Scholarly Societies Project

Académie de Montmor


Académie de Montmor =
Academy of Montmor
Founding of the Society
Authority / Notes
According to Brown (1934), in the years immediately following its founding in 1635, the Académie Française received much criticism in France. Henri-Louis Habert de Montmor (1600?-1679) was a leader among these dissidents (Brown (1934), p.66).

As early as 1654, Montmor opened his home to academic assemblies, in which various learned persons held discussions; this represented a period of irregular meetings before the formal opening of the Academy a few years later (Brown (1934), pp.70-71).

The Academy was formally founded in 1657 December, with the drawing up of its constitution (Brown (1934), p.74). The Academy was to be devoted to the study of the natural world and the improvement of the conveniences of life (Brown (1934), pp.75-76). According to Brown (1934), p.76, "Out of its misdeeds and mistakes grew the conception of the Académie des Sciences."

Brown (1934), pp.83-85 refers to what he considers to be perhaps the most important event in the history of the Academy, which occurred in 1658 when Chapelin unveiled Huygens' explanation of the rings of Saturn.

Brown (1934), p.116 makes the point that by late in 1660, the year that the Royal Society of London had been founded, the scientists of Paris had seen in the latter an example of what might be accomplished in an establishment with Royal patronage, and were working towards something similar in France.

According to Brown (1934), pp.124-127, early in 1663 steps were taken to reorganize the Academy, placing an emphasis on experimentation; but the document detailing this pointed out that under the circumstances it was not possible to set up a physical laboratory for the scientists, something that would require the intervention of the government.

Brown (1934), p.133 indicates that the Academy ceased to exist some time between March and June of 1664, and the the reason for its demise was petty squabbles.

But prior to the demise of the Academy there had been conflict within it, with a subgroup headed by Melchisédec Thevenot leading a revolt against the habits and methods of the Academy and urging the creation of a body devoted to the experimental sciences (Brown (1934), pp.135-142).

According to Brown (1934), pp.138-145, one of the members of the Montmor Academy, Adrien Auzout (1522-1691), indicated in a letter of dedication to Louis XIV in 1664 that there was a need for a public observatory, and that there was an group that he refers to as the Compagnie des Sciences et des Arts ready to begin its work if it received Royal sponsorship. Brown (1934), pp.145-146 refers to a constitution of that Compagnie, and indicates that it was likely that the document was created 1663-1664, and that around the end of 1664 it was circulated among the former members of the Montmor Academy. [Note: It seems clear that the Compagnie consisted simply of some members of the Montmor Academy who wished to see a government-sponsored body with the constitution proposed.]

Brown (1934), pp.146-154 describes the proposed constitution as very ambitious, and points out that setting up such a body in France would have infringed on the areas of influence of several existing institutions in France. This must surely have influenced Colbert, the government official who had the power to make it happen. Consequently, numerous modifications to this ambitious proposal were required before the creation of the Académie Royale des Sciences in late 1666.

It may be seen from the above that the Académie de Montmor, although of brief duration itself, played a role in the creation of one of the most prestigious of the French Academies.

Seat of the Society
Authority / Notes
From a reading of various passages in Brown (1934), it seems clear that the meetings for the Academy were held in Montmor's Parisian residence. We know that Montmor belonged to an important Parisian family (p.66), that he had a country-house in Mesnil-Saint-Denis (p.67), and that he had a house in Paris where he welcomed men of letters (p.68). Perhaps the most telling clue is the description of the programme of the Academy as including periodical discourses, as well as systematic correspondence with scientists outside of Paris, which suggests that the Academy was itself in Paris (Brown (1934), p.76).
Name of the Society
1654 - 1664 Académie de Montmor (Brown (1934), pp.70-71 gives 1654 as the start date; p.133 gives 1664 as the end date. This is the name that Brown (1934) uses on p.299 in the index to his book.
1654 - 1664 Académie de chez Montmor (Brown (1934), pp.70-71 gives 1654 as the start date; p.133 gives 1664 as the end date. This is the name that Brown (1934) uses on p.87 of his book.


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