Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


Humanist, poet, diplomatist, and Bishop of Gurk in Carinthia, b. about 1450 at Venice ; d. there, probably 1535. He was a pupil of Pomponius Laetus , the founder of the Roman Academy. As a young man, by his manner and bearing alike, Balbus gave great offence; he was of a quarrelsome disposition, and, for a time, led a very loose life. But in later years he was highly respected and came to be regarded as one of the most accomplished men of his day. In 1485 he was professor at the University of Paris. His overbearing manner here soon brought him into conflict with various scholars, and in consequence of the attack which these men made on his character, he was obliged to leave Paris in 1491. A few years later (1494), at the invitation of Emperor Maximilian I, he went to the University of Vienna, where he lectured on poetry, the Roman classics, and jurisprudence. He was again in Paris, for a short period, in 1495, and visited London in 1496, but resumed his professorship at Vienna in 1497. Here he became a member of the Danube Society, and lived on terms of intimate friendship with its learned founder, Conrad Celtes the Humanist, at that time professor and librarian at the University of Vienna. In little less than a year, renewed contentions with his colleagues forced him to quit Vienna. Balbus next went to Prague (1498), where he accepted a professorship which had been obtained for him by his Viennese friends. But his irregular conduct, scandalous writings, and disputatious temper soon drove him from the city. On leaving Prague he withdrew to Hungary (Fünfkirchen), and remained in retirement for a period of fifteen years, during which time he changed his manner of life completely, and even took orders. His subsequent career as an ecclesiastic was one of considerable distinction. He became provost of the Cathedral Chapter at Waizen, 1515, later also of that at Pressburg, and, for some years, held an important position at the Court of Hungary, where he was tutor of the royal princes, and private secretary to the king, Ladislaus VI.

In 1521 Balbus appeared at the Diet of Worms as the ambassador of Louis II of Hungary, and attracted considerable attention by an eloquent discourse in which he protested against the innovations of Luther, and urged upon the assembled princes the necessity of a joint undertaking against the Turks. Shortly afterwards he was in the service of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, who, in 1522, designated him Bishop of Gurk, and sent him to Rome on a congratulatory embassy to the newly elected pontiff, Adrian VI. It was a part of his mission also to induce the pope to proclaim a crusade against the Turk. The address which he made on being received by the pope in a public audience, 9 February, 1523, abounded in extravagant rhetoric, but in humanistic circles it was considered a marvel of eloquence. Balbus remained in Rome for some time, and was there consecrated Bishop of Gurk, 25 March, 1523. As a bishop, he enacted many wholesome and timely ordinances, and had the preservation of church discipline sincerely at heart, but he was frequently absent form his diocese. From one of his letters we learn that in the time of Clement VII he lived at Rome for some years in the papal palace and was much in the confidence of that pontiff. In 1530, though quite an old man, he accompanied Charles V to Bologna to attend the emperor's coronation. At Bologna he wrote his best known work, "De coronatione principum", which, on account of the views it contains on the relation of Church and State, was placed on the Index, 23 July, 1611. Balbus was the author of many other works. Of these, the poetical, oratorical, and politico-moral writings were edited by Joseph von Retzer (Vienna, 1791-92, 2 vols.). His poems, in part coarse and indelicate, are of no particular merit.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life worthy ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all it contains, the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud looming up in the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 21st, 2016 Image

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, ... Read More