Monthly Archives: January 2012

Legal history and heraldic manuscripts

Recently I noted in a post three digitized manuscripts at Brussels with texts concerning or relating to law, in order to include the digitized armorial Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, ms. IV 1249, written in the first quarter of the fifteenth century. An armorial is a book showing the heraldic arms or blazons of a particular knightly order, for a particular occasion or region. Since I also noted the digitized version of the Grand Armorial de l’Ordre de la Toison d’Or at Paris (Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. Arsenal 4790) it crossed my mind to look for more digitized medieval manuscripts with armorials, and to connect them with medieval law. The Order of the Golden Fleece will serve here as the main example.

The Dutch Royal Library has digitized the Wapenboek Beyeren (The Hague, KB, ms. 79 K 21) written in 1405. You can find images and description of more armorials kept at The Hague at the manuscript website of the Dutch Royal Library. 128 E 20 is an armorial for France and the Southern Low Countries, and 76 E 4 is another armorial, from 1601, for the Order of the Golden Fleece. At the Museum Meermanno-Westreenianum in The Hague is ms. 10 F 7, an Armorial des Chevaliers de la Table Ronde, on which the museum’s manuscript catalogue gives further information, but you can view it at the Royal Library’s manuscript site.

On Gallica you will find only a number of digitized manuscripts with early modern armorials at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, but it is more sensible to use the Mandragore database for its illuminated medieval manuscripts. A first search for armorials yields 18 results. To put these results in a perspective, so far the British Library has not yet made accessible any medieval armorial among its digitized manuscripts. Using the advanced search interface I found three armorials, an armorial for members of the Order of the Garter from 1588 (Harley 1864), an armorial with also statutes for the Chevaliers de la Table Ronde de Bourges, written between 1486 and 1533 (Harley 5301), and Harley 6199, Statuts de l’Ordre de la Toison d’Or, written in Bruges between 1481 and 1486. For each manuscript the British Library shows a number of images.

Finding a manuscript with the title Statutes in a search for armorials made me of course wonder whether this manuscript in fact does qualify as an armorial, and it brings me to a subject a bit closer to legal history, the statutes of knightly orders. According to the catalogue record Harley 6199 is the oldest known manuscript with the statutes of the prestigious Order of the Golden Fleece founded in 1430 by duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. I tried to find more about Harley 6199 with the various search options of the manuscript catalogue, but the manuscript did not show at all. The description of Harley 6199 in the BL’s illuminated manuscript catalogue mentions the term armorial only in the description of its binding (!) and in the title of an article concerning this manuscript. The description of the content tells you not exactly where the statutes start and end, only that from fol. 59 onwards of the 77 leaves the arms of the members of the Order are depicted. Luckily the description goes with solid references to publications about the manuscript.

The status of Harley 6199 as an illuminated armorial is confirmed in the database Luxury Bound of Hanno Wijsman (Leiden). In his project on illuminated manuscripts from the Netherlands between 1400 and 1550 Wijsman found some 3,700 manuscripts. Thanks to his database you can quickly find more armorials of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and you will find which armorials contain also the statutes of this chivalric order, apart from Harley 6199 also Aylesbury, Waddesdon Manor, James A. de Rothschild Collection 17, The Hague, Royal Library, 76 E 10, and Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 2606. You can check here, too, for the earliest copy of the statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The British Library probably has in mind the earliest illuminated copy, but anyway in Luxury Bound the manuscripts Besançon, Bibliothèque municipale, Chifflet 91, written between 1473 and 1480, once owned by Lodewijk van Gruuthuse, and The Hague, KB, 76 E 10, written between 1473 and 1478, are earlier than Harley 6199.

Besancon, BM, ms. Chifflet 91, f. 2r

The “Statuts de l’Ordre de la Toison d’Or” – Besançon, Bibliothèque Municipale, ms. Chifflet 91, fol. 2r –  © photo Enluminures (IRHT/CNRS)

For a really early manuscript with the statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece a manuscript such as The Hague, KB, 76 E 14, found in the database Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections. written between 1431 and 1446, comes a lot closer to the claim of being the first surviving textual witness. The French website Enluminures will bring you to further illuminated manuscripts with these statutes, apart from the Besançon manuscript also Valenciennes, Bibliothèque Municipale, 803. More information on the manuscripts of the earliest statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece and a modern edition of them is to be found in Sonja Dünnebeil (ed.), Die Protokollbücher des Ordens vom goldenen Vlies,1 : Herzog Philipp der Gute 1430-1467 (…) (Stuttgart 2002). The statutes of the Ordre de Saint-Michel are the subject of a fine blog post by Jean-Luc Deuffic.

Much more armorials are to be found in Munich. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has digitized in the project BSB-Codicon Online some 150 armorials and other illustrated heraldic manuscripts in the Codices iconographici collection. This collection starts with the late Middle Ages and contains manuscripts up to the late nineteenth century. Karen Larsdatter has published on her website a page with a very generous selection of digitized medieval rolls of arms, armorials written on parchment rolls, and she mentions some of these Munich manuscripts. At Zurich yet another roll of arms has recently been digitized, like other rolls at Zurich called the Zürcher Wappenrolle. This roll is kept at the Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, sigature AG 2760 (around 1330-1345).

