Jerónimo Osório

Jerónimo Osório da Fonseca (1506[1] – 20 August 1580) was a Portuguese Roman Catholic humanist bishop, historian and polemicist.[2] An extensive notice of his life and thought (Vita) was written by his nephew, a canon of Évora also named Jerónimo Osório, to introduce his edition of his uncle's Complete Works (dedicated to King Philip I of Portugal) published in 1592.[3]

D. Jerónimo Osório
Bishop of the Algarve
Hieronymus Osorius, Sylvensis Episcopus.png
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
DioceseArchdiocese of Faro
Appointed21 June 1564
Term ended20 August 1580
Consecration22 October 1564
by Julião de Alva
Personal details
Birth nameJerónimo Osório da Fonseca
Lisbon, Portugal
Died20 August 1580(1580-08-20) (aged 73–74)
Tavira, Portugal
Styles of
Jerónimo Osório
Coat of arms of Jerónimo Osório.svg
Reference styleHis Lordship
Spoken styleYour Lordship


Young life and educationEdit

Osório was a native of Lisbon and one of two sons of João Osório de Fonseca, and Francisca, daughter of Affonso Gil de Gouveia, Ouvidor of the lands of the Infante Ferdinand,[4] both families of aristocratic lineage. His father, appointed by John III to be Ouvidor Geral (Auditor-General[5]) of Portuguese rule in India, went alone, and there found himself under the authority of Vasco da Gama.[6] Jerónimo, at school in Portugal, showed such prodigious ability in Latin that in 1519, when aged 13, his mother sent him to Salamanca in Spain to study civil law.[7] Two years later, with further fluency in Latin and Greek, he returned home wanting to make a military career with the Knights Hospitaller in Rhodes: his father sent him back to Salamanca, where he worked to strengthen and discipline both body and mind for that calling when his father's objections should be overcome.[8] But he developed strongly devotional feelings, and on his father's death his mother persuaded him to give up military ambitions.[9]

In 1525, aged 19, he went to Paris to study Aristotelian logic and Natural philosophy.[10] There he became a near associate of Peter Faber, who with his companion Francis Xavier and others was then drawing close to Ignatius of Loyola.[11] Returning to Portugal to settle his affairs, Osório next proceeded for Theology to Bologna, immersing himself in the Church Fathers (particularly Gregory Nazianzen, St Basil, John Chrysostom, Augustine of Hippo and St Jerome) and St Thomas Aquinas and making a higher study of Cicero, Demosthenes and Plato.[12] His Neoplatonic leanings were nourished by the Corpus Areopagiticum, the author of which he considered, next to the Apostles, to be the prince of theologians.[13] He made such a name that King John III invited him in 1536–1537 to lecture in the reorganized University of Coimbra, where he expounded on Isaiah and on St Paul's Epistle to the Romans.[14]

De NobilitateEdit

Returning to Lisbon in 1540 he became secretary to Prince Luís, and tutor to his son António (afterwards Prior of Crato), obtaining also two benefices in the diocese of Viseu. Before the age of 30 he had begun his twin treatises De Nobilitate Civili and De Nobilitate Christiana: their publication in Lisbon in 1542 rapidly won him international acclaim.[15] His mastery of Latin style earned him the name "The Portuguese Cicero". After the death of Prince Luís in 1553, he withdrew from court to his churches.[16] De Nobilitate was promoted by his friend Roger Ascham[17] in England to William Paget,[18] Cuthbert Tunstall,[19] Sir William Petre and, in 1555, to Cardinal Pole.[20] (To Pole he afterwards dedicated his work De Justitia Caeli.) He was named archdeacon of Évora in 1560, and much against his will became Bishop of Silves, the diocese of the Algarve, in 1564.[21]

The English questionEdit

As Osório had denounced Machiavelli, so in addressing England he could denounce the influence of Martin Luther and Martin Bucer.[22] As the Council of Trent drew towards its close, in 1562, at the prompting of Cardinal Henrique,[23] Osório published a Latin epistle to Queen Elizabeth urging her to return to the Roman Catholic communion and to accept papal authority.[24][25] An English translation, A Pearl for a Prince, was issued by Richard Shacklock, a Catholic Englishman at Louvain.[26] Taken aback by this public reproach to its sovereign, the English government employed Walter Haddon to compose a Latin response, published in Paris (English translation by Abraham Hartwell (the elder)).[27] Osório exceeded himself in a lengthy Latin reply (English version by John Fenn).[28] Haddon prepared a rejoinder, but it remained unfinished at his death in 1572[29] and was completed in excellent style, and with additions, by John Foxe.[30][31] The controversy was notorious and widely-read, and culminated in the Papal Bull Regnans in Excelsis being issued against Elizabeth.[32] It is held that the name and colour of Osorio's diatribes influenced the character of Hieronimo in Thomas Kyd's drama The Spanish Tragedy.[33]

