gfrp'HISTORY
and POWERgf WRITING

gtp,

HISTORY
anil

POWER
f
WRITING
Hrxnr-JgaN M^AnrrN
Translated
by tydia G. Cochrane

Tnn Umvrnsrry or Cnrcaco pREss
Chicagoand London

The author has made a number of additions and corrections to the French edition
of L'histoire et pouvoirs de l'6crit for this publication in English. The university of
chicago Press and the translator wish to thank Professor Martin for his courtesy in
reviewing the text of this translation.
This book has been supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the
Humanities, an independent federal agency.

Acaddmique
Originally published as Histoire et pouvlirs de l'6rit, @ Librairie
Perrin,1988
THr Umvrnsrrv oF CHICAGoPREss,CHICAGo60617
or Curca.co PREss,LTD.,LouooN
THEUNryERSITY
@ l9g4 by The UniversitY of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published I994
Paperback edition 1995
Printed in the United States of America

0)

4

t

r s e N :0 - 2 2 6 - 5 0 8 1 6 - 6 ( P P b k )
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication

Data

Martin, Henri Jean, 1924[Histoire et pouvoirs de l'6crit. English]
The history and power of writing / HenrlJean Martin ; translated
by Lydia G. Cochrane.
p.
cm.

Includesbibliographicalreferencesand index'
2. Printing-History. 3. Books and readingl. Writing-History.
History. 4. Written communication-History. I. Tirle.
Z40.M)71) 1994
9)-267t8
41l'.09-dc20

minimum requirements of the
@ the paper used in this publication meets the
American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper
for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z)9.48-1984.

Contents

Foreword PierreChaunu vii
Acknowledgments xv
Writing Systems I
The Written and the SpokenWord 43
Speechand Letters 74
The Death and Resurrection of
Written Culture

It6

5

The Arrival of Print

6

The Reign of the Book

7

The Forms and Functions of Writing:

182
83

Fifteenth-Eighteenth Centuries
8

The Book and Society

9

The Industrial Era

l0

Beyond Writing
Conclusion

331

3s7
463

507

Notes 513
Index

561

Illustrations follow p. 144

283

Foreword

riting-that
pinnacle of the Word*treated here by the finest
scholar of the book (he has devoted four full decadesof a life of
leaming to it; he has sought, paradoxically found, and founded a school;
and he has inspired what has been done in this domain) is inscribedin the
motivation behind the seriesentitled Histoireet Ddcadence,
a seriesthat has
already had an illustrious beginning with'Gabriel Camps,who led us out
of the "Lost Paradise"with his La prdhistoire.A la recherche
du paradisperdu,
and with FrangoisCaron, who exorcisedfascination with decline in our
industrial societies in his ta rdsistibleddclin dessocidtdsindustrielles.Need I
recall the ambitious aim of this project? To integrate the counterflux into
the great thrust of history that until now-tanto monta, monta tanto-is,
like Life itself, vectorially ascendant.From one millennium to another humanity has increasedin numbers and in command of a greater mass of
information. Until today it has succeededin overcomingsetbacks,counterflux, declines,and moments of decadencein the spirit of "Reculer pour
mieux sauter" (hesitatingbefore leaping forward). The seriesentitled Hritoireet Ddcadence
has had a clear intent, which was to integratethe risk of
decadenceinto the chaotically,painfully, dangerouslyupward processus
of
the human Adventure. We have decidedto look squarely at what people
have done their best to forget or ignore, indeed, at what they have condemned,as if value judgments had any place in historical discourse.
There are in history felicitous moments for this sort of observationmoments or placesin which one seesthe ebb tide as if under a magnifying
glass,in which one measuresbetter the price that was paid, the sacrifice
required for any advance,the death required for life, the negentropyfor an
entropy accruedelsewhere.Gabriel Campshas enabledus to graspthis in
a "Prehistory" that was, globally, conquest, growth, and explosion. We
have seenthe sameprocesswith FrangoisCaron in the greattechnological
and industrial changesof the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.We will
soon follow it to a Rome in decline, and we will seeit in the wide oscillations of the evolution of China. Seenfrom one angle, the Neolithic revolution-"in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread"-tore an already
numerous humanity from the delights of a lost paradiseof relatively somnolent and effortlessabundance.The decline of Rome savedus from the

Fonrwono

"reculer pour mieux saudestiny of China; it was the price we paid-our
political
of
the Enlightenment fed
infant
science
The
thought
of
the
ter."
on Rome. There is a vast difference between Montesquieu's vision, Gibbon's
vision, and our own. They wrote of grandeur and decadence; we think in
terms of ebb, retreat, withdrawal, and breakdown as the only way to reach
a new level one notch higher.
With Henri-Jean Martin we leave tl:e hic et nunc of Narrative for an exploration of the whole of history. If writing is the spearhead of linguistic
obviously-cannot
be dissociated from the word,
change, writing-quite
and as far back as we explore our collective memory the Word (Ha Dabarl
is humankind.
If the first tool dates back three million years, the first modulated cry
bearing a message was nearly as old. The hand and the tool advanced at
nearly the same pace as the face and language. But thanks to the tool the
hand has made a stronger imprint on buried memory. When we try to
conceive the progress of language we are reduced to weighing the consequences of cranial development in the frontal lobes in our prehuman, fossilized ancestors. The first tomb is a Language; funeral rites are a treatise
in metaphysics. It is clear that the dossier preceded writing just as abstract
art preceded figurative art. Personal adornment, sculpted stones, brushes
made with animal hairs, fairly regular series of scratches, dots, and hatch
marks go back fifty thousand years; Lascaux dates back fifteen thousand
years; Altamira even fewer. Such figurations of an awareness of death by
contemporary hands are fascinating. Henri-Jean Martin is right to mention
them; they cast a shadowy and intriguing light on the whole of history.
The first lesson that I might draw from these traces concerns Language.
The dual nature of language in the spoken and the written word, a duality
reflected in sound and sign, in the ear and the mouth, and in the hand and
the eye, goes back to the twilight eras of time. Although writing is recent-homo faber is three million years old and homo scribens only five
thousand years old-and although writing separated from sound only a
mere two centuries ago (that is, before sound caught up again), communication by signs and the collaboration of the sign in the elaboration of
thought are nearly as old as the Word.
From the flrst tomb, hence from when man became fully human, it is
clear that the slash mark and the dot were connected with speech.
The secondlessonis that of a strange chronology. We need to take the
history of the stages of the Written Word, as Henri-Jean Martin has recon-

Fonnwono

structedthat history from the evolution of writing as an object, and superimpose it on the referencepoints and grids we are accustomedto.
Five thousand years ago (forty thousand years after the first tomb, five
thousand yearsafter the first city, Jericho),the very first writings appeared
in Egypt, in Mesopotamia,and in China. Ar first, we have the mark, which
correspondedto "man's need to visualizehis interpretationsof the external
world by fixing them." A schematichouse plan symbolized the house.
There was a long road from the graphic symbol to the first rudimentary
writing, and there was no writing without numbers.
writing followed the fust grains of wheat over four continents and
through three millennia. It all began in the Fertile crescentwith ,,calculators," small clay objects that date back seven thousand years and that
servedto count sheep.The oldest function of the most archaicof all forms
of writing resemblesthe knot in a handkerchief: it was a "mnemonic device comparable,in the final analysis,to file cards.,,The quipus of peru
were to some extent of the samenature. Theseindividual aids to memory
"would lose all meaning in the eyes of anyone unfamiliar with their
context."
Is a collection of pictograms (1,500 of them in the caseof the ancient
Sumerian tablets) already a writing system comprehensible without
knowledge of the language?As a whole it is rudimentary, polysemic,difficult to decipher, and not very handy for expressingabstractions.Those
ffrst proto-wdtings were sumptuous memory aids-the stage of the Na,
huatls at the moment of the spanish conquest.They have given rise to a
falsedebate:writing latosensu,yes;strictosensu,no.I prefer to reservethat
word for what seemsto me its true birth.
For me, writing changesand becomesitself with phonetic representation, when the sign no longer simply designatesan object but a sound.
Ancient sumerian was a strongly monosyllabic language with agglutinating tendencies,as was chinese when writing emergedin china. phonetization permitted a reduction in the number of signs; the writing
material used-clay-commanded the use of fewer signs.The Akkadians
adaptedcuneiform, using it to transcribea semitic language.Like the chinese system of ideograms,cuneiform persistedbecauseof what it transmitted beyond words, and it lasted long after the appearanceof a much
more efficient system, the consonantal writing on papyrus used by the
Aramaeans.
But the true inventors of Writing were the Egyptians,both by right of

Fonrwono

priority and by the immediate emergenceof phonetic representation.Let
us pausea moment by the cradle of Writing. The Egyptianswere the first
to take the only truly capital step, but by what strangeaberration, when
they were so closeto the solution, did they fail to move over the threshold
between an unarticulated phonetism and a consonant alphabet?Admittedly, hieroglyphics already bore a graphic symbolism. Hieratic and demotic writing simplified the systembut without breaking with it. There is
more to thesewriting systems(and to the Chinesesystem,a fortiori) than
just words. In China the first signs arose out of an interest in divination
fully as much as out of a need to calculateand stimulate memory. These
strongly symbolic writing systemshave the property of solidifying and
functioning accordingto a logic of their own totally disconnectedfrom the
flux of words. The young Chineselearns his first signsfaster,but after an
entire lifetime of learning he will never know all the signs.
This is why the Alphabet was the first important offshoot in the history
of signs,words, modes of communication, and thought.
The Alphabet that so simplified matters was a humble affair: is it an
exaggerationto call it the first gift of the barbarians?The story is a strange
one. The alphabet came from Indo-Europeans and Semites-yes, from
barbarians. Becausethe Hittites were not included in the symbolic networks that sacralizedthe signs of an extremely ancient writing-cuneiform, hieroglyphics, and ideograms-let us leave them aside.All sorts of
things that originated elsewherehave been attributed to them, including
iron and a prototype for future alphabets.The Linear A in Crete is composedof eighty-five signsstandingfor syllablesand a good number of ideograms.Japaneseis a good comparison.The true alphabetwas Phoenician
and Greek. The Egyptians had managed to isolate consonants;the next
task was one of simplification and systemization.Next camethe consonantal writing of all the Semiticlanguages,a marvelousmnemotechnicsystem
that leavesvowels to memory and imagination. Its amphibology was eliminated by vowel points in Hebrew and was palliated in Arabic by extensive
recitation of the Koran. It was the Greekswho thought of adding vowels
to the consonants.When the Latin variant of the Greek systemarose,the
job was done.
Not so fast: What job? Two long millennia had to passbefore the nineteenth century when writing becamewhat it is today-the near totality of
Language-and when the triumph of a unifying national languagemade
written languagethe only remaining literature and the only language.The
history of writing by no means concernspure spirit; writing is first and

