Tag Archives: Saint-Sulpice Collection

From China to Paris: a 1693 account of one woman’s journey

We recently completed cataloging the Saint-Sulpice Collection at the Newberry Library, which contains about 2,500 pamphlets and manuscripts chiefly in French that are nearly all biographical. These items, dating from the 16th to early 19th centuries, were collected and eventually bound into volumes by the Sulpician priests of Paris and used as educational models to teach their seminarians rhetorical writing skills.

While it is unsurprising that the Sulpicians would collect biographical pamphlets on kings and saints, the Saint-Sulpice Collection also contains pamphlets on both the notorious, such as infamous poisoners, and obscure. One such example of the latter is an anonymous manuscript letter regarding the past travails of a Chinese woman in Paris identified only as Ina (Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 40 pt. 1 no. 8).

Lettre de Mademoiselle *** a Made. *** contenant l'histoire de la Chinoise (Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 40 pt. 1 no. 8)

According to the letter, Ina was born in Beijing to a noble family and married a man at a young age of similar noble birth. During a journey down the coast to Nanjing with her husband and young son, she and her party were attacked by Dutch pirates. While her husband was killed during the skirmish, Ina, her son, and a number of servants were captured and taken on board. Although most of her possessions were taken from her, she was treated well for a time.

However, subsequent captains and crew mistreated her during many years of life at sea. Eventually, her son and all of her servants died of a fever. During a port stop in Paris, Ina was paraded around the city, where both the ship’s crew and the citizens of Paris stared at and jostled her now tattered traditional Chinese clothing. The crew abandoned her in Paris without money or possessions.

While Ina and her Chinese culture are exoticized throughout the text, some moments of human compassion are apparent, such as the moment when a nun finds Ina alone and destitute on a Parisian street and offers her shelter. The anonymous correspondent offers these reflections:

Compren[n]ez, s’il vous plait, dans quel désespoir vne femme qui est née auec du bien, qui a esté touiours heur[eu]se, et qui a de la naissance, se trouue réduite, au milieu de la rüe, pendans la nuit, au coeur de l[']hiuer, dans une des plus grandes villes du monde, sans argent, sans connoissances, sans pouuoir dire un seul mot de la langue, du païs à six milles lieuës du sien, et sans pouuoir demander du secours au vray Dieu qu’elle n’auoit pas encore le bonheur de connoistre.

[Understand, if you will, the despair of a high-born, wealthy woman, who was always happy, and now finds herself reduced to nothing, out in the street at night in the middle of winter in one of the largest cities in the world, without money and friends, without knowing a single word of the language in a country six thousand leagues from her own, and without the ability to ask help from the true God whom she has not yet had the good fortune of knowing.] (p. [16])

The letter appears to have been sent to or originated from the convent of the Augustines de la Miséricorde de Jésus in the Saint-Marcel quarter of Paris in 1693. Presumably, the nun who discovered Ina in the streets of Paris or one of her fellow sisters is the author of the letter.

Lettre de Mademoiselle *** a Made. *** contenant l'histoire de la Chinoise (Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 40 pt. 1 no. 8)

Ina became an object of fascination to many prominent members of Parisian society, as they tried to discern where she was from based on her appearance and language, which they could not identify for some time. Eventually, Ina joined the other sisters in the convent as a nun. I have been unsuccessful in finding any other documents to corroborate Ina’s story or to attest to her existence at all. But this manuscript is a fascinating document that reveals Western attitudes toward the East in late 17th-century France.

Spotlight Exhibit on French pamphlets opens!

We are pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition highlighting the French pamphlet collections cataloged as part of our project: the French Revolution Collection (FRC), Louis XVI Trial and Execution Collection, Saint-Sulpice Collection, and Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials.  Politics, Piety, and Poison: French Pamphlets, 1600-1800 is one in a series of Spotlight Exhibits curated by Newberry Library staff that highlight a diverse range of items in the Library’s collection.  The exhibition closes April 13, 2013.  For those who are unable to visit, an online version of the exhibition is in the works.

