Urbain Chevreau

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Urbain Chevreau entered the Parlement de Paris at the age of 29. He was the personal secretary (1633) of Christina Wasa, Queen of Sweden. He made the acquaintance of Fabritius in 1658 and it was through him that he was invited to the Court of Heidelberg between 1671 and 1678 (cf. Mayer, 1923, p. 24). Chevreau earned a reputation as author of the eight-volume Histoire du monde (Paris, 1686) and Chevraeana, 1697.

The initiative to approach Spinoza for a professorship was probably first broached by French courtier and author Urbain Chevreau. He resided at the Palatine court as personal adviser to the Elector Palatine from 1671 to 1676. In his Chevraeana (1697), he claims that he had brought Spinoza to the attention of Karl Ludwig. He also adds to this that he had become familiar with ‘this Protestant Jew’ in reading ‘Parts I and II of Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy’; Metaphysical Thoughts’ and, he thus states: ‘The Elector owns that book’. After inspection of some of the chapters of the work, Chevreau argues, the Elector Palatine had subsequently taken the decision to approach Spinoza for the chair of philosophy and had charged Fabritius to write him a letter (cf. 1673.02.[26], Ep. 47). The only condition for the appointment, he continues, was that Spinoza would not ‘dogmatise’ upon any subject:

When [I was] at the court of the same Elector, I spoke very strongly in favour of Spinoza, while I only knew this Protestant Jew but from ‘Parts I and II of Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy’, printed in Amsterdam by Jan Rieuwertz in 1663. The lord Elector owns that book and after he had read several chapters, he decided to call him to his academy at Heidelberg to teach philosophy there, but on the condition not to dogmatise. Mr. Fabritius, professor of theology, had been given order by his master to write to him.

Chevraeana, 1697, vol. 2, pp. 105–6; see also Walther and Czelinski, vol. 1, p. 305, no. 109). See also: Mayer, 1923.


Christina Wasa


Johann Ludwig Fabritius