Full Name: Félibien, Michel
Date Born: 14 September 1664
Date Died: 25 September 1719
Place Born: Chartres, Centre-Val de Loire, France
Place Died: Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Centre-Val de Loire, France
Home Country/ies: France
Institution(s): Congrégation de Saint-Maur
Benedictine Monk and architectural historian from France. Born into a prominent family in Coutainville near Chartres, France, in 1665, Michel was the son of André Félibien (1619-1695), historiographer of the Academy of Painting (1666) and secretary of the Academy of Architecture (1671). His brother, Jean-François, became an architect and historiographer. Michel Félibien became a Benedictine Monk in the Congregation of Saint-Maur in 1683. Also known as Maurists, the congregation were renowned for their erudite scholarship.
In 1706, Félibien published Histoire de l’Abbaye Royale de Saint-Denys en France (History of the Royal Abbey of Saint-Denys in France) — one of the first major structures built in what came to be known as the Gothic style — up until the reign of Louis XIV. Part of the significance of Félibien’s eight-volume text resides in the author’s emphasis upon situating his discussion of the Cathedral within its historical context. The second half of the book, which includes six engraved plates of various treasures housed within, provides a detailed account of the interior and exterior of the structure, including the treasury. The treasury, which played a significant role in the ceremonies of the French monarchy, is now largely known only through his account. Félibien next began researching the history of Paris, which appeared as Histoire de la ville de Paris in 1712. The five-volume was left unfinished at his death but completed by his fellow Benedictine, Guy Alexis Lobineau, Dom Lobineau (1666–1727) in 1725. Following the Maurists tradition, he emphasised reliable sources as the key to ascertaining “truth.” Approaching his work critically, Félibien “swept aside the famous … legends” to provide a clear and accurate history of the subjects he explored (Vaivre).
- Histoire de l’abbaye royale de Saint-Denys en France. Paris: n.p., 1706;
- and Lobineau, Guy Alexis. Histoire de la ville de Paris. Paris: n.p., 1725.
- “Félibien, Michel (1665-1719).” BNF Catalogue général. Accessed 20 Aug 2021. https://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb12177715q.public
- Jean-Bernard, Vaivre. Review of Histoire de l’abbaye royale de saint Denys en France. Nouvelle édition avec une introduction d’Hervé Pinoteau. Bulletin Monumental Année 1974, (132-3): 256
- Le Cerf de la Viéville, Philippe. Bibliothèque historique et critique des auteurs de la Congrégation de S. Maur. La Haye : Pierre Gosse, 1726. Accessed 20 Aug 2021. https://archive.org/details/bibliothquehis00lece/page/102/mode/2up?view=theater
- “Michel Félibien.” The British Museum. Accessed 20 Aug 2021. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG164121
- Pinoteau, Hervé. “Introduction.” In Histoire de l’abbaye royale de saint Denys en France. Nouvelle édition avec une introduction d’Hervé Pinoteau. Paris: Ed. du Palais Royal, 1973.
Contributors: Lee Sorensen and Shane Morrissy