Notable Academicians of the Manche
Since its foundation in 1652, the Academy of Caen has attracted to its ranks many Men of Letters and personalities originating from, or connected with, the Manche département. This tendenty went on and became even more pronounced during the following periods, so that the Academy can really be referred to as a "bas-normande" Academy.
Before the Revolution
-Jacques de CAILLIERES (or CHALLIERES) born at Torigny; Governor of Cherbourg from 1644, and founding member of the Academy. He had married Madeleine Potier de Courcy. Their son, François, a diplomat and member of the French Academy, will be one of the negociators of the Ryswich peace treaty. Their other son Hector will die a Viceroy of New-France. Chapelain admired his main work, "L'Histoire du maréchal Jacques II de Matignon et de tout ce qui s'est passé depuis 1547 jusqu'en 1597" (published in 1661) praising his style as "neat, effective, easy-going"
-Also from Torigny, GOYON-MATIGNON briefly took charge of the Academy, after the death of its founder in 1674 : François, Lieutenant Général in the King's army (1607-1675), and especially his son and assistant Henri (1630-1682).
-Pierre-Daniel HUET, a famous member of the Academy of Caen since its beginning, he appears regularly in its history. (1630-1721)
-Antoine de GARABY de la LUZERNE ESTIENVILLE, another founding member who was born and died in the Manche département. He studied in Caen under the direction of Antoine Halley and composed poetic essays and satirical verse. He is the author of the famous sonnet for the house of Moisant at Bernièress-sur-mer, La Luzerne :
... Brieux's house, lonely in the distance
Exposing to the winds this side and the other
Of parks, of galleries and hillsides devoid
Rules over Bernières with liberty.
To which Moisant answers, wittily :
... my home rises in the clouds
and freely shows itself...
...Here I dream, here I see the sun
Rise again and set in its glorious trappings
Here naked Nature is offered to me;
Lastly, here, which elsewhere is not allowed to me,
I boast about one thing : with an open house
And with an open heart, I welcome my friends.
Garaby de la Luzerne Estienville a generous and good-natured man, was a kind of Norman Montaigne, who displayed a total liberty of speech and a deep contempt of plots and politics.
-Daniel le SENS de MONS (1662-1741), a singular and likeable character, first chosen as Secretary of the Academy under the direction of Regnault de Segrais, later becoming the Colonel of a regiment bearing his name. This regiment fought the English in 1703; later on, Le Sens de Mons became mayor of Caen. Born as a Protestant, he died a Catholic. This elegant hedonist also founded the so-called "Thélémite" society (in favour of "honest pleasures)
-de Guillaume PYRON (1637-1684),a friend of P.D. Huet, born in the Manche département; there is a great deal of doubt regarding his actual membership of the Academy; if he was indeed a member, his membership was extremely brief.
-In the eigtheenth century : in 1740, M. HUE de CALIGNY de CRONINGUE, from a family of engineers who contributed to the fortifications of northern and western France, himself a Royal Engineer , is a Commander-in-chief at La Hougue. Another member of his family will also belong to the Academy of Caen in the nineteenth century.
-In 1754, the knight Charles de BRUCOURT (1712-1755), born near Valognes, lieutenant in the French guard, knight of the order of St Louis, and M. de la SOUDEXTRIE, Councillor in the Cour des Monnaies of St-Lô.
In 1759, M. le MENUET, parish priest of the Moon-sur-elle , near Cerisy la Forêt,winner of the Academy Prize (attributed for the first time by the intendant Fontette) on the following subject : "In Normandy, is it harmful or advantageous to plant apple trees destined for the production of cider on good, ploughable soil ?"
-In 1762, Elie de BEAUMONT, famous for his support of Callas and Sirven, is admitted as an associate; he was born in Carentan.
-In 1774, l'abbé Jacques-François DICQUEMARE, naturalist and professor in Le Havre, said to be a "member of the Academic Society of Cherbourg".
-In 1776, M. GROULT, Crown Prosecutor in Cherbourg, who later bequeathed his library, his plans and his maps to the Academic Society of Cherbourg.
-In 1777, Charles-Gaspard-Toustain de RICHEBOURG, Cavalry Major of Cherbourg and Gilles-Pierre AVOYNE de CHANTEREINE, one of the founders of the Academic Society of Cherbourg.
-In 1778, M. BEGUIER, Engineer-in-chief in Cherbourg.
-In 1785, Sébastien HUET GUERVILLE, great-nephew of the Bishop of Avranches, member of the Literary Society of Cherbourg.
After the Revolution
-From St-Lô : M. HOUEL (former Inspector of the Stud Farms), M. CASTEL (Borough Surveyor in chief), M. BLAISOT (civil judge), M. GUILLOT (curator of the Museum), M. DERIES (Inspector of schools).
-From Cherbourg : the famous mayor LIAIS, DELACHAPELLE (secretary of the Academic Society of Cherbourg) and others, such as LE CHANTEUR de PONTAUMONT.
-From Avranches : M. Le HERICHER, president of the Archaeological Society of Avranches, M. LAISNE and M. de BEAUREPAIRE.
-From Coutances : M. Paul BLIER, M. METERTRE et M. QUENAULT.
-From Valognes : the abbés TOLLEMER and LECACHEUX, and M. DELALANDE.
-From elsewhere in the Manche département : M. César de PONTGIBAULT, M. ESMIEU, M. DAMECOUR ou M. SAUVAGE.
-All these names, and others, illustrate the interest aroused in the Manche département by the Academy of Caen