Family tree of Nicolas Claude FABRI DE PEIRESC

Astronomer, Geographer

FrenchBorn Nicolas Claude FABRI DE PEIRESC

French astronomer, antiquary and savant

Born on December 01, 1580 in Belgentier, France , France

Died on June 24, 1637 in Aix-en-Provence, France

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Fabri de Peiresc father was a higher magistrate and city surgeon in Provence from a wealthy noble family, who with his wife fled their home town of Aix-en-Provence to avoid the plague raging there, settling in Belgentier in Var. Peiresc was born in Belgentier and educated in Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and at the Jesuit college at Tournon. At Toulon, he first became interested in astronomy. Studying law and becoming interested in archaeology, he travelled to Italy, Switzerland and France in 1599, and finally finished his legal studies in 1604 at the University of Montpellier. Also in 1604 he assumed the name Peiresc after a domain in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (now spelled Peyresq) which he had inherited from his father, although he never went there.

After receiving his degree, he travelled to Paris (in 1605-1606, with his patron Guillaume du Vair, president of the Parlement of Provence), London and Flanders before returning to Aix in 1607 to take over his uncle's position as conseiller in the Parlement of Provence under du Vair until 1615. From 1615–1622, Peiresc again made a trip to Paris with du Vair. Later, he returned to Provence to serve as senator of sovereign court. He became a patron of science and art, studied fossils, and hosted the astronomer Gassendi from 1634–1637.


Peiresc's position as a great intellectual at the move from the Renaissance to modern science has led to his being called a "Prince of the republic of Letters". He was also a noted politician in his home region, and a tireless letter-writer (10,000 letters by him survive, and he was in constant correspondence with Malherbe, Hugo Grotius, the brothers Dupuy, the brother of cardinal Richelieu, and with his great friend Rubens. His correspondence to Malherbe allows allows us a far better understanding of the personality of Malherbe's son Marc-Antoine Malherbe. Peiresc explains in one of these letter to Malherbe that Marc-Antoine is a bright student who craves and requires more attention from his indifferent father. But troublesome Marc-Antoine engaged other men in duels, one instance resulting in the death of Raymond Audebert, a bourgeois of Aix, in 1624. Malherbe had to use his political influence to keep his son from being arrested and decapitated. In 1627, Marc-Antoine died in a second duel against Paul de Fortia de Piles. This time, Malherbe used his influence to try to have Paul de Fortia arrested and executed for the death of Marc-Antoine, but to no avail as Paul de Fortia was protected by his future father-in-law, the affluent Jean Baptiste de Covet, Baron of Bormes, Trets and Marignane, who had played the role of Paul's second in the aforementioned duel. The drama of his son's death so saddened Malherbe that he died only 15 months after his son.

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Geographical origins

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