FonrwoRo

foremost material. Its destiny was always closely linked to the physiology
of the hand, back, and eye and to the physical nature of writing materials-from fresh clay to wood and from bark to the palm leaf-that is, until
the arrival of Papyms,the first universal panacea.
Ancient civilization was as dependenton papyrus as we are on personal
computers.until recently, no one realized this was so: admittedly Antiquity was not good at vwiting. orality occupieda placethat FrancesA. yates
was the first to help us to understand. Let me recapitulate: poetry, discourse,dialogue-the summits of ancient literature. from the Iliad to the
Bible and the Platonic dialogues-were speech;they had been said well
before they were written. one cannot read and write simultaneously;
people did not write, they dictated. The notebook closeto hand is a constant exercisein memory. In a word, ancient thought required the constant
exerciseof memory aided by the scripturacontinuaof scroll books. perlraps
it is not the least lesson of this important book that it shows a curious
progression:the further we go back into antiquity the more difficult reading is. Look at the letters stuck together without punctuation, paragraphs,
or capital and lowercaseletters: we see an airless,murky forest of leggy
sticks.It is as if the scribe had wanted to prevent any other reading than
reading out loud, a reading method confirmed in tens-better, in hundreds-of texts. As I read Henri-JeanMartin, a strangethought comesinto
my head when I contemplate the paradoxical triumph, in the first and
secondcenturies,of this unreadablescripturacontinuainthe Mediterranean
basin,where the corpusof Inscriptionsinclinesus to think that the number
of peoplecapableof decipheringrhem was relatively high. This paradoxical
triumph operated as a barrier to keep writing from forging ahead of its
oratorical referent.what gavevalue to writing was that it was rare, and its
rarity confined it within dense,rhythmic forms. what gavevalue to writing
was not only, nor principally, that it was writing, but rather that it was a
denseand compact discoursemade to exercisememory. Ancient literature
tended to write down only what could be learned by heart.
It was not so much that the ancientslacked means; rather, they lacked
the need and the desire.That fact struck Henri Ir6n6eMarrou, who, to my
knowledge, drew no conclusion from it. The Modernization of the Book,
the first of the great changesthat led to the rotary pressand photocomposition in the span of some eighteencenturies,camewith the use of parchment as a writing material and with the rational dispositionof the book in
codex form, with cut and sewn sheets.This first advance was a gift from
late antiquity. It was, so to speak,the gift of the Ebb, a backwash of cre-

Nearly everything had to be relearned in full humility: Latin. The new start happened then. The sixteenth century echoed the third. the century of Paper and the first outpouring of reading in the vernacular. which became differentiated while modest blank spaces appeared in the written line. the approach of the logician and of the university establishment (nominalist Scholasticism). the loss of a richness. spontaneously and almost in contradiction to what I have . seemed freer. But why put off your pleasure any more? I would like only to call your attention to the paradoxical chronology of the written. majuscule and minuscule letters. It was made possible by a more open presentation of texts that a decline in reading had made necessary. I wonder if this paradox is not juxtaposing things of a different nature. The great century of writing. as I have suggested elsewhere. Henri-Jean Martin shows us an unusual dimension of Scholastic knowledge in its awkward manipulation of an impoverished language. thanks to the plague and to losses in the human fabric of society. It hardly matters that these facilitating devices were only a palliative for weaker skills. which remained close to the ground level of an immediate historical sense of the texts that had come from the preservation of an ancient Wisdom. the philological approach. it took off full tilt and foreshadowed all that followed. as if poverty. which no longer coincided with the language currently spoken. second. a backward step taken by people capable of reading and doubtless of recitation. had established the critical mass needed for launching a spiral of change.Fonrwono ation. Scholasticism engendered humanism as its own counterpoint. a Word from the Beyond. What better expression could there be of the idea that the roots of a new advance in writing and a new relationship between the oral and the written were concomitant with an ebb tide that came within inches of a neartotal loss of the keys to the code? It is understandable that historians befuddled by the decline of ancient written culture have failed to see that the humble technological roots of the Revolution of the Book lay in the trough of that decadence. which evolved toward more readable shapes. which was detached from the text. letters. was also a century of impoverishment and retreat. There is a higher level: the practice of silent reading with the eyes alone became general in the thirteenth century. a global Knowledge. I must add. Decidedly. The century of the great take-offwas the fourteenth. And. the fourteenth. the language of writing. intellectual history resulted from a tension between two approaches: first. writing thrives on crisis. but was in fact prematurely rigid.

Thanksto the correction of proofs the book gained first in improved quality. I would place the real destabilizationof tradition at the beginning of the seventeenthcentury.and it helped solidify the gainsof critical humanism. then in increasedspeedand power. writing lies at the heart of christianity.In one century the sheervolume of information increasedmore than it had in ten thousand years.Fonnwono just said. where it plays a secondary but highly comprehensiblerole: christianity is a relationship with a Word*better. More than by the Americas or by disenchantment.It was the multiplication . If printing. Printing at first servedto proliferate low-cost broadsidesand slim anthologiesthat were half text and half pictures and that helped readerswith a newly acquired and hesitant literacy in the vernacular to acquire a nonliturgical relationship with God. paper relieved memory. which the chinese had invented without ever doing anything with it (aswith other innovationsthat went nowhere). the successof the Protestant Reformation-even the Reformation itself-would have been unthinkable. developedin Latin christendom rather than elsewhere. the intellectual universewas turned upsidedown by glassfrom venice and Holland-the glass that served to make astronomical lenses. its triumph was Gutenberg'sfortytwo-line Bible. Ied to a rudimentary and mediocreliteracy among awkward decipherersincapableof understanding Latin.it was as a procedure for the diffusion for prayersand pious imagesand for a new accessto God. Everything started with paper. . that the needsthat led to printing make me think of an internal barbarian invasion. Interpreting the shock of the sixteenth century as a clash between tradition and writing is a superficialview that barely touchesthe surl'aceof things. The paradox of printing was also a paradoxicalshift in ends: invented to peddle broadsheetsin German fairs. . of hominessuibentesrrot broken to the subtle arts of the memory. The shock occurred within tradition. The prayer of reading was a rudimentary sort of reading in the vernacular.then terescopesand microscopes. it permitted the recruitment of a "proletariat" who read neither much nor well. it was a conflict at the heart of a tradition centering on a way for bringing recollectionto the surfaceof memory. The print revolution of the fifteenth century accomplishedtwo things: it produced increasingnumbers of flyers and broadsheets.. Ancient writing was simply a mnemonic. It is clear that without "salvation by printing Alone. paper permitted . . a more commodious administration. . And paper used for political and commercial purposes. with a History-that gives history its meaning.

I refuse to weep for a lost paradise. I promise you a captivating voyage in his company. "il faut reculer pour mieux sauter.xlv FonBwono of information that brought an end to the first writing that had stretched from cuneiform to the Gutenberg Bible. a writing that was an artificial deviceto aid the 'Arts of Memory." Turning points as important as this have to be taken slowly and gradually. It speaksof the art of better use of the nearly untappedpowers of the brain." still knew how to use the Arts of Memory. the "losses" column is crowded as we approach the revolution brought about by the media and the computer. the reign of an almost cancerousrelationship of writing at the heart of the Empire of Discourse.sermons-were still genresof the memorized and declaimedword. Henri-JeanMartin's TheHistoryand Powerof Writing is one of the greatesthistory books everwritten." There is no gain without loss. The literary genresof the century of Louis XIV-epic poetry tragedy. No one took notes during the interminable sessionsof the Parlement de Dijon during the proceedingsfor the rehabilitation of Lally-Tollendal in 1783. Taking notes would have raised eyebrowsbecausethe members of that Parlement. As in all things. that humble receptorfor thought. PierreChaunu de I'Institut .who had been trained in the rhetoric of the "good fathers.Admittedly. * The short reign of the GutenbergGalaxy began at this turning point. In the realm of orthotic devicesfor the brain the revolution brought on by microprocessorswas of the sameorder of magnitude as cuneiform imprinted on soft clay or Gutenberg'spunches.

and to my cofleaguesof the quatridme section of the Ecole Pratique desHautesEtudes. Jean Irigoin. to Bruno Delmas. professor at the Ecole des chartes and directeur des €tudes of the Institut national des techniques documentaires. Nonetheless. I owe much to all of these. pascale Bourgain. who gaveme advice even in his last illness. Jean Vezin.yvonne Martin.it was I who had to compose. Brigitte Mondrain. Jean-PierreDrdge. . Emmanuel poulle.M. finally. H. who persuadedme to f r offer to the public the results of reflection that began in 196g. and to Michel de certeau.Acknowledgments wish to expressmy gratitude to pierre Chaunu.fvho provided me with much information. Dominique Coq. lest I forget those who are no longer with us.pointed out to me the way I am attempting to follow today. RobertFossier. for which he provided the greater part of the documentation.FrangoisDupuigrenetDesroussilles. Jean Bott€ro.My thanks thus go to Robert Marichal and Andr6 lVernet.once I was alone before my paper or my word-processor. I also thank my colleaguescjf the Ecole des chartes. Wladimir vodofl. Thanks also to patrick Kesselfor his judicious advice and. Many thanks as well to Roger chartier. ever present for me. and also to Gilbert ouy and Ezio ornato.make decisions.-J. Cdlette Sirat. JacquesFontaine. Claude Nicolet. who. I would never have dared to undertake a work of this scopeif I had not been assured of finding aid and friendship when it came to discussingsectorsof this vast history not within my areas of special competence. take stands. and Bernard Barbiche. and Marianne Grivel. at one of our last meetings. Matei cazacu. JacquesMonfrin. Robert-Henri Bautier.Frdd6ricBarbier. And. I offer grateful remembranceto Lucien Febwe.my co-author for chapter l0 of this volume. to Father Frangoisde Dainville. Jeanand GenevidveHasenohr.to Guy Beaujouan.Thus I alone am responsiblefor the inevitable errors that may crop up in this study. JacquesBreton.

