Etienne Baluze & Pierre de Marca


           Pierre de Marca (1594-1662) was sent as "intendant" to Catalonia in 1644, which had submitted to France, and also wrote its history, under the title of "Marca Hispanica". Shortly after his return to Paris, he was made Archbishop of Toulouse (1652), and hired an erudite 22-year old, Etienne Baluze (1630-1718), as his secretary. In 1662, the year of his death, de Marca was appointed Archbishop of Paris, which gave Baluze substantial social standing. He also inherited de Marca's large collection of rare books and manuscripts, which made him very popular with the leading scholars of Paris. He was soon part of an exclusive group of savants that met regularly at the Benedictine monastery St. Germain-des-Près. He shared some of his documents, and published a few himself. In 1688, Baluze published the "Marca Hispanica" with some ancient documents as "accessere", which brought him great praise -- and the well-paid position of librarian for Colbert. At his death, Baluze possessed "1100 printed books, 957 manuscripts, more than 500 charters, and seven cases full of various documents", according to the Catholic Encyclopedia (Appleton, New York, under Baluze).

            Catholic biographies maintain that Baluze assembled the collection during his work as librarian, which is rather strange and difficult to explain, unless the claim is politically motivated. As we have seen, de Marca used the years in Catalonia to collect rare manuscripts, and he is said to have robbed the collection of Jeroni Pujades (1568-1650?) by "force of arms". Consequently, de Marca is still accused today by some Catalan historians of plagiarism, because the "Marca Hispanica" is based on the research of Pujades, and he allegedly failed to get proper credit.

            Baluze inherited the large collection of de Marca, and slandered Pujades as ignorant, probably as excuse to omit him with one exception from the "accessere" and references. It seems that it is largely his doing that de Marca is accused of plagiarism.  Perhaps, it was initially planned to publish the "Cronica Universal" and the "Marca Hispanica", but the changing political events kept de Marca too busy to achieve it. The Catholic Encyclopedia attest de Marca "a great reputation as historian, jurist, and canonist, but his theological learning was deficient, and his subservience to the royal power excessive. He displayed a certain inconstancy in his opinions, and too much ambition and attachment to his own interests."  Naturally, they didn't like the separation of Church and State, and that the king could appoint the Archbishop of Paris. They also didn't like that de Marca was Minister of State first, and archbishop second. The deficiency of his theology and "inconsistency of opinion" relates to a posthumous publication of de Marca, where he expressed sympathy for the Protestants. But it seems that Baluze is the one who had "too much ambition and attachment to his own interests". For example: The "Marca Hispanica" shows de Marca's name in small print, and promotes the editor Baluze over double that size.

It also exposes his political ambitions, because he adds the Gesta comitum Barcinonensium as an "accessere" , claiming that it was "Scripta circa annum MCXC", as you see to the left. The false date of 1190 CE for the "definite edition" covered up the fact that an older version, the "primitive edition", was also in his possession and withheld for good reasons. But the cover of the Marca Hispanica dates the definite edition as "scripta circa annum MCCXC", a hundred years later. It is one of five copies that survived the times. On the other hand, we have shown conclusively that the original version was written before 1162, decades before Chrétien's Contes du Graal".


            Let's keep in mind that this is merely a hypothesis,  because it is difficult for us today to understand the complex period of Richelieu, Mazarin, and Louis XIV.  Baluze was an ardent Catholic, a professor of canon law at the "College de France", but also anti-Roman and in favor of Avignon as seat for the pontiff. Pierre de Marca was a protégé of Richelieu, minister of state under Mazarin, and an ardent Gallican. Yet according to Dubarat, Racine exclaimed: 

"The Jesuits had a new triumphe when the king nominated de Marcaas archbishop of Paris..." (Racine, Histoire de Port-Royal, p. CCXVI).  

            This comment by one of the giants of Western literature proves how difficult it is to understand the period. In 1656 a document, known as the Formulary, was drawn up by a group of French bishops led by de Marca, regarding the Port-Royal controversy. The Formulary was an oath which condemned the five propositions which Cornot had claimed to find in Jansen's book Augustinus, and supported the position of the Jesuits. On the other hand, de Marca was nominated by the king, which is in direct opposition to the "Ultramontane" pro-Papal position of the Jesuits. But it remains a strange coincidence that the leading Jesuit scholars Henschen and Papebroch arrived in Paris on August 11, 1662, six weeks after de Marca's death, and "were immediately put in touch" with the "distinguished savants" of Paris. Of all those savants, Baluze was probably in possession of the rarest documents. The Catholic Encyclopedia relates (Bollandists, p.633) that after three months of research they left for Rouen. In the context of our researches, it seems that de Marca had never taken the Cronica of Pujades to Paris, because it was seen in the library of the Archbishop of Rouen in 1700. At the time, the Bollandists were working on the "Acta Sanctorum", which the fissions and fusions of historical figures to clean up their vitas for sainthood. The Cronica would have certainly been an obstacle, and this could be why the work disappeared and remained unpublished for two hundred years!

              If we consider that de Marca began his career as a protégé of Richelieu, became a friend of Mazarin, and shared the anti-Papal spirit of the French king, we are standing before a maze where nothing is what it seems. Substantial research is needed to untangle this web of foreign intrigue. There is even a strong possibility that de Marca was a friend of Pujades, and that Baluze is the traitor who abused their researches to further his own career. Most obvious clue is that he withheld the older version of the "Gesta comitum" and published the definite edition without reference.

            Of special interest for us is also that Baluze "was engaged in publishing St. Cyprian's works at the time of his death" (Catholic Encyclopedia). This could be taken as an indication that Kepler's theory on the "great conjunction", which followed Cyprian and fascinated the Jesuits, was also discussed by the savants of Paris, including the Maurists of St.Germain. This casts an ominous shadow on our conjectures, because all important documents for our researches, incl. the Manuel de Dhuoda and the d'Odo Ariberti were in Baluze's possession. In view of our identification of the Gesta as the false story "told at the royal court", which Chrétien had to correct, the d'Odo Ariberti may have been saved as a devious back-up story. If true, although highly improbable, but not impossible, Charles the Bald killed Bernard of Septimania because he "soiled the bed" of his father. This means that Bernard slept with the wife of the most pious and debonair Louis, with Charles as their offspring. Had this been known, it would have eliminated Chrétien's "meillor conte", because the Count of Flanders would not be able to impress Marie de Champagne with his illustrious genealogy  -- because he didn't have a drop of blood from the Carolingians. Amazing, isn't it? Those people of the 17th century had no newspapers, radios, TVs --  but all the time in the world to spin their clever webs of intrigue!


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