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Niccolò Riccardi


Niccolò Riccardi was Genoese by birth, but at a very young age moved to Spain, where he entered the Dominican Order. In 1629 he succeeded Niccolò Ridolfi (1558-1650) as Master of the Holy Palace. He was appointed to revise the Dialogo sopra i massimi sistemi del mondo [Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems] (Florence, 1632) prior to its publication. Riccardi had already had occasion to read a work by Galileo some years before, Il Saggiatore [The Assayer], Rome, 1623), which on the basis of his extremely favorable opinion had been granted the imprimatur in February 1623. In June 1630 the imprimatur was granted for a Roman edition of the Dialogue, but after the decision was made to print the book in Florence Riccardi's revision seemed outdated and the publication was delayed. Riccardi began to stall for time, probably aware of Urban VIII's (1568-1644) increasing agitation over it. Galileo turned to the Secretary of State Andrea Cioli (1573-1641), who authorized the direct intervention of ambassador Francesco Niccolini (1584-1650), whose wife was also related to Riccardi.

These pressures produced the desired effect, and in the end the prelate wrote to the Florentine Inquisitor to grant the license to print the book, content to read only the preface and the conclusion, and not the entire manuscript, as he had previously requested.

The "Father Monster" thus found himself, despite all his precautions, caught up in the affair that followed. However, thanks to the great esteem the Pope had for him, he managed to get unscathed through the events that followed, with the only taint of seeming to have been "duped".