Aleander, Jerome

, a Roman cardinal, and one of the most determined enemies to the reformation, was the son of Francis Aleander, a physician at Motta in the duchy of Concordia, and descended from the ancient counts of Laodno. He was born in 1480, and at thirteen years of age went to Venice for education, which was interrupted by a dangerous illness; but on his recovery, he went for some time to the academy at Pordenoue, and afterwards again to Venice. Returning to his native place, Motta, he had the courage to attack and prove the ignorance of the public teacher of that place, and was elected in his room. Such was his growing reputation afterwards, both at Venice and Padua, that Alexander VI. determined to invite him to Rome, and appoint him secretary to his son Caesar Borgia, butanother illness obliged Aleander to return to Venice, after he had set out; and the pope dying soon afterwards, he returned to his studies, and in his twenty-fourth year was reputed one of the most learned men of his age. He knew Latin, Greek, and some of the oriental languages intimately. About this time Aldus Manutius dedicated to him Homer’s Iliad, as to a man whose acquirements were superior to those of any person with whom he was acquainted. At Venice, Aleander formed an intimacy with Erasmus, and assisted him in the new edition of his Adagia, which was printed at the Aldine press in 1508, and is the most correct. Erasmus for some time kept up this intimacy, but took a different part in the progress of the reformation; and although he speaks respectt’uJly of Aleander’s learning, frequently alludes to his want of veracity and principle, accusations of which Luther has borne the blame almost exclusively in all the popish accounts of ALeander.

In the above year Aleander was invited by Louis XI L king of France, to a professor’s chair in the university of Paris, notwithstanding the statutes which excluded foreign­$rs from that honour; but, after residing there some years, he was alarmed by the appearance of the plague, and went into the country of France, and gave lectures on the Greek | language at Orleans, Blois, and other places. At length be took up his residence at Liege, was preferred to a canonry of the cathedral, and to the chancellorship of the diocese, and here also he gave his lectures on the Greek tongue, for two years, with distinguished success. In 1517, the prince bishop sent him to Rome, where he soon recommended himself to Leo X. who requested the princebishop that Aleander might he permitted to quit his service, and enter into that of the Roman church. The bishop, who was then anxious to be made a cardinal, and hoped that Aleander might promote that favourite object, readily consented: and Aleander was first appointed secretary to Julio de Medici, an office at that time of the highest trust; and in 1519, was made librarian of the Vatican. In 1521, he was sent as nuncio to the imperial diet at Worms, where he harangued against the doctrines of Luther for three hours, and with great success, as Luther was not present to answer him; but afterwards, when Luther was permitted to speak, Aleander refused to dispute with him; and yet, with the tyranny and cowardice of a genuine persecutor, obtained an order that his books should be burnt, and his person proscribed, and himself drew up the edict against him. On this occasion, his conduct drew upon him the just censure, not only of the decided reformers, but of his friend Erasmus, who condemned the violence of his zeal with great asperity. He did not, however, become the less acceptable to the church of Rome. After pope Leo’s death, Clement VII. gave him the archbishopric of Brindisi and Oria, and he was appointed apostolic nuncio to Francis I. whom he attended at the battle of Pavia in 1525, where he was made prisoner along with the king by the Spaniards. After his release, he was employed in several embassies, and in 1538, he was promoted to the rank of cardinal by Paul III. and was intended to be president at the council of Trent; but his death, which took place Feb. 1, 154-2, prevented this important appointment. His death is said to have been accelerated by a too frequent use of medicine. His library, a very considerable one, he bequeathed to the monastery of S. Maria del Orto in Venice; and it was afterwards transferred to the canons of S. Georgio, and from them to the library of S. Marco at Venice.

Aleander’s memory is now to be respected only as a man of learning. He wrote a considerable number of works, | the greater part of which have not been published. Those which have, are but insignificant: 1. “Lexicon GraecoLatinum,Paris, 1512, fol.; a work compiled by six of his scholars, and revised, corrected, and enriched by notes from his pen. 2. “Tabulae sane utiles Graecarum musarum adyta compendio ingredi volentibus,” Argent. 1515, 4to, often reprinted. It is, however, only an abridgement of Chrysoloras’s Greek grammar. “De Concilio habendo,” a work of which he wrote only four books, and which was consulted as authority in the proceedings of the council of Trent, remains among his unpublished writings; and in the Vatican there is another manuscript, which Mazzuchelli considers as his best. It contains letters and papers respecting his offices of nuncio and legate, and his transactions against the heresies, as they are called, of Luther; and their importance appears by the use which cardinal Pallavicino made of them in his history of the council of Trent. Aleander ranks likewise among Latin poets from his verses “Ad Julium et Neasram,” published in Toscanus’s collection, entitled “Carmina illustrium poetarum Italorum.” The reason given by his admirers for the few works published by him, is his frequent and active employments in the church, and his being more familiar with extempore eloquence than with composition. 1

1

Roscoe’s Life of Leo. —Moreri. -Gen. Dict. Jortin’s Life of Erasmus.­Biog. Universelle. Paul. Jov. ia elog. Mazzuchelli.