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In these years, he instigated great “bonfires of the vanities” which destroyed books and paintings by some of the greatest artists of Florence.

He persuaded the artists themselves to bring their works—including drawings of nudes—to the bonfires.

1525: Six thousand copies of William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament were printed in Cologne, Germany, and smuggled into England—and then burned by the English church.

Church authorities were determined that the Bible would be available only in Latin.

1616–42: Galileo’s theories about the solar system and his support of the discoveries of Copernicus were condemned by the Catholic Church.

Under threat of torture, and sentenced to jail at the age of 70, the great scientist was forced to renounce what he knew to be true.

With him were burned all his writings, sermons, essays, and pamphlets.

In doing so, he said: “If these writings of the Greeks agree with the Book of God they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.” In burning the books, the caliph provided six months’ fuel to warm the city’s baths.

1497–98: Savonarola, a Florentine religious fanatic with a large following, was one of the most notorious and powerful of all censors.

Some of the most controversial books in history are now regarded as classics.

The Bible and works by Shakespeare are among those that have been banned over the past two thousand years.

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