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His reply was part of an exchange initiated by the duc de Bouillon, who had published a pamphlet impugning the trustworthiness and fiscal policies of the queen mother's government. The queen's councillor used a telling metaphor in his counterattack—slander is described as a "poison" capable of "contaminating" or "infecting" the minds of the people. Although seventeenth-century Frenchmen had no exact synonym for our modern term "propaganda," they were deeply aware of the manipulative power of words and information. The far-reaching effects of this genuine respect for and fear of political discourse, and the resulting impact on political behavior, have not been clearly understood.

An awareness of the power of discourse profoundly affected the intense national conflict from to It is impossible to grasp the motives and intentions of the pamphlet authors and sponsors involved without a better appreciation of the conceptual world in which they worked. It was common in the seventeenth century to view politics as a process whereby one gained or lost influence through managing the perceptions impressions of others. In their efforts to position themselves as highly as possible in the sociopolitical hierarchy, political elites were greatly preoccupied with public display—where they sat, stood, or walked in public ceremonies, what they wore, and the splendor of their public appear-.

One author expressed the danger this way in There is nothing these disturbers of the public peace have not tried; no means have they failed to set in motion, nor tricks have they failed to employ in order to succeed in their pernicious designs. The easiest way to arrive at their ends, they imagined, was to denigrate the administration of [government] affairs through slanderous pamphlets [ libelles diffamatoires ], which contain as many capital crimes as words, and whose. Reputations were ruined by scandal and disgrace, just as they were enhanced by the right kind of discourse.

A good name protected one's power and influence. In a chapter of Cardinal Richelieu's Testament politique devoted to the analysis of power puissance , not pouvoir , which is better translated as 'authority' , we read that "the Prince ought to be powerful through his reputation.

Reputation is so necessary to a prince that he of whom one has a good opinion does more with his name alone than those who are not well thought of [can do] with armies. Obsessed with their public images, seventeenth-century Frenchmen developed elaborate tactics to create and reinforce their reputations. There were deep cultural and psychological links between this view of one's public image and the study of rhetoric.

The fashionable predilection for rhetoric among educated men and women in the seventeenth century is well known, but the association of rhetoric with ceremonial orations and belles lettres has in some ways concealed the impact of this training on the politics of the age. A rhetorical conception of language carried with it important implications about communication. By definition, rhetoric was the strategic use of language for the purpose of achieving a desired impact on one's listeners or readers.

Political discourse self-evidently fit into such a conception. Not so self-evident was. Witnesses to the propaganda campaigns of the early seventeenth century were particularly disturbed by the quantity and viciousness of the pamphlets. Responding to pamphlets attacking some great noblemen in the period from to , one author wrote, "one has never seen written such an hysterical attack on the honor of the Princes.

What devices and fabrications have not been used to give a bad impression of their rights and praiseworthy intentions? The seventeenth-century vocabulary for describing these publishing practices reveals a complex interplay of rhetorical concepts on the one hand and legal notions akin to defamation and seditious libel on the other. Politicians and pamphlet authors commented frequently on the calculated dissemination of bruits and libelles diffamatoires and worried about the mauvaises impressions that these caused among the people.

Bruit was a general term, frequently used to refer to political rumors or disturbances; it referred especially to public clamors or outcries, common tales, and the talk among the people. In a letter to Cardinal de Sourdis, 29 February , Pontchartrain wrote, "Le vice-senechal est ung tres mauvais homme d'avoir faict courir les bruicts que vous mandez" Pontchartrain's spelling , B. In a letter from the queen regent to many provincial governors and lieutenants sent 13 February , Marie mentions that "les bruits qui s'espandent et augmentent a ceste occassion pouroient produire de mauvais effects dans les provinces au prejudice du repos public," in Correspondance de la mairie de Dijon , 3: I owe this reference to James Farr, who assisted me greatly with archival work in Dijon.

An anonymous pamphlet from mentions "tousles faux bruits qu'on a semez contre. Pieces of printed propaganda—leaflets, posters, pamphlets, or small books—were occasionally designated by neutral terms such as billets, affiches , or livrets. Seditious and defamatory pamphlets were potent weapons of disorder, and politicians were thus often eager to punish the authors and printers of such literature. The section mandated a penalty of death for the authors of any "memoires, libelles diffamatoires, lettres, escrits, et livrets injurieux et scandaleux" of a political nature.

Such severe measures were usually softened, however, by a convenient double standard that left room for patronage and protection. The same article that stipulated the death penalty for the authors of pamphlets bowed to this double standard by granting amnesty to anyone guilty of writing, printing, or selling propaganda during the previous two years.

The loophole was obviously designed to protect loyal writers on both sides who had been active in the recent pamphlet campaigns, many of whom, after all, were high-ranking clergymen and important advisers. Attitudes toward pamphleteering clearly reflected the general opinion about public discourse and its place in political life—views rooted in both political experience and academic training.

