Miguel Servet

Not to be confused with Servatius (disambiguation).

Template:Infobox theologian Michael Servetus (Spanish: Miguel Serveto Conesa), also known as Miguel Servet, Miguel Serveto, Revés, or Michel de Villeneuve (29 September? 1509 or 1511 – 27 October 1553), was a Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer, and Renaissance humanist. He was the first European to correctly describe the function of pulmonary circulation. He was a polymath versed in many sciences: mathematics, astronomy and meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine and pharmacology, as well as jurisprudence, translation, poetry and the scholarly study of the Bible in its original languages. He is renowned in the history of several of these fields, particularly medicine and theology. He participated in the Protestant Reformation, and later developed a nontrinitarian Christology. Condemned by Catholics and Protestants alike, he was arrested in Geneva and burnt at the stake as a heretic by order of the Protestant Geneva governing council.


Early life and education

Servetus could have been born[1]  on 29 September 1511 in Villanueva de Sijena in Aragon, Spain, due to the fact that 29 September is Saint Michael's day according to the Catholic calendar of saints. Some sources give an earlier date based on Servetus' own occasional claim of having been born in 1509.[2] Another line of research defends his birth in Tudela of Navarre, and that his true name was De Villanueva according to the letters of naturalization,(Chamber des Comptes, Royal Chancellorship and Parlement of Grenoble) and the registry at the University of Paris. The  ancestors of his father came from the hamlet of Serveto, in the Aragonese Pyrenees. His father was a notary of Christian ancestors from the lower nobility (infanzón),[3] who worked at the nearby Monastery of Santa Maria de Sigena. Servetus had two brothers, one was a Catholic priest, Juan, another was a notary, Pedro.[4] Although Servetus declared during his trial in Geneva that his parents were "Christians of ancient race", and that he never had any communication with Jews,[5] his maternal line actually descended from the Zaportas (or Çaportas), a wealthy and socially relevant Jewish converso family from the Barbastro and Monzón areas in Aragon.[6][7] This was demonstrated by a notarial protocol published in 1999.[8][9][10]

Servetus' family used a nickname, "Revés", according to an old tradition in rural Spain of using alternate names for families across generations. The origin of the Revés nickname may have been that a member of a (probably distinguished) family living in Villanueva with the surname Revés established blood ties with the Serveto family, thus uniting both family names for the next generations.[11]

Servetus was gifted in languages and could have studied Latin and Greek under the instruction of Dominican friars.[12] He also had a knowledge of Hebrew, a language he could have learnt from his converso relatives.[13] At the age of fifteen, Michael Servetus entered the service of a Franciscan friar by the name of Juan de Quintana.[14] Michael Servetus later attended the University of Toulouse in 1526 where he studied law. Servetus could have had access to forbidden religious books, some of them maybe Protestant, while he was studying in this city.[15]


Quintana became Charles V's confessor in 1530, and Servetus joined him in the imperial retinue as his page or secretary.[16] Servetus travelled through Italy and Germany, and attended Charles' coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in Bologna. He was outraged by the pomp and luxury displayed by the Pope and his retinue, and decided to follow the path of reformation.[17] It is not known when Servetus left the imperial entourage, but in October 1530 he visited Johannes Oecolampadius in Basel, staying there for about ten months, and probably supporting himself as a proofreader for a local printer. By this time he was already spreading his theological beliefs. In May 1531 he met Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Fabricius Capito in Strasbourg.

Two months later, in July 1531, Servetus published De Trinitatis Erroribus (On the Errors of the Trinity). The next year he published the work Dialogorum de Trinitate (Dialogues on the Trinity) and the supplementary work De Iustitia Regni Christi (On the Justice of Christ's Reign) in the same volume. After the persecution of the Inquisition, Servetus assumed the name "Michel de Villeneuve" while he was staying in France. He studied at the Collège de Calvi in Paris in 1533. Servetus also published the first French edition of Ptolemy's Geography. Servetus dedicated his first edition of Ptolemy and his edition of the Bible to his patron Hugues de la Porte. While in Lyon, Symphorien Champier, a medical humanist, had been his patron. Servetus wrote a pharmacological treatise in defense of Champier against Leonhart Fuchs In Leonardum Fucsium Apologia (Apology against Leonard Fuchs). Working also as a proofreader, he published several more books which dealt with medicine and pharmacology, such as his Syruporum universia ratio (Complete Explanation of the Syrups), which became a very famous work.