Politics, Piety, and Poison: French Pamphlets, 1600–1800

Case FRC 16228, La guillotinne
Case FRC 16228, La guillotinne
Monday, January 28, 2013 to Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hermon Dunlap Smith Gallery

This exhibition displays French pamphlets published during the transitional period from the Ancien Régime to the French Revolution. They served as modes of dissemination and diversion, teaching tools and educational models, and the foundation for current and future scholarly projects. The exhibition focuses on the ways in which these pamphlets complement and enhance the Newberry’s other vast collections of primary sources documenting early modern European culture and the history of printing. The Newberry’s outstanding collection of French pamphlets was recently cataloged through a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

The Less naughty work of Théophile de Viau

Sometimes, the organization of the Saint-Sulpice Collection makes for interesting juxtapositions.  I mentioned in a previous post how the FRC pamphlets enable readers to piece together the stories of these, occasionally insignificant, historical figures.  The subject-based organization of Saint-Sulpice makes piecing these stories together even easier (as I touched on in my previous post regarding Louis IX). This time around I have a series of nine pamphlets on a more obscure individual, famed writer of blue poetry Théophile de Viau.  Viau was celebrated during his life, surpassing even Maleherbe as the most popular poet of 17th century France, but for reasons explained below, was largely ignored once classicism took hold in France until a brief rediscovery during the Romantic period instigated by swashbuckler author Théophile Gautier.

The pamphlets concerning Théophile de Viau represented in the Saint-Sulpice Collection pick up after his imprisonment and exile from France by Louis XII.  Viau’s relationship with the powers-that-be in France was complicated. One of the original libertines, Théophile de Viau was even more controversial than his contemporaries due to his Huguenot background. He fought against the French monarchy during the Protestant revolts of the early 17th century, but was pardoned and became a famed poet at the French court. This acceptance lasted less than five years, and Viau was officially banished in 1619. He left for England, only to be un-banished in 1620 when he returned to Paris only to be denounced by the Jesuits in 1623 and sentenced to being burned alive.  Viau prudently decided not to appear before Notre Dame as the Jesuits demanded, and after attempting to flee to England was captured and thrown in the Conciergerie. This point is where the Saint-Sulpice Collection begins to chronicle Viau’s life.

Case folio BX4060.A1 .S25 ser. 1 v. 75 no. 5

Uniquely, these pamphlets (many written by Viau himself or at least published under his name) are predominantly poetic in nature, and despite the controversy surrounding the sexually explicit and often heretical content of his work, the Sulpitians seem to have collected only pamphlets published in support of Viau.  (I’ll leave an analysis of why this might have been the case to the reader’s imagination) These poems are generally entreaties to the King, insisting that Viau has changed his ways, accepted Catholicism, and now understands that it was inappropriate to write so many naughty verses.

Case folio BX4060.A1 .S25 ser. 1 v. 75 no. 9

One rather interesting item amongst these pamphlets concerning Théophile de Viau is one written in response to his “apologetic” poetry by Tircis, a pseudonym of an as-yet unidentified friend of Théophile (Case folio BX4060.A1 .S25 ser. 1 v. 75 no. 9). This item expresses concern that Viau is more concerned with his own entertainment than he is with actually defending himself or getting out of prison.  Unfortunately, this item is incomplete. Indeed, the situation concerning Viau’s imprisonment was deadly serious: Jesuit François Garasse was attempting to prove that Viau’s poems contained coded references to homosexuality, an offense that could have incurred the death penalty.

Ultimately, Garasse’s efforts were unsuccessful, and support for Viau from other influential thinkers increased, spurring many of the pamphlets collected at the Newberry on the subject. Viau was permanently exiled from Paris in 1625 and died only one year later. His irreverent poetry was not well received by the classicists, and thus languished in obscurity until the romantic period.

