Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nicholas de Burgo

NICHOLAS de Burgo (fl. 1517–1537), divinity lecturer at Oxford, was a Franciscan friar and native of Florence. After studying for ten years, chiefly at Paris, where he became B.D., he began to lecture at Oxford in 1517. In February 1523 he was incorporated B.D., and supplicated for D.D. in January 1524. He was released from payment of the usual composition to the university, on the grounds of his ignorance of English, his former services as lecturer, and his poverty, and incepted in June or July. He lectured, and occasionally preached, at Oxford during the next few years, and in 1528 won the favour of the court by advocating the royal divorce. Payments of money were made to him by Wolsey or the king in November 1528, July 1529, and February 1530, and he was naturalised in January 1530. He became very unpopular at Oxford, was pelted with stones in the streets, and is said to have caused thirty women of the town to be locked up in Bocardo. He is probably the ‘friar Nicolas, a learned man and the king's faithful favorer,’ who was employed in negotiating with the university of Bologna on ‘the king's matter’ in 1530. In December 1531 Nicholas ‘disposed of his stuff at Oxford,’ and asked permission to go to Italy for his health. This was refused, as he was too deep in the king's secrets. Wolsey had already appointed him public reader in divinity at Cardinal College; in 1530 his salary was 53s. 4d., besides commons. This was the lowest salary of the canons of the first rank, and the salary of the private lectors of the faculty of arts in Wolsey's statutes, the salary of the public professor or reader of divinity being 40l. a year (Statutes of the Oxford Colleges). In 1532 Henry VIII reappointed Nicholas reader in divinity. Nicholas was also reader in divinity at Magdalen College about this time, and held a benefice of the annual value of 25l. In January 1533 he wrote to Cromwell complaining that though he had performed his duties as reader, and had delivered public lectures also, he had received no remuneration, nor were the profits of his benefice paid. In June he received 6l. 13s. 4d. from Cromwell. In 1534 he was still at Oxford, and acted as vice-chancellor. In 1535 he returned to Italy. In October he wrote to the king from Florence asking leave to retain his ‘college place’ at Oxford and his benefice. In the same year he resigned the lectureship at Magdalen. In July 1537 he wrote to the king, repeating his previous request; he was prevented from coming to England through illness, but hoped to come next month.

Nicholas was joint-author with Stokesley and Edward Fox of a book on the king's marriage, which Cranmer translated into English, and published under the title, ‘The Determinations of the most famous and mooste excellent Universities of Italy and Fraunce,’ &c., London, 1531. Nicholas de Burgo must be distinguished from a German Dominican friar, Nicholas de Scombergt, who is frequently mentioned in the ‘State Papers.’ The Dominican Nicholas came to England in 1517, was employed by the pope, Wolsey, Henry VIII, and other princes, and hoped to be made cardinal. He was in England in 1526, and left for Italy in 1532 or before.

[Boase's Register of the University of Oxford; Cal. State Papers, Henry VIII, vols. iv–ix. and xii.; Wood's Annals and Fasti; the Grey Friars in Oxford (Oxf. Hist. Soc.)]

A. G. L.