Martyr, Peter one of the early Reformers, was born at Florence, Italy, in 1500. His family name was Vermigli, but his parents gave him that of Martyr, from one Peter, a martyr, whose church stood near their house. In 1516 he became a canon regular of the Order of St. Augustine, in the convent of Fiesole, near Florence. In 1519 he was sent to the University of Padua, where he soon distinguished himself as a good scholar. He acquired great reputation as a preacher, was made abbot of Spoleto, and afterwards principal of the College of St. Peter ad Aram, at Naples. Here he made the intimate acquaintance of Juan Valdez (q.v.): a Spaniard, who had become a convert to the doctrines of the Reformation, and from whom Vermigli adopted some of those tenets. He concealed them for a time; but his Biblical studies convincing him more and more of the errors of the Church of Rome, and a perusal of the works of Luther, Zwingle, and Bucer making sure his conversion, he publicly avowed his new doctrine shortly after his appointment to Lucca as prior of San Frediano, and was compelled to leave the place secretly. After a short stay at Florence, he went by way of (Germany to Switzerland. He found an asylum finally in Strasburg, and there, in 1542. Twas called to a theological chair, and acted for five years as the colleague of Bucer in the ministerial office. In 1546 he married a converted nun. In 1547 he received from Cranmer, and accepted, an invitation to England. The request was sent in the name of king Edward VI, acting under the advice of Seymour, the protector. In 1549 he was appointed professor of divinity at Oxford. The fame of his learning secured him a large auditory, many Romanists among the number; and though they had much envying and heart-burning about him, as may easily be imagined, yet they bore him pretty patiently till he came to handle the doctrine of the Lord's Slipper. Then they began to break forth into outrages, to disturb him in his lectures, to fix up malicious and scandalous schedules against him, and to challenge him to disputes; which challenges he did not disdain to accept, but disputed first privately in the vice-chancellor's lodge, and afterwards in public, before his majesty's commissioners deputed for that purpose. At length, however, they stirred up the seditious multitude against him so successfully that he was obliged to retire to London till the tumult was suppressed;" and on returning again, in the year following, he was, for his better security, made by the king canon of Christ-church. It is said that some alterations in the Prayer-book were made at Peter Martyr's suggestions. On the accession of Mary he was obliged to leave England, and, returning to Strasburg, there resumed his former professorship. However, as he inclined to Calvin's views on the doctrine of the Eucharist, he accepted a pressing invitation extended to him by the Senate of Zurich, in 1556, to fill the chair of theology in that university. In 1561 he received letters from the queen of France, the king of Navarre, the prince of Conde, as well as from Beza and others of the leading French Protestants, requesting him to attend at the famous Colloquy of Poissy, in France. Here he distinguished himself as well for his skill as for his prudence and moderation. He died at Zurich Nov. 12, 1562. "Peter Martyr is described as a man of an able, healthy, big-boned, and well-limbed body, and of a countenance which expressed an inwardly grave and settled turn of mind. His parts and learning were very uncommon; as was also his skill in disputation, which made him as much admired by the Protestants as hated by the Papists. He was very sincere and indefatigable in promoting a reformation in the Church, yet his zeal was never known to get the better of his judgment. He was always moderate and prudent in his outward behavior, nor even in the conflict of a dispute did he suffer himself to be transported into intemperate warmth or allow unguarded expressions ever to escape him. But his pains and industry were not confined to preaching and disputing against the Papists; he wrote a great many books against them, none of which raised his reputation higher than his Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine of the Lord's Supper [Defensio Doctrinae veteris et apostolicae de S. Eucharistiae sacramento; accessit Tractatio, et Disputatio habita Univ. Oxon. de eodem, 1562, fol.] against bishop Gardiner. He wrote also several tracts of divinity, and commentaries on several books of Scripture, for all of which he was as much applauded by one party as he was condemned by the other." Tirabaschi, a zealous Roman Catholic, acknowledges that Martyr was free from the arrogance and virulence with which the Romanists are wont to charge the Reformers;
that he was deeply acquainted with the Scriptures and the fathers, and was one of the most learned writers of the Reformed Church. He was the author of Expositio Symboli Apostolici; De Coena Doinini Quaestiones, a system of theology, which was first published in England by Massonius, then more fully under the title Loci communes, ex vatsiis ipsius authoris scriptis (Zurich, 1580, folio; translated into English, 1583, folio, etc.). His other works are, In primumr librum Miosis qui vulgo Genesis dicitur commentarii. Addita est initio operis vita ejusdem i Josia Simlero (Tiguri. 1569, folio): — In Librum Judicun commentarii, cume tractationeperutili rerum et locorumi. Editio tertia, prioribus longe emendatior (Tigulri. 1571, folio): — In duos libros Samuelis prophetce commnentarii doctissimi, cue rerum et locorum plurimorum tractatione perutili (Tiguri. 1575, folio): — In Epistolam S. Pauli ad Ronmazos coummentarii doctissimi, cum tractatione perutili rers7u et locorum, qui ad earn epistolampertinent. Cum indicibus (Basle, tertia editio, 1570, folio): — In i. Epistolamn ad Corinthios conmmentarii doctissimi (Tiguri, editio secunda, 1567, folio): — Commentarii in duos libros Regum (1599): — Commentarii in Threnos (1629). See Simler, Oratio de vita et obitu D. Petri Martyris (Zurich, 1562, 4to); Schlosser, Leben des Theodor Beza u. d. P. M. Vermigli (Heidelb. 1807); Leben der Vater u. Begriinder d. reformirten Kirche, vol. 7 (Elberfeld, 1858); Schmidt, Vie de Pierre Martyr Vermigli (Strasb. 1835, 8vo); McCrie, Hist. Reformation in Italy; Wordsworth, Biog. vol. 3.; Fisher, Hist. Ref. p. 336, etc.; Biblioth. Sacra (1859), p. 445: Genesis Biog. Dict. s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. 2:1991; Hook, Ecclesiast. Biog. 7:245; Mosheim, Eccles. Hist. 3:67, 192; Herzog, Real-Encykl. 17:82 sq.