étienne Baluze (1630-1718), French scholar, was born at Tulle on the 24th of November 1630. He was educated at his native town and took minor orders. As secretary to Pierre de Marca, archbishop of Toulouse, he won the appreciation of that learned prelate to such a degree that at his death Marca left him all his papers. Thus it came about that Baluze produced the first complete edition of Marca's treatise De libertatibus Ecclesiae Gallicanae (1663), and brought out his Marca hispanica (1688 f.). About 1667 Baluze entered Colbert's service, and until 1700 was in charge of the invaluable library belonging to that minister and to his son the marquis de Seignelai. He enriched it prodigiously (see the history of the Colbertine library in the Cabinet des Manuscrits by M. Léopold Delisle, vol. i.), and Colbert rewarded him by obtaining various benefices for him, and the post of king's almoner (1679). Subsequently Baluze was appointed professor of Canon law at the Collège de France on the 31st of December 1689, and directed that great institution from 1707 to 1710.
The works which place him in the first rank of the scholars of his time are the Capitularia Regum Francorum (1674; new edition enlarged and corrected in 1780); the Nova Collectio Conciliorum (4 vols., 1677); the Miscellanea (7 vols., 1678-1715; new edition revised by Mansi, 4 vols. f., 1761-1764); the Letters of Pope Innocent III. (1682); and, finally, the Vitae Paparum Avenionensium, 1305-1394 (1693). But he was unfortunate enough to take up the history of Auvergne just at the time when the cardinal de Bouillon, inheritor of the rights, and above all of the ambitious pretensions of the La Tour family, was endeavouring to prove the descent of that house in the direct line from the ancient hereditary counts of Auvergne of the 9th century.
As authentic documents in support of these pretensions could not be found, false ones were fabricated. The production of spurious genealogies had already been begun in the Histoire de la maison d'Auvergne published by Christophe Justel in 1645; and Chorier, the historian of Dauphiny, had included in the second volume of his history (1672) a forged deed which connected the La Tours of Dauphiny with the La Tours of Auvergne. Next a regular manufactory of forged documents was organized by a certain Jean de Bar, an intimate companion of the cardinal. These rogues were skilful enough, for they succeeded in duping the most illustrious scholars; Dom Jean Mabillon, the founder of Diplomatics, Dom Thierry Ruinart and Baluze himself, called as experts, made a unanimously favourable report on the 23rd of July 1695. But cardinal de Bouillon had many enemies, and a war of pamphlets began. In March 1698 Baluze in reply wrote a Letter which proved nothing. Two years later, in 1700, Jean de Bar and his accomplices were arrested, and after a long and searching inquiry were declared guilty in 1704. Baluze, nevertheless, was obstinate in his opinion. He was convinced that the incriminated documents were genuine and proposed to do Justel's work anew.
Encouraged and financially supported by the cardinal de Bouillon, he first produced a Table généalogique in 1705, and then in 1709 a Histoire généalogique de la maison d'Auvergne, with "Proofs," among which, unfortunately, we find all the deeds which had been pronounced spurious. In the following year he was suddenly engulfed in the disgrace which overtook his intriguing patron: deprived of his appointments, pensions and benefices, he was exiled far from Paris. None the less he continued to work, and in 1717 published a history of his native town, Historiae Tutelensis libri tres. Before his death he succeeded in returning to Paris, where he died unconvinced of his errors on the 28th of July 1718. Was he dupe or accomplice? The study of his correspondence with the cardinal gives the impression that he was the victim of clever cheats.
The history of the forgeries committed in the interests of the house of Bouillon forms a curious and instructive episode in the history of French scholarship in the time of Louis XIV. It is to be found in the Manuel de diplomatique by A. Giry; and above all in a note to the oeuvres de Saint-Simon by M. de Boislisle (vol. xiv. pp. 533-558). The bibliography of Baluze's researches has been made by M. René Fage (1882, 1884) and his Life told by M. émile Fage (1899). To these we must add an amusing book by G. Clément-Simon, La Gaieté de Baluze; documents biographiques et littéraires (1888). Baluze's will has been published by M. Léopold Delisle (Bibliothèque de l'école de Chartes, 1872); his papers are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal (Revue historique, t. xcviii. p. 309). See also the article by Arthur de Boislisle in the Revue des questions historiques for October 1908.