Mabillon, Benedictine monk and diplomatic scholar, was born on 23 November 1632 at Saint-Pierremont in the Ardennes, educated at Reims, and ordained at Corbie in 1660. In 1664, Mabillon was placed at St. Germain des Pres to collaborate with Jean Luc d'Archery in editing the works of Saint Bernard, published in Paris as Sancti Bernardi opera (1667). Following d'Archery's plan, Mabillon collected and then organized documents pertaining to the lives and works of the Benedictine saints; these documents provided the basis for the chronologically organized Acta Sanctorum ordini Sancti Benedicti (Paris, 1668-1701). Mabillon's prefaces to the Acta placed these lives, for the first time, in the context of the ecclesiastical and civil history of the early middle ages. Beginning in 1672 with Champagne, Lorraine, and Flanders, Mabillon undertook a series of manuscript hunts. In Luxeuil, he came upon a Gallican Lectionary, which prompted the study set out in Liturgia gallicana (Paris, 1675). In De re diplomatica of 1681 and its 1704 supplement, Mabillon established the principles of authenticating and dating medieval documents, thus inaugurating a more organized, scientific methodology for historiography. His study of Latin paleography, also set out in this work, remains among the principal texts on the subject.
In 1682, Mabillon made his way through Burgundy; in 1683, through Germany and Switzerland, and in 1685 through Italy to purchase whatever books and documents he could for the king's library. These travels were recorded in Itinerarium Burgundicum, Itinerarum Germanicum (1685), and Musaeum Italicum (1687-1689). Mabillon twice defended the propriety of this sort of work in Traité des études monastiques and Reflexions sur la réponse de M. l'abbé de la Trappe (1691-1692). The publication of the Annales ordinis sancti Benedicti began under Mabillon's direction in 1703 and continued, after his death in 1707, under the guidance of R. Massuet and E. Martene. The work of this methodical monk set the patterns for manuscript study, established the principle of setting men and their deeds in the context of their time, and put in order the
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Publication information: Book title: Absolutism and the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1720: A Biographical Dictionary. Contributors: Christopher Baker - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 245.
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