Sainte-Palaye, Jean Baptiste La Curne De
SAINTE-PALAYE, JEAN BAPTISTE LA CURNE DE (or LACURNE DE) (1697-1781), French scholar, was born at Auxerre on the 6th of June 1697. His father, Edme, had been gentleman of the bed-chamber to the duke of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV. Sainte-Palaye had a twin brother to whom he was greatly attached, refusing to marry so as not to be separated from him. For some time he ' held the same position under the regent Orleans as his father had under the duke of Orleans. He had received a thorough education in Latin and Greek, and had a taste for history. In 1724 he had been elected an associate of the Academic des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, merely from his reputation, as nothing had been written by him before that date. From this time he devoted himself exclusively to the work of this society. After having published numerous memoirs on Roman history, he began a series of studies on the chroniclers of the middle ages for the Historiens des Gaules et de la France (edited by Dom Bouquet): Raoul Glaber, Helgaud, the Gesta of Louis VII., the chronicle of Morigny, Rigord and his continuator, William le Breton, the monk of St Denis, Jean de Venette, Froissart and the Jouvencel. He made two journeys into Italy with his brother, the first in 1739-1740, accompanied by his compatriot, the president Charles de Brosses, who related many humorous anecdotes about the two brothers, particularly about Jean Baptiste, whom he called " the bilious SaintePalaye!" On returning from this tour he saw one of Joinville's manuscripts at the house of the senator Fiorentini, well known in the history of the text of this pleasing memorialist. The manuscript was bought for the king in 1741 and is still at the Bibliotheque nationale. After the second journey (1749) Lacurne published a letter to de Brosses, on Le Go&t dans les arts (1751). In this he showed that he was not only attracted by manuscripts, but that he could see and admire works of art. In 1 759 he published the first edition of his Memoires sur I'ancienne chevalerie, consideree comme un etablissement politique et mililaire, for which unfortunately he only used works of fiction and ancient stories as sources, neglecting the heroic poems which would have shown him the nobler aspects of this institution so soon corrupted by " courteous " manners; a second edition appeared at the time of his death (3 vols. 1781, 3rd ed. 1826). He prepared an edition of the works of Eustache Deschamps, which was never published, and also made a collection of more than a hundred volumes of extracts from ancient authors relating to French antiquities and the French language of the middle ages. His Glossaire de la languefranc.aise was ready in 1 7 56, and a prospectus had been published, but the great length of the work prevented him finding a publisher. It remained in manuscript for more than a century. In 1 764 a collection of his manuscripts was bought by the government and after his death were placed in the king's library; they are still there (fonds Moreau), with the exception of some which were given to the marquess of Paulmy in exchange, and were later placed in the Arsenal. Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye ceased work about 1771; the death of his brother was greatly felt by him, he became childish, and died on the 1st of March 1781.
Sainte-Palaye had been a member of the Academic Francaise since 1758. His life was written for this Acadimie by Chamfort and for the Academic des Inscriptions by Dupuy; both works are of no value. See, however, the biography of Lacurne, with a list of his published works and those in manuscript, at the beginning ^of the tenth and last volume of the Dictionnaire histonque de I'ancien langage francois, ou tlossaire de la langue franfoise depuis son origine jusquau siecle de Louis XIV., published by Louis Favre (1875- 1882).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)