Michael Servetus (/sərˈviːtəs/; Spanish: Miguel Serveto), 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, as discussed in Christianismi Restitutio (1553). 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 city’s Protestant governing council.
Most scholars agree that Servetus was probably born in 1511 in Villanueva de Sigena in Aragon, Spain. The day of 29 September has been conventionally proposed for his birth, due to the fact that 29 September is Saint Michael’s day according to the Catholic calendar of saints, but there are no data supporting this claim. Some sources give an earlier date based on Servetus’ own occasional claim of having been born in 1509, and a few authors have proposed Tudela of Navarre as his birthplace, and that his true name was De Villanueva according to the letters of his French 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), who worked at the nearby Monastery of Santa Maria de Sigena. Servetus had two brothers: one, Juan was a Catholic priest, and another was a notary, Pedro. 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, his maternal line actually descended from the Zaportas (or Çaportas), a wealthy and socially relevant family from the Barbastro and Monzón areas in Aragon. This was demonstrated by a notarial protocol published in 1999.
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.
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Keywords: Servetism, Servetus, Michael Servetus, Unitarian, Unitarians, Nontrinitarianism, Socinian, Socinianism, Arian, Arianism, Heresy, Heretic, Trinity, Three gods, Three witnesses, Father Son Holy Spirit, Father Son Holy Ghost, Father Son Spirit, Trinitarian, Trinitarianism, Triunity, Restitutio, Christianismi Restitutio
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