Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Pierre de Bourdeilles, Seigneur de Brantôme

BRANTÔME, Pierre de Bourdeilles, Seigneur de, French historian and biographer, was born about 1540. He was the third son of the Viscount de Bourdeilles, and at an early age entered the profession of arms. He approved himself a brave soldier, and was brought into contact with most of the great leaders who were seeking fame or fortune in the wars that then distracted the Continent. Soon after the death of Charles IX. he retired from active life, and spent his last years in writing his Memoirs of the illustrious men and women whom he had known. He died on the 15th July 1614. He left distinct orders that his manuscript works should be printed, and a first edition ap peared in 1665-6, not very complete. Of the later editions, the most valuable are one in 15 volumes, 1 740; another in 8 vols., 1787; one in 2 vols., 1842, by Buchon; that of the Bibliotheque Elzcvirienne in 3 vols., 1858-9; and Lalanne's edition for the Societe de l'Histoire de France, 6 vols., 1865, seq. Brantome can hardly be regarded as a historian proper, and his Memoirs cannot be accepted as a very trustworthy source of information. But he writes in a quaint conversational way, pouring forth his thoughts, observations, or facts without order or system, and with the greatest frankness and naivete. His works certainly gave an admirable picture of the general court-life of the time, with its unblushing and undisguised profligacy. There is not an homme illustre or a dame galante in all his gallery of portraits who is not stained with vice; and yet the whole is narrated with the most complete unconsciousness that there is anything objectionable in their conduct. There does not appear to be any English translation of Brantome.