.

c.500years.9np Writing Systems ll history is first chronology. Lucy. would barely fill the last page of the book.c.Pithecanthropuserectuslived between 500. the oldest and most illustrious of the Australopithecus. Australopithecuslived for two million years. but how shortsightedit is to reduce humankind's actsto this short span of historic timel Vertigo setsin again when we look back at the scaleof thosefive thousand years: from 3200 to 1500 s. after 35. Let us begin with Gabriel Camps'sLa pr€histoire.000 yearsago-just yesterday. and many of our contemporariesview the exponential accelerationof history today as humanity's race toward its own lastjudgment.) was capableof reflecrivethought. as for Gutenberg.It goesfasteras our lifetime goeson.000practiced the "Levallois" technique for forming stone tools by striking off flakes that implies a form of conceptual thought.r Ramapithecusleft the forest for the savanna some twelve million years ago.was born some ihree million yearsago.Our systemof alphabetic writing was widespreadin Greeceat least eight centuriesbefore the common era.000e.which will help us to situate the appearanceof writing on the scaleof the human adventure. the ageof homoscribens.The appearanceof writing. Neanderthal man .c.000 e.000-30. Our contemporary massmedia would appear only in the last line. who usheredin Homosapiens sapiens. They masteredfire around 400. the historical period. Still. with telecommunicationsoccupying no more spacethan a flnal '.000 and 100.?.The "Neolithic revolution" happened some 10.cameCro-Magnonman. picto-ideographicsystemspursued their long reign and continued for another 1... which in some respectssignaledthe end of that era.c. If we were to write the annals of humanity and reservethe samespacefor each millennium.. At this point history accelerates. and from about 250.c. The era on which he put his mark would thus correspondto flve lines in our annals.000B.000s.he lived only a little over five centuries ago. Finally. goesback just a little more than five thousand years-which is practically today.(roughly 100.And anyone imprudent enough to risk studying the chronology of writing alternates ceaselesslybetween vertigo and myopia. Doesthis not obligateus . which is what we are. Vertigoand myopia: it makesone'shead swim. time is only relative.

could expand notably even before enlargedfrontal lobes favoredthe exerciseof higher brain functions. The human brain can be likened to a machine that functions on severallevels. thus liberating the hands and enabling the mouth.combining them. The midbrain contracted into a tighter curye.2 Thus the Word came into being during a period that perhaps lasted longer than a million years. the jaw becamemore detached. And. in the last analysis.the higher of which provide the facultiesof abstractionand synthesis. sincethey gaveman mental tools that made all the restpossible. The facial mass eventually becamelessprominent.the most fundamental (in the full senseof the term). to seekto comprehendthe mission of writing and the role of the logic of writing in the seriesof evolutions that saw man lose many of his original gifts as he acquiredthe knowledge and tools that enabledhim to dominate nature? SpnncH AND THE SrcN Speakingand writing seem to us such natural acts that at first it seems inconceivablethat they are the most complex inventions ever achievedby the human brain. favored what Andr6 Leroi-Gourhan has called the opening of the cortical fan. which could becomemore rounded. which control language.to take on other uses. It freed the rear of the cranium.and the forehead becamehigher and broader. and expressingthem by gesturesand sounds (Gabriel Camps). no longer neededfor grasping. This is true of language.the evolution that was set off among the hominids when they adoptedan upright position.Unfortunately. in particular.Although the continual extension of the surface of the cortex during this long evolution was certainly the causeand not the consequenceof an increasingsocialintegration. Let me at least attempt to pose the problem. Thus the zones of the middle cortex.The skeletalremains that have come down to us seemto show that the most primitive anthropoids alreadyhad human characteristics.We would love to know more preciselyin what period and by what processesour most distant ancestorsmanaged to acquire the intellectual faculty of conceiving symbols. Nonetheless.even if their brain cavitieswere smaller than our own and their frontal lobes smaller in proportion to the rest of their brains. no one can ever explain to us how early man managedto appropriatethis form of mastery over things and beings.Cnaprrn ONn to interrogate the past to try to understand what we are becoming?And.which implies a capacityto define them and to communicate experiencesand decisionsto fellow creatures. it nonethelessfur- .

When the people of the Neolithic becamesedentary.the hunters'art disappeared. whose making required increasingly complex sets of operations. In roughly the sameepoch he began picking up stonesand shellsthat seen{edto him curious.c.c.and to use animal hairs to make brushes. somewhat earlier than 50.000s.c.only very gradually did these flgures come to be organized into the realism that we see in the great monuments of cave painting: Lascauxis no older than 15. His art only very gradually came to resemblenature: at first. with the result that the oldest graphic manifestationsresemble writing as much as works of art. for example.. as if in quest of the fantastic in nature. to scrape ocher and manganeseto make coloring agents. the prehistoric artist attempted to translate inner rhythms or an abstract vision of perceptiblerealities.bones. the most explicit forms of which were ovoid female shapesand animal heads and forequarters.and like the Greeks.000 and 25.WnrrrNc Sysrrus nished the flrst men with better means for survival. defense.From about 50. to sculpt stones. Theseartistswere not interestedin showing all figures on the same scale.he beganto bury his dead-a first indication that he now situatedhimself in a greatertime span and a first sure manifestationof preoccupationsof a religiousnature.c. At the outset. he limited his effortsto incising more or lessregular seriesof lines. Beginning between 35. and he succeededin rendering recedingperspectivein remarkable attempts at schematizationthat must have been closely associatedwith efforts at verbal definition. or hatch marks.000 e. what should insteadbe emphasizedis the accelerationthat precededthe dawn of historic time.000 s.. or wood with the aid of flint. thus connectedwith tools.and attack.000 s. Undeniably.c.It is equally undeniable that developmentsin speechwere closely connected with developmentsin actions. all progresswas then conditioned by a dual technology involving the hand and the tool first and the face and languagesecond. we will never know whether Australopithecuscould already pronounce a few words referring to a concretereality. Thereis increasingevidencethat in the Upper paleolithic man conqueredthe meansfor speculativethought. similarly he began to make decorative objects. He eventually seizedthe essenceof each object. nor can we measurethe slow progressof speechin Homoerectus.000 to 8000 e.000to 30.thus ending the first of the artistic cyclesleading from abstractionand symbolismto an increasinglydetailedbut colder realism. Altamira and Niaux date only from 13.who depicted the gods as . parts or attributes seemedto symbolize the whole. dots. he practiceda figurative art still limited to parts of the body.

One example is the totem pole. is the source of all means of communication. they could give a gigantic size to the animals whose role in their imagery they probably considered essential. we feel that their groupings obey a logic that escapesus and that corresponds to forms of symbolic organization that have nothing to do with our own representation of space or the linear conception of time that we have learned from writing. and transmit what he had learned to his fellows. his clothing. is the universe of signs and symbols. Unfortunately no one will ever know the language or languages spoken by the populations who occupied what is now France and Spain toward the end of the ice age. after all. simply one system of signs among many others) and with even greater frequency with the advent of audiovisual techniques. This. communicate with the superior forces.Cneprnn ONn larger than men. Similarly. His posture. In particular. The languages of primitive peoples today often show relational systems of a structural subtlety far superior to that of our written languages and that correspond to visions of the world that differ from our own. A schematic drawing of a house symbolized relations among those who occupied it just as naturally as a symbol for the city expressed the social order that should reign in it. Used from prehistoric times to establish relations with other people. * Recourse to graphic expression seems to have represented man's need to give visual form to his interpretations of the external world. There is a pole from British . It underlies a good number of systems of signs. Even granting that the overall design of their compositions was guided by aesthetic and decorative concerns. they have been used with increasing frequency since the invention of writing (which is. then. Thus the symbol. individuals' names evoked membership in a family or a group and the existence of privileged ties with the beings and forces those names once designated. and his ornaments all reflected the place he occupied within the community. In reality everything became symbol or sign for man as he became part of a cohesive milieu. we cannot know how those languages expressed the notions of what we call space and time. to fix those interpretations and make them concrete in order to define them bette4 to take possession of them. His artistic activities permit us to surmise that man in the later Upper Paleolithic had mastered some form of language. the instrument for socialization par excellence.

sand the abbot'scrosier." This anecdote shows the polysemy of the language of objects when they undergono coding.WnrrrNc Sysrnnrs columbia in the Musde de I'Homme in paris that is sixteen meters high and whose sculptedfigures representthe genealogyof a chief of rhe otter Totem.undoubtedly had a mnemonic value and helped the orator or the officiant (who. we will pierce you with our arrows. or even brand names. these are instruments for the evocationof rememberedthings that in someways (the paradox should not be stretchedtoo far) prefigure the arts of memory of classicalantiquity and the rosary. more perspicaciousthan he. resemblecertain prehistoric carved objects. King Darius receivedfrom the Scythiansafrog.such depictionsare evidenceof the universality of a certain form of wisdom. He at first interpreted this gift as a form of homage. Such objects.beforewriting but in the same milieus as writing.however. it seems. Herodotushas left us an illuminating anecdotein this regard.There are also messagesticks. Or there were staffsused to denote command. can theseprimitive systemsbe called language?certainly. Many primitive societiesused them. and we are still familiar with their latter-day forms such as the royal scepteror the marshall'sbaton. a mouse. and some arrows.Among the first examplesof such codesare marks of possession. They also could bear multiple symbolsand at times became abstract. they lost their evocativeresonance. In the MarquesasIslandsthere are string gamesthat accompanythe recitation of genealogiesor the innumerable coupletsof songs. but his father-in-law. marked with notches or coveredwith incised or painted signs. Many other examplescould be cited. and they became a game for wits fond of devising emblems and a pretext for most of the . As time went by.One day.In worlds still dominated by magical thought. possessionmarks took on the characteristicsof escutcheons. They soon "spoke" directly.or the aboriginal Australian churingas that. for example when the thing depicted correspondedto a proper name.They appearwith seals.shop signs. As such signs became codified and simplified within societies more ruled by reason. or take to the air like a bird.followed the designswith his finger as he spoke or chanted) to establishcontact with what was representedabstractlyon them and to evoke them better. a bird.usually in the form of geometric designs. revealed its real meaning: "Unless you hide in the swampslike a frog or under the ground like a mouse. sticks that tell a tale or recall a genealogy. Leroi-Gourhan has remarked.somewhat in the same way that depictions of ancient myths lost resonance when their forms were developedin the Renaissance.originally a shepherd'scrook and the emblem of the Good Shepherd. but also the bishop.

