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Sallo, Denys [Denis] de

1. Dates
Born: Paris, 1626
Died: Paris, 14 May 1669
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 43
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat, Government Official
His father, Jacques de Sallo, was a conseiller of the grand-chambre of the Parlement of Paris; his mother was the daughter of another conseiller of the Parlement. His family was from Poitou and descended from an ancient line of nobility of the sword.
The family lived in a large house in Paris, inherited from highly placed forebears. De Sallo's brother, a cleric, held two important and wealthy benefices. De Sallo inherited the title of sieur de la Coudraye de Lucon, an estate on considerable value. In a word, the family was wealthy.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Paris, LD
He was educated at the Collège des Grassius. After studying philosophy he took up Greek and Latin, winning awards in his studies. After his classical studies he took a law degree. I assume either a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Scientific Communication
He was the founder of the first scholarly periodical, Journal des scavans. Thirteen weekly issues were published under his editorship in 1665. The Journal responded to several aspects of contemporary life. New facts, theories, and techniques posed issues that changed the basis of the thought of scientists, historians, philosophers, and others. The journal was a record of new books, a readable and critical account of current writings, and a marketable production. In its first three months some eighty publications were discussed. The journal was international from the outset: about half the books reviewed were published in Paris, while the rest came from London, Amsterdam, Rome, and other French and German cities. A quarter of the space was devoted to scientific material. In addition there were reports of current scientific and technological developments: William Petty's double-hulled vessel and Robert Holme's use of Huygens' clocks on the Atlantic voyages. The most important scientific article offered an account of a learned conference on comets held at the college of the Jesuits.
The first three months of the journal's existence were rather stormy. Sallo managed to make enemies in the Faculty of Medicine, in literary circles, and among the Jesuits. The following nine month interruption has been explained by Sallo's critical ultramontanism, his mistake in criticizing people unaccustomed to being criticized, and his failure to submit pages for official approval. The Journal was suppressed in 1665, and when publication resumed in 1666 it was under a different editor.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Government, Pers
Details of his life are extremely scarce. He was admitted to the Paris bar in 1652, and won respect for his solid judgement. He succeeded his father in the Parlement in 1653. In 1657 he was in Frankfurt for the preliminaries to the election of a successor to Ferdinand III.
In a report to Colbert in 1663 about the members of various parlements, de Sallo was described as a man interested only in his studies and not in the position, which he wanted to exchange for another less demanding. Add to this the facts that he married the daughter of another member of the Parlement, and that he assembled two considerable libraries, one in Paris and one in his country estate in Poitou. Obviously he had personal means.
8. Patronage
Type: Government Official
He was granted a privilege for the printing of the Journal des Scavans for 20 years on 8 August 1664. In December the privilege was ceded to Jean Cusson, although Sallo edited the first issues that appeared in 1665. Colbert was his patron protecting him during the difficult times. Sallo may have been among the group of savants established by Colbert that preceded the Académie.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
De Sallo undertook to drain the marshes of lower Poitou; the enterprise failed he absorbed a good part of his fortune. There is no suggestion, however, that he supplied any of the technical know-how.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Even before publication started, the journal had been actively promoted by J. Chapelain, poet, critic, and correspondent of many French and foreign scholars; by Henri Justel, acquainted with innumerable travelers and men of letters; and by Emeric Bigot, well-known in foreign learning centers. Oldenburg and Huygens promised their assistance, which is apparent in the early issues.
  1. Betty Trebell Morgan, Histoire du Journal des Scavants depuis 1665 jusqu'en 1701, (Paris, 1928).
  2. Harcourt Brown, Scientific Organizations in Seventeenth Century France, (New York, 1967), pp. 185-207.
  3. ________, "History and the Learned Journal," Journal of the History of Ideas, 33, (1972), 365-78. AP2.J8
  4. Dugast-Matifeux, "Débuts du journalisme lettéraire en France: Denis de Sallo, fondateur du journal des Savants," Annuaire départmental de la Société d'Emulation de la Vendée, 3rd ser.
  5. 3 (1883), 79-85.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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