Especially for the generation of Frenchmen who had survived the Holy League , political oration was a powerful, even deadly, weapon. The ability of a preacher to speak well is an attractive and valuable gift of nature which, augmented and cultivated by extensive use and study, provides clarity and beauty to the fair conceptions of his mind.

But, if he decides to abuse the sweetness of his language, there is no more terrible plague on a Kingdom than this well-spoken preacher. Hubert Carrier suggested to me that a billet was probably a handbill or leaflet and that an affiche was most likely something posted. This lament and warning suggests that respect for the power of the printed and spoken word stemmed mainly from personal experience.

The writings of Guillaume Du Vair, another student of rhetoric who had survived the years of the League, confirm this view. Political oratory of the wrong sort could "strangely deform, and even ruin, the whole of civil society. At the same time, Pasquier, Du Vair, and other students of rhetoric believed order, truth, and civic virtue in the realm of discourse would help support a realm of politics embodying the same qualities.

Belief in the good of public discourse was borrowed in part from the Stoic authors especially Cicero , whose treatises on rhetoric were then circulating widely in France. Every educated person of the early modern era was familiar with the fundamentals of rhetoric as a discipline taught in the schools. The Renaissance inspired a great resurgence of interest in classical rhetorical theory and its implications for belles lettres , philosophy, and history. The interest in rhetoric went well beyond aesthetics.

The value of persuasion was obvious to the leaders of the Catholic church, who hoped to reconvert Protestants. And from still another angle, the study of rhetoric was important for developing what we might today call "social skills. Ranum, Paris in the Age of Absolutism , For England, see Shapiro, Probability and Certainty. Professor Fumaroli traces these influences throughout his book and provides an extensive bibliography of classical treatises printed toward the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century.

When circumstances required it, a good citizen had a duty to use his understanding of rhetoric to move his fellow citizens into the proper state of mind by speaking out or publishing for the public good. Du Vair boasted that during the last years of the Holy League, Henry IV had asked him to compose an anti-League pamphlet favorable to the king's cause, which he did "under the name of an inhabitant of Paris, and in language suitable to this condition.

He used the persona of a Parisian bourgeois in part because the League had used the same strategy with evident success to mobilize the Parisians against Henry. Rhetorical calculations of this kind generated an entire repertoire of stylistic and argumentative devices that were a central part of pamphlet warfare in the seventeenth century. Persuasion, in the usual sense of convincing an audience of the truth of a particular proposition, was often less important than moving an audience to identify with the general worldview of a pamphlet as conveyed through its literary qualities.

A man such as Du Vair perceived his own use of rhetoric in pamphleteering or public oratory in high-minded Stoic terms, just as he envisioned his involvement in politics as arising out of transcendental values—goodness, justice, honor, and duty. The Stoic tradition, however, rested on an idealistic conception of the power of the virtuous orator to influence the political nation. This was as evident to many of Du Vair's contemporaries as it is to us, and they made fun of him later in his career as a deluded idealist fond of making great speeches but naive and ineffective in the world of ministerial politics.

Yet French political culture was not amenable to Machiavellian strategies either. The author of The Prince hailed the importance of reputation as a basis of power and observed that in many cases a false reputation could function almost as well as a true one. Machiavelli, The Prince , quoted in Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others , 3 vols. Allan Gilbert Durham, N. The following passage, taken from a pamphlet published in , illustrates the point.

For even though they [nobles in opposition to the government] are princes [of France's royal house], so are they in some fashion subject to the people, and their prestige [ nom ] depends upon the esteem in which they are held. This passage also makes clear that the power of political communication depends not only on its eloquence but also on its strategic appropriateness.

The rhetorical tradition shaped political discourse, in this context, by providing a way of strategically analyzing communicative practices embedded in French culture and society. The idea of a public sphere of discourse was hardly alien to French political thought of the time. Even Jean Bodin, the strident apologist for a strong, unified monarchy, clearly believed any viable commonwealth would have to contain a public sphere that was separate from the immediate jurisdiction of the sovereign.

The seventeenth-century English translation of Bodin's treatise provides a fascinating enumeration of these public institutions. But beside that soveraigntie of government thus by us set downe, as the strong foundation of the whole Commonweale; many other things besides are of citisens to be had in common among themselves, as their markets, their churches, their walks, ways, lawes, decrees, judgements, voyces, customs, theaters, wal[l]s, publick buildings, common pastures, lands, and treasure; and in briefe, rewards, punishments, su[i]tes, and contracts: The French edition of reads as follows: Many things besides the power of the sovereign defined a commonwealth, and a commonwealth in which such public institutions and public "voyces" did not exist could scarcely be imagined.

Excessive license of speech was perceived as dangerous and would be curtailed in a well-run commonwealth. Such a view was possible in the mid-seventeenth century but virtually unthinkable in the age of Bodin, or of Pasquier and Du Vair. An anonymous pamphleteer writing in put it this way: This view was much more than a platitude. Effective government depended at least in part, and in very concrete ways, on the goodwill of the governed. History had demonstrated this, and nowhere more clearly than in France during the decades of the religious wars.