Later yearsEdit

The Cardinal Prince Henry, who had advanced him to the see of Silves, wished to employ him at Lisbon in state business when King Sebastian took up the reins of power in 1568, but Osório excused himself on the ground of his pastoral duties. In 1571 his extensive History of the reign of King Emmanuel was published at Lisbon,[34] which rendered in his accomplished Latin much of the material in the Chronicle on the same subject by Damião de Góis.[35] Encompassing the adventures of Vasco da Gama, it coincided with the publication of Os Lusíadas, The Lusiads, of his great contemporary Luís Vaz de Camões.[36]

He further showed his zeal for the commonwealth by writing two letters, one seeking to dissuade the King from going to Africa, and the other sent during the latter's first expedition there calling upon him to return to his kingdom.[37] Sebastian looked with disfavour on opponents of his African adventure, and Osório found it prudent to leave Portugal for Parma and Rome to make a visit ad limina. His scruples regarding residence, and the appeals of the King and the Cardinal Prince, prevented him from long enjoying the hospitality of Pope Gregory XIII.[38] He therefore returned to his diocese, the seat of which was transferred from Silves to Faro in 1577,[39] and continued there through the brief reign of the Cardinal King. He died at Tavira on 20 August 1580.[40]

The libraryEdit

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Haddon said of him that "he was a most perverse, overthwart Brawler, who besides a commendable Facility in the Latin Tongue, could profit the Publick nothing at all."[41] It has been said that his library was carried off from Faro when the Earl of Essex, returning from the Capture of Cádiz, raided the town in 1596.[42] The library taken by the Earl was that of Dom Fernando Martins Mascarenhas, then Bishop of Faro, whose house Essex occupied during the raid: it is said to have included many of Osorio's books.[43] In 1600 Essex gave some 200 volumes to the Bodleian Library (then in the care of Thomas Bodley) in Oxford, none of which bear the signature of Bishop Osório.[44] It is possible however that the early codex of Tomé Pires' Suma Oriental and the Book of the cartographer Francisco Rodrigues, among the French National Manuscript Collections, belonged to Osório.[45]


His principal works written in Latin include:

The Complete Works were collected and published in four volumes by his nephew in 1592:[52]

  • Volume I (Googlebooks): (Vita Auctoris, H.O. nepotis); De Nobilitate; De Gloria; De Regis Institutione; De Rebus Emmanuelis Gestis; Epistolae
  • Volume II (Internet Archive): Epistolae ad Elizabetham Angliae et ad Gualterum Haddonum; De Justitia; De Sapientia; In Epistola Sci Pauli ad Romanos
  • Volume III (Internet Archive): Paraphrasis in Job; Paraphrasis in Psalmos; (Notationes in illos, H.O., nepotis); Commentarius in Parabolas Salomonis; Paraphrasis in Sapentiam Salomonis; (Paraphrasis et Notationes in Cantica, H.O., nepotis)
  • Volume IV (Googlebooks): Paraphrasis in Isaiam; Commentarius in Oseam Profetam; Commentarius in Zachariam; Oratio in Laudem D. Aecatherinae; In Evangelium Joannis

De Nobilitate was turned into Portuguese by Francisco Manoel de Nascimento, into French by J. Crispin (2 vols., Geneva, 1610), and an English paraphrase in 2 vols. by J. Gibbs came out in London in 1752. His Portuguese epistles were printed in Lisbon in two editions in 1818 and 1819, and in Paris in 1859.