Spreading the word: connecting scholars with primary sources

On Saturday I had the great privilege of speaking about our French pamphlet cataloging project at the annual Center for Renaissance Studies Consortium representative meeting at the Newberry Library.  The Center for Renaissance Studies develops and facilitates programming that connects scholars with the Newberry’s vast collections of late medieval, Renaissance, and early modern materials.

I briefly described the four core collections of French pamphlets that are part of our cataloging project and showed images of many representative examples.  I heard an audible gasp when I mentioned how many items we have cataloged in fewer than three years: 22,300 (and still counting!).  The collections in aggregate span the 16th to the early 19th centuries and cross many different genres including funeral orations, political discourses, broadsides, plays, songs, and satires.  Because of the breadth and volume of these pamphlet collections, scholars have a deep and rich treasure trove of primary source documents with which they can approach research from a variety of perspectives, including social and political history, biography, and  literary criticism.

Several representatives approached me or contacted me after the meeting to share their enthusiasm for the research potential of our pamphlet collections, whether for their own research or for that of their colleagues.  To view records for all of the cataloged items within a particular collection, click the links below.  Bonnes recherches!

French Revolution Collection (FRC)

Louis XVI Trials and Execution Collection

Saint-Sulpice Collection

Collection of publishers’ prospectuses, catalogs, and other materials

The Birthplace controversy

BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 3

Plate from BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 3

As a collection composed primarily of biographical ephemera, the Saint-Sulpice Collection also holds value as a resource for those interested in the history of biography as a genre, and by extension to the study of scholarly communication itself. The Saint-Sulpice Collection includes biographies that blur historical fact with popular mythology (For example, Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 72 no. 17, on Semiramis or Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 41 no. 12 and no. 13, on the Wandering Jew ) includes a decent amount of published correspondence examining or critiquing the way writers have unsuccessfully separated historical facts from legend (See Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 55 no. 9 and no. 10, on Menes).

Since the collection is organized by subject, controversies over various matters are nearly always grouped together. This is convenient both for the researcher and the cataloger. The researcher gets to see the criticism and response next to each other without having to go looking for other resources, while the cataloger gets to copy and paste large swathes of information between records instead of going through the arduous process of typing everything out (cataloging being a physically demanding job, we catalogers are constantly on the lookout for ways to save those precious calories).

Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 1

Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 1

Despite the impression I may have given with my examples above, the vast majority of the collection is focused on French history.  Perhaps understandably, considering his relative uniqueness in French history, there is quite a collection of material related to Louis IX, France’s only canonized king. To be more specific, there’s quite a collection of material bickering over Louis IX’s “real” birthplace. It is commonly accepted both then and now that Louis IX was born in the Parisian suburb of Poissy , but in the early- to mid-18th century there was a concerted effort to re-brand Louis IX as originating in one of the many Beauvais-area towns known as Neuville. If the documents in this collection are any indication, there were definite political overtones to this disagreement, as scholars associated with religious institutions in the two towns competed over whose town would gain the prestige of being the “birthplace of Saint Louis”, and thus qualify for several tax exemptions.  While largely unknown today, at the time this dispute was significant enough to attract the attention of the founder of paleography and modern archeology, Bernard de Montfaucon.

Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 2

Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 2

The evidence brought forth in the dispute ranges from the way Louis IX signed his name (as “Louis de Poissy”), whether or not the city of his baptism was necessarily the same as that of his birth, the reliability of various historical records, and how the Latin oriundus should be interpreted. Montfaucon, who doubted that Louis IX was born in Poissy, argued for a conservative interpretation of the evidence, claiming that contemporary accounts of Louis IX as a “native” of Poissy were insufficient to prove that this was his birthplace.

Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 3

Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 47 no. 3

The documents concerning this controversy in the Saint-Sulpice Collection are all by supporters of the traditional birthplace for Louis IX. Most of the documents are responses to letters received by the author criticizing their arguments in favor of Poissy, allowing the clever researcher to reconstruct both sides of this historical controversy.

