Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gigli, Giovanni

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GIGLI, GIOVANNI (d. 1498), bishop of Worcester, was a native of Lucca. He was a skilled ecclesiastical lawyer, entered the papal service, and was sent to England as papal collector by Pope Sixtus IV. He seems to have made himself useful to Edward IV, and was appointed a canon of Wells in 1478. Still he did not cease to serve the pope, and in the synod of London, 1480, he set forth that the pope had sold his jewels and melted his plate to provide money for the defence of Rhodes; but despite his eloquence the English clergy refused to tax themselves (Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 613, where Gigli appears as Joannes de Sighs). Gigli was a humanist of considerable attainments, and in 1486 wrote an epithalamium in Latin hexameters on the marriage of Henry VII with Elizabeth of York. In 1489 Gigli was employed by Pope Innocent VIII as his commissioner for the sale of indulgences in England. Soon afterwards Henry VII, who had reasons of his own for establishing intimate relations with the papacy, sent Gigli to Rome as his diplomatic agent. In 1492 Burchard (Diarium, ed. Thuasne, i. 490) calls him ‘orator antiquus regis Angliæ.’ Gigli's services were rewarded in 1497 by the bishopric of Worcester, to which he was appointed by a provision of Pope Alexander VI, dated 30 Aug. He was consecrated in Rome, appointed Thomas Wodyngton as his vicar-general, and was enthroned by proxy. He had no time to visit his see, for he died in Rome on 25 Aug. 1498, and was buried in the English College there, where a tomb was erected to him by his nephew, Silvestro. The inscription is given by Thomas, ‘Survey of Worcester Cathedral,’ p. 202.

Gigli's ‘Epithalamium,’ which is a good example of the complimentary verses of the period, is in the British Museum, Harleian MS. 336.

[To the sources quoted in the text may be added Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 538, and the manuscript Register of Bishop Gigli in the Worcester Diocesan Registry.]

M. C.