hencewithout life. One can of courseimagine graphic languages-let us not call them writing systemsor scripts-that would owe nothing to speechand that would offer their own forms of logic. thanks to the polysemy of pictorial representations. since they often feel the need to draw beforethey explain. And that Homosapiens." The Dogon people may be wiser. who had to learn to master and organizehis acts in order to make tools and survive. . and they proclaim the primacy of drawing over speechin their myth of the creation: God. .As a representationof external realities.endowed with reflective thought. must have expressedhimself with gesturesas much as words. but they lead us to wonder whether the Gospelaccordingto St.we can seethat the primitive anthropoid. was able to develop both graphic schematizationand verbal conceptualization as he attemptedto analyzethe universe. graphic communication seemsmore objective. the divine word would have remained without response. and it offers larger possibilities of interpretation. which he attempts to decipher and whose symbolshe in turn reproduces. By gatheringdata togetherin a globalizing vision. These are of course well-known facts. It was by naming things that man affirmed his hold over them. John is really right in proclaiming that "In the beginning was the Word. If there had been no human consciousnessto receiveit and reproduce it.than linguistic communication.Just as speechmust use abstractsymbolsto expressvisible realities. or at any rate more concrete.the image needsa concretizingsymbolic systemto transcribeabstract notions. .as it was offeredto man. By the Counter-Reformationthey had becomestrictly codified in the iconologiesof CesareRipa and his imitators.3 If we take all this into account.Nonethelessany form of writing that attemptsto go beyond perceptiblereality and to testify to all of human experiencecannot avoid trying to realize the difficult combination of coded graphic representation .. This has been attemptedrepeatedly. . in creating. Their symbolismwas stripped away but.they could be graspedmore rapidly than the written texts they illustrared. graphic means can also transcribe and disposethose data accordingto a logic that has nothing to do with our notions of figuration and perspective. bore the mark of this divine intention. he drew them in his creativeintention. as if in compensation.at times with success.Cneprnn ONr painters who made use of them. .thought: before naming things. Creation. Deciphering the image thus requires a more active participation on the part of the receiver.

Hunting and gathering civilizations thrived.the Chinese. others have disappeared. during the first century s. Communicationtechniquesand ways to transmit knowledge took on greaterimportance." It was long thought that an increasedpopulation'sneed to find enough to eat was what incited man to move from the predator stageto that of producer. It has been discovered that asearly asthe tenth century-hence beforethis processbegan-stable villages were constituted in Anatolia and in Palestine. in the eighth millennium.this is a difficult marriagein which one party must alwaysimpose its law on the other.Eventsappearto have followed a somewhat more complex course.While Magdalenianart disappearedasif engulfed. who until then had turned most of his energiesto adapting to nature.notably the Japanese. as it is generally understood.has continued almost unchangedin the East. Many of the systems that were elaborated remain unknown to us.c.and it has servedas a model for other peoples.had itself engenderedfixed agglomerations.Sedentarycultures thus appear to have been the result (at least to some extent) of a way of thinking occurring when groups that had habitually broken up when they beganto be too numerous resolvedtheir contradictionsastheir societywas alreadybeginning to change.WnrrrNc Sysrsrvrs on a two-dimensional surfaceand speech.as bestwe know. Another system. Then.leaving no descendants. and that settling down in one place. sending us first to the Middle East-is that toward the eleventh and twelfth millennia.There is for example the as-yet undecipheredwriting systemof Harappa and Mohenjo Daro on the Indus River (late third-early secondmillennium).which unfolds in time. the logical consequenceof that change. and were wiped out by the Spanish conquest. As we shall see. appearedon four continents over three millennia.the oldestof which datefrom the end of the fourth millennium-have founded linguistic families that continue from one branch to another to our own day. there are the Mesoamerican"near writings" that arose.Can one find a common context for the rise of thesesystems? The first thing to note-and it takes us back to the Paleolithicera. Tnr BrnrH oF WnrtrNc: IonocnapHrc SysrEMs Writing. camethe greatestchangehuman societyhas ever known: the "Neolithic revolution. climate changesbrought an end to the glacial era. could attempt to dominate it. . Still other systems-those of the Middle East. This meant that man.the natural milieu in which the fate of humanity was at stake was totally renewed.

Oxen came next (sixth millennium). they learned how to construct square-cornered houses. Henceforth space and time.a In the eighth millennium agriculture began to be practiced in fertile terrain in Anatolia and near the Persian Gulf. in a seventh-millennium Neolithic village at Qualaat Djarmo in Iraqi Kurdistan. but if such attempts were to succeed they needed a stable climate and social stability. for example. since they had acquired a sense of yield and return. human thought was concentrated in towns and cities around which exploitation of the soil had already been established. incised seals for impressing identifying marks have been found. It was certainly not by chance that the first known writing systems-systems that took the flux of words unfolding in time and transcribed them along a line in space-arose within societies. Fortunately this occurred in the sixth millennium in southern Mesopotamia. Writing arose among agricultural peoples. and foreseeing the future. south of the site of the first known irrigation works at Tell es-Sawan and near modern . And it arose in city-states dominated by a theocracy. First sheep then goats were domesticated in Iran as early as the ninth or the eighth millennium. specifying clearly and indisputably the terms and the outcomes of increasingly complex transactions.in which the new form of organization was most accentuated. It is quite conceivable that people attempted to devise better systems of graphic notation in such milieus. have unearthed small clay objects that some. and excavations. These populations practiced seed selection and cultivated wild grains. and.have held to be toys but that seem more likely to be counting pieces much like the tokens or pebbles still used in a good number of primitive societies.Cneprrn ONr From that moment on. In southern Anatolian agglomerations dating from the seventh millennium. they attempted to foresee future needs by stocking their excess produce moxe systematically and by developing production for trade. Mesopotamia We can follow this process in the ancient Near East. which ruled human activities more and more strictly. people began to make ceramics. usually peoples settled along the banks of fertilizing rivers or on lands whose intensive cultivation required a clear division of labor and a rigorous hierarchy. the origin of our first cereals. At the same time. At this point their minds were occupied by three main concerns: finding appropriate ways to count or measure their goods. were measured from fixed centers above which the celestial vault seemed to turn.

It becamecustomary to mark notches on these wrappings to indicate the quantities involved and to impress eachbulla with a seal. a people of unknown origin and of an agglutinating and monosyllabiclanguage.During the sixth millennium the region was conqueredby Sumerians. settled among them.some of which enclosedcalculiin a variety of shapesto representspecificquantities of foodstuffs. the rich plain of sus was a dependencyof a "high country" on the Iranian plateaucalledEIam. where the royal couple was worshiped as the incarnation of a divine couple. or a garden representedby a rectangle and two trees drawn without perspective.Stylistically advancedvaseswere made there that bear a figured decoration that had nothing to do with writing. which made it part of a larger whole and encouragedthe deveropment of exchangesover a vast geographicalarea.The signsthat can be identified (usually quite simple ones) evoke easily recognizableobjects: a head or other part of a human or animal body. Nor can we grasp the exact nature of the operation they note.Wnrrruc SysreMs Samarra.as was customary in sumerian art. an ear of grain. It was not from Uruk. when the city was founded. The result was city-states like uruk. Although we have some comprehensionof the number systemthey employ. . however.A new stageappearedin uruk during those sameyears.There are also clay tablets from susa bearing the imprint of a sealaccompaniedby figuresthat may be a simplification of the systemof bullae. clay sealsknown as bullaeappeared.c. Thesetablets are far from explicit to those who examine them today.Gradually the Akkadians. From then on procedures for registering transactionsand managing an accumulating wealth proliferated. but from the city of Susafarther to the west that we can best grasp (thanks to recent discoveries)why writing arosein that region. Accordingto JeanBottdro they may be mnemonicscomparable. certain calculi fottnd in Susarepresentobjects (pitchers) or animals (ox heads). when the city declinedit was attached to uruk. a nomadic people who spoke a semitic language. one of the first of thesewas the use of cylindrical sealsmore as signsto sanctionan agreementbetween contractingparties than as personal marks. Around 3500 e. The tabletsexcavatedin the temple of the goddessInanna contain not only notchesof various sortsbut alsopictogramsobviously intended for remembering businesstransactions. the accompanyingnotches and bars expressedthe counts in the sexagesimalsystem. we cannot know whether the graphic signs that accompany them correspondto a foodstuff or to the name of a person taking pail in the eventual transaction.

movement or relationship among beings and things.Thus if people wanted to avoid the drawbacksof using two languages.500 pictograms. Finally. it could render substancesbetter than accidents.the notion of "king" was rendered by the sign for and the sign for "great. The sound du.each with its own form of logic. It was possibleto jog the memory by this sort of juxtaposition of notions but not to construct a languagecapableof clearly imparting new information or. Similarly.First." which originally depicteda fly-swatter. Sumerian was a largely monosyllabic language and contained a large number of homophones. some signs were added to another sign to show how the first sign should be interpreted: thus the sign for a plow coupled with the sign for wood signified the implement.The sign of the lower part of the head thus representedthe mouth.provided that they are acquaintedwith the symbol used in that social systemand with the thing it refersto. to use Aristotelian terms. for example. for instance. which. a foot also indicated walking. In principle a systemof this sort offersthe advantageof being universally comprehensibleno matter what language the sender and the receiver speak.Also. standing. each expressedby a different ideogram. when removed from their file box. had at least eleven meanings. and teeth. In order to understand the use of phonetic symbols in Sumerian writing we need to know something about spoken Sumerian. lose all meaning in the eyesof someoneunfamiliar with the context. Somewhatlessaccessiblewas the pubic triangle that traditionally evoked the woman.To cite another example. but also speechor a shout.and that meant phonetism. and so forth. coupled with the symbol for man it representedthe plowman. Very soon. the eye plus water denoted tears. joined to the three hills that evoked the mountains (hence the foreign lands beyond) signified a woman imported from abroad or a female slave.l0 Cneprrn Olcn in the final analysis. (Modern languagesdo much the samething when they use different spellingsto distinguishbetweenhomo- . Two parallel lines to evoke amity and two crossedlines to expressenmity were equally accessible(or inaccessible)to all.This led to giving each sign other relatedvalues. One of the major obstaclesto the developmentof pictographicwriting is the proliferation of signs:the early tabletsof the Sumeriansshow at least 1. In other casestwo pictogramswere joined to expressa new idea: the mouth and bread signified the action of eating. they would have to basetheir writing systemon spokenlanguage.to file cards that. however. In other words. the emblem of royal grandeur. it was difficult to indicate abstractnotions by such concretemeans. nose. the Mesopotamiansmade this systeminto a true script.

