Marie-Félicité Brosset

Marie-Félicité Brosset

Marie-Félicité Brosset (January 24, 1802 – September 22, 1880) was a French orientalist who specialized in Georgian and Armenian studies. He worked mostly in Russia.


Marie-Félicité[1] Brosset was born in Paris into the family of a poor merchant who died a few months after Marie-Félicité's birth.

Early life and first works

His mother destined him to the Church. He attended the theological seminaries in Orléans, where he studied Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Back in Paris, he attended lectures delivered at the Collège de France by Carl Benedict Hase (Greek), Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (Arabic) and Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat (Chinese). He was elected to the Asiatic Society in 1825. Eventually, says his son Laurent, "after five years of unceasing effort, he suddenly gave up" and burned all the material he had painfully built.[2]

From 1826 he devoted himself to the Armenian and Georgian languages, history and culture. He had found his true vocation. However, books, teachers, documents were scarce. For Armenian he was helped by Antoine-Jean Saint-Martin.[3] For Georgian he had to create his own dictionary from the Georgian translation of the Bible, which was faithful to the Greek text.


Invited to Saint Petersburg in 1837 by Count Sergey Uvarov, president of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, he was elected a member a year later. He journeyed to the Caucasus in 1847-48. He translated — and commented on — all major medieval and early modern Georgian chroniclers and published them in seven volumes from 1849 to 1858. His magnum opus, Histoire de la Géorgie, was a long-standing authority on the history of Georgia.[4] He also published the correspondence between the czars and the kings of Georgia from 1639 to 1770.[5]

He devoted the years 1861–1868 mainly to his series on Armenian historians, but continued to work on them until 1876.

Overall, Brosset wrote over 250 works on Georgian and Armenian history and culture.

He left Russia in May 1880 et and retired at his daughter's in Châtellerault. He died there a few months later. His son Laurent's analytic bibliography was a major contribution to the knowledge of his life and works.


Lists of works

List of online works

Selected works

Notes and references

  1. Then as now two first names for a female. In Russia he was often called Марий Иванович Броссе, Marius Ivanovitch Brosset.
  2. L. Brosset, 1887, p. IX
  3. Saint-Martin died of cholera in 1832 during the second pandemic. Brosset, who loved him much, wrote his obituary.
  4. "Brosset's Histoire was a sensational breakthrough. But from our vantage a century and a half later, it is not without shortcomings. Today we know that Brosset's edition is based exclusively upon a few MSS of the Vaxtangiseuli recension. We can hardly fault Brosset on this point [...]" Rapp, Stephen H. Studies in medieval Georgian historiography: early texts and Eurasian contexts, p. 31, at Google Books, Peeters Publishers, 2003 ISBN 9789042913189
  5. Bibliographie analytique, p. 370
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