Platina, Bartolomeo Sacchi

, so called, a learned Italian, and author of a “History of the Popes,” was born in 1421 at Piadena, in Latin Platina, a village between Cremona and Mantua; whence he took the name by which he is generally known. He first embraced a military life, which he followed for a considerable time but afterwards devoted himself to literature, and made a considerable progress in it. He went to Rome under Calixtus III. who was made pope in 1455 and procuring an introduction to cardinal Bessarion, he obtained some small benefices of pope Pius II. who succeeded Calixtus in 1458, and afterwards was appointed to an office which Pius II. created, called the college of apostolical abbreviators. But when Paul II. sue-‘ ceeded Pius in 1464, Platina’ s affairs took a very unfavourable turn. Paul hated him because he was the favourite of fris predecessor Pius, and removed all the abbreviators from their employments, by abolishing their places, notwithstanding some had purchased them with great sums of money. On this Platina ventured to complain to the pope, and most humbly besought him to order their cause to be judged by the auditors of the Rota. The pope was offended at the liberty, and gave him a very haughty repulse “Is it thus,” said he, looking at him sternly, “is it thus, that you summon us before your judges, as if you knew riot that all laws were centered in our breast Such is our decree they shall all go hence, whithersoever they please | I am pope, and have a right to ratify or cancel the acts of others at pleasure.” These abbreviators, thus divested of their employments, used their utmost endeavours, for some days, to obtain audience of the pope, but were repulsed with contempt. Upon this, Platina wrote to him in bolder language “If you had a right to dispossess us, without a hearing, of the employments we lawfully purchased; we, on the other side, may surely be permitted to complain of the injustice we suffer, and the ignominy with which we are branded. As you have repulsed us so contumeliousjy, we will go to all the courts of princes, and intreat them to call a council; whose principal business shall be, to oblige you to shew cause, why you have divested us of our lawful possessions.” This letter being considered as an act of rebellion, the writer was imprisoned, and endured great hardships. At the end of four months he had his liberty, with orders not to leave Rome, and continued in quiet for some time; but afterwards, being suspected of a plot, was again imprisoned, and, with many others, put to the rack. The plot being found imaginary, the charge was turned to heresy, which also came to nothing; and Platina was set at liberty some time after. The pope then flattered him with a prospect of preferment, but died before he could perform his promises, if ever he meant to do so. On the accession, however, of Sixtus IV. to the pontificate, he recompensed Platina in some measure by appointing him in 1475, keeper of the Vatican library, which was established by this pope. It was a place of moderate income then, but was highly acceptable to Platina, who enjoyed it with great contentment until 1481, when he was snatched away by the plague. He bequeathed to Pomponius Laetus the house which he built on the Mons Quirinalis, with the laurel grove, out of which the poetical crowns were taken. He was the author of several works, the most considerable of which is, “De Vitis ac Gestis Summorum Pontificum” or, History of the Popes from St. Peter to Sixtus IV. to whom he dedicated it. This work is written with an elegance of style, and discovers powers of research and discrimination which were then unknown in biographical works. He seems always desirous of stating the truth, and does this with as much boldness as could be expected in that age. The best proof of this, perhaps, is that all the editions after 1500 were mutilated by the licensers of the press. The Account he gives of his sufferings under Paul II. has been | objected to him as a breach of the impartiality to be observed by a historian but it was at the same time no inconsiderable proof of his courage. This work was first printed at Venice in 1479, folio, and reprinted once or twice before 1500. Platina wrote also, 2. “A History of Mantua,” in Latin, which was first published by Lambecius, with notes, at Vienna, 1675, in 4to. 3. “De Naturis rerum.” 4. “Epistolae ad diversos.” 5. “De honesta voluptate et valetutiine.” 6. “De falso et vero bono.” 7. “Contra amores.” 8. “De vera nobilitate.” 9. “De optimo cive.” 10.“Panegyricus in Bessarionem.” 11. “Oratio ad Paulum II.” 12. “De pace Italiae componenda et bello Turcico indicendo.” 13. “De flosculis lingua? Latin.” Sannazarius wrote an humorous epigram on the treatise “de honesta voluptate,” including directions for the kitchen, de Obsoniis, which Mr. Gresswell has. thus translated:

"Each pontiffs talents, morals, life, and end,

To scan severe, your earlier labours tend

When late on culinary themes you shine,

Even pamper’d pontiffs praise the kind design."

In this hit at the popes, Sannazarius forgot that the case was quite the reverse with these two works, the treatise “De honesta voluptate” being in fact composed before its author’s imprisonment and persecution under Paul II. and the Lives of the Popes not until he became keeper of the Vatican under Sixtus IV. The date of the first edition of the former, 1481, had probably misled Sannazarius. The lives of the popes was continued in subsequent editions by Onuphrius Panvinius and others. We have likewise an English translation and continuation by sir Paul Ricaut, which will be noticed more particularly hereafter. 1


Tiraboschi. Bullart’s Academic des Sciences. —Niceron, vols. VIII. and X. Gresswell’s Politian, —Saxii Onomast.