Heraldry and legal history

At this point it is appropriate to answer the question what heraldry has to do with legal history. What character had chivalric orders such as the Order of the Garter, of the Star and the Golden Fleece? In his acclaimed study Chivalry (New Haven, Conn.-London 1984) Maurice Keen did not fail to find an explicit link between heraldry and medieval law. He mentions several times the treatise De insigniis et armis of Bartolo da Sassoferrato (1313-1357) which has been edited, translated and studied in the volume A grammar of signs. Bartolo da Sassoferrato and his tract on insignia and coats of arms, Osvaldo Cavallar, Susanne [Lepsius-] Degenring and Julius Kirshner (eds.) (Berkeley, Ca., 1994). The authors show that Bartolus wrote only the first part of this tract. The second part which focuses on heraldic colors and uses was probably added by Nicola Alessandri, Bartolus’ son-in-law, who edited in 1358 more incomplete and unpublished treatises shortly after Bartolus had died. The edition of Bartolus’ treatise here is based on some 23 manuscripts, but the editors indicate clearly that much more manuscripts can be found. In a review in 2001 of another edition of the text Cavallar and Kirshner said they had checked twelve manuscripts since 1994.1

Some manuscripts with the texts of Bartolus’ treatise have been digitized. Wolfenbüttel, Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 167 Helmst., fol. 159r-162r (sigle Wa in the 1994 edition) can be read online. This manuscript was written around 1420. Tübingen, Universitätsbibliothek, Mc 58, fol. 131v-137v, is another example, written between 1461 and 1463. Of the manuscript Greifswald, Geistliches Ministerium Greifswald, ms. 10.B.V., fol. 259r-262v, written between 1474 and 1476, you can see photographs in black and white at the German website Manuscripta Medievalia, and this permalink brings you quickly to them.

At the Digital Scriptorium, this month still accessible at Columbia University, but soon coming back to Berkeley at the original web address to be maintained by the Bancroft Library, you will find the manuscript Berkeley, Ca., The Robbins Collection, ms. 225, fol. 205v-208r, with images. At fol. 208r another treatise by Bartolus starts, his De tyranno, which ends on the verso folio at the fourth image, and this information is not included in the description. The first half of the manuscript catalogue (ms. 1-120) of The Robbins Collection can be consulted online. Incidentally the study by Cavallar, Kirshner and Lepsius was published by this library. The two manuscripts with Bartolus’ text in the holding of The Robbins Collection, ms. 225 and ms. 148, f. 257r-262r – also described at the Digital Scriptorium – are not mentioned in their study. Ms. 225 was only acquired by the library in 1994. In view of the massive amount of manuscripts and books digitized at Munich it is no surprise to find at least one digitized manuscript with Bartolus’ treatise, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14134, fol. 156r-158v (images 317 to 322). The images seem to stem from a microfilm of this manuscript.

The manuscript tradition of De insigniis et armis is rather extensive. In his article on Bartolus de Saxoferrato from 1964 for the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Francesco Calasso listed already some seventy manuscripts. Some of them merit closer inspection. The description of ms. O.2.35, fol. 97r-103r, by M.R. James in his catalogue of manuscripts at Cambridge, Trinity College – available online – says that fol. 97r is decorated with a shield “or a chevron gu. between three martlets sable“. It is a nice heraldic exercise to establish the exact form of these arms, gold with a red (gueules) chevron between three black (sable) martlets, stylized birds. No doubt someone more versed in heraldry can tell to whom these arms belonged.

Many manuscripts with this treatise first published in 1358 stem only from the fifteenth century. It is rare to find earlier manuscripts. Nuremberg, Stadtbibliothek, Cent. IV 54, fol. 442r-447r – sigle Na in the 1994 edition – was written in Pistoia in 1384. Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, C II 15, fol. 60r-6rv was written between 1376 and 1381, and Klosterneuburg, Stiftsbibliothek, 194, fol. 135va-140r, was written at this Austrian monastery between 1395 and 1399. The manuscript London, British Library, Add. 8719, has a flyleaf from the fourteenth century with a fragment of Bartolus’ text. In the Verzeichnis der Handschriften zum römischen Recht bis 1600 (4 vol., Frankfurt am Main 1972) Gero Dolezalek and Hans van de Wouw listed more than hundred manuscripts which according to manuscript catalogues contain this text of Bartolus. Some of these manuscripts have been lost by fire or cannot be found anymore after the Second World War, or the attribution is doubtful. Susanne Lepsius studied and edited another treatise by Bartolus, the Tractatus testimoniorum, in Der Richter und die Zeugen [The judge and the witnesses] (Frankfurt am Main 2003). She noted that Bartolus’ treatise is easily the most widespread of his treatises, and that it is probably the most often copied medieval legal treatise. For me the very low number of fourteenth-century manuscripts is puzzling.

