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JACQUES GUILLAUME THOURET (1746--1794)

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Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 883 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JACQUES GUILLAUME THOURET (1746--1794), French revolutionist, was born at Pont 1'Eveque. He was the son of a notary, and became an avocat at the parlement of Rouen. In 1789 he was elected deputy to the states-general by the third estate of Rouen, and in the Constituent Assembly his eloquence gained him great influence. Like so many lawyers of his time, he was violently opposed to the clergy, and strongly supported the secularization of church property. He also obtained the suppression of the religious orders and of all ecclesiastical privileges, and actively contributed to the change of the judiciary and administrative system. He was one of the promoters of the decree of 1790 by which France was divided into departments,and was four times president of the Constituent Assembly. After its dissolution he became president of the court of caseation. He wa3 included in the proscription of the Girondists, whose political opinions he shared, and was executed in Paris. Besides his speeches and reports he wrote an Abrege des revolutions de l' Widen gouvernement francais and Tableau chronologique de (Nov. 9, 1609). The third part (up to 1594), and the fourth (up to 1584), which appeared in 1607 and ,6o8, caused a similar outcry, in spite of de Thou's efforts to remain just and impartial. He carried his scruples to the point of forbid-ding any translation of his book into French, because in the process there might, to use his own words, be committed great faults and errors against the intention of the author "; this, however, did not prevent the Jesuit Father Machault from accusing him of being " a false Catholic, and worse than an open heretic " (1614); de Thou, we may say, was a member of the third order of St Francis. As an answer to his detractors, he wrote his Memoires, which are a useful complement to the History of his own Times. After the death of Henry IV., de Thou met with another disappointment; the queen-regent refused him the position of first president of the parlement, appointing him instead as a member of the Conseil des finances intended to take the place of Sully. This was to him a distinct downfall; he continued, however, to serve under Marie de Medicis, and took part in the negotiations of the treaties concluded at Ste Menehould (1614) and Loudun (1616). He died at Paris on the 7th of May 1617. Three years after the death of de Thou, Pierre Dupuy and Nicolas Rigault brought out, with pt. v., the fitst.complete edition of the Hsstoria sui temporis, comprising 138 books; they appended to it the Memoires, also given in Latin (162o). A hundred years later, an Englishman, Samuel Buckley, published a critical edition, the material for which had been collected in France itself by Thomas Carte (1933). De Thou was treated as a classic, an honour which he deserved. His history is a model of exact research, drawn from the best sources, and presented in a style both elegant and animated ; unfortunately, even for the men of the Renaissance, Latin was a dead language; it was impossible for de Thou, for example, to find exact equivalents for technical terms of geography or of administration. As the reasons which had led de Thou to forbid the translation of his monumental history disappeared with his death, there soon arose a desire to make it accessible to a wider public. It was translated first into German. A Protestant pastor, G. Boule, who was afterwards converted to Catholicism, translated it into French, but could, not find a publisher. The first translation printed was that of Pierre Du Ryer (1657), but it is mediocre and Incomplete. In the following century the abbe Prevost, who was a conscientious collaborator with the Benedictines of Saint-Maur before he became the author of the more profane work Malian Lescaut, was in treaty with a Dutch publisher for a translation which was to consist of ten volumes; only the first volume appeared (1733). But competition, perhaps of an unfair character, sprang up. A group of translators, who had the good fortune of being able to avail themselves of Buckley's fine edition, succeeded in bringing out all at the same time a translation in sixteen volumes (De Thou, Histoire universelle, Fr. trans. by Le Beau, Le Mascrier, the Abbe Des Fontaines, 1734). As to the Memoires they had already .been translated by Le Petit and Des Ifs (1711) ; in this form they have been reprinted in the collections of Petitot, Michaud and Buchon. To de Thou we also owe certain other works: a treatise De re accipitraria (1784), a Life, in Latin, of Papyre Masson, some Poemata sacra, &c. For his life may he consulted the recollections of him collected by the brothers Dupuy (Thuana, sire Excerpta J. A. Thuani per if. P. P., 1669; reprinted in the edition of 1733), and the biographies by J. A. M. Collinson (The Life of Thuanus, 1807), and Duntzer, (De Thou's Leben, 1837). Finally, see Henry Harrisse, Le President de Thou et ses descendants, leur celbbre bibliothbque, leurs armoiries et la traduction francaise de J.A. Thuani Historiarum sui Temporis [sic] (1905). (C. B.*)
End of Article: JACQUES GUILLAUME THOURET (1746--1794)
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