Book Burnings in Roman, Catholic and Protestant society

book burning

The Roman Empire was ruthless and violent towards any religious dissent. The public burning of books, authors, printers, sellers and readers was common.

Burning and setting afire was considered an effective way to destroy dangerous ideas, attain purification, and control the 'uneducated' masses.

Roman Emperors and later, Catholic church priests condemned books they viewed as religiously heretical, blasphemous, immoral, obscene or seditious quoting the Bible to justify their action:
A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
ACTS 19:19

List of Historical Book Burnings

186 BC Bacchanalia Bacchanalia led in part by Minius Cerrinius, a Consul of Rome claimed that the fathers and grandfathers of the Romans had suppressed foreign rites and ceremonies, 'seeking out and burning all books of pretended prophecies'.
168 BC Antiochus IV Antiochus IV, a Hellenistic Greek king of the Seleucid Empire ordered Jewish 'Books of the Law' found in Jerusalem to be 'rent in pieces' and burned.
48 BC Library of Alexandria The Library of Alexandria was one of the largest and most significant libraries in the ancient world. The great thinkers of the age, scientists, mathematicians, poets from all civilizations came to study and exchange ideas. As many as 700,000 scrolls filled the shelves.

According to several authors, the Library of Alexandria was 'accidentally' destroyed by Julius Caesar during the siege of Alexandria in 48 BC.
12 BC Emperor Augustus Emperor Augustus pointed to control of diviniation, the unseen knowledge. He ordered 2,000 books on 'prophecies and destiny', Greek and Latin prophetic verse be confiscated and burned; preserving only the Sibylline Books.
33 AD Jesus' Crucifixion Jesus Christ crucified on the orders of Pontius Pilate.
70 AD Siege of Jerusalem Emperor Vespasian's son, Titus led the Roman army besieged and conquered Jerusalem.

The Siege of Jerusalem was the decisive event of the First Jewish-Roman War. It led to the burning and destruction of the Second Temple, a Jewish holy temple which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to Josephus:
[Titus] Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city [Jerusalem] and Temple. Everywhere was slaughter and flight. Most of the victims were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, butchered wherever they were caught.

Round the Altar the heaps of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom.

Over 1M deaths
Josephus claims 1.1 Million people were killed during the Jerusalem siege, mostly Jews. Any survivors became Roman prisoners and slaves.

Christians viewed the Jerusalem siege as a dividing event for Christians and Jews. Jesus was portrayed as anti-Temple in the Gospels. Therefore, the destruction of the Second Temple was punishment for the Jews rejecting Jesus.
Arch of Titus
The Arch of Titus built in 81 AD commemorates victory of the Jerusalem siege. The Second Temple housed priceless artifacts, gold, furniture, vessels, riches, treasures, high priest robes, cinnamon, spices, and the menorah as depicted on the Arch. Rome used the plundered Jewish riches to finance building the Colosseum.

Undoubtedly, the Temple would have housed precious Jewish texts, scripture, books, manuscripts and scrolls. All of which perished or were stolen.
303 AD Diocletian Edict The Diocletian Edict ordered the burning of Scriptures. Emperor Diocletian and Maximianus came to the church in Nicomedia, forced the gates, found the Christian Holy Scriptures, and burnt them.
303 AD Eusebius of Caesarea Eusebius of Caesarea, in Ecclesiastical History wrote of the 'great Christian persecution', and how inspired and sacred Scriptures were committed to flames in the midst of the market place.
324 AD Porphyry Porphyry, a Greek scholar and philosopher wrote 15 books 'Against the Christians' in which he rejected the Christian concept of God, and objected to faith above reason.

Emperor Constantine ordered the systemic destruction and burning of all copies of Porphyry's books, and the death penalty for anyone found with the book.
325 AD Emperor Constantine After Constantine converted to Christianity, the book burnings continued under Christianity.

Religious intolerance became a Christian principle, contrary to the Scriptures, and persecutions of pagans and Christian critics continued.

Under Constantine, the story became that of proscription, banning, banishment, book burning and heresy hunting; confiscation of churches by the catholics, capital offenses and legal impediments (Trevett 227).
325 AD Church & State Church and State became entwined together. Christian book burning rituals lasted several centuries, with both Church and State involved in the fiery extermination of blasphemous, heretical books and their authors.

