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Jacques Peletier du Mans

Born in 1517 / Died in 1582 / France / French

Jacques Peletier du Mans poet from France was born in 1517, had 65 years and died in 1582. Poems were written mainly in French language. Dominant movement is political.


Jacques Pelletier du Mans, also spelled Peletier, in Latin: Peletarius, (1517–1582) was a humanist, poet and mathematician of the French Renaissance.

Born at Le Mans into a bourgeois family, he studied at the Collège de Navarre (in Paris) where his brother Jean was a professor of mathematics and philosophy. He subsequently studied law and medicine, frequented the literary circle around Marguerite of Navarre and from 1541-43 was secretary to René du Bellay. In 1541 he published the first French translation of Horace's Ars poetica and during this period he also published numerous scientific and mathematical treatises.

In 1547 he produced a funeral oration for Henry VIII of England and published his first poems "Œuvres poétiques", which included translations from the first two cantos of Homer's Odyssey and the first book of Virgil's Georgics, twelve Petrarchian sonnets, three Horacian odes and a Martial-like epigram; this poetry collection also included the first published poems of Joachim Du Bellay and Pierre de Ronsard (Ronsard would include Jacques Peletier into his list of revolutionary contemporary poets "La Pléiade"). He then began to frequent a humanist circle around Théodore de Bèze, Jean Martin, Denis Sauvage.

Jacques Pelletier tried to reform French spelling (which in the Renaissance had, through a misguided attempt to model French words on their Latin roots, acquired many inconsistencies (see Middle French)) in a treatise (1550) advocating a phonetic-based spelling using new typographic signs which Pelletier would continue to use in all his published works (because of this system, "Peletier" is consistently spelled with one "l").

After years spent in Bordeaux, Poitiers, Piedmont (where Peletier may have been the tutor of the son of Maréchal de Brissac) and Lyon (where he frequented the poets and humanists Maurice Scève, Louise Labé, Olivier de Magny and Pontus de Tyard). In 1555 he published a manual of poetic composition, "Art poétique français", a Latin oration calling for peace from Henry II of France and emperor Charles V and a new collection of poetry, L'Amour des amours (consisting of a sonnet cycle and a series of encyclopedic poems describing meteors, planets and the heavens) which would influence poets Guillaume du Bartas and Jean-Antoine de Baïf.

His last years were spent in travels (Savoy, Germany, Switzerland, maybe Italy, and various regions in France) and in publishing numerous works in Latin on algebra, geometry and mathematics, medicine (a refutation of Galen, a work on the Plague). In 1572 he was briefly director of the College of Aquitaine (Bordeaux), but, bored by the position, he resigned. During this period he was friends with Michel de Montaigne and Pierre de Brach. In 1579 he returned to Paris and was named director of the College of Le Mans. A final collection of poetry "Louanges" was published in 1581.

Pelletier died at Paris in July or August 1582.

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