First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Peter, a new martyr, a native of Verona, of the Preaching Order, and a sturdy defender of the true faith, resembled a rose sprung from thorns; for his parents were heretics attached to the Manichean fallacy. While still a youth he left the world and his parents, entered the Preaching Order, and there led a commendable life for 30 years as a zealous devotee and exceptional and earnest defender of the faith. And when, in the Year of the Lord 1252 on the day before the Kalends of May, pursuant to papal command, he was about to leave the city of Como (where he was a prior of the brothers of the Preaching Order) to search out heretics in Milan, and with his fellow-wayfarers was on his way from Lake Como to Milan, he was seized by Arian heretics near the city of Barlassina[Barlassina is Barzano, a municipality in the Province of Lecco in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 19 miles (30 km) northeast of Milan and about 9 miles (14 km) southwest of Lecco.], stabbed in the side with a knife, and martyred. During his lifetime this defender of the faith warded off all pernicious, heretical fallacies; and after his death, by way of merited reward and through his illustrious miracles, he uprooted these heresies to such an extent that many persons entered the fold of the church. Because of his piety and manifold miracles Pope Innocent enrolled him in the number of the martyred saints.

Peter Martyr, next to Dominic, is the glory of the Dominican Order. He was born in Verona in 1205. His parents belonged to the heretical sect of the Cathars, prevalent at the time in the North of Italy. Peter, however, was sent to a Catholic school where he learned the creed according to the Catholic form. Dominic, finding him an apt disciple, prevailed on him to take the Dominican habit at fifteen. He became an influential preacher, remarkable for the intolerant zeal and unrelenting cruelty with which he pursued heretics. For these services, he was appointed inquisitor-general by Pope Honorius III. At length, two Venetian noblemen whom he had delivered up to the secular authorities, and who had suffered imprisonment and confiscation of property, hired assassins to waylay him on his return from Como to Milan. One of them struck him down by the blow of an ax; and they pursued and stabbed his companion. They finally dispatched Peter with a sword. He was canonized by Innocent IV in 1253.

In his lifetime Peter was not beloved by the members of his own brotherhood, and his severe and intolerant persecuting spirit made him generally detested. Yet, since his death, the influence of his order has made him one of the most popular saints in Italy.

Ezzelino (Etzelinus) and Alberic (Alberinus), brothers, of the house of Romano, are also remembered here. A displacement of the lineage of the nobles of Italy occurred at this time. It was generally known that other noble families of Italy were of more ancient lineage than Ezzelino; for he was of rather obscure origin, his forefather having been a German knight and warrior in the service of Otto the Third in Italy. Ezzelino, under Frederick the Second (whom he resembled in life and manners), came into such wealth and power that he practiced such tyranny and destruction as Italy had never suffered at the hands of any king or emperor. Through him the emperor brought Verona under his dominion. When affairs in Germany had been silenced, and Emperor Frederick proceeded to Italy, those of Padua, through the cunning and flattery of Ezzelino, were influenced to take the emperor’s part; but soon afterwards Ezzelino reduced them to servitude under the Germans and Saracens. Many were sent into exile; youths were mutilated and blinded, and no one was spared. By such terror he brought the cities of Vicenza and Brescia under his dominion. Having ravaged all the regions of Venice, he returned to Milan. But his plans miscarried, and he was defeated, seriously wounded, and died in despair after having subjugated and oppressed many cities over a period of thirty-four years.

Ezzelino da Romano, head of the Ghibellines in Italy in the time of Emperor Frederick II, was born in 1194, the son of Ezzelino II, a monk, and was of noble ancestry. His forefathers migrated from Germany into Italy under Conrad II. From early youth he participated in the feuds of his house. In 1226, he was made podesta of Verona, lost control in 1227, but recovered it in 1230. In 1232, he joined his former antagonist, Frederick II, who, in 1236, made him ruler of Vicenza; in 1237, of Padua and Treviso; and, in 1238, gave him his natural daughter in marriage. From this time, Ezzelino diligently pursued his purpose to gain independence for his house in the war with the Guelphs, and to set up a substantial kingdom comprehending the entire Trevisian March. He retained a secure hold upon his conquests. The reign of terror which he set up in the subjugated territories rendered his name detestable in the history of Italy, although he was always subservient to Frederick, and later supported his son, Conrad, in Italy.

Although generally hated, Ezzelino checked all secret attempts against him by his watchfulness. The papal ban pronounced against him was of no avail. In 1256, while Manfred was making an attack upon Mantua, an army of crusaders, under Archbishop Philip of Ravenna, joined by fugitives from Vicenza, Treviso, and other cities, attacked him and captured the city of Padua. But, in 1258, Ezzelino inflicted a total defeat, bringing his power into greater ascendancy than before. However, when, with the assistance of the nobility of Milan, he attempted to subjugate that city, a new alliance was formed against him. In 1259, he was defeated at Soncino and taken prisoner. He died a few days later. It is said that over 50,000 persons perished at his command. In the following year his brother Alberic was compelled by starvation to unconditionally surrender his castle; and after his sons and daughters had been cruelly martyred before his eyes, he was tied to the tail of a horse and dragged. With him died the lineage of Romano.

Hugo, of the Preaching Order, and renowned for his learning, was made a cardinal by Pope Innocent the Fourth, who showed great and special favor to learned men, elevating them to high offices and stations. After accepting this honor Hugo suffered no change in the humility, spirituality and devotion that had characterized his former life.

Manfred, son of Emperor Frederick by a noble concubine, attained the kingdom of Sicily upon the death of his brother Conrad; and he reigned 13 years. This Manfred was exhorted by Pope Alexander to venture nothing against the rights and possessions of the Church in Sicily; but he ignored this papal admonition, saying he was his deceased brother’s lawful heir. For this reason the pope excommunicated him and sent a great army against him. Manfred, in response, enlisted many Saracens and unbelievers and reduced the papal forces to flight, slaying some of them and making prisoners of the rest. Later he attacked the Neapolitans, and caused much turmoil in other parts of Italy. For this reason Pope Urban sought the assistance of Charles, brother of Saint Louis, against Manfred, and proclaimed him king of Sicily. Charles came with an army, killed Manfred, and obtained the kingdom in peace.

Manfred (c. 1232-1266), king of Sicily, was a natural son of the emperor Frederick II by Bianca Lanzia. Frederick appears to have regarded him as legitimate, and, by his will, named him as prince of Tarentum and representative in Italy of his half brother, the German king, Conrad IV. Manfred acted loyally and with vigor in the execution of his trust, and, when Conrad appeared in southern Italy in 1252, his authority was quickly and generally acknowledged. When Conrad died in 1254, Manfred, after refusing to surrender Sicily to the pope, accepted the regency on behalf of the infant Conradin.

On a rumor (1258) that Conradin was dead, Manfred was crowned king of Sicily at Palermo. The report was false; but the new king declined to abdicate, and pointed out the necessity of a strong native ruler. The pope declared Manfred’s coronation void and pronounced sentence of excommunication. In conjunction with the Ghibellines, Manfred’s forces defeated the Guelphs at Monte Aperto in 1260. He was eventually defeated and killed near Benevento in 1266. Contemporaries praise his noble and magnanimous character. He was renowned for his physical beauty and great intellectual attainments.


Peter Martyr of the Preaching Order; represented in the habit of his order. In his right hand he holds a dagger, symbol of his martyrdom.