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Discuss how the French Fronde and the English civil war impacted upon their domestic news culture.

Discuss how the French Fronde and the English civil war impacted upon their domestic news culture.

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Olivia Wall. Originally submitted for Modern Hi at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Andrew Pettigree in the category of Historical Studies & Archaeology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Olivia Wall. Originally submitted for Modern Hi at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Andrew Pettigree in the category of Historical Studies & Archaeology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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Olivia WallDiscuss how the French Fronde and the English civil warimpacted upon their domestic news culture
The print culture existing in England and France prior to and during the Fronde of 1668 andthe English Civil War and Revolution of 1640-1660 were primarily affected by literacy rates(around 60% could read, and others could be read to), the expense of the media (withpamphlets widely available at some points, but some types of print e.g. separates, largelyreserved for the better off) and of course the level of effective censorship.Both countries saw attempts at censorship increase in the 30 years prior to their respectiveunrest. During the civil war within England there was an explosion of print cultureparticularly in the pamphlet form with the increased demand for news of events, forexpression of political argument, and the war itself made censorship of news very difficult toimplement. By 1653 there were more than 12 newspapers in London, when the King wasbased in Oxford, a second regional news centre became active. Likewise in Paris, pamphletsknown as Mazarinades, experienced an explosion of production. In both countries printcovered many topics: politics, sexual slander, laws, and stories and ballads, but references todivide authority were marked in England.Overall, the English Civil War and French Fronde both caused an explosion in theavailability of printed news, specifically relating to domestic events which had a profoundaffect on their domestic printed news culture. Each dealt with the presentation andinterpretation of news in different ways, however for both the main medium for thedissemination of news was the pamphlet.At the end of the civil war, with the execution of Charles I, Olivier Cromwell set aboutenacting earlier attempts to restrict the press and the dissemination of news. However despite
Charles II‟s attempts to control news reporting, the desire for news and the public‟s
 expectation of news remained a strong enough force to undermine his policies. His attempts
at censorship were ineffectual and there was also the rise of the coffee shop as a “market place of news”.
 Within France however, the censorship was far more successful, with historians arguing thatthe excesses of the Fronde destroyed the liberty of the press. The French
was asignificant reason as to why the news culture did not develop. Overall it
was a “vehicle for  planted stories” in support of the traditional bodies of authority.
There is strong evidence of a substantial surge in the printing of news when traditionalbodies of censorship collapsed with the unique events of the English Civil War and theFrench Fronde. During both these events, one sees an increased readership and demand fornews and the attempts of the authorities to stifle them is testament to their perceivedeffectiveness. However the reassertion of power through the rise of Oliver Cromwell and thenthe Restoration in England and the return of Mazarin in France had different effects on theoverall nature of the news culture in the latter half of the seventeenth century. The Englishappetite for news had been wetted with the excitement of the Civil War and Revolution, anddespite attempts at censorship and control, it could not be suppressed. The overall Englishnews culture shifted towards containing domestic news and its readership continued to growinto the eighteenth century. Within France, the focus on Paris and use of newspapersubscriptions kept the news audience small and contained making it far easier to imposecensorship. The news culture also expanded during the Fronde and then was repressed withthe return of Mazarin and the rise of Louis XIV and it was not until over a hundred years laterwith the French Revolution that the news market would expand once more.
1. Introduction
To consider how the French Fronde and English Revolution affected theirdomestic print news culture it is necessary to consider their news cultures before,during and after their periods of unrest and within these periods, the effects of authorities