Much more can be said about the relevant manuscripts. I have created a list on which figure now nearly 140 manuscripts with De insigniis et armis. At least a few of them merit more attention in connection with heraldry. London, British Library, Stowe 668, has on fol. 45-52v, a French translation of Bartolus’ text, but this manuscript contains among the other heraldic texts also the statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece and those of the Order of the Garter. This manuscript was once owned by Robert Glover, Somerset Herald. Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Rawlinson B. 120, was written by William Smith Rouge Dragon, a fellow of the College of Arms. It has Bartolus’ text from fol. 23 onwards in an English translation. Apart from the modern English translation by Cavallar, Kirshner and Lepsius – which you can find partially online on the Heraldica website of François Velde – and the older translation in the edition of E.J. Jones, Medieval heraldry. Some fourteenth century works (Cardiff 1943) a translation in Slovakian exists in the volume Bartolus de Saxoferrato, Tractatus de insigniis et armis / Traktát o znameniach a erboch, edited by Ladislav Vrtel and Mária Munková (Bratislava 1999), based on a manuscript in the archdiocesan archives of Kosice. The edition by Mario Cignoni (Florence 1998) contains a translation in Italian. The edition by Felix Hauptmann (Bonn 1883) is accompanied by a German translation. A few years earlier Gustav A. Seyler had already provided a German translation.2 A fifteenth-century Spanish translation with the title Tratado sobre las insignias y escudos de armas, is available, too, in a modern edition of the text in the manuscript Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Res. 125.3

Searching medieval legal manuscripts

Instead of creating a much longer post with too much manuscripts it is just as useful to give more indications of the road to them. Hanno Wijsman’s database Luxury Bound guides you to illuminated manuscripts from the Burgundian Low Countries, and the Verzeichnis by Dolezalek and Van de Wouw is indispensable in finding medieval legal manuscripts. For Bartolus manuscripts in Spanish and Italian libraries have been tracked down and described by Emanuele Casamassima and Antonio García y García in Codices operum Bartoli a Saxoferrato recensiti, part I, Iter Italicum, and part II, Iter Hispanicum (2 vol., Florence 1971-1973). Thomas Izbicki and Patrick Lally have followed their footsteps in ‘Texts attributed to Bartolus de Saxoferrato in North American manuscript collections’, Manuscripta 35 (1991) 146-155. More repertories of medieval legal manuscripts do exist, for example in the field of medieval Roman law the Repertorium manuscriptorum veterum Codicis Justiniani, Gero Dolezalek and Laurent Mayali (eds.) (2 vol., Frankfurt am Main 1985), for German customary law Deutsche Rechtsbücher des Mittelalters, Ulrich-Dieter Oppitz (ed.) (3 vol., Cologne 1990-1992), and for medieval canon law in particular A catalogue of canon and Roman law manuscripts in the Vatican Library, of which sofar two volumes have appeared, edited by Stephan Kuttner and Reinhard Elze (Città del Vaticano 1986-1987). It is certainly possible to expand this paragraph, but these studies cover much.

You can find online information on manuscripts with texts concerning medieval canon law in the lists created by Gero Dolezalek and Giovanna Murano. Brendan McManus, too, provides useful additional information in his manuscript lists. Among the links provided by Dolezalek is the database of microfilms and CD-ROM kept at the Sezione di Storia del Diritto medievale e moderno in Milan. Microfilms of medieval legal manuscripts can also be consulted at Munich and Frankfurt am Main.

A wider view

Those wanting to pursue the history of heraldry will benefit from the Bibliographie héraldique internationale compiled by Michel Popoff. The analysis by Cavallar, Kirshner and Lepsius makes it crystal clear how Bartolus’ approach did not focus only on heraldic arms, but on any sign or mark people might use. Thus he could include a discussion of the trade marks used by artisans and merchants. Bartolus did not only look at knights and noble people, but looked first and foremost on city life in Tuscan towns which had and have connections with towns all over Europe. The three authors rightly warn us not look at medieval legal treatises in isolation. In the case of Bartolus it is far more interesting to relate his views on particular subjects to his main commentaries, and to make comparisons between his treatises, a path masterfully shown by Diego Quaglioni in his study Politica e diritto nel Trecento italiano (Florence 1983) with editions of three treatises on political themes by Bartolus. In this post you find just some aspects of larger issues which deserve further study. I am happy to share here some fragments from a virtual workbench, and to point you to the works of some leading scholars in the field of late medieval law.

