Vergerius, Peter Paul

, usually called the Younger, to distinguish him from the preceding, was born at Justinopolis, and of the same family. Where he was educated we are not told, but he soon became celebrated for his acquirements in canon-law and scholastic divinity; and these recommended him to the attention of the pope, Clement VII. who employed him as his nuncio at the memorable diet of Augsburgh in 1530, and entrusted him with a very ample commission. He was instructed to use every endeavour to prevent the holding of a national council in Germany, and to induce king Ferdinand, the emperor’s brother, to oppose any proposition of that kind. Vergerius executed this commission with great 2eal, and gave every opposition to the Lutherans, by shewing his partiality to Eckius, Faber, Cochlaeus, and other enemies to the reformation; he also made Eckius a canon of Ratisbonne, a piece of preferment which, as the pope’s legate, he could confer. Vergerius executed this commission with such ability, that he was thought the most proper person to succeed the superannuated bishop of Rhegio, as the pope’s ambassador to Germany. He accordingly was sent, with instructions, openly to represent his holiness’s ardent desire to convene a general council, but secretly to take every step to prevent that measure. On the death of Clement VII. and the accession of Paul III. the latter recalled Vergerius from Germany, in order to be exactly informed of the state of religion in that country; and, says Sleidan, he also consulted with the cardinals, as to the prevention of a national council, until they should, by private and unsuspected contrivances, be able to embroil the emperor afhd other princes in a war. As a part of this plan, Paul III. resolved at length to send Vergerius back to Germany to profer a general council, and in the mean time to learn what form the Protestants would insist upon as to the qualifications, votings, and disputations, of such a council; and his object in this was, to be able to impose such rules and terms as he was sure they would never accept; by | which contrivance the odium of not holding a general council would fall upon them. Vergerius was also instructed to exasperate the princes of the empire against the king of England, Henry V1IL whose dominions the pope had in contemplation to bestow upon those who would conquer them: and he had also a secret article of instruction to tamper with Luther and Melancthon, in order to bring them over to the cause of Rome.

Early in the Spring of 1535, Vergerius set out on this embassy, in which he was exceedingly indiistrious, and negociated with almost all the princes of Germany. At Prague he met with John the pious elector of Saxony, with whom he dealt very artfully, and, among other things, suggested, that the intended council should be held at Mantua, pretending the convenience of its situation as to plenty and facility of access, but really because the heads of the protestant party being assembled in Italy would be more in the pope’s power. This, however, was easily seen through, and objected to. He also went to Wittemberg, and had a conference with Luther, which has been variously represented. It appears, however, both from father Paul and Pallavicino, that he treated Luther with urbanity, but made no impression on the steady mind of that illustrious reformer.

In 1556 Vergerius returned to the pope, and reported, as the issue of his inquiries, that the protestants demanded a free council, in a convenient place, within the territories of the empire, which the emperor had promised them: that as to the Lutheran party, there was no remedy but absolute force and entire suppression: that the protestants would hear nothing of hostility to the king of England, and that the rest of the princes had equal repugnance. The only comfortable hint Vergerius communicated was, that George duke of Saxony (Luther’s greatest enemy) had declared, that the pope and the emperor ought to make war against the protestants as soon as possible,. Catching at this, the pope immediately sent Vergerius to Naples, where the emperor then was, in order to propose such a war, as the quickest method of settling the controversy. The emperor so far listened to this as to take a journey to Rome to debate the matter; and the issue was, that a council was proposed to be held at Mantua: but to this, from motives of self-preservation, the protestants could not | consent. As a reward, however, for his services, Vergerius was made bishop of Justinopolis.

From this time to 1541, Vergerius appeajrs to have remained in Italy. In this last mentioned year, he was commissioned to go to the diet at Worms, where he made a speech on the unity and peace of the church, which he printed and circulated, and in which he principally insisted on the arguments against a national council. On his return to Rome, the pope intended to have rewarded his services with a cardinal’s hat, but changed his purpose on hearing it insinuated that a leaning towards Lutheranism was perceptible in him, from his long residence in Germany. The pope, however, was not more offended than Vergerius was surprized at this charge, which he knew to be absolutely groundless; yet this circumstance, probably arising from personal malice or envy, proved ultimately the means of Vergerius’s conversion. With a view to repel the charge of heresy, he now sat down to write a book, the title of which was to be, “Adversus apostatas Germanise,” against the apostates of Germany; but as this led him to a strict investigation of the protestant doctrines, as found in the works of their ablest writers, he found his attachment to popery completely undermined, and rose up from the perusal of the protestant writers with a strong conviction that they were in the right. He then immediately went to confer with his brother, John Baptist Vergerius, bishop of Pola, in Istria, who was exceedingly perplexed at his change of sentiment, but on his repeated entreaties, joined him in examining the disputed points, particularly the article of justification, and the result was, that both prelates soon preached to the people of Istria the doctrines of the reformation, and even dispersed the New Testament among them in the vulgar tongue. The Inquisition, as well as the monks, soon became alarmed at this, and Vergerius was obliged to seek refuge in Mantua, under the protection of cardinal Hercules Gonzaga, who had been his intimate friend; but Gonzaga was after a short time obliged by remonstrances from Rome to withdraw his protection, and he finally went to Padua, and thence to the Grisons, where he preached the gospel for several years, until invited by the duke of Wirtemberg to Tubingen, and there he passed the remainder of his days. In the mean time his brother, the bishop of Pola, died, and, as suspected, by poison, administered by some of those implacable enemies who were | also thirsting for Vergerius’s blood. But he was now out of their reach, and died quietly at Tubingen, Oct. 4, 1566. Verged us, after his conversion, wrote a great many treatises, most of them small, against popery and popish writers, the titles of which are to be found in our authorities, but they are all of rare occurrence, owing to their having been suppressed or strictly prohibited by his enemies. Some are in Italian, and some in Latin. A collection of them was begun to be printed at Tubingen in 1563, but one volume only was published, under the title of “Primus tomus operum Vergerii adversus Papatum,” 4to. A valuable defence of Vergerius was published by Schelhorn, in 1760, “Apologia pro P. P. Vergerio adversus loh. Casam. Accedunt Monumenta inedita, et quatuor epistoltE memorabiles,” 4to. 1