Vergerio, Pier Paolo ca.1369–1444 Italian Humanist

views updated

Vergerio, Pier Paolo
Italian humanist

Pier Paolo Vergerio was one of the leading humanists* of his generation. His ideas on education influenced European thinkers for centuries. He placed a great deal of stress on skillful public speaking, an idea that became central to the humanist movement.

Vergerio was born in a small Italian town on the Gulf of Trieste. He received a degree in the arts from the University of Bologna and then spent seven years studying medicine and law at the University of Padua. In Bologna Vergerio developed an interest in the art of rhetoric* and in the best methods for educating young adults. In 1400 he laid out his ideas on the subject in a short treatise* on education. That work spelled out a new method of teaching adolescents that helped change the course of education in Europe.

Vergerio based his program on three core disciplines: history, moral philosophy, and rhetoric. He saw these subjects as the key to developing good moral character and sound political judgment. Moral philosophy, he claimed, taught students good values. History provided examples to illustrate these values. Finally, rhetoric offered the means to persuade others to make moral decisions in the political realm. Vergerio's program was widely copied by later educators. It formed the basis of European educational theory for many generations.

Vergerio also influenced many people through his speeches and sermons. He defended the ideals of humanism and sought to heal divisions within the Roman Catholic Church. Vergerio spent the final years of his career in the service of the Holy Roman Emperor* Sigismund, retiring from public service after the emperor's death in 1437. He died in Hungary seven years later

(See alsoEducation; Humanism. )

* humanist

Renaissance expert in the humanities (the languages, literature, history, and speech and writing techniques of ancient Greece and Rome)

* rhetoric

art of speaking or writing effectively

* treatise

long, detailed essay

* Holy Roman Emperor

ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, a political body in central Europe composed of several states that existed until 1806

About this article

Vergerio, Pier Paolo ca.1369–1444 Italian Humanist

Updated About content Print Article