DU CANGE, dú cānzh, CHARLES DU FRESNE, SIEUR: French historian and lexicographer; b. at Amiens (84 m. n. of Paris) Dec. 18, 1610; d. at Paris Aug. 16, 1688. He was educated at the Jesuit college of his native city, and studied law at the University of Orleans, after which he became treasurer of Amiens. His life was devoted, however, to the study of the Middle Ages, and his first work was his Histoire de l'empire de Constantinople sous les empereurs français (Paris, 1657). In 1668 the plague which raged in Amiens led him to remove to Paris, where he spent the remainder of his life. In considering the importance of the works of Du Cange it must be borne in mind that the Renaissance, with its admiration for Greece and Rome, and the Reformation had little sympathy with any study of the Middle Ages. Medieval Latin and the Romance languages had thus far found no investigator, nor was there any chronology, numismatics, archeology, paleography, or geography of that period. His writings, both printed and unprinted, embrace, on the other hand, not only the general history of medieval Europe, but also the history of France and the Byzantine Empire. His chief works are the Glossarium, ad scriptores mediæ et infimæ Latinitatis .(3 vols., 1678; enlarged edition in 6 vols., 1733-36; supplement by P. Carpentier, 4 vols., 1766; and by L. Diefenbach, Frankfort, 1857, 1867; abridgment with additions and corrections by J. C. Adelung, 6 vols., Halle, 1772-84; most recent edition of the Glossarium, including the additions of Carpentier, Adelung, and others, by L. Fevre, 10 vols., Niort, 1883-87; a convenient abridgment in one vol. by W. H. Maigne d'Arnis, Paris, 1866) and the Glossarium, ad scriptores mediæ et infimæ Græcitatis (2 vols., Lyons, 1688). Both these dictionaries are true encyclopedias, one for Latin Christendom in all its ecclesiastical, political, and social aspects, and the other for the Byzantine Empire, to say nothing of their lexicographical value. In the preface to the Latin Glossarium, moreover, the author gives the history of the decay of the Latin language and sketches the earliest developments of French. The last work of Du Cange, which was not completed until after his death, was his edition of the Chronicon paschale (Paris, 1688).
Bibliography: L. Faugère, Essai sur la vie et les ouvrages de Du Cange, Paris, 1852; H. Hardouin, Essai sur la vie et our les ouvrages de . . . Du Cange, ib. 1849.