donderdag 17 mei 2012

The French humanist Guillaume Budé (1467-1530). Part 1: his life

The ideas of humanism has contributed to a significant extant to the ideas of the Renaissance. Humanist learned to know the Classics from the original texts.
A significant humanist from France is Guillaume Budé (1467-1530).


Guillaume Budé (bron: wikimedia.org)
Budé was born at Paris in 1467 as member from a family with many people working in court. His father was a counselor of the king.
Budé began studying law in Orléans, but did not finish it. It might not have been the right study for him, or he may have had not enough motivation. He by himself said that he 'spoilt his youth by dealing with horses and hunting.' Only at 23, he got interested in literature.
By then, he started to read rapidly the books from his father's library, and spent most of his money on books in Latin and Greek. He went on autodidactic tour and learnt himself Latin and Greek, becoming more fluent in the last one. He may be regarded as one of the greatest specialists in Greek language of his time. To me it is not known if he also mastered Classical Hebrew, the 'third classical language.' His son Louis Budé knew it, because he taught the language in Geneva.
Budé also learned philosophy, theology and medicines. It is not clear to which extant he knew these subjects.
As his father, he became secretary at court under Louis XII. In this time Budé travelled to Venice and Rome. These travels may have influenced his humanist thoughts.Under king François I, who was fond of Budé, Budé's influence rose.

His knowledge of the Latin and Greek language brought him to the idea to restore the classic education in France. Real Christian students had to not only learn the Bible and the writings of the church fathers, but also especially classical and original texts. This would give the students the skill to recognize truth whenever they encounter a text.
He suggested the king the idea building a school in which Greek, Hebrew and mathematics should have been taught.  In 1530, the school was built and got the name Collegium Trilinguae. Today, the school is known as the Collège de France. Budé asked the Dutch humanist Erasmus to lead the school, but he refused.
Budé also was involved by setting up the Bibliothèque de Fontainebleau, which later moved to Paris to become the Bibliothèque National.

Budé lived in a religiously restless time, when the church began falling apart. By himself, he stayed Catholic till his death. It is however claimed that towards the end of his life he developed Calvinist tendencies. In 1540 he died in Paris. He made the awkward request to bury him at night.
His widow, Roberte le Lieur, and his family certainly was Calvinistic, and went to Geneva. Budé's son-in-law, Guillaume de Trie, was a friend of Calvin himself.

From his actions, Budé clearly can be seen as a humanist. His intention for building the Collegium Trilinguae, make clear he attached importance to studying original sources in their original languages.
From his books, Budé's interest in the Classics can be drawn. In his book "Annationes in XXIV libros Pandectarum", he compares Roman pandectae, in where Roman law is described, and molded it in a standard work on Roman law.
In 1514, Budé gained publicity from his book "De asse et partibus", in where he deals with ancient Greek and Roman coins, weights and measures.
Another important work written in 1533 is "De studio literarum recte et commode instituendo". This work is important for humanists because it deals with the "ideal of a whole culture as preparation for a Christian mind.". Budé seemingly wanted to spread the improved Christianity, drawn from original sources.
Further on, Budé left mostly books that improved the study of Greek, letters written in Greek, and dictionaries.

Conclusion

Budé is of importance for later people, because of his restoration of the in the medieval period decayed study of Greek language, books on other topics from the classic period, and because of his foundation of the contemporary Collège de France.

A search for Guillaume Budé (or in Latin: Budaeus) on google books shows a lot of books about him.

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