French poet, b. at Caen, Normandy, in 1555; d. at Paris, 16 October, 1628. He was the eldest son of François Malherbe, councillor of the inferior court of judicature at Caen, and of Louise de Valois. It was the elder Malherbe's wish that François should follow his profession and succeed him in his office, and with this end in view, he sent his son, after his early studies at Caen and Paris, to complete his education at the Universities of Basle and Heidelberg. But the natural bent of his mind was not towards the law, and when he was barely twenty, François entered the service of Henri d'Angoulême, grand prieur of France and Governor of Provence. Malherbe's earliest experience in Provence was his infatuation for a young woman of the country, whose praises he sang under the name of Néréé; but on 1 October, 1581, he married Madeleine de Coriolis, and the union seems to have been a happy one. He remained ten years in Provence, becoming known through his "Larmes de St. Pierre," an imitation of Tansillo's verses and at best a puerile production. In 1586 Henri d'Angoulême was slain in a duel by Philip Altoviti, and Malherbe returned to Caen. He addressed an ode to Henry IV on the capture of Marseilles in 1596, and in 1600 presented to Maria de' Medici, who stopped at Aachen on her way to become the queen of Henry IV, verses which show his talent to have reached maturity.
Du Perron about this time recommended Malherbe to the favour of the king, and when in 1605 he came to Paris, Henry had him remain near him. The Duke of Bellegarde received the poet into his household, settled on him a pension, and made it possible for him to live at Court. At this time began his acquaintance with Racan, who became his first disciple, and a little later he started his correspondence with Peiresc. Since his arrival at Court, Malherbe had assumed the role of literary master and reformer. He made relentless war on the provincial expressions, neologisms, and defects of style in the prose writers and poets of the time. He gathered about him a select body of followers, to whom his opinions were oracular, and he was pitiless in his criticism of whatever fell below his canons of taste. He himself henceforth wrote few verses, his most touching lines being on the tragic death of the king in 1610. His son's death in a duel in 1627 did much to bring about Malherbe's own end, which came in the following year, and he was buried in Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois. Malherbe has been charged with having "slain lyricism," and the reproach has been made against him that his crusade produced only Maynard, but the French language and its literature are indebted to him for a service which could hardly have been rendered by a man of greater genius.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online