Epistolae
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Epistolae

Autore: BUDÉ, Guillaume (1468-1540)

Dati tipografici: [Paris] Josse Bade, 1520


4to; 131, (1 blank) leaves. a-q8, r4. With the woodcut printer's device (‘Prelum Ascensianum') on the title-page. Contemporary limp vellum, light blue edges.

Adams, B-3129; Index Aureliensis, 126.662; L. Delaruelle, Répertoire analytique et chronologique de la correspondence de Guillaume Budé, (Toulouse-Paris, 1907: reprint Genève, 1969), p. XVIII; G. Gueudet, L'art de la lettre humaniste, (Paris, 2004), p. 579, no. 201; Ph. Renouard, Bibliographie des impressions et des oeuvres de Josse Bade Ascensius imprimeur et humaniste 1462-1535, (Paris, 1908), II, p. 235, no. 1.

 

FIRST EDITION (first issue). New augmented editions appeared in 1522 and 1531 (Paris, Josse Bade), and then in 1557 (Lucubrationes variae, Basel, Nicolaus Episcopius).

“Pour qui veut étudier l'humanisme français du seizième siècle, je ne connais aucun recueil épistolaire qui dépasse en importance la correspondence de Guillaume Budé […] Le lettres de Guillaume Budé ont paru de son vivant même en trois recueils […] Lui-même nous a renseignés sur la manière dont avait été composé le premier de ces recueils […] dans une lettre à Vivès […] Ce texte nous permet de faire plusieurs constatations, dont la moindre a son intérêt. On y voit d'abord que presque toutes les lettres du premier recueil ont été écrites dans un espace de deux ans […] En second lieu, Budé atteste qu'il aurait pu donner au public beaucoup plus de lettres qu'il n'a fait, mais en même temps il declare qu'il n'a pas l'intention de publier jamais celles qui n'ont pas été comprises dans le recueil de 1520. Enfin, on notera qu'il n'a pas joint à ce volume ses diverses lettres à Erasme; celles-là, nous les retrouverons dans la correspondence du grand humaniste hollandaise […] Il ne tenait qu'à Budé de grossir la collection de ses lettres. Mais, quoi qu'il en dise, les lettres don't il ne gardait pas le brouillon ne devaient pas être de celles qu'il désirât voir publier. En négligeant de les recueillir, Budé indiquait à ses correspondants le peu de cas qu'il convenait d'en faire. On peut donc l'affirmer: le dernier recueil de Budé, celui de 1531, doit nous garder tout ce que ses contemporaines et lui-même jugeaient digne de passer à la postérité; le reste a dû se perdre de bonne heure. Quant aux lettres qu'il a pu écrire après 1531, bien peu sans doute lui auraient semblé digne d'être conservées” (Delaruelle, op. cit., pp. VII, XI-XII).

“Desiderius Erasmus and Guillaume Budé confront together the problem of what writing discloses and what it conceals, in an exchange of letters that began in 1516 and spanned a dozen years. Their correspondence gave the two men an opportunity to comment on each other's works, their respective approaches to writing, and the works of others in a manner that reflects their most deeply-felt concerns. That the two should eventually correspond was almost inevitable, for they were both securely placed within an elite circle of acclaimed humanist writers, and as a result they developed a multitude of acquaintances in common […] Both men cherished a ideal of returning to the ancient sources that they, as humanists, considered to be the well-spring of all subsequent thought. They strove to master the disciplines of philology and etymology and to understand ancient texts in terms of texts' current standards of usage and style […] Erasmus and Budé took on these labors willingly because they believed that an intimate knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages was essential to an understanding of the most important works the ancient world had handed down to them […] Their essential sympathy with each other in so many of their goals was combined with major differences in the circumstances of their lives and in their temperaments. Budé, born in 1468 to a family that for several generations had produced French court officials, spent his life working for the crown in an administrative and diplomatic capacity. He identified strongly with his French homeland, and frequently spoke of his loyalty to his country […] Erasmus, born in Holland at about the same time as Budé, from an irregular union between a physician's daughter and a priest, had no similar roots in family and country. Instead, he spent most of his life outside of his native land […] Erasmus and Budé commented on all of these differences in their correspondence, sometimes playfully, but at other times in ways that show serious tension […] Both men were well known at the time of their first exchange in 1516 […] During the first year or so as correspondents, the two carried out an extensive critique of each other's works and, in particular, their respective approaches to writing […] The discussion was eventually cut short in the fall of 1517 as other, more pressing, concerns intervened – specifically, Budé's attempt to arrange the appointment for Erasmus at the trilingual college, and a bitter debate between Erasmus and Lefèvre d'Étaples in which Budé attempted, unsuccessfully, to play peacemaker […] The quarrel with Lefèvre nearly caused a rupture between Erasmus and Budé in 1518, when Budé wrote a letter announcing that this was to be his last. Erasmus refused to accept the rupture as final, however, and the two continued to correspond sporadically until 1528. Their second breach occurred over the place Erasmus gave Budé in the famous catalogue of the Ciceronianus, a work that brought him many enemies. Budé took offence at what he considered to be a slighting reference to his writing, and stopped corresponding with Erasmus altogether soon after it appeared. Erasmus attempted to placate him, but eventually gave up when, after writing several letters, he received no answer” (L. Carrington, The Writer and His Style: Erasmus' Clash with Guillaume Budé, in: “Erasmus of Rotterdam Society Yearbook”, 10, 1990, pp. 61-63 and 84).

