Chesne, Andrew Du

, an eminent historian, and justly considered as the father of French history, was bornin the Isle of Bouchard; in Torrairie, May 1584. He was the youngest of the four sons of Tanneguy Du Chesne, lord of Sausoniere. His name has been Latinized in different forms. He has at different times called himself Quema3us, Quercetanus, Duchenius; and by others he has been called Querceus, a Quercu, Chesneus, and Chesnius. In his historical works he assumed no other title than that of geographer to the king, except in his history of the house of Bethune, printed in 1639, where he calls himself historiographer to the king. His family produced many men of talents in the army and at the bar. He was first educated at Loudun, and after a course of grammar and rhetoric, came to Parisj where he studied philosophy, in the college of Boncours, under Julius Caesar Boulanger, an eminent philosopher, and one of the best historians of that period.

Du Chesne’s first attempt as an author, was a duodecimo volume, printed in 1602, and dedicated to Boulanger, entitled “Egregiarum seu Electarum Lectionum et Antiquitatum liber.” The same year he dedicated another to M. de Cerisy, archbishop of Tours, entitled “Januariae Kalendae, seu de solemnitate anni tain Ethnica quam Christiana brevis tractatus,” with a Latin poem “Gryphus de Ternario numero.” In 1605 he composed for a young lady whom he married in 1608, “Les figures mystiques du riche et precieux Cabinet des Dames,” apparently a moral work. In his twenty-third year he began a translation of Juvenal, which he published with notes, in 1607. This is a work of very rare occurrence. In 16-09 he published “Antiquitez et Recherches de la grandeur et | majeste des Rois de France,” dedicated to Louis XIII. then dauphin. In 1610 he wrote a poem, “Chandelier de Justice,” and also a panegyrical discourse on the ceremonies of the coronation of queen Mary of Medicis, with a treatise on the ampulla and fleur-de-lys, &c. but owing to the assassination of the king, which happened after this ceremony, these productions were lost. The same year he published a funeral discourse on king Henry IV. and the first edition of his “Antiquitez et Recherches des Villes et Chateaux de France,” which has been often reprinted. In 1611, appeared his translation and abridgement of the controversies and magical researches of Delrio, the Jesuit, 8vo. In 1612 and 1613, he was employed on his “Histoire d’Angleterre,” the first edition of which was published in 1614; and the same year, in conjunction with father Marrier, he published in folio, a collection of the works of the religious of Cluny, under the title “Bibliotheca Cluniacensis.” This was followed in 1615, by his “Histoire des Papes,” fol. reprinted in 1645, but as this last edition was very incorrect, his son Francis Du Chesne published a new one in 1653, enlarged and illustrated with portraits. In 1616 he published the “Works of Abelard,” with a preface and notes/ which are rarely found together.

In 1617 he undertook an edition of the “Histoire de la Maison de Luxembourg,” written in 1574, by Nicholas Viguier, and continued it to the year 1557. He was also editor this year of the works of Alain Chartier, and of Alcuinus, and at the same time projected two great works the one, “A Geographical Description of France,” which was to extend to many volumes. This work, of which he published a specimen, was begun to be printed in Hoiland, but was not continued; the other was that on which his fame chiefly rests, his collection of French historians, under the title “Historia Francorum Scriptores cocetanei ab ipsius gentis origine ad nostra usque tempora.” In the preface to his collection of the historians of Normandy, he gives some account of the plan, which may be seen in the life of Bouquet, in this Dictionary, (vol. VI.) Peter Pithou and Marquard Freher had given him the idea of it, and he undertook it by order of Louis XIII. who encouraged him, by a pension of 2400 livres, which he enjoyed till his death, with the title of royal geographer and historiographer in ordinary. As a preparation for this | work, he published in 1618, his “Bibliotheque des Auteurs qui ont ecrit Histoire et Topographic de la France,” 8vo, which is now superseded by the more extensive work of Le Long. It appears that in forming his collections for the French historians, he was assisted by Peiresc, who examined the church and monastic libraries for him.

In 1619, he published his “Histoire des Rois, Dues, et Comtes de Burgogne,” a new edition of the “Letters of Stephen Pasqnier,” and his “Historic Normannorum Scriptores antiqui,” which forms the first volume of his collection of French historians. The following year appeared his “Histoire genealogique de la Maison de Chastillou-sur-Marue, &c.” As his intended publication of the geographical history of France was interrupted in Holland, he published an abridgment of it at Paris, under the title of “Antiqnitez et Recherches desvilles, chateaux, et places remarkables de la France selon Pordre et les ressorfc ties parlemens,” which passed through several editions, as already noticed; that of 1647 was edited and improved by his son. In 1621 was printed his “Histoire genealogique de la Maison de Montmorency,” folio, which Le Long thinks a capital work of the kind; it was followed in 1626 by a similar history of the house of De Vergy. In 1629 he published a second volume of the history of Burgundy, under the title of “Histoire genealogique des Dues de Bonrgogne,” and in 1631, two other genealogical histories of the houses of Guines, Ardres, Dreux, &c. The accuracy of these family histories has been very generally acknowledged, but it is unnecessary to specify the dates of each publication.

With respect to his collection of French historians, he published the first two volumes in 1636, fol. after having two years before issued a prospectus of the whole, and the third and fourth volumes were in the press, when on May 30, 1640, he was crushed to death by a cart, as he was going to his country-house at Verrieres. He was at this time in full health, and bade fair for long life and usefulness. The two volumes, then in the press, were completed by his son, and published in 1641, to which he added a fifth volume in 1649, without any assistance from government, as the pension granted to his father, and continued to hirn on his death, was taken from him about three years after that event. Some particulars of the continuation of the work to the present time may be seen in | our life of Bouquet. In Du Chesne’s “Historic Norluannorum,” is the “Emmae Anglorum reginse encomium,” of which an edition, with William of Poictier’s history of William the Conqueror, and other historical documents, was published, or rather printed for private distribution, in 1783, 4to, by the learned Francis Maseres, esq. F. 11. S. cursitor-baron of the court of exchequer.

Extensive as Du Chesne’s published labours were, they give but a faint idea of his immense industry in collecting historical materials, and of the works which might have been expected from him. He had intended to confine his collection of French historians to 24 folio volumes; but according to Le Long, forty would not be sufficient to contain the manuscripts worthy of publication, and which were discovered after his death; and he had himself written with his own hand above an hundred folio volumes of extracts, transcripts, observations, genealogies, &c. most of which were deposited, for the use of his successors, in the king’s library. Du Fresuoy speaks with less respect of Da Chesne’s labours than they deserve. In collecting so many original authorities, and producing so many transcripts from valuable and perishing Mss. he has surely proved himself a great benefactor to general history; and it is much to his honour that he always was ready to communicate his discoveries to persons engaged in the same study, but who did not always acknowledge their obligations. 1


Le Long Bibl. Hist. —Niceron, vol. VI f. —Saxii Onomast.