One of the great lessons drawn from the demise of Henry III was that a prince could not afford to alienate the affection of his subjects. When this happened, when the king's "reputation" was destroyed, he lost his ability to govern. Regardless of the monarchy's theoretical underpinnings, consultation with some subjects was often necessary in order for the king and his council to govern effectively. The hierarchical chain of command had to be interrupted periodically so that superiors could obtain the advice and consent of their inferiors.

The convocation of regional estates, national estates Estates General , assemblies of notables, and special meetings of the sovereign courts was often interpreted in this way—as consultative. The opportunity of advising the king, however, was perceived rather more as a privilege sanctioned by customary law than as a political right. Even the claims of the nobility to political power were seen to rest more on their public office as seigneurs and military officials than on their birthright.

However, most opportunities to participate in the making of public policy through consultation were understood to be ad hoc—special opportunities brought about by specific political crises. This was especially true of meetings of the great national assemblies—the Estates General and Assemblies of Notables—where participation was increasingly limited to a few notables and magistrates of one kind or another.

This select group was always aware of its mission to serve the local community however defined but did not see itself as representing the will of the people in a democratic sense. Just like the monarch, elites looked out for their own interests as well as those of the "realm," and for the "common good" or "the public good," in a general sense.

Such views did not amount to anything like a commitment to freedom of political expression in the later, eighteenth-century sense. In fact the trend was in the opposite direction—because control of political perceptions was essential to the stability of the state, government control of information was vital. Again, the views of Bodin help to illustrate the constellation of attitudes. Despite his commitment to a strong monarchy and even to the basic principles of royal censorship, Bodin drew back from advocating the creation of an office of censor backed by royal power and authority.

He states explicitly that the power of such a censor could become an instrument of tyranny. No one writing about politics in the early seventeenth century was comfortable either with the idea that government agents should control all manner of public expression, or with the notion that public speech should be completely free. One pamphleteer expressed this ambiguity in in the following way: Many claimed it was their sense of duty as opposed to their individual or partisan interests that forced them to criticize those in power.

Another pamphlet started out in this vein:. I freely confess that it is not my usual profession to take my complaints before the deliberations of the powerful, nor to discuss their plans and resolutions; nor do I here plan to speak of these matters except according to the laws of honor and modesty. I cannot dissimulate in the least concerning what I think ought to be discussed among good and natural subjects of a State. Clearly disingenuous on one level, such preambles suggest on another the genuine uneasiness about the boundaries of legitimate discussion.

To discuss political matters that concern everyone was one thing the same author suggested. To pretend to put oneself on an equal footing with those in power was presumptuous and in bad taste. To insult those in power was, at the very least, slanderous and, mostly likely, seditious. Yet, the same author observed, it was equally irresponsible to not warn others of real dangers to the state or to mislead the powerful with falsehoods or banalities.

Since the reign of Francis I it had been more or less illegal to publish pamphlet-type literature in France whenever religion or politics was involved. As pamphlet propaganda intensified during the religious wars, efforts to control it escalated accordingly, and the laws became increasingly specific. Much of this history is available in B. Article 23 of the edict called for the election of two master printers and four of the twenty master booksellers officially recognized by the University of Paris to supervise the "community.

By , therefore, censorship legislation had been on the books for more than half a century, although the legislation had proved generally unenforceable. The leaders of the publishing community were neither willing nor able to police their colleagues effectively. Suppression of printed material generally had to be initiated by the Crown or the sovereign courts, and during the conditions of civil war, censorship was partisan and irregular.

Effective control of the printing industry did not begin until the s, when Richelieu was finally able to enforce the law.

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The concern with pamphlets suffuses the wording of censorship legislation of the period. The attempt in to introduce a new regime of censorship resulted from the theological and political pamphlet wars of Henry IV's reign. Later, Cardinal Richelieu was able to extend the provisions of the Parisian edict to cover all of France during the course of the s and s.

Meanwhile, the manufacture and dissemination of royal propaganda in pamphlet form was becoming a routine government function. Pamphlet literature was, in many respects, another avenue for reasserting the political commonplaces of royal propaganda—the dignity of royal persons, the excellence of the French monarchy, and other themes of the ancient mythology of kingship. A printed copy of the edict intended for circulation in Paris, B. But pamphlets also constituted a literature of direct political engagement and an important medium of resistance to royal power. The anonymity of print afforded some protection against reprisal, and authors were usually able to conceal themselves when they wished to do so.

Pamphlets thus provided a significant opportunity for public political expression of ideas that otherwise would have been censored. It is hardly surprising, then, that pamphlets accompanied every major political and religious upheaval in seventeenth-century France. Pamphlet wars were intense in France for many of the same reasons as elsewhere in Europe.

France's political press was more like England's than has often been assumed. Partisans of the Gallican and Anglican churches alike used much the same kind of polemical literature in their struggle against Rome. The participation of highly motivated and well-educated clergymen contributed to the double-edged use of political pamphlets as a means both to legitimate and to criticize the policies of the monarchy.

