Baronius, Cæsar

, an eminent ecclesiastical writer, and a cardinal of the Roman church, was born at Sora, an episcopal city in the kingdom of Naples, October the 30th, | 1538, of Camillo Baronio and Porcia Phebonia, who educated him with great care. He went through his first studies at Veroli, and afterwards applied himself to divinity and civil law at Naples. But the troubles of that kingdom obliged his father to remove him in 1557 to Rome, where he finished his studies in the law under Cesar Costa, afterwards archbishop of Capua, and put himself under the discipline of St. Philip de Neri, founder of the congregation of the oratory, who employed him in the familiar instructions which his clerks gave to the children. After he was ordained priest, St. Philip de Neri sent him, with some of his disciples, in 1564, to establish his congregation in the church of St. John the Baptist. He continued there till 1576, when he was sent to 8,t. Mary in Vallicella, and in both houses he was much admired for his pious zeal and charity. St. Philip de Neri having, in 1593, laid down the office of superior of the congregation of the oratory, thought he could not appoint a more worthy successor than Baronius, and pope Clement VIII. who knew his merit, in compliance with the desires of the founder and his congregation, approved the choice, and some time after made him his confessor. The esteem which that pope had for him, increased as he had an opportunity of growing more intimately acquainted with him, and induced him to appoint our author apostolical prothonotary in 1595, and to advance him to the dignity of cardinal, June 5th, 1596, to which he afterwards added the post of library-keeper to the see of Rome. Upon the death of Clement VIII. m 1605, Baronius had a great prospect of being chosen pope, one and thirty voices declaring for him; but the Spaniards strongly opposed his election on account of his treatise, “Of the Monarchy of Sicily,” in which he argued against the claim of Spain to Sicily. His intense application to his studies weakened his constitution in such a manner, that towards the end of his life he could not digest any kind of food. He died June the 30th, 1607, aged sixtyeight years and eight months, and was interred in the church of St. Mary in Vallicella, in the same tomb where his intimate friend cardinal Francesco Maria Taurusio was buried the year following. Dupin observes, that “an high regard ought to be paid to the memory of Baronius, who was a man of sincere religion, probity, learning, and extensive reading, and laboured with success for the service of the church, and the clearing up of ecclesiastical | antiquity. But it were to be wished that he had been exempt from the prejudices which his education and country inspired him with*” In a book of lather Parsons, printed in 1607, and entitled “I)e sacris alienis non adeundis qusestiones du; ad usum praximque Angliae breviter explicate,” is published the judgment of Baronius, together with that of cardinal Bcllarmin and others, declaring that it was absolutely unlawful for the Roman Catholics to be present at the religious worship of the Protestants in England. The work for which Baronius was most celebrated, and which is certainly a wonderful monument of industry and research, was his “Ecclesiastical Annals.” He undertook this work at the age of thirty, and laboured for thirty years in collecting and digesting the materials for it, by reading over carefully the ancient monuments of the church, as well in printed books as in manuscripts, in the Vatican library. He published in 1588 the first volume, which contains the first century after the birth of Christ. The second, which followed after, contains two hundred and five years. These two volumes are dedicated to pope Sixtus V. The third, dedicated to king Philip 11. of Spain, comprehends the history of fifty-five years immediately following. The fourth, dedicated to Clement VIII. contains the history of thirty-four years, which end in the year 395. The fifth, dedicated to the same pope, as well as the following volumes, extends to the year 440. The sixth ends in the year 518. The seventh contains seventy-three years. The eighth extends to the year 714. The ninth, dedicated to king Henry IV. of France, concludes with the year 842. The tenth, dedicated to the emperor Rodolphus II. begins with the year 843, and reaches to 1000. The eleventh, dedicated to Sigismond III. king of Poland, and published in 1605, continues the history to the year 1099. The twelfth, printed under the pontificate of Paul V. in 1607, concludes with 1198. So that we have, in these twelve volumes, the history of the twelve first ages of the church. Henry Spoudunns informs us, that Baronius had left memoirs for three more volumes, which were used by Odoricus Kaynaldus in the continuation of his work. The first edition of Baronius’ s Annals, begun in 158S, and continued the following years, was printed at Rome, where the first volumes were reprinted in 1593. It was followed by some others, with alterations and additions. The second edition was that of Venice, and was begun in 1595. The third was | printed at Cologne in 1596, and the foil owing years. The fourth at Antwerp in 1597, &c. The fifth at Mentz in 1601, The sixth at Cologne in 1609. There were several other editions published afterwards, at Amsterdam in 1610, at Cologne in 1624, at Antwerp in 1675, at Venice in 1705, and at Lucca in 1738—1759, by far the best. Before this, the best editions, according to the abbe Longlet de Fresnoy, in his “New method of studying History,” were that of Home, as the original, and that of Antwerp, and the most convenient for study, is that of Mentz, because the authorities of the ecclesiastical writers are marked in it by a different character from the text of Baronius, and the impression is in two columns. The edition of Cologne has the same advantage, though ill printed.

