« Baro, Peter Baronius, Caesar Barrett, Benejamin Fisk »

Baronius, Caesar

BARO´NIUS, CÆSAR (Cesare de Barono):


The father of church history among Roman Catholics since the Reformation; b. at Sora (56 m. e.s.e. of Rome), in the kingdom of Naples, Oct. 31, 1538; d. in Rome June 30, 1607. His family was ancient and distinguished for piety. He was educated first at Veroli, then at Naples, where he studied theology and law. He went to Rome in 1557, just at the time when Paul IV was attempting to restore the papacy to its medieval splendor and dominion; but he felt less attraction to public policy than to a life of scholarly retirement. This he found in the new Congregation of the Oratory under Philip Neri (q.v.) whose system prepared the young man, without his knowledge, for the great work he was to do. The Oratorians were directed by their founder to occupy the morning hours with studies in ecclesiastical matters, but in a manner which should conduce to instruction as well as to edification. More and more attracted by the study of church history thus required, Baronius began diligently to collect and compare materials for its prosecution, and worked for thirty years amidst the vast mass of unpublished material which the Vatican archives contained. He had apparently no far-reaching literary plans until he was called upon by his superior, by Cardinal Caraffa, and by other friends to utilize his stores of knowledge in the defense of the Church against the powerful 490 attack which had been made upon it in the “Magdeburg Centuries" (q.v.) and to provide a complete Roman Catholic church history such as did not then exist,—a desideratum which his Annales ecclesiastici supplied with no small credit to the author, considering the conditions of historical writing in the sixteenth century. The fame which he acquired by the execution of his task drew him unwillingly from his retirement. He was made prothonotary of the apostolic see and later, by Clement VIII in 1596, a cardinal, as well as librarian of the Vatican. At both the papal elections which occurred in 1605 he was a candidate against his will, and came near being chosen. But the exhausting labor involved in the completion of his huge work really caused his death two years later.

The Annales Ecclesiastici.

The Annales ecclesiastici begin with the birth of Christ and come down to 1198. In form they resemble the ordinary medieval chronicle, the events of each year being grouped together under the date without regard to any other connection. This form would have been well adapted to the author’s purpose of offering the great mass of historical material to the reader as sources arranged in order, if it had been carried out with strict application of critical principles and the utmost exactness. Baronius tried, indeed, to meet these requirements; but with all his pains he did not altogether succeed. To say nothing of the limitations inseparable from his fundamental beliefs and polemical attitude, the errors in non-contentious points, such as dates, are so numerous as to make great care necessary in using the Annales. Nevertheless they are a storehouse of learning. Though the work was occasioned by the appearance of the “Magdeburg Centuries,” it is not directly controversial. The opposition appears rather in the simple fundamental conception that true history can only be written by the aid of the documents to which he had access, guaranteed by the authority of the Roman Church, and that it is only necessary for these documents to be known in order to secure universal recognition of the claims of that Church. He agrees with the Centuriators as to the purity of the Church of the first six centuries; but while they endeavor to show that the Christianity of the Middle Ages was an actual apostasy from that happy state, Baronius does his best to demonstrate the continuity of Catholicism and the early existence of a distinctively Roman character in Christianity. His other writings are of far secondary importance.

The first edition of the Annales appeared in 12 volumes at Rome, 1588-1607; the Mainz edition, 1601-05, was revised by Baronius himself; that of Antwerp, 1597-1609, is noteworthy because Philip III suppressed vol. xi within his dominions because of the Tractatus de monarchia Siciliæ contained in it [separately printed, Paris 1609]. The Annales have been continued (1) from 1198 to 1565 by Abraham Bzovius (8 vols., Rome, 1616 sqq.; 9 vols., Cologne, 1621-30); (2) from 1198 to 1640 by Henricus Spondanus (Paris, 1640 sqq.; Leyden, 1678); (3) from 1199 to 1565 by the Oratorian Odoricus Raynaldus (9 vols., Rome, 1646-77; Cologne, 1693-1727; 14 vols., Lucca, 1740 sqq.), the best continuation; (4) from 1566 to 1571 by Jacobus Laderchius (3 vols., Rome, 1728-37; Cologne, 1738 sqq.); (5) from 1572 to 1583 by Augustin Theiner (3 vols., Rome, 1856 sqq.). The Critica historico-chronologica in universos Cæsaris Baronii annales of F. Pagi (4 vols., Antwerp, 1705 sqq.; 1724) are an indispensable companion to the work. The most convenient edition is that of Mansi (38 vols., Lucca, 1738-57), which has Pagi’s emendations appended to the text, the continuation of Raynaldus, and three volumes of valuable indices. The most recent edition (incomplete), with all continuations, appeared, vols. i-xxviii at Bar-leDuc, 1864-75, vols. xxix-xxxvii at Paris, 1876-83.

Carl Mirbt.

Bibliography: Sarra, Vita del . . . Cesare Baronio, Rome, 1862. On his history consult F. C. Baur, Die Epochen der kirchlichen Geschichtsschreibung, pp. 72-84, Tübingen, 1852; P. Schaff, History of the Apostolic Church, pp. 56-57, New York, 1874; C. de Smedt, Introductio generalis in historiam ecclesiasticam, pp. 461 sqq. Ghent 1876; H. Hurter, Nomenclator literarius recentioris theologiæ catholicæ, i, pp. 209-212, Innsbruck, 1892; J. F. Hurst, History of the Christian Church, i, 42, 52, 723, 751, ii, 568, New York 1900; Cambridge Modern History, The Renaissance, p. 609, London, 1902.

« Baro, Peter Baronius, Caesar Barrett, Benejamin Fisk »
VIEWNAME is workSection