There is a very modest little square called Place Maubert. Modest in size, but with a lot of history. There have been some doubts about the origin of the name “Maubert”, but it seems rather clear that it’s some kind of transformation of “Maître Albert”. This means that it refers to Albertus Magnus, also known as Albert the Great, Albert of Cologne…. and in France as Maître Albert. He was born around 1200 and died in 1280. He was extremely knowledgeable in many areas, but is perhaps especially known as one of the leading philosophers and theologians of the Middle Ages. He gave lectures at the Paris University during a few years in the 1240’s and had as one of his pupils – and also friend - another very influential philosopher and theologian, Thomas Aquinas. They are now both Saints.
Albert’s lectures were very popular and had often to be held outdoors, obviously here, at Place Maubert, quite close to the Seine River and the Notre Dame Cathedral, then under construction.
He also got his name linked to the little street, Rue Maître Albert, and to the nearby Passage Maubert.
There are a number of portraits of Albert, but they seem all to have been made a century or more after his death, so maybe the resemblance is not perfect.
Place Maubert is also known to have been a place of a large number of executions. Some 300 years after Maître Albert’s lectures there were a number of trials against Protestants, heretics, supposed atheists… and generally the sentence was death in various forms. On these city maps from that period, we can see for what the place was known.
One of the many condemned personalities was Etienne Dolet (1509-46). He was convicted of heresy and was burned with his books in a sentence obviously signed by the Paris Parliament, the Inquisition and the theological faculty of the Sorbonne University. Dolet somehow became a reference when during the 19th century the separation of the State and the Church started to become an important issue. He got his statue on Place Maubert in 1889. Meetings were held here until the separation came into force in 1905 … and even later. The statue disappeared in 1942 when the metal was required by the Nazi occupants.
Certain days of the week there is an important open market on the opposite side of the street.