Foreign policy, fiscal policy, and social problems were woven into pamphlet discourse. The campaigns of the Fronde, during which the country was frequently on the verge of a civil war, were the most spectacular of the Old Regime pamphlet wars, but they were hardly unique. Similar ones had occurred periodically since the sixteenth century. Vicious and voluminous pamphlet wars took place during the years of the Holy League, when militant Catholics could dictate terms to Parisian printers. During the reign of Henry IV important campaigns were waged over religious matters, foreign policy, and Henry's treatment of the great nobility.

As noted earlier, Henry's assassination provoked a flood of pamphlet literature about him, his reign, and the possibility of an assassination conspiracy. The pamphlet wars were brought about, as we shall see, largely by a political revolt of great nobles. Still more barrages broke out in and throughout the s and s. None of these earlier. An excellent example of this duality is provided by the later years of the religious wars in France. Robert Harding explores the themes of criticism in "Revolution and Reform in the Holy League," , and Myriam Yardeni looks into the themes of legitimation in Conscience nationale en France.

On the earlier use of pamphlets, see Bellanger et al. Some telling statistics about pamphlet production in the seventeenth century are illustrated in Figure 1. Pamphlet production corresponds very closely to the degree of political conflict at the national level. This relationship is also clear from the monthly and weekly fluctuations that Figure 1's annual tabulations do not show. Even within a particularly active year, production rose and fell in relation to major political occurrences. We begin, in the following chapter, to explore more carefully how in the specific context of the production of pamphlets complemented and helped to form concrete, short-term strategies of political action.

So here [seditious pamphlets] is the wickedness they use to alter the desires of the people. They disparage the government of the State, and make the simple-minded believe that matters are in such a state of extremity—as if their writings were as true as they are calumnious! This is the usual pretext of those who make trouble in the States.

At the heart of the political conflict was a contest for control of the king's councils, the central organs of royal power. The events of were transformed into a national crisis by both sides, which sought to move the struggle beyond immediate, personal factions and to mobilize larger coalitions of political supporters. The opposition raised troops, took over provincial towns, and tried to generate support in the provinces.

The ruling faction tried to prevent such developments by working hard to maintain the allegiance of key nobles, powerful royal officials, and the important provincial towns. Long-standing antagonisms between Protestants and Catholics complemented and intensified this process. The struggle up to the spring of , with extensive discussion of economic and foreign policy, is analyzed by Hayden, France and the Estates General , It is true that great nobles and key officials stood at the head of extensive networks of private patronage and that these networks could be mobilized in a struggle for power.

Great personal power resulted from the ability of an individual and his network of clients and allies to dominate the machinery of government. Even the power of the Crown depended on such political networks. The king or the acting head of state could direct government only with the cooperation of great nobles, key ministers, provincial leaders, and royal officials.

In effect, the monarchy governed through a ruling coalition whose members traded "service to the king" for the opportunity of monopolizing particular governmental operations. When this system broke down, monarchical government ceased to function. A minor king and a regency government did not project the same kind of authority as an active, adult, unquestionably sovereign king. His father Henry IV's cousin and grandfather had been among the great Bourbon chiefs of the Huguenot party, whose victories on the battlefield had helped to make Henry a king.

In the prince felt obliged to flee to Spanish territory in Flanders to keep his young and attractive wife away from the attentions of Henry. Upon returning to Paris after Henry's assassination, he found himself more or less under the tutelage of his much older uncle, Charles de Bourbon, compte de Soissons. Such dysfunction was, of course, a major cause of the prolonged civil wars following the death of Henry II, and the principal reason for the fate of Henry III; Ranum, Paris in the Age of Absolutism , Bourbon faction losing power.

His views can be gathered from his notes for a speech that he hoped to deliver before Louis XIII at the assembled Estates General in He goes on to explain that he and the other members of the Bourbon family are members of the weaker faction and that the purpose of his actions is to restore a more appropriate balance to the councils. Under these conditions key members might defect and the queen regent and the faction at court that supported her would yield to the challengers' demands, granting them more significant positions in the king's councils. The defensive strategy of the ruling faction was somewhat different because its support network, in the form of the normal machinery of government, was already in place.

The problem of the coalition in power was to maintain and reinforce its strength. There was no guarantee that the people "in the service of the king" would remain loyal if they began to view such loyalty as personally dangerous or as damaging to their political, social, and economic interests. The government therefore had to forward persuasive arguments and make political concessions. Equally important was the need to weaken the opposing coalition through intimidation, largess, and appeals to reason, religion, and principle.

Another sometime ally, the duc de Bouillon was a marshal of France, an even higher-ranking military office with functions much like those of a provincial governor. Harding's Anatomy of a Power Elite is essential for understanding the revolts of the great nobility in this period, giving more substance to the conventional view of the dissatisfaction among the great nobility following the death of Henry IV. As part of this struggle to build and maintain coalitions, the production and dissemination of pamphlets functioned in several ways. One obvious way was as a channel of information.

