Jean-Baptiste Boisot

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Jean-Baptiste Boisot
Jean-Baptiste Boisot - sculpture by Jean Petit.JPG
Bust of Boisot by sculptor Jean Petit
BornJuly 1638
Died4 December 1694(1694-12-04) (aged 56)

Jean-Baptiste Boisot (July 1638 – 4 December 1694) was a French abbot, bibliophile, and scholar notable for leaving his collection of manuscripts (including the papers of cardinal Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle) to the Benedictine monks of Saint-Vincent. He is also known for leaving his library to his birthplace of Besançon and for his correspondence with Madeleine de Scudéry.[1]


Jean-Baptiste Boisot is the third son of Claude Boisot, governor of the imperial city of Besançon from 1652 to 1658 and merchant-banker, father of twelve children. Very quickly, at the end of the century, the family was Boisot Anomie, then protected by the minister of Louis XIV of France, François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois. The Boisot family became very present in the body of the senior church dignitaries.[2]

A studious youth[edit]

Little is known about the youth of Jean-Baptiste Boisot, except that he was an excellent student, curious, interested, and that he got excellent results in his studies.

Very early, Jean Baptiste Boisot was interested in philosophy, as well the Latin, which he completed with success in his hometown at the age of thirteen years. He continued his studies at the University of Dole in the civil law and the canon law and received his law degree at the age of sixteen. His father then decides to send him to University of Paris, where he spent two years at the university. This was an opportunity for him to improve his knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages, with the goal of reading to the Fathers of the Church. He also wanted to see the manuscripts translated directly from the original source and make available this work.

The Sorbonne and the literary relationship[edit]

In his first years at the Sorbonne, Jean Baptiste Boisot binds a lasting friendship with many emblematic figures of the time. For example, Paul Pellisson historiographer of Louis XIV and State counselor, as well as Madeleine de Scudery, who was part of a movement in the late Renaissance in England and France where women used classical rhetorical theory for their own.[3]

Among other figures were Jacob Spon, founder of the archeology, Andre of Saint Nicolas, philosopher, and theologian and Claude Nicaise. It is also in Paris that he perfected his handling of the French language and developed qualities of which Madeleine de Scudery and Bosquillon will pay tribute.[4] Some of these qualities include politeness, taste, and modesty.

Some of these letters were recovered thanks to the Journal des Savants. Having completed his studies in 1660, Jean Baptiste came back in Besançon ready to spend the next ten years of his life traveling for pleasure as well as for business.


Boisot begins his travels by staying three consecutive years in Italy, where he buys books, medals, and busts, which become part of his future library.

With this deputation of the Pope, he bought the library of Cardinal Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle, who was in the hands of the Count of Saint-Amour. Throughout his life, he enriches the library, which was the foundation of the Public Library of Besançon. It is now known as the Bibliothèque municipale de Besançon.

Throughout this journey, he learned Italian, he "heard" as Hebrew, knew Greek, Latin, Spanish. We know he went to Rome and visited the library Vaticaneet where he met various booksellers. He also obtained the protection of Italian Cardinal Decio Azzolino, which represented the Queen Christina of Sweden.

Boisot was offered the post of Secretary, but refused, being an enemy of tumult and subjugation courses.[5] Nevertheless, it is through these relationships that he obtained from the Pope several priories located in Franche-Comté.

Nicolas Granvelle, Portrait by Titian

Boisot was then sent on a mission to Milan, to the Marquis of Mortar, governor of Milan, to negotiate with him sending reinforcements.[6] Meanwhile, the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle is signed, and the king restores the Franche-Comté hoping resume, what happens four years later. It is for this reason that Boisot decided to exile himself and leave Savoy in 1673 and Italy in 1674. Until 1678, he remains in Spain, a country he does not crosses much, preferring to stay in Madrid.[7]

This was opportunity for Boisot to improve his knowledge of the Spanish language, which will be useful in the classification and decryption papers Granvelle. This is also an opportunity for him to visit the library of the Escurial, where he stayed two months and meets Hernan Nunez, Ambassador of the King of Spain, seeking his presence at the Embassy. However, Jean Baptiste Boisot, having already refused such favors according to his principles, was obliged to refuse.

Peace of Nijmegen being established in 1678, Jean Baptiste Boisot is finally released from its obligations to Spain and can return to his home province. The results of ten years of travel is positive by learning two new languages, the acquisition of books and works of art that will be linked to its library and living in the capitals of Rome and Madrid.

The commendatory of the Abbey of Saint-Vincent[edit]

alternative to the image
Abbaye Saint-Vincent de Besançon

A difficult appointment[edit]

Louis XIV entrusted him on his return the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Vincent Besançon. which is the time the third benefit of the province.[8] However, he meets some difficulties because the pope agrees after many negotiations as Jean-Baptiste Boisot does not belong to the order of St. Benedict, which put the abbey in order. During his appointment as abbot of Saint-Vincent, it's not a trip to Paris to meet with the king presented to him by Pellisson.

