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Petis De La Croix, Francois

PETIS DE LA CROIX, FRANCOIS (1653-1713), French Orientalist, was born in Paris in 1653. He was son of the Arabic interpreter of the French court, and inherited this office at his father's death in 1695, afterwards transmitting it to his own son, Alexandre Louis Marie, who also distinguished himself in Oriental studies. At an early age he was sent by Colbert to the East; during the ten years he spent in Syria, Persia and Turkey he mastered Arabic, Persian and Turkish, and also collected rich materials for future writings. He served a short time as secretary to the French ambassador in Morocco, and accompanied as interpreter the French forces sent against Algiers, contributing to the satisfactory settlement of the treaty of peace, which was drawn up by himself in Turkish and ratified in 1684. He conducted the negotiations with Tunis and Tripoli in 1685, and those with Morocco in 1687; and the zeal, tact and linguistic knowledge he manifested in these and other transactions with Eastern courts were at last rewarded in 1692 by his appointment to the Arabic chair in the College Royal de France, which he filled until his death in 1713.

He published Conies turcs (Paris, 1707), and Les Mille et un jours (5 vols., Paris, 1710-1712); an Armenian Dictionary and an Account of Ethiopia. But the lasting monument of his literary fame is his excellent French version of Sharaf-uddin 'AH Yazdi's Zafarnama or History of Timur (completed 828 A.H.; A.D. 1425), which was given to the world nine years after his death (4 vols., Paris, 1722; Eng. trans, by J. Darby, London, 1723). This work, one of the rare specimens of a fairly critical history Persia can boast of, was compiled under the auspices of Mirza Ibrahim Sultan, the son of Shah Rukh and grandson of the great Timur. The only error committed by P6tis de la Croix in his otherwise very correct translation is that he erroneously ascribed the important share which Ibrahim Sultan had in the Zafarnama to Timur himself.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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