The Historical Journal

Research Article

NICOLAS CHESNEAU, CATHOLIC PRINTER IN PARIS DURING THE FRENCH WARS OF RELIGION*

LUC RACAUTa1 c1

a1 Newcastle University

ABSTRACT

This article explores the activities of Nicolas Chesneau, a Parisian printer active between the beginning of the French Wars of Religion and the League. While printing in the Protestant sphere has received a great deal of historiographical attention, the influence of Catholic printing on opinion forming during the French Wars of Religion remains comparatively misunderstood. Nicolas Chesneau was a militant Catholic printer whose activity responded to commercial and political pressures but also reflects a personal commitment to Catholicism. Evidence drawn from Chesneau's epistles and bibliography reveals personal relationships with authors, other printers, and patrons. Chesneau's production answered growing demand for news and religious instruction for the laity, a phenomenon that is only beginning to be understood. Analysis of his output reveals the influence of the cardinal de Lorraine who was determined to use the vernacular book to pursue his agenda of reform, often in the face of institutional opposition from the crown, the parlement, and the University of Paris. The end of Nicolas Chesneau's career is marked by a shift towards expensive in-folio books that proved to be less profitable than the short in-octavo works that distinguishes his production during the first decade of the French Wars of Religion.

Correspondence:

c1 School of Historical Studies, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7RU luc.racaut@ncl.ac.uk

Footnotes

* This research was conducted thanks to a British Academy Small Research Grant awarded in 2003 and an AHRC matching leave scheme awarded in 2006 provided the breathing space necessary to write this article. I owe special thanks to Professor Andrew Pettegree, Dr Malcolm Walmsby, and Dr Alexander Wilkinson, editors of the French vernacular books for granting me access to their files. I also owe thanks to Magali Vène and Geneviève Guilleminot for providing me access to the Renouard manuscripts of the Bibliothèque nationale. Thanks also go to Professors Stuart Carroll, Mark Greengrass, Peter Maxwell-Stuart, Alain Tallon, and Dr Martin Farr.