From 1648 to 1653 a civil war, known as the Fronde, raged in France, with the nobility and most of the people of France on one side, and the royal government under the child-king Louis XIV and his hated chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, on the other. The main cause of this civil war was resentment towards the royal government’s encroachment on ancient liberties and increasing taxation, but the Frondeurs were divided into factions and ultimately defeated. “Fronde” means sling 1, which Parisian crowds used to smash the windows of Cardinal Mazarin’s supporters. The Fronde did not just take place on the battlefields; it was also a battle for minds, and the main weapon here were pamphlets, which came to be known as Mazarinades. The vast majority of these pamphlets were scathingly critical of the royal government, sometimes in scatological or pornographic terms.
The Folger Shakespeare Library has recently acquired 80 Mazarinades, which we will soon add to the collection of over 2500 Mazarinades already in the library (see our previous post on the topic ). There is more than one way to describe a Mazarinade but generally people agree that it is a small pamphlet published between 1648 and 1653, related to the events of the Fronde. More studies on these pamphlets need to be undertaken to better understand their common features and to compare them with other pamphlet cultures in early modern Europe.
Below are some of the features shared by the Mazarinades recently purchased by Folger.
On collecting and provenance
Mazarinades were collectible items from the time of their publication. Their preservation in bound volumes explains in large part why so many are extant today. By contrast, it is now rare to find copies in their original stitching, close to the state in which they left the printshop. We are lucky to have just acquired copies in such a state.
It is difficult to trace the provenance of unbound or disbound pamphlets. Sometimes, though, a mark gives a clue to an early owner: a pasted label on one of the newly acquired Mazarinades provides information on its acquisition and its early location. In 1662, this copy was given by the widow of a certain “Master Pierre Lallemant, teacher by means of humble pamphlets” to the Jesuit School of Paris.
Thanks to this label, we can also guess that Pierre Lallemant was the author of the pamphlet named on the title page with the eponymous name of Sieur de Sandricourt. In general, Mazarinades were published anonymously. The Sieur de Sandricourt is one of the few names mentioned in our new pamphlets.
Owners of the pamphlets did not hesitate to write comments on the events mentioned in the Mazarinades in the margins or on the blank leaves. Sometimes their annotations had less to do with content in the pamphlet than with the overall appearance of their books. One early owner drew ornaments over handwritten page numbering one of his Mazarinades.
Several of our new pamphlets bear the names of their printers that, like the name of the author, was usually missing from Mazarinades. Authors and printers needed to be cautious when attacking royal authority. Learning about these printers helps us realize the wonderful opportunity the Fronde represented for the French publishing industry, which had been in financial difficulty in the early 1640s. Among those printers listed on the Folger pamphlets, some are known—Andre Chouqueux, Claude Morlot—for having published numerous Mazarinades. The Parisian printer Francois Le Cointe (162_?-1692) started his business during the Fronde in 1650 and continued to print until the early 1690s.
Women were also involved in printing Mazarinades. One of our new pamphlets was printed by Jacqueline Fouquet, widow of Jean Remy, who took over the business of her husband after his death in 1643. At least 18 Mazarinades are recorded for her printshop for the year 1649 alone. Such business, though, did not always go well for the artisans of the book. Guillaume Sassier (d. 1680s) was sent to jail in 1651 for having printed a satirical pamphlet against Cardinal Mazarin and Queen Anne of Austria. 2 Likewise, Claude Morlot was arrested in 1649 and condemned to be hanged. He owed his life to fellow printers, booksellers, and other artisans who came to his rescue and freed him during a riot.
Mazarinades needed to be printed cheaply and quickly since they discussed time-sensitive events. Some of our newly acquired pamphlets bear manuscript dates pointing to their speedy production and circulation.
Among the new Folger acquisitions are also serial publications. One title includes the word “Gazette,” in reference to Theophraste Renaudot’s “Gazette,” the first journal published in France in 1631.
The bibliography of reference for the Mazarinades is Celestin Moreau’s Bibliographie des Mazarinades and Supplément à la bibliographie des Mazarinades published between 1850 and 1851. Moreau, however, did not always record variants in printing and content. Although he described over 6000 pamphlets, more are still to be discovered. An inscription on one of our new Mazarinades even reads “Missing in Moreau.”
Who was the Sieur de Sandricourt?
He seems to have been a very active writer during the Fronde. The author of a series of pamphlets just acquired by Folger, Sandricourt’s addresses to his readers provide a wealth of information on the production and reception of Mazarinades. Writing to his readers directly, the author clearly felt the need to explain and defend himself against the attacks of his opponents. His advice was mostly geared toward enticing his readers into buying his pamphlets. Wishing to reach the largest numbers of customers as possible, he wrote, “I will try more than ever to write with a vivid, scholarly, and pleasant style to not disgust you from reading my prose whether or not we agree.” In one issue he mentioned that the next issue would be published the following week; in another he explained why there were some delays due to his poor health: his illness had prevented him to “assist in the printshops,” which led to the printing of his text in the wrong order. He explained that he was reprinting one of his texts with a different title as he now wanted “to give it to” the reader “with its true title” in a reviewed and corrected edition. He exhorted his readers to not complain about the price of the pamphlets and was very concerned in which order they read and bound his works. As a result, he included a number of recommendations on how to bind various texts, and even noted, “You ask me when I will shut the door so that you can gather my works in a small volume.”
Mazarinades provided a livelihood for some authors, as well as printers. Their speedy production and circulation created expectations among readers who were eager to buy the next publication. They were informative and entertaining, and they were aimed at a broad literate audience. Book owners, who were among their collectors, bound them together. The Frondeurs may have lost the battle in the end, but the vast majority of pamphlets at the time, and extant today, trumpet their cause of defending ancient rights and liberties against the encroachments of the expanding, absolutist royal government.
- The kind for throwing rocks, not the kind for broken arms.