The religious blasphemy and heresy became a political sedition. The people of state and local worshipping community were indistinguishable.
325 AD Books of Arianism Constantine commanded all Christian sects harmful to Catholics be banished from Rome.

Amongst the books burned were those written by Arius, Nestorius, Donatus and Montanus. Arius was excommunicated; Nestorius was exiled; Donatus was exiled; Priscillian was executed.
333 AD Constantine burned Arius' Books Constantine condemned Alexandrian priest, Arius, as a 'mouthpiece of Satan' and ordered his writings be burned.

Constantine's edict ordered:
It is now my decision that Arius and such as have opinions similar to this should be called Porphyrians in order that they may have the name of those whose way of life they imitate.

In addition to this, if any treatise composed by Arius is found, let it be put into the fire, in order not only that this defective doctrinal works [Arius treatise] may be destroyed, but also that no reminder at all should remain of him.

I order that if anyone is detected in concealing anything composed by Arius and not giving it up instantly for feeding it to the fire, his penalty shall be death. Keresztes 350
364 AD Library of Antioch Roman Catholic Emperor, Jovian ordered the entire Library of Antioch to be burnt. It had been heavily stocked by the aid of his non-Christian predecessor, Emperor Julian.
367 AD Bishop Athanasius Church father and bishop, Athanasius of Alexandria ordered monks in the Coptic Orthodox Church to destroy all 'unacceptable' writings in Egypt, except for the New Testament. (As claimed by Elaine Pagal, professor of religion, historian).
380 AD Edict of Thessalonica Edict of Thessalonica was issued by Roman Emperors: Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II. The decree made Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.
... the doctrine of the Trinity should be embraced by those who would be called Catholics; that all others should bear the infamous name of 'heretics'.
392 AD Pope Theophilus Pope Theophilus of Alexandria during his reign the Temple of Serapis was converted into a Christian Church, and it is likely many books were destroyed.

The Temple of Serapis was estimated to hold about 10% of the overall Library of Alexandria's holdings. Pope Theophilus decreed the Library of Alexandria be trashed, burned and looted, as ordered by Emperor Theodosius I.
409 AD Astrology Books A 409 decree stated the books of Astrology be burned and Astrologers be banned from Rome. Until their books of false doctrine were consumed in flames under the eyes of the bishop, and they converted to the Catholic religion.
435 AD Nestorius Nestorius was condemned by Emperor Theodosius II at the Council of Ephesus. It was decreed Nestorius' books be diligently sought out and publicly burned.
1096 AD Christian Crusaders By 1096, Christian crusaders marched through Europe to the Holy Land killing Jews along the way and destroyed their writings.
1140 AD Peter Abelard Peter Abelard's treatise 'On the Unity and Trinity of God' was condemned and ordered to be burned by Pope Innocent II. Abelard's books were burned 'in sight of all' at Rome and he was excommunicated.
1147 AD Peter the Venerable Peter the Venerable declared: I would just condemn the Talmud and its authors to eternal fire.
1208 AD Catharism The crusade against Catharism resulted in the destruction of towns, book burnings, and slaughter of supporters. Cathars were refered to using dehumanized language, metaphorized into disease, infection, plague, poison and leprosy, inviting eradication and extinction.
What Cathars believe?
Cathars believe in the idea of two gods: a Good and Evil one. The Good God was the one in the New Testament, and the Evil God was written of in the Old Testament.
1210 AD Amalric of Bena Amalric of Bena, a philosopher condemned as heretical by the Church had his books burned. Amalric's students were burned at the stake in Paris. Amalric died in 1206 and his bones were exhumed and burned.
1230 AD Pope Gregory IX Pope Gregory IX, a zealous persecutor of Judaism, had commanded the Talmud be burnt for its alleged blasphemies against Christ and Mary. 10,000's copies of the Talmud and other rabbinic writings were burned in France by the chancellor of Paris.
1244 AD Pope Innocent IV Pope Innocent IV denounced the Jewish Talmud in which he said, are blasphemies against God and His Christ. The Christian Church identified Christ as God. No greater blasphemy existed, than rejecting him.

