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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > French Linguists > Renaudot
There is one brilliant exception—the eminent historian and controversialist, Eusebius Renaudot. He was born at Paris in 1646. Having made his classical studies under the Jesuits, arid those of Philosophy in the College d'Harcourt, he entered the congregation of the Oratory. But he very soon quitted that society ; and, although he continued to wear the ecclesiastical dress, he never took holy orders. His life, however, was a model of piety and of every Christian virtue ; and it was his peculiar merit that, while many of his closest friends and most intimate literary allies were members of the Jansenist party, Renaudot was inflexible in his devotion to the judgment of the Holy See. His first linguistic studies lay among the Oriental languages, the rich fruit of which we still possess in his invaluable Collection of Oriental Liturgies, and in the last two volumes of the Perpetuite de la Foi sur l'Eucharistie, which are also from his prolific pen. But he soon extended his researches into other fields; and he is said to have been master of seventeen languages, the major part of which he spoke with ease and fluency. But Renaudot stands almost alone. The only names which may claim to be placed in comparison with his, are those of the two Petis, Francois Petis, and François Petis de la Croix. The latter especially, who succeeded his father as royal Oriental interpreter, under Lewis XIV., and made several expeditions to the East in this capacity, was well versed, not only in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Tartar, but also in Coptic and Armenian. His translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments is the work by which he is beat known ; but his dissertations and collections on Oriental history arc full of valuable learning.
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