Nicolas Cleynaerts - Encyclopedia

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CLEYNAERTS (CLENARDUS or [[Clenard), Nicolas]] (1495-1543), Belgian grammarian and traveller, was born at Diest, in Brabant, on the 5th of December 1495. Educated at the university of Louvain, he became a professor of Latin, which he taught by a conversational method. He applied himself to the preparation of manuals of Greek and Hebrew grammar, in order to simplify the difficulties of learners. His Tabulae in grammaticen hebraeam (1529), Institutiones in linguam graecam (1530), and Meditationes graecanicae (1531) appeared at Louvain. The Institutiones and Meditationes passed through a number of editions, and had many commentators. He maintained a principle revived in modern teaching, that the learner should not be puzzled by elaborate rules until he has obtained a working acquaintance with the language. A desire to read the Koran led him to try to establish a connexion between Hebrew and Arabic. These studies resulted in a scheme for proselytism among the Arabs, based on study of the language, which should enable Europeans to combat the errors of Islam by peaceful methods. In prosecution of this object he travelled in 1532 to Spain, and after teaching Greek at Salamanca was summoned to the court of Portugal as tutor to Don Henry, brother of John III. He found another patron in Louis Mendoza, marquis of Mondexas, governor-general of Granada. There with the help of a Moorish slave he gained a knowledge of Arabic. He tried in vain to gain access to the Arabic MSS. in the possession of the Inquisition, and finally, in 1540, set out for Africa to seek information for himself. He reached Fez, then a flourishing seat of Arab learning, but after fifteen months of privation and suffering was obliged to return to Granada, and died in the autumn of 1542. He was buried in the Alhambra palace.

See his Latin letters to his friends in Belgium, Nicolai Clenardi, Peregrinationum ac de rebus machometicis epistolae elegantissimae (Louvain, 1550), and a more complete edition, Nic. Clenardi Epistolarum libri duo (Antwerp, 1561), from the house of Plantin; also Victor Chauvin and Alphonse Roersch, "Etude sur la vie et les travaux de Nicolas Clenard" in Mimoires couronnis (vol. lx., 1900-1901) of the Royal Academy of Belgium, which contains a vast amount of information on Cleynaerts and an extensive bibliography of his works, and of notices of him by earlier commentators.

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