Further readingEdit

  • J.B. Mayer, 'Ueber Leben und Schriften Bischofs Jeronimo Osorio', Jahresbericht von der Königlichen Studien-Anstalt in Amberg (Karl Klöber, Amberg 1845), pp. 3–8. (In German).
  • A.F.G. Bell, 'The Humanist Jeronymo de Osorio,' Revue Hispanique 73 (1928), pp. 525–556.
  • L. Bourdon, Novas Investigações sobre a Viagem de Jerónimo Osório a Itália (1576–1577) (Lisboa, 1952).
  • L.V. Ryan, 'The Haddon-Osorio Controversy (1563–1583),' Church History 22 (1953).
  • L. Bourdon, Jeronimo Osorio et Stanislas Hosius: D'après leur correspondence, 1565–1578 (Coimbra, 1956).
  • L. Bourdon, 'Jerónimo Osório et les humanistes anglais,' in L. de Albuquerque (ed.), L'Humanisme Portugais et l'Europe, Actes du XXIe Colloque International d'Etudes Humanistes, (Paris, 1984).
  • D. Bigalli, 'La trama delle passioni nel De Regis Institutione et Disciplina di Jeronimo Osorio', in Cultura, História e Filosofía. Homenagem ao Prof. J.S. Da Silva Dias, V, (1986).
  • D. Bigalli, 'Isole di dottrina: il dialogo De Gloria di Jerónimo Osório,' in D. Bigalli & G. Canziani (eds), Il Dialogo Filosofico nel '500 Europeo, (Milano, 1990)
  • N. de Nazaré Castro Soares, O Príncipe Ideal no Século XVI e a Obra de D. Jeronimo Osorio (Coimbra, 1994).
  • D. Bigalli, 'Senso della colpa e società umana in Jerónimo Osório,' in G. Canziani, M.A. Granada & Y.C. Zarka (eds), Potentia Dei. L'Onnipotenza Divina nel Pensiero dei Secoli XVI e XVII (Milano, 2000), pp. 63–76.
  • W. Goertz, 'Jerónimo Osório's political thought', Studia40 (Lisbon 1979).
  • M. Racine, 'A Pearle for a Prynce: Jeronimo Osorio and Early Elizabethan Catholics', The Catholic Historical Review 87 no. 3 (The Catholic University of America Press, July 2001), pp. 401–27.
  • S. Anglo, 'Osorio and Machiavelli: From Open Hostility to Covert Approbation', in Machiavelli – The First Century: Studies in Enthusiasm, Hostility and Irrelevance, Oxford Warburg Studies (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 143–163
  • T.F. Earle, 'Portuguese scholarship in Oxford in the early modern period: the case of Jerónimo Osório (Hieronymus Osorius),' Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Vol. 81 issue 7 & 8 (November 2004), pp. 1039–49.


