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Etienne Baluze

Etienne Baluze (16301718), French scholar, was born at Tulle[?] on the 24th of November 1630. He was educated at his native town and took minor orders. As secretary to Pierre de Marca[?], archbishop of Toulouse[?], he won the appreciation of him, and at his death Marca left him all his papers. Baluze produced the first complete edition of Marca’s treatise De libertatibus Ecclesiae Gallicanae (1663), and brought out his Marca hispanica (1688). In about 1667, Baluze entered Colbert's service, and until 1700 was in charge of the invaluable library belonging to that minister and to his son, the marquis de Seignelai. Colbert rewarded him for his work by obtaining various benefices for him, and the post of king’s almoner (1679). Subsequently Baluze was appointed professor of Canon law at the College de France[?] on the 31st of December 1689, and directed it from 1707 to 1710.

His most highly regarded works are:

  • Capitularia Regum Francorum (1674)
  • Nova Collectio Conciliorum (1677)
  • Miscellanea (1678—1715)
  • Letters of Pope Innocent III (1682)
  • Vitae Paparum Avenionensium (1693).

He was unfortunate enough to take up the history of Auvergne just at the time when the cardinal de Bouillon[?], inheritor of the rights, was endeavouring to prove the descent of the La Tour family, in the direct line from the ancient hereditary counts of Auvergne of the 9th century.

As authentic documents in support of these pretensions could not be found, false ones were fabricated. The production of spurious genealogies had already been begun in the Histoire de la maison d’Auvergne published by Christophe Justel[?] in 1645; and Chorier, the historian of Dauphiny, had included in the second volume of his history (1672) a forged deed which connected the La Tours of Dauphiny with the La Tours of Auvergne. Next manufacture of forged documents was organized by Jean de Bar[?], an intimate companion of the cardinal. These rogues were skilful enough, for they succeeded in duping the most illustrious scholars; Dom Jean Mabillon[?], the founder of Diplomatics, Dom Thierry Ruinart[?] and Baluze himself, called as experts, made a unanimously favourable report on the 23rd of July 1695. But cardinal de Bouillon had many enemies, and a war of pamphlets began.

In March 1698 Baluze in reply wrote a letter which proved nothing. Two years later, in 1700, Jean de Bar[?] and his accomplices were arrested, and after a long and searching inquiry were declared guilty in 1704. Baluze, nevertheless, was obstinate in his opinion. He was convinced that the incriminated documents were genuine and proposed to do Justel’s work anew. Encouraged and financially supported by the cardinal de Bouillon[?], he published two works with “Proofs,” among which, unfortunately, we find all the deeds which had been pronounced spurious. In the following year he was suddenly engulfed in the disgrace, and exiled from Paris.

He continued to work, and in 1717 published a history of his native town, Historiae Tutelensis libri tres. Before his death he succeeded in returning to Paris, where he died unconvinced of his errors on the 28th of July 1718.



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