Vergil, Polydore

Vergil, Polydore

Vergil or Virgil, Polydore, 1470?-1555?, historian and humanist, b. Urbino, Italy. He studied at Bologna and Padua, served as secretary to the duke of Urbino, was chamberlain to Pope Alexander VI, and was sent to England as subcollector of Peter's pence in 1501 or 1502. He secured the patronage of Henry VII, held many ecclesiastical preferments, and became an English subject in 1510. In 1515 he was briefly imprisoned for his criticism of Thomas Wolsey. Vergil remained largely aloof from the religious controversies of the time. He returned to Italy a few years before his death. His chief work was his Anglicae historicae libri XXVI [26 books of English history] (1534). This work is the first critical history of England and the first interpretive study of Henry VII. He made use of documentary as well as chronicle sources, and though his critical techniques do not meet modern standards, he marks the beginning of modern English historical criticism.


See biography by D. Hay (1952).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vergil, Polydore


(Polydorus Vergilius). Born circa 1470, in Urbino; died there circa 1555. Historian and humanist. Served at the court of the duke of Urbino and in the papal curia.

In 1498, Vergil published a collection of Latin proverbs and sayings and in 1499 his treatise On the Inventors of Things, which was an attempt to classify the sciences. The greater part of his life, from 1502 to 1551 (?), was spent in England, where he occupied various ecclesiastical positions. Upon an order from the English king Henry VII, in 1505 he began work on the compilation of his English History (books 1-26, 1534; 3rd ed., books 1-27, 1555). Maintaining a humanistic spirit, this work was based on an extensive number of sources and encompasses the history of England up to 1538.


Vainshtein, O. L. Zapadno-evropeiskaia srednovekovaia istoriografiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964. Pages 427-31.
Hay, D. Polydore Vergil: Renaissance Historian and Man of Letters. Oxford, 1952.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
(15.) Polydore Vergil, Polydore Vergil's English History, from an early translation, Books I-VIII, ed.