Origin Narratives: Pier Paolo Vergerio and the Beginnings of Hungarian Humanism

Farkas Gábor Kiss
Eötvös Loránd University
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Earlier studies have attributed a pivotal role to Pier Paolo Vergerio Sr in transmitting the fundamental ideas of humanism to the writer Johannes (Vitéz) of Zredna, the first acolyte of Renaissance humanism in Hungary. This paper investigates the possible contacts between Pier Paolo Vergerio Sr and Johannes of Zredna, mapping the channels through which Johannes of Zredna first encountered humanist rhetoric. Whereas many of these possible connections turned out to be historical fictions that proved to be untenable in the form they are described in later historiography, there seems to be a genuine core to the embellished stories. I argue that his direct use of Italian early humanist texts (Guarino’s translation of Plutarch, Gasparino Barzizza’s letters) and an avid reading of Livy’s historical work (witnessed by the ms. Cod. 3099 of the Austrian National Library) are the earliest testimonies of his humanistic interests.

Keywords: Pier Paolo Vergerio, Johannes (Vitéz) of Zredna, humanism