Both sides used pamphlets to inform potential supporters of essential political facts. In the initial stages of the conflict, key pamphlets put the public on notice that a struggle was indeed under way. Later, pamphlets conveyed information about the progress of the conflict—peace agreements, renewed fighting, the imprisonment of an important individual, the assassination of another.

Just as important, pamphlets focused public attention on particular issues, actually defining or creating them in many instances. Both major factions in the conflict were competing for the loyalty or cooperation of large political interest groups, such as the Huguenots, the militant Catholics, the magistrates of the sovereign courts, the municipal elites of important towns, and the nobility.

Both sides tried to represent themselves as having political intentions that would appeal to these specific groups by dramatizing issues, such as Louis XIII's marriage, in partisan ways. The most intense pamphleteering took place when both sides were preparing for the possibility of war. Pamphlets were used to help raise troops and the money necessary to field them and to gain the support of the provincial communities that would provide supplies.

Propaganda also affected the faction leaders. The existence of large numbers of widely circulated political pamphlets had an important impact on political calculations. Pamphlet propaganda thus shaped and directed the struggle itself by influencing tactical planning. Three features of the campaigns illustrate the tactical uses of pamphlets especially well: The political contest unfolded in a series of acts inseparable in meaning from the rhetorical contest in the pamphlet literature. Each important turn of events in the struggle for power was rendered even more important by the significance invested in those events by pamphleteers.

In order to initiate their challenge, the princes, as they were called, left Paris in January and February to establish or renew political alliances in the provinces and to secure military control of some important towns and regions.

Printed Poison

Most of them headed for Champagne because the ducs de Nevers, Mayenne, and Bouillon had allies there. Although technically a subordinate of Nevers, the captain of the garrison resisted the entry of the princes and their followers under direct orders from the local military governor of the town, an ally of the queen mother. This threat would be used to force her to convoke an assembly of the Estates General and to grant other political concessions in exchange for a cessation of hostilities. In particular, he hoped to convince the deputies at the Estates General to authorize a rearrangement of the composition of the king's councils, changes in foreign and domestic policies, and a postponement of the impending marriages of Louis XIII and his eldest sister, Elizabeth, respectively to Anne of Austria and Philip of Spain Philip III's children.

They attempted to favorably influence the public's perception of this protest by adopting the stance of political reformers concerned about the "good of the state" and "service to the king. A la reyne regente, mere du roy, le He said he was requesting a convocation of the Estates General because of these abuses. There are several editions of Double de la lettre He suggested he was being excluded from his proper place in the government, which he characterized as being in the hands of a small faction that had usurped the king's authority with less of a claim to authority than he himself possessed.

This faction, the prince asserted, had introduced dangerous innovations in foreign and domestic policy. He portrayed the queen mother's administration as scandalous, alleging that she and her advisers were in league with worthless financiers and judges: The pamphlet therefore warned that the government would portray the princes' actions as motivated by private interest. He professed his loyalty and service to the king and the queen mother and sought to make a distinction between this personal loyalty and his legitimate grievances. The prince also tried to make a distinction between his duty to the king and the queen mother personally, and his challenge to those advisers, whom the pamphlet characterized as having usurped the king's authority and placed France in danger.

Marie and her advisers moved quickly to fend off this challenge by keeping elements of their own coalition from joining the rebels. Hayden covers this thoroughly in Estates General , The factionalism of the government's position is emphasized in a letter by Villeroy: Fevrier was first published as a pamphlet by two of the king's official printers and was afterwards reprinted a number of times by other printers.

Moreover, Villeroy suggested, the queen mother's principal advisers were the same men who had so skillfully aided Henry IV. He admitted there were many problems within the royal government and within France generally, but he questioned the rebels' commitment to reforms. Moreover, could the prince be so naive as to believe that venality, for instance, had only just sprung up? Why did they deprive the queen regent of their counsel, Villeroy asked, and force her into the humiliating position of having to bargain with or chastise her greatest subjects?

He claimed the court recognized the good intentions of the princes and that the queen mother was eager to treat them in the manner fitting their rank. For Villeroy's authorship of this pamphlet, see a second response proposed by Jeannin, B. This letter was not sent because M. Villeroy provided another which follows the present one. Written very early in , the first letter exists in three different copies—B.


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Mastellone has published the version at B. Colbert 17 in Reggenza di Maria de Medici , , reproducing the incorrect date "," which was erroneously written on the copy. Villeroy's second letter of advice to the queen mother, dated 10 March , exists in B. On Villeroy's long, distinguished career, see Nouaillac, Villeroy. He defended the Spanish marriages as an alliance for peace, not a concession to Spanish power and Catholic militancy. He defended the regent's record of enforcing the edicts of pacification which included the Edict of Nantes protecting the Huguenots.

