Tag Archives: satire

Louis XVI on the cross

Here is one of the more arresting images I’ve come across in the French Revolution Collection (FRC): an engraving of Louis XVI being crucified between the clergy and the nobility.

Case FRC 27792

This messianic image accompanies the pamphlet La passion et la mort de Louis XVI, roi des juifs et des chretiens (Case FRC 27792 and Case FRC 22313).  The attribution to Jacques baron de Menou (1750-1810) on page 6 is fictitious, as is the place of publication: certainly not Jerusalem; most likely Paris.

Guy Thuillier recently published a brief discussion and a modern edition of the pamphlet, which is available through JSTOR (Guy Thuillier, “Un pamphlet de 1790 : La passion et la mort de Louis XVI, Roi des Juifs et des Chrétiens de Jean-François de Bourgoing,” La Revue administrative, 58e Année, No. 343 [January 2005], p. 18-24).  As Thuillier notes, the pamphlet is attributed to Bourgoing in Notice historique et généalogique sur la famille de Bourgoing by Georges de Soultrait (Lyon: Imprimerie de Louis Perrin, 1855) p. 34 [available via Gallica online].  Soultrait lays three other widely published writings  at the feet of Bourgoing: Domine salvum fac regem (1789), Pange lingua (1789), and Le cri de douleur, ou, la journee du 20 juin 1792.  All three of these — all of which are in FRC — are attributed by Martin & Walter to Jean-Gabriel Peltier.

Returning to the image, a very similar engraving — but colored and (assuming no inadvertent digital error) reversed — is held by the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, and available online via Bridgeman Art Library.

Louis XVI (1754-93) at his trial, crucified between the nobility and the clergy, c.1792 (coloured engraving), French School, (18th century) / Musée de la Ville de Paris, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France / Archives Charmet / The Bridgeman Art Library

Sertor’s Conclave dell’anno 1774 revisited

The cataloging workflow works in mysterious ways.

Earlier this year, when Benedict XVI’s resignation triggered a papal conclave, I took the opportunity to write a post about Gaetano Sertor’s Conclave dell’anno 1774, two copies of which I had recently cataloged.  That very week, elsewhere in Collection Services, a manuscript of the libretto (Case MS V 461 .7743) landed on someone else’s desk.  The flurry of research by Alan and Jessica revealed nuances about the work’s history and publication that were necessary to distinguish its incarnations in our collection, which actually number five: the manuscript, an authentic edition, two counterfeit editions, and a French edition.

In the Bibliografia universale del teatro drammatico italiano, Salvioli and Salvioli attribute the work not to Sertor — who went to prison for its content — but to Prince Sigismondo Chigi.  They also go into detail about the distinguishing characteristics of the counterfeit editions.  The pictures below show our three Italian editions: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775 (BLC 14); Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775c (BLC136); Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775b.  The French edition (F 46 .655 v. 23 no. 16), cataloged in January, is in our collection of Dutch pamphlets, also cataloged as part of the CLIR project.

Second counterfeit: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775 (BLC 14); first counterfeit: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775c (BLC136); authentic edition: Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775b


In contemporary wrappers. Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775 (BLC 14), Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775c (BLC136), Case oML 50.2.C66S47 1775b.

Les temps sont bien changés! Heresy, satire, and immolation

While there were an enormous number of duplicates within the French Revolution Collection (FRC), there also quite a few duplicates with items either unrelated to FRC or cataloged before the advent of the CLIR project.  For those, we are not only adding holdings records, we are also recataloging to bring the bibliographic records up to CLIR standard.

The Newberry already holds a copies of the anticlerical satire Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en paradis and its continuation, Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en enfer, by Joseph Fiévée.  These send-ups lambaste Pope Pius VI personally and decry the church as a whole.  At the pearly gates, for example, Saint Peter doesn’t recognize his successor, who he finds too richly dressed, and when Pius tries to enter the gate he’s too overfed to fit; the removal of some masonry is suggested as a remedy.

Case FRC 18623 and 18624

Most  charming — and, of course, useful — about these pamphlets are the manuscript annotations on one of the duplicates of Paradis.

