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’

A postscript

The Bibliothèque Mazarine offers at its website a bibliographical database for searching mazarinades. The bbiliography of Moreau is its core. It is most helpful to able to filter here for mazarinades on particular subjects, from a specific author or stemming from a particular region, and the recherche avancée offers even more.

An issue of the journal Histoire et civilisation du livre 12 (2016) has been devoted to the theme Mazarinades, nouvelles approches.

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