The regent's primary political goal had been to keep France at peace and to maintain the king's state and his authority until he was old enough to govern himself. Any problems with the regency were unfortunate but necessary side-effects of this goal. He claimed the queen mother had intended to convoke the assembly in any case in conjunction with the king's coming of age later that year. This initial exchange of pamphlets illustrates how much the assault on public opinion was an essential part of the political contest that dominated the next four years.

We cannot follow, blow by blow, the ensuing charges and countercharges, but it will be useful to highlight some of the turning points in the campaigns. From beginning to end, both sides worked hard to project favorable impressions of the principal members of their factions, of their general policies, of their honesty, of their respect for the traditions of French political life, and so on. Both sides also shifted their strategies at key moments in an effort to maintain the upper hand in the battle for public opinion.

Manifeste et justification , Declaration et justification , identical in content. The struggle had now escalated to a new level of violence in the sphere of public discourse; a concomitant escalation in the sphere of military activity would occur within several weeks. Among the "treasonous" activities listed in addition to forming a "faction" within the state, directing a "conspiracy" against the Crown, forming an army without the king's permission, and confiscating royal revenue was the crime of having published "a scandalous manifesto tending to cause general sedition and revolt among our subjects.

Having obtained one of her principal political goals, the queen mother became more flexible, and in early she allowed herself to be convinced by Villeroy that negotiations might be more to her advantage than continued civil war. A peace was declared, and pamphlets announcing the cessation of hostilities were published. For this reason, a series of pamphlets publicized the "confirma-.

Declaration de monseigneur, le prince , which came out several weeks later than the Manifeste , was a straightforward call to arms. The Bordelais printer Simon Millanges published more than a dozen such pamphlets; Desgraves, "Bulletins d'information," In January, Ordonnance du roy Then, from February through May a series of publications announced the prolongation of the "truce" and the continuing efforts to reach a lasting settlement at the conferences of Loudun; see Lindsay and Neu , , and In June, the settlement was announced in Edict du Roy , followed by more pamphlets on the specific contents of the treaty.

Each important turning point in the political struggle was thus accompanied by a shift in pamphleteering strategy. The pamphlet campaigns were not a monolithic outpouring of traditional commonplaces, but purposefully designed verbal assaults intended to complement overall political strategy.

The modulations in the government's propaganda were also important. These shifts in the tone, style, and content of pamphlets helped to structure the conflict by defining and redefining the political issues in relationship to key interest groups. The pamphlet campaigns of produced more than 1, titles, some of which were printed in as many as eighteen editions. Who read these pamphlets, and how were they read? These questions have to be approached from several directions.

Obviously "technique"—the mechanics of production, dissemination, and censorship—affected readership in crucial ways. The technical aspects of the campaign, along with the problem of literacy, will be examined in chapters to follow. Much about the audience can also be learned from juxtaposing pamphlet rhetoric with the strategic considerations discussed above. Pamphlets were intended to be read by certain audience groups. In this section we shall focus on the intentions of pamphlet authors and their sponsors.

This should help us to determine the politically significant target audiences. As has already been suggested, strategists tried both to politicize a broad, unspecified public and to mobilize or placate particular groups. What groups were envisioned as politically important during these struggles?

What kinds of rhetoric were used to appeal to them? Waging a war against them, he cautioned, might "put at great risk" the "authority and reputation" of the. These individuals and groups constituted Villeroy's political checklist of the most vital segments of the public, and he developed his political and propaganda strategies with them in mind. The opposition faction of nobles had a similar conception of the politically important public.

We pray and exhort all the princes, peers of France, officers of the Crown, seigneurs, chevaliers , governors, gentlemen, and others of whatever quality and condition they may be [as well as] all the Parlements, and all the orders and estates of this Kingdom, all the towns and communities, and generally all those who call themselves Frenchmen, and who are not yet joined with us, to come to our aid and assist us in a cause so just.

Villeroy discusses at some length how the queen will best maintain her authority within the kingdom generally and especially over the subordinate institutions of the royal government; Ms. Venality of office was widely detested, even within the judicial establishment which benefited from it; see Sawyer, "Judicial Corruption and Legal Reform," D'autaunt que vous contenterez grandement le public et recueillirez le principal fruict de ladicte reformation.

Those challenging the administration as well as the queen mother's advisers envisioned the politically important public as a composite of identifiable political interest groups whose support was necessary in order to gain or keep control the royal government and the state. The nobility is impoverished by the taille , the salt tax, and extraordinary demands for money.

All their revenues are burdened with tariffs. All their titles, even though lost and burned, are being investigated. The nobility, the foundation of France,. Their lives and their goods are under the control of others. They are deprived of the wages for the men of arms and the archers that they have traditionally maintained.

And, they are now the slaves of their creditors. Such appeals to the nobility were countered by the queen mother's supporters in a number of ways. One was to remind the nobility how badly many of their families had fared during the civil wars of the sixteenth century. Despite Villeroy's urging that something be done about the venality of offices and the unanimous recommendation of all three orders at the Estates General that the droit annuel be suppressed, legislation renewing the droit was enacted in spring , once the deputies had gone home.

