Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bizari, Pietro
BIZARI, PIETRO (1530?–1586?), an Italian historian and poet, long resident in England, was born at Sassoferrato in Umbria, or, according to some writers, at Perugia, whence he is sometimes called Petrus Perusinus. When young he went to Venice, but having adopted the reformed faith he left that city for England. He describes himself as ‘an exile from Italy, his native country, by reason of his confession of the doctrine of the gospel' (Original Letters relative to the English Reformation, ed. Robinson [Parker Soc.], 339). He was patronised by the Earl of Bedford, and on 4 July 1549 was admitted a fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, by the royal commissioners for the visitation of the university, being incorporated there in the same degree which he had taken ‘in partibus transmarinis’ (Baker, Hist. of St. John's College, ed. Mayor, i. 285 n). It does not appear how he disposed of himself during the reign of Queen Mary. If he left England he returned in the reign of Elizabeth, for in 1567 Bishop Jewel, at the instance of Archbishop Parker, gave him the prebend of Alton Pancras in the church of Sarum, worth 20l. a year (Stype, Life of Abp. Parker, 255 fol.) Failing in his expectations of receiving church preferment in this country, he obtained, in 1570, a license from secretary Cecil to go abroad, partly for the purpose of printing his own works, and partly to collect news of foreign affairs for the English government. He passed some time at Genoa, though at what precise period it is difficult to determine, for he appears to have led a very migratory life on the continent, and the various statements which have been made respecting his place of abode cannot be easily reconciled with one another. Passing to Germany he obtained, through the influence of the celebrated Hubert Languet, some employment from the elector of Saxony. On 20 Oct. 1573 he addressed from Augsburg a letter in Italian to Lord Burghley, containing several items of intelligence, chiefly relating to affairs at Rome (MS Cotton. Titus B. ii. f. 386). Writing to Sir Philip Sidney from Vienna on 19 Nov. 1573, Hubert Languet says: 'I send you an epistle of Pietro Bizarro of Perugia, that you may have before your eyes his surpassing eloquence and make it your model. You will now perceive how unwisely you English acted in not appreciating all this excellence and not treating it with the respect it deserves. You judged yourselves unworthy of immortality, which he surely would have bestowed on you by his eloquence if you had known how to use the fortunate opportunity of earning the good will of such a man' (Correspondence of Sidney and Languet, 2). Soon after this Bizari went to Antwerp, where he formed an intimacy with the scholars who frequented the house of Christopher Plantin (MS. Sloan. 2764, f. 44). A letter of Justus Lipsius informs us that in 1581 Bizari, on passing through Leyden, left with him the manuscript of a 'Universal History' in eight volumes, with a request that he would seek for a publisher who would undertake to bring it out at his own expense (Burmann, Sylloge Epistolarum, i. 258, 259). Bizari was at Antwerp in December 1583. On 23 Nov. 1586 he addressed a Latin letter from the Hague to Lord Burghley, wherein he gives a detailed and interesting account of his literary labours, and alludes to certain verses which he had lately printed (Strype, Annals, iii. 448, fol.) Neither the place nor the time of his death appears to be recorded.
His works are: 1. 'Varia Opuscula,' Venice (Aldus), 1565, 8vo. Dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. This work is divided into two parts. The first comprises declamations in the manner of the ancient rhetoricians—'De optimo principe,' 'De bello et pace,' 'Pro philosophia et eloquentia,' 'Æmilii accusatio et defensio,' 'Pro L. Virginio contra Ap. Claudium.' The second part consists of poems, several of which are reprinted in Gherus's 'Delitiæ 200 Italorum Poetarum,' 236, and in 'Carmina illust. Poetarum Italicorum,' ii. 250. Wiffen, in his memoirs of the house of Russell, has given English metrical versions of two short poems addressed to members of that family. 2. 'Historia della guerra fatta in Ungheria dall' inuittissimo Imperatore de' Christiani, contra quello de' Turchi: con la Narratione di tutte quelle cose che sono auuenute in Europa, dall' anno 1564, insino all' anno 1568,' Lyons, 1568, 8vo, and, with a slightly different title, 1569. A Latin translation by the author himself was printed under the title of 'Pannonicum Bellum, sub Maximiliano II Rom. et Solymano Turcarum Imperatoribus gestum: cumque Arcis Sigethi expugnatione, iam pridem magna cura et studio descriptum. Vnà cum Epitome illarum rerum quæ in Europa insigniores gestae sunt: et præsertim de Belgarum motibus, ab anno LXIIII usque ad LXXIII,' Basle, 1573, 8vo. The first treatise in this volume is included by Jacques Bongars in his 'Rerum Hungaricarum Scriptores varii,' Frankfort, 1600, and by Matthew Bell in his reprint, Vienna, 1746. 3. 'Cyprium Bellum inter Venetos et Selymum, Turcarum imperatorem, gestum,' Basle, 1573, 8vo. A French translation appeared with this title: 'Histoire de la Guerre qui s'est passée entre les Venitiens et la saincte Ligue contre les Turcs, pour l'Isle de Cypre, ès années 1570, 1571, & 1572, mise en Francoys par F. de Belleforest,' Paris, 1573, 8vo. 4. 'Senatus Populiq. Geneuensis Rerum domi, forisque, gestarum Historiæ atque Annales: cum luculenta variarum rerum cognitione dignissimarum, quæ diversis temporibus, & potissimùm hac nostra tempestate contigerunt, enarratione,' Antwerp, 1579, fol. Grævius has printed two pieces from this work in the first volume of his 'Thesaurus Antiquitat. Italicar.' 5. 'Rerum Persicarum historia, initia gentis, resque gestas ad hæc usque tempora complectens: accedunt varia opuscula diversorum scriptorum ad historiam Persicam recentiorem spectantia,' Antwerp, 1583, fol.; Frankfort, 1601, fol. The Frankfort edition contains some opuscula not to be found in the other. 6. Universal History. MS. in 8 vols. 7. 'De Principe tractatus; ad reginam Elizabetham,' Royal MS. in Brit. Mus. 12 a, 48. This differs slightly from the printed treatise 'De optimo principe' in the 'Varia Opuscula.' The dedication of the manuscript is dated 5 Dec. 1561. Bizari also brought out a new edition of 'La Santa Comedia' of Mario Cardoini, Venice, 1566, 8vo.
[Lamb's Cambridge Documents, 119; Saxius, Onomasticon Literarium, iii. 413, 414; Murdin's State Papers, 287; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. 595; MS. Addit. 5864, f. 38; MS. Lansd. 50, art. 14; Fabricius's Conspectus Thesauri Literarii Italiæ, 82; Jacobillo's Bibliotheca Umbriæ, i. 221; Biog. Universelle, lviii. 315; Casley's Cat. of MSS. in the King's Library, 198; David Clément's Bibl. Curieuse, iv. 262-5; Bradford's Writings, ed. Townsend (Parker Soc.), ii. p. xxi, 352, 353; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. ii. 8; Correspondence
of Sir P. Sidney and Languet, ed. Pears, 2. 46; Index to Strype’s Works; Thomas's Hist., Notes, i. 395.]