BASNAGE: The name of a family of Normandy which has produced several men prominent in the history of French Protestantism.
1. Benjamin Basnage was for fifty-one years pastor at Sainte-Mère-Église, near Carentan (27 m. S.E. of Cherbourg), where he was born in 1580 and died in 1652. During the religious wars he was repeatedly chosen by his coreligionists, on account of the constancy of his character and his great learning, to represent them in political and ecclesiastical assemblies. He was president of the general synod at Alenon in 1637, and as deputy at Charenton in 1644 he did much to defend the rights of the Protestants and to reconcile the theologians. In the year of his death he was ennobled by the government of Louis XIV. Of the many polemical tractates which he wrote, the best known is De l'etat invisible de l'Eglise et de la parfaite satisfaction de Jesus Christ, contre la fable du purgatoire.
2. Henri Basnage, younger son of Benjamin, was born at Sainte-Mère-Église Oct. 16, 1615; d. at Rouen Oct, 20, 1695. He was one of the most eloquent advocates in the parliament of Rouen and one of the most famous jurists of his time. He defended the cause of the Reformed Church courageously, and his reputation was such that after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes he was almost the only Protestant who could follow the profession of law in Rouen.
3. Samuel Basnage, son of Antoine, younger son of Benjamin, was born at Bayeux 1638; d, at Zütphen 1721. He was first pastor at Vauxcelles, then at Bayeux till 1685. He went with his father to the Netherlands and became pastor there of the Walloon congregation at Zütphen. Of his theological writings the most important are: Morale theologique et politique sur les vertus et les vices des hommes (2 vols., Amsterdam, 1703); and Annales politico-ecclesiastici (3 vols., Rotterdam, 1706).
4. Jacques Basnage (de Beauval), son of Henri, was born at Rouen Aug. 8, 1653; d. at The Hague Dec. 22, 1723. He first studied the classical languages at Saumur under Tanneguy, father of the famous Mme. Dacier, afterward theology at Geneva under Turretin and Tronchin, finally at Sédan under Jurieu. In 1676 he was chosen pastor at Rouen; after the suppression of the church at Rouen in 1685, Louis XIV granted him permission to retire to Holland. In 1691 he was made pastor of the Walloon congregation at Rotterdam, and in 1709 of the French congregation at The Hague. The prime minister Heinsius respected him highly and employed him in different diplomatic missions. The fame of his diplomatic ability reached the court at Versailles, and when, in 1716, the Abbé, Dubois was sent to The Hague by the Duke of Orléans, then regent, in behalf of the triple alliance, he was instructed to associate with Basnage. When an insurrection of the Camisards in the Cévennes was feared, the regent applied to Basnage. He supported energetically the zealous Antoine Court, then twenty years old, in restoring the Protestant Church in Southern France, but, partial to the principles of passive obedience, as preached by Calvin, he severely condemned the insurrection of the Camisards and even blamed the first preachers in the Desert. About this time the States General of the Netherlands appointed him historiographer. His numerous works are partly dogmatic or polemic, partly historical. The former include especially his writings against Bossuet: Examen des méthodes proposées par Messieurs de l'assemblee du clergé de France, en 1682, pour la rêunion des Protestants a his l'Église romaine (Cologne, 1682); Réponse à M. l'evéque de Meaux sur la lettre pastorale (1686). His historical works are: Histoire de la religion des Églises réformées (2 vols., Rotterdam, 1690; 1725); Histoire de l'Église dëpuis Jesus Christ jusqu'à present (1699); Histoires du Vieux et du Nouveau Testament, represéntees par des figures gravées en taille-douce par R. de Hooge (Amsterdam, 1704); Histoire des Juifs depuis Jésus Christ jusqu'à présent (1706).