Jules Etienne Joseph Quicherat - Encyclopedia

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JULES ETIENNE JOSEPH QUICHERAT (1814-1882), French historian and archaeologist, was of Burgundian origin. His father, a working cabinet-maker, came from Paray le Monial to Paris to support his large family; Quicherat was born there on the 13th of October 1814. He was fifteen years younger than his brother Louis, a great Latin scholar and lexicographer, who survived him. Although very poor, he was admitted to the college of Sainte-Barbe, where he received a thorough classical education. He showed his gratitude to this establishment by writing its history (Histoire de Sainte-Barbe, college, com- munaute, institution, 3 vols. 1860-1864). At the end of his studies he hesitated for some time before deciding what career he would follow, until Michelet put an end to his indecision by inspiring him with a taste for history. In 1835 Quicherat entered the Ecole des Chartes; he left two years later at the head of the college. Once more inspired by the example of Michelet, who had just written an admirable work on Joan of Arc, he published the text of the two trials of Joan, adding much contemporary evidence on her heroism in his Proces de condemnation et de rehabilitation de Jeanne d'Arc (5 vols. 1841-1849), as well as half a volume of Apercus nouveaux sur l'histoire de Jeanne d'Arc, in which it seems that the last word has been said on important points. From the 15th century he drew other inspirations. He published memoirs of the adventures of a brigand, Rodrigue de Villandrando (1844), which gradually grew into a volume (1877), full of fresh matter. He wrote full biographies of two chroniclers of Louis XI., one very obscure, Jean Castel (in the Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Charles, 1840), the other, Thomas Basin, bishop of Lisieux, who was, on the contrary, a remarkable politician, prelate and chronicler. Quicherat published the works of the latter, most of which were now brought out for the first time (4 vols. 1855-1859). In addition to these he wrote Fragments inedits de Georges Chastellain (1842), Lettres, memoires et autres documents relatifs a la guerre du bien public en 1465 (1843, in vol. ii. of Melanges historiques, part of Documents inedits), &c. These works did not wholly occupy his time: in 1847 he inaugurated a course of archaeological lectures at the Ecole des Chartes, and in 1849 was appointed professor of diplomacy at the same college. His teaching had exceptionally good results. Although he was not eloquent and had a nasal voice, his hearers were 10th to miss any of his thoughtful teaching, which was unbiased and well expressed. Of his lectures the public saw only some articles on special subjects which were distributed in a number of reviews. Note should be made of a short treatise on La Formation francaise des anciens noms du lieu (1867); a memoir De l'ogive et de l'architecture dite ogivale (1850), where he gives his theory on the use of stone arches - important for the history of religious architecture; an article on L'Age de la cathedrale de Laon (1874), in which he fixed the exact date of the birth of Gothic architecture; Histoire du costume en France (1875; 2nd ed. 1877), which was first published in the form of anonymous articles in the Magasin pittoresque, and which the author wished to retain the character of a popular work. Following the advice of his friends, he began to write out, towards the end of his life, his lectures on archaeology, but only the introductory chapters, up to the 11th century, were found among his papers. On the other hand, the pupils trained by him circulated his principles throughout France, recognizing him as the founder of national archaeology. In one point he seems to have taken a false step; with a warmth and pertinacity worthy of a better cause he maintained the identity of Caesar's Alesia with Alaise (Doubs), and he died without becoming a convert to the opinion, now universally accepted, that Alise Sainte-Reine (Cote d'or) is the place where Vercingetorix capitulated. But even this error benefited science; some well directed excavations at Alaise brought many Roman remains to light, which were subsequently sent to enrich the museum at Besancon. After 1871, his course of lectures on diplomacy having been given up, Quicherat, still professor of archaeology, was nominated director of the Ecole des Chartes. He filled this post with the same energy which he had shown in the many scientific commissions in which he had taken part. In 1878 he gave up his duties as professor, which then fell to the most conspicuous of his pupils, Robert de Lasteyrie. He died suddenly at Paris on the 8th of April 1882, a short time after having corrected the proofs of d'Arc, published in the Revue historique. After his death it was decided to bring out his hitherto unpublished papers (Melanges d'archeologie et d'histoire, vol. i., Celtic, Roman and Gallo-Roman antiquities, ed. A. Giry and Aug. Castan, 1885; vol. ii., Archeologie du moyen age, ed. R. de Lasteyrie, 1886); among these are some important fragments of his archaeological lectures, but his Histoire de la laine, with which he was occupied for many years, is missing.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.-TWO of Quicherat's best pupils published excellent obituar y notices of him: Robert de Lasteyrie, in Jules Quicherat, sa vie et ses travaux (from Bulletin du Comite des travaux historiques, 1883, n. I); and Arthur Giry, Jules Quicherat (in the Revue historique, vol. xix.), with a Bibliographie des oeuvres de Jules Quicherat (in the Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Charles, vol. xliii. p. 316). (C. B.*)

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