- Le collège de Dormans-Beauvais à la fin du Moyen Âge: Stratégies politiques et parcours individuels à l'Université de Paris (1370–1458)
Because none of the forty or so colleges founded before 1500 at the University of Paris survived the French Revolution, they had no alumni (as Oxford colleges [End Page 175] have) to write their histories — with the sole exception of Jean de Launoy's 1677 account of the Collège de Navarre. True, the past 150 years have seen monographs on the origins, statutes, topography, and institutional history of the colleges of Harcourt, Montaigu, Sainte-Barbe, Beauvais, Fortet, Cardinal Lemoine, Maître-Gervais, Dormans-Beauvais, Laon, Presles, Ave Maria, Cholets, Autun, and the Sorbonne. As well, a half-dozen theses each at the École des chartes and at Notre Dame University (under the late Astrik Gabriel) have dealt with these same or other Paris colleges. With varying success, about half of the late medieval and Renaissance Paris colleges have been treated.
For some time Jacques Verger has advocated a more "social" approach to university history — putting the emphasis on the students and teachers — by using prosopography, or collective biography. In recent works on the Collège de Navarre, Gilbert Ouy and Nathalie Gorochev have concentrated on the intellectual and communal life of the students. A recent thesis by Cécile Fabris has done the same for the Collège de Laon.
Thierry Kouamé's book joins these new approaches to college history. Using a wide spectrum of printed sources and manuscript archives — particularly a rich, almost unbroken series of financial records — he provides a comprehensive picture not only of the college's origins and statutes but also of its students and the life of the college itself. Although chapter 1, "Naissance d'une institution," is the most "traditional" in the book, it moves beyond the foundation and statutes to show how the founder's provisions had to be interpreted to meet changing social, financial, and historical circumstances — the Hundred Years' War being a constant factor in it all. This reader was not convinced, however, by the documentation provided about the teaching of external students inside the precincts of the college, nor about public lectures at the Collège de Sorbonne.
Subsequent chapters give rein to Kouamé's preference for the prosopographical. Chapter 2, "Entrer au collège," confirms how, as was the case with many of the Paris colleges, the donor Jean de Dormans founded his college to educate students from a defined area (Soissons) who were descendants of, or affiliated with, his extended family. Like other provisions, this one gave way to an increasing number of nominations for college bursaries put forward by bishops, alumni, members of the Parlement of Paris, and others — resulting in a wider social and geographical provenance. Chapter 3,"Vivre au collège," examines the course of studies of the boursiers and the library resources available to them. As a resource for students returning to the college from classes held in halls rented by the four Nations that constituted the Faculty of Arts, the presence of a good library does not justify the suggestion (269) that anything other than grammar was regularly taught within the college. Chapter 4, "Les boursiers dans la société," shows, not unexpectedly, a large number of graduates who retained their clerical status and served in the Church, and who opted to remain as chaplains and officers in the college or in the university. Many naturally gravitated to the law, exercising as avocats or conseillers in the Parlement of Paris, where two even became premiers présidents. Woven through all four chapters is the strong relationship that develops between this college and the Parlement. [End Page 176]
A highlight of this book is the Dictionnaire biographique of the 357 boursiers of the collège. Here the statistics of chapters...