Pope Innocent IV reiterated the need to burn Jewish books. Finally, 12,000 volumes (14 wagon loads) of the Talmud and similar works collected by force from the Jews in France were burned.
1255 AD Council of Beziers The Provincial Council of Beziers declared: The Talmud shall be burned. The Jews who refuse, shall be expelled, and any transgressors shall be punished.

The Church believed the Talmud distorted the Christian Bible, and was held by Jewish Rabbis as of greater importance than the Christian. Bible.
1298 AD Jean Olivi Peter John Olivi, also known as Jean Olivi (1248–1298), was a Franciscan theologian from the Roman Catholic Church, followed by Olivists.

Olivi believed the wealth of the Church as scandalous, and he questioned Christs immaculate conception.

Pope Nicholas IV commanded Olivi burn his own writings. Olivi died in 1298. Later, Olivi was formally accused of heresy by Pope John XXII, and so his bones exhumed and burnt along with copies of his books.
1298 AD Pons Botugati Pons Botugati, a friar known for his piety and eloquence refused to surrender his copy of Jean Olivi's writings.

Botugati was chained in a damp dungeon where he rotted to death in his own filth, with worms burrowed in his flesh.
1300 AD Gerard Segarelli Gerard Segarelli formed a heretical sect, the Apostles of Christ.

Segarelli was branded a heretic as he refused to submit to the Church (ecclesiastical) authority. Segarelli was condemned and burned alive along with his books in 1300.

Many years later, the Church continued its crusade against Segarelli by torturing, and burning 1,000's of Segarelli's surviving followers.
1319 AD Talmud In 13th and 14th centuries, 1,000's of copies of the 'blasphemous, posionous' Talmud were publicly burned in France, Italy and Spain.
1321 AD Pope John XXII Pope John XXII ordered the destruction of the Jewish Talmud in Rome. The Talmud achieved the distinction of being the only book that was consistently burned for 900 years, from 13th to 20th century.
1327 AD Master Cecco Master Cecco, the astrologer condemned as a heretic in the church of Friars-Minors. His book Acerba and da Sphaera to be burnt and all who read it to be excommunicated. Cecco was publicly burnt in presence of a large crowd.

Cecco's ideas 'offensive to the pious ears' were to cast Jesus' horoscope, and show how Libra ascended to 10 degree, rendering the crucifixion inevitable; or as Capricorn was at an angle, Jesus was to be born in a stable, and more.
1329 AD Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri's 'De Monarchia' criticized the popes and argued for a distinction between the powers and limitation of church and state. Alighieri offended the church who ordered his book be destroyed.
1384 AD John Wycliffe John Wycliffe (1339-1384) died a natural death. However, years later, in 1403 and 1410 his books were condemned by the Church and burned.

In 1427, 43 years after his death, the church declared Wycliffe an heretic. They dug up his body, burned his bones, and threw the ashes into the river.
Wycliffe's Bible was the first English Bible translation from the Latin Vulgate.
1401 AD Hebrew Bible As Christians were burning the Hebrew Bible to ashes, they were also burning Christian Bibles. By 1401, English Bibles were ordered to be burned. By 1407 to own a copy without a license led to persecution.
1410 AD Pope Gregory XII Before John Wycliffe's books were burned, Pope Gregory XII wrote an 'angry' letter to the chancellor of Oxford University censuring Wycliffe's opinions.

Wycliffe was upheld by others as the moving force behind the first translation of the whole Bible into English.
1410 AD Archbishop Arudnel Archbishop Thomas Arudnel wrote to Pope John XXIII:
He [Wycliffe] is a wretched and pestilient fellow, the son of the serpent, the herald and child of Antichrist, John Wyclif... filling up the measure of his malice by devising a new translation of Scripture [English Bible] into the mother tongue.
1413 AD John Wycliffe John Wycliffe was condemned as a heretic in 1380; in 1410 his works were burnt at Prague and at Carfax, Oxford. The church concluded Wycliffe's teachings contained errors, heresies and sedition.