After an interval, Servetus returned to Paris to study medicine in 1536. In Paris, his teachers included Sylvius, Fernel and Johann Winter von Andernach, who hailed him with Andrea Vesalius as his most able assistant in dissections. During these years he wrote his Manuscript of the Complutense, an unpublished compendium of his medical ideas. Servetus taught mathematics and astrology while he studied medicine. He predicted an occultation of Mars by the Moon, and this joined to his teaching generated much envy among the medicine teachers. His teaching classes were suspended by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Jean Tagault, and Servetus wrote his Apologetic Discourse of Michel de Villeneuve in Favour of Astrology and against a Certain Physician against him. Tagault later argued for the death penalty in the judgement of the University of Paris against Michel de Villeneuve. He was accused of teaching De Divinatione by Cicero. Finally, the sentence was reduced to the withdrawal of this edition. As a result of the risks and difficulties of studying medicine at Paris, Servetus decided to go to Montpellier to finish his medical studies, maybe thanks to his teacher Sylvius who did exactly the same as a student.[18] There he became a Doctor of Medicine in 1539. After that he lived at Charlieu. Another physician, jealous, ambushed and tried to kill Servetus, but Servetus defended himself and injured one of the attackers in a swordfight. He was in prison for several days because of this incident.[19]

Working at Vienne

After his studies in medicine, Servetus started a medical practice. He became personal physician to Pierre Palmier, Archbishop of Vienne, and was also physician to Guy de Maugiron, the lieutenant governor of Dauphiné. Thanks to the printer Jean Frellon II, acquaintance of Calvin and friend of Michel, Servetus and Calvin began to correspond. Calvin used the pseudonym "Charles d'Espeville." Servetus also became a French citizen, using his "De Villeneufve" persona, by the Royal Process (1548–1549) of French Naturalization, issued by Henri II of France.[20]

In 1553 Michael Servetus published yet another religious work with further anti-trinitarian views. It was entitled Christianismi Restitutio (The Restoration of Christianity), a work that sharply rejected the idea of predestination as the idea that God condemned souls to Hell regardless of worth or merit. God, insisted Servetus, condemns no one who does not condemn himself through thought, word or deed. This work also includes the first published description of the pulmonary circulation.

To Calvin, who had written his summary of Christian doctrine Institutio Christianae Religionis (Institutes of the Christian Religion), Servetus' latest book was an attack on his personally held theories regarding Christian belief, theories that he put forth as "established Christian doctrine". Calvin sent a copy of his own book as his reply. Servetus promptly returned it, thoroughly annotated with critical observations. Calvin wrote to Servetus, "I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity." In time their correspondence grew more heated until Calvin ended it.[21] Servetus sent Calvin several more letters, to which Calvin took offense.[22] Thus, Calvin's antagonism against Servetus seems to have been based not simply on his views but also on Servetus's tone, which he considered inappropriate. Calvin revealed the intentions of his offended pride when writing to his friend William Farel on 13 February 1546:


Imprisonment and execution

On 16 February 1553, Michael Servetus while in Vienne, was denounced as a heretic by Guillaume de Trie, a rich merchant who had taken refuge in Geneva, and a very good friend of Calvin,[17] in a letter sent to a cousin, Antoine Arneys, who was living in Lyon. On behalf of the French inquisitor Matthieu Ory, Michael Servetus and Balthasard Arnollet, the printer of Christianismi Restitutio, were questioned, but they denied all charges and were released for lack of evidence. Arneys was asked by Ory to write back to De Trie, demanding proof. On 26 March 1553, the letters sent by Michel to Calvin and some manuscript pages of Christianismi Restitutio were forwarded to Lyon by De Trie. On 4 April 1553 Michael de Villanueva was arrested by Roman Catholic authorities, and imprisoned in Vienne. Servetus escaped from prison three days later. On 17 June, Michel de Villeneuve was convicted of heresy, "thanks to the 17 letters sent by John Calvin, preacher in Geneva"[23] and sentenced to be burned with his books. An effigy and his books were burned in his absence.

Meaning to flee to Italy, Servetus inexplicably stopped in Geneva, where Calvin and his Reformers had denounced him. On 13 August, he attended a sermon by Calvin at Geneva. He was arrested after the service[24] and again imprisoned. All his property was confiscated. Servetus claimed during this judgement he was arrested at an inn at Geneva. French Inquisitors asked that Servetus be extradited to them for execution. Calvin wanted to show himself as firm in defense of Christian orthodoxy as his usual opponents. "He was forced to push the condemnation of Servetus with all the means at his command."[24] Calvin's delicate health meant he did not personally appear against Servetus.[25] Nicholas de la Fontaine played the more active role in Servetus's prosecution and the listing of points that condemned him. Among the possible reasons which prevented Calvin from appearing personally against Servetus there was one which must have seemed of itself sufficient. The laws regulating criminal actions in Geneva required that in certain grave cases the complainant himself should be incarcerated pending the trial. Calvin's delicate health and his great and constant usefulness in the administration of the state rendered a prolonged absence from the public life of Geneva impracticable. Nevertheless, Calvin is to be regarded as the author of the prosecution. Nicholas de la Fontaine was a refugee in Geneva and entered the service of Calvin, by whom he was employed as secretary.[26]