Martyrdom of Catholic priests in England ca. 1610

In the last few volumes of Saint Sulpice ser. 1 that I have cataloged I came across pamphlets discussing the so-called Douai martyrs, Catholic  priests who had trained at the English College at Douai and were murdered after their return to England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries . One of these pamphlets stood out from the rest because of its wonderful (yet macabre) illustrations of the ways in which the martyrs were killed.  Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser.1 v. 56 no. 3 carries the title: Discours et traicté veritable du martire enduré a Londres en Angleterre par le R. pere Iean de Meruinia, autrement dit Roberts, religieux tres-renommé de l’ordre S. Benoist de la congregation d’Espaigne executé le 20. de decembre l’an 1610. This pamphlet focuses mainly on the sentencing and death of Saint John Roberts, one of the Forty martyrs of England and Wales.

But first, a brief overview of the religious climate in England at the time of this pamphlet’s events and publication.  During the late 16th and early 17th centuries England was Protestant (as it largely had been since Henry VIII’s split with Rome in 1533) and tolerance for Catholics was waning.  England had seen a brief return to Catholicism under Mary I, but soon returned Protestantism under Elizabeth I.  Catholic supporters of Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, hoped to depose Elizabeth, and place Mary on the throne in hopes of reuniting England with Rome.  These Catholic conspiracies against Elizabeth led to a government policy declaring all Catholic priests, and those who sheltered them, guilty of treason and many Catholics were executed under Elizabeth’s reign. As a result of the Catholic persecution, English Catholic priests were trained abroad at English colleges in Rome, Douai, and Spain.   It was hoped that James I (r. 1603-1625) would be more tolerant of Catholics but, like his predecessor, James was also the target of several Catholic conspiracies.  The infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was the third Catholic conspiracy against James  in three years.  As a result of this conspiracy James I and Parliament issued the Popish Recusants Act of 1605 which forbade Roman Catholics from practicing law or medicine, acting as a guardian or trustee, and allowed for searches and seizures of arms in Catholic’s homes.

Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser.1 v. 56 no. 3

It is in this anti-Catholic environment that the subject of Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser.1 v. 56 no. 3, John Roberts is arrested and tried for treason, and executed, because he had been ministering the Catholic faith in England.  Originally from  Trawsfynydd, Merionethshire in Northern Wales,  Roberts (1575/6-1610) converted to Catholicism and entered the English College at Douai, France in 1598.  His novitiate years were completed at San Martín Pinario, Santiago de Compostela, Spain and he was ordained in 1602.  Roberts returned to England in 1603 and worked among the plague victims.  During these early years in England Roberts was arrested and banished several times. When he was exiled in July 1606 he returned to Douai and founded the monastery of St. Gregory (today known as Downside Abbey) for English Benedictine monks who had entered Spanish monasteries (as Roberts had).  Roberts returned to England in October 1607 and was promptly arrested, escaped, arrested and banished again in 1609.  His return to England in 1610 would be his last. He was arrested on 2 December 1610 after concluding Mass, tried and found guilty under the act that forbid priests to minister in England, and was executed on 10 December by being hung, drawn, and quartered. Roberts became a martyr to the Catholic faith in England and was later canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

The text of Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser.1 v. 56 no. 3 recounts John Roberts arrests and exiles under the reins of Elizabeth and James I and includes accounts of the judgment and sentencing, and execution of Roberts.  As I noted above, what stands out in this pamphlet are the illustrations of Roberts’ execution and depictions of ways in which these Catholic martyrs were executed.

Saint John Roberts' martyrdom

The image of Roberts’ martyrdom is captioned: figures of R.P John  Roberts of Mervinia and other English monks of the congregation of St. Benedict in Spain, heretics put to death in London 20 December 1610.  (Effigies R.P. Joannis de Meruinia alias Roberts monachi Angli congrega. Sti. Bti. in Hispania, ab hereticis interfecti Londini die 20 Decemb. ao. 1610, quod sacerdos et monichiis sedis apostolicae authoritate in Anglia sit missus).  In the image we see Roberts about to be hung with the words “Extra ecclesiaum nulla salvs” (there is no salvation without the church) issuing from his mouth. Near the bottom-center of the image the bones of another martyr are visible, while an execution (dismemberment) is taking place in the upper right-hand side of the image.  Similarly, the castle in the distance is depicted with a head on a pike protruding from the tower and below that another monk is bound on a sled behind a horse, presumably being brought to the gallows for execution.

