Tag Archives: Pamphlets

Bruegel’s bewitching legacy

Detail of a print by Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Saint James visiting the magician Hermogenes (detail) – Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum

Exhibitions sometimes make you hesitate to visit them at all. Will they only confirm what you already knew or suspected, or will they offer you food for thought and send you in new directions? Since September 19, 2015 you can see at the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, a museum for the history of Christian art in the Low Countries, an exhibition about images and the imagination of witches. Bruegel’s Witches focuses on drawings, prints and paintings by the great Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (around 1525-1569). The exhibition credits Bruegel with creating in a few works the very stereotype of witches, looking as a woman with wild hairs and flying though the air on a broom. In is very best tradition the museum looks also at Bruegel’s contemporaries, shows earlier images of magicians and sorceresses, and it follows the impact of Bruegel’s imagination through the centuries. In 2016 the exhibition will be put on display at the Sint-Janshospitaal in Bruges.

This month Museum Catharijneconvent also shows the Utrecht Psalter (Utrecht, University Library, ms. 32), the most famous medieval manuscript in the holdings of Dutch libraries. This manuscript with vibrantly illuminated pages from the early ninth century is only rarely shown in public, and even scholars seldom are allowed to look at it. If you have your doubts about the Bruegel exhibit, you should come at least for the Utrecht Psalter.

Witches in context

At the Catharijneconvent, a former hospital and convent of the Knights Hospitaller, Christian art is always presented within the context of other expressions of Christian life and practice. In this exhibition, too, you will find objects from daily life and criminal justice, and also books. A particular resource used here are the so-called Wickiana, some 430 illustrated newsletters from the sixteenth century collected by the Swiss protestant vicar Johann Jacob Wick (1522-1580) who also wrote a chronicle about events in Zürich. The Zentralbibliothek in Zürich has digitized the Wickiana. This source is not only a form of communicating news, but it offers also a window to popular culture and protestant views of culture and life. The Wickiana shows the use of images and relate also to the perception of all kind of events and elements of culture at large. From the perspective of book history they belong to the category of pamphlets, or even more precisely to the Einblattdrücke. On my website for legal history I have created an overview of digitized pamphlet collections. Wick’s collection contains also many of his own coloured drawings.

The exhibition shows materials bearing directly on the way courts dealt with witches. There is for example a copy of Joost de Damhouder’s Praxis rerum criminalium (Antverpiae 1556). You can look at archival records from the castle Huis Bergh in ‘s-Heerenberg from 1605 about a trial against Mechteld ten Ham who was accused of sorcery (available online [Archief Huis Bergh, inv. no. 7268]). Interesting is also the so-called schandhuik, the “cover of shame”, from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, an object designed to parade infamous women. Among the books on display is also a treatise by the Jesuit Martin Antonio Delrio (1551-1608), Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex (Lovanio 1599), a book dealing both with the theological interpretation of witchcraft and with the role of judicial courts. Delrio was a humanist scholar, a nephew of Michel de Montaigne and a friend of Justus Lipsius. It prompted me to look at the number of books dealing with witchcraft and demonology signalled by the Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) in St. Andrews. The USTC gives you hundreds of titles, and you find of many works several editions. By the way, the book of De Damhouder appeared also in Dutch and French. The USTC is one of the portals indicating also access to digital versions of these works.

Firing the imagination

When you visit the exhibition at Utrecht, you can view the works of art, artefacts, books and pamphlets using a summary guide (Dutch or English), use an audio tour or dive into a fine classical exhibition catalogue. Walking through the rooms and corridors of this exhibition can thus be a rather normal contemporary museum experience, or you can choose a multimedia approach to submerge yourself into the dark world of Early Modern imagination. However strong images and imaginary worlds may be, they combined with the forces of churches and courts to create images of women. Even when they escaped from outright persecution women had to cope with very powerful unfavorable representations of their gender. Imagination, perspectives on gender and anxieties were part and parcel of the period which saw the growing impact of real and imagined magic and sorcery. The role of courts in dealing with witchcraft surely did not always do credit to law and justice.

