Paolo Giovio

Paolo Giovio (also spelled Paulo Jovio; Latin: Paulus Jovius; 19 April 1483 – 11 December 1552)[1] was an Italian physician, historian, biographer, and prelate.

Paolo Giovio
Bishop of Nocera de' Pagani
Portrait of Paolo Giovio (1483–1552), by Cristofano dell'Altissimo (Uffizi Gallery, Florence).jpg
Paolo Giovio
ChurchCatholic Church
DioceseDiocese of Nocera de' Pagani
In office1528–1552
PredecessorDomenico Giacobazzi
SuccessorGiulio Giovio
Consecration17 Apr 1533
by Gabriele Mascioli Foschi
Personal details
Born19 April 1483
Died11 December 1552(1552-12-11) (aged 69)

Early lifeEdit

Little is known about Giovio's youth. He was a native of Como; his family was from the Isola Comacina of Lake Como. His father, a notary, died around 1500. He was educated under the direction of his elder brother Benedetto, a humanist and historian. Although interested in literature, he was sent to Padua to study medicine. He graduated in 1511.


Giovio worked as physician in Como but, after the plague spread in that city he moved to Rome, settling there in 1513. Pope Leo X assigned him a cathedra (chair) of Moral Philosophy and, later, that of Natural Philosophy in the Roman university. He was also knighted by the Pope.[2] In the same period he started to write historical essays. He wrote a memoir of Leo soon after his death.

In 1517 Giovio was appointed as the personal physician for Cardinal Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici (the future Pope Clement VII). In the field he wrote some treatises, like the De optima victus ratione, in which he expresses his doubts about the current pharmacology, and the need to improve prevention before the cure.

Giovio helped Clement VII during the 1527 sack of Rome. From 1526 to 1528, he stayed on the island of Ischia as Vittoria Colonna's guest.[3] In 1528, he became bishop of Nocera de' Pagani. Giovio wrote an account of Dmitry Gerasimov's embassy to Clement VII, which related detailed geographical data on Muscovy.

In 1536 Giovio had a villa built for him on Lake Como, which he called Museo, and which he used for his collection of portraits of famous soldiers and men of letters.[4] After Clement's death, he retired. As well as paintings, he sought antiquities, etc., and his collection was one of the first to include pieces from the New World. A set of copies of the paintings from the collection, now known as the Giovio Series, is on display in the Uffizi Gallery.


In 1549 Pope Paul III denied Giovio the title of Bishop of Como, and he moved to Florence, where he died in 1552.


Monument to Paolo Giovo by Francesco da Sangallo, in San Lorenzo Basilica, Florence

Giovio is chiefly known as the author of a celebrated work of contemporary history, Historiarum sui temporis libri XLV, of a collection of lives of famous men, Vitae virorum illustrium (1549‑57), and of Elogia virorum bellica virtute illustrium,[4] (Florence, 1554), which may be translated as Praise of Men Illustrious for Courage in War (1554).

Giovio is best remembered as a chronicler of the Italian Wars. In his work, La prima parte dell'historie del suo tempo, Giovio claimed that Italian soldiers were despised following the Leagues' defeat at Fornovo.[5] His eyewitness accounts of many of the battles form one of the most significant primary sources for the period. Many pages of his work are devoted to Skanderbeg.[6]

He is the oldest biographer of Raphael.[7]

Giovio's notable work include:


  1. ^ Thompson Cooper (1873). A New Biographical Dictionary: Containing Concise Notices of Eminent Persons of All Ages and Countries: and More Particularly of ... Great Britain and Ireland. Bell. p. 607.
  2. ^ Schlager, Patricius (12 July 2013) [1910]. "Paulus Jovius". Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ Zimmerman, T. C. Price (1995). "Ischia, 1527-1528". Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-Century Italy. Princeton University Press. pp. 86–105. ISBN 9781400821839.
  4. ^ a b Symonds, John Addington (1911). "Jovius, Paulus" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 527.
  5. ^ Santosuosso 1994, p. 221.
  6. ^ Comparative literature. 1953. p. 20. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  7. ^ Salmi, Mario; Becherucci, Luisa; Marabottini, Alessandro; Tempesti, Anna Forlani; Marchini, Giuseppe; Becatti, Giovanni; Castagnoli, Ferdinando; Golzio, Vincenzo (1969). The Complete Work of Raphael. New York: Reynal and Co., William Morrow and Company. p. 607.


External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Nocera de' Pagani
Succeeded by