Excerpt from The Private Life of Galileo By Galileo Galilei, Maria Celeste Galilei, Mary Allan-Olney

Galileo Is Placed Under House Arrest

The first examination which took place before Father Vincenzio Maccolani da Fiorenzuola, General Carlo Sincere,and another not named only lasted a few minutes. Galileo was asked whether he knew the reason of his being cited before the tribunal. Having answered in the affirmative he was remanded. From Niccolini's account it appears that Galileo was received with great courtesy by the Commissary General who had him installed in the apartments of the Fiscal so that not only was he in the part of the building devoted to the use of the officers, but he had liberty to take the air in the court. His own servant was permitted to be with him and his meals were taken to him twice a day from Niccolini's house. The Commissary declared to Niccolini that Galileo owed this gentle treatment in great part to the good will of Cardinal Barberino who had been untiring in his endeavors to mitigate the Pope's resentment. It was clear, that Cardinal Barberino being friendly to Galileo, the rest of the Inquisitors would take their cue from him. Niccolini mentions that when he presented these Cardinals with the letters which he had advised the Grand Duke to write, some of them declined the responsibility of taking them, until he assured them that Cardinal Barberino had not refused to take his, after which there was no farther objection.

Tormented with the gout and deprived of the society of the Ambassador and his gracious and sympathizing wife, Galileo seems to have borne his imprisonment with a degree of impatience at variance with his natural serenity We must bear in mind the ever present fear that each forthcoming examination might end in the application of the torture. Apart from this he had no cause for complaint. Since the establishment of the tribunal in 1215 no prisoner had ever been treated with the leniency accorded to Galileo the Grand Duke's servant. Princes, prelates, and noblemen all had been consigned to the secret dungeons from the very commencement of their trial. Had Galileo been a scion of a royal house he could scarcely have met with more consideration or have been treated with more distinction.