Il n’y a pas cent ans qu’en France un pamphlet de ce genre eût fait brûler solemnellement son auteur. Le siècle passé foutait[?] plusieurs exemples de gens grilles à bien meilleur compte. Témoins entre autres Geoffroy Vallés et Simon Marin, que au fond, n’etoient que des fous, des illuminés déraisonnants de la meilleure foi du monde, et plus dignés du Petites-maisons que du feu. Les temps sont bien changés!

Only one hundred years ago in France a pamphlet like this would have had the author burned at the stake.  The past century has spat out many examples of people grilled for better reasons.  Take for example, among others, Geoffroy Vallée and Simon Marin, who at bottom were nothing but madmen,  raving lunatics of the best faith in the world, and better suited to asylums than to fire.  The times certainly have changed!


Case FRC 18624


The magic lantern, la rareté merveilluse, fraai curieus!

Savoiardi colla Lanterna Magica, held by the British Museum (1890,0415.254)

If the language of cinema is universal, then one may say the same of the magic lantern show. The magic lantern, an early type of image projector, was a precursor to motion picture film projectors. Traveling magic lantern performers of the 18th and 19th centuries, also sometimes known as “Savoyards”, were a common sight in European cities. Often accompanied by an assistant who performed live music during the show, these performers projected hand-painted slides of popular tales in the darkened rooms of private homes using techniques borrowed from magic, pupeteering, and the theater.

One could also argue that political satire is universal. Both visual artists and pamphleteers of the 18th century co-opted the image of the magic lantern in acerbic works that satirized contemporary politics and culture. These often anonymous artists and authors acted, in a sense, as magic lantern projectionists and became the lens through which politics and society were examined and critiqued.

La Lanterne magique patriotique (Case FRC 17560)

Several pamphlets in the Newberry Library‘s French pamphlet collections are satires which build upon the theme and aesthetic of the magic lantern. One such example in the French Revolution Collection is La Lanterne magique patriotique, ou, Le Coup de grace de l’aristocratie by Antoine Dorfeuille (Case FRC 17560). Dorfeuille was a comedic actor, dramaturge, and revolutionary who was killed during counter-revolutionary violence in 1795 in the wake of the Reign of Terror. In this satire of the French aristocracy, Dorfeuille co-opts the language of the magic lantern showman to humorous effect.

Woodcut from La Lanterne magique patriotique (Case FRC 17560)

Included in this pamphlet is a crude woodcut of a magic lantern projecting an image of Lady Liberty. An English translation of the caption below the woodcut follows:

[Frenchmen, it's Lady Liberty!

"The print is very bad," the aristocracy will say;

"Yes, but the idea is good," Reason will say.]

Pasted in at p. 24 of this pamphlet is an expanded, alternate version of the text printed below it on Louis XVI and the aristocracy. This text pleads for the king to ignore the counsel of the coterie of aristocrats and diplomats, sometimes derisively called the comité autrichien (“Austrian Committee”), who surrounded him at court and harbored royalists sympathies that ran counter to many of the tenets of the French Revolution.

La Lanterne magique patriotique, p. 24 alternate text (Case FRC 17560)

[Do you see Louis XVI, who follows the cart on foot and seems to be pushing it along, all while the "Austrian Committee" throws rocks to impede his passage? Do you see the vertigo that overcomes him all of a sudden? ... Do you see the patriotism that awakens, that spurs ahead, that runs after him, that stops him, and that cries out to him, "Where are you going, monarch who has been led astray?" What better place is there than at the bosom of your people? ... Weak king, be brave; don't listen to bad counsel anymore, neither from  bad priests nor from your villainous wife: one little push and the machine will roll.]

The magic lantern also makes an appearance in the Pamfletten-Verzameling, a collection of mostly Dutch pamphlets at the Newberry that deal with the history of the Netherlands and this country’s relations with other European nations. Lanterne magique, of, Toverlantaern (F 46 .665 v. 26 no. 35) is a satirical Dutch periodical published in 20 issues in 1782 and 1783. It satirizes the politics of the day, including the strained relations between Great Britain and the Netherlands during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784), and makes many allusions to the newly formed United States, to which the Netherlands informally allied itself during the American Revolutionary War.