A postscript

At his blog Archivalia Klaus Graf alerts to the online version of the study by Sonja Dünnebeil at Prosopographica Burgundica, a site with a digital library for the history of the Burgundian court, a database on the personnel of this court as indicated in the ordonnances d’hôtel, and also a database on Burgundian heralds. Graf points to a very recent study by Torsten Hiltmann, Spätmittelalterliche Heroldskompendien. Referenzen adliger Wissenschaft im Zeitalter gesellschaftlichen Wandels (Munich 2011). Hiltmann has built Prosopographica Burgundica, an initiative of Werner Paravacini and the Deutsches Historisches Institut in Paris. If you want to look at websites about medieval heraldry you will find the selection and comments at the relevant pages of the Virtual Library Historische Hilfswissenschaften in Munich most useful. This Virtual Library for the historical auxiliary sciences  – in German or English  – is a classic website for medievalists. Since July 2012 you can search the Verzeichnis of Dolezalek and Van de Wouw online at the website of the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte in Frankfurt am Main.

A final addition: news about research on medieval heraldry can be conveniently found at the Heraldica Nova blog maintained by Torsten Hiltmann (Münster), with an overview of digitized armorials from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, with for example Kassel, UB, 4 Ms. Hist. 4, another manuscript with the statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece.. For an overview of medieval armorials and available editions you should visit the website of Steen Clemmensen.


 1. Osvaldo Cavallar and Julius Kirshner, ‘”Ne ultra scarpas”. Un cultore d’araldica fuorilegge”, Ius Commune 27 (2001) 297-311 – this review of the edition by Mario Cignoni (Florence 1998) is available online.
2. Gustav A. Seyler, ‘Domini Bartoli de Saxoferrato Legum doctoris Tractatus de insigniis et armis’, Viertelsjahrschrift für Heraldik, Sphragistik und Genealogie 7 (1879) 268-283.
3. Jesús D. Rodriguez Velasco, ‘El “Tractatus de insigniis et armis” de Bartolo y su influencia in Europa (con la edición de un traducción in castelllana cuatrocentista)’, Emblemata. Revista aragonesa de emblemática 2 (1996) 35-70.


Copyrights and the threats of censorship

Between January 18 and 24, 2012 I have included in the top right corner of my blog a banner linking to the website on American Censorship which promotes the protest against the proposed SOPA/PIPA bills. Why this reference to current politics? Why this gesture? Perhaps because in the end politics will touch you, even when you stay aloof from politics.

On January 18, 2012 several websites black out during twelve hours as a more radical sign of protest against legislation which could allow the government of the United States of America to block websites completely. Among the protesters are the English Wikipedia and the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive is not only an archive for websites, but also a treasure-house for digitized books. Many eminent libraries contribute to it.

Almost a year ago the Egyptian government blocked the access to internet in Egypt. Only a few websites in Egypt could be reached within the country and from abroad. This contemporary development led me to write a post on Egyptian websites with the title “Switched off?”. Among the websites not touched in January 2011 by this act of censorship was a sister website of the Internet Archive maintained at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria. Today, too, it serves as the indispensable mirror of the project in San Francisco.

Yesterday I published a post about the mazarinades, the pamphlets and libels attacking the policies of cardinal Mazarin in seventeenth-century France. A pamphlet from 1651 with the title La Mazarinade coined the generic term for these pamphlets. Mazarin had the guts and wisdom to start collecting these pamphlets in a period which saw the growth of absolutist regimes. To put things into a sharper perspective, Mazarin had started in 1643 the first public library in France, the Bibliothèque Mazarine.

Historians and in particular legal historians cannot close their eyes to proposals which could in the end very well make independent and objective scientific research and free access to information impossible. Perhaps protection of rights is not so much the problem, but in fact it can become a tool of censorship in the hands of multinational organizations and governments fearing democratic control and the free circulation of news, ideas and goods. While at face value only protecting claims to copyright recognized by law it can become far more, even a legitimation of preventive actions. Claims to absolute protection of copyright are indeed claims, not per se facts. Claims to copyright on items clearly in public domain should be ruled out of court.

As for information on blogs, there are both commercial and public initiatives to transmit information from blogs without prior notification to authors. Thus some of my blog posts have appeared with clear indication of its origin at Criminocorpus Radar, the news bulletin of the French Criminocorpus project. I see this as a fine example of free dissemination of information. Nevertheless even I have added a disclaimer to my blog…

As for history online and the history of copyright, the website Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), created by the universities of Bournemouth and Cambridge, brings together a most useful selection of texts. To them you can add the digitized texts in the Archivio Marini of the Università degli Studi di Pisa.

Others have spoken and will speak surely more eloquently and persuasively than I about this issue. I am curious what will show up about this question at the websites of the United States Copyright Office, the Law Library of Congress and the blog In Custodia Legis, “In Protection of the Law”, where the law librarians of the Library of Congress express themselves on many matters. Will they speak out now, too? Anyway, the Library of Congress offers a sensible starting point for tracking the proceedings about the proposed bill. The library’s very recently launched subdomain Bills This Week to Be Considered on the House Floor gives an overview of bills under consideration. The THOMAS system of the Library of Congress for legislative information provides further links to the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PIPA and the actions undertaken by the American Congress.

