Calvinisme, Histoire et Antiquité(s) : les originalités du médecin lyonnais Jacob Spon

The French physician Jacob Spon (1647-1685) is better known for his work as an antiquarian and historian than his medical activity. Recognised as an expert by his peers within the Republic of Letters and driven by a passion for classical antiquity ever since his early childhood, Spon would help to turn antiquarianism (which he called ‘archeography’) into an independent field of study, freed from the science of history; he not only defined the field, but also assigned it the objects for investigation. Spon furthermore reflected on the role of the historian, insisting on the need to be impartial and to search for the truth. His passion for antiquity was shared not only by many artists and scholars, but also by Catholic and Protestants polemicists alike with a view to their interest in conformity with the early church. As such, knowledge of antiquity became a confessional issue. Spon’s Catholic friends attempted to win him for their religion on several occasions, forcing him to justify his Calvinist faith with his antiquarian capacities.