  1. ^ The Universities of Lisbon and Coimbra attribute 1515 as the birthdate, and held a quincentennial Congress, "O Humanismo Português e Europeu", in December 2015 in honour of Osorio. Plataforma9. Encyclopedia Britannica follows F.A. Lobo giving birthdate 1506.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica depends largely upon F.A. Lobo, 'D. Jerónimo Ozório, e Jacinto Friere da Andrade', in Obras de D. Francisco Alexandre Lobo, Bispo de Vizeu Vol. I (José Baptisto Morando, Lisbon 1848), pp. 293–301. (In Portuguese)
  3. ^ 'Hieronymi Osorii Lusitani Vita auctore Hieronymo Osorio nepote', in Hieronymi Osorii Lusitani Episcopi Algarbiensis Opera Omnia, Hieronymi Osorii Nepotis Canonici Eborensis Diligentia in unum collecta et in quatuor volumina distributa (ex bibliotheca Georgii Ferrarii, Romae; ex typographia Bartholomaei Bonfadini, Romae; ex typographia Gabiana, Romae 1592), Volume I, pages 1–19 (separate pagination). (In Latin). F.A. Lobo apparently depends upon this.
  4. ^ Lobo, 'Jerónimo Osório', p. 294.
  5. ^ N.R. Madhava Menon (ed.), Criminal Justice India Series, Vol. 9, Goa 2002 (Allied Publishers, 2003), p. 56.
  6. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, p. 1.
  7. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, p. 1.
  8. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, pp. 1–2.
  9. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, pp. 1–2.
  10. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, pp. 2–3.
  11. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, p. 3.
  12. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, p. 3.
  13. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, p. 3.
  14. ^ Lobo, 'Jerónimo Osório', p. 295.
  15. ^ Hieronymi Osorij Lusitani, De Nobilitate Ciuili, libri duo; (eiusdem) De Nobilitate Christiana, libri tres (Ludovicum Rodericum [Luis Rodrigues], Olyssipone [Lisbon] 1542). Opera Omnia (1592), Vol. 1, pp. 1–36, 37–112.
  16. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, after F.A. Lobo.
  17. ^ For Ascham on Osório, see R. Greene, Five Words: Critical Semantics in the Age of Shakespeare and Cervantes (University of Chicago Press, 2013), pp. 27–29.
  18. ^ L.V. Ryan, Roger Ascham, c. 1515–1568 (Stanford University Press, 1963), p. 196.
  19. ^ St John's College, Cambridge, Aa. 6. 20/AsR 3.8.
  20. ^ St John's College, Cambridge, Aa. 6. 20*/AsR 3.9. See S. Anglo, 'Osorio and Machiavelli: From Open Hostility to Covert Approbation', in Machiavelli – The First Century: Studies in Enthusiasm, Hostility and Irrelevance, Oxford Warburg Studies (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 143–163. Images of Ascham's dedications can be seen at the St John's College, Cambridge website Library pages.
  21. ^ Prestage, Encyclopedia Britannica 1911.
  22. ^ E.F. Hirsch, Damião de Gois: The Life and Thought of a Portuguese Humanist, 1502–1574, International Archives of the History of Ideas, 19 (Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague 1967), pp. 182–84.
  23. ^ Osório was reputedly moved to this by a dream in which, while fishing from the promontory, he caught a sea monster: brought to the beach, it turned into a beautiful woman wearing a royal crown, who kneeling at his feet begged for baptism. Osórius, Vita Auctoris, p. 5.
  24. ^ Latin texts in A. Guimarães Pinto, Humanismo e Controvérsia Religiosa: Lusitanos e Anglicanos III (Imprensa Nacional – Casa da Moeda, Lisboa 2006).
  25. ^ B.C. Lockey, Early Modern Catholics, Royalists and Cosmopolitans: English Transnationalism and the Christian Commonwealth (Routledge, 2016), pp. 39–48.
  26. ^ (Richard Shacklock), An epistle of the reuerend father in God Hieronymus Osorius Bishop of Arcoburge in Portugale, to the most excellent Princesse Elizabeth by the grace of God Quene of England, Fraunce, and Ireland. &c. (Aegidius Diest, Antwerp 1565).
  27. ^ (Abraham Hartwell), A sight of the Portugall pearle, that is, the aunswere of D. Haddon maister of the requests vnto our soueraigne lady Elizabeth by the grace of God quene of England Fraunce and Irelande, defendour of the faith. &c. against the epistle of Hieronimus Osorius a Portugall, entitled Pearle for a Prince. Translated out of lattyn into englishe by Abraham Hartwell, student in the kynges colledge in Cambridge (By Wiyllyam Seres dwelling at the west ende of Paules Church, at the sygne of the Hedgehogge, London 1565). Text at Umich/eebo.
  28. ^ (John Fenn), A learned and very eloquent treatie, written in Latin by the famous man Hieronymus Osorius Bishop of Sylva in Portugal, wherein he confuteth a certayne Aunswere made by M. Waltere Haddon against the Epistle of the said Bishoppe unto the Queenes Maiestie. Translated into English by Iohn Fen student of Divinitie in the Universitie of Louen (Joannes Foulerus, Louvain 1568). Full text at Umich/eebo (open).
  29. ^ With native casuistry Osório's biographer attributed Haddon's illness and death to spiritual degeneration: Osório, Vita Auctoris, p. 10.