This was an obvious political concession to magistrates of the high sovereign courts, whose support the queen's administration badly needed. The scramble for pensions and army commissions during these years was frantic. If it is true that debts have made the nobility slaves, it is also true that wars have been the cause of this.

And if one considers their obligations and contracts, it might be found that the past League and rebellions against their rulers have been the cause [of their ruin], just as you [the princes] would like to happen again with your requests that they mortgage their lands for your defenses and their freedom for your [selfish] designs. Other pamphlets carried on in this same vein.

In an appeal to any young nobles who might be attracted to the faction of the princes for the sake of adventure, another progovernment pamphlet warned, "Oh! How difficult it must be for young men brought up on the delicacies of courtly life to imagine the evils of civil wars and the enterprises against royalty! The Parisian bourgeoisie, the magistrates of the Parlement of Paris, and the Huguenots were the most frequently and directly targeted. The principal technique used here was to to elicit doubt and fear concerning the policies of the queen mother's administration.

A passage aimed at the Parisians accuses the faction in control of the government of having decided "to disarm the Parisians, to change the captains of the quartiers , to prohibit the placement of chains across the streets in order to weaken the forces of the, city, and to garrison the Swiss [mercenaries] and other troops there. Those of the protestant religion, who only desire their peace under the guarantees of the edicts of pacification, proclaim loudly that the marriages are being advanced during the youth of the King. And in the mean time, those who desire the protestant's ruin completely control the King's power and authority, a victory that has been celebrated in Spain and proclaimed by a Jesuit in Paris a few days ago.

The queen mother's supporters countered by defending her policies and by characterizing the princes' use of such issues as "pretexts" for their revolt. The authors of proadministration pamphlets also tried to frighten or placate the same audience groups. They sought to undermine any appeals to the Parisians with reminders of the hardships they had suffered during the League, "which forced them to taste delicious morsels of horses, dogs, and rats,.

Because some of the queen mother's advisers particularly Villeroy were eager to calm the Huguenots, their official propaganda did not try to stir up Catholic antagonism. The administration's most militant supporters had no such scruples, however. Within a few days, Pierre Jeannin, the chief minister of finance, published a long and surprisingly detailed rebuttal.

Propaganda also focused on concerns that transcended particular groups. For example, both sides invoked the "public good" in a general. Response pour la royne ; and Libre harangue faicte par Mathault Lettre de monseigneur le cardinal du Perron , 7. Clarke, Huguenot Warrior , Pamphleteers argued that the leaders of their faction were sincerely interested in this public good, and that the leaders of the opposing faction were acting contrary to it.

These appeals were aimed at anyone who had feelings about what was good for himself, the welfare of his own family and community, and possibly his country. After religious propaganda, Villeroy saw this rhetorical battle over who represented the "public interest" and the "good of the state" as the second most dangerous aspect of the pamphlet campaigns. Only the appeal to the Protestants was riskier. The accusation that under the direction of the queen mother the government was acting against the country's general interests was in fact a key element in the princes' rhetoric.

His Manifeste contains the most explicit charge, accusing Marie and her advisers of using public office for personal aggrandizement and of caring nothing about France or her people. In the king's council, they deliberated "every day in the name of His Majesty, on all kinds of propositions tending to the oppression of the people and the dissipation of the State.

Pamphleteers supporting the challengers also claimed the abuses of the administration were not simply a matter of selfishness, graft, and corruption but, rather, represented the perversion of the entire governmental process. Le Protecteur des Princes. The queen mother and her advisers had "committed treason against public society" and "dissolved the fabric of public order" with their dishonest and criminal activities.

They corrupted the deputies of the Estates General, violated. It could give reason to the Protestants to join their forces as a group to those of my Lord the Prince and his adherents, or, indeed, move the Prince to join their party in order to fortify with the pretext of religion the cause of the public good which he has put into play; the consequences of this would be much more dangerous than the present situation. The reestablishment of the droit annuel in violation of an alleged promise to the deputies of the Estates, the author argued, was a flagrant example of this perfidy: To combat such rhetorical appeals to the "public good," the queen mother's administration defended its integrity, motives, and policies.

As Cardinal Du Perron put it nicely in one of his pamphlets: By way of a counterattack, Marie's pamphleteers blamed the major disorders in the kingdom on the recklessness and ambition of the princes, who had brought confusion rather than relief to the people. What did this say about their concern for the public good? The queen mother's supporters also sought to emphasize her legitimate right to act as sovereign, or at least as head of state. She had been legally selected as regent of France, they noted, which gave her the right to exercise the sovereign authority of her son.

She, and not the princes or the Estates General, decided what was in the best interests of France. The queen mother's harsh treatment of the rebels and her extraordinary military expenditures were characterized as judicious, restrained, dignified, reasonable, just, and more than necessary in view of the military maneuvers of the princes.

