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Francesco Filelfo

Humanist, b. at Tolentino, July 25, 1398; d. at Florence, July 31, 1481

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Filelfo, FRANCESCO, humanist, b. at Tolentino, July 25, 1398; d. at Florence, July 31, 1481. He studied grammar, rhetoric, and Latin literature at Padua, where he was appointed professor at the age of eighteen. In 1417 he was invited to teach eloquence and moral philosophy at Venice, where the rights of citizenship were conferred upon him. Two years later he was appointed secretary to the Venetian consul-general at Constantinople. Arriving there in 1420, he at once began the study of Greek under John Chrysoloras, whose daughter he afterwards married, and he was received with great favor by the Emperor John Palaeologus, by whom he was employed on several important diplomatic missions. In 1427, receiving an invitation to the chair of eloquence at Venice, Filelfo returned there with a great collection of Greek books. The following year he was called to Bologna, and in 1429 to Florence, where he was received with the greatest enthusiasm. During his five years’ residence there he engaged in numerous quarrels with the Florentine scholars and incurred the hatred of the Medici, so that in 1434 he was forced to leave the city. He went to Siena and later to Milan, where he was welcomed by Filippo Maria Visconti, who showered honors upon him. Some years later, after Milan had been forcibly entered by Francesco Sforza, Filelfo wrote a history of Sforza’s life in a Latin epic poem of sixteen books, called the “Sforziad” In 1474 he left Milan to accept a professorship at Rome, where, owing to a disagreement with Sixtus IV, he did not remain long. He went back to Milan, but left there in 1481 to teach Greek at Florence, having long before become reconciled with the Medici. He died in poverty only a fortnight after his arrival. The Florentines buried him in the church of the Annunziata. Filelfo was the most restless of all the humanists, as is indicated by the number of places at which he taught. He was a man of indefatigable activity, but arrogant, rapacious, fond of luxury, and always ready to assail his literary rivals. His writings include numerous letters (last ed. by Le-grand, Paris, 1892), speeches (Paris, 1515), and satires (Venice, 1502); besides many scattered pieces in prose, published under the title “Convivia Mediolanensia”, and a great many Latin translations from the Greek. In both these languages he wrote with equal fluency.


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