Depiction of the tortures & manners of death of the martyrs

The second image in the pamphlet features even more violence with further depictions of beheading, dismembering, and disemboweling of Catholic martyrs.  This image is not accompanied by a caption but does include letters A-E presumably labeling the variety of means of execution, or perhaps specific individuals involved in the executions.  The text does not provide any clue as to the significance of the letters in the engraving.  It is possible that this woodcut engraving was used in other texts on a similar topic (Douai martyrs, specific Catholic martyrs) and accompanied with a caption or other explanatory text.

Coming across a pamphlet such as Case folio BX4060.A1 S 25 ser. 1 v. 56 no. 3 is always a treat and provides an interesting read next to the dozens of funeral sermons and panegyrics that are found in many of the Saint-Sulpice Collection volumes.

The Loudun possessions in the Saint-Sulpice Collection

Today’s post is in some sense an extension of my previous post on criminal biographies in the Saint-Sulpice Collection (Brinvilliers: serial killer or devout but misunderstood?), as well as in some sense an expansion on my previous posts regarding the French Revolution and centralization in France.

As I alluded to in Yes, there’s something for everyone in the Saint-Sulpice Collection, I’m quite a fan of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon. Devils is a non-fiction novel concerning the events leading up to the trial and execution of Urbain Grandier. Grandier was a priest who was accused of making a pact with the devil and instigating the demonic possession of an entire convent of Ursulines. The fact that he was credited with publishing both a treatise that spoke out against the doctrine of clerical celibacy as well as an anonymous pamphlet that was highly critical of the Cardinal Richelieu was, of course, completely incidental. To contrast with the case of Brinvilliers, modern scholars generally dispute Grandier’s conviction and acknowledge that the entire affair was largely political in motivation. Richelieu used the supposed possessions to rid himself of an unwelcome critic within the church. The controversy also permitted Richelieu to have the fortifications of the traditionally Huguenot-sympathizing town razed.

Huxley uses the setting as a way of exploring his own views on ethics (heavily drawing on elements of Buddhist philosophy) as well as the justifications and causes behind claims of demonic possession in the early modern period. It’s a fantastic read, and Huxley’s research is outstandingly thorough (check out the extensive footnotes, almost exclusively to primary sources). Huxley explores all sides of the story, including an in-depth examination of Richelieu’s character and why he almost certainly would not have believed in the literal truth of a case of collective demonic possession.

So how does this all connect to the Saint-Sulpice Collection? Well, Case folio BX4060.A1 .S25 ser. 1 v. 32 presents Grandier’s ultimate conviction and sentencing, including the sentence passed on his infamous work advocating priestly marriage. This document presents both a primary source account of Grandier’s trial, but also an intriguing look at the way controversial subjects are treated – as the “hysteria” shown by the possessed nuns was frequently both public and sexually explicit. It also chronicles an important event in the chain of primary source documents that demonstrate the transition of France from a collection of feudal states into the centralized country it is today.

Grandier’s plight may be well reported now (including a 1971 film that somehow won a major award at the Venice Film Festival, despite being banned in Italy), but this project makes the original documents concerning the case available to a much wider audience, and strengthens the emotional impact for those already familiar with the situation.

* Unfortunately, because the pamphlet in question is at this moment in the conservation lab,  I was unable to take a photo in time for this post.


Jean-Paul Marat “le vampire le plus remarquable de la République francaise”

Pamphlet BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 52 no. 10 is a satirical treatment of the life and politics of Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793)  entitled- Vie criminelle et politique de J.P. Marat, se disant l’Ami du peuple, adoré, porté en triomphe comme tel, et après sa mort, projeté saint par la jacobiniaille, ou, L’homme au 200,000 têtes, le vampire le plus remarquable de la République francaise .

