De Villars, l'Abbe de Montfaucon(1635-1673)

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De Villars, l'Abbe de Montfaucon(1635-1673)

This churchman, author, and mystic was a native of southern France. He was born in Alet, near Toulouse and the seaport town of Bordeaux. At an early age he took holy orders, and in 1667 left the south and moved to Paris, eager to win fame as a preacher. His eloquence in the pulpit won him numerous admirers, but he grew more interested in literature than in clerical affairs, and in 1670 he published his first and most important book, Comte du Gabalis.

Ostensibly a novel, this volume seems largely a veiled satire on the writings of La Calprenède, then very popular both in France and England. The satirical element in de Villars's work, however, is supplemented by a curious blend of history, philosophy, and mysticism. Since much of the mysticism was of a nature distinctly hostile to the dogmas of Rome, the author soon found himself out of favor with his brother clerics. Probably it was for this reason that he renounced the pulpit. De Villars's literary activities were not impaired by persecution; in 1671 he issued De la Délicetesse, a speculative treatise, couched in the form of dialogues, in which the author takes the part of a priest who has been writing in opposition to Port Royal (Jansenist) doctrines.

Like its predecessor this new book made a considerable stir, and de Villars began to write voluminously. At the same time he plunged deeply into the study of various kinds of mysticism, but his activities were terminated suddenly. In 1673 he was murdered on the public high road not far from Lyon, on his way from Paris.

Within the first decade succeeding his death three posthumous works appeared. L'Amour sans Faiblesse, Anne de Bretague et Ailmanzaris, and Critique de la Bérénice de Racine et de Corneille, the latter winning the praise of Mme. de Sévigné, a shrewd judge.

As late as 1715 a further work by de Villars was issued, a sequel to the Comte de Gabalis, bearing the significant title Nouveaux Entretiens sur les Sciences secrètes. This volume elicited wide interest among eighteenth-century thinkers and may be defined as a treatise opposing the philosophical theories of Descartes, or rather, opposing the popular misapprehension and abuse of those theories.


De Villars, Abbe. Comte de Gabalis. London: Printed for B. M., Printer to the Cabalistical Society of the Sages, at the Sign of the Rosy-Crucian, 1680. Reprint, New York: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply, 1922.

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De Villars, l'Abbe de Montfaucon(1635-1673)

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