Jacques Basnage (1653-1723), French Protestant divine, was the eldest son of the eminent lawyer Henri Basnage, sieur de Franquenay (1615-1695), and was born at Rouen in Normandy in 1653. He studied classical languages at Saumur and afterwards theology at Geneva. He was pastor at Rouen (his native place) from 1676 till 1685, when, on the revocation of the edict of Nantes, he obtained leave of the king to retire to Holland. He settled at Rotterdam as a minister pensionary till 1691, when he was chosen pastor of the Walloon church. In 1709 the grand pensionary A. Heinsius (1641-1720) secured his election as one of the pastors of the Walloon church at the Hague, intending to employ him mainly in civil affairs. Accordingly he was engaged in a secret negotiation with Marshal d'Uxelles, plenipotentiary of France at the congress of Utrecht - a service which he executed with so much success that he was entrusted with several important commissions, all of which he discharged with great ability. In 1716 Dubois, who was at the Hague at the instance of the regent Orleans, for the purpose of negotiating the Triple Alliance between France, Great Britain and Holland, sought the advice of Basnage, who, in spite of the fact that he had failed to receive permission to return to France on a short visit the year before, did his best to further the negotiations.
The French government also turned to him for help in view of the threatened rising in the Cevennes. Basnage had welcomed the revival of the Protestant church due to the zeal of Antoine Court; but he assured the regent that no danger of active resistance was to be feared from it, and, true to the principles of Calvin, he denounced the rebellion of the Camisards (q.v.) in his Instructions pastorales aux Réformés de France sur l'obéissance due aux souverains (Paris, 1720), which was printed by order of the court and scattered broadcast in the south of France. Basnage died on the 22nd of September 1723.
Basnage was a good preacher and a prolific writer. His works include several dogmatic and polemical treatises, but the most important are the historical. Of these may be mentioned Histoire de la religion des églises réformées (Rotterdam, 1690), the Histoire de l'église depuis Jésus-Christ jusqu'à présent (ib. 1699) - both of them written from the point of view of Protestant polemics - and, of greater scientific value, the Histoire des Juifs (Rotterdam, 1706, Eng. trans. 1708) and the Antiquités judaiques ou remarques critiques sur la république des Hébreux (1713). He also wrote short explanatory introductions and notes to a collection of copper-plate engravings, much valued by connoisseurs, called Histoires du Vieux et du Nouveau Testament, représentées par des figures gravées en taille-douce par R. de Hooge (Amsterdam, 1704).