Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vermigli, Pietro Martire

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712472Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 58 — Vermigli, Pietro Martire1899Alexander Gordon

VERMIGLI, PIETRO MARTIRE (1500–1562), reformer, known as Peter Martyr, son of Stefano Vermigli, by his first wife, Maria Fumantina, was born at Florence on 8 May 1500. His father, who had been a follower of Savonarola, lost several children in infancy, and vowed to dedicate any that lived to the Dominican saint, Peter Martyr (d. 1252). His mother taught him Latin; his studies were pursued under Marcello Vergilio. At the age of sixteen he entered on his novitiate in the Augustinian cloister at Fiesole, his sister Felicita entering the convent of St. Peter Martyr. His father's disapproval of this step has been inferred from his leaving part of his property to the Albergo de' Forestieri for the benefit of the poor. At Fiesole he had access to a fine library, and applied himself to biblical study. In 1519 he was transferred to the convent of St. John of Verdara, near Padua, and studied for eight years at the university of Padua, attaining the degree of D.D. To master the philosophy of Aristotle he learnt Greek. He was first employed as a public preacher in Lent 1527 at Brescia, then at Rome, Venice, Pisa, and elsewhere. In the intervals between the preaching seasons (Advent and Lent) observed by Augustinians, he lectured on Scripture in various convents of his order; at Bologna he learned Hebrew by help of a Jewish physician, named Isaac; at Vercelli he renewed a friendship with Benedict Cusano, and lectured on Homer at his request. By 1530 he was elected abbot of the Augustinian monastery in Spoleto, and ‘reformator’ of his order. Showing great capacity, he was promoted, three years later, to be prior of the important convent of St. Peter at Aram at Naples. Here he fell in with the commentaries on the Gospels (1527) and the Psalms (1529) by Martin Bucer [q. v.], and read also Zuingli's ‘De Vera et Falsa Religione’ (1525). Like Bernardino Ochino [q. v.], he came under the influence of Juan de Valdés, and was associated with his evangelical conferences. In his convent church he began to lecture to large audiences on the first Epistle to the Corinthians. The Theatins accused him of error regarding purgatory, and Toledo, the viceroy, forbade his preaching. The prohibition was removed on appeal to Rome, where he had influential friends among the cardinals, including Reginald Pole [q. v.], his contemporary at Padua. His health was impaired by a fever, and in the latter half of 1541 he was transferred to Lucca, as prior of St. Frediano, and visitor-general of his order. At Lucca he did much to promote biblical studies, engaging John Emmanuel Tremellius [q. v.] to teach Hebrew. His safety was endangered by measures taken against heresy by the cardinal bishop of Lucca, Bartholomew Guidoccioni. Summoned in August 1542 to a chapter of the order at Genoa, Vermigli fled from Lucca with three friends, hid for a short time in Pisa, where he celebrated the Lord's Supper in secret, and made his way to Ochino at Florence. Vermigli had already made his plans for leaving Italy; he advised Ochino to the same course, and furnished money for his journey to Geneva. Two days later (?25 Aug.) Vermigli started for Zürich. Finding no opening there, he pushed on to Basle, with no better prospect. The death of Capito (1541) had made a vacancy at Strasburg. On Bucer's invitation, Vermigli went thither on 16 Nov. 1542; the senate appointed him professor of theology, and for five years he prelected on parts of the Old Testament with great reputation. Here he married his first wife, Catherine Dammartin of Metz, who had left a convent, having adopted evangelical views.

In 1547 Cranmer invited Vermigli and Ochino to England, charging John Abell (d. 1569), a London merchant, with the conduct of their journey. Abell's account of expenses (126l. 7s. 6d. from their outfit) at Basle to their arrival in London—from 4 Nov. to 20 Dec.—is still preserved (Ashmole MSS. No. 826). Cranmer received them at Lambeth, and obtained for each of them a pension of forty marks, secured by letters patent. Vermigli was followed by his friend Giulio Terenziano, known in England as Julius. In February 1548 Vermigli was incorporated D.D. at Oxford, and appointed regius professor of divinity at the end of March. He succeeded Richard Smith, D.D. [q. v.], deprived. Smith attended his lectures (on the Epistles to the Corinthians), and challenged him to a disputation on the eucharist, which was fixed for 4 May 1549. Accounts differ as to whether Smith appeared. According to Wood and Strype, the discussion, which actually began on 28 May, lasted four days, Vermigli's opponents being William Tresham (d. 1569) [q. v.], William Chedsey or Cheadsey [q. v.], and Morgan Philipps or Philippes [q. v.] (Strype, Cranmer, ed. Barnes, 1853, i. 289). Vermigli and Tresham each published accounts of the disputation. Vermigli believed in a real presence, conditioned by the faith of the recipient. On 20 Jan. 1550–1 he was installed in the first canonry of Christ Church. His wife and the wife of Richard Cox (1500–1581) [q. v.] were ‘the first women, as 'twas observ'd, that resided in any coll. or hall in Oxon’ (Wood). Hence the windows of his lodgings, which looked into Fish Street, were often broken, ‘especially in the night time,’ by indignant papists, and he removed to the lodgings of the second canonry in the cloister, and built in the garden ‘a fabric of stone’ two stories high, as a study (demolished, March 1684, by Henry Aldrich [q. v.]). Vermigli's share in the preparation of the prayer-book of 1552 has been variously estimated, but seems to have been limited to advocacy of alterations proposed by Bucer before his death. These changes were in some instances adopted; other objections were met by emendations made by English bishops, especially Ridley. Vermigli was placed on the commission (11 Nov. 1551) of eight (six divines and two laymen), selected from a larger commission (6 Oct.) of thirty-two, for reformation of the ecclesiastical laws (Cardwell, Documentary Annals, 1839, i. 95). He came up to London as Cranmer's guest at Lambeth. The new code had already been drafted in the previous reign, under Cranmer's superintendence; it was now revised by Cranmer and Vermigli, the phraseology being corrected by Walter Haddon, LL.D. [q. v.], and was published in 1571, 4to, but never authorised (see Cardwell's reprint, 1850, with information based on Harl. MS. 426, containing great part of the original). Vermigli returned to Oxford on the dissolution of parliament (15 April). The Strasburg authorities were anxious for his return thither; but Edward VI would not permit it.