  30. ^ J. Strype, Annals of the Reformation and Establishment of Religion... Under Queen Elizabeth, 2nd edition (Thomas Edlin, London 1725), Vol. I, Chapter 37, pp. 422–33.
  31. ^ W. Haddon & J. Foxe, Contra Hieron. Osorium, eiusq; odiosas infectationes pro Evangelicae veritatis necessaria Defensione, Responsio Apologetica. Per clariss. virum, Gualt. Haddonum inchoata: Deinde suscepta & continuata per Ioan. Foxum (Iohannis Daij Typographi, London 1577). Full text (page views) at Google. (open).
  32. ^ Lockey, Early Modern Catholics, p. 48.
  33. ^ R. Hillman, 'Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy,' (Chapter 33), in T. Betteridge & G. Walker (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012), pp. 566–83.
  34. ^ De Rebus Emmanuelis Regis Lusitaniae Invictissimi Virtute et Auspicio Gestis, libri duodecim, auctore Hieronimo Osorio Episcopo Sylvensi (Apud Antonium Gondisaluum Typographum, Olyssipone 1571) Cum Privilegio Regio.
  35. ^ D. de Góis, Crónica do Felicíssimo Rei Dom Emanuel (casa de Françisco Correa, Lisboa 1566–67) digitized (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal).
  36. ^ L. de Camões, Os Lusíadas (casa de Antonio Gõçaluez, Lisboa 1572) digitized (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal).
  37. ^ Osorio, Vita Auctoris, pp. 14–15.
  38. ^ L. Bourdon, 'Le voyage de Jerónimo Osório évêque de Silves en Italie (1576–77)', Annales publiées par la Faculté de Lettres de Toulouse (1951).
  39. ^ J.A. Pinheiro e Rosa, 'A Diocese do Algarve e a Universidade de Coimbra', Revista da Universidade de Coimbra XXXVII (1992), pp. 77–91, at p. 78.
  40. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, which follows F.A. Lobo, which follows Osorio, Auctoris Vita.
  41. ^ Strype, Annals of the Reformation, I, p. 422.
  42. ^ (Encyclopedia Britannica). See Lytton Strachey, Elizabeth and Essex, A Tragic History (Chatto & Windus, London 1928), pp. 104–115.
  43. ^ J.B. Silva Lopes, Memorias para a Historia Ecclesiastica do Bispado do Algarve (Lisboa 1848), p. 369.
  44. ^ K.M. Pogson, 'A Grand Inquisitor, and his Library' (together with 'A list of books presented by the Earl of Essex in 1600, still in the Bodleian'), The Bodleian Quarterly Record III (Oxford 1922), pp. 239–44.
  45. ^ A. Cortesao (ed.), The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires (etc), 2 vols (Hakluyt Society, London 1944), (introduction p. xv, & note).
  46. ^ (William Blandie), The fiue bookes of the famous, learned, and eloquent man, Hieronimus Osorius, contayninge a discourse of ciuill, and Christian nobilitie. : a worke no lesse pleasaunt then profitable for all, but especiallye the noble gentlemen of England, to view their liues, their estates, and conditions in. Translated out of Latine into Englishe by William Blandie late of the Vniuersitie of Oxeford, and now fellow of the Middle Temple in London (Thomas Marsh, In Fleetestreate, London 1576). Full text at Umich/eebo2. (Reserved - Login only).
  47. ^ Hieronymi Osorii Silvensis Algarbiorum In Lusitania Episcopi, De Justitia, libri decem, [With a preface by A. Valiero, Bishop of Verona.] (J. Zileti, Venetis 1564); [Ibid.] Ad Reginaldum Cardinalem Polum, Archiepiscopum Cantuariensem. Ex Auctoris codice, misso Coloniam ab hinc plus minus nouem annis, ex quo primum edendos ipse iusserat, transcripti et emendati. Hisce libris Quaestio omnis de caelesti Justitia: hoc est; quae de Fide, et praesensione, praescriptioneque; disceptata hactenus fuere: tractatur (etc.), (Apud haeredes Arnoldi Birckmanni, Coloniae Agrippinae 1572).
  48. ^ Hieronymi Osorii Lvsitani, De Gloria, libri V Ad Ioannem Tertivm Lusitaniae Regem (Excudebat Andreas de Angulo, Compluti 1568); (Apud Petrum Pernam, Basileae 1573).
  49. ^ D. Hieronymi Osorii Lusitani Episcopi Sylvensis, De Regis Institutione et Disciplina, lib. VIII. Ad serenissimum et invictissimum Portugaliae Regem Sebastianum e. n. I. (Ex officina Ioannis Hispani, Olysippone 1571/2). (English edition by Francis and Tobias Matthew (Apud haeredes Arnoldi Birckmanni, Coloniae Agrippinae 1574).)
  50. ^ De Rebus Emmanuelis Regis Lusitaniae Invictissimi Virtute et Auspicio Gestis, libri duodecim, auctore Hieronimo Osorio Episcopo Sylvensi (Apud Antonium Gondisaluum Typographum, Olyssipone 1571) Cum Privilegio Regio. Title page (John Carter Brown Library).
  51. ^ Hieronymi Osorii Lusitani, episcopi Algarbiensis, De Vera Sapientia, libri V. Ad sanctissimum D. N. Gregorium XIII. Pont. Maximum (Apud haeredes Arnoldi Birckmanni, Coloniae Agrippinae 1579).
  52. ^ H. Osorius (ed.), Hieronymi Osorii Lusitani Episcopi Algarbiensis Opera Omnia, Hieronymi Osorii Nepotis Canonici Eborensis Diligentia in unum collecta et in quatuor volumina distributa, (ex bibliotheca Georgii Ferrarii, Romae; ex typographia Bartholomaei Bonfadini, Romae; ex typographia Gabiana, Romae 1592) Volume I (Googlebooks).(In Latin).


  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEdgar Prestage (1911). "Osorio, Jeronymo". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. This is largely derived from the biographical note by F.A. Lobo.

External linksEdit