Page images

century. Those of the eighteenth century exist in old print in a nearly satisfactory form, but the older ones are in manuscript only, and Dutch history at large stands sorely in need of them.

Perhaps I have detained you already longer than was wanted for the purpose of shortly surveying with you Dutch historical publications. Only a few words to conclude.

You will have seen that the program, both executed and to come, is intended to serve many and various realms of national history; that not even the history of the churches is excluded, though the differences of religious belief have of old, as they still do, profoundly influenced and colored national life. From Dr. Jameson's last contribution to the American Historical Review, entitled "The American Historical Association, 1884-1909,"1 I have seen that the American Government adopts another view, and that from your annual reports, printed at public expense, contributions on the history of the Christian religion and the Christian sects are excluded. Of course I do not assume a right to criticize a system that may be founded in circumstances of which I am ignorant; I only thought it right to state that in a country so divided upon the point of religion as is Holland the State provides for historical publications bearing on religious matters without causing any trouble, the public, with all its divisions, being perfectly aware that the work is undertaken in the general interest only, by men with lofty aims and clean hands. I think it would be a good day on which your Government left you the liberty in this line that we enjoy and you deserve. With you, as with us, any disrespect of truth, originating from base partiality, is enough to break the reputation of a historical man. On this, as on yonder side the water, ours is the same proud device, Honestum petimus usque.

1 American Historical Review, October, 1909.



Director of the Musée de Sculpture Comparée du Trocadéro, Paris.





For historical societies as well as for all other institutions very remote origins can be found. By a liberal construction one might come to see a sort of historical society in the unknown editors at the court of Charlemagne, who under his inspiration wrote the Annales Regales. Without insisting on this point it is, however, certain that the order of St. Benedict from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries constituted in France a genuine historical society, not because history was its object but because it was its specialty.

According to the public opinion of the Middle Ages the archives of the Royal Abbey of St. Denis contained treasures of historical documents. This opinion, it should be said, is made known to us through a literature which is historical only in form and which had almost its sole origin in the imagination of its authors. The work of Monsieur Bédier has demonstrated the rôle of the great abbeys in the creation of the chansons de geste, and it is also known that these abbeys were the places where were elaborated the legends of the saints. All this is what may be called the historical romance of the Middle Ages, but aside from this literature, enveloping and concealing a little history, the Benedictine monks wrote numerous chronicles, sincere, serious, and of indisputable historical value, such, for example, as those of St. Benigne de Dijon, of St. Bertin de St. Omer, of Odon de Deuil, of Robert de Torigny, of Sigebert de Gembloux, of Jean d'Ypres, and of many others which it would take too long to enumerate.

When, then, in the seventeenth century the Benedictines commenced the publication of those great historical works that are the glory of their order, they only followed and revived their old traditions, and the manuscripts of the chronicles which they published were often the work of their predecessors. From 1614 Dom Martin Marrier published in collaboration with André Duchesne the Bibliotheca Cluniacensis, a collection of the sources of the history of the order of Cluny. In 1648, at a general chapter of the Benedictines held at Vendôme, Dom Luc d'Achery proposed a complete plan for the revival of the studies of the celebrated congregation, which plan was

adopted and followed. A veritable historical seminary was created within the order of St. Benedict and carried on its work until the Revolution.

In each of the abbeys affiliated with St. Maur des Fossés or with St. Vanne de Verdun care was taken to develop a taste for historical studies among such monks as displayed any aptitude therefor. The youngest were employed in classifying the archives and the libraries and in making copies or notes which were used by the more experienced. Monks were sent on missions throughout all Catholic Europe to explore the archives, even outside of their own order, and all the materials thus obtained were coordinated by certain scholars whose names are universally celebrated. Thanks to the perfect organization and discipline of this body of workers the program of Dom Luc d'Achery was realized and even surpassed. This program included editions of the church fathers, of works of exegesis, and of ecclesiastical history. The Benedictines had commenced by writing their own history; they were led to write that of the Gallic church, and they finally undertook the publication of all French historical texts. It is thanks to them that France furnished the earliest and best models of critical historical works.

The first director of these historical works was the illustrious Mabillon, the creator, one may say, of the science of diplomatic, who published the first treatise on that subject. His successor was Dom Thierry Ruinart.

Among the publications of the Benedictines should be cited:

Acta Sanctorum Ordinis Sancti Benedicti, by Dom Mabillon, 1668-1701.
Annales Ordinis Sancti Benedicti, by Dom Mabillon, 1675-1685.
Vetera Analecta.

Spicilegium . . . Veterum aliquot Scriptorum, by Dom Luc d'Achery,

Acta Martyrum Sincera, by Dom Thierry Ruinart, 1689.

Thesaurus Anecdotorum Novus, by Dom Martène and Dom Durand, 1717.
Amplissima Collectio, by the same authors, 1724-1733.

Histoire littéraire de la France, commenced by Dom Rivet, 1733—
Voyages de deux Bénédictins, by Martène and Durand, 1717.
Grégoire de Tours, ed. Martène and Durand.

Gallia Christiana, planned in 1646 by the brothers Sainte-Marthe,
commenced in 1715.

Monuments de la Monarchie française, by Dom Bernard de Montfaucon, 1729-1733.

Histoire Générale de Languedoc, by Dom Claude de Vic and Dom Vaissete, 1733-1745.

Histoire de Bretagne, by Dom Lobineau, 1707.

Histoire de Bourgogne, by Dom Plancher, 1739–1781.

Histoire de Paris, by Dom Félibien, 1725.

Histoire de Saint Germain des Prés et de Saint Martin des Champs, by Dom Marrier.

L'Histoire de Saint Denis, by Dom Félibien, 1706.

L'Art de vérifier les Dates, 1750.

« PreviousContinue »