Above all.Two pictogramsthat seemto give the name of the greatestof the Mesopotamian gods.Wnrrruc Sysrrms tl phones.Around 2)50 s. however. Since the arrow was soundedti in Sumerianand is a homophone of ti.) Second. 24OOa.however.a plural cameto be shown not by reproducing the same sign several times. however-until the age of Eannatum of Lagash (ca. The system evolved. they drew up a syllabaryadapted to their languageby giving a sound value to ideogramsthat had no inde- . "life. It also helped to indicate the meaning of certain polysemic ideogramsby indicating their pronunciation. En-lil (Lord Wind) are followed by an arrow. The first traces of phonetism found to date appear in a tablet from Djemdet-Nasrperhapscomposedonly a century after the first known tablets. On certain occasions.c." scholars have deduced that it was a proper noun that followed the Sumerian rules of anthroponymy and placed the person in question under the protection of the god En-lil.Sumerianwas an agglutinatinglanguagethat expressed grammatical relationshipsby juxtaposing to invariable "full wordst' symbols for prefixes.c. as was customary but by adding a sign corresponding to the strfftx mesh.. when the Akkadians becamethe majority in the population and took over. For example." Although it was an essentialdiscovery this ingenious expedient-and let me hasten to add that other peoples used it wherever pictographic writing reached this same stageof development-was consideredonly a convenient way to specifycertain bits of information. 2600 n.).c.which used three consonantsin a fixed order to form the invariable root of every word and to serve as a support for a variety of vowels. and it helped to expressshadesof meaning and to increaselinguistic precision.)-morphological elementswere only exceptionally designatedby phonetic signs. These methods permitted a considerablereduction in the number of signs-roughly 800 at the height of Fara (ca. For a very long time. thanks especially to its useby other peoples. Thus the sign might be renderedas "Lord-WindVivify.it permitted the transcription of words of foreign origin by a technique resembling that of the rebus. their scribesundertook a more systematicnotation of their easternSemitic language. The Akkadians adapted Sumerian writing and respectedits principles: they retained the system of ideograms (at least in certain cases)and simply read them in their own language.which indicated a plural in the spoken language.affixes. after the latter half of the third millennium.and suffixes(called "hollow words") that had no meaning in themselvesbut that correspondedto sounds.for instance.

that the first known texts are not "redactions in themselves. that clay replaced stone.5 One might of course wonder to what extent the Sumerians were truly the initiators of this system. This fact has led one scholar. Durand says: The production of writing certain-ly did not respond to a need based in utility. merely a technique corrupted-to wit.t2 Cnlprrn ONr pendent meaning. at its origins." This becomes evident on examination of the first texts concerning land sales: difficulties arose concerning the acquisition of a parcel of land that had originally been community property. Indeed. and. I might note that in the first pictograms the scribes utilized a system of symbolic reference and notional interpretation that preexisted the thing represented. Many lacunae of course persist in the extant documentation on the origins of writing. Then the text due to human initiative appeared. as we shall . The writing material used for sales contracts was often stone. They also enriched the Sumerian system in a variety of other ways and attempted to find devices for transcribing (at least approximately) sounds in their language that did not exist in Sumerian. given that the use of pictograms comes naturally to man. moreover. to reject the version of the appearance of writing that I have just presented. It seems. this text was often deposited in a temple. an extremely rare commodity in Mesopotamia but one that was often chosen so the event would be kept in mind. going one step beyond reading the message inscribed by the gods on divinatory materials." which would leave one to suppose that they qualify as memoranda. and it proclaimed this in the most solemn manner possible. This is the history of the first known writing. [a process] that was given concrete form in the choice of a new writing material and in the creation of a system of original signs to codify what exists. This means. For Durand the rational management of goods and a recourse to calculation preceded discourse about them. Durand explains. and new discoveries might make it necessary to revise one interpretation or another. Finally. Jean-Marie Durand. the creation of writing was. as has naively been thought by projecting back to its origins the use that was subsequently made of it. but in fact are "discourses for others. Thus the text was the magical means that prevented the parties from going back on an agreement. albeit in too rapid and schematic an overview.

It was thanks to cuneiform writing that Akkadian became understood throughout the Middle East.It was decipheredmore than it was read. Hittite (Anatolia. and acceleratedexchangesmade it necessaryto keep accounts. like Latin in Europe. The vehicle for a number of imperialisms.there were severalhierarchiesin the small world of the scribeswho practiced cuneiform. nevertheless. fourteenthirteenth centuries n.particularly in the secondmillennium).As in all societies. The script that developedin this manner becameextraordinarily complex. in simplified forms) for more than three thousand years. first millennium). fifth-third centuriesB. and a number of other languages.who were becoming an omnipresentethnic group in the Near East. sincein principle the samesign could have severalideographicmeanings and severalphonetic values.Finally. third millennium). and it gained wide diffusion thanks to the military enterprisesof the Semitic dynasty of Agade. It would also be somewhatparadoxicalto deny that writing developedin Sumer above all in responseto new needsof an essentiallyeconomic sort and in an epoch in which increasedwealth.it was used (more often.the use of clay.it servednot only to note languagesas different as Sumerian and Akkadian but also Eblaite (Syria. Cuneiform writing transmitted an entire cultural tradition through the generations.Palaic (an Indo-European dialect. and Urartian (Armenia. Complexity permitted ingenious shortcutsby the use of ideograms. Peoplewho specializedin practical tasks did not need to know the arcanecomplexitiesof a rich graphic system.Wnrrruc Sysrnus tj see. When the Sumerians gained the upper hand once more they produced a true literature.) and the Old Persiansyllabary alphabet (southwest Iran. it contributed to the constitution of the Ugaritic alphabet (Syria. and. Hurrian (northern Mesopotamia.even when (in the latter half of the secondmillennium) other apparently simpler wdting systems appeared*notably the consonantalwriting on papyrus used by the Aramaeans. . but their language.tablets led to the schematizationof cuneiform writing. first millennium). mid-second millennium).c.). From Sumer it spread throughout the Middle Euphratesregion.or it permitted syllablesto be spelled out phonetically. In the long run the Sumeriansmerged into the Akkadian mass.It is not too surprising that the Mesopotamiansand those in their sway remained loyal to their traditional system. it is true. remained the language of religious and lit. erary culture until the end of Mesopotamian civilization. Elamitic (second to the first millennium). more sporadically.c. Turkey. which means that complexity did not seem (for example to the Akkadians) to be a defect. the concentration of wealth.

and an interpretation of sacredtexts." "Founder of the land roll." and so forth. The Akkadians used writing as somethinglike a grid for comprehensionof the world.prrn ONr Moreover it could render vowels as well ds all the consonants.t4 Cn-q. Interplay among the various levels of language and recourseto rare ideogramswere taken as ways to hide accessto superior truths from the noninitiate.the study and assimilationof this material accumulatedover millennia required an ongoing initiation. Those who had elaboratedthis method of investigationundoubtedly believedthat they had found a key to learning. The boon grantedto cuneiform writing. In tablets found in Ashurbanipal'slibrary scribesoffered a sort of gloss on this text to show that the explanationsin the poem were simply ways to render those namesmore explicit. aswe have seen.to use a Latin expression. Hence by following this systemone could demonstratethat the name 'Asari" showed that Marduk was simultaneously "Giver of agriculture." "What is superior" or "dominant.was to have benefited . and a law of knowledge and of the acquisitionof truth." This was in no way a learned gamebut rather a treatise De divinis nominibus.This work ends with a paraphrasedenumeration of the fifty namesthat the gods who becamesubjectsof the god Marduk gaveto him.We can seethat. in the fabric of the written text.Thus the cuneiform sign for a star could be read equally well as dingir or an and.unlike new systemsthat seemedmore like mnemonic devicesin this respect. could be understoodsemanticallyas "God." "government."Writing seemedto them a form of wisdom come down from time immemorial (RendLabat).6 The long history of the earliestknown writing systemplacesus at the heart of problemsthat we will have to confront throughout this book. One example of how the Akkadian scribesused the ambiguitiesof their originally Sumerian script to draw conclusionsin conformity with their own logic is the Poemof Creation. To this end they used their bilingual training to list the Sumerianterms and their Akkadian equivalentsin parallel columns. just as the constellationswere "the writing of the heavens. particularly sincethe original Sumeriannotion that every simple sign correspondedto a conceptor a group of ideasand every complex sign to a speculationcould be discerned." "Creator of cerealsand fibers. like a watermark." and "Producer of all that grows green. This supposesthat at least in certain casesall Sumerian graphsof a given sign could be taken as semanticallyequivalent." and could even be extendedto conceptslike "lord. a rule of logic. each of which correspondsto an appellation (nearly all of Sumerianorigin) that speaksof his destiny.