At his trial, Servetus was condemned on two counts, for spreading and preaching Nontrinitarianism and anti-paedobaptism (anti-infant baptism).[27] Of paedobaptism Servetus had said, "It is an invention of the devil, an infernal falsity for the destruction of all Christianity."[28] In the case the procureur général (chief public prosecutor) added some curious-sounding accusations in the form of inquiries—the most odd-sounding perhaps being, "whether he has married, and if he answers that he has not, he shall be asked why, in consideration of his age, he could refrain so long from marriage." To this oblique imputation about his sexuality, Servetus replied that rupture (inguinal hernia) had long since made him incapable of that particular sin. Another offensive question was "whether he did not know that his doctrine was pernicious, considering that he favours Jews and Turks, by making excuses for them, and if he has not studied the Koran in order to disprove and controvert the doctrine and religion that the Christian churches hold, together with other profane books, from which people ought to abstain in matters of religion, according to the doctrine of St. Paul."

Calvin believed Servetus deserving of death on account of what he termed as his "execrable blasphemies".[29] Calvin expressed these sentiments in a letter to Farel, written about a week after Servetus’ arrest, in which he also mentioned an exchange with Servetus. Calvin wrote:

...after he [Servetus] had been recognized, I thought he should be detained. My friend Nicolas summoned him on a capital charge, offering himself as a security according to the lex talionis. On the following day he adduced against him forty written charges. He at first sought to evade them. Accordingly we were summoned. He impudently reviled me, just as if he regarded me as obnoxious to him. I answered him as he deserved... of the man’s effrontery I will say nothing; but such was his madness that he did not hesitate to say that devils possessed divinity; yea, that many gods were in individual devils, inasmuch as a deity had been substantially communicated to those equally with wood and stone. I hope that sentence of death will at least be passed on him; but I desired that the severity of the punishment be mitigated.[30]

As Servetus was not a citizen of Geneva, and legally could at worst be banished, the government, in an attempt to find some plausible excuse to disregard this legal reality, had consulted with other Swiss Reformed cantons (Zürich, Bern, Basel, Schaffhausen.) They universally favoured his condemnation and suppression of his doctrine, but without saying how that should be accomplished.[31] Martin Luther had condemned his writing in strong terms. Servetus and Philip Melanchthon had strongly hostile views of each other. The party called the "Libertines", who were generally opposed to anything and everything John Calvin supported, were in this case strongly in favour of the execution of Servetus at the stake (while Calvin urged that he be beheaded instead). In fact, the council that condemned Servetus was presided over by Perrin (a Libertine) who ultimately on 24 October sentenced Servetus to death by burning for denying the Trinity and infant baptism.[32] When Calvin requested that Servetus be executed by decapitation as a traitor rather than by fire as a heretic, Farel, in a letter of 8 September, chided him for undue lenience.[33] The Geneva Council refused his request. On 27 October 1553 Servetus was burned at the stake just outside Geneva with what was believed to be the last copy of his book chained to his leg. Historians record his last words as: "Jesus, Son of the Eternal God, have mercy on me."[34]

Calvin agreed that those whom the ruling religious authorities determined to be heretics should be punished:

Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man's authority; it is God who speaks, and clear it is what law he will have kept in the church, even to the end of the world. Wherefore does he demand of us a so extreme severity, if not to show us that due honor is not paid him, so long as we set not his service above every human consideration, so that we spare not kin, nor blood of any, and forget all humanity when the matter is to combat for His glory.[35]


Sebastian Castellio and countless others denounced this execution and became harsh critics of Calvin because of the whole affair.

Some other anti-trinitarian thinkers began to be more cautious in expressing their views: Martin Cellarius, Lelio Sozzini and others either ceased writing or wrote only in private. The fact that Servetus was dead meant that his writings could be distributed more widely, though others such as Giorgio Biandrata developed them in their own names.

The writings of Servetus influenced the beginnings of the Unitarian movement in Poland and Transylvania.[36] Piotr z Goniądza's advocacy of Servetus' views led to the separation of the Polish brethren from the Calvinist Reformed Church in Poland, and laid the foundations for the Socinian movement which fostered the early Unitarians in England like John Biddle.


