Author(s) Sauval, Henri
Title Histoire et recherches des antiquités de la ville de Paris
Imprint Paris, C. Moette & J. Chardon, 1724
Tours, Bibliothèque universitaire, FB 1925, FB 1926, FB 1927
Subject Churches, Paris, Private architecture
Consult in image mode

1 (books 1-6)
2 (books 7-13)
3 (books 14, etc.)

Transcribed version of the text


     The Histoire by Henri Sauval, who was born in Paris and died there (1623-1676), was not published until 1724 by Claude-Bernard Rousseau, who had worked with Sauval on this book and had a manuscript of it. Apparently Rousseau modified only its style, corrected a few erroneous dates and eliminated the “Chronique scandaleuse de Paris ou histoire des mauvais lieux”. The aforementioned chronicle was filled with Sauval’s personal experience. He had been the lover of two high-class prostitutes who were well-known in “precious” society. Sauval was part of that society and had adopted its turgid style. He is mentioned under the name of Sidroaste in the Grand dictionnaire des Prétieuses by Somaize (1660). As for the style, it earned him two lines by Boileau: “Faut-il d’un sot parfait montrer l’original. Ma plume au bout du vers d’abord trouve Sofal” (satire VII).
Sauval, lawyer to the Parlement, was not stupid; he was remarkably erudite, with a wide curiosity. He had traveled all over France, in Italy, Spain, England and in the Netherlands. As a result he was qualified to proclaim Paris “la merveille du monde” (I, p. 186). His work is a source for the historians of Paris, for architectural historians and even for writers. Victor Hugo reproduced entire passages of it, without quoting him, in Notre-Dame de Paris and in Paris à vol d’oiseau. Book VII, devoted to palaces and mansions, is the main reference of the study on Parisian architecture of the first half of the 17th century, brought to fruition by Jean-Pierre Babelon (1991).
The posthumous 1724 edition was criticized in the Bulletin du Bibliophile (1868) by Le Roux de Lincy, who had a copy of the original manuscript. For the 1974 facsimile, Michel Fleury wrote a remarkable introduction to which we must continually refer. Nevertheless, according to Fleury, except for corrections of style and dates, the 1724 edition is apparently faithful to the manuscript left by Sauval at his death (March 21, 1676). We cannot follow the eminent scholar on this point. The notice about the church of the Invalides, begun the same year as Sauval’s death, and a fortiori those on the place des Victoires and on the place Vendôme are obviously not Sauval’s. Perhaps a critical edition would bring to light other additions no doubt attributable to Rousseau.

Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris) – 2007

Critical bibliography

J.-P. Babelon, Demeures parisiennes sous Henri IV et Louis XIII, Paris, Hazan, 1991.

M. Fleury, "Notice sur la vie et l’oeuvre de Sauval", H. Sauval, Histoire et Recherches des Antiquités de la ville de Paris, facsimile edition, Paris/Geneva, Éditions du Palais Royal/Minkoff, 1974, vol. 1.

S. Sauval, Histoire et Recherches des Antiquités de la ville de Paris, facsimile edition, Paris/Geneva, éd. du Palais/Minkoff, 1974. 3 vol.