In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Galileo Galilei

  • Introduction
  • Complete Works
  • Principal Works
  • Specialized Journals and Critical Reviews
  • Biographies
  • Early Years
  • Paduan Period
  • Florentine Period
  • Scientific Method
  • Telescopes
  • Telescopic Observations
  • Trouble with the Church
  • The Trial
  • Aftermath of the Trial
  • Private Character
  • Humor and Sarcasm
  • Imagery

Renaissance and Reformation Galileo Galilei
Ian S. Glass
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 January 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0166


Galileo Galilei (b. c. 15 February 1564–d. 8 January 1642) or Galileo, as he is usually referred to, is often regarded as the founder of the science of physics. His remarkable insight enabled him to focus on those properties of matter that could be modeled in a mathematical way. He overthrew the rigidified Aristotelian viewpoint of his contemporaries. The concepts of velocity and acceleration lay at the heart of his reforms. Through a series of experiments, he discovered the relationships between distance, velocity, and acceleration obeyed by falling bodies. Galileo was the first person to use the telescope seriously for astronomy and in doing so he discovered the moons of Jupiter, the first clear example of bodies in orbit around a center other than the earth. He became an outspoken advocate of the Copernican model of the universe. He discovered the phases of Venus. He also claimed to have discovered sunspots and he found that the sun rotates. His abrasive and outspoken criticism of Aristotelian philosophy and his obvious acceptance of the Copernican worldview, particularly in his Dialogue concerning the Two Chief World Systems (see Florentine Period), led him into serious trouble with the Roman Catholic Church, which placed him under house arrest for the last eight years of his life. He was nevertheless able to continue writing and research.

Complete Works

Though an attempt was made to publish a “complete works” by Galileo’s pupil Vicenzo Viviani, the definitive edition is Le Opera di Galileo Galilei, edited by Antonio Favaro (Favaro 1890–1909).

  • Favaro, Antonio, ed. Le Opere di Galileo Galilei: Edizione nazionale sotto gli auspicii di sua maestà il re d’Italia. 20 vols. Florence: Barbèra, 1890–1909.

    The standard edition of Galileo’s works. Reprinted 1929–1939 and 1964–1966.

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