The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Michelet, Jules

MICHELET, Jules, a French historian, born in Paris, Aug. 21, 1798, died at Hyères, Feb. 9, 1874. He studied in the college Charlemagne, and after travelling in Germany was called in 1821 to the chair of history in the college Rollin, where he was also professor of the ancient languages and of philosophy till 1826, publishing in that period his Tableau chronologique de l'histoire moderne (1825), and Tableaux synchroniques de l'histoire moderne (1826). In 1827 he was made maître des conférences in the normal school, and in 1830 chief of the historical section of the archives of France. In that year Guizot, who was diverted from literature to politics, chose him to continue his lectures in the faculty of letters. His reputation was extended by a series of historical works, and in 1838 he was appointed to the chair of history in the collége de France, and elected a member of the institute. Among his publications are: Précis de l'histoire moderne (1828); Introduction à l'histoire universelle (1831); a translation of Vico's Scienza nuova, under the title of Principes de la philosophie de l'histoire (1831); Histoire romaine (1831); Mémoires de Luther (1833); and Précis de l'histoire de France jusqu'à la révolution française (1833). In 1833 appeared the first portion of his most important work, the Histoire de France (16 vols. 8vo, completed in 1867). His academical lectures were distinguished for appeals in favor of democratic ideas and for assaults upon the Jesuits. He embodied these tendencies in three books: Des Jésuites (1843), in collaboration with Quinet; Du prêtre, de la femme et de la famille (1844); and Du peuple (1846). The government of Louis Philippe suspended his course. He was restored to his chair after the revolution of 1848, again declined public office as he had done in 1830, and gave to his lectures the design and character of democratic propagandism, till his course was closed by the government of Louis Napoleon in March, 1851. He lost his place in the archives after the coup d'état of Dec. 2, 1851, by refusing to take the oath. He published the Procès des templiers (2 vols., 1841-'52), a collection of unprinted documents, and Origines du droit français cherchées dans les symboles et formules du droit universel (1837), founded upon Grimm's work on German antiquities. After his retirement he published a series of volumes entitled L'Oiseau (1856), L'Insecte (1857), L'Amour (1858), and La femme (1859), remarkable for their poetical and suggestive speculations. The last two were translated into English by J. W. Palmer, M. D. (New York, 1859 and 1860). The Histoire de la révolution française (6 vols., 1847-'53), and Les femmes de la révolution (1854), form distinct works. His later works are: La sorcière (1862); La Pologne martyre (1863); La Bible de l'humanité (1864); La Montagne (1868); Nos fils, advocating compulsory education (1869); and Histoire du XIXme siècle (1872). His more important publications have all appeared in English.—His second wife, Athanaïse Michelet, who survives him, had been a teacher in St. Petersburg. She opened a correspondence with him arising from her ardent admiration of his ideas, and they became engaged before they had seen each other. She assisted him in his labors, and was preparing a new work, La nature, at the time of his death.