This exhibition at Utrecht is visually attractive and seduces you to some extent to revel in the imagery of witchcraft, but there is a sober and more disconcerting reality behind which should not be lost out of view. Malcolm Gaskill’s volume Witchcraft. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, etc., 2010) has been translated into Dutch in 2011 by Nynke Goinga [Hekserij, Een kort overzicht (Rotterdam 2011)]. I seldom condemn books or translations, but this translator succeeds in utterly missing the crux of the matters under discussion. Many translated sentences sound strange as if she did not understand at all the subject of this book. Alas witchcraft as a historical subject will remain open to the fascination of those people searching for sensation and esoteric phenomena. There is too much at stake around this subject to leave it to thrill seekers and freaks. However, such statements do not make it easier to face the challenges to deal with this complex subject, starting with the oceans of publications about witches and sorcerers. We need the powers of deep thinking and applying all of the (legal) historian’s crafts to do justice to this aspects of Early Modern history. If this exhibition convinces you at least of the value of this conclusion, your visit will be fruitful.

De heksen van Breugel / Bruegel’s Witches – Utrecht, Museum Catharijneconvent, September 19, 2015-January 31, 2016, and Bruges, Sint-Janshospitaal, February 25 to June 26, 2016

A postscript

Klaus Graf pointed in one of his latest 2015 posts at Archivalia at the online version [PDF, 200 MB] of the dissertation by Renilde Vervoort: “Vrouwen op den besem en derghelijck ghespoock.” Pieter Bruegel en de traditie van hekserijvoorstellingen in de Nederlanden tussen 1450 en 1700 [“Women on brooms and similar ghostly things”. Pieter Bruegel and the tradition of witchcraft iconography in the Low Countries between 1450 and 1700] (Nijmegen 2011).


Tracing digitized pamphlets

This month work on new posts did not go as quickly as I had expected, but alas I did not find another subject to write about, until I suddenly found it. This week I made a few additions to the page at my own website on digital pamphlet collections, a page that I published only two months ago. In May 2013 Peter B. Hirtle of Cornell University Library kindly alerted me to the recently launched Trial Pamphlets Collection of Cornell Law Library. In 2011 I had written about pamphlets in two posts, one focusing on pamphlets, another focusing on trials. It seemed a useful effort to put my badly ordered examples of digital collections into some more permanent form.

My overview presents collections ordered by country and where possible in chronological order. For my list I have reluctantly excluded commercial projects accessible mostly only at subscribing libraries, and I try to focus on collections devoted exclusively to pamphlets, except when pamphlets form a substantial and well-defined part of larger digital libraries. Of course the large-scale subscribers’ only projects are most valuable, but you can easily spot them at the websites of many university libraries and national libraries. Any substantial addition to my overview is most welcome. At some universities access to digitized pamphlets is only possible for students and staff.

An example of a French pamphlet

An example of a French pamphlet – image Center for Research Libraries

As I added some collections to my own overview I luckily came across the French Pamphlet Project (FPP) – hosted at the University of Florida – for creating an online overview of digitized French pamphlets with the aim also of eventually creating a portal to digitized French pamphlets worldwide. At this moment you can already get access at French Pamphlets to nearly 500 digitized items. By the way, the case of France makes immediately the interplay clear between law and politics. It brings you to the role of the parlements, the provincial courts. Since 2013 the NEH supports with a one-year grant the project of CIFNAL, the branch for French collections of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) (Chicago) with both American and European participating libraries. As for now the website looks a bit empty, apart from the early version of the portal, but it is accompanied by a Facebook page which brings you to more information, in particularly on the participating libraries and the number of pamphlets in their collections. CRL has experience with both projects concerning France, for example the Bibliothèque Bleue, the cheap books series published at Troyes and elsewhere in eighteenth-century France, and the Digital Library of the Caribbean, and also with pamphlets, in particular Chinese pamphlets and pamphlets and periodicals of the French revolution of 1848.

