Carmelianus, Peter (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 09
Carmelianus, Peter

by James Gairdner
Pietro Carmeliano in the ODNB.

CARMELIANUS, PETER (d. 1527), poet, was a native of Breccia, who must have been born about the middle of the fifteenth century. He appears to have come to England in the days of Edward IV, and to have been habitually resident in this country from that time till his death. The earliest production of his pen that we have met with is a poem on the life of St. Mary of Egypt written during the reign of Richard III (Laud MS, 501 ; Coxe, Catalogue), with an epistle dedicatory to Sir Robert Brackenbury, the constable of the Tower. In this dedicatory epistle Richard is praised as a model king, a pattern of religion, justice, and sagacity. But little more than a year after his death Carmelianus gives us a very different character of him in a poem written to celebrate the birth of Henry VII's son. Prince Arthur, in 1486, in which he charges the that with the murder of Henry VI and his own nephews, and denounces him as a ferocious monster, prompt to commit every crime. The composition of two such works within the space of not more than three years of the utmost reflects a light upon the author's character which makes comment quite unnecessary. From the first he shows himself to be a court poet and nothing him by the king on 27 Sept. 1486, which pension, the words of the grant state, 'he that shall be next promoted to the bishopric of Worcester is bound to yield to a clerk of ours at our nomination.' On 8 April 1488, in like manner, Henry VII granted him another pension which the elect abbot of Hyde was bound to pay to a clerk of the king's nomination. On the 23rd of the same month ho obtained a patent of denization. He had also given him by the king on 15 Feb. just before a corrody in the priory of Christ Church, A year or two later he wrote, in the opinion of his fellow-poetaster Bernard André, a most witty poem in answer to Gaguin, the French historian and ambassador, who had revenged himself in satirical verse for the failure of his embassy lo England. He became Henry VII's Latin secretary, and one of his chaplains. In this latter capacity he attended the king to his meeting with the Archduke Philip at Calais in 160O. In the former he was the keeper of the king's correspondence with Rome, a circumstance to which Sherbourne, bishop of Chichester, called attention two years after his death, when Henry VIII was pushing inguiries touching the validity of the dispensation for his marriage with Catherine of Arragon (Calendar, Hen VIII, iv. 2406). But we do not find that he held this office after the secession of Henry VIII, who, however, recognising his merits in a different capacity, made him his lute-player, and gave him an annuity of 40l. (ib. 1. 427, ii. 308).

It must have been about a year before Henry VII’s death that he wrote a couple of poems to celebrate the espousal (sponsalah) of Charles, prince of Castile (afterwards the Emperor Charles V), with the king's daughter Mary. The marriage, though it never took effect, was arranged by treaty in 1507, and ambassadors came from the Emperor Maximilian in 1508 to conclude the marriage contract. An official account of their reception, and of the betrothal, was printed by Pynaon in two separate forms, Latin and English, each without date of year; and the two poems of Carmclisnus appeared as preface and conclusion to the Latin version. The treatise itself, of which a unique copy in vellum exists in the Grenville library, is described in the catalogue as if it consisted simply of s poem of Carmelianus; but probably the title-page is wanting. The text of the narrative contained in it is precisely the same as that of the English version, of which a unique copy also exists in the British Museum described by Sir Henry Ellis in the ‘Archæologia,' xviii. 33.

In 1511 we find Erasmus acknowledging (apparently with real satisfaction) a compliment paid him hy Carmelianus, who had called him ‘doctorum doctissimus (Calendar, Hen. VIII, ii. 244). Unfortunately, however, he could not return the compliment; and when Carmelianus, in 1518, published another poem on the death of the of Scots at Flodden, Eaasmus and his correspondent Ammonius, Henry VIII‘s Latin secretary, could not help making merry over a false quantity which the unlucky author had vary nearly put into print (ib. ii. 306; compare preface, p. xvii, footnote). In that year Carmelianus, as the king's tutor, went over in the ‘middle ward’ of the army with which Henry VIII invaded France. Meanwhile, he had been made archdeacon of Gloucester in 1511, and s few gears later, probably on the deprivation of Cardinal Adrian de Castello [q. v.] 1517, he was appointed prebendary of Eadland in St. Paul's. This stall he resigned in 1528, the year before his death, at which time we find that he held livings in the provostship of Beverley in the East Riding. He also had the prebend of Ampleforth in York given him as early as 1498, and appears to have held it till his death. Being thus largely beneficed, in 1522 he was assessed, for the loan for a new war in France, at no less a sum than 333l. 6s. We also find that in 1524 (and perhaps for several years before) he was a prebendary of St. Stephen’s, Westminster, and that in that year he sold to Roger Pynchestre, citizen and grocer of London, certain lands called Hartcombe, in the parishes of Kingston-upon-Thames and Dutton in Surrey, which he had bought of Stephen Coope two years before. On 18 Oct. 1526 he obtained a license to import 200 tuns of Gascon wine and Toulouse woad. In January 1527 he received a new-year‘s gift from the king; but he seems to have died towards the cross of that year, as his successor in the York prebend was collated on 18 Jan. 1528. In addition to the poems referred to in the course of this notice we find an epigram written by Carmelianus on Dominic Mancini’s poem (written in 1516), 'De Quatuor Virtutibus,' which Alexander Barclay translated into English under the title of ‘The Mirrour of Good Maners,' Our author's epigram will be found at the end of Barclay's work, which was published along with his ‘Ship of Fools' in 1570.

[Memorials of Henry VII; letters and Papers of the reigns of Richard III and Henry VII; Campbell's Memorials of Henry VII (all three of Rolls Ser.); Calendar of Henry VIII, vols. i-iv.; Le Neve's Fasti (Hardy).]

J. G.