In his first two books (De trinitatis erroribus, and Dialogues on the Trinity plus the supplementary De Iustitia Regni Christi) Servetus rejected the classical conception of the Trinity, stating that it was not based on the Bible. He argued that it arose from teachings of Greek philosophers, and he advocated a return to the simplicity of the Gospels and the teachings of the early Church Fathers that he believed pre-dated the development of Nicene trinitarianism. Servetus hoped that the dismissal of the trinitarian dogma would make Christianity more appealing to believers in Judaism and Islam, which had preserved the unity of God in their teachings. According to Servetus, trinitarians had turned Christianity into a form of "tritheism", or belief in three gods. Servetus affirmed that the divine Logos, the manifestation of God and not a separate divine Person, was incarnated in a human being, Jesus, when God's spirit came into the womb of the Virgin Mary. Only from the moment of conception was the Son actually generated. Therefore, although the Logos from which He was formed was eternal, the Son was not Himself eternal. For this reason, Servetus always rejected calling Christ the "eternal Son of God" but rather called him "the Son of the eternal God."[37] In describing Servetus' view of the Logos, Andrew Dibb explained: "In 'Genesis' God reveals himself as the creator. In 'John' he reveals that he created by means of the Word, or Logos. Finally, also in 'John', he shows that this Logos became flesh and 'dwelt among us'. Creation took place by the spoken word, for God said "Let there be ..." The spoken word of Genesis, the Logos of John, and the Christ, are all one and the same."[38]

Unitarian scholar Earl Morse Wilbur states, "Servetus' Errors of the Trinity is hardly heretical in intent, rather is suffused with passionate earnestness, warm piety, an ardent reverence for Scripture, and a love for Christ so mystical and overpowering that [he] can hardly find words to express it ... Servetus asserted that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were dispositions of God, and not separate and distinct beings."[39] Wilbur promotes the idea that Servetus was a modalist.

Servetus states his view clearly in the preamble to Restoration of Christianity (1553): "There is nothing greater, reader, than to recognize that God has been manifested as substance, and that His divine nature has been truly communicated. We shall clearly apprehend the manifestation of God through the Word and his communication through the Spirit, both of them substantially in Christ alone."[40] This theology, though original in some respects, has often been compared to Adoptionism, Arianism, and Sabellianism, all of which Trinitarians rejected in favour of the belief that God exists eternally in three distinct persons. Nevertheless, Servetus rejected these theologies in his books: Adoptionism, because it denied Jesus's divinity;[41] Arianism, because it multiplied the hypostases and established a rank;[42] and Sabellianism, because, at first glance, it seemingly confused the Father with the Son.[43]

The incomprehensible God is known through Christ, by faith, rather than by philosophical speculations. He manifests God to us, being the expression of His very being, and through him alone, God can be known. The scriptures reveal Him to those who have faith; and thus we come to know the Holy Spirit as the Divine impulse within us.[44]

Under severe pressure from Catholics and Protestants alike, Servetus clarified this explanation in his second book, Dialogues (1532), to show the Logos coterminous with Christ. He was nevertheless accused of heresy because of his insistence on denying the dogma of the Trinity and the individuality of three divine Persons in one God.

Legacy and relevance

Theological influence

Because of his rejection of the Trinity and eventual execution by burning for heresy, Unitarians often regard Servetus as the first (modern) Unitarian martyr —though he was a Unitarian in neither the 17th-century sense of the term nor the contemporary sense. Sharply critical though he was of the orthodox formulation of the trinity, Servetus is better described as a highly unorthodox trinitarian.[45]

Aspects of his thinking—his critique of existing trinitarian theology, his devaluation of the doctrine of original sin, and his fresh examination of biblical proof-texts—did influence those who later inspired or founded unitarian churches in Poland and Transylvania.[45]

Other non-trinitarian groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses,[46] and Oneness Pentecostalism,[47] also claim Servetus as a spiritual ancestor. Oneness Pentecostalism particularly identifies with Servetus' teaching on the divinity of Jesus Christ and his insistence on the oneness of God, rather than a Trinity of three distinct persons: "And because His Spirit was wholly God He is called God, just as from His flesh He is called man."[48]

Swedenborg wrote a systematic theology that had many similarities to the theology of Servetus.[49][50][verification needed][dubious ]

More recently Servetus' name has been given prominence by the originally anonymous author "Servetus the Evangelical".

Freedom of conscience

Widespread aversion to Servetus’s death has been taken as signaling the birth in Europe of the idea of religious tolerance, a principle now more important to modern Unitarian Universalists than antitrinitarianism.[45] Spanish scholar on Servetus' work, Ángel Alcalá, identified the radical search for truth and the right for freedom of conscience as Servetus' main legacies, rather than his theology.[51] The Polish-American scholar, Marian Hillar, has studied the evolution of freedom of conscience, from Servetus and the Polish Socinians, to John Locke and to Thomas Jefferson and the American Declaration of Independence. According to Hillar: "Historically speaking, Servetus died so that freedom of conscience could become a civil right in modern society." [52]

Scientific legacy

Servetus was the first European to describe the function of pulmonary circulation, although his achievement was not widely recognized at the time, for a few reasons. One was that the description appeared in a theological treatise, Christianismi Restitutio, not in a book on medicine. However, the sections in which he refers to anatomy and medicines demonstrate an amazing understanding of the body and treatments. Most copies of the book were burned shortly after its publication in 1553 because of persecution of Servetus by religious authorities. Three copies survived, but these remained hidden for decades. In passage V, Servetus recounts his discovery that the blood of the pulmonary circulation flows from the heart to the lungs (rather than air in the lungs flowing to the heart as had been thought). His discovery was based on the colour of the blood, the size and location of the different ventricles, and the fact that the pulmonary vein was extremely large, which suggested that it performed intensive and transcendent exchange. However, Servetus does not talk just about cardiology. In the same passage, from page 169 to 178, he also talks of the brain, the cerebellum, the meninges, the nerves, the eye, the tympanum, the rete mirabile, etc., demonstrating a great knowledge of anatomy. In some other sections of this work he also talks of medical products.

Servetus also contributed enormously to medicine with other published works specifically related to the field, such as his Complete Explanation of Syrups and his study on syphilis in his Apology against Leonhart Fuchs, among others.[53]



In Geneva, 350 years after the execution, remembering Servetus was still a controversial issue. In 1903 a committee was formed by supporters of Servetus to erect a monument in his honour. The group was led by a French Senator, Auguste Dide, an author of a book on heretics and revolutionaries which was published in 1887. The committee commissioned a local sculptor, Clothilde Roch, to do a statue showing a suffering Servetus. The work was three years in the making and was finished in 1907. However by then, supporters of Calvin in Geneva, having heard about the project, had already erected a simple stele in memory of Servetus in 1903, the main text of which served more as an apologetic for Calvin:

Duteous and grateful followers of Calvin our great Reformer, yet condemning an error which was that of his age, and strongly attached to liberty of conscience according to the true principles of his Reformation and gospel, we have erected this expiatory monument. Oct. 27, 1903
About the same time, a short street close by the stele was named after him.[54]

The city council then rejected the request of the committee to erect the completed statue, on the grounds that there was already a monument to Servetus. The committee then offered the statue to the French town of Annemasse, which in 1908 placed it in front of the city hall, with the following inscriptions:

“The arrest of Servetus in Geneva, where he did neither publish nor dogmatize, hence he was not subject to its laws, has to be considered as a barbaric act and an insult to the Right of Nations.” Voltaire
"I beg you, shorten please these deliberations. It is clear that Calvin for his pleasure wishes to make me rot in this prison. The lice eat me alive. My clothes are torn and I have nothing for a change, nor shirt, only a worn out vest.” Servetus, 1553

In 1942, the Vichy Government took down the statue, as it was a celebration of freedom of conscience, and melted it. In 1960, having found the original molds, Annemasse had it recast and returned the statue to its previous place.[55]

Finally, on 3 October 2011, Geneva erected a copy of the statue which it had rejected over 100 years before. It was cast in Aragon from the molds of Clothilde Roch's original statue. Rémy Pagani, former mayor of Geneva, inaugurated the statue. He previously had described Servetus as "the dissident of dissidence."[56] Representatives from the Roman Catholic Church in Geneva and the Director of Geneva's International Museum of the Reformation attended the ceremony. A Geneva newspaper noted the absence of officials from the National Protestant Church of Geneva, the church of John Calvin.[57]


In 1984, a Zaragoza public hospital changed its name from José Antonio to Miguel Servet. It is now a university hospital.

Most Spanish cities also include at least a street, square or park named after Servetus.


Only the dates of the first editions are included.

  • 1531 "On the Errors of the Trinity. De Trinitatis Erroribus" (Haguenau, Setzer). Without imprint mark or mark of printer, nor the city in which it was printed. Signed as Michael Serveto alias Revés, from Aragon, Spanish. Written in Latin, it also includes words in Greek and in Hebrew in the body of the text whenever he wanted to stress the original meaning of a word from Scripture.
  • 1532 "Dialogues on the Trinity. Dialogorum de Trinitate" (Haguenau, Setzer). Without imprint mark or mark of printer, nor the city where it was printed. Signed as Michael Serveto alias Revés, from Aragon, Spanish.
  • 1535 "Geography of Claudius Ptolemy. Claudii Ptolemaeii Alexandrinii Geographicae." Lyon, Trechsel. Signed as Michel de Villeneuve. Servetus dedicated this work to Hugues de la Porte. The second edition was dedicated to Pierre Palmier. Michel de Villeneuve states that the basis of his edition comes from the work of Bilibald Pirkheimer, who translated this work from Greek to Latin, but Michel also affirms that he also compared it to the primitive Greek texts.[58] The 19th-century expert in Servetus, Henri Tollin (1833–1902), considered him to be "the father of comparative geography" due to the extension of his notes and commentaries.
  • 1536 "The Apology against Leonard Fuchs. In Leonardum Fucsium Apologia." Lyon, printed by Gilles Hugetan, with Parisian prologue. Signed as Michel de Villeneuve. The physician Leonhart Fuchs and a friend of Michael Servetus, Symphorien Champier, got involved in an argument via written works, on their different Lutheran and Catholic beliefs. Servetus defends his friend in the first parts of the work. In the second part he talks of a medical plant and its properties. In the last part he writes on different topics, such as the defense of a pupil attacked by a teacher, and the origin of syphilis.
  • 1537 "Complete Explanation of the Syrups. Syruporum universia ratio". Paris, edited by Simon de Colines. Signed as Michael de Villeneuve. This work consists of a prologue "The Use of Syrups", and 5 chapters: I "What the concoction is and why it is unique and not multiple", II "What the things that must be known are", III "That the concoction is always..", IV "Exposition of the aphorisms of Hippocrates" and V "On the composition of syrups". Michel de Villeneuve refers to experiences of using the treatments, and to pharmaceutical treatises and terms more deeply described in his later pharmacopeia Enquiridion or Dispensarium. Michel mentions two of his teachers, Sylvius and Andernach, but above all, Galen. This work had a strong impact in those times.
  • 1538 "Apologetic discourse of Michel de Villeneuve in favour of Astrology and against a certain physician. Michaelis Villanovani in quedam medicum apologetica disceptatio pro Astrologia." Servetus denounces Jean Tagault, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, for attacking astrology, while many great thinkers and physicians praised it. He lists reasonings of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates and Galen, how the stars are related to some aspects of a patient's health, and how a good physician can predict effects by them: the effect of the moon and sun on the sea, the winds and rains, the period of women, the speed of the decomposition of the corpses of beasts, etc.[59]
  • 1542 "Holy Bible according to the translation of Santes Pagnino. Biblia sacra ex Santes Pagnini tralation, hebraist." Lyon, edited by Delaporte and printed by Trechsel. The name Michel de Villeneuve appears in the prologue, the last time this name would appear in any of his works.
  • 1542 "Biblia sacra ex postremis doctorum".(octavo)[60][61][62][63] Vienne in Dauphiné, edited by Delaporte and printed by Trechsel. Anonymous.
  • 1545 "Sacred Bible with commentaries. Biblia Sacra cum Glossis."[64][65] Lyon, printed by Trechsel and Vincent. Called "Ghost Bible" by scholars who denied its existence.[66] There is an anonymous work from this year that was edited in accordance with the contract that Miguel de Villeneuve made with the Company of Booksellers in 1540.[67] The work consists of 7 volumes (6 volumes and an index) illustrated by Hans Holbein. This research was carried out by the scholar Julien Baudrier in the sixties. Recently scholar González Echeverría has graphically proved the existence of this work, and demonstrating that contrary to what experts Barón and Hillard thought, this work is also anonymous.[68][69]
  • “Manuscript of Paris”, (c1546). This document is[70][71][72][73][74][75][76] a draft of the Christianismi Restitutio. Written in Latin, it includes a few quotes in Greek and Hebrew. This work has paleographically the same handwriting as the "Manuscript of the Complutense".[77][78]
  • 1553 "The Restoration of Christianity. Cristianismi Restitutio". Vienne, printed by Baltasar Arnoullet. Without imprint mark or mark of printer, nor the city in which it was printed. Signed as M.S.V. at the colophon though "Servetus" name is mentioned inside, in a fictional dialog. Servetus uses Biblical quotes in Greek and in Hebrew on its cover and in the body of the text whenever he wanted to stress the original meaning of a word from Scripture.

Recent research

Spanish researcher Francisco Javier González Echeverría[79][80][81] has done research that led him to identify Michael Servetus as the author or translator of 10 additional works between 1538 and 1553. These works were anonymous due to the first death penalty Michael got from the University of Paris 1538,[82] (finally reduced to a prohibition on "attacking" any Paris physician), its mention of authors who were forbidden in the Spanish Empire such as Erasmus and Robert Estienne, and the prohibition of any Biblical translation into any common language.[83] González Echeverría's conclusions have not been generally accepted by institutions studying Servetus, though they are supported by the International Society for the History of Medicine,[84] the Spanish Society for the History of Medicine,[85] and the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia.[86] The works that, according to this scholar, are also by Servetus are: 2 De Materia Medica[87][88][89] with commentaries and marginalia (1543 and 1554, this last one printed by friends after Servetus' death), a pharmacopoeia of 1543,[90] an edition of a Galenic corpus[91][92] in 1548–1551, a manuscript ("Complutense's Manuscript")[93][94] in an edition of De Materia Medica by Jean Ruel, as well as translations of two Biblical works with woodcuts by Hans Holbein the Younger: Picture stories of the Old Testament[95][96] and Portraits or printing boards from the story of the Old Testament.[97][98][99][100] Finally, also translations from Latin to Spanish of four grammatical treatises, mostly for children: Disticha de moribus nomine Catonis, Children's book of notes on the elegance and variety of the Latin language, Andria. La Andriana,[101] and A Little Work on the Use of the Eight Parts of Speech. González Echeverría is nowadays also the main defender of the hypothesis that Michael Servetus was born in the city of Tudela in Navarre, that both biological parents were actually Jewish conversos, although the father's identity and biographical details are unknown,[102] and that his true name was "De Villanueva", while "Servetus" was a pseudonym that he used in Protestant lands, and for publishing his heretical theological works, showing no other data such as the city where they were printed, imprint mark nor mark of printer.[80][103][104] Some previous scholars had defended the birth of Michael in Tudela in the 19th and early 20th centuries,[105] but never with the theory of "Servetus" being a pseudonym. The established academic consensus on the matter is that he was born in Villanueva de Sijena,[106] in the neighbouring region of Aragon, as Servetus himself claimed in his early works and during the whole trial at Geneva; but with no documents, as stated in the judgement that ultimately led him to his death at the stake. Scholarly debate may be tarnished by local and regional interests, because González and some other scholars claim that the true reason behind the non-acceptance of these new works by several institutions studying Servetus has to do more with his line of research on the identity of Michael,[107] and his consequent different birthplace, which would be highly inconvenient for these institutions, with many trustees and members from Villanueva de Sijena, or even located there.[108] González (Aragonese, born in Zaragoza, where he stayed until he obtained his baccalaureate)[109] lives and works in Tudela,[110] where he claims that "De Villanueva" was actually born, and his research on the 10 new works by Servetus has been supported by a grant from the Health Department of the regional government of Navarre, but even while he was still defending his birthplace in Aragon, for he had not done any research on his identity. In a similar way events on this issue organized in Villanueva de Sijena and in Zaragoza have been supported by the regional government of Aragon.[111][112] Regardless of whether he was really born in Villanueva of Aragon or in Tudela of Navarre, or somewhere else, the fact is that he was known as "Michael Servetus of Aragon" after his death by everybody,[113][114] including Calvin[115] and other enemies, his antitrinitarian supporters, and sympathetic authors such as Sebastian Castellio, and many others, both admirers and enemies of those theological works published by Servetus.

In literature

  • Austrian author Stefan Zweig features Servetus in Castellio gegen Calvin oder Ein Gewissen gegen die Gewalt.
  • Canadian dramatist Robert Lalonde wrote Vesalius and Servetus, a 2008 play on Servetus.[116]
  • Roland Herbert Bainton: Michael Servet. 1511–1553. Mohn, Gütersloh 1960
  • Rosemarie Schuder: Serveto vor Pilatus. Rütten & Loening, Berlin 1982
  • Antonio Orejudo: Feuertäufer. Knaus, München 2005, ISBN 3-8135-0266-X (Roman, Spanish original title: Reconstrucción.)
  • Vincent Schmidt: Michel Servet. Du bûcher à la liberté de conscience, Les Éditions de Paris, Collection Protestante, Paris 2009 ISBN 978-2-84621-118-5
  • Albert J. Welti: Servet in Genf. Genf, 1931
  • Wilhelm Knappich: Geschichte der Astrologie. Veröffentlicht von Vittorio Klostermann, 1998, ISBN 3-465-02984-4, ISBN 978-3-465-02984-7
  • Friedrich Trechsel: Michael Servet und seine Vorgänger. Nach Quellen und Urkunden geschichtlich Dargestellt. Universitätsbuchhandlung Karl Winter, Heidelberg 1839 (Reprint durch: Nabu Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-142-32980-8)
  • Hans-Jürgen Goertz: Religiöse Bewegungen in der Frühen Neuzeit Oldenbourg, München 1992, ISBN 3-486-55759-9
  • Henri Tollin: Die Entdeckung des Blutkreislaufs durch Michael Servet, 1511-1553, Nabu Public Domain Reprints
  • Henri Tollin: Charakterbild Michael Servet´s, Nabu Public Domain Reprints
  • Henri Tollin: Das Lehrsystem Michael Servet´s Volume 1, Nabu Public Domain Reprints
  • Henri Tollin: Das Lehrsystem Michael Servet´s Volume 2, Nabu Public Domain Reprints
  • Henri Tollin:Michaelis Villanovani (Serveti) in quendam medicum apologetica disceptatio pro astrologia : Nach dem einzig vorhandenen echten Pariser Exemplare, mit einer Einleitung und Anmerkungen. Mecklenburg -1880
  • Carlos Gilly: Miguel Servet in Basel; Alfonsus Lyncurius und Pseudo-Servet. In: Ders.: Spanien und der Basler Buchdruck bis 1600. Helbing & Lichtenhahhn, Basel und Frankfurt a.M. 1985, pp. 277–298; 298-326. (PDF; 64,1 MiB )
  • M. Hillar: "Poland's Contribution to the Reformation: Socinians/Polish Brethren and Their Ideas on the Religious Freedom," The Polish Review, Vol. XXXVIII, No.4, pp. 447–468, 1993.
  • M. Hillar, "From the Polish Socinians to the American Constitution," in A Journal from the Radical Reformation. A Testimony to Biblical Unitarianism, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 22–57, 1994.

