Jacques Bénigne Bossuet

Bossuet, Jacques Bénigne (zhäk bānēˈnyə bôsüāˈ) [key], 1627–1704, French prelate, one of the greatest orators in French history. At an early age he was made a canon at Metz; he became bishop of Condom and was (1670–81) tutor to the dauphin (father of Louis XV), for whom he wrote his great Discourse on Universal History (1681, tr. 1778, 1821), Politics Derived from Holy Writ (1709), and Treatise of the Knowledge of God and One's Self (1722). In 1681 he became bishop of Meaux. Unrivaled for his eloquence, he is celebrated for his Funeral Orations (1689), particularly those on Henrietta of England, on her daughter, and on Condé, which are masterpieces of their kind. He was also a great moralist, a magnificent stylist, and a powerful controversialist, brilliantly attacking Fénelon and the quietists, the Jesuits, and the Protestants.

See biography by E. E. Reynolds (1963); studies by A. Rabelliau (5th ed. 1900) and M. C. Gotaas (1953, repr. 1970).

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