Arthur Benoit

Arthur Benoit, born in Bourdonnay (then in Meurthe) and died in Berthelming-sur-Sarre in Alsace-Lorraine German, is a collector and bibliophile, archaeologist and French historian.

His older brother Louis, a lover of books and archaeological and historical research, during his younger years like his younger brother Arthur, became chief librarian of the city of Nancy in 1867. The first known article of Arthur is addressed to the ‘Journal of the Archeology Society of Lorraine’, in the early 1860s. The brothers are interested in Lotharingian history and religious history, the curious limits of the dioceses of Strasbourg and Metz, but also in the country of Vic-sur-Seille and Westrich, their native countries or even to the more eastern parts of the Vosges, including especially in their attraction the Low Vosges forest. Arthur understands that the knowledge of remote places, such as the obscure valleys of the Vosges undergoing the rural exodus, otherwise illuminates the historian on the legacies of the past, and that the territorial partitions deemed obsolete or historical emerge with even more force. that knowledge is both rooted in local history and peasant economy. The young historian and amateur ethnographer asks himself these questions without a priori: why the limit, the administrative or religious border, community or political, cultural or ritual are there, and not elsewhere? When and how did they appear? He perceives very well that they douse as much of the men of the place as the consequences of the great events or historical changes sometimes distant. Arthur, open-minded and curious, hard-working and generous, devotes himself to local associations and learned societies to draw up exhaustive tables, sometimes summaries and summaries, of their works or articles. If he learns a lot, he perceives in the first place the shortcomings and shortcomings of these associations and societies. He becomes a collaborator and author of the Memoirs of the Lorraine Archeology Society. After the death of her husband, Madame Benoit mother, retired to her beloved estate of Berthelming, near Fénétrange. A few years later, after his studies, in 1856, the young Arthur joined her on the family property to devote herself to her scholarly and literary research, but also more and more to the history and local archeology of this saargovian country. from Westrich. To enter the local environment and exercise a legal activity, he becomes deputy of the justice of peace Fénétrange. He retired from office in 1871, having no desire to join the Prussian administration as a subordinate.

In 1860, Arthur Benoit proposes “an excursion in the Vosges, the valley of the Blancrupt” to the attention of the Cenacle of the “literary conference” of Nancy. His intervention noticed on the commune of Turquestein and the valley of the white Saar flowing since the northern slope of the Donon is the object of a publication by the Hinzelin publisher. Catholic scholars have often praised Arthur Benoit as a country historian, in love with his little homeland of the Saarland, to affirm immediately that he had resolved to cross the river Zinsel, marking the border between Alsace and Lorraine. In reality, as evidenced by his intense relations with the main learned societies of Lorraine, Vosges and Alsace, of which he is a member or correspondent, and for which he writes more than 125 articles. Arthur Benoit at the height of his volunteer career behaves like a federator of learned associations. He writes at home, but goes freely to important meetings or general assemblies of associations. It is therefore not surprising to find him as a corresponding member of the young Philosophical Society Vosges, in the third year, in 1877. The year before, to mark his consideration and his interest in the open approach of the “Vosges philomates”, he is the architect of a magazine exchange with the Nancy archeology society of Nancy, the fourth for the modest Vosges society. In June 1876, he sent Berthelming a note on an old map of Lorraine from 1594, which is published in full in two pages in the second volume of the bulletin of the philippic society Vosges. In fact, he is already part of the team of the informal section “archeology and history”, welcomed with kindness by President Mathieu-Henri Bardy. It includes the Alsatian scholar Charles Grad, the lawyer and specialist publisher of Dom Calmet François Dinago, the college professor and museum curator of Epinal, Félix Voulot, the lawyer Gaston Golbéry, attached to the medieval history of the chapter of Saint-Dié and the management of ducal avouerie, in particular the Taintrux-Robache town hall, the Lorrain historian and folklorist Louis Jouve, the retired military colonel Paul de Boureulle attached to the fortified sitefrom Châtel, but also Alban Fournier, Rambuvet doctor of medicine, Paul Cabasse, pharmacist of Raon-L’Étape and specialist of its fortifications, the count Frédéric Seillère, engineer and excellent historian of the county and the principality of Salm … in short historians from the field and also from the archives, often criticized by most dogmatic scholars. She has to think about the relevant themes and partitions of historical geography. Arthur Benoit, listened to during the philomatic debates, imposes themes of research in connection with the partitions of ancient coherent groups at the religious or seigneurial levels, for example the first still fragile real estate holdings of the Duchy of Lorraine in the 12th century, spaces in Independent parties such as the lordship of Châtel, the county of Salm and the city of Rambervillers under partial aegis of the bishops of Metz, the monastic possessions as the lands of the abbey stivalienne, the former monastic power of Moyenmoutier, the abbey of Senones , the canonical chapter of Saint-Dié on which hangs the shadow of the house of Dabo-Eguisheim, beyond the ducal house of Lorraine, monopolizing prosaically the role of voue protector … It incites the philomates Vosges to follow themes on privileged sectors, starting with monographs at the municipal level, set the example by becoming a prolific author e until his death. It focuses in particular early on to develop investigations and studies, for example in the Meurthe valley with Lunéville and its surroundings. But the history of Lorraine must also be approached according to relevant geographical frameworks, often forgotten areas of shadow of the official research. Also, for other magazines or societies, he does not forget to highlight the country of Seille, the countries of Saarland, the country of Bitche, the borders between Lorraine and Alsace. Mastering medieval Latin and German, excellent connoisseur of the Germanic dialects of ancient Mosellan, he is also a scientific editor, annotator or translator of books. He is correspondent of the national academy of Metz in 1877. His interest for the old Lorraine borders pushes him to pursue his investigations in Champagne.

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