Méric Casaubon

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Line Engraving of Meric Casaubon by Pieter Stevens van Gunst, after Adriaen van der Werff, published 1709 Meric Casaubon by Pieter Stevens van Gunst, after Adriaen van der Werff.jpg
Line Engraving of Meric Casaubon by Pieter Stevens van Gunst, after Adriaen van der Werff, published 1709

Meric Casaubon (14 August 1599 in Geneva – 14 July 1671 in Canterbury), son of Isaac Casaubon, was a French-English classical scholar. He was the first to translate Meditations by Marcus Aurelius into English.

Geneva Large city in Switzerland

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Canterbury Cathedral city in Kent, England

Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in the heart of the City of Canterbury, a local government district of Kent, England. It lies on the River Stour.

Isaac Casaubon French academic

Isaac Casaubon was a classical scholar and philologist, first in France and then later in England, regarded by many of his time as the most learned man in Europe.


Although biographical dictionaries (including the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica ) commonly accentuate his name to Méric, he himself did not do so.

<i>Encyclopædia Britannica</i> General knowledge English-language encyclopaedia

The Encyclopædia Britannica, formerly published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia. It was written by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 contributors. The 2010 version of the 15th edition, which spans 32 volumes and 32,640 pages, was the last printed edition.


He was born in Geneva to a French father, scholar Isaac Casaubon; he was named for his godfather Meric de Vic. After education in Sedan, at an early age he joined his father in England, and completed his education at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford (B.A. 1618; M.A. 1621; D.D. 1636). [1] [2]

Eton College British independent boarding school located in Eton

Eton College is an English 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore , as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school.

Christ Church, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford in England

Christ Church is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the cathedral of the Oxford diocese, which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.

His defence of his father against the attacks of certain Catholics (Pietas contra maledicos patrii Nominis et Religionis Hostes, 1621), secured him the notice and favour of James I, who conferred upon him a prebendal stall in Canterbury Cathedral (stall IX) which he held from 1628 to his death. [3] He also vindicated his father's literary reputation against certain impostors who had published, under his name, a work on The Origin of Idolatry (Vindicatio Patris adversus Impostores, 1624).

Canterbury Cathedral Church in Kent, England

Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It forms part of a World Heritage Site. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Justin Welby, leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Its formal title is the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury.

During the English Civil War he was deprived of his benefices and his prebendal stall at Canterbury Cathedral [4] and retired to Oxford [5] refusing to acknowledge the authority of Oliver Cromwell, who, notwithstanding, requested him to write an "impartial" history of the events of the period. In spite of the tempting inducements held out, he declined, and also refused the post of inspector of the Swedish universities offered him by Queen Christina. After the Restoration, he was reinstated in his benefice and his stall in Canterbury [2] and devoted the rest of his life to literary work. He died at Canterbury and is buried in the Cathedral. His coin collection was incorporated into that of Canon John Bargrave.

English Civil War series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists

The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") over, principally, the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

Oliver Cromwell 17th-century English military and political leader

Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader. He served as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland "and of the dominions thereto belonging" from 1653 until his death, acting simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republic.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formal name: the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

Méric Casaubon's reputation was overshadowed by that of his father; but his editions of numerous classical authors, especially of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, were especially valued, and reprinted several times (but by modern standards, his translation is difficult reading). He had an interest in the study of Anglo-Saxon, which he shared with his lifelong "trustie frend" William Somner. Edward Stillingfleet, whom Casaubon admired, bought many of his books, which are now in Archbishop Marsh's Library, Dublin. Some other volumes from his library came into Canterbury Cathedral Library through William Somner.

<i>Meditations</i> literary work by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius Roman Emperor and philosopher

Marcus Aurelius, called the Philosopher, was a Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. Marcus was the last of the rulers traditionally known as the Five Good Emperors. He is also seen as the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Empire. His personal philosophical writings, now commonly known as Meditations, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. They have been praised by fellow writers, philosophers, and monarchs – as well as by poets and politicians – centuries after his death.

William Somner English antiquarian and lexicographer

William Somner (1598–1669) was an English antiquarian scholar, the author of the first dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon language.


In 1656 he wrote against enthusiasm, and circumscribed the domain of the supernatural. The next year he produced an edition of John Dee, portraying him as having dealings with the Devil. The background is of orthodox Anglicans wishing to discredit the sectarian Protestants of the period; but also to validate the existence of spirits to atheists. Casaubon was in touch with Nicholas Bernard about the Dee manuscript. [6] Following the Restoration, Casaubon wrote supporting the traditional theories of witchcraft. [7] He was in fact operating on several fronts: as well as attacking those who would deny the supernatural entirely, and limiting the role of reason in faith, he defended humanist learning against the claims for the new natural philosophy, emanating from figures in the Royal Society who saw it as completely replacing the old learning. [8]



Meric Casaubon married Frances Harrison of Hampshire in about 1628. His wife's grandfather was William Barlow, who had been a canon of Winchester Cathedral since 1581. The couple had seven children, most of whom were born in Canterbury, but only two lived to maturity:

Frances Casaubon died on 24 February 1652 in London. Her poor health and death was one of the reasons Meric gave for not complying with Oliver Cromwell's request. [9]



  1. s:Casaubon, Meric (DNB00)
  2. 1 2 R. W. Serjeantson, 'Casaubon, (Florence Estienne) Meric (1599–1671)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 , accessed 6 March 2010
  3. A History of Canterbury Cathedral, OUP 1995, p.209.
  4. Jacqueline Eales, Community and Disunity: Kent and the English Civil Wars, 1640–1649, Canterbury, 2001, p. 37.
  5. A History of Canterbury Cathedral, OUP 1995, p.194.
  6. Ian Bostridge, Witchcraft and its Transformations, c.1650-c.1750 (1997), pp. 55–7.
  7. Bostridge, p. 53.
  8. Andrew Pyle (editor), Dictionary of Seventeenth Century British Philosophers (2000), article on Casaubon, pp. 162–3.
  9. Tim Treml, 'Who was Frances, the Wife of Meric Casaubon?', Notes & Queries September 2017, Oxford University Press

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