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The Collation

Publishing Against the King: French Civil War Pamphlets

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.

An example of Mazarinade mocking Cardinal Mazarin's Italian origin and alluding to his supposed sexual relationship with the Queen Anne of Austria.

An example of Mazarinade mocking Cardinal Mazarin’s Italian origin and alluding to his supposed sexual relationship with the Queen Anne of Austria.

  1. The kind for throwing rocks, not the kind for broken arms.


It is exciting to hear that the Folger continues to collect in this area of pamphlet culture. As you point out, Caroline, some areas for new research include the role of the printer as editor and even ideologue, the involvement of women in the book trade, and comparison with other pamphlet cultures around Europe. That kind of crossing of political and national cultures has animated some Folger Institute programs of late. The Center for the History of British Political Thought has sponsored symposia on “networks of political exchange” and is planning another such big picture symposia for the near future. See also Kathryn Gucer’s “Beyond the Fronde: Jacques Cailloue’s Border-Crossing Books” in PBSA 109:2 (2015), just out. Gucer developed some of this work as an NEH long-term fellow at the Folger in 2010-11. She focuses on questions of the circulation of revolutionary ideas and what happens to them as they travel from place to place across channels of distribution that we can trace (at least in part).

Kathleen Lynch — June 24, 2015


Thank you, Caroline, for this interesting post. I’m very happy to know about some new pieces in the Folger Shakespeare’s Mazarinades Collection. As we heard during the three days Symposium on Mazarinades in Paris where we met two weeks ago, there will be a lot of new informations about Mazarinades coming out in the next weeks or months – I will try to gather in the Geolocalization webpage :
With my best regards.

Patrick Rebollar — June 25, 2015


Thank you, Caroline, for this post, and for purchasing this collection of Mazarinades, which will obviously make the Folger’s already superb holdings even more interesting and rich for scholars! A case in point is the handwritten printer’s ornaments you describe in L’entretien du cardinal Mazarin avec ses niepces. Compared to the Revolutionary pamphlets that English presses were producing at the same time, the Mazarinades are largely unadorned. They don’t have elaborate woodcut images on the title pages or elsewhere illuminating the pamphlets’ contents. Ornaments—initials, factota, printer’s devices, type, and so on—are the imagery in the Mazarinades. So it is great to see such telling evidence that a contemporary reader was keenly aware of their presence (and absence) in these pamphlets. It could suggest that readers were attuned to the role publishers and printers of the pamphlets in the Fronde. My colleagues and I on the Mazarinades project have been photographing the ornaments in the Folger’s pamphlets so that we can create a classification system for identifying them. Ultimately, I’d like to use image recognition software (like the Arch-V project being developed at UC Davis) to trace the recurrence of ornaments, type, and other printers’ tools in order to better understand the role of publishers and the dissemination of information in the Fronde. Thanks, also, for obtaining a collection that highlights Sandricourt (he was probably a monk who, according to contemporary diarist Guy Patin, “a jeté le froc aux orties” in order write against Mazarin!). As you point out, Sandricourt was keenly aware of the fluid and unpredictable market in which his pamphlets were produced and sold. In fact, he was at least partly responsible for repackaging his disparate pamphlets into a collection or recueil (another scholarly interest of mine) when and his publisher realized that they would be left with unsellable overstock if they didn’t act quickly. According to Carrier (Les mazarinades, 1991, vol. 2, p. 62) Sandricourt quickly wrote up a dedicatory epistle and a series of title pages which effectively advertised his sometimes bawdy and scurrilous pamphlets as an authorial oeuvre!

Kathryn Gucer — June 27, 2015


I can offer a better identification for Pierre Lallement. He is not a “teacher by means of humble pamphlets” but a much more important senior law officer, a “maistre des requestes”, a title which has been turned into Latin as “magister librorum supplicum”. The “libri supplices”are the legal petitions which formed part of the functions of these law officers.

The Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne has a pamphlet collection ( which has an identical printed label.

David Shaw — January 7, 2016


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