I tried to get access to the digitized pamphlets of the Bibliothèque de Toulouse mentioned at the Facebook information page of the FFP, and specifically at Rosalis, bibliothèque numérique de Toulouse, but I failed to find the 150 pamphlets indicated by the French Pamphlet Project. Only four pamphlets is meagre indeed. In the digital library Tolosana of the Université de Toulouse I could find at least 33 digitized pamphlets. The FPP invites institutions not yet contacted to get in touch with the project team.

I will not bother you here with other difficulties in getting access to pamphlets in some of the participating institutions, but surely the lack of a search for formats at Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, is a major hindrance in tracking pamphlets. An example of a pamphlet collection easily showing its riches is the one at Harvard College Library: a simple search for “France” yielded already nearly 300 results. The University of Maryland has not yet an online searchable database for its digitized pamphlets, but apart from an online inventory of the 5500 pamphlets you can use a preset search using WorldCat to find at least a set of 500 digitized French pamphlets. The University of Florida Libraries deserve our thanks for developing a nutshell guide to the collections of the institutions cooperating in the French Pamphlet Project.

Logo of The Newberry Library, Chicago

One of the most promising collections which will eventually be accessible, too, at the FPP is the major collection of French pamphlets – well over 36,000 in all – at the Newberry Library, Chicago. The project for cataloguing and digitizing this collection started in 2009. It is accompanied by a fine blog. From January 28 to April 13, 2013 the Newberry Library held the exhibition Politics, Piety and Poison: French Political Pamphlets, 1600-1800, presenting its French pamphlets, mirrored in a splendid virtual exhibition. Among the pamphlet collections of the Newberry Library are the Louis XVI Trial and Execution Collection (530 items) and also two collections with a Dutch connection, the Jansenist collection of 700 pamphlets concerning the Old-Catholic Church, and some 800 Dutch pamphlets, mainly from the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Not only the French Revolution…

The French Pamphlet Project wisely restricts itself to collections with mainly pamphlets concerning the French Revolution. It should therefore not be a surprise to find no mentioning at all of the mazarinades, a particular subgenre of French pamphlets aiming at the politics of cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602-1661). Here I wrote about mazarinades in 2012. A team of scholars in Tokyo and Nagoya has created the website Recherches internationales sur les Mazarinades with an overview of libraries in France and worldwide with holdings containing mazarinades. After registration with the Japanese project you get access to a large number of digitized mazarinades, but it is difficult to find much digitized materials outside their project. In my post I provided a number of links to digital collections. At Gallica and at Europeana I found nearly 400 digitized mazarinades.

The vivid debates and the intense communication about law, society and politics in France recorded in the mazarinades are a wonderful resource for our knowledge of the perception of the French Ancien Régime. In my view the wealth of the mazarinades provides to some extent the background for the FPP. The mazarinades set in a way the scene and at least some of the limits of the French pamphlet genre. The very word mazarinades truly almost hides the fact that you look at pamphlets!

In the section for France on my own page for digital pamphlet collection not only pamphlets for the French revolutionary period appear. I also mention Pamphlets.fr: Le répertoire des grand pamphlets, a project with mainly pamphlets by famous French people from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and The Siege and Commune of Paris 1870-1871, a project of Northwestern University for pamphlets, newspapers and other documents concerning another particular period in French history.

Interactions between websites, blogs and social media

One of the lessons I learned in dealing with digitized pamphlets is the importance of interaction between a website and a blog or other social media. When I started collecting information about relevant digital collections in 2011 I confess to have searched sometimes a bit at random. I did not just follow the beaten paths, but I ventured outside them.