Wycliff's books were burnt in 1413 at the basilica of St Peter. The Church, not satisfied with burning Wycliff's books, exhumed his bornes in 1428 and burned them.
1418 AD John Hus Wycliffe adherent, John Hus' writings were ordered to be burnt by the Church. It was decreed Hus' writings be burned, solemnly and publicly.

Hus was publicly burned at the stake after refusing to recant. His ashes were emptied into the Rhine.
1439 AD Gutenberg Printing Press Gutenberg's movable type printing press marked a revolution in print technology. The printing press allowed manuscripts and books to be mass-produced at relatively low cost.
1457 AD Reginald Pecock Reginald Pecock was charged with heresy and his books burned. Pecock views expressed in Book of Faith that it was not neccessary for salvation to believe in:

  1. Our Lord Jesus Christ after his death descended into Hell
  2. The Holy Ghost
  3. The Holy Catholic Church
  4. The communion of saints
  5. That the universal church may err in matters of faith
1479 AD John von Ruchrath of Wesel John von Ruchrath of Wesel, also known as John of Wesel, a monk of the Augustinian order was charged with heresy. Ruchraths books were burned, but he was not condemned to death.

He was imprisoned for life and died in 1481.
1486 AD Torquemada Tomas de Torquemada, a Castilian Dominican friar and first Grand Inquisitor in Spain's movement, the 'Spanish Inquisition', sought to align religious practices with the Catholic Church.

The Spanish Inquisition meant the expulsion from Spain of 1,000's of Jews and Muslims, and execution of 3,000 to 5,000 people.
1486 AD Torquemada Tomas de Torquemada set fire to thousands of Hebrew and Arabic books, including Bonifacio Ferrer's 1417 translation of the Bible into the Valencian dialect in Spain.

Although Ferrer was a Catholic, the Spanish Inquisition ordered his Bible translation be burned. Not a single copy appears to have survived.
1490 AD Pope Adrian VI The Spanish Inquisition burnt a large number of Hebrew Bibles and other Jewish books, and then it consigned to the flames some 6,000 volumes of works on Judaism and sorcery.

Pope Adrian VI, the Inquisitor-General ordered all 'Lutheran-books' in Spain be seized.
1490 AD Spanish Inquisition The Spanish Inquisition was burning Hebrew and Arabic books; and overseeing forced conversions of Jews and Muslims. The most reknowned book burners were Torquemada, Savonarola, and Ximenes.

In 1490, many Hebrew Bibles were committed to the flames at Seville by order of Torquemada; and in Salamanca, 6,000 volumes were burned for writings of Judaism, magic and illicit arts.
1490 AD Seville Hebrew bibles, translated bibles, and books written by Jews were burnt at Seville. At Salamanca more than 6,000 volumes of magic and sorcery were set afire.
1492 AD Torquemada Inquisitor General Tomas de Torquemada celebrated a number of burning festivals, particularly of Hebrew Bibles, and after defeating the Muslims in Grenada in 1492, of Arabic books.
1495 AD Pope Alexander VI Pope Alexander VI asked Savonarola to come to Rome and explain his claim of prophetic powers and diving revelations.

Savonarola was excommunicated, pronounced heretic, imprisoned, tortured, hanged and burned at the Piazza della Signoria at Florence. Savonarola's ashes were thrown into the Arno River.
1498 AD Torquemada Inquisitor General, Torquemada died and buried in Saint Thomas chapel at Avila.

Torquemada's legacy during his 18 years was overseeing the deaths and burnings of 1,000's of books and heretics, conversos and Moriscos.
1499 AD Francisco Ximenez de Cisnero Inquisitor Francisco Ximenez de Cisnero, also know as Cardinal Ximenez burned copies of the Holy Quran in the centre of Bibarrambla, Granada, to cleanse the area of all traces of Islam.

Estimates on the number of religious books, many priceless specimens of art, burned range from 5,000 to 1 million.

Cardinal Ximenez
ordered the burning of all Muslim books, except for 300 on philosophy and medicine which he sent to his University in Alcala.

