources for popular ideas about the scientist. Moreover, deeper examination of the primary sources for Galileo and his trial shows that claims of torture and deprivation were likely exaggerated. Dava Sobel's Galileo's Daughter offers a different set of insights into Galileo and his world, in large part through the private correspondence of Maria Celeste, the daughter of the title, and her father.
In 1992, 359 years after the Galileo trial, Pope John Paul II issued an apology, lifting the edict of Inquisition against Galileo: "Galileo sensed in his scientific research the presence of the Creator who, stirring in the depths of his spirit, stimulated him, anticipating and assisting his intuitions." After the release of this report, the Pope said further that "... Galileo, a sincere believer, showed himself to be more perceptive in this regard the relation of scientific and Biblical truths than the theologians who opposed him."