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Bernard Germain de Lacépède

Bernard Germain de Lacépède
Born December 26, 1756
Agen in Guienne
Died October 6, 1825
Nationality French
Fields naturalist

Bernard-Germain-Étienne de La Ville-sur-Illon, comte de Lacépède or La Cépède (December 26, 1756 – October 6, 1825) was a French naturalist.



He was born at Agen in Guienne. His education was carefully conducted by his father, and the early perusal of Buffon's Natural History (Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière) awakened his interest in that branch of study, which absorbed his chief attention. His leisure he devoted to music, in which, besides becoming a good performer on the piano and organ, he acquired considerable mastery of composition, two of his operas (which were never published) meeting with the high approval of Gluck; in 1781–1785 he also brought out in two volumes his Poétique de la musique. Meantime he wrote two treatises, Essai sur l'électricité (1781) and Physique générale et particulaire (1782–1784), which gained him the friendship of Buffon, who in 1785 appointed him subdemonstrator in the Jardin du Roi, and proposed that he continue Buffon's Histoire naturelle. This continuation was published under the titles Histoire des quadrupèdes, ovipares et des serpents (2 vols., 1788–1789) and Histoire naturelle des reptiles (1789).

After the French Revolution Lacépède became a member of the Legislative Assembly, but during the Reign of Terror he left Paris, his life having become endangered by his disapproval of the massacres. When the Jardin du Roi was reorganized as the Jardin des Plantes, Lacépède was appointed to the chair allocated to the study of reptiles and fishes. In 1798 he published the first volume of Histoire naturelle des poissons, the fifth volume appearing in 1803, and in 1804 appeared his Histoire des cétacés. From this period until his death the part he took in politics prevented him making any further contribution of importance to science. In 1799 he became a senator, in 1801 president of the senate (a role he also fulfilled in 1807-08 and 1811-13), in 1803 grand chancellor of the Legion of Honor, in 1804 minister of state, and at the Bourbon Restoration in 1819 he was created a peer of France. He died at Épinay-sur-Seine. During the latter part of his life he wrote Histoire générale physique et civile de l'Europe, published posthumously in 18 volumes, 1826. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1812.


  • Les ages de la nature et histoire de l'espèce humaine. Paris 1830 p.m.
  • Histoire naturelle de l'homme. Pitois-Le Vrault, Paris 1827 p.m.
  • Histoire générale, physique et civile de l'Europe. Cellot, Mame, Delaunay-Vallée & de Mat, Paris, Brüssel 1826 p.m.
  • Histoire naturelle des quadrupèdes ovipares, serpents, poissons et cétacées. Eymery, Paris 1825.
  • Histoire naturelle des cétacées. Plassan, Paris 1804.
  • Notice historique sur la vie et les ouvrages de Dolomieu. Bossange, Paris 1802.
  • La menagerie du Museum national d'histoire naturelle. Miger, Paris 1801–04.
  • Discours d'ouverture et de clôture du cours de zoologie. Plassan, Paris 1801.
  • Discours d'ouverture et de clôture du cours d'histoire naturelle. Plassan, Paris 1799.
  • Histoire naturelle des poissons. Plassan, Paris 1798–1803.
  • Discours d'ouverture et de clôture du cours d'histoire naturelle des animaux vertébrés et a sang rouge. Plassan, Paris 1798.
  • Discours d'ouverture du Cours d'histoire naturelle. Paris 1797.
  • Histoire naturelle des quadrupèdes ovipares et des serpens. de Thou, Paris 1788–90.
  • Vie de Buffon. Maradan, Amsterdam 1788.
  • La poétique de la musique. Paris 1785.
  • Physique générale. Paris 1782–84.
  • Essai sur l'électricité naturelle et artificielle. Paris 1781.

See also


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Georges Cuvier: Éloges historiques de MM. de Saussure, Pallas, Hauy, de Lacépède et Cavendish. Theissing, Münster 1876.
  • Ora Frishberg Saloman: Aspects of "Gluckian" operatic thought and practice in France. Ann Arbor 1984.
  • Louis Roule: Lacépède, professeur au Muséum, premier grand chancellier de la Légion d'honneur, et la sociologie humanitaire selon la nature. Flammarion, Paris 1932.

External links



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