Lanterne magique, of, Toverlantaern (F 46 .655 v. 26 no. 35)

This periodical is written in the “Savoyard” language, or “Koeterwaals,” a comical gibberish mix of French and Dutch that was used by traveling magic lantern showmen from Wallonia. ( See media researcher Thomas Weynant’s Early Visual Media for translated excepts from the work of Dutch literary historian André Hanou on “Koeterwaals” and the relationship between satire, politics, and the magic lantern.)

It is not too late to experience an authentic magic lantern show. Magic lantern collector and performer Herman Bollaert has resurrected the art of the magic lantern show in Belgium, complete with “Koeterwaals,” in his live production, Magica Lanterna Galantee Show.

Papal conclave in satire and song

Papal coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See

In light of the papal conclave that commences in earnest today, I give you this:

Il conclave dell’anno MDCCLXXIV : dramma per musica da recitarsi nel Teatro delle dame nel conclave del MDCCLXXV.

The piece is an operatic satire of the epically long conclave (October 1774 to February 1775) that resulted in the election of Giovanni Angelo Braschi (Pius VI).  The Newberry has two editions of this work, both in the Howard Mayer Brown Libretto Collection and recently cataloged (see below for details).  Though attributed to Pietro Metastasio and Niccolò Piccini in the introductory matter, Il conclave dell’anno MDCCLXXIV is actually by Gaetano Sertor who, according to Oscar Sonneck (Librettos, I, p. 307), “simply used the two names then most in vogue.”

Our two editions — slight variants, both printed by Gian Francesco Chracas — are

If you are curious about Sertor’s satire but can’t get to our reading rooms, one of these is now available online via Google Books:

Title page of Il conclave dell'anno MDCCLXXIV (via Google Books)

Il conclave dell'anno MDCCLXXIV (via Google Books)


Extra weird Dutch poetry

Cataloging the Dutch pamphlets in reverse chronological order has resulted in some interesting discoveries. As somebody who came into this project with no knowledge of Dutch history outside of the Napoleonic wars, I’ve certainly learned quite a bit. The reverse chronological order has actually been helpful in this respect, as it enables me to work backwards from a period of history I am at least somewhat comfortable in, and by examining the backgrounds to those events it becomes easier to figure out what these pamphlets are talking about without having to do too much additional research. (The fact that the vast majority of the Dutch pamphlets deal with major political upheavals makes research easier as well, since I can usually find English or French language sources that clarify the content of the pamphlets without having to muddle my way through yet more Dutch). As a result, I have a completely new perspective on the time period, since moving from effect to cause has resulted in a more nuanced view of history (at least on my end).


F 46 .655 v. 21 no. 9 title page

Considering that this will most likely be my final post on this blog, I have decided to share one of the most bizarre items I have had the pleasure of cataloging for this project. That item is the Antwoord van Daniel Raap … (F 46 .655 v. 21 no. 9). In a rare case of a pamphlet actually being honest about its content, the title page describes it as “extra raar” (lit. “extra weird”). What follows is fairly standard for the mid-18th century Dutch pamphlets, poetry describing the conflicts between Orangists and Republicans in the Netherlands. In this case, as Raap was the leader of the Doelists, it supports a return to the hereditary rule of the house of Orange-Nassau but advocated for democratic elections and absolute cognatic succession. There are quite a few pamphlets of this type in the collection, but this specific piece is noteworthy because of its inclusion of the Arlequin francois[sic].

F 46 .655 v. 21 no. 9 "Arlequin francois"

Arlequin francois is also a poem, but the language is nearly incomprehensible. Each line of the poem is a morass of grammatically intertwined Dutch and French. It’s unclear whether this choice was made just to be difficult, as a subtly comment on Franco-Dutch relations, or simply to make it easier to rhyme (as in the opening lines: “Rarekiek, messieurs, rarekiek watte vreemds enne bezondre / kieke rekt toe, watte dink, c’est par diable grand wondre”). The whole thing is totally bizarre, and appears to be some smack at the excesses of various factions. This fits with other items in the volume that suggest controversy surrounding the political activities of Amsterdam’s wine merchants. Inexplicable poetry has been a pretty common occurrence on this project, but bizarre linguistic mash-ups have been extra rare. Won’t some Dutch history expert come to the Newberry and figure out what this is supposed to be?

