Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Skalić, Pavao

Born: 1534 Zagreb
Died: 1575 Gdansk
  • Erna Banić-PajnićEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_277-1


A Croatian Renaissance philosopher, theologian, and adventurer, known in the history of philosophy as an ardent follower of Pico della Mirandola and one of the first thinkers who used the term encyclopedia, Skalić was a typical representative of Renaissance syncretism.


Numerous Work Typical Representative Main Work Fundamental Intention Sharp Criticism 
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Skalić was born in Zagreb in 1534. After he had finished his studies and earned a master’s degree in the septem artes liberales in Vienna and a doctorate in theology in Bologna, he went to Rome, where he spent some time in Collegium Germanicum. Afterwards, he traveled through Germany, where he converted to Protestantism. In the Protestant phase of his life, he subjected the Church politics to sharp criticism, pleading for the return to the spiritual sources of faith. In this phase, the Protestant version of his Encyclopedia was published in Basel in 1559. The Catholic version of the same work, only slightly modified, would be published 12 years later. During his stay among the Croatian and Slovenian Protestants in Germany, he wrote the foreword for the Glagolitic Catechism and became the protégé of John Ungnad.

He was a professor of theology at Königsberg and Tübingen, but due to forgery of the documents that he was using to prove his noble origin, he acquired a lot of enemies and was obliged to flee to Gdansk, Poland. Afterwards, he went to Paris and then to Münster. Eventually, he returned under the aegis of the Roman Catholic Church and wrote Counter-Reformation pamphlets. He died in Gdansk in 1575.

Heritage and Rupture with Tradition

Skalić wrote a great number of works that show that he is a typical representative of Renaissance syncretism. In these works and especially in his main work Encyclopaedia seu orbis disciplinarum tam sacrarum quam prophanarum Epistemon, he is trying to reconcile diverse traditions – the Orphic, Pythagorean, Hermetic, Chaldean, Kabbalistic, Platonic, and Aristotelian – and to harmonize them with the Christian doctrine. So he interpreted the doctrines of Prisci Theologi in terms of the Christian doctrine of Trinity. In philosophy, he was a follower of Pico della Mirandola, also a representative of Renaissance syncretism. In his works, he sometimes takes over literally the entire parts of Pico’s texts. In accordance with Pico’s fundamental orientation in philosophy, he too defends concordism, i.e., the thesis that it is possible to harmonize Plato’s and Aristotle’s philosophies. He sees the relationship between man and the world as the relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Skalić thinks that man can influence the world around him, primarily by the use of magic. He associated the thesis on divine providence that governs the world with the astrological notion of causality. Many of his beliefs, and above all the beliefs in the existence of a philosophia perennis, were influenced by Agostino Steuco. He was also influenced by the German humanist Johannes Reuchlin. Encyclopedism and concordism are two main features of his philosophy.

Innovative and Original Aspects

Skalić follows the line of Renaissance Platonism that largely relies on Chaldeo-Hermetic-Kabbalistic sources within the tradition of prisca theologia. Defending the reform of the Church and the spiritual renovatio in general, he pleads for the return to the sources of faith and knowledge that are to be found primarily in the Scripture and in the writings of the Chaldean, Egyptian, Arab, Jewish, Greek, and Latin traditions. He holds all of them compatible with Christianity. The truth contained within all these traditions is one aeterna sapientia. It cannot be argued that Skalić was an original thinker, given the fact that the basic feature of his work is syncretism. Skalić is among the first thinkers who tried to give a synthesis of all sciences according to the Greek idea of enkyklios paideia. The fundamental intention underlying all his works was scire omnia scibilia. Hence, the title of his most important work was Encyclopedia seu orbis disciplinarum tam sacrarum quam prophanarum Epistemon. Skalić, however, was not the first to use this term, as previously often thought. In none of his works did he present an original and unique doctrine of his own.