Ximenez died in 1517, regarded as one of Spain's great political geniuses; reformer and renewer of the Spanish Church.
1499 AD Francisco Penna Francisco Penna, a Dominican defender of the Spanish Inquisition complained: Ever since the perverse excess of printing books, the Church has been greatly damaged by 'the silent heretic', and every day it is confronted by greater and more obvious perils.
1501 AD Pope Alexander VI Pope Alexander VI warned of the impact of printing on the Catholic faith.
Printing can bring about serious evils if it widens the influence of pernicious works. It is necessary to maintain full control over the printers
1503 AD Queen Isabella Queen Isabella gave the Muslims in Spain the choice between conversion to Catholicism or exile.

Isabella ordered the burning of Arabic books in Granada, and a huge bonfire was held under Cisneros.
1512 AD Hermann of Ryswick Hermann of Ryswick was termed a heretic and burned at the Hague together with his books in which he taught:

  1. Matter is uncreated and existed with God from the beginning
  2. The soul dies with the body
  3. Angels, good or bad, are not created by God
1515 AD Pope Leo X Pope Leo X expressed concern about book printing, and ordered any books not examined by the Church be publicly burned. So 'thorns do not grow up with the good seed or poisons become mixed with medicine', and to impose censorship.
1520 AD Martin Luther In 1517, Martin Luther declared his differences with the Church on matters such as indulgence, penance, purgatory and policies. In 1520, Pope Leo X ordered Luther's books be burned publicly.
1520 AD Martin Luther In Wittenberg, protestant Martin Luther cast into the fire volumes of Catholic books, the canon law, the papal decretals and scholastic philosophy.

Defending himself, Luther said:
It is an ancient traditional practise to burn poisonous evil books as we read in chapter 19 of the Acts of the Apostles.
1521 AD Cardinal Adrian In Spain, Inquisitor General Adrian Florensz Boeyens was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States. He was appointed cardinal by Pope Leo X and issued a decree against any person possessing Martin Luther's text to offer them to the authorities for destruction.
1521 AD Thomas Wolsey Cardinal Thomas Wolsey under promises made by Henry VIII oversaw the burning of Martin Luther and John Wycliffe's scriptures at St Paul's Cathederal, London.

Mules bearing chests full of Lutheran writings, before the bonfires were lit.
1521 AD Emperor Charles V The Edict of Worms signed by Emperor Charles V and distributed across Europe emphasized the danger of heresies and false doctrine misleading Christians away from their religion.
On Martin Luther: such a rebellious and evil man was not worthy to be considered a Christian. His books not to be brought, sold, kept or read; and all existing copies to be burnt.
1526 AD Cuthbert Tunstall Bishop of London Cuthbert Tunstall bulk purchased Tyndale's Bible from across Europe denounced the book:
A heretical depravity that without doubt would infect and contaminate the flock committed to us, a deadly disease of heretical depravity
A public burning of William Tyndale's Bible took place at Paul's Cross, London. Future efforts to halt the spread of the Tyndale Bible were not successful and book burnings continued.
1533 AD John Firth John Firth, a close associate of William Tyndale had written a book in which he claimed neither transubstantiation (or Eucharist, the change of bread/wine into Jesus' body/blood) nor purgatory (a place where the dead's souls are purified from sin) were necessary articles of faith.

Henry VIII condemned Firth before bishops in St Paul's, London.

Firth was burned at the stake at Smithfield in 1533, and his books destroyed.
1533 AD King Henry VIII King Henry VIII condemned in the king's Proclamation and 'openly burned' books by William Tyndale, John Firth, John Wycliffe, George Roy, William Roy, Thomas Basil, John Bale, Robert Barnes, Miles Coverdale, William Turner and William Tracy.
1534 AD Antoine Augereau Book printers and book sellers were also burned along with their books in France. Antoine Augereau, a book printer of Luther's false works 'Miroir de l'ame pecheresse' was sent to the stake.

In 1535, in the streets of Paris, six heretic book sellers were burned at the stake, together with three large sacks of books in their possession were added to the fire.
1536 AD William Tyndale William Tyndale was arrested in Antwerp, pronounced a heretic, degraded from priesthood and burned at the stake.