See also


    "Nunc vero quisquis haereticis et blasphemis iniuste poenam infligi contendet, sciens et volens eodem se obstringet blasphemiae reatu. His nobis non obtruditur hominum autoritas, sed Deum audimus loquentem, et quid ecclesia suae in perpetuum mandet non obscure intelligimus. Non frustra humanos omnes affectus excutit, quibus molliri corda solent: paternum amorem, quidquid est inter fratres, propinquos et amicos benevolentiae facessere iubet: maritos revocat a thori blanditiis: denique hominess propemodum natura sua exuit, ne quid obstaculi sanctum eorum zelum moretur. Cur tam implacabilis exigitur severitas, nisi ut sciamus non haberi suum Deo honorem, nisi quae illi debetur pietas humanis omnibus officiis praefertur, et quoties asserenda est eius gloria, propemodum ex memoria nostra deletur mutua inter nos humanitas?" Calvin’s Opera, vol. 8, vol., 36, p. 475. (vols. 35 & 36 of the CR are one vol.).

Further reading

  • Jean Calvin, Catalogue of Scarce Books, Americana, Etc. Bangs & Co, p. 41.
  • Hunted Heretic: The Life and Death of Michael Servetus 1511–1553 by ISBN 0-9725017-3-8.
  • Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World by Lawrence Goldstone and Nancy Goldstone. ISBN 0-7679-0837-6.
  • The Heretics: Heresy Through the Ages by Walter Nigg. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1962. (Republished by ISBN 0-88029-455-8)
  • The History and Character of Calvinism by John T. McNeill, New York: Oxford University Press, 1954. ISBN 0-19-500743-3.
  • ISBN 0-85151-323-9.
  • WorldCat. Contains seventy letters of Calvin, several of which discuss his plans for, and dealings with, Servetus. Also includes his final discourses and his last will and testament (April 25, 1564).
  • Jules Bonnet, The Internet Archive
  • Google Books.
  • The translation of Christianismi Restitutio into English (the first ever) by Christopher Hoffman and Marian Hillar was published so far in four parts. One part still remains to be published:
  • ["The Restoration of Christianity. An English Translation of Christianismi restitutio, 1553, by Michael Servetus (1511-1553). Translated by Christopher A. Hoffman and Marian Hillar," (Lewiston, NY; Queenston, Ont., Canada; Lampeter, Wales, UK: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2007). Pp. 409+xxix
  • "Treatise on Faith and Justice of Christ’s Kingdom" by Michael Servetus. Selected and Translated from Christianismi restitutio by Christopher A. Hoffman and Marian Hillar,” (Lewiston, NY; Queenston, Ont., Canada; Lampeter, Wales, UK: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008). Pp. 95 +xlv
  • “Treatise Concerning the Supernatural Regeneration and the Kingdom of the Antichrist by Michael Servetus. Selected and Translated from Christianismi restitutio by Christopher A. Hoffman and Marian Hillar,” (Lewiston, NY; Queenston, Ont., Canada; Lampeter, Wales, UK: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008). Pp. 302+l
  • “Thirty Letters to Calvin & Sixty Signs of the Antichrist by Michael Servetus.” Translated from Christianismi restitutio by Christopher A. Hoffman and Marian Hillar (Lewiston, NY; Queenston, Ont., Canada; Lampeter, Wales, UK: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010). Pp. 175 + lxxxvi
//www.amazon.com/dp/143825959X/ Michael Servetus, Heretic or Saint?] by Radovan Lovci, Prague: Prague House, 2008. ISBN 1-4382-5959-X.

External links


  • - Full text, digitalized by the Spanish National Library.
  • - Full text, digitalized by the Spanish National Library.
  • Hanover text on the complaints against Servetus
  • Hospital Miguel Servet, Zaragoza (Spain)
  • Information on Calvin in Geneva which mentions Servetus
  • Michael Servetus, from the Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography
  • Michael Servetus—A Solitary Quest for the Truth
  • PDF; 64,1 MiB on Michael Servetus in Basel & Alfonsus Lyncurius and Pseudo-Servetus
  • Michael Servetus Institute - Museum and centre for Servetian studies in Villanueva de Sigena, Spain
  • . Comments and quotes.
  • Michael Servetus Research - Dr. González-Echevarría's website with text and pictures about his research on new works and life aspects of Servetus
  • New opera: 'Le procès de Michel Servet'
  • Reformed Apologetic for Calvin's actions against Servetus
  • , published by Edwin Mellen, April 2007
  • Philip Schaff. History of the Christian Church, Vol. 8, chapter 16.
  • Servetus International Society
  • Thomas Jefferson: letter to William Short, April 13, 1820 - mention of Calvin and Servetus.
  • Center for Philosophy and Socinian Studies

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