Enrico Caterino Davila

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Enrico Caterino Davila (October 30, 1576 – May 26, 1631) was an Italian historian and diplomat.


Born in Piove di Sacco, near Padua, he descended from a Spanish noble family. His name was given in honour of Henry III of France and Catherine de' Medici.[1]

His immediate ancestors had been constables of the kingdom of Cyprus for the Venetian republic since 1464. In 1570 the island was taken by the Turks; and Antonio Davila, the father of the historian, had to leave for Padua, despoiled of all his possessions. In 1583 Antonio took this son to France, where he became a page in the service of Catherine de' Medici, wife of King Henry II.[2]

In due time he entered the military service, and fought through the French civil wars until the peace in 1598. In 1599, he returned to Padua where he stayed until 1606. Subsequently he traveled to Parma, Rome and Rovigo and finally settled to Tinos (1609–1615) where he held the post of governor. At Tinos he met and married his wife Ursula delli Ascuffi. [2]

Later in his life Enrico was assigned as a governor of the Venetian possessions of Cattaro (1618–1621) and Zara (1623–1628). Also in 1621 he participated in a Venetian diplomatic mission to Florence, under the leadership of Alvise Valaresso.[2]

Enrico Davila was murdered, while on his way to take possession of the government of Cremona for Venice in May 1631, by a ruffian, with whom a dispute arose about relays of horses ordered for his use by the Venetian government.[3]

The Istoria[edit]

He planned a history of the civil wars in France in which he had taken a part, and during which he had see the leading personages and events. This work was completed about 1630, and was offered by the author to the publishers in Venice. At last 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 of the work was immediate. Over two hundred editions followed, of which perhaps the best is the one published in Paris in 1644. An English translation was made for Charles I of England by William Aylesbury, published as The Historie of the Civil Warres of France (1647).[4]

American statesman and political thinker John Adams wrote his last work of political theory, the Discourses on Davila, as an extended commentary on Davila's history of the French civil wars, following the example of Machiavelli's Discorsi on Livy's history of Rome.


  1. Theatro del Mondo (Unpublished, 1598–1599)
  2. Historia degli unscocchi di Minucci discorse con Alessandro Vecellio (Unpublished, Unknown date)
  3. Historia delle guere civili di Francia (Venice, 1630)


  1. ^ Kitromilides, p.120 -121
  2. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ Kitromilides, p.120 -121
  4. ^  "Aylesbury, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Davila, Enrico Caterino". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.