Today In Fact, 13 August

What would make a very clever man do something stupid? Michael Servetus was a Spaniard whose baptismal name was Miguel Serveto Conesa born into modest Spanish nobility around 1511. His mother it seems was a Converso, that is from Jewish stock. He served as the secretary to a well known Franciscan Priest until he joined the reformation in 1530.

This very clever man was the first to accurately describe the circulation of blood through the body and parts of the brain. He made his modest living, it seems by translating and proof-reading various works for printers.

He held very clear views about the trinity. He did not believe in it. He also did not believe in predestination or infant baptism. This made him enemies of both Catholic and Protestant. Calvin who was running the theocracy of Geneva at the time, read Servetus’s writings and wrote : “Servetus has just sent me a long volume of his ravings.

If I consent he will come here, but I will not give my word; for if he comes here, if my authority is worth anything, I will never permit him to depart alive”

The Catholics got him first and arrested him in Vienna in 1553 but he managed to escape from custody and now here is the really stupid thing. Michael Servetus went to Geneva. He then went to public gatherings in the town and on this day in 1553, he attended a a sermon by Calvin.

The Calvinists had him arrested after the church service. He could not legally be put to death because he was not a citizen of the town but Calvin and his mates tortured him, tried him for heresy and found a way to have him burned at the stake. Calvin had just wanted him to have his head chopped off but the town’s judges insisted on the stake.

So it was that Miguel, perhaps one of the brightest minds of the age got killed.

I guess he was just too clever to realize that not everyone else is as clever?

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (