"Qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit quo vadat" (De Trinitatis, 39b)
by Chronological Order

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DE TRINITATIS ERRORIBUS, libri septem. Per Michaelem Serveto, alias Reves ab Aragonia, Hispanum. Anno MDXXXI (Haguenau, 1531).

1531 was a fatal year for Christendom’s unity. Clement VII excommunicated Henry VIII, provoking the creation of the Anglican Church. It is the time of the Reform and a wave of renovation and strive for knowledge crossed throughout the European nations. Spain will oppose radically to the Reform movement, and the Hispanic king, Charles V, will make the defence of the Catholic faith one of the guidelines of his imperial policy.

Servetus was at that time in Basel, where he had the occasion to discuss with the reformer Oecolampadious the dogma of the Trinity and other theological issues. Oecolampadius probably taught, or at least, helped Servetus to improve his knowledge on Hebrew. Basel was a city which had been considered to be more tolerant than other cities towards dissidents. It had been a safe haven for some persecuted humanists, such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, who remained therein until 1529. Times, however, changed rapidly and the tolerant environment soon faded away. Servetus attempted to convince Oecolampadius to accept his approach on the dogma of the Trinity, but Oecolampadius deplored Sevetus’ doctrine on the Trinity, and he even commented to other reformers, such as Zuingli, the presence in Basel of a “young Spanish Arrian”. The Basel reformer threatened Servetus with denouncing him to the authorities, forcing Servetus to leave Basel and go to Strasburg which was considered one of the more tolerant cities of the period. Although it is likely that Servetus began to write his first work in Basel (“On the errors of the Trinity”), this treatise was finally published in Strasburg (Alsace, France) in 1531.

Given that this work reformulated one of the major underpinnings of the Christian faith, the dogma of the Trinity as declared in the Council of Nicaea in 325, Servetus had problems finding a printer for his book. The printer Conrad Reich from Basel did not accept to print it as he feared the reaction of the authorities. In that epoch, the task of a printer, was not limited, as it is mostly today to an industrial job. Most of the printers were intellectuals who cultivated the humanistic principles in their normal lives. For this reason, Reich, in spite of refusing to print Servetus’ work, arranged for Johannes Setzer of Haguenau, a village located 30 kilometers from Strasburg, to print the book.

The book was put on sale in the German bookshops in July 1531. The religious authorities of Strasburg condemned immediately the work and prohibited its sale. In Basel, repressive measures were also taken. Curiously enough, Servetus forwarded several books to the Bishop of Zaragoza in Spain and to Erasmus of Rotterdam. The book was also sold in Italy. The machinery of the Spanish Insquisition soon started to work (see “Historical Context” of “De Trinitatis Erroribus, libri duo” below).


Very few topics have been subject to such a heated controversy and dispute as the dogma of Trinity. According to Prof. Bainton, the reasons which may explain the establishment of such dogma by the religious hierarchy in the IV century related to the need to explain all that the doctrine of Incarnation in relation to God. If God had made himself flesh exclusively in Christ, and this latter was also God, Christians could be accused of having two Gods. And when the Holy Spirit became a person, then the problem was whether Christians could be allegedly said to have three Gods. The solution to this dilemma was to establish the dogma of the Trinity which consisted of admitting simultaneously a unity and a trinity in Godhead (R. H. Bainton, “El Hereje Perseguido”, Ed. Taurus, 1973, p. 40).

Servetus studied the Holy Scriptures, and as he stated in this first treatise, he did not find any reference to the word Trinity. Hence, he questioned the validity of one of the fundamental dogmas of Christianity: “We must not impose as truths - contended Servetus - concepts over which there are doubts”. According to Servetus, in God there is one single person, whereas the Roman church explained the Trinity as one entity in substance or essence but present in three persons or hypostases known as the Father, the Word (Logos) or the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are equal and each of them is God, all are eternally divine yet there are different and are one. Servetus clearly opposed to the splitting up of the divine essence and contented that the persons of the Trinity are rather “forms” that God has chosen to manifest itself. According to Servetus, Christ was made a man by God, and his human nature prevents him from being God and participating in the eternity nature of God. As a result, God was eternal, but Jesus Christ (the Son), since he was begot by the Father, was not eternal.

This unorthodox interpretation of the dogma of Trinity did not mean that Servetus underestimated the importance of Christ to understand the relationship between God and mankind. For Servetus, Jesus Christ is the “key” which allows mankind to enter in God’s home and partake in his divinity.


About 128 originals are available in different libraries. The Institute’s library has several facsimil editions of this treatise .


The book was translated into English by Earl Morse Wilbur: “On the Errors of the Trinity. Seven Books. By Michael Serveto, alias Reves, a Spaniard of Aragon MDXXXI. In The two treatises of Servetus on the Trinity .... Now first translated into English by Earl Morse Wilbur, D.D.” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London, Humphrey Milford; Oxford University Press; Harvard Theological Studies, 1932).

The Spanish translation of this work by Ana Gómez Rabal will be published in Volume II of “Miguel Servet, Obras Completas”, Angel Alcalá Coord., Ed. Larumbe, forthcomming in 2004.

There is also a translation into the Catalan language by Ana Gómez Rabal: “Dels errors sobre la Trinitat” (Barcelona, Edicions Proa, 1999), with a thorough and excellent introduction to Servetus’ life and works by Miguel Lavilla Galindo.

A French translation is being prepared by Prof. Rolande-Michele Benin and Marie-Louise Gicquel and will be published soon by Honoré Champion Editeur.


[The numbers refer to the pages of the original version: (a) is the front page and (b) the reverse]

“If you say that you are unable to see the difference between Christ and the rest, since we all are called sons of God, my response is that if we are called sons of God by his gift and grace, being him the creator of our filiations and thus he is called Son in a more excellent manner. For this reason, the article is used and Christ is called Son of God in order to show that he is not the son in the same regard as we are, but in a very special and peculiar sense. He is the natural son: the rest are not, but they are made sons of God, and for that reason we are called sons by adoption.” (9a)

“God gave us the mind so that we can know him.” (31a)

“Not even a single word is found in the whole Scripture about the Trinity, nor about the persons, nor about the essence, nor about the substance’s unity, nor the nature of the various divine beings.” (32a)

“Nothing can be found in the intellect if previously has not been found in the senses.” (33b)

“I do not separate Christ from God more than a voice from the speaker or a beam from the sun. Christ is the voice of the speaker. He and the Father are the same thing, as the beam and the light, are the same light. There is therefore a tremendous mystery in the fact that God may be united with man and the man with God. It is a surprising wonder that God has taken for himself the body of Christ in order to make his special dwelling.” (59b)

“And because his Spirit was wholly God, he is called God, and he is called man on account of his flesh. Do not be surprised if I adore as God what you called humanity, since you talked of humanity as if it was empty of spirit and you think in the flesh according to the flesh. You are unable to acknowledge the quality of the Spirit of Christ which confers the being to material things. He is the one who grants life when the flest is already useless.” (59a)

“In the inhalation and exhalation there is an energy and a lively divine spirit, since He, through his spirit supports the breath of life , giving courage to the people who are in the earth and spirit to those who walk on it. Only he shakes the heavens and from its treasures takes our the winds. He joins the waters and the clouds and produces the rain. He does all those things. Only he realizes miracles permanently.” (59b-60a)

“One thousand times the Kingdom of Christ is called eternal, but in the consummation of the times, it will be delivered to God. This does not mean that the glory of Christ will be reduced for that reason as it is its greatest glory to have managed everything until the end and to have submitted everything to the Father as it was his will. He will deliver the Kingdom of God, as the superior general hands in to the emperor the palm of the victory; in the same manner, since all the reason to govern will terminate by that time, powers will be abolished, the authorities and the administration of the Holy Spirit will cease, since we will not need attorneys or mediators, as God will be All-in-All. And then the Trinity of dispensations will be over.” (81b-82a)

“Man only obeys blindly a faith adequated to its rational nature.” (109b)

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DIALOGORUM DE TRINITATE LIBRI DUO. De Iustitia regni Christi, capitula quatuor. per Michaelem Serveto, alias Reves, ab Aragonia Hispanus, (Haguenau, 1532). Impresa por Johann Setzer




Despite the negative reactions that “De Trinitatis Erroribus” drew, Servetus published a new treatise on the dogma of the Trinity using a dialogue between Serveto and someone called Petrucious.

Servetus signed with his true name, “Michaelem Serveto, alias Reves ab Aragonia Hispanum”, both his first treatise and this second treatise in which he confirmed and elaborated his conceptions on the dogma of the Trinity.

Both books were quickly distributed amongst catholic and protestant circles. Protestants prohibited the sale of both books. In Spain, two officials of the King, Sir García de Padilla and Sir Hugo de Urriés, lord of de Ayerbe, discovered both works of Servetus and denounced him to the Supreme Council of the Spanish Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition soon reacted and, on May 24, 1532, the Council of the Inquisition in Medina del Campo initiated proceedings against Servetus and issued a summoning order requesting Servetus to respond to the charges brought by the Inquisition. Although the original order has not been found, it could have been drafted as follows:


The Council of the Supreme Inquisition,

Summon Michael Servetus Revés, born in Vilanova de Xixena, de Aragonia, to appear before us and respond to the complaint and accussation that the prosecutor is bringing against him.

Thereby, the Inquisition serves God and the good and pursuit of our Holy Catholic Faith.

Zaragoza, XIII May MDXXXII
Since Servetus was not in Spain at that time, the officials of the Inquisition charged his own brother, Juan Serveto, who was a chaplain of the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, with the task of bringing Servetus back to Spain. We do not know whether he accomplished his mission and eventually found his brother. Should this be the case, he failed in persuading Servetus to return to Spain.

On 17 June 1532, the Inquisition of Tolouse (France) published a decree for the arrest of about forty four fugitives, mostly monks and students, accused of spreading Antrinitarian doctrines.

As a result of his persecution, Servetus fled to Paris, disguising his name and hiding his true origin. From now onwards, he called himself “Michel de Villeneufve” and he claimed to be born “in Tudela in the Kingdom of Navarra”.


Servetus began his treatise stating that he retracts what he wrote in his first treatise, not because he was wrong, but because what he wrote was incomplete and inmature. However, the amendments with regard to the first treatise are mostly grammatical.

While in his first treatise, Servetus referred to Christ as the Son of God not by nature but by grace, now he added the nature, because the glory of the Father belongs to the Son by nature. As far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, he contended that the Holy Spirit became personalized by dwelling in us after Christ left. In his first treatise he distinguished between the incarnated Son and the pre-existing Word, whereas now he admits that the Word was Christ, though that the Word did not have any substance until Christ revealed his presence and his substance could be felt (R. H. Bainton, “El Hereje Perseguido”, Ed. Taurus, 1973, pp. 76-77).

This second book on the Trinity contains a treatise of 25 pages entitled “De Iustitia regni Christi, capitula quatuor” (“The Righteousness of Christ’s Kingdom”) in which Servetus assumed the role of a mediator between the reformers in the dispute relating to the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. For Servetus, there is real presence of Christ in the Supper, but his presence is not physical but mystical: “The body of Christ - Servetus wrote - is eaten mystically by men” (C 2a). “It is by means of the Spirit that we drink the blood of Christ” (C 5b). “Only figuratively we speak of the bread as the Body of Christ” (C 5b). Therefore, Servetus coincided in this point with the protestant reformers Oecolampadius and Bucer. He also agreed with Luther with regard to the real presence of Christ in the Supper: for Servetus, Christ’s body is divine and spiritual flesh and it is not localized but diffused universally.

29 originals are available in different libraries. The Institute’s library has several facsimil editions of this treatise

Reprinted in Ratisbona (Regensburg) in 1721. A facsimil edition of the “De Trinitatis erroribus libri septem” (1531).

Dialogorum de Trinitate libri duo.”De Iustitia regni Christi, capitula quatuor”(1532), was published by Minerva G.m.b.H., Frankfurt a.M. 1965.

In 1620, the book was translated into Dutch by Reiner Telle (Regnerus Vitellius, 1558[9]-1619[20]) (see above).

There is an English translation by Earl Morse Wilbur (1932) (see above).

The Spanish translation of this work by Ana Gómez Rabal will be published in Volume II of “Miguel Servet, Obras Completas”, Angel Alcalá Coord., Ed. Larumbe, forthcomming in 2004. There is also a translation of this work into the Catalan language by Ana Gómez Rabal (see above).


"All seem to have a part of truth and a part of error and each espies the error of others and fails to see his own. May God in his mercy enable us without obstinacy to perceive our errors. It would be easy to judge if it were permitted to all to speak in peace in the church that all might vie in prophesying and that those who are first inspired, as Paul says, might listen in silence to those who next speak, when anything is revealed to them. But today all strive for honor. May the Lord destroy all the tyrants of the church. Amen." (De Iustitia Regni Christi, 7.)

"Neither with those nor with the others, with all I agree and dissent; in all part of truth and part of error must be seen." (Nec cum istis nex cum illis in omnibus consentio. Omnes mihi videntur habere partem veritatis et partis erroris; et quilibet alterious errorem displicit, et nemo suum videt).

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CLAUDII PTOLOMAEI ALEXANDRINI GEOGRAPHICAE ENARRATIONIS libri octo. Ex Bilibaldi Pirckeymheri tralatione, sed ad graeca & prisca exemplaria à Michaële Villanovano iam primum recogniti. Adiecta insuper ab eodem scholia, quibus exoleta urbium nomina ad nostri seculi morem exponuntur. Lugduni, ex officina Melchioris et Gasparis Trechsel fratrum, MDXXXV (1535).




At the end of 1532 or at the beginning of 1533, Servetus moved to Paris, where he studied in the Calvi College. Soon thereafter, in 1533, we found Servetus in Lyon. In this latter city, he contacted with Symphorien Champier. The choice of Lyon was not at random, since at that time this city had become an important intellectual and printing center. Because of his professional skills, he decided to direct his steps towards the fields of printing, publishing and bookkeeping. Servetus was hired as a proof corrector in the print of the brothers Melcior and Gaspar Trechsel.

In recognition of his erudition and his excellent knowledge of classical languages, Servetus was assigned the review of a new edition of the “Ptolemy’s Geography” in 1535. Geography at that time included not only maps and a purely geographical analysis, but also ethnography descriptions of the different peoples and nations. Ptolemy was a second century Alexandrian geographer and his work was translated for the first time into Latin in Florence in 1409 and printed in 1473. At that time, this book was very solicited amongst the cultivated classes and, as a result, between 1475 and 1533, about 18 translations of it had been published. The translation into Latin of Wilibald Pirckheimer (1524) stood out amongst all these translations. This was the version reviewed by Servetus.

The problem of some of these editions was that they had been reviewed either by excellent Hellenists or by excellent mathematicians, but not by an expert on both disciplines. Servetus, an excellent helenist and a good mathematician, performed the assignment under a wholistic approach. As pointed out by Dr. Fernando Solsona (a biographer of Servetus), if Servetus had had a conformist spirit, he would have just reproduced the Pirckheimer’s version. However, he compared this translation with the other translations, correcting mistakes and improving some of its paragraphs (F. Solsona, “Miguel Servet”, Colección Los Aragoneses, 1988, p. 56).

Servetus improved the former editions by adding brief but substantial comments, changing degrees of latitude and longitude, and giving modern names to cities and regions. His descriptions of and comparisons between different populations and regions, some of them full of humour, are also noteworthy. In particular, the description he made of the Spanish population and customs is so precise that 450 years after some of his analysis are fully applicable to the current Spanish society.

This work led Servetus to be considered, though with some exaggeration, as the father of the compared geography. After the success of the first edition published in Lyon in 1535, Servetus carried out a second edition which was published in 1541.

There are at least 38 originals of the first edition in different libraries (two in Madrid) and 24 of the second (one in Madrid but uncomplete). The Institute’s library has several facsimil editions of this work.

Some parts of the Ptolomey’s Geography have been translated into English by Charles David O'Malley: “Michael Servetus. A Translation of his Geographical, Medical and Astrological Writings with Introductions and Notes” (Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1953, pp. 15-37).

A translation into Spanish is available in the book of Dr. José Goyanes Capdevila “Descripciones geográficas del estado moderno de las regiones, en la geografía de Claudio Ptolomeo Alejandrino por Miguel Vilanovano (Miguel Servet) precedidas de una biografía del autor” (Madrid, Imprenta y Encuadernación de Julio Cosano, 1932).


[The pages are those of the Spanish translation of this work by Dr. José Goyanes Capdevila]

Comparison between Spain and France

“The French are endowed with bigger limbs; those of the Spaniards are stronger; they have a very slim waist. The French fight with more ferocity than advise. The Spaniards the opposite.” (p. 100)

The French are more talkative; the Spanish more quiet, since they learned to dissimulate better. The French are joyful, prone to feasts, and escape from the hypocrisy and seriousness which is followed by the re-concentrated Spaniards. Thus, the Spaniards are less social in the feats, more ceremonial, showing a severe character, which is lacking in the French.”

"The Frech drink straight; the Spanish diluted in plenty of water. Amongst the French, strangers are received with human manners in the lodging houses; no service is refused to them; everything is provided to them to eat. Amongst the Spaniards, strangers are received more unpolitely to the extent that the exhausted traveller, in his way, has to strive to get food in every place. This makes Spaniars not very much inclined to travel and to spend their money prodigally; or inclined to provide services, to the extent that a servant does not provide any service to a prince if he does not want to. The Hispanic language is more serious; the French language softer.” (p. 101)

“In the Gallic territory, no land is uncultivated; in the Hispanic land there are many uncultivated and deserted places.” (p. 102)

“As far as church dignities are concerned, France has more than Spain, since it has 12 archbishops and 96 bishops; Spain 9 archbishops and 46 bishops. In both the number of cardials is equal, that is, 8.” (p. 103)

Intellectual character of the Spaniards

“The mood of the Spaniards is very uneasy and thoughtful, of ambitious projects, which are happily conceived, but they learn unhappily. Being half wise, they considered themselves already wise; they show a wisdom bigger than what they have, due to simulation and certain talkativeness. They love sophisms more than it is necessary. They prefer to talk in Hispanic language rather than in Latin in the academies, and they take a lot of words from the moors. They easily cultivate barbaric behaviour in their customs and manners.” (p. 104)

A custom of the Hispanic women

“Truly, the custom amongst Hispanic women of piercing their lobes with a golden or silver ring to which they hang, most of the times, a precious stone.” (p. 105)

Sobriety of the Spaniards

“Of a frugal life, as the Italians, they do not consume as much food and drink as much as the French and Germans, unless they are invited and in such a case they eat in the feasts until they are full, because amongst them invitations are very rare and they accept them with more eagerness.” (pp. 105-106)

The Spanish Inquisition and the “Santa Hermandad” (Saint Brotherhood)

“In Spain, great authority is held by those called the inquisitors of the faith, who have acted with great severity against the heretics, marranos [Jews converted into Catholicism] and saracens. There is also another remarkable institution of justice called the Brotherhood, as it is a sworn fraternity of citizens. At a sound of a bell from each city, many thousands of armed men come forth and chase any law infringer throughout the kingdom, sending messengers to other cities, so that it is almost impossible to escape. He who is apprehended is tied alive to a stake and shot with arrows.” (pp. 103-104)

About France

“The Gallics were called like that because of his milky and candid colour, since it means milk. Today they are called French, from the Francs, people from Germany, who conquered almost all France.” (p. 107)

Abundance of professors and lawyers in France

“Not only of lawyers is France filled up, but also with professors of all the disciplines; witness, the Paris Academy; after her, the one in Toulouse, mother of the jurist experts, and others, but the most illustrious of the world is the Parisian one, to which all the christians of Europe attend to learn Philosophy, Theology and all the rest of the liberal arts.” (p. 108)

Of the Kings of France

“Of the king of France two memorable things are told: first, that there is in the Church of Reims a glass that redounds endless cristma, sent from Heaven for the coronation of the king, with which all the kings are anointed. The other, that the king itself, by a simple touch, cures a scrofulous decease. I myself saw the king touching many affected by this decease, but I did not see that they had recovered from it.” (p. 109)

Germany. Features of its inhabitants

“The German males are of red color, with very big limps; valiant for war; however, they do not cope well with thirst, famine, heat and hard work; but in the first impetus, their nature is sudden and dominating. Honest, truthful, and not very witty; rarely one of them cheats on the other of them while negotiating; something that French and other peoples frequently do. Germans are also prone to Lordship, but they do not easily give up their opinions once they are imbued with them, and they cannot be reduced from chism to friendship; on the contrary, each of them defends valiantly his heresy.” (p. 113)

Poors always lost
In this paragraph, Servetus describes the dismal situation and miserable living conditions of German peasants:

“The condition of agricultural peasants is miserable since they live scattered in rural areas in huts of wood and mud built from little more than earth and covered with straw. Their bread is oatmeal porridge or boiled beans, their drink water and whey. They have prefects for each district who are called Schilder and who maintain the peasants in irremissible servitude and abuse and oppress them. Hence in our time we have seen the conspiracy and revolt of peasants against the nobles. But they always miserably fail.” (p. 112)
[Servetus refers in this paragraph to the peasants’ revolts which broke out in Stüblingen in June 1524 and which spread throughout the Rhine region, Suabia, Franconia and Turingia, causing thousands of deaths]

Italy. General Geographic Aspects

“It is a region full of metals, everywhere vital; healthy, timesless; low the temperature of the sky; fertile the fields; protected the gorges; many waterfalls, thick the woods, splendid the kinds of jungles; admirable the fruit; fertile in vineyards and olive trees; noble wool of the cattle and magnificent necks the bulls.” (p. 117)

Differences between regions

“The color of the Italians and their height is very diverse in the cisalpinus France and in the other side of the Venetus; the color, ordinarily white; the education and the language, better cared. To the contrary, throughout the Etruria, in the Lacious, Campania and in the Brucia, the hair is black; the height is inferior and less good looking macilenta; the language and the education, more simple.”

Differences in customs between the Italians

“The customs and the way of living are not the same for all the Italians, and they do not have the same laws either. These are governed under Pontifical laws, those under cesarious laws, others mostly under municipal laws. All have in common that they live frugally, with neatness, they have shaved heads and they cover themselves with very short gowns, showing their legs. The Venetians, whose city has wide domains in earth and sea, dress wider robes, as those used by Greeks, Turks, Russians and other northern populations. They enjoy so much with the things of their elders, that many times the grandchildren wear the dresses which were wore by the grand grandfathers. They are abundant in advices; talk slowly and have a rough pronunciation. They have a certain ridiculous magnificence, and they are so competent using the words that hardly ever tell the truth; they pretend to forgive injuries, but if at any time they have the occasion no one revenges more cruelly than them; they say frequently horrible swears and blasphemies. The Milanese, hated by the French, whom they also hate; with regard to the Spaniards, they do not trust anybody. Their conversation is rude; their language hastened, but much ruder is that of the Pedemontians. They are useless at war, unless there are plenty of them.” (p. 118)

Character of the Genovese

“The conversation of the Genovese is ridicoulus, and cannot be compared in literacy with the others; however, the way they dress is elegant, and they do not use gowns and coats. They do not have a lot of common sense or loyalty. They are skilled at revolting, lack hospitality, and forget the benefits.”

The Tuscan Language

“The language of the Tuscans is, amongst the Italian, recommended.”

Character of the Romans

"Romans are jealous and they take revenge very fiercely regarding adultery of women.” (p. 119)

Differences between the inhabitants of the Italian regions

“The Napolitans mocked the Calabrians; the Calabrians of the Apuls, of all these the Romans, of the Romans the Etruscs, of which the others also mock; and the Italians mock of the remainder of mortals, they scorn them and they called them barbars; being them, however, subject to being mocked by the Spaniards, French and Germans.” (p. 120)

Sardinia. Origin of the Sadonic laugh

“Neither there poison is born, but a weed, welcomed by many poets and writers, similar to the “apiastrus”, that make men laugh and almost kills those who laugh.” (p. 122)

Table VII of Europe. Poland

“The people are in general sensible and are very kind towards guests.” (p. 124).

Table IX of Europe. Hungary

“They cry for those who have passed away during one year and for some of them during two years. They shave until the upper lip. They adopt as cult law the orthodox faith.” (p. 128)

Custom amongst the Turks

“Both men and women use dresses quite wide and long, opened in the front; so that when they lean they can do more honestly with perfection and hide the work of nature; and they take care when they do this of not turning towards the south, where those who are praying turn their faces, and they look carefully that that when they are being observed by other men, they do not show their clumsiness. They also squat to urinate, as women do amongst us, since if one of them is watched standing up, he would be considered as ignorant or heretic. They refrain by law from drinking wine, because wine is the seed of sin and of all filth; nonetheless, they eat grapes and drink grape juice.” (p. 195)

Table of Holy Land

“However, you must know, reader, that so big goodness was attributed [to this land] by sheer boasting; since the experience of merchants and pilgrims shows that this land is uncultivated, sterile and lacks any sweetness (comfortability); for that reason call the promised land the awaited land, but do not praise it in your vernacular language.” (p. 197)
[Calvin relied on this description of the Holy Land as evidence of the heretic charges against Servetus in the proceedings which took place in Geneva, since the Bible describes the Palestine of Christ as a land rich of honey and milk.]

Table of Crete or Candia

“There are not in Crete dangerous animals, or snakes or owls and if one is found it dies soon. It has plenty of goats, lacks deers, but produces excellent wine. It produces an excellent grass which is called “dictamus” and the “alunosa” that when it is bitten allays hunger for a long time. It also has “falangos”, poisons and a stone called the finger of Ida.” (p. 205)

The New Land is not “America”

"And having built a tower of 39 feet and left overthere some colleagues to supervise and took possesion of the new world discovered by them, Columbus left with the rest into ships to Spain where he was received honorably by the monarchs and at their orders was saluted by all as viceroy, admiral and governor of the aforesaid new world, and thereafter he returned to the continent he discovered many other islands which are now very happily ruled by the Spanish. And those who contend that this continent should be called America err lawfully, since Amerigo approached that land long after Columbus, and he did not go with the Spaniards but with the Portuguese and for purposes of trade.” (p. 176)

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IN LEONARDUM FUCHSIUM APOLOGIA . Defensio pro Symphoriano Campegio, autore Michaele Villanovano (Lyon, 1536).




In Lyon, Servetus came in touch with the physician, theologist and humanist Simphorien Champier, one of the most outstanding humanists of the Renaissance in France. Champier had a considerable influence in the city and he sponsored the founding of the University of the Trinity in Lyon and, more particularly, its School of Medicine. In fact, it was Champier who most likely influenced the decision of Servetus to move from Lyon to Paris to study medicine in 1536.

At the end of his stay in Lyon, Servetus published a booklet entitled “In Leonardum Fuchium Apology”. At that time, Champier was involved in a discussion with Fuchs, whose name became immortal for having discovered the flower that bears his name (fuchsia). Fuchs, himself a physician and an outstanding botanic, had attacked some theories of Champier who, in turn, denounced him to the Inquisition for allegedly supporting heretic views.


Servetus drafted this booklet of eight pages in the printer of Gilles Huguetan to support his master and against Fuchs. The paradox in this work is that an alleged heretic (Servetus) accuses Fuchs of holding heretic views.

The book comprises a prologue and three parts: a first part entitled “In relation to faith and works”, a second part in relation with scammony, and a third one dealing with syphilis. In the first part, Servetus accused Fuchs of being a protestant and criticized the Lutheran doctrine of salvation by faith, aligning himself in this point with the Roman church. Servetus pointed out that salvation was not only subordinated to our faith but also to our works. In the second part, Servetus focuses on the medical aspects. Fuchs and Champier disagreed with regard to the use of a drug called scammony, a resin extracted from certain roots, with a very effective purgative action, but which may cause a colic if it is not well administered. The discussion between Champier and Fuchs revolved on whether the skamonia prescribed by the Greeks in large doses was the same that was prescribed by Arabs in small doses. Fuchs argued in favor of its identity, whereas Champier argued that they were different, since the scammony presents different degrees of strength depending on where it is cultivated and, according to Professors Bainton and Barón Fernández, Champier was right.

Finally, insofar as Gallic disease or syphilis, Servetus, like Champier, considered that it was a new disease of supernatural origin and that it must be interpreted as a manifestation of divine wrath against by the general corruption of people’s customs.


Only two originals have survived in Paris and London. There is a facsímil of this work edited by the Oxford University Press in 1909.

The Institute’s library contains a copy of this booklet.


Charles David O'Malley translated this work into English [“Michael Servetus. A Translation of his Geographical, Medical and Astrological Writings with Introductions and Notes” (Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1953), pp. 38-54. Prof. Alcalá analised and translated this work into Spanish: “Apología contra Fuchs”, Instituto de Estudios Sijenenses “Miguel Servet”, Villanueva de Sijena, 1981).


In relation to Faith and Works
“Lutherans, whose arguments and mistakes will not be difficult to contest or discover, do not want to attribute any value to works, and they do not understand enough the scope of the justification. For them, it is enough that the Savior tell to each who believe in Christ: «Your faith saves you, go in peace». This is of course, the justification only by faith, without works, as in Rom. 4 happned to Abraham.” (p. 21)

Faith without works can die
“The reason lies in the fact that in man, the main substantial form is the active cause, the wish itself, while the faith and the appearances are mere instruments. For that reason, it is necessary to give some thought to those actions, on which happiness promises are referred so much in the Scriptures. It is enough the testimony of James that, without verifying it with works, the faith can die. The same as the philosophers said that the quality of virtue diminishes if it is not put in practice.” (p. 23)

Lichen and syphilis are the same thing
“In conclusion, Champier does not contend that they are the same the lichen and Gallic morbus, who he has constantly taught it is a new disease manifestation of the God’s wrath, since in this field Fuchs and Champier shared the same opinion, since Fuchs acknowledges that it is a new decease and Champier too, and they also share with the theologians that it is a manifestation of God´s wrath, no reason existed for Fuchs tried to find, so avidly, such a trivial occasion to slander him.” (p. 27).

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SYRUPORUM UNIVERSA RATIO. ad Galeni censuram diligenter expolita. Cui, post integra de concoctione disceptationem, praescripta est vera purgandi methodus, cum expositione aphorismi: Concocta medicari. Michaele Villanovano authore. Parisiis Ex officina Simonis Colinaei. 1537. (Several editions of the work appeared, in Venice in 1545; in Lyon in 1546, 1547, 1548).




On March 25, 1537 Servetus matriculated at the Medical School of the Sorbone and in the Lombards College, remaining in Paris until 1538. In this School, Servetus met with some of the most prominent anatomists: Vesalious, the father of the modern anatomy, and Ambrosius Parei, a great surgeon of that time. His teachers appreciated the intellectual value of Servetus’ work. In his “Anatomicarum Institutionum”, Günther von Ardenach wrote that “Miguel de Villaneufve” had assimilated much knowledges and nobody surpassed him in the knowledge of Galen.

While he was a student in Paris, Servetus published his “Syruporum Universa Ratio” in the printer of Simonis Colinei in 1537. This was precisely the year in which Calvinus initiated his first stay in the city of Geneva and established his theocratic regime.

This work was a remarkable success and four editions were made. As a result of this success, Servetus’ reputation amongst the intellectuals in Paris grew substantially. At this time, he taught mathematics in the Lombards College (maths comprised “maths” as such, as well as geography, astronomy and astrology). His popularity in Paris led envy and resentment on the part of some university professors who found the occasion to question Servetus’ orthodoxy when he predicted in his astrology class the appearance of plagues and wars, and predicted an eclipse of Mars by interposition of the Moon. As a result of this prediction, Servetus was accused of practicing judiciary astrology, forbidden by the Church and punished by burning at the stake.


This work consist of 71 pages and it has one foreword and six speeches. The first four speeches are dedicated to digestion and the fifth to the composition and use of syrups (i.e. sweet concoctions which are used as astringents, laxatives and tonics). In the sixth, he studied the methodology for the use of syrups and purgatives.

This is therefore a therapeutic work in which Servetus studies the digestion and refutes the doctrines of the Arab physicians. Servetus tries to show that Greek medicine was superior to Arab medicine. As Servetus points out in the introduction of the treatise, what prompted him to write it was the “wish to promote the medicine, the fair defense of the Galenic dogma and the love of truth”.

Greek and Arabs disagreed on the use of syrups and on the effect that these produced in the digestion. For this reason, most of this treatise is dedicated to the concoction or digestion. According to Arab medicine, the digestive process was different in the ill and the healthy. The Galenic digestion comprised three digestions: the first with the formation of the nutritive chyme, second the transformation of the chyme in blood, the third assimilation carried out in the organs and tissues. Arabs defended the existence of a “vis concotrix”, independent of the normal digestion which acted during illness and to which physicians should help with syrups (See José Barón Fernández, “Miguel Servet, Su vida y su obra” Ed. Espasa Calpe, 1970, p. 95 y M. Fuentes Sagaz, “Miguel Servet (1511-1553)”, Ed. Uriach, p. 64).

Servetus did not agree with this approach and he was in favor of leaving Nature to act on the ill body in such cases. For Servetus, there was only a digestion either in ill and healthy and its purpose was also a single one. For this reason, there was no need to treat patients with syrups to help the digestion, unless it was necessary to regulate the intestines function. For this reason he advocated in favor of a new use of syrups and purgatives, recommending that they should be used responsibly.


26 originals are preserved in different libraries.

The Institute’s library has several facsimil editions of this treatise.


Spanish translation by Dr. José Goyanes Capdevila, “Razón Universal de los Jarabes según inteligencia de Galeno”, Madrid, Cosano (1943). There is a more recent translation into Spanish by Ana Gómez Rabal, “Explicación Universal de los Jarabes” (Barcelona MRA, 1995).

Charles David O'Malley translated this work into English: “Michael Servetus. A Translation of his Geographical, Medical and Astrological Writings with Introductions and Notes” (Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1953, pp. 55-167)


Of the use of syrups
I have to warn the reader that I am not the person who was characterized by Campegio in certain apology against Fuchs, defending part of the doctrines of the Arab wises, but the Campegian defensor of the digestive medicinal syrups. I am rather of the opinion (in line with Campegio) that we have to abandon the doctrine of the Arabs and that the administration of the syrups and purgatives must not be refused, but not used in a barbaric manner either.” (p. 308)

Usefullness of syrups
(...) “holding that syrups or prepared sweet potions are very useful, not only for its concoction virtue but also for other many uses.” (p. 310)

Concoction and evacuation
The method which could be attributed to Galen is very different, teaching that raw substance, semi-raw and those which tend to putrefaction are preserved for digestion. But those which are already putrefacted required evacuation not concoction.” (p. 327)

Intuition of the vitamins
And of the true herbal juices not only Galen, but also Asclepiadis, Anthony Musa, Filagrius and others ancients expressly used and made with them sweet potions, that we named syrups, which we will show thereafter. An even the dry herbs more sour than normal we will not recommend more than squeezed juices, in which the virtue of those remains in its integrity, more than with its decoction. If there is any acuity in the fresh herbs, it will be removed with the decoction of the juice.” (p. 435)

Indication of the different syrups
When you fear, then, the weakness of the nature strength and the acrimony of mood, you will use cold syrups, pursuant to the foregoing prescriptions and, to the contrary, you will always prescribe, with Hippocrates and Galen, the extenuates and incidents when you wanted to make fluids in the bodies.” (p. 448)

On the way the different organs are cleaned
the stomach is cleared through vomiting and dejections; intestin the liver and the cavities of the liver and the spleen through the lower part; the liver, the kidneys and the bladder and all the veins, through the stomach, if they are filled out of watery elements, and if they are very little, through the urines. The brain is evacuated through the palate, the noses and the ears. The chest and the lungs, through the wind pipe.” (pp. 464-465)

Consequences of the abuse of laxatives and enemas
But if you evacuate many times because of the fevers, you will destroy the energies before you get used to nature. It must be added that through laxatives nature does not get used comfortably, on the contrary, irritated by them, it will forget the spontaneous deposition.

And it cannot be said that custom has been introduced, since it the can only be achieved in many times, and for us, it is enough to have evacuated once, to indicate the path to the future medicine, so that nature does not carry with discomfort a thing to which is not used to, especially if the exit has not been facilitated by the natural channels.” (p. 468)

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During the XVI century, the study and practice of astrology was very extended amongst the intellectuals and ruling classes. Even the Scholastics accepted the use of astrology in order to help physicians diagnose deceases, since they accepted that stars may influence the mind of human beings and the development of deceases.

At the end of 1536, Servetus, most likely advised by Simphorien Champier, moved to Paris to study medicine. In order to make a living, Servetus taught a math course in the Lombards College, which included astrology. During his course, Servetus predicted wars, plagues and an eclipse of Mars by interposition of the Moon on February 13, 1538 (which finally took place), and he referred to the influence of the Moon on human beings’ fate. The Dean of the Medical School, Jean Tagault, initiated proceedings against Sevetus and issued an injunction suspending the course. Servetus reacted against these accusations by publishing a booklet of 16 pages (“Apologetica disceptatio pro astrología”) in which he argued in favor of judiciary astrology. Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that Servetus never endorsed astrological determinism. For Servetus, human beings can always overcome stars influence: “Man is free and always may overcome the star’s influences and tendencies.” (“Christianismi Restitutio”, p. 259).


In this work, Servetus defended judiciary astrology and the need for physicians practice astrology to know and interprete the influence of the stars on the ill and the healthy. Servetus contended that deceases could be adequately known through astrology since it allowed to predict the complexty and the evolution of the ill, and the course of the disease and its eradication.

[For more information, see Francisco Tomás Verdú Vicente, “Astrología y Hermetismo en Miguel Servet”, PhD. Thesis submitted in the Phylosophy and Educational Sciences of the Valencia University, 1998. The Institute has one copy of this Thesis].


The Institute’s library has one facsimil editions of this treatise.


English translation by Charles David O'Malley, op. cit., pp. 168-188, and Spanish translation by Ángel Alcalá: “Discurso en pro de la Astrología”, Instituto de Estudios Sijenenses “Miguel Servet”, Villanueva de Sijena, 1981.


Universal Principles and particular judgments

I see that my adversary does not know the difference between the universal principles that underpin the practice and the particular judgment, this being inconsistent. The principles of Hippocrates in the «Book of the predictions» are consistent; but pursuant to them two physicians will judge things differently and even with opposing views. Further to the same laws, two judges will hold different opinions on the same matter and even opposing views on the grounds of different reasoning, different prejudices, different influences and different eruditions. Will the Hippocrates’ judgment be superseded? Not at all! (p. 44). In order to valid construct guesses, the mind must be free from any exchange influence (end).”





DECLARATIONIS JESU CHRISTI FILII DEI LIBRI V. Michaele Serveto alias Reves Tarraconensi (París, Circa 1540)
The manuscript of this book, which was only attributed to Servetus in 1953, is contained in the Haupstaatsarchives (1763 Bü. 25) of Stuttgart (Germany). Only three originals remain, one in London, one in Carpentras (France) and the last in Leuven (Belgium). See Volume II, “Miguel Servet, Obras Completas”, Ángel Alcalá Coord., Ed. Larumbe, forthcomming in 2004).

THE BIBLE OF SANTES PAGNINI (Lyon 1542, Lyon and Viena 1542 y 1545).




In 1542 Michael Servetus was hired to edit the Bible of the Dominican friar Santes Pagnini (1470-1536). Pagnini, an expert in classical languages, had been a professor of Western Languages in the Western Languages College founded by Pope Lion X. During more than 25 years, he dedicated his efforts to translate the Scriptures from their original language into Latin.

The first edition was published in Lyon in 1527/1528, and the second edition appeared in Cologne in 1941 edited by Melsior Novesianus. The edition by Novesianus was allegedly corrected by Servetus and published by Hugues de la Porte and Gaspar Trechsel in 1542 under the title of “Biblia Sacra ex Sanctes Pagnini translatione”.

Likewise, in the same year these editors published another edition of the Bible (“Biblia sacra ex postremis doctorum vigiliis”), in which there is an appendix entitled “Summa totius Sagrae Scripturae”, written by Servetus. However, in 1545, under the direction of Servetus, a third Bible in six volumes will be published by De la Porte and Trechsel. This latter edition of the Bible is the most enriched by the notes and corrections of Servetus, who signed under the nickname of “Michael de Villeneufve” (“Biblia sacra cum glossis, interlianeari et ordinaria”).

Servetus insisted in the need to study Hebrew history to understand the Bible, looking into its literal and historic meaning. After the publication of the “Bible of Santes Pagnini” in 1542, Servetus was hired by Compagnie des Libraires de Lyon to correct and edit the Bible of Pagnini in seven volumes (“Biblia sacra ex postremis doctorum vigiliis”)

Finally, after three years of hard work, the edition was launched in the market in 1545 under the title “Biblia sacra cum glossis, interlineari & ordinaria, Nicolai Lyrani postilla & moralitatibus, Burgensis additionibus, & Thorungi replicis.... Omnia ad Hebraicorum & Graecorum fidem iam primum suo nitori restituta, & variis scholiis illustrata. Lugduni anno M.D. XLV. Cum privilegio regis”.


The Institute’s library has a original edition of this work of Santes Pagnini "Institutiones Hebraicae".

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CHRISTIANISMI RESTITUTIO Totius ecclesiae apostolicae est ad sua limina vocatio, in integrum restituta cognitione Dei, fidei Christi, iustificationis nostrae, regenerationis baptismi, et coenae domini manducationis. Restitutio denique nobis regno coelesti, Babylonis impiae captivitate soluta, et Antichristo cum suis penitus destructo. M.D. LIII. 734 pp. 8. MVS
(The Restoration of Christianity. The whole Apostolic Church is Summoned to Return to Its Origin to Restore Complete Knowledge of God, of the Faith of Christ, of Our Justification, of the Regeneration by Baptism, and of the Participation of Lord’s Supper. And Finally to Restore to Us the Heavenly Kingdom, to End the Wicked Captivity of Babylon, and to Destroy Antichrist with His Host)

After his trial in Paris, Servetus abandoned Paris and moved first to Lyon and after to Charlieu, where he practiced quietly his medical profession during two or three years. Around 1540, Servetus translated its residence to Vienne (France), a little and quiet town close to Lyon. The main reason to move to Vienne was that in said city lived Pierre Palmier, who in Paris had attended Servetus’ lessons on geography. El Prof. Bainton points out that one of the reasons why Servetus moved to Vienne lies in the fact that the Treshsel brothers, belonging to a family of very well-known printers, had established a printer in Vienne. These twelve years were the most pacific years of his life. Servetus dedicated his time to practice medicine and to work on the second edition of the “Ptolomei Geography” in 1541 and a new edition of the Bible of Santes Pagnini.

During more than twelve years his presence in Vienne remained unnoticed by the religious authorities, and he even obtained the recognition of the Vienne society for his medical arts. He had among his clients Guy de Maugiron, adjunt governor of Vienne.

In this quiet environment, Servetus undertook secretly the drafting of his most important work: the “Cristianismi Restitutio” (“The Restoration of Christianity”). From 1546 onwards, a manuscript was already circulating, although it is unknown how many copies could have been distributed in such way. In 1551, Arnoullet and Gueroult established a clandestine printer close to Vienne. It is in this city in which the “Christianismi Restitutio” would start to be published. The printing took place between the day of Saint Michael and January 1553. Around 800 copies were printed (but not bound) and distributed in bails simulating paper in order to avoid suspicions. On January 3, 1553, the first bail of 500 books hidden in hay bales was sent to the Frankfurt book fair. The second shipment was sent to the shop of Pierre Merrin in Lyon, and the third was sent to a bookshop in Geneva. Despite all the precautions, practically all the bails were destroyed as soon as they were put into the market.


This treatise is the most well-known work of Michael Servetus and in which he condensed his philosophic and theological thought. The book is divided into six parts.

The first part contains five books regarding the divine Trinity in which Sevetus develops his original arguments against the Nicean interpretation of the dogma of the Trinity contained in one of his first works: “De Trinitatis Erroribus (1531)”. The second part is composed of three books, which are presented as a dialogue, on the “Faith and Righteous of Christ”, and the “Kingdom of Christ and Love”. This part contains a more detailed exposition of the arguments he developed in the “Dialogorum de Trinitate” (1532). The third part comprises three books regarding the Faith and Justice of the Kingdom of Christ, the differences between the Law and the Gospels, and the comparison between Charity and Faith. These three books are a reformulation of his statements in “Dialogorum de Trinitate: De iusticia regni Christi, ad iusticiam legis collata et de charitate”. The fourth part contains thirty letters of Servetus to Calvin. In the fifth part, Servetus enumerates sixty signs of the Kingdom of Antichrist. The sixth part contains an “Apology of the Mistery of the Trinity against Philip Melanchton and his colleagues” containing a self-defense of Servetus against the attacks from Melanchton in his “Loci Communes” to Servetus’s works.

The “Restoration of Christianity” is not an easy work to read due to its metaphors and twisted reasonings. However, this should not be an excuse to prevent us from providing a summary of its contents:

a) The emanantism of Servetus

According to Prof. Bainton, Servetus contends that “God is the Summun One, a dynamic source committed to perpetual development through intermediaries such reason, wisdom and the word, compared in their manifestation to the sun light. This emanations descend from the One, and in that way reality is graduated in different levels depending on its destiny from the source”. (R. H. Bainton, “El hereje perseguido”, Ed. Taurus, 1973, p. 138).

In the “Christianismi Restitutio”, Servetus wrote:

“Since it contains itself the essences of all the things, he appears in front of us like fire, stone and electricity, a rod, a flower, or any other thing. He does not perturb because a stone is seen in God. Is it a true stone? Clearly yes: God is wood in the wood, stone in the stone, since he has in himself the being of the stone, the form of the stone, the substance of the stone.” (“Christianismi Restitutio”, p. 589)

God confers the being, essence, particularitity to everything what exists, and sustains to all the beings. Nothing can be without Him. God fills everything, even the Hell itself.” (“Christianismi Restitutio”, p. 240).

In spite of this language closed to panteism, Servetus was not, as it has been pointed out by some authors, a panteist (doctrine that confuses God with the being of all the things), but rather “panenteists”. For Servetus all the present things in the world, either tangible or intangible, emanate and are created from “nothing” by God through his Word, that is to say, by means of the Divine Verb, and the emanations of God participate in different degrees from the divine essence; nevertheless, for Servetus, all those things are not God, as it could defend a panteists:

“There is a single divine way, the most outstanding and principal of all the others. So it is that of the complete substance, the divine way without substance, that is only in the body and the spirit of Jesus. [...] A way is the manifestation in the Word, the other is the communication in the Spirit; one corporal, another spiritual. Both are substantial ways that give life to other things, as much in the body as in the spirit... All the other things derive from them, just as the branches derived from the same trunk, just as the sprouts of the same root, like the grapes of the same vine.

b) About the Trinity

Serveto summarizes in this work his conceptions on the dogma of the Trinity which he studied in detail in his first works. Servetus was not, as it has been pointed out some times, an antitrinitarian. What Servetus fought against was the formulation of this mystery by the Council of Niceae (325). For this reason, it can be concluded that Servetus believed in the Trinity, but relying on reason he interpreted it in a different way from that of the Roman church. His conception of God, which was influenced by the neoplatonic philosophy, conditioned Servetus’ approach to the mystery of the Trinity.

After studying the Bible with thoroughness, Servetus realized that no express reference to the word “Trinity” could be found within it. He reached the conclusion that this dogma had perverted the understanding of the true relation between God and Jesus Christ, and between God and mankind. In this way, Servetus’ thought was linked with the thought of those which previously questioned the validity of the dogma of the Trinity.

Unlike the traditional defenders of the dogma of the Trinity, Servetus contended that there was not a real distinction between the three persons of the Trinity. These were not “persons” but “modes” under which divinity manifests itself. For Servetus, Jesus Christ was God when he became man and, for that reason, lacked that divine quality previously. Servetus admitted that Christ was the son of God, but only after his appearance in the earth. The Verb is the form and has preexisted along with the Father. But the flesh is substance. Jesus Christ is the combination of both and, therefore, he could have not preexisted to that union.

Christ was a real and historical man, but he was more than a simple man because he was the natural Son of God, and this differentiated him from the rest of men, who were adoptive sons of God. As far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, for Servetus it was not a person/hypostase aside from God, because that reasoning led to the tritheism. With these statements, Servetus dissented of catholics and protestants (who affirmed the consustantiality of Christ with God, and therefore his eternal character), but also of those sects escinded from Protestantism that openly denied the divine character of Jesus Christ.

c) His Christocentric mysticism

Servetus’ rejection to endorse the interpretation of the dogma of the Trinity by the Roman church did not mean that Christ did not play an essential role in the theological system of Servetus. According to Servetus, Jesus Christ is the indispensable intermediary that allows mankind to know, to approach, and even to rise up to God. Unlike Calvinism and, to a certain extent also Catholicism, which contended that human nature was intrinsically depraved and corrupt, Servetus argued that the union of man with God through Jesus Christ was possible: “the Divine has lowered until the human so that the human can ascend to the Divine” (“Christianismi Restitutio”, p. 279). For Prof. Hillar, Servetus’ insistence on our closenesss to God, even after the original sin, is the most outstanding characteristic of Servetus’ humanism and differentiates him from other humanists and theologians (M. Hillar, “Michael Servetus, Intellectual Giant, Humanist and Martyr”, University Press of America, 2002, p. 102).

According to Servetus:

“In the Bible there are no mentions to the Trinity, neither hypostases, nor essence, nor persons, which were made up by the Scholastics for the sake of confussion [... ]. We know God not through our proud philosophical conceptions, but through Christ who manifest himself in Him, and only through the faith in him can we know God. Christ is a visible being and not a mere hypostasis. God does not take corporal form but in Christ. Our inner man is but Christ itself. This does not mean that we are just like Christ, because nobody is just like another person. But Christ communicates his glory to us: “The glory that you you gave me, I have given it to them, so that I am in them like you [Father] are in me” [John 17 ]. Christ is called our inner man, because he communicates his spirit to us and renews us every day. The more Christ renews our spirit by the fire of his spirit, the more it penetrates in our body, the more grows in Christ our inner man: while He materializes in us, the outer man declines.

Our inner man consists of the divine element of Christ, and the human element of our nature, in such a way that we are properly called participants of the divine nature and it is said that our life is hidden in Christ. Oh incomparable glory! will not be in us the Kingdom of God, if Christ who is in Heaven is in us, doing to us what He is? Our inner man is really celestial. He has come from Heaven, from God’s substance, from the the flesh’s will, from God itself. Our inner man is God, as Christ is God.

Our inner man is God, as Christ is God and the Holy Spirit is God. As anticipating this truth Salmist said: “I said it, you are Gods”. And as one God makes many gods, therefore only one Christ makes many gods.” (“Christianismi Restitutio”, pp. 557-59).

d) Servetus’ anabaptism

Servetus only accepted two sacraments, the baptism, but only when people reached the age of reason, and the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, he shared with the anabaptists the rejection to baptism of the infants. The anabaptist movement comprised several groups of radical reformers which were in favour of administering baptism only to adults. The anabaptist movement acquired an eminent political meaning under the direction of Thomas Münzer (1490-1525), who was first Luther’s collaborator and soon became his adversary, and Nicholas Stroch.

The anabaptists characterized themselves by their moral rigor, the simplicity of their cult and their longing for social justice. For all these reasons, they were persecuted by all the reformed churches. In fact, his main leader, Thomas Münzer was arrested and beheaded. Once their main leaders had been executed, anabaptists reorganized themselves under the direction of John of Leiden and conquered the city of Münster, where they were thrown out and exterminated in 1535.

Servetus’ anabaptism had nothing to do with the political and social program of the anabaptitsts and stayed within the boundaries of the religious field. Therefore, Servetus never embraced nor supported the social-political postulates of revolt against the feudal power advocated by some anabaptists leaders and which in Germany led to the 1524 farmers’revolts.

Servetus based his rejection to infans’ baptism on the importance that baptism has for Christians as being an act of redemption in Christ (“Christianismi Restitutio”, pp. 724-725). This deep act of regeneration to a new spiritual life only has sense when people reach an age in which they can distinguish between good and evil, and, consequently, they cannot be numbed by the devil (“Cristianismi Restitutio”, pp. 574-578). For Servetus, this usually happens when people are approximately twenty years old. Before this age, baptism does not need to be administered (“Cristianismi Restitutio”, p. 568). In this sense, Servetus advised the postponement of baptism to the age of thirty years, following the example Christ (“Christianismi Restitutio”, p. 577).

f) The blood circulation

Book V of the “Christinianismi Restitutio” (pages 168 to 173) contains the famous paragraph of the pulmonary circulation system. Those who still wonder why this scientific discovery is contained in a book of theology must look for the answer in the integrating character of Servetus’ system of thought. As a son of the Renaissance, Servetus did not approach theology, medicine, philosophy and the resmainder of sciences as separate compartments, but as interrelated disciplines that allowed mankind to understand the universe globally.

Servetus discovered the blood circulation because the knowledge of the sensible world allowed him to understand the relationship between God and mankind. For Servetus, mankind could aspire to communicate with God following the example of Jesus. For that communication to take place, there must be a “spark” of divinity which is infused in the man and which Servetus identified with the “pneuma”. At this time, the “pneuma” (i.e. what is breathed) was synonymous of soul. The soul, according to the Biblical tradition (Genesis 2:7), was infused by God to man through respiration. Servetus thought that, if the soul was in the blood, the best form to understand the soul was to study the circulation of the blood in the human body. For that reason, Servetus was more interested in the the circulation of the soul than in the circulation of the blood as such. Servetus discovered that, contrary to Galen’s conception of the circulation, the transmission of the blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the left ventricle did not take place through the pores of the middle partition of the heart, but through a “grand device” whereby blood is driven from the right ventricle of the hearth towards the lungs for its oxigenation, and sent to the to the left ventricle of the heart through the pulmonary vein.

Around 800 copies of this treatise were printed, but only three originals have survived. One is located in the Imperial Library of Vienna, another one in the National Library of Paris and the third in the University of Edimburg (this latter book lacks sixteen pages).

Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone explain the trade of this unique work in the history of the theology in their book “Out of the Flames, The Remarkable Story Of To Fearless Scholar, Fatal Heresy And One Of The Rarest Books In The World”, New York Broadway Books, 2002.

A facsimil edition of this work was edited by Minerva G.m.b.H., Frankfurt a.M. 1965.

The Institute’s library contains several facsimil editions of this treatise.


There is a reprint of the fragment of “Christianismi restitutio” by Giorgio Biandrata, an Italian physician who obtained his degree in Montpellier where he was a fellow student with Rabelais. He also became the personal physician of the Italian-born wife of King Sigismund of Poland. Later he returned to Italy and was forced to leave Italy around 1553 for his religious convictions, returning to Poland and Transylvania. “De Regno Christi Liber primus. De Regno Antichristi Liber secundus. Accessit tractatus de Paedobaptismo, et circuncisione. Rerum capita sequens pagella demonstrabit. Ioan. 15. ver 14. Vos amici mei estis, si feceris quaecunq ego praecipio vobis. Albae Juliae. Anno Domini 1569.” (Source: M. Hillar, at http://www.socinian.org/booksbyservetus.html)

The first known translation of “Cristianismi Restitutio”, is that by a Polish, Gregorius Paulus (Grzegorz Pawel), who translated some chapters into Polish and published them in Pinczów already in 1568: “Okazanie Antychrysta y iego Królestwa ze znaków iego wlasnych w slowie bozym opisanych, których tu szescdziesiat”. [“The advent of Antichrist and his kingdom, according to his own signs as described in the Word of God, of which there are sixty.”] (Source: M. Hillar, at http://www.socinian.org/booksbyservetus.html)

In 1790, Christoph Gottlieb von Murr (1733-1811) made a reprint of the “Christianismi” in Nuremberg. This edition was printed as a facsimile by the publishing company Minerva G.m.b.H., Frankfurt an Mein, 1966. Von Murr made a page-for-page reprint of the manuscript of Viena, which is now kept at the Harvard University. At the end of century XIX, the “Christianismi Restitutio” is translated into German by Bernhard Spiess: Wiederherstellung des Christentums, Wiesbaden. Verlag von Chr. Limbarth. 1892, 1895, 1896, in three volumes.

In 1980, Prof. Ángel Alcalá and Luis Betés translated the “Christianismi Restitutio” into Spanish. “Miguel Servet, Restitución del Cristianismo, Edición, introducción y notas de Ángel Alcalá” (Madrid, Fundación Universitaria Española, 1980). This first translation did not include the “Thirty Letters to Calvin and the Seventy signs of the Antichrist”. Both writings were included by Servetus in the “Christianismi Restitutio”. One year later, the “Thirty Letters to Calvin and the Seventy signs of the Antichrist” were translated into Spanish by Ángel Alcalá: “Treinta Cartas a Calvino. Sesenta signos del Anticristo. Apología de Melachton”. Edition of Ángel Alcalá (Madrid, Ed. Castalia, 1981).

Prof. Elaine Cristine Sartorelli made a translation into Portuguese of part of the “Christianismi Restitutio”: “Apologia a Felipe Melanchton e a suas colegas sobre o mistério de Trinidade e sobre os costumes antigos” (“De mysterio Trinitatis, et veterum disciplina, ad Philippum Melanchthonem, et eius collegas, apologia”). This translation was part of the dissertation (“O Programa de Miguel Servet para a Restitução do Cristianismo; Teologia e Retorica na “Apologia a Melanchthon”) that Mrs. Satorelli presented at the Universidade de São Paulo, Facultade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciencias Humanas, São Paulo, 2000.

Mrs. Alicia McNary Foresey, professor of the University of Berkeley (California), is coordinating a translation into English of this treatise of Servetus. To date, the only relevant secion of the Christianismi translated into English is the paragraph relating to the blood circulation (see O’Malley, op. cit.).

Robert Willis translated into French some sections in its book “Servetus and Calvin” (1877).