WnrrrNc SysrEus l5 from the continuity of cMlization in Mesopotamia.cylindrical sealsand imprints on jar-stoppers. and there were artisanshighly skilled in cutting stone and sculpting ivory. This means we .ivory tablets. if current chronologiesare accurate.7 thus. slate cosmeticpalettes. All writing is tied to the form of thought of the civilization that created it and to which its destinyis linked.The history of the decadenceand disappearanceof cuneiform correspondedto alliancesamong other dynamic economicpowers and other imperialisms.funerary steles. its associationsof ideas.. Today it seems enormously complex. The peoplesof the Middle Eastadopted and modified cuneiform writing as long asMesopotamiaremained a living source of energy. Small stateshad grown up on the banks of the Nile under the aegisof totemic powers who later peopled the pharaonic pantheon. perhaps becauseby the fourth millennium scribeswere already using papyms.one or two centuriesafter it appearedin Sumer.At that point cuneiform returned to its source. The appearanceof writing. Egypt accomplishedits agrarian revolution later than Mesopotamia (in the fifth millennium).the land of Sumer. we have nothing to attest to such interests.who must have been just as interestedin counting their wealth as the Sumerians.c. Egypt Writing appearedin Egypt around f 150 s.and the interplay between image and word of its ideogramswere perfectly suited to the logic of the peoples who invented and used it. a highly perishable medium.did not utilize writing for this purpose from the start. but it soon caughtup. But the concretenessthat its pictographic origins provided. cuneiform took hold throughout the Middle East thanks to the dynamism of Mesopotamian merchants but also to the might of the imperialisms it served. but it might be a caseof independent creation in two neighboring societiesthat had reacheda comparablestageof development. marked the point of maturity of a way of life.Because the two lands had close relations some have spoken of borrowing. and the banks of the Nile have furnished marked pottery. dying where it had been born some three thousand years before.stone club-heads. before the third millennium. We find it difficult to imagine that the Egyptians. and rock graffiti. which coincidedwith the upsurge of an entire civilization. Thus we have bookkeepingtabletsexcavatedfrom the sandsof Mesopotamia. however.

hieroglyphs arose out of a systemization of the graphic techniques of earlier times.s This object served as an enormous commemorative medal whose graphic conventions and schematization attest to a very advanced social symbolism. On the upper portion Narmer. this time wearing the crown of the delta lands. There was nothing to prevent Egyptian scribes from creating a consonantal alphabet. mr. a catfish and a sculptor's chisel. which gave the phonetic values n'r and. A group of hieroglyphs including the same signs placed above one personage in the royal suite tells us that he is Narmer's sandalbearer. The palette uses a variety of symbolic techniques. a paradise for semiologists. This is illustrated by one of the oldest known documents bearing Egyptian characters. the palette of King Narmer. Two rows of decapitated enemies are piled up before the procession. phonograms. Inside a royal palace represented by a few conventional lines there are two characters. were to do later. Like cuneiform characters. a sovereign held to have unified Egypt who reigned around 3150 s. a bull. accompanied by identifying signs. On the other side of the stone two men hold ropes restraining two feline creatures with long and intertwined necks who may represent dangers surmounted. for example. Thus from the outset the Egyptians seem to have created a writing system that used phonetics and included signs to represent consonants either in isolation or in groups of two or three. or the consonant framework of the famous sovereigns name. as the Phoenicians. The sign for the sun-god provides a simple example. On one side Narmer is shown wearing the high headdress that later signaled the pharaohs' domination over southern Egypt. The Egyptians preferred to put phonetism to the service of a graphic symrbolism. or determinatives. He brandishes a mace over an enemy whom he holds kneeling before him. At the bottom. The palette also bears written legends on both sides of its upper portions. hierogllphs can have the value of ideograms. tramples an enemy and destroys a fortress. Since the ideogram (the solar disc) might cause confusion be- .t6 Cneprrn ONr have clear evidence that. in particular in their religious and historical texts-which makes their solemn writing. The lower part of the palette depicts two defeated adversaries. Next to god Horus-plunges the head of another enemy into a him a hawk-the swamp symbolized by a clump of reeds. advances accompanied by dignitaries and preceded by four bearers of standards depicting animal heads. before the paintings and the sculptures of the great pharaonic tombs were made. hieroglyphics.c. the incarnation of royal might.

when two people were talking he could reversethe signs attachedto one person and point them in the direction of that person'sinterlocutor. the system allowed every figure (represented without regard to the laws of perspective)to be as clear and immediately comprehensibleas the signsplaced by the sidesof highways or in public placestoday. second. words are not separatedfrom one another. The giraffe is shown no bigger than the scarab." In a like spirit the lines and columns of inscriptions on a stele might change direction. On other occasionsbas-reliefsshow an interpenetrationbetween the representation . each one of which can contain two signsarrangedhorizontally or vertically. from agricultural productsto "manufactured" objects. Although the systemwas complicated-it used 760 signs.small invisible squaresof equal size. two phonograms were added to it.The scribecould vary a sign that he had to repeat several times. thtts providing the consonantalskeleton of the name (a third and final consonantwas left out).but a line or a column doesnot end in the middle of a word.There were two good reasons for this: first. as if to personalizeit. In principle.220 of which were in current use under the Middle Kingdom-it permitted the scribes to avoid all ambiguity. from the weather to the landscape. a human mouth for r and a forearm in profile for the aspiratedlaryngeal consonant ayin.or even one larger sign and two small ones.Thkentogetherthey suggestinnumerableconcordancesand symbolic values. They offertis a complete repertory of everything to be found in the Nile valley. These rules-or rather these conventions-were applied with a flexibility surprising to anyone accustomedto the rigidity of modern phonetic writing systems.from men to animals. hieroglyphic writing is read from right to left either in vertical columns or in horizontal lines.Similarly certain words such as "king" or "god" were placedbefore other words that would normally be pronounced first in such expressionsas "servant of the king" or "priest of the god. The rules for inserting these charactersinto the quadrants show that the signsdid not correspondto the sizeof the representedobject.and of courseincluding the gods.WnrrrNc Sysrnrvrs t7 causeit also meant "day" and was thus a polyphone. either for aestheticreasonsor in order to adapt them to a representationsuch as the image of a god. Scribesalso shifted the place of signs within a word for aestheticreasons(graphicmetathesis). we need to pausea moment over the figuresthat thesesignsrepresented.four small signs. the representedobject'simportance as a sign had no relation to its actual size. Each sign is divided into quadrants. For example.

will be written "sportingly" (to use the English schoolterm) with the aid of the sign of the scarab.were not simple signsof identification. They believed in the creative virtue of words and in their dangerous power. which normally included an invocation to or a relationship with the divine powers. After all.e Hieroglyphic vwiting was undeniably solemn. The orthographic refinementsjust discussedare seen only occasionallyduring the Dynastic period.however. The Egyptiansbelievedthat the imagesused to write a text could developsuperior truths by constituting a metalanguagecapable. The scribeswere quite naturally urged to use all the resourcesof a system in which each sign could take on different ideographicor phonetic values and to invent variationsthat would highlight the parallel between the languageof speechand the languageof images. For them. and the sign for water. speechand image were linked to the substanceof the being that they reproduced or designated. The writing of a word had the same . the old sun-god. read MW the combination giving TeMWthus the consonant structure of the name of the god.like Toum at the birth of the world. At the sametime the group obtained is the image of the rising sun. especiallyto note utilitarian texts on papyrus.a solar demiurge. by which shecould disarm him. but they proliferated during the Ptolemaicepoch. of revealing the text's internal ideology.t8 Cnaprrn ONE of personagesor scenesand the legendsthat accompanythem. in the final analysis. It was for a good reason that the god Thoth. often figured as a scarabwho pushes the sun between his feet as he emergesfrom the primordial ocean. Personalnames. The Egyptiansused simpler writing systems.was reputed to be a dangerousmagician.Thesewere not simple stylistic exercises. the patron of scribesand master of the hieroglyphswho was secretaryto the godsand knew their speech. All this is proof that the Eglptians held the hieroglyphs to be living representations of reality much more than abstractsigns charged with a transcription of spoken discourse.PascalVernusoffers an illustration of this procedure: Here is an example of writing games:The god Toum (TeMWJ. The signifying function of the image is displayedhere on two levels: that of the conventional sign that bearsthe sound and that of the image. Isis had become mistressof the universe by forcing Ra.first hieratic then demotic.which in this casestandsfor T.to revealhis name to her.when a lettered clergy enlargedthe repertory of signsfrom about 760 to severalthousand.

or amputated certain of their parts to render them harmless.and portraits to be seenpainted or carved on the temples and the tombs were not representationsor remembrances of disappearedrealities but living realities that profited the gods and the dead.and victories? How many inscriptions did those civilizations put in places where they could not be read?And who among us has not pausedbeforepronouncing or vwiting a definitive word? why should such behavior exist? And why should it be so persistentif not becauseit correspondsto the natural mechanismsof human thought? China Writing appearedin China. and take from him all power to do harm.Moreover. One. supposedlytaught the use of a tally systemof lengths of string. three emperors played a particular role in the birth of writing. they had no need to be looked at or read in order to be animated with their own existence.WnrrrNc Sysrnrvrs I9 powers as the word itself. was thought to have inv'ented divination by casting yarrow stalks and interpreting the designsthey made.statues.In the caseof china this came at the price of a hard-won conquestof the lower basin of the Huang Ho or Yellow River. and in the subterranean apartments of the royal tombs scribes and artists put arrows through the signs reputed to be dangerous. Thus the images. The second. conversely.inscriptions. The Greeksand Romansperhapsdid not always understandthat hieroglyphics were a form of writing when they saw the immense monuments that lined the Nile valley. when a people-in this casethe Hua-became agricultural arid sedentary. and this was equally true of images. the scrolls bearing the name of a dead pharaoh were often carefully hidden in order to assurehis survival. according to an extremely ancient belief.Destroying the efffigy or the name of a dead enemy was an effective way to kill a secondtime.and inscriptionswere damaged. which.By the sametoken we can understandwhy so many reliefs. perhapsresemblingthe quipus . Throughout the centuriesthosemonuments have been interrogated in an attempt to understand the power and the secretof the imagesand their language. revolutions. Fu Hsi.Shen Nung. They saw them instead as traces of an ancient and secretwisdom.roAccording to tradition. eliminate him definitively. Keys to survival. as it did in Mesopotamiaand in Egypt. were endowed with a life of their own. how many statueswere (and continue to be) destroyed?How many inscriptionswere (and still are) defaced by successivecivilizationsto announcereforms.