Choosing what to include and what to exclude is sometimes really difficult. This week I visited by chance a digital collection of the Bayerische Landesbibliothek Online, Revolution, Rätegremien und Räterepublik in Bayern, 1918/19, a collection concerning the revolutionary period in Bavaria immediately after the First World War. Pamphlets appear in a section of this digital collection. Now is it wise to put this item in an overview of digital pamphlets, or should one present it in an overview of digital libraries? As for now I have chosen this last option and included them on my page with digital libraries, but it might be better to copy this item also to my page for digital pamphlets. This example is just one illustration of the problems in creating a useful and sensibly organized overview with a clear focus. Obviously you cannot rely on just one overview, and luckily you can often find other attempts as well, both in print as online. Let’s wish the French Pamphlet Project good luck!

The examples of the French Pamphlet Project, with both a portal site and a Facebook page, and the pamphlet project at the Newberry Library with on its main site a general introduction and guide to the online catalogs and a blog presenting interesting examples and stories from the project, show graphically some ways of combining the strengths of a website, often more static but also more durable, and the peculiar benefits of social media, the wide and quick dissemination of news for anyone interested. Speaking for myself, I am very happy to maintain a website and a blog on legal history. It is one of my hopes that visitors of the website will also look at this blog, and vice versa, because the two really depend on each other, for the benefit of the visitors.

Some postcripts

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., has some 2,600 mazarinades in its holdings, one of the largest collections anywhere to be found. The library announced in 2014 at its special website Folgerpedia the full cataloguing and digital presentation of this great collection.

Digitized collections of pamphlets published during the First World War can conveniently be searched using the overview I created at my blog Digital1418. When you follow this link you will find all items tagged Pamphlets, and not just links for each collection with a short indication of contents, but also a compact description of its background and accessibility.

Gallica does indeed contain many hundreds digitized pamphlets, but it remains difficult to catch them with one general search action. In 2017 the Newberry Library could add many items to its digital collection of French pamphlets at the Internet Archive, with 30,000 items surely one of the largest projects I know about.

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 Theses.fr, 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 Theses.fr 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.

For your eyes only? Legal history and some new digital libraries

This year I have published a number of posts about digital libraries. In my latest contribution on Dutch digital libraries I expressed my wish to write here more often about archival records and museums. It goes against the grain to write again about some digital libraries. However, by sheer coincidence three digital libraries have been launched in a short time span which all deal with materials in Dutch libraries. The Dutch Royal Library in The Hague has partnered with ProQuest in their project Early European Books: Printed Sources to 1700, and this library is also present in Brill’s Early Modern Pamphlets Online. Pamphlets held at Groningen University Library, are present, too, in this project, as are the German pamphlets microfilmed earlier on in the series Flugschriften des 16. Jahrhunderts. Last month the University Library at Groningen launched a new subdomain for their digital collections. Each of these three digital collections contain materials relevant to legal historians. Bringing them together in one post seemed a sensible thing to do.

There is a significant difference and an equally important similarity between each of the projects of the Dutch Royal Library and the digitized collections at Groningen. The University of Groningen presents one set of collections in open access, but this library has just as the Royal Library decided also to start a partnership with a firm which allows only restricted access to the collections they have digitized. Only at subscribing libraries or as holder of a library card of the Dutch Royal Library you can view this digitized pamphlets collection. When I checked this collection today using my Royal Library card I could not find at first the digital pamphlet collection in the overview of online databases at the homepage of the Royal Library. In fact it was thanks to the marvellous page on book history that I noticed the project for the digitization of these pamphlets. The books of the Royal Library digitized for Early European Books can be viewed freely within the Netherlands, but not elsewhere.

