Charles Dufresne Du Cange
Historian and philologist, b. at Amiens, France, Dec. 18, 1610; d. at Paris, 1688
Du Cange, CHARLES DUFRESNE, historian and philologist, b. at Amiens, France, December 18, 1610; d. at Paris, 1688. His father, who was a magistrate, had him educated by the Jesuits at Amiens, and the young man afterwards studied law at Orleans and was admitted to the Bar before the Parlement of Paris, August 11, 1631. But the legal professian failing to satisfy him, he returned to Amiens, married there in 1638 and in 1645 purchased the position of Treasurer of France held by his father-in-law. Obliged to leave Amiens in 1668 on account of the plague, he settled in Paris, where he died. Neither his official duties nor his family cares (he was the father of ten children) prevented him from following scholarly pursuits. Conversant with many languages, he was consulted on all sides, and he obtained much information through his correspondence. His unremitting energy was largely expended on the history of France and that of Constantinople. To insure a solid basis for his researches, he began by mastering the languages of the texts and was unceasing in his efforts to increase his knowledge of Byzantine Greek and Low Latin.
Two great and useful works were the outcome of this preparation and even yet suffice to secure the scholarly reputation of their author; they were the “Glossarium ad scriptores mediae et infimae latinitatis” (Paris, 3 vols. fol. 1678; new edition with addenda by Dom Carpentier, Paris, 7 vols., 4to, 1840-1850; 10 vols., 1882-1887), and the “Glossarium ad scriptores mediae et infimae graecitatis” (Paris, 2 vols. fol., 1688). Chief among his other works are: “Histoire de l’Empire de Constantinople sous les empereurs francois” (Paris, 1657, 1 vol. fol.); “Traité historique du chef de Saint Jean-Baptiste” (Paris, 1666, 4to); “Histoire de Saint Louis” (Paris, 1668, 2 vols. fol.); the “Historia Byzantina” (Paris, 1680, 2 vols. fol.), editions of the Byzantine historians, notably of Zonaras (Paris, 1686, 2 vols. fol.); and the “Chronicon Paschale” (Paris, 1689, fol.). He left many manuscripts which, after being widely scattered, were collected toward the middle of the eighteenth century by his grand-nephew Dufresne d’Aubigny and are now nearly all preserved in the National Library, Paris. From these have been compiled the “Histoire de la Ville d’Amiens (published by Hardouin at Amiens, 1840) and “Les families d’outre-mer” (published by Rey in the “Documents inedits de l’histoire de France“, Paris, 1869).