“Lorsque Guillaume Budé et Thomas More commencent, en l'été 1518, à échanger une correspondence, on pourait dire – paraphrasant Montaigne – qu'ils se recherchaient et en quelque sorte s'appelaient déjà par leurs livres et par leurs noms. Entre l'auteur de l'Utopie et celui du De Asse, se presentait, et allait bientôt se confirmer cette harmonie profonde de la pensée et du coeur dont leurs lettres, malgré de longs intervalles de silence, témoignent inlassablement. Telle est en effet l'originalité de cette correspondence. En un temps où rien n'est plus conventionel que l'art épistolaire, qui assume avant tout des fonctions mondaines, diplomatiques, voire publicitaires, voici des vraies lettres et une veritable amitié […] Quand enfin ils se rencontrent, au camp du Drap d'or, ils s'émerveillent: la séparation est douloureuse. Les années s'écoulent, de hautes responsabilités les accaparent sans que leur amité s'altère ni perde rien de son evidence […] La comparaison entre Budé et More s'était d'ailleurs imposée aux contemporains. Erasme s'en fait presque un jeu à la fin de la belle lettre qu'il adresse à Budé, d'Anderlecht, en 1521 (Allen, ép. 1233): ‘Il m'est parfois venu à l'ésprit de vous comparer tous deux, tels deux héros dans le même glorieux domaine, comme si on mettait aux prises Camille et Scipion l'Africain' écrit-il“ (MM. de La Garanderie, La correspondence de Guillaume Budé et Thomas More, in: “Moreana”, 19/20, 1968, pp. 41-42).

The edition contains overall fifty-three letters, of which one by Thomas Linacre to Budé. Although many letters contain passages in Greek, only eight letters (addressed to Louis Budé, Janus Lascaris, Richard Croke, Christophe Longueil, Guillaume du Maine, and Erasmus) are written fully in Greek.

 

Pace, Richard. Paris, April 27, 1518 (l. 2r)

id. Paris, August 16, [1518] (l. 5v)

id. Paris, November 5, [1518] (l. 6r)

id. Paris, August 1, [1518] (l. 7v)

More, Thomas. Paris, September 9, 1518 (l. 9r)

Linacre, Thomas. Paris, July 10, [1517] (l. 14v)

from id. London, June 10, [1517] (l. 17v)

id. Paris, September 9, [1518] (l. 18v)

Vives, Luis. Paris, February 2, 1520 (l. 19r)

id. Paris, August 19, 1519 (l. 21v)

id. Marly, January 2, 1520 (l. 25v)

Macrin, Salmon. Marly, November 12, [1519] (l. 28r)

Egnanzio, Battista. Paris, November 27, 1518 (l. 31v)

Bérault, Nicole. Paris, March 25, 1510 [i.e. 1511] (l. 34r)

Chansonette, Claude. Paris, July 17, [1519] (l. 36r)

Vadianus, Joachim. Paris, October 25, 1518 (l. 38v)

Bembo, Pietro. Paris, August 17, 1519 (l. 40r)

Sadoleto, Jacopo. Paris, August 18, [1519] (l. 41r)

Chesnaye, Nicolas de la. Paris, July 5, [1519] (l. 43r)

Macrin, Salmon. Marly, [February 21, 1520] (l. 44v)