The Wit of French Pamphlets

One thing that has kept me amused throughout this cataloging project has been collecting humorous, entertaining, or witty quotations. As the project ends its final stages, I decided to look back at the lines I felt were worth saving. Sometimes, (as Shawn discussed in her previous post), the item in question has some witty marginalia. More often, whatever it is that caused me to write it down was simply a part of the original document.

Perhaps my favorite example of a manuscript annotation comes from a pamphlet in the French Revolution Collection, the Relation véritable et remarquable du grand voyage du pape en paradis. This pamphlet was part of a vehemently anti-religious series aping Dante’s Divine comedy. The anonymous commentator stated “Il n’y a pas cent ans qu’en France un pamphlet de ce genie eut fait bruler solemnellement son auteur” (Not even 100 years ago a pamphlet of this style would have caused its author to be solemnly burned). The manuscript continues for a while, contemplating how times have changed.

Most of the comments are found in otherwise completely serious pamphlets. The Voyage du comte de Haga, en France is a mostly serious rendition of Gustav III of Sweden’s travels in France under the pseudonym Count Haga. The preface however, simply reads: “Un livre sans préface est une femme de condition sans rouge. Ce principe posé, je dois en crayonner une : la voici.(A book without a preface is like a noblewomen without rouge. This principal stated, I must write one: here it is).

In some pamphlets, I chose to record both a claim and the reader’s counterclaim as they attempted to argue with the author of the pamphlet. For example, in the anti-Jacobin pamphlet Les paradoxes, ou Cinquième dialogue des morts de la révolution, the author of the pamphlet states regarding Charlotte Corday,  Si au lieu d’assassiner Marat au lit de la mort, elle eut enfoncé son coteau dans le cœur de Robespierre, elle n’en eut pas moins commis un crime, mais ce crime eut sauvé 30 mille Français. Robespierre seroit au Panthéon, mais nous aurions 30 mille citoyens de plus.” (If instead of murdering Marat on his deathbed, she [Corday] had planted her knife in the heart of Robespierre, she would have not committed any less of a crime, but this crime would have saved the life of 30 thousand French people. Robespierre would be in the Panthéon, but we would have 30 thousand more citizens). Some former owner took issue with this, adding in their own hand “Le chiffre est peut-être un peu exagère ; n’importe, dans ce nombre il y avait bien quelques partisans du l’ancien régime … ” (The number is perhaps somewhat exagerrated : certainly this number includes some partisans of the Ancien Regime …)

Some of the comments seem like jabs by the publisher to the author, or vice versa. In a note on a playbook for the Grand-bailliage, the editor states “On m’a fourni une très-grande quantité de notes sur les personnages de cette comédie ;  mais je ne suis pas méchant ; & je crois que le public les trouve déjà assez notés” (I was furnished with a very large quantity of notes on the characters in this comedy, but I am not mean, and I believe that the public will find them sufficiently noted already.)

Given the political nature of the French Revolution Collection, there is no shortage of amusing political rhetoric. The title of Case FRC 20391 is “Essai sur quelques changemens qu’on pourroit faire dès-a-présent dans les loix criminelles de France, par un honnête homme qui, depuis qu’il connoît ces loix, n’est pas bien sûr de n’être pas pendu un jour.” (Essai on several changes that can be made up to the present in the criminal laws of France, by an honest man who, since he knew the laws, isn’t completely sure of not being hanged someday)

Sometimes these political sentiments take the form of aphorisms, such as La Pique’s “comme il ne faut pas prendre médecine tous les matins, il ne faut pas non plus d’insurrection tous les jours” (Just as one mustn’t take medicine every morning, one must also not raise insurrection every day, Case FRC 20639) or Faure’s “Sommes-nous les représentans du peuple souverain, ou sommes-nous les représentans souverains du peuple ? ” (Are we the representatives of the sovereign people, or are we the sovereign representatives of the people? Case FRC 18502).

