Louis Gabriel Michaud

Louis-Gabriel Michaud (19 January 1773, Castle Richemont – 3 August 1858) was a French writer, historian, printer, and bookseller. He was notable as the compiler of Biographie Universelle (1811-). He became a lieutenant on 15 July 1791 and joined the Zweibrücken Regiment. In 1792 he participated in the Battle of Valmy and the Battle of Jemappes. Having reached the rank of captain in the 102nd line regiment, he left the army for health reasons.

Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne; 1843

In 1797, with his brother Joseph François Michaud and N. Giguet (died in 1810), he founded a (at first clandestine) printing press, specializing in books about religion and the monarchy. He was imprisoned with his brother and N. Giguet for several months in 1799 for having printed anti-Bonapartist literature. He obtained his first commission from abbot Jacques Delille, then a refugee in London, who entrusted him with his books to be printed.

Universal BiographyEdit

In 1802 he published a biography of many notable individuals at the end of the 18th century and early 19th century. He described their ranks, their jobs, their talents, their writings, their troubles, their virtues, or their crimes in 4 volumes. Allegedly, it was copied in Breslau and Leipzig, which led to the failure of the project and his bankruptcy. It is probably this experience that led him eventually to consider the Ancient and Modern Universal Biography. His brother helped him at the onset, and many other authors contributed also.

He was nominated printer in January 1811 and bookseller in October 1812.

In 1823 he was appointed Director of the Royal Printing Press, but the appointment was brief. Michaud played a significant role in the return of Louis XVIII and expected a sinecure, but he was only rewarded with the Legion of Honour. He grew bitter and became opposed to the king's liberal policies.

Michaud was author of historical books, in particular Historical Outline and Rationale of the First Wars of Bonaparte (1814).

He was the editor of several newspapers and wrote prefaces to royalist books that he printed. He remains best known as the editor of the Universal Biography (1811-), to which he contributed numerous articles. He also assisted with the new much more extensive edition, which was not published until after his death.


Apart from numerous prefaces to works that he printed, Louis-Gabriel Michaud also published :