According to records, Tyndale was brought to the place of execution, tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and then set afire; he cried aloud: 'Lord, open the king of England's eyes'.
1537 AD Spanish Inquisition The Spanish burned books in European Spain, and once they invaded and conquered lands in the Americas. The Spanish conquest took the Inquisition with the burnings of Mayan and Maxican books, idols and shrines.

The Spanish armies destroyed the natives, the Church annihilated the sects.
1537 AD Juan da Zumarraga First Bishop of Mexico, Juan da Zumarraga requested authority to seize Mexican land, property, temples and oratories and use them to build Christian churches.

The power to overturn, burn and destroy the idols, as we are all bound to destroy idolatory. The Christian religion cannot be planted until they, the idols are rooted up.

Zumarraga conducted a public burning of the prohibited Indian idols and sacrificial paraphernalia.
1539 AD King Henry VIII King Henry VIII in a speech before the British Parliament, complained with tears in his eyes, that the Bible was being 'disputed, rhymed, sung and jangled in every ale-house and tavern'.

Again, large quantities of William Tyndale's Bible were confiscated and burned.
1542 AD King Francis I King Francis I wanted to rid the kingdom of all copies of Calvin's Institutes book. All copies were to be handed in and further printing ceased.

Parisian book printers, sellers, owners were often put on trial and executed.
1545 AD Francis Xavier Portuguese invaders were burning the books and idols of Goa's native population. The Portuguese and Franciscans were to convert the Goans to Christianity.

Saint Francis Xavier wrote to the King of Portugal declaring the Inquisition was needed in Goa, India:
As many locals live according to Jewish law and the Mohamedan sect without any fear of God or shame.
1546 AD Etienne Dolet French scholar and printer Etienne Dolet was arrested for printing 'blasphemous' books which approved of the doctrine of predestination.

The French parliament ordered the burning of Dolet's book containing 'damnable, pernicious and heretical doctrines'.

In Place Maubert, Paris a great fire was made. Dolet was hung on gallows and thrown into the fire with his books and burnt to ashes.
1546 AD King Henry VIII King Henry VIII proclaimed, The King's most excellent majesty declaring the truth of God's Scripture, purge the corrupt and pernicious doctrines, and order the burning of the works of Tyndale, Frith, Wycliffe, Bale, Barnes and Coverdale.
1549 AD Francesco Stella The Italian Inquisition uncovered a library of 59 titles belonging to book seller, Francesco Stella, including Luther, Melanchthon, Bullinger, and Joachim Vadianus among Protestants; and Ochino, Curione, Vergerio, Vermigli, Giulio della Rovere, and Francesco Negri.

Stella's books were burned.
1549 AD William Thomas William Thomas, author of 'A Historie of Italie' contained passages offensive to Queen Mary. He was hanged, beheaded, and quartered before his book later burned.
1550 AD Pope Paul IV Book burnings were widespread in Italy, England, France, Spain and other European countries. In Italy in the mid-16th century, neither private nor public libraries were spared, and many were nearly emptied.
It was said, in Rome, Pope Paul IV is burning books; all the writings of Erasmus; even the works of Cyprian, Jerome and Augustine through their quoting in the notes of Erasmus.
c. 1550 AD Petro Garcia Petro Garcia, an uneducated man who wrote three books said to contain heresy. Garcia declared his innocence and misjudgement by the authorities, but was condemned to death.

When Garcia saw the flames lit, he recanted and sought forgiveneness. Garcia was strangled, then burned with his books tied to his neck.
1550 AD Jewish Converts In the middle of 16th century, at the same time books were reduced to ashes, heretics and "New Christians" (Jews who converted to Christianity and reverted to Judaism) were also burned.
1551 AD India Inquisition In Goa, India, a Christian priest wrote to the Father General of Rome:
The Inquisition is necessary here as Christians live with the Muslims, Jews and Hindus. They may mend their ways from consideration of what they owe God, at out of fear of the disgrace and shame of prison and other penalties.
The Portuguese burned the books in Goa, India not only for religious reasons, but for destroying the Goan language and culture. Goa's temples with 'exceedingly fine workmanship', centers of learning and teaching razed to the ground, literature works, pagan emblems were shattered and books burnt for their doctrines of idolatory.