Case BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 52 no. 10

Marat was a physician and scientist who became an important figure of the revolution as a politician and journalist and was elected to the National Convention in 1792.  He was a staunch defender of the sans-culottes and an advocate for violence against the “enemies of the people.” He is often credited for inciting the violent September massacres  during which a large number of the prisoners in Paris were murdered.  In his journal, l’Ami du peuple, Marat attacked both the supporters of the monarchy and conservative revolutionaries, the Girondins.  This tension between the radical and conservative revolutionary factions would become even more heated after Louis XVI was tried and executed and lead to the fall of the Girondins in May and June 1793.  On 13 July 1793 Marat was assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, a Girondin sympathiser.

Marat’s assassination made him a martyr for the revolution.  His assassination became an important theme for artists of the revolution and political pamphlets celebrated his memory.  It wasn’t until after the fall of Robespierre and end of the Terror that public opinion about Marat began to change and many of his busts and sculptures were destroyed. 

Death of Marat by David

The author of Vie criminelle et politique de J.P. Marat seeks to show his readers the ‘truth’ about Marat, saying:  it is time to raise the veil which has covered this odious skeleton and establish the memory of this vampire thirsty for blood.  (Il est temps de lever le voile, qui jusqu’alors à couvert ce squelette odieux, et d’etablir la mmoire de ce vampire altr de sang.) The author calls out Marat for being the ‘provocateur of legal murders’ (“le provocateur des assassins juridiques“) .

The pamphlet provides a loose biography of Marat – telling of his days as a physician in Metz distributing his ‘pills and ointments,’ entry into the political arena, and assassination, while railing against his political policies and condemning him as a “secret friend of despotism…hypocrite partisan of tyranny.”

One particular paragraph that I particularly enjoyed falls towards the end of the pamphlet and speaks to those who uphold Marat as a sainted figure of the Republic:

“Jacobins adore Marat if you want; make a sainted shroud of his bloody shirt, relics of his bathtub, diadems of his old crown, a gospel of his journals or his monarchical constitution, you are free: the Indians adore the excrement of the grand lama, they are unsavory meals enough, everyone has his fancy, it is necessary to let each have, however absurd, what one must.  But no one will force me to adore the image of a dead man that I have believed to be an assassin or insane.”

(Jacobins adorez Marat, si vous voulez; faites un saint-suaire de sa chemise ensanglantée, des reliques de sa baignoire, des diadêmes de sa vieille couronne, une évangile de ses journeaux ou même de sa constitution monarchique, vous êtes libres: les indiens adorent bien les excremens du grand lama, ils en sont même des repas assez ragoûtans; chacun à sa fantaisie, il faut la laisser à chacun, quelle qu’absurde qu’elle soit. Mais on ne peut pas me forcer d’adorer l’image d’un mort que j’ai cru un assassin ou un insensé.)

The other aspect of this pamphlet that drew my attention was the frontispiece which depicts three eras of Marat’s life (les tois epoques de la vie de Jean Paul Marat projette saint par la jacobinierie). The first image is captioned with the text “Marat a Metz vendant des phioles en 1787. ” The second, “Marat sortant du tribunal porte en triomphe,” and the third “Son buste traine dans l’egout Mt. martre par la jeunesse repubne.” 


Frontispiece: "Les trois epoques de la vie de Jean Paul Marat"


For favorites, pride goeth before a fall

For your consideration, two cautionary tales.

Royal favorites—whether confidants, lovers, or powerful political lieutenants—were magnets for controversy, their rise and fall followed closely by politicos and populace alike. In quick succession, the Saint Sulpice Collection has recently offered up pamphlets dealing with a couple of these characters.

