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Charles Lenormant

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French archæologist, b. in Paris, 1 June, 1802; d. at Athens, 24 November, 1859. After pursuing his studies at the Lycée Charlemagne and the Lycée Napoléon, he took up law, but a visit to Italy and Sicily (1822-23) made him an enthusiastic archæologist. In 1825 he was named sub-inspector of fine arts and a few months later married Amelia Syvoct, niece and adopted daughter of the celebrated Mme Récamier. He visited Italy, Belgium, Holland, and accompanied Champollion to Egypt, where he devoted himself to the study of architectural works. Later he travelled through Greece as assistant director of the archæological department of the Morea scientific commission. On his return he was appointed curator of the works of art in the Although the chair was that of modern history, he lectured chiefly on ancient history, more especially on the origins of Greek civilization. In 1836 he was appointed curator of printed books in the Royal Library, and in 1839 was elected member of the Academy. In 1840 he was made curator of the Cabinet of Medals. Guizot, who became minister of foreign affairs in 1841, sent him on a mission to Greece. On returning from this second visit to the East he continued his lectures at the Sorbonne, and made a particular study of Christian civilization in its sources. This study made of him a true Christian, and from that time his lectures bore the impress of his deep Catholic belief. He gave voice to his convictions in his "Questions historiques" (Paris, 1845), in his work on the "Associations religieuses dans Ia société chrétienne" (Paris, 1866), and in many serious articles in the "Correspondant". His writings greatly influenced the much discussed question of freedom of teaching (liberté d'enseignement). In 1846, the students, in retaliation for the suppression of M. Quinet's chair, compelled Lenormant to give up his professorship; he was then given the editorship of the "Correspondant" which be resigned in 1855. In 1848 he was named director of the commission of historical monuments, and in 1849 an almost unanimous vote of the members of the Academy appointed him to the chair of archæology in the Collège de France. From that time he devoted himself entirely to the teaching of Egyptian archæology. He died while on an expedition undertaken for the sake of initiating his son into the knowledge of the monuments of antiquity.

Many articles from the pen of Lenormant appeared in the "Annales de l'Institut Arcéologique de Rome", the "Mémoiresde l'Académie des Inscriptions", the "Revuede Numismatique", and the "Correspondant". His chief independently published works are: "Les Artistes contemporains" (Paris, 1833, 2 vols.); "Introduction l'histoire de l'Asie occidentale" (Paris, 1838); "Musée des Antiquités égyptiennes" (Paris, 1842); "Questions historiques" (Paris, 1845), besides two valuable collections, "Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique"(Paris, 1834-50) (in collaboration with Paul Delaroche and Henriquel Dupont) and "Elite des monuments céramographiques" (1844--58) (with De Witte).


DE WITTE, Annuaire de l'Académie de Belgique (Brussels, 1861). 129-86; Mémoires de l'Institut de France, XXXI, (Paris), p. 547--608.

About this page

APA citation. Mayence, F. (1910). Charles Lenormant. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Mayence, Fernand. "Charles Lenormant." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Mario Anello.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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