Baronins’s design in these Annals was, as he tells us himself in his preface, to refute the Centuriators of Magdeburg, or rather to oppose to their work, which was written against the church of Rome, another work of the same kind in defence of that church. “It were to be wished,” says Monsieur Dupin, “that he had contented himself with a mere narration of facts of ecclesiastical history, without entering into controversies and particular interests. However, it must be owned that his work is of a vast extent, well digested, full of deep researches, written with care, and as much exactness as can be expected from a man who first undertakes a work of such extent and difficulty as that. It is true that a great number of mistakes in chronology and history have been remarked in it; that many facts have been discovered not at all known to him; that he made use of several supposititious or doubtful monuments; that he has reported a considerable number of false facts as true, and has been mistaken in a variety of points. But though, without endeavouring to exaggerate the number of his errors with Lucas Holstenius, who declared that he was readyto shew eight thousand falsities in Baronins’s Annals, it cannot be denied that the number of them is very great; yet it must be acknowledged that his work is a very good and very useful one, and that he is justly styled the father of church history. It must be remarked, that he is much more exact in the history of the Latins than in that of the Greeks, because he was but very indifferently skilled in the Greek, and was obliged to make use of the assistance of Peter Morin, Metius, and father Sinnond, with regard to the monuments which had not been translated imo Latin. His | style has neither the purity nor elegance xvhich were to be wished for in a work of that nature-, and it may be saidj that he writes rather like a clissertator than an historian; however, he is clear, intelligible, and methodical.’

Cardinal de Laurea drew up an index to this work for his own private use, which he afterwards left to the public “Index alphabeticus rerum et locorum omnium memorabilium ad Annales Cardinalis Baronii. Opus posthumum Rev. Cardinalis de Laurea,Rome, 1694, in 4to. This is a posthumous work, for being put to the press during the author’s life, the impression was not finished till after his death, which happened November the 30th, 1693. These annals were begun to be translated into various languages, but probably owing to the vast expense, none of the translators proceeded farther than the iirst volume. Several abridgments, however, have been published. The most extensive is that of Henry Spondanus, Paris, 1612, 1622, 1630, 1639, and often afterwards. They were also abridged byAurelio, Bzovius, Bisciola, Scogli, Sartorius, Schuhingius, &c. &c. and in various languages. The continuators are also numerous. Bzovius published a continuation from 1199 to 1572, Rome, 9 vols. fol. 1616 1672, which, however, are rather the annals of the Dominicans than of the church. Raynaldns’ continuation from 1199 to 1567, also 9 vols. folio, is said to be worse than the former; the best is Spondanus, extending to the year 1639, and printed at Paris in that year, 2 vols. folio. The great fame of Baroaius excited the attention of many Protestant writers, who criticised his work with acuteness. Among the best of these is Isaac Casaubon, in his “Exercitationes contra Baronium,London, 1614, folio, but perhaps Dupin’s opinion, which we have quoted, is sufficient to point out the leading errors of the work. Besides these annals, Baronius wrote, 1. “Marty rologium Romanum restitutum,1586, folio. These notes on the Roman martyrology, for these are all which Baronius contributed, were intended as a prelude to his Annals. This work was often reprinted, and as often corrected by the author, but it is still erroneous in many points. 2. “Tractatus de Monarchia Siciliae,Paris, 1609, 8vo. 3. “Parsenesis ad RempublicamVenetam,Rome, 1606, 4to, written on occasion of the interdict of Venice. 4. “Contra ser. Rempublicam Venetam Votum,” not published by Baronius, but containing his opinion in the consistory. 5. “Historica relatio de Legatione | Ecelesise Alexanclrinse ad Apostolicam sedem,” 1598, 8vo, respecting the re-union of the church of Alexandria to the see of Home, which did not last long. And some other works of less reputation. 1


Gen. Dict. vol. XMoreri.—Dupin.—Baillet Judgements, vol. II. and VI. —Fabr. Bibl. Grace, vol. XII. p. 165, an excellent article on the annuals and their history.—Saxii Onomasticon.—Blount’s Censura.