Law and protest in the mazarinades

In the history of pamphleteering a particular kind of pamphlets has earned a name which has sometimes almost obscured the very fact that they are pamphlets. The mazarinades are French pamphlets from the mid-seventeenth century aimed against the policies of cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602-1661). Mazarin had succeeded cardinal Richelieu in 1642 as the first minister of king Louis XIV (1638-1715) who at that time was still a child. Mazarin was very intelligent, but also greedy and sly, and on top of that his reputation was hampered by his Italian origin, for he was born as Giulio Mazarino. After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 a revolt started against the French government. The revolt of the Fronde was led by the French nobility and very specifically influenced by the high courts of law under the ancien régime, the parlements. These courts claimed the right to stop royal legislation which conflicted in their opinion with French customary law, the coutumes. From 1648 to 1653 the Fronde divided France, and the country came close to civil war.

Portrait of Mazarin by Pierre Mignard

Cardinal Mazarin, painting by Pierre Mignard; Chantilly, Musée Condé – image in public domain

In 2011 I mentioned the mazarinades once in passing when writing about the Bibliothèquw Mazarine in Paris in a post about research institutions in the French capital. I could have mentioned the mazarinades also in a post on digital pamphlet collections, but I somehow had not considered including these French pamphlets. In this post I would like to make amends for my omission.

The mazarinades

The Bibliothèque Mazarine, the oldest French public library, opened its doors in 1643. Since 1945 it is linked with the Institut de France as one of the grands établissements in Paris. The library is home to various collections which you can access using the online catalogues. The manuscripts kept at the Bibliothèque Mazarine are included in the nationwide Calames catalogue. Images from illuminated manuscripts are shown on the Liber Floridus website.

Among the collections of the Bibliothèque Mazarine are some 5,000 mazarinades in the Fonds de mazarinades with an overall total of more than 12,000 items, including double copies. Cardinal Mazarin started himself collecting the pamphlets, also because some of them actually supported his policies. His first librarian, Gabriel Naudé, was very active in bringing these materials into the Mazarine. Naudé had published in 1627 the Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque, the first manual in French on the creation of libraries; the 1963 facsimile of the first edition has been digitized by the ENSSIB in its series Les classiques de la bibliothéconomie. Many items stem from collections kept elsewhere that found eventually their way to the Mazarine. By choosing Autres catalogues in the library’s online catalogue and selecting the link for the mazarinades you can easily limit your search to the Fonds de mazarinades.

Bibliographers have not been idle with the mazarinades. Célestin de Moreau published a three-volume Bibliographie des Mazarinades (Paris 1850-1851), and his example was followed by others. Many European libraries have collected mazarinades. For the university library of the Radboud University in Nijmegen Th.F. van Koolwijk edited in 1968 a special catalogue of mazarinades. The website of the Mazarine gives a succinct list of major publications about this genre. In the list figure not only Robert O. Lindsay and John Neu (eds.), French political pamphlets 1547-1648: a catalog of major collections in American libraries (London 1969), and their Mazarinades: a checklist of copies in major collections in the United States (Metuchen 1972), but also a recent mémoire de maîtrise, a thesis written by Christelle Kremer at the Université Paris-IV, D’un cardinal à l’autre: le figure de Richelieu dans les mazarinades (Paris 2005). It made me curious to find out whether you might be able to consult this thesis online, and of course I will look here into the online presence of the mazarinades themselves and literature about them. The Bibliothèque Mazarine has only a small digital library, with just one digitized mazarinade.

A first port of call for online research into mazarinades is offered by a team of scholars in Tokyo and Nagoya with the website Recherches internationales sur les Mazarinades. This website offers a search facility for finding specific pamphlets and libels in the successive bibliographical repertories from Moreau onwards until the present. For those registering with the scholarly team you can also get access to the transcriptions of some 2,700 pamphlets kept at Tokyo. The companion blog to this website offers almost more than this site. You will find a very useful selection of relevant links, including to digitized works within the Internet Archive, where Moreau’s bibliography and his supplements are present, and also his Choix des mazarinades (2 vol., Paris 1853). Very interesting is the overview of libraries in France and worldwide with holdings containing mazarinades. Some library catalogues provide even the Moreau numbers. The list gives only a single indication of digitized pamphlets, for the Archives Départementales de Dordogne at Périgord with fifteen pamphlets. Finally among the pièces you will find a small number of digitized marinades, and the book which constitutes the first attempt to a critical overview of the vast number of publications that had appeared since 1648, the Jugement de tout ce qui a esté publié contre le cardinal Mazarin (Paris 1650) by Gabriel Naudé. This page has an embedded link to the digitized copy at Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Gallica yields in a first general search for mazarinades 387 results, including a digital version of Moreau’s bibliography. A query in Europeana brings you to nearly 400 items, and here, too, you will find some digitized bibliographies.