Frequently, the humor is unintentional and derives from the similarities between the author’s rhetoric and the more apoplectic political pundits of the modern age: “C’est mal à propos qu’on donne le nom de citoyens à ces hommes qui, n’ayant rien à perdre, sont disposés à tous les crimes. Les véritables citoyens sont ceux qui ont des posessions, les autres ne sont que des prolétaires ou faiseurs d’enfans, et ceux-ci n’auroient jamais dû être armés, ni voter, que comme en Angleterre. Méprisables soutiens de la licence, clubistes forcenés, Jacobins, que l’amour de la domination aveugle, vous ne serez que trop convaincus de cette dur vérité.” (It is inappropriate to give the name citizen to these men who, having nothing to lose, are disposed towards all crimes. The true citizens are those who have possessions, the others are nothing but proles or baby-makers, and these must never be armed, nor vote, as in England. Despicable supporters of licentiousness, enraged partisans, Jacobins, blinded by the love of domination, you will never be too convinced of this hard truth. Case FRC 14135)

Most of the intentionally humorous comments are not so vitriolic, they use humor as a tool to support their political views or ridicule their enemies. Case FRC 16897 states “On dit: que les jacobins sont des conspirateurs! On dit: ils soutenaient Robespierre. Calomnie atroce! Méchanceté noire! N’est-il pas evident que si nous étions pour Robespierre, le 9 thermidor à huit heurs du soir, nous étions contre lui, le 10 à la meme heure!” (They say that the Jacobins are conspirators. They say, they supported Robespierre. Atrocious slander! Black wickedness! Is it not evident that we supported Robespierre on 9 Thermidor at 8 at night, and we were against him on the tenth at the same time!)

The French pamphlets at the Newberry might not be the world’s greatest source of comedy, but they do serve to contradict the misconception that important historical events are necessarily accompanied by dusty prose or a lack of humor.

A Stranger in a strange language

Cataloging in a language I know nothing about has been an interesting experience. In addition to having no formal training in Dutch, I came to this with no knowledge of Dutch history outside of their contributions to the field of horticulture (thanks to a graduate school class that took place at the Chicago Botanic Garden). From a purely quantitative perspective, that means that cataloging these Dutch pamphlets, as similar as they are content-wise to the French Revolution Collection, is significantly more time consuming.

C.G. Allen’s Manual of European languages for librarians has been an invaluable resource. Less because of the vocabulary featured therein, but for its explanation of how Dutch orthography has changed over the centuries. The Dutch language underwent a major spelling reform in the 19th century.  Since only the first few items cataloged post-date those reforms, looking up unknown words (i.e., most of them) in a modern dictionary would be nigh impossible without the background presented there.

Of course, things have improved – I have now cataloged 16 volumes of Dutch pamphlets, and no-longer have to look up every every word. Being a Germanic language, there are enough similarities for me to muddle through, and the wholesale borrowing of many words from Latin and French (sometimes even retaining their traditional Latin declensions, much to the consternation of second-language Dutch learners everywhere, I’m sure) makes figuring out the meaning behind things much easier for those of us with formal training in both French and Latin.

Sometimes, a pamphlet comes along where the title is so glaringly similar to English (if you squint) that your humble cataloger immediately becomes wary of false friends. In the case of today’s special pamphlet, that fear was unjustified, but a closer look was still necessary.

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 title page

The pamphlet in question is titled Groot A/B/C boek (Call no.  F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2). For those readers not fluent with Dutch, yes, the title literally translates to “Great ABC book”.  So far so good. Unfortunately, this pamphlet is not actually an alphabet book, as the name would imply. To the author’s credit, the alphabet is present. The first page of the pamphlet presents the alphabet in six different typefaces: upper and lower case fraktur-style typefaces, upper and lower case italic typefaces, and upper and lower case roman typefaces. The author then helpfully points out the five vowels and gives a brief explanation of each before giving up on this whole “alphabet book” conceit entirely. The final ten pages of this pamphlet are, of course, political satire.  Not only that, but they consist entirely of parodies of religious writings: the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and a “sermon” on Bentink LXII, 5  (a reference to Willem Bentinck, a diplomat in the court of the stadtholder William IV.