The first, La disgrace de Baradas (Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 6 no. 6) of 1626, lambastes François de Baradas (1602-1684), the handsome officer of the royal household who was Louis XIII’s first love. Written as an allegory in the voice of “Maistre Bontemps,” La disgrace de Baradas mercilessly takes to task “ces petits Phaetonneax d’orgueil & d’ambition” (these little Phaëtons of pride and ambition) who overreach and get their comeuppance. It took only six months for Baradas to fall from favor, either for fighting an illegal duel or for taking other lovers; the sources disagree. This episode made “la fortune de Baradas” a French idiom for short-lived good fortune.

The second pamphlet, the Histoire admirable, et declin pitoyable aduenu en la personne d’vn fauory de la Cour d’Espagne (Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 12 no. 7), tells the tale of Rodrigo Calderón (1580s-1621), secretary to Francisco Gómez de Sandoval, Duke of Lerma, who was, in turn, the royal favorite or valido of King Philip III of Spain. Wielding enormous political power, Lerma left much of the work—and eventually its consequences—to his trusted secretary. The duke was savvy enough to seek out a cardinalship, giving him ecclesiastical immunity from prosecution, so when he fell from power in 1618 he couldn’t be touched. His enemies, instead, set upon Calderón, who was convicted of several murders and a host of lesser charges. The Histoire admirable is devoted mostly to the pitiable decline (ever the more interesting part), specifically Calderón’s torture and execution in 1621, along with details of what became of his wealth.

Like Baradas, Calderón contributed to his nation’s lexicon.  He took his death sentence with such bravery (bravado?), that even today a person who is immoderately proud is said to “tener más orgullo que Don Rodrigo en la horca” (be prouder than Don Rodrigo on the scaffold).

Concino Concini: devils, demons & ghosts in Saint-Sulpice ser. 1 v. 4

Concino Conini, a noble Florentine, entered the French court as a favorite of Marie de Médicis, queen consort of Henry IV of France.  His wife, Léonora Galigaï, was a lady-in-waiting and confidante of the queen. Concini had great influence over Marie de Médicis and assumed a great deal of political power after the assassination of Henry IV in 1610.  By 1613 Concini had amassed the titles of marquis d’Ancre, first gentleman-in-waiting, superintendent to the queen, governor of Perone, Roye, and Montdidier, and maréchal de France.  Through Marie de Médicis’ patronage Concini became a powerful political figure and drew hatred from the French nobility and people. There was a great distrust of the foreign queen and her foreign favorite.  Some modern literature compares his influence on the queen to that of Rasputin.

Concino Concini (1575-1617).

Henry IV’s assassination by François Ravaillac in 1610 raised his young son Louis XIII to the throne at the age of 8.  As Louis was too young to rule his mother Marie de Médicis ruled as regent.  Even though Louis came of age in 1614 the queen refused to give up her ruling power, citing that Louis was ‘too feeble’ to rule.  On 24 April 1617 Louis and his supporters, particularly his favorite Charles d’Albert duc de Luynes, led a coup d’etat to seize the throne.  Louis ordered the assassination of Concini and exiled the queen to Blois.  Concini was shot by Nicolas de l’Hospital, baron de Vitry, captain of the garde des corps, and Concini’s body was discreetly buried at the church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. The body was soon exhumed and drug through the streets of Paris where it was lambasted by the citizens and raised on the pont Neuf.  Concini’s widow was put to trial for sorcery, found guilty and executed a few months later on 8 July 1617.  With the death of Concini there was “an outpouring of pamphlets [that] rejoiced at France’s liberation from the Italian tyrant…the ritual mutilations performed on [Concini's] body were equated with the havoc his opponents claimed he had caused within the body of France” (Exploring cultural history : essays in honor of Peter Burke, 125-126).

Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4  contains nine pamphlets regarding Concini’s death.  Pamphlets nos. 6, 7, and 12 are of particular interest because they are satirical treatments of Concini’s death including commentary by Concini’s ghost.

Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4 no. 6, Inventaire des pieces, memoires et instructions du proces intente par pissant haut & redoutable saigneur Messire Concino Coyon, coquefredouille, marque d’Ancre, pretendant a l’empire francois, recalls the political events surrounding Concino’s assassination, and presents 92 points regarding Concino’s political acts, and the diabolical intrigues and subterfuges of Concino’s followers to vilify Concio. The introductory letter by the author, Happeloppin procuereur d’enfer (p. 6-8)is addressed to ‘Messieurs moldy-bread, & bad-wine, councilors of Beelzebub, in his grand smoky and twisted chamber of hell’ (A messieurs messieurs moisy-pain, & gaste-vin, conseilleurs de Beelzebuth, en sa grand chambre enfumee & entortillee d’enfer).

The following inventaire  casts the account of Concino’s political actions as a plot of Beelzebub beginning with Philip II of Spain ‘troubling the kingdom of France’ and including a political events leading up to Louis XIII’s coup and assassination of Concino.  Throughout the pamphlet Concino is equated with Cain, Judas, the Jesuite Pierre Coton, and Henry IV’s assassin Ravaillac; mention of the devil, his minions, and the fires of hell fill Happeloppin’s writing.


Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4 no. 6

Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4 no. 6 - A Messieurs moisy-pain, & gaste-vin, conseilleurs de Beelzebuth

InCase folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4 no. 7, Le testament et derniere volonte du sieur Concini de Conchino, iadis pretendu mareschal de France, apporte en se monde par un des ses gentilshommes, qui fut tue aupres de Nanterre, leque s’adresse au villageois qui le tua : plus est comprins un discours de la rencontre dudit Conchio & de Ravaillac, en form de dialogue, Concini’s ghost appears to those who killed him and gives his last will and testament through one of his gentlemen who were killed with him. In his dialogue with the villageois  Concini’s gentleman reveals details about Concini’s life in hell and states that ‘already he has stirred up wars in hell and would like to take Pluto’s place and has had a long dispute with Ravaillac’ (…qu’il a desja esmu beaucoup de guerres aux enfers, & mesme vouloit prendre la place de Pluton: puis a long-temps dispute avec Ravaillac, scavoir qui auroit le premier lieu). 

Last but not least is my favorite Concini pamphlet,  Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4 no. 12, Dialogue de la Galligaya et de Misoquin esprit follet, qui luy ameine son mary : la rencontre dudit esprit avec l’ange gardien de Monsieur le prince, which features two full-page wood-cut engravings of Concini’s demon and phantom.  The text opens with the speaker (the guardian angel of the title?) encountering Léonora Galigaï in prison and witnessing her call forth the demon, Misoquin, that had protected her husband.  The demon (depicted on the following page in a wood-cut engraving) is described thus:

I was the strange figure of a spirit, its eyes deceptive , a mouth or rather an abyss, without a nose, having the body of a caterpillar, its  without arms or legs, I believe that it was one of the demons that are named aquatic.

(Je voy un esprit de figure estrange, les yeux esgarez, une bouche ou plustost un goufre, sans nez, ayat le corps comme une chenille, des aisles, sans bras ny jambes, je croy que c’estoit de ces daemons qu’on nomme aquatiques… p. 7)

Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4 no. 12 - Concini's demon

Saint-Sulpice ser. 1 v. 4 no. 12 – Portraict du mauvais demon, gardant Conchini

In dialog that follows between Leonora and Misoquin, the demon calls forth the spirit of Concini to speak to his wife.  Concini’s phantom (again represented by a wood-cut engraving) appears without hands or feet.  When his wife points out his missing hands and feet Concini explains that Pluto removed his hands in fear of his riches, and his feet were worn away when his regiment was defeated.

Case folio BX4060.A1 S25 ser. 1 v. 4 no. 12 - Fantosme de Conchini

These three pamphlets demonstrate the anti-Concini rhetoric that was rampant in political pamphlets of the era and highlight the common belief that Léonora Galigaï (and perhaps Concini himself) was engaged in sorcery to preserve the Concini’s political power.