Early in 1553 Vermigli's wife died of fever, and he was for some months prostrated by the same disorder. On the accession of Mary he was kept prisoner in his house for six weeks, Henry Siddall or Syddall [q. v.] being charged to prevent his escape. His friend Terenziano, with William Whittingham [q. v.], petitioned the privy council at Richmond for a license enabling him to leave the kingdom. Through the interest of Sir John Mason [q. v.] he was allowed to come up to London; he stayed with Cranmer at Lambeth, and on 13 Sept. obtained a safe-conduct from the queen. Gardiner stood his friend, and found him money for his journey. He sailed for Antwerp, and reached Strasburg on 29 Oct.

Opposition to his reappointment as professor was raised by Jean Marbach (1521–1581), head of the Strasburg consistory, on the ground that he had receded from the Lutheran doctrine of the eucharist. Vermigli made a conciliatory statement of his position, but declined to subscribe the Wittenberg concordia of 1536. The senate was with him, and on 1 Jan. 1554 he was restored to his former place. In May Calvin invited him to take charge of the Italian church at Geneva, but he declined. In 1555 he gave hospitality to John Jewel [q. v.], and his house became a rallying point for a number of English exiles repelled by the internal disputes at Frankfort. Renewed opposition to his eucharistic teaching rendered his position at Strasburg untenable. An invitation from Zürich to succeed Conrad Pellican in the chair of Hebrew reached him in May 1556. He at once accepted it, and removed to Zürich in July 1556, taking Jewel with him.

At Zürich he married for the second time. He declined renewed invitations to Geneva (1557) and to Oxford (1561). With Jewel, Cox, John Parkhurst (1512?–1575) [q. v.], Edwin Sandys (1516?–1588) [q. v.], Thomas Sampson [q. v.], and others, he maintained a constant correspondence on English affairs. On the invitation of Anthony, king of Navarre, he took part in the colloquy of Poissy (9 Sept.–19 Oct. 1561), speaking in Italian to gain the ear of Catherine de Medicis. His own account of the colloquy, continued by William Stuckius, who accompanied him, is printed by Hottinger (Hist. Eccles. 1665, vii. 714 seq.). The journey was too much for him, and his health began to fail. He was seized with fever on 4 Nov., and died at Zürich on 12 Nov. 1562. A silver medal bearing his likeness was sent to his English friends. His portrait (on a panel) is in the hall of Christ Church, Oxford, and has been several times engraved.

He married, first, Catherine Dammartin (died without issue 15 Feb. 1553), described by George Abbot [q. v.] as ‘reasonably corpulent, but of most matronlike modesty,’ and skilled in cutting ‘plumstones into curious faces.’ She was buried in the cathedral at Oxford, near the tomb of St. Frideswide. In 1557 a commission against heresy, headed by James Brooks [q. v.], sought evidence of her heresy, with a view to burning her body; none was obtained, as the persons examined ‘did not understand her language.’ Cardinal Pole sent an order to Richard Martial or Marshall [q. v.], dean of Christ Church, for the disinterment of the body, as it lay near that of the saint. Martial transferred the corpse to a dungheap in his stable. In 1558 an ecclesiastical commission deputed James Calfhill [q. v.] to superintend the reinterment. The remains were identified, and, purposely mingled with supposed relics of St. Frideswide, were buried at the northeast end of the cathedral, after an oration ending ‘hic requiescit religio cum superstitione’ (see Calfhill's ‘Historia de Exhumatione’ in Hubert's Historia, 1561, 8vo). Vermigli married, secondly, Caterina Merenda, a native of Brescia, and member of the Italian church at Geneva, by whom he had two children who died in infancy, and a posthumous daughter, Maria, who married Paul Zanin. His widow married Lodovico Ronco, a merchant of Locarno. Vermigli's chief publications were the following: 1. ‘Theses propositæ ad disputandum publice,’ Strasburg, 1543, fol. 2. ‘Oratio de Utilitate … Ministerii,’ Strasburg, 1543, fol.; in English, 1583, fol. 3. ‘Una semplice Dichiaratione sopra gli XII Articoli della Fede,’ Basle, 1544, 4to (translated into Latin, with title ‘Symboli Expositio’). 4. ‘Tractatio de Sacramento Eucharistiæ’ [1549], 4to; gives his account of the Oxford discussion; often reprinted; translated into English by John Udall, with title ‘A Discourse or Traictise’ [1550], 4to. 5. ‘An Epistle unto … the Duke of Somerset,’ 1550, 8vo; translated by Thomas Norton (1532–1584) [q. v.] 6. ‘Defensio doctrinæ … de … Eucharistia,’ Zürich, 1551, 4to (against Stephen Gardiner [q. v.]; often reprinted). 7. ‘Aristotelis Ethicæ cum … Sacra Scriptura collatæ,’ 1555 (Cantù). 8. ‘In Epistolam … ad Romanos … Commentarii,’ Basle, 1558, fol.; often reprinted; translated into English, with title ‘Most learned and fruitfull Commentaries … upon … the Romanes,’ 1568, fol. 9. ‘Defensio sui contra R. Smithæi … de Cœlibatu,’ Basle, 1559, 8vo. 10. ‘Dialogus de utraque in Christo natura,’ Zürich, 1561, 8vo. 11. ‘Epistolæ duæ ad Ecclesias Polonicas … de negotio Stancariano,’ Zürich, 1551 (Cantù). Posthumous were: 12. ‘Loci Communes sacrarum literarum,’ Zürich, 1563, fol.; often reprinted; translated into English, with title ‘The Common Places of … P. Martyr,’ 1583, fol. (has prefixed ‘oration,’ by Josias Simler, on his life and death). 13. ‘Chorus alternatim Canentium,’ 1563 (broadsheet). 14. ‘In librum Judicum … Commentarii,’ Zürich, 1563, fol.; translated into English, with title ‘Cōmentaries … upon the Booke of Judges,’ 1564, fol. 15. ‘In … libros Samuelis … Commentarii,’ Zürich, 1564, fol.; often reprinted. ‘Preces Sacræ ex Psalmis Davidis,’ 1564, 16mo; translated into English by Charles Glemham, with title ‘Most godly Prayers … out of David's Psalmes,’ 1569, 8vo. 16. ‘In … priorem ad Corinthios Epistolam … Commentarii,’ 1569, fol.; prepared for publication at Oxford, and dedicated to Edward VI. 17. ‘Questions proposées & Resolues,’ 1571, 8vo. 18. ‘Epistre … à quelques Fidèles touchant leur abjuration’ [Geneva?], 1574, 8vo. 19. ‘A briefe Treatise concerning … Dauncing’ [1580], 8vo; edited by Rob. Massonius. 20. ‘In Aristotelis Ethicorum … librum primum … Commentarius,’ 1582, 4to. 21. ‘De Libero Arbitrio … et Prædestinatione,’ Zürich, 1587, fol. 22. ‘An Deus sit … author peccati. An Missa sit sacrificium,’ Zürich, 1587, fol. 23. ‘In Lamentationes … Jeremiæ … Commentarium,’ Zürich, 1629, 4to; edited by J. R. Stuckius. His judgment on vestments will be found in ‘A briefe Examination’ [1559], 4to; a prefatory letter by him is prefixed to Jewel's ‘Apologia,’ edition of 1581 and subsequent ones; extracts from his writings were edited in 1849, 8vo, by George Cornelius Gorham [q. v.]; an unpublished letter was edited in 1850, 8vo, by William Goode, D.D. [q. v.]

[The primary source for Vermigli's life is the Oratio de Vita et Obitu by Josias Simler, 1563, in English, 1583; the Leben by F. C. Schlosser, 1809, and the Leben und ausgewählte Schriften by C. Schmidt, 1858, are founded mainly on Simler; the best study in English is in Young's Life and Times of Aonio Paleario, 1860, i. 397–493 and appendix, where use has been made of the Zürich Letters printed for the Parker Society; the Discorso in Cantù's Gli Eretici d'Italia, 1866, ii. 69–80, is a good summary, with some few additional particulars. Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 326; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 126; Wood's Hist. et Antiq. Oxon. 1674, i. 267 seq.; Strype's Cranmer and Strype's Eccles. Memorials; Granger's Biogr. Hist. of England, 1779, i. 141; McCrie's Hist. of the Reformation in Italy, 1833, pp. 144 seq.; Zürich Letters (Parker Soc.,) ed. Hastings Robinson [q. v.], 1842–5, 2nd edit. 1846; Original Letters (Parker Soc.), ed. Robinson, 1846–7; Benrath's Bernardino Ochino, 1875, pp. 72 seq.; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1891, iii. 981.]

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