Exemplary church life[edit]

The life of Father Boisot is exemplary as it is linked to the piety and generosity. In times of plague, he will give up all his property and rescues the poor. Boisot filled his letters epistles, of odes, compliments and translations he sends his friend Pellisson example for his Treatise on the Eucharist, among other passages containing books Saint Jerome, of Lactantius and of Tertullian Corona. Sometimes he joined the Spanish and Italian letters are in the collection of Granvelle.

A historian of service to others[edit]

Throughout his life, Jean-Baptiste Boisot has applied to put his knowledge to help others, his many notes and papers rank of Cardinal Granvelle make him a historian applied.[9] The work on the papers of Cardinal Granvelle represents nearly 80 folio volumes that can currently still find library Besançon. He even had the idea of writing the life of Cardinal, as reported in a letter to his friend Pellisson:

"I picked up almost all of the great shipwreck debris. Two persons of quality (the Comte de Saint-love and Baron Thoraise) gave me what remained for them. I bought what was still scattered here and there; and counselor of my friends (Mr. Chifflet advisor Parliament Besançon), brother of the abbot I mentioned, seeing that he was no longer a conservoit fragment price that I avois already gathered, kindly suffer him to pass my hands. I added several original pieces from both ancient and modern, dug in various places, and to prevent a new disaster, I took care of them connect."[10]

Jean Mabillon admired in addition to the library, antique cabinet and tables of Boisot. All these elements can be concluded that Jean-Baptiste Boisot was an important figure in the community Bisontine, figure sponsorship and provincial scholarship of the seventeenth century, his name is known beyond the French borders.

He died 4 December 1694, at the age of fifty-six, in his abbey and bequeath to his hometown of Besançon its most valuable asset: its library. The magistrates of Besançon made him magnificent funeral orations, which they attended en masse. On 9 December, the city of Besançon decided to celebrate an office for the repose of his soul to the Cordeliers. Several exchanges are then carried out between the mayor and the Benedictines to establish an inventory of his collection, he begins a few days after his death, 5 January 1695.

The will of the Father Boisot[edit]

Extract the solemn testament made by Reverend Lord Sir Jean-Baptiste Boisot, Kirton, Abbot of Saint-Vincent de Besançon, Prior of Grandecour and Loye, passed by notary Jean Colin, royal notary audit Besançon 27 November 1694, published in Parliament Ladit city and to Sir Charles Bouvot, advisor to Commissioner MP 7 December of that year, in which he will set for his heir, Sir Claude Boisot, his brother, said Parliament Speaker.

Entry of the Mazarine library
"Item, I give and bequeath to the Benedictine fathers Rds Besançon any and all my books, bound and unbound manuscripts that belong with my bronze and silver, ancient and modern, and Coin and cabinets in which they are enclosed in charge and if they will all in a room which is open twice a week for all those who wish to enter; which will be able to read and study as much time as they wish during the two days, yet without it they be allowed to divert any book; and so lesdit books and medals Aussy well as busts and paintings which will be spoken after cy, should keep forever for the benefit of learned men; I want to hear and that an inventory of all it stands before a notary and tesmoins in the presence of my heir cy named after that double that inventory be made, one of which will be placed in the hands of my said heir, and other gentlemen will be brought to the Magistrate of the city, so they are solicitous conservation desdit books and other things specified as above set estans the monuments that I dedicate to posterity."
"Also I give and bequeath auxdit Rds Benedictine fathers the sum of 6000 francs to be used in purchasing annuities whose income will be taken: first, the costs of said inentaire for the ornament of which will be this dirty public library, and then used to purchase books as Superior and He who said library who will be entrusted deem expedient; provided however that they will buy books fathers, and other book Belles Lettres for the use of any kind of defendant expressly people use all kinds of people defendant expressly buying some sermonaires, Which books will adjoutés four in four years aforesaid inventory Easting my intention that the income of the said sum of 6000 francs to be used punctually increase of said library without power Estre Diverty for any other purpose as Aussy quue lesdit books and medals remain in perpetuity said sale for public use, without power Estre moved elsewhere are distracted for e whole or in part in any cause or reason whatsoever ..."[11]

So after this act was born the municipal library of Besançon, under the control of the Benedictines of St. Vincent. The question of the influence that the Mazarine library had in the legacy of Jean Baptiste Boisot is legitimate, since it has visited.

Jean Baptiste Boisot is a passionate knowledge of the study, a bibliophile, as evidenced by his correspondence miss Scuderi and Paul Pellisson.Il would be possible to have more information about the legacy of Father Boisot, however the letters that could provide more information are those sent to the abbot of St. Vincent which remain lost.