[Lamy], Pierre. Paris, February 10, [1520] (l. 46v)

Roboreus, Adolphus. Marly, February 22, [1520] (l. 49v)

Chansonette, Claude. Marly, March 28, [1520] (l. 50v)

Bembo, Pietro. Marly, February 24, 1520 (l. 51v)

Sadoleto, Jacopo. Marly, February 24, 1520 (l. 52v)

Longueil, Christophe. Marly, February 25, [1520] (l. 54v)

Ruzé, Louis. Marly, March 6, 1520 (l. 59r)

Bérault, Nicole. Marly, February 24, [1520] (l. 68r)

More, Thomas. Paris, August 12, 1519 (l. 70v)

Le Picart, François. Marly, September 30, [1519] (l. 72v)

Le Picart, Christophe. Marly, [September, 1519-August, 1520] (l. 74v)

[Budé], Dreux. Montpellier, May 8, [1519] (l. 76v)

Io.Pe. [Peschard, Jean?]. [January-August, 1520] (l. 79v)

Le Picart, Jean. Marly, February 24, [1520] (l. 80v)

Vives, Luis. Marly, April 23, [1520] (l. 81v)

Brie, Germain de. Marly, April 5, [1520] (l. 83v)

Deloynes, François. Marly, September 29, [1519] (l. 93r)

Le Picart, Jean. Marly, April 1, [1520] (l. 95r)

N.P. Marly, [1520] (l. 95v)

Ruzé, Louis. Marly, [1520] (l. 97v)

Vives, Luis. Marly, May 2, [1520] (l. 99r)

[Lamy], Pierre. Marly, May 2, [1520] (l. 102v)

Budé, Louis. Paris, January 19, [1517] (l. 106v)

Lascaris, Janus. Paris, June 10, [1519] (l. 112v)

Croke, [Richard]. Paris, November 3, [1518 or 1519] (l. 114v)

Longueil, Christophe. [Paris], October 15, [1519] (l. 115r)

Maine, Guillaume du. Lyon, April 16, [1519] (l. 119v)

id. Montpellier, May 10, [1519] (l. 120r)

id. Pierrelatte (Avignon), April 22, [1519] (l. 120v)

Erasmus, Desiderius. Marly, September 15, [1519] (l. 121v)

id. Marly, September 15, [1519] (l. 124v)

id. Marly, February 26, [1520] (l. 128v)

Maine, Guillaume du. Ardres, May 17, [1520] (l. 130v)

 

Guillaume Budé was born in Paris from a noble family of Auxerre. In 1483 he moved to Orléans, where he studied law with little profit. He lived for many years a life of leisure, but in 1491 he decided to devote himself completely to the pursuit of learning.

He studied Greek on his own with the support of some friends, like Janus Lascaris who provided him a few manuscripts. In 1505 he married Roberte Le Lieur and during his life had twelve children. He enjoyed a steady economic position. To a property at Marly, which he had received from his brother, he was able to add an estate in Saint-Maur and a house in Paris.

Budé served as a secretary to King Charles VIII and under the reign of Louis XII was employed in two embassies to Italy in 1501 and 1505. After the ascent of Francis I, he saw the possibility to gain the royal support for the humanist cause. He persuaded the king to found the Collegium Trilingue (afterwards Collège de France) and the library at Fontainebleau (the origin of the Bibliothèque Nationale).

In 1515 he published his first major work, De asse et partibus eius, a treatise on ancient coins and measures, and in 1519 he presented to the king a treatise of advice which was edited posthumously under the title L'institution du prince (1547). In 1516 he started his correspondence with Erasmus, whom he met in 1517 during the negotiations between the latter and the French court, and since 1518 that with Thomas More.

Budé followed the court to Amboise, Blois, Romorantin, Dijon, Autun, Troyes, Reims, and Lyon. After 1522 he gained more honors and was named master of requests in the royal household. He was also elected provost of the Paris merchants and appointed royal librarian, a post created especially for him and granted him lifelong.

After the battle of Pavia (1525), he broke off his relationship with chancellor Antoine Duprat, and decided to retire, allegedly for reasons of health. He fell ill in the course of a royal visit to Normandy, and died in Paris in 1540 (cf. D.O. McNeil, Guillaume Budé and Humanism in the Reign of Francis I, Genève, 1975, passim; and S. Le Clech, Guillaume Budé, l'humaniste et le prince, Paris, 2008, passim).


Epistolae