" and zhi. Paleographic analysis of the sign corresponding to the verb yue seems to represent an instrument that Vandermeersch calls a porte-€crit. the word wen. or before the harvest. On the basis of these "oracle bones" and similar evidence. the shamans interrogated the ancestors for their advice by heating previously prepared pieces of tortoise shell or bone. to register events. Before someone left on a voyage. Second and more important. to the tracings on a tortoise shell. A lucky find made toward the end of the nineteenth century helps us to grasp the sense of these accounts. a "writing bearer. in particular the tracks of birds and'animals" (Vandermeersch). But two things stand out. and. First." reveals the existence in ancient epochs of important ceremonies implying recourse to magico-religious writings. was reputed to have invented writing "after having studied the celestial bodies and their formation and the natural objects around him. to literature.Cneprnn ONr of the Incas. Huang Ti. and possibly seal contracts. antonyms for which are wu." the simple written character. uncovered some three thousand pieces of tortoise shell and deer shoulder-bones on which the shamans of the court of the Shang dynasty in An-yang (fourteenth century e." This sign. l. "raw material.c. "warrior. writing had to express something of the natural order of the world. not far from the Yellow River. considered the first known characters in Chinese writing. not yet polished or decorated. courtesy. but it also refers to the vein in stone or the grain in wood." signifles a "set of marks. All this is legend. by extension. and after comparison with decorations on prehistoric pottery (some of which dates back to the fifth millennium) and above all with bronze inscriptions of the age of the Chou people in the west (eleventh century-7} s. During such ceremonies. In 1899 a flood of the Yuan River in Hunan province. which is accompanied by a hand in the graph of the word shi (shaman. the earliest procedures for notation arose in China for the purpose of divination but also out of a need to calculate and keep accounts. soothsayer) and which appears in a number of archaic signs where it bears the notion of "charm" or "prayer. giving his interpretation in signs inscribed on the other face of the shell or the bone. to bird tracks. Finally. and manners. After these objects cracked under the heat. the shi who manipulated the "writing bearer" probably used it to show the magic formulas to .) had traced inscriptions using some 600 different signs.c.l . L6on Vandermeersch has proposed the following interpretation of the origins of Chinese writing. Cang Ji. a minister of the third emperor. In Chinese. keep accounts. the shaman would interpret the crack marks.

as with an instrument (made up of a systemof graphic symbols) serving to support an effort to structure the representations" (vandermeersch). we can well imagine how ambiguousthe relationsbetweenthe chinese languageand this sort of script were.The shamans'effortswere not guided by the idea of noting donm a linguistic utterance. Most paleographersagreein recognizingthe markings on prehistoric pottery as the prototypes of chinese characters.not simply of a writing system. given that eachphoneme has to occupy a setposition within the syllable. notably the sacrificial vasesof the yin and chou epochs(sixteenth-seventh centuriesn. It would be more accurate to speak of the creation of a written language..). Thus whatever its relations with the existing language might have been.but a tool for symbolization.even when they usedproceduresfor phonetic notation.In particular they find a graphic filiation between thesestylized and abstractsignsand the stylized decoration of bronzes. 2.symbolization was originally conceivedof as similar to an algorithm-"giving this word a very broad sense. The inscriptions carved on bones and turtle shellsafter inspection of the fissureswere held to follow a kind of diagram and to express"the act or the events whose supernatural repercussions were the object of divination and whose hidden cosmologicalstructurewas revealedin the mysteriouslines of the divinatory diagram. From the start the chinese languagelent itself particularly well to the use of an ideographic system. Becauseeach syllable had at least one meaning of its .have only a limited autonomy in chinese. and for how many millennia. so the basic unit was'the syllable (there were many more syllablesthan in modern chinese).rr Thus the first goal of chinese writing was to furnish not an instrument of communication.was largely monosyllabicin the classicalepoch. Its motivation was an attempt at analysisinspired by the cult of the ancestorsand applied to the divination techniques discussedabove. 3.he was responsiblefor notifying the interested parties.the natural minimal unit of all alphabeticalsystems. which depict the combined supernatural forcesof the spirits to be conciliated. that algorithm could not evolveinto a simple notation of that language. strictly speaking. an agglutinatinglanguage. After first communicating royal decisionsto the transcendent powersthat gavethem force.chinese.phonemes. writing proper is thought to have branched off from this evolving processat a time still to be determined..c. rather it constituted something like another. parallel language.WnrrrncSysrrrvrs 2l the spirits.we have everyreasonto think that this personagewas both a scribe and a grand master of divinatory science.

" "source. the Chinese child is capable of recognizing the senseof certain charactersby the age of two. "sun. "halberd. however. and it is always explained in the schools.writing is availableto the Chineseto complete speechand ren- ."throat. the sign for ri. a characterthat no longer has its ideographic meaning but that keepsits sound and is precededby a "key" that gives a rough idea of what the word refersto. but he has to memorize thousands of signs and grasp their combined meaningsbefore he can read an ordinary text." "origin.Polysyllabicwords proliferated thanks to the juxtaposition of two words to createa new word whose meaning often had only a remote connection with its constituent parts.Complex forms do not necessarilyinclude any phonetic element: for example. The word for "notebook"-benzi-for instance.500 to 9. all it indicates is that at one time and in certain dialects the words were pronounced in roughly the same way. a European child normally learns to read alphabeticwriting. sang." and the signyue.22 CneprnnOnr own. many meanings tended to merge-an evolution that is not exclusiveto Chinese. "mouth. however. around the age of five. "light. The syllable and the characterwere entities that remained on different levels. "stop.however. "military.12 All this points to severalconclusionsconcerningthe "defenseand illustration" of this sort of writing. With time." The most frequent complex forms do involve a phonetic element. The simple ones represent things or symbolsnumbers.Thosecharacterscan be simple or complex. with all its implied abstractionand apprenticeshipin phonetism. Second. they now have only a distant relationshipwith their primitive representation. "moon. First.was made up of the word ben." This systemgivesno real indication of how the word that is written in this fashion is pronounced becausethe languagehas evolved through time but the phonetic charactershave not changed." is rendered by the key kou.The original representationremains implicit in them. At one time signs offering a schematicimage of a concretereality." when juxtaposedread ming. For example." is transcribedby the sign for zhi.000 characters." and the term wu.even now everydayChinesehas only 1. for example." and the very cornmon nominal suffix zi. "mulberry tree. "root.Thus if a phonetic element is common to two words. it probably seemednatural to expresseach of these meaningsin an appropriate ideogram." followed by the sign for si.250 syllableswhereasmodern dictionarieslist from 3. Modern languageshave a similar problem with the relationship between the spelling and the pronunciation of certain words." and the character for sang.

and more materialistickinds of thought flourished. The redaction of the first penal code in a text cast in bronze vesselsin 535 was still a promulgation of.writing was a necessary part of this standardization.and astronomer was extended to the composition of the royal annals. As the emperorsworked to shatterthe particular intereststhat had blossomed under anarchy they imposed a single order for everything concerned with communication and exchange-weights and measures. Becausehomophones are in principle representedby different signs a chinese speakercan trace the correspondingsign in the hollow of his hand or vwite it down on a scrapof paper if his interlocutor has not understoodthe senseof a word.from military arts to agronomy. After all.tablet-maker. The Chineseturned very early to schematizing and stylizing their characters. minister of the em- .) when confucianism and Taoism developed.soothsayer. Thanks to its origins.It was probably in the eighth century n.which to some extent expressthe invisible world. that the function of .this writing sysrem long remained the privilege of shamans and scribeswho were charged with redacting and promulgating royal decisionsand who. and diplomacy.Li si. but who esteemabstractionas the path to the comprehensionand interpretation of nature. coinage.WnrtrNc Sysrrus der it more explicit. when peace was reestablishedand the empire was unified in 22r s.fiscalpolicy.verbasacra. This was the reason for the fust great imperial reform of the graphic system. assistedthe sovereignsin religiousceremonies.Thus writing in china was only very slowly detachedfrom the powers of rite and religion-a process completed by the period of the warring kingdoms (fifth-third centuries n. penal law.c.c. as guardiansof the rites.In large part originally designed(as far as we can tell) for communication with the spirits and the gods. which remained a ritual act.c... politics became increasingly dissociatedfrom religion.even the axle-spanof carts and wagons.and they conceivedof their writing as a bit like an algebra.. chinese script expressestotally different preoccupations from alphabetic writing systems. certain of the essentialelementsof chinese philosophy arose from the study of divinatory hexagrams.particularly since the language had evolved and regional written codeshad proliferated..It reflects the mentality of a people for whom superior wisdom lies in a conformity with nature. This procedurepermits two people who speakdialectsthal differ asmuch (in the Europeancontext) asFrench and Portugueseto achievea minimal mutual comprehension. political centralizationmoved writing from the world of the soothsayerto that of the various sorts of "technicians" that the state needed in all branchesof its administration.