control and censorship as well as the changing nature of thoseparticipating in the news culture. Literacy rates throughout Europe stood at around 40percent with higher rates of literacy among urban centers, for those in professions orthe gentry, and it was higher among men than women. However the traditionalmethod of measuring literacy is the use of the signature test, which measures literacyas those who could read and write, and there are substantial arguments to back up theclaim that there were more people who could read, without having the ability to writeand with the ability to read standing at around 60 percent. Those who could not readcould access print media through its use of woodcuts, as well as through its text beingread aloud in the marketplace, pub, café or by friends and family.
Therefore althoughthose producing the print media were unlikely to have been from the laboring classes,but the participation in and comprehension of print news culture and the news itcontained could easily have been obtained for the vast majority of people.
2. Before the English Revolution and French Fronde
Firstly, authorities control of the print press through censorship affected theirdomestic news culture. In the period before their individual revolutions, both Franceand England saw the tightening control of news and the press by their respectivemonarchs. The early seventeenth century saw an increase in French censorship overprint media, which would thus have had an impact upon the news culture in the periodpre-Fronde. From 1618 the political press came under increasing surveillance andcensorship by officials of the court.
Henri-Kean Martin, among others, has shownthis censorship occurred through the passing of new regulations, which gave the
government greater control over the printers‟ guilds
. There was an increase in thenumber of preapproved editions being published, which implies a crackdown on
For a detailed discussion on literacy rates see
Reay, Barry, „Orality, Literacy, and Print‟ in Reay,
Popular Cultures in England, 1550-1750
, Longman, 1998, pp. 36-70 and
Sawyer, Jeffrey K.,
Printed Poison: Pamphlet Propaganda, Faction Politics, and the Public Spherein early Seventeenth-Century France
, University of California Press, 1990, p. 137
In 1626 there was a key royal edict that extended the authority of theKing
‟s council over 
the publishing community, and in particular, aimed to ceasepublication of pamphlets, which it had singled out as a major problem.
If one ignoredthese rules and published an anonymous tract, posted a political placard or spreadillegal political pamphlets, the punishment was death.
When pared with economicincentives such as patronage, the French government had an influential system of censorship and, as argued by Robert Darnton, this system of control and concessionswas principally created between 1618 and 1635.
This level of control had a substantial effect on the news culture of the day,creating a lack of access to news. There were titles such as
 Mercure francois
whichcontained chronological and detailed narratives of significant events, however thesewere rather histories, seldom published earlier than a year after the event.
Even with
the death of Louis XIII, he was „already forgotten‟ with the start of Queen Anne‟s
The pamphlets that were published contained of natural disasters, cosmicoccurrences, monstrous creatures and heinous crimes and remained an importantstaple of cheap print culture throughout the seventeenth century.
 There has been debate amongst historians over the extent of censorship withinEngland during the 1620s and 1630s. Historians such as Kevin Sharpe and JohnMorill have argued that censorship attempts were rarely attempted and even when itwas it was on the whole ineffective. They both highlight the inadequacy of theinstitutions given the task of censorship and overall 'the state was not efficient enough[or] worried enough' to attempt to regulate the power of the press.
Anotherperspective is that of Shelia Lambert who argues what appears to be censorship, is infact attempts to control the Stationers Company.
However, it must be argued that in
Martin, livres 1:197-274, 1:51-57, 460-466, in Sawyer,
Printed Poison,
p. 6
Printed Poison,
p. 139
Ibid. p. 140
Ibid. pp. 6, 140
Ibid p. 7
 Le Siècle de Louis XIV 
, Paris, 1929, I, pp. 23-26 in
Marvick, Elizabeth, „The Character of Louis XIII: The Role of His Physician‟,
The Journal of Interdisciplinary History
, Vol. 4, No. 3(Winter, 1974), pp. 347-374
Chartier, Roger,
The Cultural Uses of Print in Early Modern France
, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane,Princeton University Press, 1987, p. 233
Thompson, Anthony B., „Licensing the Press: the Career of G.R. Weckherlin during the PersonalRule of Charles I‟,
The Historical Journal
, Vol. 41, No.3 (Sept., 1998), p. 654
Lambert, S., 'The Printers and the Government, 1604-1637', in Myers, R. and Harris M. (eds.)
 Aspects of Printing from 16oo
, Oxford, 1987, pp. 1-2, 16-17 in
Thompson, „Licensing the Press‟, p.

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