Sebastien Le Nain De Tillemont - Encyclopedia




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SEBASTIEN LE NAIN DE TILLEMONT (1637-1698), French ecclesiastical historian, was born in Paris on the 30th of November 1637. His father, a wealthy member of the legal class, being a devoted Jansenist, the boy was brought up in the little schools of Port Royal. Here his bent towards historical study was warmly encouraged, and in 1660 he was made a tutor in the seminary of Buzenval, Jansenist bishop of Beauvais. Ten years later he came back to Paris, and was eventually persuaded (1676) to enter the priesthood, and become a chaplain at Port Royal. In 1679 the storm of persecution drove him to settle on his family estate of Tillemont, between Montreuil and Vincennes. There he spent the remainder of his life, dying on the 10th of January 1698. He was buried at Port Royal; in 1711, on the desecration of the cemetery, his, remains were transferred to the church of St Andre des Arcs in Paris.

From the age of twenty he was at work on his two great books - the Memoires pour servir a l'histoire ecclesiastique des six premiers siecles, and the Histoire des empereurs during the same period. Both works began to appear during his lifetime - the Histoire in 1690, the Memoires in 1693 - but in neither case was the publication finished till long after his death. To his modesty Bossuet bears witness, when he told him to stand up sometimes, and not be always on his knees before a critic. Gibbon vouches for his learning, when (in the 47th chapter) he speaks of "this incomparable guide, whose bigotry is overbalanced by the merits of erudition, diligence, veracity and scrupulous minuteness." There is a full account of his life in the 4th volume of Sainte-Beuve's Port Royal.

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