These rebels, not the administration, were tearing apart the fabric of society by teaching the general population disrespect for and disobedience to legitimate sovereign power. The Crown's most intense and apparently successful rhetorical tactic was to undermine in every possible way the princes' claims to be acting in. And if reform were not their motive, the pamphleteers speculated, what was? Obviously, Marie's authors suggested, their own private ambitions. As part of this strategy, pamphleteers supporting the queen mother made a concerted effort to keep the unpleasant consequences of war fresh in the minds, not only of the Parisians, but also of their provincial readers as well.

Lurid descriptions of the treatment that provincial people received at the hands of rebel armies were common:. The people ought not to hope for any relief from your enterprise. During peacetime the arms and noses of women are not cut off after they have been violated, as recently happened around Soissons;.

The peasants choose the company of wolves and serpents in the woods and caves, rather than your soldiers in the villages. Success in the struggle was predicated on successful coalition building. The coalitions were more nebulous than those of the sixteenth century because the Protestant-Catholic and Guise-Bourbon rivalries did not always fall along the same axis.

But he did not at first intend to become, and never succeeded in becoming, a leader of the Protestant community. The Guise family maintained close ties to militant Catholic leaders, although a younger member, the duc de Mayenne, joined the opposition at several points. Religious issues and family ties were important, but more specific concerns motivated many of those who took part in the conflict. Ties between specific localities and great patrons within the government or church were of particular importance. This change in national politics shifted the emphasis away from dynastic and religious issues toward factionalism and the struggle for royal patronage.

Religious discord remained a vital part of the political scene, but the points at issue were more narrow and specific. The new pattern of national struggle could still result in civil war, but in the seventeenth century such wars were remarkably limited in duration. Printed propaganda took on a more definite role in this context. From on, both sides tried to reinforce and to build their political coalitions by involving the most important individuals and political interest groups.

Pamphlet authors and political leaders strategically aligned their causes with the concerns of key groups—the nobility, religious militants, officers of the sovereign courts, and municipal officials. They worked hard to influence the general public's perception of the conflict as well. Experienced tacticians such as Villeroy realized that the confrontation would actually be won in the sphere of public opinion before it was won on the battlefield. Pamphlets had to circulate among the right audience, not just in Paris, but throughout France, in order to be influential.


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For this to happen, reliable networks responsible for the publication and dissemination of pamphlets had to be in place. If opposition literature were to be effective, then government censorship had to remain ineffective. We turn to these considerations next, but they are only preliminary. What actually happened when a partisan pamphlet arrived in a provincial community? How accurately can we reconstruct the psychology of politicization and determine the issues that really motivated partisan political action?

Madam, We received on the 21st of March your letters of the 6th of March along with the printed copies of the letter from Monsieur the Prince and the response by Your Majesty that you have been pleased to send us. Even though this was a holy Friday. We [the Chambre de l'Edit of Castres] also handed down a decision prohibiting the dissemination of any false rumors, or the publication of any writings tending to alter the public tranquility. Our investigation of propaganda strategies and tactics in early seventeenth-century France demonstrates that politicians believed strongly that pamphlets affected a broad and important audience.

How widely did pamphlets actually circulate? Although severe in its punishments and stifling in many ways, censorship was evaded with relative ease. But because pamphleteering was generally a clandestine activity, direct evidence concerning authorship, production, and dissemination is scarce. A reliable picture of pamphlet production and distribution can therefore be pieced together only by drawing on several different sources. Pamphlet title pages often reveal information about the city or locale of publication. Information on the circulation of pamphlets can be found in the diplomatic correspondence of the period or the city council deliberations of some provincial towns.

Censorship proceedings in the Parisian courts also provide useful data on the distribution networks. The twelve hundred or so pamphlets published during the four-year period under study were not produced in a steady, uniform flow. Even at a modest press run of several hundred for each title, this was a considerable amount of printed propaganda for an early modern political culture to consume.

The most popular pamphlets might have reached the hands of 1 percent of France's urban population. The style, content, length, quality of production, and purposes of the pamphlets were extremely diverse. This very diversity demonstrates that the pamphlets served many and complex functions.

Pamphlets were usually made out of a single sheet of inexpensive printing stock. Printed on both sides and folded three times, the typical pamphlet ran about sixteen pages and was approximately four by six inches. Pamphlets of eight pages were common, and pamphlets of more than sixty-four pages were not rare. The content and style ranged from satiric or panegyric verses to the most serious political and theological debate.

Few engraved images or wood-block prints have survived, and those with an explicitly partisan purpose must have been fairly rare. At least a dozen such items, however, were produced during the campaigns. The most common types of pamphlets were 1 official documents, 2 letters, 3 argumentative discourses, and 4 literary pieces—usually dramatic dialogues. Such items were usually published first by the royal printers; the prestigious firm of Morel and Mettayer did a booming business in Paris.


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This estimate is based on calculations of the margin of profit a printer could expect from a given press run and is necessarily speculative.