In 2011 the Agence Bibliographique de l’Enseignement Supérieur (ABES) launched, a website for the publication of French theses in open access. The mémoire de maîtrise of Christelle Kremer does not figure at this website. More formal data on it are included in the SUDOC catalogue, another service of ABES. SUDOC lists currently 33 titles concerning mazarinades, among them the second edition of Christian Jouhaud’s Mazarinades: la France des mots (Paris 2009; first edition 1985). At you will theses such as Matthieu Lecoutre, Ivresse et ivrognerie dans la France moderne (XVIème – XVIIIème siècles) (Dijon 2010), with views on drunks and drunkenness, and also proposed theses. Christian Jouhard directs at the EHESS since 2008 the research of Eleanore Serdecny on Des mazarinades aux rëcits de voyage : écriture, littérature et politique dans la France du XVIIe siècle, which focuses on literary dimensions of the mazarinades.

It is possible to conduct a full text search in a number of French scientific journals through the consortium Open Edition which is responsible for Calenda, the French social sciences events calendar, the journal portal Revues and Hypotheses, a portal to French and since a few months also German scientific blogs. Thus a search for mazarinades in connection with law at Open Edition can contain references to articles, largely available in open acces, to blog posts and also to upcoming or past events. In 2009 Sophie Vergnes (Toulouse) gave a lecture about views in mazarinades concerning the equality of men and women, and the notice will lead you to more scholars working on the theme of law and women in Early Modern France. Vergnes’ article ‘De la guerre civile comme vecteur d’émancipation féminine : l’exemple des aristocrates frondeuses (France, 1648-1653)’Genre & Histoire 6 (Printemps 2010) can be consulted online. A search at Cairn, the journal portal of four major French publishers, yields even more results than at Open Edition, but you cannot not freely access the latest articles, only the somewhat older issues.

Here I will highlight just a few results. The protests in the mazarinades have been placed in the tradition of protest against despotic governments in the article of Mario Turchetti, Droit de Résistance, à quoi ? Démasquer aujourd”hui le despotisme et la tyrannie’Revue historique 4/2006 (n° 640) 831-878. Turchetti has created a website on the history of protest against tyranny. In an online issue of Les Dossiers du Grihl you will even find a current bibliography created by Jean-Pierre Cavaillé on the history of free thought, anticlerical thinking and atheism, ‘Bibliographie : Libertinage, libre pensée, irréligion, athéisme, anticléricalisme – 3’. Despite his own warning that this does not constitute an exhaustive bibliography it is certainly impressive and illuminating.

Of course more can be found in print and online. Many older articles on French history can be viewed online using the Persée portal. As always the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog can help you very much to find publications concerning French pamphlets and cardinal Mazarin. One of the more recent online resources indicated here is a Canadian mémoire de maîtrise by Josée Poirier, “Contrer les mazarinades”: les préambules des édits royaux pendant la Fronde (1648-1652) d’après le “Recueil des Anciennes Lois Françaises” d’Isambert (Université de Québec, Montréal, 2009). Isambert’s Recueil Général appeared in Paris in 29 volumes between 1821 and 1833 and can be consulted online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library. In my view Poirier has chosen a rewarding search angle by looking at the preambles of French royal ordinances issued to some extent also against the allegations and protests appearing in print in an seemingly endless stream of pamphlets.

If you would like to read more on paper about the mazarinades and legal history you could start for example with the recent article by Damien Salles, ‘Droit royal d’imposer, consentement et mazarinades’, Revue historique de droit français et étranger, 88 (2010) 365-396. The Bibliographie d’Histoire du Droit en langue française, an online service of the Centre Lorrain d’Histoire du Droit, Université Nancy-2, will guide you swiftly to more French publications. When French is not your first option, you can of course find orientation in English studies, too. During the preparation of this post I came across some books which can now also be consulted online at a website of the University of California Press. You will certainly benefit from older studies such as Jeffrey K. Sawyer, Printed poison, pamphlet propaganda, faction politics and the public atmosphere in early seventeenth-century France (1991), Sara E. Melzer, From the royal to the republican body. Incorporating the political in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France (1998) or Jonathan Dewald, Aristocratic experience and the origins of modern culture: France 1570-1715 (1993).

Mirroring a cardinal, France and French law

Pamphlets do not necessarily represent the truth. They might misrepresent reality or more positively create their own images of society and law. Mazarinades can offer a kind of distorted mirror of the ancien régime in one of its classic and most pivotal periods, and some pamphlets might present the kind of truths which were at that time difficult to swallow. The mixture of an aristocratic movement with generous use of a very popular medium is in itself already fascinating. No wonder discerning men as Mazarin and Naudé tried to get their hands on them as diligently as possible. This particular kind of pamphlets did surely have a legal sequel.

As for digitized pamphlets from the Fronde period one could certainly hope for more examples of them. One of the few lists with individual digitized mazarinades is provided at the Online Books Page of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, which offers far more than only the sources themselves, however central they remain to the subject of aristocratic views of the French royal government around 1650.