Impact and Legacy

Skalić left behind numerous works, in which a number of themes are repeated. His work did not have much impact on either the European or Croatian Renaissance philosophers. His adventurous and tumultuous life was of much greater interest to historians than his work.


  1. Čvrljak K (2004) Filozofija u enciklopedizmu Pavla Skalića. Ogranak Matice hrvatske Skradin, Zagreb-SkradinGoogle Scholar
  2. Krabbel G (1915a) Aus Paul Skalichs Leben. Dissertation, Druck und Verlag Borgmeyer u. Co., Münster i. WGoogle Scholar
  3. Krabbel G (1915b) Paul Skalich, Ein Lebensbild aus dem 16. Jahrhundert. Druck und Verlag Borgmeyer u. Co., Münster i. WGoogle Scholar
  4. Kukuljević-Sakcinski I (1875) Pavao Skalić. Dionička tiskara, ZagrebGoogle Scholar

Primary Literature (Selection)

  1. Paulus Scalichius (1553) Conclusiones in omni genere scientiarum, divinas, angelicas, coelestes, elementares...et infernales. Bononiae, RomaeGoogle Scholar
  2. Paulus Scalichius (1556) Occulta occultorum occulta Pauli Skalich de Lika, philosophiae ac theologiae doctoris, sacrae, Ro. Hung. Boe. etc. Regiae maiestatis capellani. Excudebat Michael Zimmermannus, ViennaeGoogle Scholar
  3. Pauli Scalich II (1559) Encyclopaediae, seu Orbis disciplinarum, tam sacrarum quam prophanarum, Epistemon: Pauli Scalich II de Lika, et comitis Hunnorum, et Baronis Zkradini, S.[anctae] T.[heologiae] Doct.[oris]. Per Ioannem Oporinum, BasileaeGoogle Scholar
  4. Paulus Scalichius (1563) Satirae philosophicae sive Miscellaneorum tomus primus. Acc. Genealogia praecipuorum Europae regum et principum. Ex officina Ioannis Daubmann. Joh. Nasi Minoritae, ColoniaeGoogle Scholar
  5. Pauli principis de la Scala et Hun, Marchionis Veronae, Domini Creutzburgi Prussiae (1570–1571) Miscellaneorum de rerum caussis et successibus & de secretiore quadam methodo qua euersiones omnium regnorum vniuersi orbis & futurorum series erui possint, libri septem; item certissima Methodus qua homines palantes & erroribus turbulentis impliciti ad viam veritatis reuocandi & ad beatitudinem consequendam promouendi veniant, contra Centurias euangelicae veritatis Ioannis Nasi Minoritae; deinde Oratio de instauranda Romanae Ecclesiae doctrina cum Epistola qua omnes abditae artes & scientiae perstringuntur & perfectissima ratio prophetandi & miracula operandi traditur. Ex officina Theodori Graminaei, ColoniaeGoogle Scholar
  6. Pavli principis dela Scala et. Hun, Marchionis Veronae, Crevtzburgi (1571) Miscellaneorum tomus secundus sive catholici Epistemonis contra quandam corruptam ac depravatam Encyclopaediam libri XV. Theodorus Graminaeus, ColoniaeGoogle Scholar

Secondary Literature (Selection)

  1. Banić-Pajnić E (1983) Pavao Skalić i tradicija aeternae sapientiae. Prilozi za istraživanje hrvatske filozofske baštine 17–18:111–122Google Scholar
  2. Bučar F (1910) Povijest hrvatske protestantske književnosti. Matica Hrvatska, Zagreb, pp 135–141Google Scholar
  3. Girardi-karšulin M (1993) Pavao Skalić. Čovjek na razmeđi znanosti. Prilozi za istraživanje hrvatske filozofske baštine 37–38:31–51Google Scholar
  4. Jembrih A (2011) Pavao Skalić i njegov studij na Bečkome sveučilištu. Prilozi za istraživanje hrvatske filozofske baštine 73–73:95–132Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of philosophyZagrebCroatia