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 alphabet

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 - the alphabet

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working on so many 18th century pamphlets, it’s that no topic is to obscure to be turned into a political satire. Of course, it seems like the author of this one ran out of ideas on how to turn an alphabet book without any illustrations into a political satire pretty quickly, so went for the easy controversy by creating a religiously-themed satire, drawing parallels between supporters of the house of Orange-Nassau and the devoutly religious (and thus, implicitly criticizing the supporters who viewed the superiority of the stadtholders as obvious, gospel truth). The pamphlet even goes so far as to utilize the then-archaic blackletter typeface for the entire text.

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 Het Willem onze

F 46 .655 v. 36 no. 2 - Het Willem onze

This pamphlet wasn’t complete without false friends – the parody of the Lord’s Prayer is entitled “Het Willem onze”, which my francophone brain immediately interpreted as “William XI” as opposed to the true Dutch meaning “Our William”, a parody of the “Our Father” (Cf. the German cognate Vaterunser , both from the Latin Pater noster). This has been one of the recurring difficulties for me in working with Dutch – not the English cognates, which almost universally mean exactly what they first appear to mean, but the numerous French cognates with completely different meanings. The most distracting has been the Dutch en, meaning “and” (and thus the Latin abbreviation etc. is commonly changed to enz.), which I continuously misinterpret as the French preposition.

Cataloging these materials in Dutch has definitely been a learning experience – not only from a linguistic perspective, but a historical one too. It also throws into sharp relief the amount of information available on the French Revolution – finding similar information on contemporary events in the Netherlands has been far more difficult, and the vast majority of sources are in Dutch as well.

For fans of unusual satire, this collection of Dutch pamphlets is really strong: later volumes (currently being cataloged) include a number of satires that take the form of auction catalogs and household inventories in addition to the more standard satirical poetry and drama. Keep an eye on this space for more exciting developments.

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.

Delightful Finds in Unexpected Places

Case FRC 25459

Whether it can be attributed to the fact that I am the newest member of the CLIR project team, or to the fact that I am just downright unlucky (good thing I’m not much of a gambler), it’s not very often that I stumble upon visually stimulating material in the pamphlets that I’m cataloging. So when I came across the work Apologie de Messire Jean-Charles-Pierre Le Noir (Case FRC 25459) by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Suard, I was not expecting anything particularly special or entertaining from the deceptively plain-looking pamphlet. However, immediately upon opening it I was hit by that age-old saying “never judge a book by its cover.” What I was met with was quite the chaotic scene involving what appeared to be a hooved animal with the face of a man (or perhaps a man with the body of a hooved animal), a pack of voracious hounds, a baton-wielding hero keeping the hounds at bay, a mysteriously cloaked and hatted man lurking in the background, a swinging monkey, and some sort of unidentified winged creature.

Case FRC 25459

Being both extremely confused and pleased with my discovery, I continued to flip through the pamphlet and was delighted to find yet another similar, but slightly modified, version of the first engraving closing the pamphlet out at the end. This one portrayed the scene slightly differently though, changing the positions of the participants, modifying their faces and clothing, etc. There was also the addition of a few bars of music beneath the engraving along with the lyrics “De moitié, de moitié, de moitié, nous serons ensemble.” Having absolutely no idea what it all meant, I was satisfied enough with the humorous qualities of these engravings, but as I examined the contents of the pamphlet more closely I came across something else that you don’t find everyday—an entire section of the pamphlet dedicated to the author’s thoughts on what these engravings should look like/what they should portray, and instructions to the artist on how he might conceive of and produce them.

Case FRC 25459

Suard, no doubt in an effort to add to the satiric quality of the pamphlet, beautifully and cheekily depicts what he believes the scenes should look like for each engraving, taking care to give precise instructions and “suggestions” to the engraver and to deliver an exciting and dramatic background story to the action that is taking place, even going so far as to cast himself as “L’Ange-gardien, Suard” (the guardian-angel), the fearless hero. Although filled with what I suspect are very specific references to people, places, and (political) events of the time (of which I am regrettably unfamiliar), and thus rendering the intended humor and audacity a bit useless on the modern, everyday reader, one can still appreciate what Suard has accomplished here–catching the reader’s attention and putting a smile on his or her face!

Case FRC 25459

Case FRC 25459

Case FRC 25459