Three letters to Paul Pellison learn about his legacy, like that of 17 December 1690 where he states:

"I will send it back as soon as our fathers Abbey have had time to see and copy. It is necessary that you remain original and if you do want to point it would be better to give a public library as an individual like me and has no result."[12]

Letter of 12 January Pellison shows the evolution of his thinking:

"I praise with all my heart, sir, the plan that you have to leave a public library, this is one thing in the world I would have loved to do better if I had found myself in the situation that needs to it. I see with great pleasure your project when you please let me know, not to believe that I think add anything, but to enjoy myself."[12]

The turning point comes with the transfer of the University of Dole to Besançon, and in the opinion of the Abbe de Saint-Vincent, who suggested he leave his library. As a letter from Paul Pelisson which dated 16 June 1691 in response to a letter from the Abbe Boisot, now lost watch:

"I praise with all my heart the purpose you move your library one day in the building being prepared for your university. That's all we can do better, not that the course of time often make all our precautions useless, but if there is something lasting and useful in general, are the institutions this nature, permitte denis cetera, we can not do anything there."

Personal library[edit]

The first inventory of the library of the Abbot Boisot was established in 1607. It contains, in addition to books Granvelle, some of those who belonged to his father, the Chancellor of Nicolas Perrenot, and the Earl of Cantecroix. It consists of nearly 1,500 volumes in nearly 1500 volumes. This library is considered one of the largest library of the sixteenth century.

Maurice Piquard wrote an article "The library of a statesman in the sixteenth century",[13] which encountered some difficulty with the poverty of the inventory of 1607 contained no dates or place of printing or author's name. It is for these reasons that the uncertainty still hangs on certain subjects. Maurice Piquard has several Greek works including 9 works of Plutarch, 6 Aristotle, Homer 5, 4 Polybius, Herodotus, Dion Cassius, 3 Thucydides, Xenophon, one of Aeschylus, Aristophanes. Absent the works of Sophocles and Euripides.

With regard to Latin literature, the collection includes nine books Cicero, Virgil, Livy, Terence, 'of Ovid, and Lucretius, Plautus, Pliny the Elder, Caesar, Seneca, Horace, and Tacitus. Piquard also highlights the presence of many of the Italian renaissance writers such as Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio in rare and copies of authors Vitruvius . Machiavelli and Baldassare Castiglione are widely represented, with 5 copies of the Prince and 5 of the Courtier. Educated man, he has sixty law books, 172 history, 70 of Medicine (Ambroise Pare, Vesalius ...) as well as works of astrology, astronomy and many aspects of science and issues of the time, such as " De revolutionibus orbium Celestium "of Nicolas Copernicus, however it also lacks the works of Ptolemy, reputedly at the time.

The absence of some authors of the church such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and some novels such as Romance of the Rose is not trivial so we will not pay attention, and lack certain works of piety of the time is strange for a clergyman. The assumption of theft or loss is however not excluded.

Its library includes manuscripts and enriched quality as the Chronicles of Froissart, from the collection of Granvelle and many bindings from quality relationships that the cardinal had linked with printers from all over Europe.

The inventory that was used was that of 1607, a more comprehensive was made until 1695 under the auspices of witnesses advisors Tinseau, Monnier, Noironte Lord and Pierre-Ignace Gillebert to attend the notary Jean Colin; It lasted nearly ten months (5 January 1695 - October 1695). The inventory dénombrera 1847 numbers for books, equivalent to 2,247 volumes and 239 manuscripts. They will later be joined to form 80 large folio of State Cardinal Granvelle papers. It is then in 1732 the first catalog will be established by subject matter, so sometimes messy and imprecise.


  1. ^ Universal Biography, Ancient and Modern, Jean Baptiste Boisot, pg. 585
  2. ^ General JT of MESMAY, Historical Dictionary, biographical and genealogical old families of Franche-Comté, Sl, 1958-1863.
  3. ^ Donawerth, Jane (Spring 1992). "Conversation and the Boundaries of Public Discourse in Rhetorical Theory by Renaissance Women". Rhetorica 16 (2): 181–199. doi:10.1525/rh.1998.16.2.181.
  4. ^ Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Letters in 1695, p. 212
  5. ^ (Louis Moréri, 1711 & p. 326)
  6. ^ Pierre Claude François Daunou, Pierre Antoine Lebrun, Charles Giraud, Barthélemy Hauréau 1709, p. 388
  7. ^ An Universal Biographical and Historical Dictionary: Volume 2 on Google books [archive]
  8. ^ Joseph Fr. Michaud 1810, p. 79
  9. ^ Historical Dictionary of Louis Moréri, page 327. [archive]
  10. ^ BMB, Ms 1244, Letter of Boisot to Pellisson on a draft biography of cardinal Granvelle.
  11. ^ Municipal Library of Besançon, Manuscrit 1270.
  12. ^ a b Bibliothèque municipale de Besançon, Manuscrit 602
  13. ^ Mixtures of history of the book and libraries offered to Mr. Frantz Calot, ... [Printed text] . - OF Argences, 1960. Library elzevirienne of the IRHT. Studies and Documents