Fleury, Claude

Fleury, Claude an eminent French historian sand divine, was born in Paris Dec. 6, 1640. He was educated as an advocate at the College of Clermont, and became a counsellor of the Parliament of Paris in 1658, but subsequently took orders, and, acquiring a great reputation for learning, he was appointed in 1674 preceptor to the "princess of Conti, and afterwards associated with Fenelon in educating the young dukes of Burgundy, Anjou, and Berri. He was made member of the Academyim I 1696, and in 1707 obtained from Louis XIV the priory of Argenteuil, where he resided till 1716, when he left it to become confessor to Louis XV. He died July 14, 1723, greatly respected for his learning and his virtues. His reputation rests chiefly upon his Church History, in twenty volumes, the first of which was published in 1691, and the last in 1722, ending with the year 1414. This work, as Fleury says in the preface, was meant to be rather a popular history than one of research and erudition; but yet it is a clear and generally fair account of the progress of Christianity, and evinces a large amount of the proper talent of the historian. It is written from the Gallican stand-point. "Fleury writes diffusely and in the spirit of a monk, but with taste and skill, in mild temper and strong love for the Church and Christianity, and with a view always to edify as well as to instruct. He follows the order of time, though not slavishly, prefacing some of his volumes with general characteristics. He also defends antiquity and the Gallican ecclesiastical constitution, without, however, surrendering at all the credit of the Church, its general tradition, or the necessity of the pope as its head. His principal concern is with doctrine, discipline, and practical piety" (Schaff, Apost. Church, § 26). Fleury, as a writer of Church history, is not at all in favor with Ultramontanists; a specimen of their feeling towards him is given by the Univers (Paris) for July 8, 1856, which calls him "the worthless and hateful Fleury, so ardent and furious in his calumnies and spite against the pope !" His Church History was continued by Fabri, but feebly, down to A.D. 1598. The best edition is Histoire Ecclesiastique avec continuation par Fabri et Gouget (Paris, 1769-74, 36 vols.; indexes, 4 vols.; in all, 40 vols. 12mo). A very good recent edition is that of Didier (Paris, 1840, 6 vols. 8vo). A translation by Herbert, up to the 9th century, was published in London (1727, 5 vols. 4to); and a partial translation by Rev. J. H. Newman appeared in 1842-44 (3 vols. 8vo). The Abrege de l'Histoire Ecclesiastique de Fleury, published at Berne in 1776, is ascribed to Frederick the Great. His other writings were very numerous; the most important are, Mcaeurs des Chretiens (Paris, 1682):--Mours des Israelites (Paris, 1681), which was translated and published, with additions, by Dr. Adam Clarke (Manchester, 1805; New York, 1836):-Institution du droit ecclesiastique (Paris, 1771, 2 vols. 12mo):-Discours sur les libertes de l'Eglise Gallicane. His. minor works are collected in Martin's edition of (Euvres de 'abbe Fleury (1837, imp. 8vo), to which is prefixed a life of Fleury. Jortin translated his Discourse on Eccles. History. from 600 to 1100 (see Jortin, Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, Lond. 1773, v, 72 sq.). See also Dupin, Ecclesiast. Writers, cent. xvii; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 17:916; Dowling, On the Study of Ecclesiastical History, ch. iii.

 
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