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Born in Paris, he was educated at the Louis-le-Grand and Bourbon colleges in his native city, and won high honours at his public examination. After graduating he became a journalist, and soon was a contributor to several democratic papers: La Tribune, Le National, Le Droit, and La Revue du Nord; at Le National, he was praised by Théophile Gautier as the "tribune" of romanticism. At the age of twenty he published a series of apologetic studies on the Montagnards — in later years, regretting his youthful enthusiasm, he attempted to destroy the studies. In 1838 he took the chief editorship of the Courrier de la Sarthe and was appointed librarian of the city of Le Mans, which position he retained until 1845, when he was dismissed on account of comments of his on the daring speech of the Mayor of le Mans to the Duke of Nemours. He returned to Paris and once more became one of the editors of Le National.
At this time he seemed destined for a political career, and after the revolution of February 24, 1848 was elected to the National Assembly; but close contact with revolutionary men and ideas cooled his old ardour. Throughout his life he opposed innovation, not only in politics and religion, but also in literature. After the coup d'état he resigned his position as director of the manuscript department of the Bibliothèque Nationale, to which he had been appointed in 1848, and refused to accept an administrative post until after the fall of the empire. Having acted as director of the national printing press from 1870 to 1881, he retired, but in 1893 accepted the post of director of the Fondation Thiers. He was also a member of the council of improvement of the École des Chartes.
For over half a century he wrote on the religious, philosophical, and more particularly the literary history of the Middle Ages. Appointed librarian of the town of Le Mans in 1838, he was first attracted by the history of Maine, and in 1843 published the first volume of his Histoire littéraire du Maine (4 vols., 1843–1852), which he subsequently recast on a new plan (10 vols., 1870–1877). In 1845 he brought out an edition of vol. ii of Gilles Ménage's Histoire de Sablé. He then undertook the continuation of the Gallia christiana, and produced vol. xiv (1856) for the province of Tours, vol. xv (1862) for the province of Besançon, and vol. xvi (1865–1870) for the province of Vienne. This work gained him admission to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1862).
In the Notices et extraits des manuscrits he inserted several papers which were afterwards published separately, with additions and corrections, under the title Notices et extraits de quelques manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale (6 vols., 1890–1893). To the Histoire littéraire de la France he contributed a number of studies, among which must be mentioned that relating to the sermon-writers (vol. xxvi), whose works, being often anonymous, raise many problems of attribution.
Among his other works were the remarkable Histoire de la philosophie scolastique (1872–1880); Les Mélanges poétiques d'Hildebert de Lavardin (1852); an edition of the Works of Hugh of St Victor (1886); a critical study of the Latin poems attributed to St Bernard (1870); and Bernard Délicieux et l'Inquisition albigeoise (1877). To these must be added his contributions to the Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques, Didot's Biographie générale, the Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes, and the Journal des savants.
From the time of his appointment to the Bibliothèque Nationale up to the last days of his life he was engaged in making abstracts of all the medieval Latin writings (many anonymous or of doubtful attribution) relating to philosophy, theology, grammar, Canon law, and poetry, carefully noting on cards the first words of each passage.
He died in Paris. After his death this index of incipits, arranged alphabetically, was presented to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, and a copy was placed in the manuscript department of the Bibliothèque Nationale.
His obituary notice was read by Henri Wallon at a meeting of the Académie des Inscriptions on November 12, 1897; and the notice by Paul Meyer prefixed to vol. xxxiii of the Histoire littéraire de la France.
- Eric Anceau, "Barthélemy Hauréau (1812-1896) - Itinéraire d'un grand esprit du XIXe siècle entre Paris et Le Mans", in : Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine, Le Mans, Société Historique et Archéologique du Maine, 2006
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.