Cusa, Nicholas De

, a cardinal, so called from Cusa, the place of his birth, was born in 1401. His parents were mean and poor; and it was his own personal merit which raised him to the height of dignity he afterwards attained. He was a man of extraordinary parts and learning, particularly famous for his vast knowledge in law and divinity, and a great natural philosopher and geometrician. Nicholas V. made him a cardinal by the title of St. Peter ad viucula, in 1448; and two years after, bishop of Brixia. In 1451 he was sent legate into Germany, to preach the crusade, but not succeeding in this attempt, he performed the more meritorious service of reforming some monasteries which he visited, and of establishing some new rules relating to ecclesiastical discipline. He returned to Rome under Calixtus III. and afterwards was made governor of it by Pius II. during his absence at Mantua, where he was chief concerter and manager of the war against the Turks. He died at Todi, a city of Umbria, in 1464, aged sixtythree years. His body was interred at Rome; but his heart, it is said, was carried to a church belonging to the hospital of St. Nicholas, which he had founded near Cusa, and where he collected a most noble and ample library of Greek and Latin authors. He left many excellent works behind him, which were printed in three volumes at Basil, in 1565. The first volume contains all his metaphysical tracts, in which he is very abstruse and profound; the second, his controversial pieces, and others which relate | to the discipline of the church; the third, his mathematical, geographical, and astronomical works. It is said of Cusa, that before he was made a cardinal, he had taken the freedom to reprehend some errors and misdemeanours in the pope; and there are some instances in his works, where he has made no scruple to detect and expose the lying sophistries and false traditions of his church. In his piece entitled “Catholic Concord,” he has acknowledged the vanity and groundlessness of that famous donation of Constantine the Great to Sylvester, bishop of Rome. He gained considerable reputation by his “Cribratio Alcorani.” The Turks had taken Constantinople in 14-53, which seems to have given occasion to his writing this book, by way of antidote, as he proposed it, to the doctrines of the Koran, which were now in so fair a way of being spread through the western parts of the world. It appears by the dedication, that it was not written till after the loss of that city being inscribed to Pius II. who did not enter on the papacy till the Turks had been about three years in. possession of it. It is a very learned and judicious performance. 1


Moreri in art. Nicholas.—Freheri Theatrum.—Blount’s Censura.—Cave.Saxii Onomast.