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Félibien, Michel

    Full Name: Félibien, Michel

    Gender: male

    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).


    Selected Bibliography

    • 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.


    Contributors: Lee Sorensen and Shane Morrissy


    Lee Sorensen and Shane Morrissy. "Félibien, Michel." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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