Platina, Bartolomeo
(Bartolomeo Sacchi, 1421-1481)
   Ro-man humanist and librarian of the Vatican. Named from the village where he was born, Piadena, he may have received schoolng in Cre-mona but certainly spent four years as a mercenary soldier in the pri-vate army of the condottiere Francesco Sforza. About 1449 he went to Ferrara to study in the school founded by Vittorino da Feltre. He became friendly with the duke of Mantua, Ludovico Gonzaga, and eventually was hired to tutor the ruler's children. In 1457 he went to Florence to study Greek under the exiled humanist John Argy-ropoulos. While there, he became close to several prominent Floren-tines, including the richest and most powerful of them all, Lorenzo de'Medici. When his former pupil Francesco Gonzaga became a cardinal in 1481, Platina moved to Rome and became an active mem-ber of the scholarly circle of Cardinal Johannes Bessarion and the Roman Academy led by Pomponio Leto. Platina purchased a curial office as abbreviator that provided him reliable income. A new pope, Paul II, who did not like the curial humanists, abolished the college of abbreviators without offering to indemnify officeholders who had purchased their jobs. Platina secured an audience and publicly chal-lenged the pope's action. The pope reacted by having him imprisoned for several months. In 1468 Pope Paul had Platina imprisoned again, together with other members of the Roman Academy, on charges of reviving pagan religious practices and plotting against the pope's life. Platina was released after a few months but did not regain papal fa-vor until the accession of the next pope, Sixtus IV, in 1471. Sixtus appointed him the first librarian of the Vatican Library in 1475.
   Although active as a scholar and an author, Platina did not produce much scholarship of importance. His edition of De bello Judaico / The Jewish War by the Hellenistic Jewish author Josephus was his most important textual publication. Less significant were his other literary works: a book on personal ethics and health, a guide to foods and cooking, a history of Mantua and the Gonzaga dynasty, a biogra-phy of Vittorino da Feltre, a eulogy on his patron Cardinal Bessarion, a treatise on monarchical government for the duke of Ferrara, fol-lowed by a treatise on republican government for Lorenzo de'Medici. Far more important was Platina's history of the popes, Liber de vita Christi et omnium pontificum (1474), which outwardly lauded the pa-pacy but in its details provided examples of abuses and corruptions that were later cited by Protestant critics. In particular, he used his sketch of the life of Pope Paul II to avenge himself on the pope who had twice imprisoned him and cost him his secure job as abbreviator.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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