More about French pamphlets can be found in the post ‘Tracing digitized French pamphlets’

Historical British newspapers at a price

Logo The British Newspaper ArchiveIn the midst of all activities around Christmas the British Library has launched a massive digital collection, the British Newspaper Archive. You might think that in 2012 I would have found a message about its launch in a tweet, but I stumbled upon it without using the digital tool for this virtual activity. Within a minute it became crystal clear that you can have here “history at your finger tips” as the blurb on the site puts it, depending of course on your specific search, but then the signs appear that you have to pay to view the contents you have just found. As for the search possibilities, the advanced search mode should satisfy the most exacting scholars. The free trial is very meagre, just a few pages, so you might grudgingly decide not everything valuable comes free. You have to pay to use this wonderful Christmas present to its full extent. The British Library has licensed a commercial firm to receive money for this project which surely has costed a lot of money, for you will find scores of newspapers, some of them starting in the early eighteenth century, up to more recent times. For £ 79,95 a year you can have your own private subscription. Having the riches in front of you as colourful thumbnails but not being able to view them in full size is a tantalizing experience.

Lately I had the chance to use a number of digitized Dutch newspapers, for instance in the post on the Hoorn Pie Trial. It made me more aware of the uses you can make of these sources both as a general historian and as a legal historian. I take the example of these Dutch newspapers not only to give this post a Dutch flavor, but to show you more closely what you can find using digitized newspapers. The British Library and this new digital archive stand out from other digital newspaper archives, because it is really rare to find paying digitized historic newspaper websites.

Paying for digitized British sources

In fact more British examples of paying historical websites can be given. Last year I wrote in a post briefly about the project 19th Century British Pamphlets Online, where you are allowed to search the catalogue with more than 20,000 items from seven British research institutions. The pamphlets themselves, however, can be only be viewed at subscribing institutions. At the British Cartoon Archive, an example closely associated with newspapers, £ 25 is charged for each image that you want to get in its full quality. Some English archives with digitized collections from their medieval holdings charge you for the use of digital images. An example for medieval canon law are the Cause Papers in the diocesan courts of the archbishopric of York, 1300-1858. The University of York has finished the digitization and is now adding them to the inventory. Perhaps this will bring a change in the way one can access these materials.

Is it the sheer scope and scale and the investments involved in these admittedly large projects that led the institutions involved to choose for commercial or semi-commercial solutions? I would have to be more familiar with current English copyright law, but to me it seems that newspapers before 1900 at least are out of copyright. For me it is clear that a convincing explanation is needed why a national library allows you to use many digital sources freely, but makes an exception for newspapers. If the answer is a plain need of money, this would be the start of an honest and full response.

Historical newspapers online in Britain and elsewhere

As my point of depart in this post I will take the overview of online old newspapers at European History Primary Sources, a portal to commented online sources for European history maintained at the European University Institute in Florence. The most simple general search for newspapers yields some ninety digital collections, almost all of them in public and free access. Luckily the overview indicates also some British websites with historical newspapers which can be viewed in open access. At first a surprise is British Newspapers online, a project again at the British Library where you can use four newspapers freely for at least a limited time span, to be more precisely, the Manchester Guardian (1851, 1856, 1886), the Daily News (1851, 1856, 1886, 1900, 1918), the News of the World (1851, 1856, 1886, 1900, 1918), and the Weekly Dispatch (1851, 1856, 1886, 1900, 1918). Here you might at least try to compare the coverage of events in some particular interesting years. The four newspapers are also available through British Newspapers 1800-1900, the earlier subscribers’ only project of the British Library with 49 historical local and national newspapers. However, the Penny Illustrated Paper and The Graphic can be viewed free of charge. The websites Gazettes Online brings you to the London Gazette, the Edinburgh Gazette and the Belfast Gazette, but their official character sets them apart from normal newspapers.

Some British newspapers have made a selection from their historical archive. Guardian Century is not a complete archive of the period 1899-1999, but merely a selection of the main new items from each year. The digital archive of The Scotsman for the period 1817-1950 gives you full search possibilities, and a number of short – even for one day – and longer subscription options. To set the record straight for the British isles, the Irish Times offers a digital archive for the period 1859-2009 where you get the first lines of each result, but for more you have to pay four times as much for a yearly subscription at the British Newspaper Archive. For such an amount of money you had better subscribe to the services of the Irish Newspapers Archives with fourteen newspapers. At a server of the Lafayette University, Louisiana, is the index to the Belfast News-Letter from 1737 to 1800, which can help your searches on Irish matters.

The thirst for in-depth knowledge of a city as important as London is of course stronger than ever, not just for lovers of London and visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games, but also for legal historians since the appearance of London Lives 1690 to 1800. Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis, a website with a very large number of digitized documents, among them a substantial number of criminal records and coroner records. The coroner was and is the official charged with inquiries into unnatural deaths. A prime example of a recent British history project which should hold great interest because of the way various kinds of records and perspectives are combined is Connected Histories, a portal with sources for British history between 1500 and 1900. The York Cause Papers are according to this website freely accessible, but the restriction on the images is noted in the main text. London Lives, too, is a part of Connecting Histories, as are the Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913. By chance I misremembered the title of this gateway and thus found the website Connecting Histories, an educational project on the history of Birmingham.

