ENRICO CATERINO DAVILA (1576-1631), Italian historian, was descended from a Spanish noble family. His immediate ancestors had been constables of the kingdom of Cyprus for the Venetian republic since 1464. But in 1570 the island was taken by the Turks; and Antonio Davila, the father of the historian, had to leave it, despoiled of all he possessed. He travelled into Spain and France, and finally returned to Padua, and at Sacco on the 30th of October 1576 his youngest son, Enrico Caterino, was born. About 1583 Antonio took this son to France, where he became a page in the service of Catherine de' Medici, wife of King Henry II. In due time he entered the military service, and fought through the civil wars until the peace in 1598. He then returned to Padua, where, and subsequently at Parma. he led a studious life until, when war broke out, he entered the service of the republic of Venice and served with distinction in the field. But during the whole of this active life, many details of which are very interesting as illustrative of the life and manners of the time, he never lost sight of a design which he had formed at a very early period, of writing the history of those civil wars in France in which he had borne a part, and during which he had had so many opportunities of closely observing the leading personages and events. This work was completed about 1630, and was offered in vain by the author to all the publishers in Venice. At last one Tommaso Baglioni, who had no work for his presses, undertook to print the manuscript, on condition that he should be free to leave off if more promising work offered itself. The printing of the Istoria delle guerre civili di Francia was, however, completed, and the success and sale of the work were immediate and enormous. Over two hundred editions followed, of which perhaps the best is the one published in Paris in 1644. Davila was murdered, while on his way to take possession of the government of Cremona for Venice in July 1631, by a ruffian, with whom some dispute seems to have arisen concerning the furnishing of the relays of horses ordered for his use by the Venetian government.
The Istoria was translateu into French by G. Baudouin (Paris, 1642); into Spanish by Varen de Soto (Madrid, 1651, and Antwerp, 1686); into English by W. Aylesbury (London, 1647), and by Charles Cotterel (London, 1666), and into Latin by Pietro Francesco Cornazzano (Rome, 1 745). The best account of the life of Davila is that by Apostolo Zeno, prefixed to an edition of the history printed at Venice in 2 vols. in 1733. Peter Bayle is severe on certain historical inaccuracies of Davila, and it is true that Davila must be read with due remembrance of the fact that he was not only a Catholic but the especial protege of Catherine de' Medici, but it is not to be forgotten that Bayle was as strongly Protestant.
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