Dudith, Andreas

Dizionario di eretici, dissidenti e inquisitori nel mondo mediterraneo [ISBN 978-88-942416-0-0]

Andreas Dudith (Sbardellatus) (Buda, 16 February 1533 - Wrocław, 22 February 1589).


Dudith was born to a newly ennobled Croatian father Hieronymus, who died early, and an Italian mother Magdalena Sbardellati who had partly Venetian patrician origins. His uncle Agostino Sbardellati († 1552), bishop of Vác was one of the most powerful councillors of Emperor Ferdinand I, who initially financed Dudith’s studies through church benefices. Dudith first studied in the cathedral school of Wrocław, then from 1551 in Italy probably together with his two brothers. His Italian cousins of Rovereto may have eased his entry into the literary circles of Northern Italy and especially that of Cardinal Reginald Pole. By 1552 he already corresponded with Paolo Manuzio and probably contacted also other members of the Italian Evangelical movement. In 1553 he left Italy as secretary to Reginald Pole, visited Brussels and London, and studied mostly Greek and philosophy in Paris (c. 1554-7). In 1556 he needed to sort out new ways of financing his studies, and contacted Celio Secondo Curione (in vain) to be an intermediary toward Matteo Gribaldi Mofa, with whom he wished to study. Dudith claimed he could easily obtain the backing of Roman prelates but felt foreign to them in religion and habits. Finally, Dudith returned to Padua (1558) and could spend another period (1559-60) there with the new support of Nicolaus Olahus, archbishop of Hungary. He returned to Italy with the excuse of legal studies, but engaged in fact in (Greek) philology. By the time he had had not only excellent French contacts, but also learned the best humanists in the circles of Gian Vincenzo Pinelli and Paolo Manuzio, among them Michele Sofianòs, who became his closest study partner. For Manuzio’s press he published the Latin translation of Dionysius Halicarnasseus’s commentaries on Thucydides (De Thucydidis historia iudicium), which was its first edition. In the preface he expelled shortly his concept of history, his method of translation and announced other translation projects (described by Costil), which were never realised. It was presumably also in this period that he paraphrased in Latin the fifth oration of Themistius, written in defence of religious tolerance. The oration was published as Themistius’s lost oration addressed to Emperor Valens by Georg Rehm in 1605.


Back to Hungary Dudith became secretary to Archbishop Olahus. It was on the recommendation of Zaccaria Dolfin (papal legate in Vienna) that Emperor Ferdinand decided to send him to the Council of Trent, hence he offered him a (nominal) bishopric title (December 1561). In Trent (1562-63), with speeches for communion in both kinds, he had great success among the reform minded. He also prepared an oration for the abolition of celibacy, and allegedly circulated some writing on Erasmus. Encouraged by Stanislaus Hosius and Giovanni Morone he translated into Latin the manuscript biography of Reginald Pole by Ludovico Beccadelli, adding details of some of his personal experiences, which was just another gesture of resisting the conservative orientation of the pope.

Diplomacy and marriage

In Vienna (1563-65) Dudith (already bishop of Pécs) soon became one of the most trusted councillors to Emperor Ferdinand († 1564) and maintained his influence also under Maximilian II. Although he was apparently nominated as Hungarian vice-chancellor, he could not take up the office, probably because of Archbishop Olahus. Instead, he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Cracow with the secret aim of preparing Habsburg succession in Poland. Since his political and ecclesiastical ambitions remained unfulfilled, in 1567, he eventually decided to marry his lover Regina Straszówna (the queen’s lady-in-waiting). Although the emperor was shocked, just like the larger public, he did not completely resign of Dudith’s services, and later also consented to an annual stipend, while the Polish king provided him security (through an indigénat) against the Inquisition, which had trialled and executed him in effigie. He invested his money in some manors and newly engaged in scholarly activity with a new interest in astronomy. While his scandalous marriage made him a target of Protestant groups, it also allowed him to reveal (secretly and temporarily) his sympathies for Antitrinitarianism. The death of Sigismund II Augustus (1572) and the election campaigns that followed offered him an opportunity for political rehabilitation. In 1574, after his beloved wife’s death he married the wealthy Elisabeth of the powerful Zborowski family. Although his election campaigns for Maximilian failed, he was duly compensated, and could buy large estates in Moravia in 1576. Yet, country life did not please him and in 1579, he sold his estates and moved to Wrocław, living on different investments and his yearly pension (being officially still an agent of Rudolf II) and dedicating his time to studies and his large network of learned friends.

The fight for religious tolerance and the zeal for sciences

In 1569-70, as a reaction to the approach of the Calvinists, Dudith launched a most fierce attack against Protestant intolerance, addressing letter-treatises to the theologians Johann Wolf and Theodore Beza. He harshly condemned the persecutions of anyone because of questions of faith, the arrogance typifying the new churches and the way the Scripture was appropriated by everyone for his own purposes. He said to be desperate about people’s denouncing each other as heretics, especially as religious divisions had already turned nations against each other. His letters circulated widely and one of them, addressed to Beza, also got published as an attachment to editions of Mino Celsi (first by Perna in 1577). The period of religious disputes lasted for short, and Dudith later tried to get on good terms with Beza. His main interest shifted slowly toward mathematical sciences (astronomy and medicine) as fields where, relying on experience and observation, truth claims could be better founded than in theology of philosophy. Although he remained an amateur in astronomy he had friends like Paul Wittich or Tadeáš Hájek with whom to discuss matters of the most advanced astronomical questions, including the Copernican system. His most famous scientific contribution is a tract against cometary astrology, published similarly by Perna in 1579 and 1580, where he claimed that human and natural phenomena had their own direct causes that needed to be searched in relevant fields.


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  • Lech Szczucki, Ars dissimulandi. (Andrzeja Dudycza rozstanie z Kościołem) [A. D. parting from the Church], in Kultura polska a kultura europejska, ed. Maria Bogucka and Jerzy Kowecki, Państ. Wydaw. Naukowe, Warsaw 1987, pp. 189-204.
  • Lech Szczucki, Some Remarks on Andrew Dudith’s Mental World, in György Enyedi and Central European Unitarianism in the 16-17th centuries, ed. Mihály Balázs, Balassi Kiadó, Budapest 2000, pp. 347-354.
  • Cesare Vasoli, Andreas Dudith-Sbardellati e la disputa sulle comete, in Id., I miti e gli astri, Guida, Naples 1977, pp. 351-387.

Article written by Gábor Almási | Ereticopedia.org © 2017

et tamen e summo, quasi fulmen, deicit ictos
invidia inter dum contemptim in Tartara taetra
invidia quoniam ceu fulmine summa vaporant
plerumque et quae sunt aliis magis edita cumque

[Lucretius, De rerum natura, lib. V]