Natural, vital and animal spirits. Location

Therefore, so that you can acquire complete knowledge of the soul and the spirit, I am going to include here, reader (Christian), a divine philosophy which you will easily understand, if you are acquainted with anatomy. Usually it is said that there are within us three spirits from the substance of the three higher elements: natural, vital and animal. The vital spirit is that which is communicated to the veins through anastomoses with the arteries, and once in the veins it receives the name of natural spirit. The first, then, is the blood with its seat in the liver and the veins of the body; the second is the vital spirit, with the seat in the heart and the arteries of the body; the animal spirit is the third, which is like a ray of light, with its seat in the brain and the nerves of the body. In these three there is the energy of the only Spirit and Light of God.” (p. 169).

The soul is in the blood

“That the natural spirit is communicated by the heart to the liver is demostrated by the formation of the man from the uterus, since through the umbilical cord the artery together with the vein runs, and also in us later on, artery and vein go always united. The soul was infused by God to Adam before to the heart than to the liver, being communicated to him from the heart. The soul was infused to him by inspiration in his face and nostrils; but that inspiration goes to the heart. The heart is the first thing that lives, the heat source in the center of the body. It takes from the liver the liquid of the life, as its substance, and it vivifies it as well; in the same way that the liquid of the water provides the substance to the higher elements and, when receiving the light, is vivified by them to germinate. The substance of the soul is made of blood from the liver, by means of a wonderful elaboration that will be explained here. For that reason it is said that the soul is in the blood, and that the same soul is the blood or is the blood spirit. It is not said that the soul is mainly in the partition of the heart, nor in the mass of the brain or the liver, but in the blood, as God itself teaches (Gene 9; Lev. 17; Deut. 12).” (pp. 169-170).

Pulmonary circulation

To understand all this it is necessary to understand first how the substantial generation of the vital spirit takes place, which is constituted and fed by the inhaled air and by a very subtle blood. The vital spirit has its origin in the left ventricle of the heart, and the lungs contribute mostly to its production. It is produced in the lungs when the air inhaled is combined with the elaborated subtle blood that the right ventricle of the heart transmits to the left. But this communication does not take place through the middle wall of the heart as it is usually believed, but rather, by means of a great contrivance, the subtle blood is pumped forward from the right ventricle of the heart to a large circuit through the lungs. In the lungs [blood] is elaborated and becomes red, and it is transfused from the pulmonary artery (arterial vein) to the pulmonary vein (venous artery). Later, in the same pulmonary vein it mingles with the air inspired and through expiration it is purified again of the dark vapors... and finally, the total mixture, apt subtance to become vital spirit, is attracted by diastole from the left ventricle of the heart.” (p. 170).

Arguments in favor of the pulmonary circulation

However, the fact that such communication and elaboration is made [this way] through the lungs, is demonstrated by the varied connection and communication of the pulmonary artery with the pulmonary vein in the lungs, and it is confirmed by the notable large size of the pulmonary artery, since it would have not been made so big, and neither would send such amount of purest blood from the heart to the lungs, simply to feed them, nor by this reason could be useful the heart to the lungs. Mainly, if it is taken into account that, previously, in the embryo, the lungs were nourished from another source, because those little membranes or valves of the heart are not opened until the moment of the birth, as Galen teaches. It is, then, evident that when the blood is spilled so abundantly of the heart to the lungs at the moment of birth it has another fuction. The same is proven by the fact that the lungs do not send to the heart, through the pulmonary vein, only air, but air mixed with blood. Then such mixture takes place in the lungs: the lungs give to the oxygenated blood that reddish color, not the heart [which rather would give a black color to it]. In the left ventricle of the heart there is not sufficient room for such abundant mixture, or activity able to give that reddish color to it. Finally, the heart partition, since it is lacking the vessels and mechanisms, is not suitable for similar communication and elaboration, though something may possibly sweat through.” (pp. 170-171).

Understanding enriched by the senses

“Understanding is not only enriched by the sight, that makes us discover many differences between things, but also by the objects of the other senses, all of which present certain affinity with our luminous spirit. This affinity comes from the substantial form of all, that is the light, and from the same spiritual way to build each one. Since the sound and the scent are spirits, and as such are perceived and act in us. The auditive perception takes place exciting the inner spirit, in which the light of the soul and the rhythm of the spiritual harmony reside.” (pp. 176-177).

Sense of smell, taste, tact

Somewhat similar can be said of sense of smell. As far as the objects of the taste and the tact are concerned, although they seem more corporal, they have, however, capacity to stimulate the soul: those by the humidity, these by the resistance.” (p. 177).

Anatomical topography of the functions

There are four ventricles in the brain and three internal senses. The first two ventricles constitute a single common sense, receiver of the images. The thought is in the middle ventricle, and the memory in the last.” (p. 177).

The breathing

Most of the inhaled air is led by the artery trachea to the lungs so that, once elaborated by them, it continues until the pulmonary vein, in which it is mixed with the reddish and fluid blood and is elaborated again. Next, all the mixture is attracted by diastole from the left ventricle of the heart, and in it, by the vigorous and the vivifying fire therein contained, it acquires its definitive form and it becomes vital spirit, after having expelled during the elaboration many dark vapors.” (p. 178).

God, aim of everything

The aim of everything is man and the aim of man is God; God has done everything for the man and by means of Christ, who is Alpha and Omega.” (p. 245).

Papal Pomp

I have seen with my own eyes how he [the Pope] was carried on the shoulders of the princes, with all the pom, waving crosses in their hands, and how the pleople kneeled down to adore him in the streets. All those who managed to kiss his feet or his sandals were considered more fortunate than the rest and proclaimed to have obtained many indulgences to reduce the years of their infernal suffering. Oh, the most evil of the beasts, the most shameless of the harlots!” (p. 462).

The Pope is the Antichrist

“He who believes that the Pope is an Antichrist, he also has to believe that the papal Trinity, infant baptism and the rest of the papal sacraments are teachings of the devil. Jesus Christ, sweet liberator, who so frequently has liberated people from the anxiety and misery, liberate us from the continuation of Babylon, Antichrist and his tyranny and from his idolatry.” (“Signa Sexaginta Regni, Antichristi, et reuelelatio eius, iam nunc praesens (conclusio)” - Sixty Signs of the Kingdom of the Antichrist, Conclusion”, p. 670).

The gift of curation

One thing is certain: both the the prophets and also the apostles, besides the gift to cure, made use of other remedies. For that reason they could preserve with more facility the customary remedy, when using the gift of curation, since Jews used to anoint themselves with oil for reasons of cleanliness and health, and the anointing with oil was included amongst the bessings of the Law. Likewise, in the Holy Scriptures to anoint with oil is equivalent to applying a medicine.” (pp. 563-564).

Freedom and evil

Our evil frequently turns our free will into a slave, when in certain moments it raises the alternative of the freedom and it rejects it.” (p. 568).

There are some works in which Sevetus could have participated. However, with the possible exception of the “Retratos o tablas de las historias del Testamento Viejo, hechas y dibuxadas por un muy primo y sotil artifice” (1543), no exemplar of these other possible works has been found. There had been attempts to attribute to Servetus some recently disvovered books, such as the Medical Treatise of Dioscorides or some Spanish Grammars. However, as of today, Servetus’ participation in the exemplars found has not been proven with solid and definitive arguments (see Ángel Alcalá, “Miguel Servet, Obras completas, Vol. I, Bibliografia: 1. Obras de Miguel Servet y cómo son asequibles”, Ed. Larumbe, 2003).

a) Grammar Treatise, Latin/Spanish, mentioned by Jean Frellon in his declaration of 23th May 1553. Printed in Lyon.

b) Desirerium peregrinus. Mentioned by Latassa. It is a mystical manuscript.

c) De Coena Domini. Announced in Dialogue II of “De Trinitatis Erroribus”.

d) De Circuncissione Liber. This work was promised by Servetus in Dialogue I of “De Trinitatis Erroribus”.

e) De Votis. Announced in Chapter I of “Dialogorum Trinitate”.

f) De servo arbitro. Described by Latassa.

g) Edition of the Summa of Saint Thomas. Jean Frellon, in his declaration of 23 May 1553, also mentioned this work.

h) Retratos o tablas de las historias del Testamento Viejo, hechas y dibuxadas por un muy primo y sotil artifice. Iuntamente con una muy breve y clara exposicion y declaracion de cada una dellas en Latin, con las quotas de los lugares de la sagrada scritura de donde se tomaron, y la mesma en lengua Castellana, para que todos gozen dellas (1543) [Holbain]. The National Library in Madrid has an original of this work.


Written and Translated by Sergio Baches Opi


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