Servetus, Michael


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Servetus, Michael

(sərvē`təs), 1511–53, Spanish theologian and physician. His name in Spanish was Miguel Serveto. In his early years he came in contact with some of the leading reformers in Germany and Switzerland—Johannes OecolampadiusOecolampadius, Johannes
, 1482–1531, German Protestant reformer, associate of Huldreich Zwingli in the Reformation in Switzerland. He was in 1516 a preacher at Basel, where he worked with Erasmus on his New Testament.
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, Martin BucerBucer or Butzer, Martin
, 1491–1551, German Protestant reformer born Martin Kuhhorn. At 14 years of age he joined the Dominican order, and he studied at Heidelberg, where he heard (1518) Luther in his public
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, Wolfgang Fabricius CapitoCapito, Wolfgang Fabricius
, 1478–1541, German Protestant reformer, whose original family name was Köpfel. As a well-known humanist, he brought about communication between Erasmus and Luther.
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, and probably Martin LutherLuther, Martin,
1483–1546, German leader of the Protestant Reformation, b. Eisleben, Saxony, of a family of small, but free, landholders. Early Life and Spiritual Crisis

Luther was educated at the cathedral school at Eisenach and at the Univ.
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. But he held views, concerning the Trinity in particular, that brought condemnation from the theologians of the Reformation as well as from those of the Roman Catholic Church. When he published De trinitatis erroribus (1531) and De trinitate (1532), the feeling of opposition was so strong that he assumed the name of Michel de Villeneuve, from the family home, Villanueva, and spent some time in Lyons, working on an edition of Ptolemy's geography and other scientific works, then in Paris studying medicine. There he is said to have seen John CalvinCalvin, John,
1509–64, French Protestant theologian of the Reformation, b. Noyon, Picardy. Early Life

Calvin early prepared for an ecclesiastical career; from 1523 to 1528 he studied in Paris.
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. He became well-known for his ability in dissection and had unusual success as a physician; he discovered that some of the blood circulates through the lungs. From 1541 to 1553 he lived in the palace of the archbishop of Vienne as his confidential physician. When (1553) he had a work setting forth his ideas of Christianity secretly printed, investigation was begun by the Inquisition. Servetus, arrested, tried, and condemned, escaped from prison. Several months later, while making his way to Italy, he was seized in Geneva by Calvin's order. There, after a long trial, in which Calvin's condemnation was a stern factor, he was burned on Oct. 27, 1553.

Bibliography

See biographies by R. H. Bainton (1953) and J. F. Fulton (1954).

Servetus, Michael

 

(Miguel Serveto). Born 1509 or 1511; died Oct. 27, 1553, in Geneva. Spanish thinker, physician, and scholar.

Servetus studied mathematics, geography, law, and medicine in Zaragoza, Toulouse, and Paris. He published Ptolemy’s Geography with commentaries. He discovered the pulmonary circulation of the blood.

Servetus sharply criticized the Christian dogma of the trinity from the standpoint of pantheism. He rejected the doctrines of predestination and “salvation by faith,” criticized the papacy, and engaged in sharp polemics on theological questions with Calvin. He was persecuted by both the Catholics and the Cal-vinists. Servetus expounded his views on philosophy and natural science in The Restoration of Christianity (Restitutio Christianismi), published anonymously in 1553.

Denounced by Calvin, Servetus was arrested by the Inquisition in 1553 in Vienne (Dauphiné). He managed to escape, but on his way to Italy he was seized in Geneva and accused of heresy by the Calvinists. After refusing to renounce his views, he was burned to death. In 1903 the Calvinist church erected a monument in his honor in Geneva.

REFERENCES

Budrin, E. M. Servet i ego vremia. Kazan, 1878.
Mikhailovskii, V. Servet i Kal’vin. Moscow, 1883.
Autour de M. Servet et de S. Castellion: Recueil publié, sous la dir. de B. Becker. Haarlem, 1953.
Bainton, R. H. Hunted Heretic: The Life and Death of M. Servetus, 1511–1553. Boston. 1960.