Some questions about access

Why keeping a number of digital collections within control of the holding library, and putting other collections on a kind of island which remains at the horizon, within sight but out of reach, a treasure room to be unlocked only for those who pay or have access to it at subscribing libraries? I realize quite well the Dutch Royal Library holds a rather large pamphlet collection (34,000), Groningen has some 2,800 pamphlets. I am equally aware that I am not the first to point out this difference which can look almost incomprehensible at a distance. The sheer number of items to digitized has not deterred Groningen University from creating an extensive digital repository with for legal historians interesting things like dissertations defended at the Law Faculty of Groningen and on another server a growing number of historical maps. Issues starting from 1999 of the legal history journal Groninger Opmerkingen en Mededelingen are freely accessible online, too. On the new website for digital collections at Groningen you can find 127 fragments of papyri. You can read – in Dutch – about some of them also on De wereld aan boeken (The world in books), the book blog of the Department of Special collections of Groningen University Library. By the way, Bifolium is the digital version of the news bulletin on manuscripts and rare books edited at Groningen. Updates are rather infrequent since the death of Jos M.M. Hermans, but the contributions of the new editorial team are certainly worth checking.

No doubt questions of budget, of digitizing more quickly by partnering with a publisher, and growing experience with digital collections and their maintenance play a significant role in the choices made by the two libraries in question to choose different ways for some of their collections. Still one can ask why not putting the famous Knuttel pamphlet collection of the Dutch Royal Library at Europeana, to mention just one of the projects in which this library plays a large and even eminent role? A quick search at Europeana yields at least 28 pamphlets held at The Hague, and they can be searched also using the Memory of the Netherlands portal. Pamphlets of national libraries form a part, too, of the digital collections accessible at the European Library, yet another possibility for virtual presentation of the Dutch pamphlets. for libraries it is perhaps also a question of playing several cards: in the past a number of digitization projects has had only a limited success or has simply failed. It was probably a successful example that helped guiding the decisions taken at The Hague and Groningen. Between 2002 and 2009 19th Century British Pamphlets Online realized the cataloguing and digitizing of some 23,000 items from seven British institutions. The project website provides you with a pamphlets catalogue, but the pamphlets themselves are only fully accessible through JSTOR.

Pamphlets and legal history

Pamphlets is the bibliographical term for short unbound treatises on any subject which is currently under discussion or cries out for comment or protest. I paraphrase here one of the most used modern definitions. The UNESCO definition of a pamphlet contains the additional criterion of a maximum length of 48 pages: “A pamphlet is a non-periodical printed publication of at least 5 but not more than 48 pages, exclusive of the cover pages, published in a particular country and made available to the public”. On my blog broadsides, one-page pamphlets, featured in the summer post on legal history in lyrics.

After my remarks about free and restricted access it is time to have a closer look at the projects under discussion. Early European Books comes with a multilingual user interface in English, Dutch, Danish and Italian. The bibliographical information on books is reinforced by using information on printers and printing history from the CERL Thesaurus and OCLC references which are used for WorldCat. You can view books either as web pages or download them in the PDF format. Interestingly you will find among the few digitized books concerning law and justice from the Royal Library almost exclusively pamphlets, and not just Dutch pamphlets. There is a French arrêt from the Parlement of Paris (Paris 1598; Pflt. 1012), a Dutch version (Middelburg 1584; Pflt. 715) of The execution of Iustice in England for maintenancee of publique and Christian peace by William Cecil Lord Burghley, two sentences by the scabini of Leiden (Leiden 1598; Pflt. 1035 and 1037), a confession of an attempt to assassinate Maurice of Orange (Utrecht 1594; Pflt. 918), a pamphlet demonstrating the rights of the States of Holland (Rotterdam 1587; Pflt. 791).

In Early Modern Pamphlets Online you will find already nearly 400 Dutch pamphlets when you search with the subject ‘Law’. Research for Dutch legal history for the period of the Dutch Republic and the Holy Roman Empire can benefit greatly from this source collection. One of the few quibbles are the lack of an advanced search interface and the black and white instead of color. Both collections contain all kind of pamphlets, many of them with contemporary illustrations, which makes them more than just textual sources.