All books written in Sanskrit and Marathi, religious, non-religious books dealing with art, literature, sciences etc. were seized and burnt by the Inquisition.
1553 AD Italian Church The Italian Church reduced 1000's of copies of the 'blasphemous' Talmud and other Hebrew works to ashes, across regions of Italy.

After many months, possibly 100,000's of books were burned across Italy in compliance with Rome's decree.
1553 AD Michael Servetus Michael Servetus, a Spanish scholar and physician, practised medicine near Lyons, France and was editorial assistant to local printers. Servetus spent many years on a book he hoped would restore Christianity to its original, simple state.

In 1553, Servetus was found guilty of heresy for his views on Trinity in his book Christianismi restitutio. Servetus was sentenced to death for spreading the 'venom of heresy' and blasphemy against the Holy Trinity, where he refered to the the Trinity as 'a diabolical monster with three heads'.

Servetus was condemned by French Catholic Authorities, and executed by Protestant authorities in Geneva. His book was strapped to his thigh; his body tied to the stake by iron chain; his neck tied by a rope so high his feet just touched the ground. Servetus was slowly burned at the stake.
1553 AD Italy A papal order of 1553 condemned the Talmud. The report of 'Esecutori contro la bestimmia' led to the burning of the Talmud.

All across Italy, the book burnings spread, reducing to ashes possibly 100,000's of books.
1553 AD Christian Heresy The Church was concerned with the heretical writings of Christians. With widespread Talmud and Jewish text burnings, heretical Christian books were targetted too. The problem for the Church was not abusive speech about religion, but different interpretations of the Christian faith.
1555 AD Francisco de Torres Jesuit Francisco de Torres wrote to the Inquisitors:
All copies of the Jewish Talmud needed to be burned, if salvation of the Jews was to be achieved. By ridding the Jews of the wisdom of their rabbis will open them to receive the word of God [Christian Bible] and understand the mysteries of Christ.
1555 AD King Philip II King Philip II of Spain and Queen Mary gave a royal proclamation, calling for the burning of books linked to heresies and false doctrines. Among the 27 authors specifically named were Luther, Bucer, Coverdale, Tyndale, Cranmer, Frith and Peter Martyr.

The Spanish authorities were empowered to enter into houses, closets and secret places of every person in search of the books.
1556 AD Francois Le Picart Francois Le Picart, the most famous Catholic preacher in Paris participated in the burning of 14 condemned heretics. The heretics were bound with ropes and chains to a gibbet.

To drown out the cries of the condemned, the priests would sing 'Salva Regina' until the bodies had burnt and fallen into the fire.
1557 AD Spanish Inquisition In Spain, edicts ordering that bookshops be searched and anyone found in possession of them [different Bibles] to be punished with the greatest severity.
1560 AD Martin Lhomme Martin Lhomme, a French printer convicted of printing the Le Tigre pamphlet critical of the cardinal of Lorraine, was hanged in Paris.
1562 AD Bishop Landa Bishop Diego de Landa, led the burning of Mayan books and 5,000 Mayan idols identified with pagan rites. Landa's book burnings involved the burning of Mayans, their shrines, and the priceless native picture books, to stamp out all vestiges of pagan rites and religion.

The Spanish invaders sought to convert the native population to Christianity by eradicating their culture and history.
1565 AD Venice, Italy A list of the books burned in Venice, Italy showed 2,400 volumes of various Hebrew books were burned in the Piazzo San Marco including:

  • 1,000 copies of Or ha-Sekhel
  • 8 bales of titles by Zorzi de Cavalli
  • 4,400 folio volumes of Midhrash Rabba, Beur al hat-Torah, Seror Ha-Mor and Moroth Elohim
  • Eben Ha-Ezer, Abudirham, Dol-bo and Mahazor
1570 AD Spanish Inquisition In Spain, Hebrew writings were burned, along with Lutheran books. Shortly after, the Spanish were burning the writings of the conquered indigenous natives in the newly found colonies in the Americas.
1586 AD Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop of Canterbury wielded his censorship powers. No printing was allowed outside London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Christopher Marlowe's 'obscene' translation of Ovid's Elgies was burnt at Stationers Hall by order of the Archbishop.
1587 Japan In Japan, the Christian Church made efforts to convert the Japanese people to Christianity by:

  1. Label Buddha and other Japanese gods as 'devils'
  2. Burn 1000's of Buddhist temples
  3. Burn the Buddhism books, and idols
  4. Destroy countless works of art
  5. Slaughter of Buddhist priests
1587 Buddhism The Japanese resist the Church Christianization efforts, and order Christian missionaries to leave. The order read:

  1. Japan is the country of gods, but has received false teachings from Christian countries
  2. The missionaries make followers and let them destroy shrines and temples
  3. This is an illegal act of destroying the teachings of Buddha prevailing in Japan
1599 AD Giordano Bruno Giordano Bruno, a former Dominican was charged with heresy on eight counts:

  1. The Catholic faith is full of blasphemy against God
  2. The Catholic teaching bread is tranmuted into flesh is blasphemy
  3. Denied the possibility of a Virgin Birth
  4. Disapproved of the sacrifice of the Mass
  5. Monks are 'asses' and Catholicism 'asinine'
  6. Souls pass from one animal to another
  7. The world is guided by fate
  8. There are infinite worlds

Bruno together with his books burnt at Campo di Fiori and his ashes scattered 'to the winds'.
1600 AD Book Burnings Book burnings continued into the 17th century in Holland, Spain, England, Poland, Japan, Peru, France and Italy.
1617 AD Archbishop Dominis Archbishop Marco Antonio de Dominis, an Italian archbishop published 'De Republica Ecclesiastica' in which he disproved the authority of Bishop of Rome using the Holy Scripture.

Dominis was convicted of 17 heresies, and his body, picture, and books publicly burned in Campo di Fiore.
1620 AD Eliseo Masini Eliseo Masini, the inquisitor of Genoa purged towns of Italy of 'the Aretinos, the Machiavellis, the Bodins, the Boccaccios and authors of venacular Bibles, when fully 5,000 or 6,000 copies of books were burned'.
1639 AD Francisco Maldonado de Silva Francisco Maldonado de Silva brought up Catholic, converted to the Jewish faith.

The Inquisition imprisoned him for 13 years. On release, Silva was burned at the stake with 11 other Jews in Lima, with the books he had written whilst in prison hung around his neck.
1649 AD Mathias de Bocanegra Inquisitor Mathias de Bocanegra of Mexico City found 108 Jews guilty of practising Judaism, by the tribunal in the viceroyalty of New Spain.
1650 AD Thomas Hobbes The British were burning the books of Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Richard Baxter, John Godwin, John Owen, John Archer, and John Fry.

The French, Ialians, Poles, and Spanish were setting their own fires, burning heretical works, many seen as politically manacing.
1757 Poland In Poland, the church order was given to confiscate the Jewish Talmud and other Hebrew works and consign these to fire.

Officers of the church, police and Frankists took all books except the Bible and Zohar; in all 1,000 books were thrown into a ditch and burnt.
1800 Blasphemy Blasphemy against God was of concern, and heretical views on Trinity, baptism, reincarnation, predestination and transubstantiation were overshadowed by whether writings were immoral.

The burning of heretical, blasphemous authors and books declined in 19th century.
1920 AD Nazism With Nazism came the book burnings in Berlin, Munich, Breslau, Kiel, Heidelberg, Frankfurt and other German towns.

Books written by 'un-German' authors such as Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Thomas Mann, Friedrich Engels, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Heinrich Mann, Emil Ludwig, Arnold and Stephan Sweig, Erich Maria Remarque, John Dos Passos, Leon Feuchtwanger and Arthur Schnitzler were destroyed.
1933 AD Nazi Germany During the book burnings in Nazi Germany, it was declared the German nation had cleansed itself internally and externally through the destruction of books written by Jewish authors.
1933 AD Fredrick Birchall Fredrick Birchall reported in The New York Times: 'More than 20,000 books were on the pile that students of the University of Berlin ignited in the Opera square tonight.'
1990 AD Israel In March 1990, the Index on Censorship reported that since the Intifada, 1987, the Israeli government had denied Palestinian institutions the right to freedom of expression. Book burnings, a part of the widespread censorship.

Burning Books. Haig Bosmajian 2006
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