Connected Histories gives also more information about British Newspapers 1600-1900. This project consisted of two subprojects at the British Library of which we already met the first. The other project concerned the digitization of newspapers from the seventeenth and eighteenth century in the Burney Collection.

In the project Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (NSCE) of Kings’ College London, the British Library and other institutions you can consult freely six English periodicals from the nineteenth century, which will help somewhat to redress the balance between subscribers’ only and freely accessible digital newspaper archives in the United Kingdom, as do the six journals digitized by the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The links and projects selection at NCSE is particular useful. The project Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical helps you to find views on science in a large number of general periodicals from Victorian England. For both newspapers and periodicals the Waterloo Directory to British Newspapers and Periodicals 1800-1900 offers online guidance.

A page of the Dutch Startpagina web directory is concerned with historical newspapers and gives an overview of online newspaper archives from many countries. Most of the British examples mentioned here figure in this overview, and these from also a section on a similar page of this directory about current British newspapers.

Dutch historic newspapers

Getting access to digitized old Dutch newspapers is in all cases I have seen until now a free service. Current newspapers do charge a fee for full access to the digital version and to their archives, but older editions are available for free at an increasing number of special websites. The largest project is an initiative at the Dutch Royal Library, Historische Kranten. Here appears gradually a large selection of national, regional and local newspapers from 1618 to 1995. At this moment you will find already a number of seventeenth and eighteenth century newspapers, and much more from later times until 1945. For some national newspapers the regional editions, too, have been digitized, mainly the issues during the Second World War. The Royal Library give a useful overview of major initiatives in countries such as Belgium, France, Austria, Australia and the United States, and a selection of Dutch regional projects. For Dutch colonial history one has to single out the Indonesian Newspapers Project at the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies for the digitization of newspapers in Malayan from the former Dutch Indies.

Dutch regional and local newspapers are being digitized by a number of archives. This approach is completely absent in the United Kingdom. You must forgive me not to include here a full list of digitized newspapers because the number is very large. The overview of digitized historical newspapers at Startpagina puts Dutch newspapers in order by province. The Gazette de Leyde made available at the French website Gazettes européennes du 18e siècle is by mistake listed as the “Leiden Staatsblad”, but this gazette was not an official publication. Newspapers from the Second World War are mentioned separately, and there is even a list of not yet digitized newspapers. The reference to the Oprechte Haerlemse Courant is to a website concerned with the announcements in this seventeenth-century newspaper which refer often to the Dutch book trade.

A few examples: the archives in Utrecht have for example digitized the Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad for the years 1893 until 1897. You can view in detail the pages of this newspaper, but you cannot download them due to an agreement with its publishers. For Leiden the Digitaal Krantenarchief of the Regional Archives Leiden gives you access to twelve newspapers, including the local version of the national newspaper Trouw and the short-lived Zuidhollandsch Dagblad. The Leidsche Courant (1720-1890 and from 1909 onwards) and the Leidsch Dagblad (1860-) do refer of course very often to Leyden University. I found even notices celebrating the anniversaries of doctoral degrees.

The value of old newspapers and the costs of historic culture

Is the current debate about the costs of digitization really the debate it should be? Is it sensible to restrict it to matters like the role of subventions by the government to relevant projects, the wish to establish national cultural institutions as independent players in the culture market with a duty to find their own sponsors and sources for income? Is it perhaps also a debate which you cannot restrict to claims for free access to the national and international cultural heritage at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end claims on property rights to digital images created by photographers and media departments? In my view this issue raises also questions about the freedom to get information from the government and governmental institutions. Which values do we cherish when we talk about history or cultural heritage? Who are to benefit from digitization projects, be it for current official information and digital records management for administrative purposes or for historic records: the general public, the exasperated taxpayers with their respective national nicknames, children receiving education, scholars doing research?

The British Library tries to give its British Newspapers project a new lifespan with the British Newspaper Archive. I cannot help noticing that this same library has belatedly made available online in open access a fair number of its priceless manuscripts, but asks a price for old issues of a medium of which the proverb says that today’s newspaper will serve next day to pack fish and eggs. Historic newspapers offer a fascinating perspective on views, opinions and blind spots, and shows both the conventional and the seemingly irregular. What once seemed ephemeral can become invaluable for the historian, and for anyone wishing to understand humans and their lives in past centuries. My hat tip for giving on December 23, 2011, a very early and extensive notice about the British Newspaper Archive goes to the website of an Italian encyclopedia.

A postscript

In this post I made a short remark about the presence of images at the website for the York Cause Papers. Images are now indeed being added to the cases in the database. Until now I saw only images for cases from the sixteenth century. Here open access has got the upper hand.

When revisiting the digital newspaper archive of the Regional Archives Leiden (RAL) it came to my notice that this project has a conflict with an organization representing the rights of authors. In September 2011 the RAL decided to remove newspapers printed from 1941 onwards as a perhaps all too submissive precautionary action. I had yet not been aware of this conflict, because in early January I could check newspapers after 1945.