The 127 Papyri Groninganae are really the only sources of primary interest for legal history at the new website for digital collections at the library of the University of Groningen, but everyone studying Dutch political developments or the advancement of science in the eighteenth century should look at the digitized letters of philosopher François Hemsterhuis (1721-1790). The papyri at Groningen cover a wide range of subjects, including legal matters. You can browse collections, choose the form of presentation of the items, build your own advanced search by adding search fields at will, and view almost everything in full color, as is the case for Early European Books, too.

More pamphlets for legal history

When writing this post I found I had overlooked some free accessible digital pamphlet collections for the page on Dutch legal history of my blog. To prevent complaints about not being able to see any Dutch pamphlets because of the restricted access policy I will say something more about these Dutch collections. From the pages of my website I have created a list of digitized pamphlets collections worldwide, not without adding some recent findings, thus saving you some time to bring them together.

Within the digital collections of Utrecht University Library a whole section is devoted to pamphlets. Until now nearly 800 pamphlets have been digitized. Under the modest title Utrechtse pamfletten you will find also publications from outside Utrecht and the Low Countries. The collection is accompanied by a short essay in Dutch on the definition of a pamphlet with ample reference to George Orwell’s views which led to the commonly excepted modern definition.

At Nijmegen the Center for Catholic Documentation has digitized a collection of 99 pamphlets from 1853 with protests against the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in the Netherlands. After the definitive coming of the Reformation from 1580 onwards the Northern Netherlands had been an apostolic vicariate. As the Dutch government confirmed the erection of new dioceses in 1853 a national movement of distressed protestants grew quickly, but this protest by many members of the Dutch elite was in vain.

At the portal for the Memory of the Netherlands you can search for some 1,000 digitized pamphlets from the Second World War and a few hundred pamphlets written by Multatuli, the pseudonym of the Dutch writer Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887), famous for Max Havelaar, his graphic novel from 1860 about the Dutch exploitation of the Indonesian archipelago and his inflammatory writings about many other subjects, including the Dutch political and legal system. Multatuli lost the case about the copyright on his novel, recently studied by Ika Sorgdrager, Dik van der Meulen and Jan Bank, ‘Ik heb u den Havelaar niet verkocht’. Multatuli contra Van Lennep [“I did not sell you the Havelaar”. Multatuli against Van Lennep] (Amsterdam 2010).

And to conclude this post a list of digitized pamphlet collections – in alphabetical order by country – with particular interest for legal historians, all of them freely accessible:

The last digital collection reminds me of repeating my promise to write about major phenomena and events which cannot be left out of legal histories. My posts on piracy were meant as the first contribution to a new series. If you agree with me that the list of digitized pamphlets should be enlarged you might try searching for pamphlets at Intute, a thing to do as long as that website is still running. The History Guide of the Göttingen State and University Library can lead you to many pamphlet collections, as do Clio Online and for example this page of the Virtual Library Labour History at the International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam.

A postcript

At Archivalia Klaus Graf points to the fact that the German bibliographical projects VD16VD17 and VD18 do contain large numbers of pamphlets. This source genre is increasingly being digitized, too. The QuickSearch of the catalogue of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna can be tuned to restrict your search to particular source types; for historical pamphlets you can select Einblattdrucke.

A second postscript

Roeland Harms, a scholar at Utrecht University, has written Pamfletten en publieke opinie. Massamedia in de zeventiende eeuw [Pamphlets and public opinion. Mass media in the seventeenth century] (Amsterdam 2011). You can download here his 2010 Ph.D. thesis (in Dutch with an English summary) from which his new book stems.

A third postscript

For the Society for Old Dutch Law I have written a concise guide to Dutch pamphlets and legal history at Rechtsgeschiedenis.org.

An overview of digitized pamphlet collections

At my website I have created in May 2013 an overview of digital pamphlet collectiions. In this overview collections are presented  in alphabetical order by country, with short descriptions of the contents and focus.