Complex characters were broken down "into simple elements that served to form oracular phrases or prophetic pronouncements" (Gernet). Soon after. writing is the drawing of the spirit. Seeing a landscape. divinities. The art of writing became a form of asceticism. the names of families or individuals were held to contain more or less hidden truths. Like portraits. in part because written symbols represented or evoked all beings in the universe. author." (Gernet). the practitioner had mastered his art. Can one go farther? Anne-Marie Christin. cities. functions. etc. when. It nonetheless retained all the prestige that its religious origins had conferred on it. in part because among their essential functions was to give every individual his name and his rank. official buildings.r3 has recalled that the spoken word supposes the account of an "I" who is receiver but also referent. he needed to work in a favorable climate before nature and among friends in order to reach awareness of his own rhythms in the visible world. drew up a list of three thousand characters to form a manual whose use was obligatory for all scribes. The use of "key" characters was systematized. contem- . The art of calligraphy was also considered of particular importance. The characters for "happiness" and "longevity" were ceaselesslyreproduced. "If speech is the voice of the spirit. in an article to which I owe a debt of gratitude. a great many books (literary and religious texts in particular) were burned. Words still had a certain power. The emperors served as guardians of graphic norms. It thus supposes a sort of liberation that is all the more yiolent because the speaker is absent when the word passes through the channel of writing. Thus writing tended to become a simple instrument for communicating and recording thought. and writings or other forms of witness to faith addressed to the gods were burned or buried so they could make their way to heaven or the bowels of the earth. after a long apprenticeship. and "a great amount of political activity was dedicated to the appropriation of names and the choice of propitious characters to designate eras.24 Cnaprrn ONr peror Ch'in Shih Huang.D. Henceforth only the emperor had the power to forbid the use of certain signs or put new ones into circulation. and the contours of the characters were simplified. The emperors who had put the ancient ritualism and aristocratic moral code in the service of the state intended to do the same with writing. To quote a first century A." Thus calligraphy was an integral part of an art of painting in China that privileged the line and demanded that the artist animate his drawing with the breath of life.

and shortly before the Spanish conquest they even used phonetic signs. Precolumbian America The beginningsof Precolumbian"near writings" resemblethoseof the systemsjust discussed. and they developeda brilliant civilization.They seemto have used pictography more than other systems. Mayan hieroglyphs (which were used in books as well as being carved in stone) servedabove all to registerthe passageof time and the influences of the gods who governedthe various time divisions.It was a Chineseof the T'ang era (seventh-tenth centuriese.'a The Mayas began to settle in one area toward the middle of the second millennium in what is now Guatemalaand surrounding lands.At the same time.) who wrote. It was only in the first century s. and graphically interpreting nature do not suppose the sametensions. the Olmecs founded a flourishing civilization characterizedby great temples and monumental sculpture.but they require an effort of synthesisin which the personality tends to dissolve.o.copyists. that the first traces of glyptic writing appeared in those regions among peopleswho built great temples without knowing either the wheel or the potter's wheel and who learned to work metal only later. however. We can seewhy for millennia the Chinesehave refusedto abandon the ideogramsthey have enriched with so many meanings. Becauseit is made up of images the ideographic page demandsa certain effort of reorganizationthat is all the more active becauseall the charactersthat composeit are rich in ambiguities.We will also have to admit that even alphabeticwriting is not merely abstract.. They knew and practicedthe technique of ideograms. They contain extraordinarily accurate calculations elaborated by astronomer prieststhat have been decipheredeven though we have no definitive key to the Mayan graphic system.Thus most Mayan inscriptions still retain much of their mystery. We shall have ample opportunity to return to it.and calligrapherseve4rwhere and in all times.It resembles the form of Taoistmysticism that prefersthe contemplation of nature to speech. We know somewhatmore about the writing of the Aztecs."This formula could be adopted by all scribes.They became establishedin the Valley of Mexico during the fourteenth century e.c.and they used great quantities of a material somewhatlike paper . "When customs change.disembodied signs.l.. not far from there.scriveners.writing changes.WnrrrNc Sysrnlvrs 25 plating nature.

often well informed. the Catholic clergy. It is senselessto wonder what thesepeoples'graphic systemswould havebecomeif another civilization had not been brutally imposedon them.They came out of a systemizationof the image. rules for domesticeconomy. Moreover the use of the ideogramimposedpolysemiesand relations that were not necessarilythose of the word represented.by historical accounts from Spanish authors. their calendar. Prescott). . Some scholarshave expressedsurpriseat the primitive characterof the writing systemsused by peopleswho built so well. although I'might note that members of the aristocracywere astonishinglyquick to learn the alphabeticwriting of the conquistadores.:. spoken discourse imposed the use of a phonetism that in turn often led to new developments.so that all that has come down to us is three Maya manuscripts and some fifteen Aztec texts. .Hencethe multivalent language of those systemsprovided a constant temptation to seek the hidden realitiesof the invisible world. and they remained linked to their pictographic origins even when. these scripts were ill equipped to discriminate between the reality of the signified and the signifier. For good measurethey burned their victims' entire archives. or by reports addressedto the sovereignsin Madrid. The example of China clearly showsthat the path to the alphabetwas not ineluctablefor a written civilization. in one way or another.the heroesof isolated communities that disappearedor were replacedby others. We know thesepeoplesonly by what remains of their monuments. Born within cultures dominated by animism. by texts written by some of their number after the conquest. and their ritual (William H. and the Inquisition all did their best to annihilate everything that they consideredsuperstition. Herndn Cort€s'stroops. Nearly everywhere the great ideographic wdting systemsappearedfirst and at a precisemoment in the evolution of human societies. a quicknessthat provided the Spanishwith a ready means for wiping out the "idolatry" deeply rooted in Mesoamericanpictograms.26 Cneprnn ONn for writing down their laws. Their architects. and tax rolls as well as for setting down their mythology. All their achievementswere doomed to oblivion by the Spanish conquest. differed from their counterpartsin the Middle East in that they were never stimulated by a need to develop new techniquesof communication to catch up with or surpassneighboring communities.

writing was above all a meansto domination and to the establishmentof hierarchy. in the sensethat a societycreatesa writing systemwhen it has attained a certain level of development.and scribes serving a deified monarch. and when it attemptsto respond to a global accelerationin communications (in the broadestsense of the term). conversely.progress" itself. which were forced to defend themselvesfrom incursionsof the Amorites and the Hurrians sweepingdown from the caucasus. but it is one that we will have to attempt to answer. only indirect and much later evidencedemonstrablyshows that in very early times the Egyptiansand the chinese alsohad bookkeeping. writing arosein sumer out of a need to keep businessaccounts. calling on the aid of specialistscaptured during a raid on Babylon. In any event one thing is quite clear. even when Assyrian merchants came among them using simplified cuneiform syllabariesfor their commercial correspondence. The most obvious of these concernsthe first appearanceof writing.This is a responsethat the western historian immediately finds satisfactorybut the absenceof tablets of other sorts does not mean that from the outset the Sumeriansdid not also write for other purposesand in ways that would give us better insight into how the social symbolization employed in the signs that figure on the tablets was constituted. THp CourNG oF rnn ATpnABET New types of writing emergedin a quite different context during the second millennium n.fiscal.when the concentration of its population reachesa new high.Wnrrruc Sysrrus 27 The evidence that has come down to us to date leaves a grear many questions unanswered.hence it was the expressionof the ideology of a limited elite..The Hittites' attitude changedwhen energetickings strove to unify them in face of the Hurrian threat.c. Their scribes .and administrative documents (which have now completely disappeared).The questionis as ambiguousas the term . That Indo-European population felt no need to adopt writing in their Anatolian villages. soothsayers.This is perhaps a fine example of a falseproblem.At the sametime. on the fringes of the Assyro-Babylonianlands. Thesesovereignsprobably laid the foundations of the administration that their new state needed.rj The history of Hittite writing provides a revealingprologue to that development. Initially an instrument of power in the hands of small groups of priests. If we are to believe the Mesopotamian documents. whether it also servedwhat is conveniently called "progress" remains to be seen. new fortunes were building in the easternMediterraneanbasin.

rT The first system was a script resembling hieroglyphics. However.we have good reasonto think that thesewritings transcribedthe original language of the Cretans.but tablets have also been found on the Greek mainland in the palace of Nestor in Fylos (where they were hardened by fire when the palace burned) and in Mycenae.bars.The only tablets that have been found in Crete using this writing were in the palace at Knossos.c. This imported writing was insufficient to give the Hittites a cultural personality. and its unmistakable characterswere scatteredon commemorativemonuments and the walls of templesover the fairly vast area of the expansionof Hittite power.t8 Although the Cretanhieroglyphsand linear A are still undeciphered. The third systemwas the famous linear B. It is made up of eighty-five signs. It alsohad from eightyfive to ninety signs. The prosperity of Crete had been building since the third millennium. two British scholars.a good number of ideograms.notably from Thebes. probably used ca. Still.kept their archivescarefully.Soon after World War II.it outlastedthat power for sometime. It is known particularly from extremelyshort texts inscribedon stonesealsof a variety of forms and from vases.2000-1650 s.The systeminitially servedto note the namesand titles of deitiesand important figures.Cneprnn ONs then noted the languagesof the region. and from between 2000 and 1200 e. often along with a representationof those same figures. 16 The Aegean Seaand the Greek world were awakening during the same period.and various documents. and it hasbeen found in a number of sitesin Crete.and marks that seemto correspondto numbers.and it useda hundred or so ideograms. The secondsystemhad a very different aspectand is known as linear A.1200s.on which the charactersare sometimeswritten in ink. The palacebureaucracyprobably used this procedure (and its successors) for accounting and record-keeping. It later included phonetic elementsas well. they showed little creativespirit. there were at leastthree types of writing that succeededone another in the area. they were using a hieroglyphic systemfor sealsand inscriptions that seemstotally their own creation. Usedfor cultural ends.c. redacted a large number of acts that display a fine flair for legal niceties.Mi- .seals.It appearson clay tablets (apparently used for accounting). Further to the north signs of this type have been found on vases. and clay tabletsfound at Knossosand Mallia.c. vases. and translatedthe classicsof Mesopotamianliterature. by the fifteenth century e.c. which seemsto have derived from linear A and is usuallydated1450.

or Mycenae. Mycenaeanmerchantsmay also have usedwdting. a It was not the Greek world that was preparing the future but the Middle East.like the Cypriots. cities at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains. These were . The writing system used there toward the end of the secondmillennium remains undecipheredbut seemsrelated to Cretan.the Helleneswho invaded Crete in the fifteenth century had the writing of the place adaptedto their speech.W n r r r r q cS v s r r u s chael Ventris and John Chadwick. The use of this script was limited. Mycenaean.c.however. Other Semites. Linear B. seemsto have been in wide use. which was famous in antiquity for its copper mines and its commercial activity. Tyre.Presumably.Most of the vestigesthat have been discoveredto date attest to the administrative activitiesof the palacesof Knossos. and there is no reasonnot to supposethat the Mycenaeans. Berytus. we can deduce that this graphic systemwas widely diffused.Nearly evenTwhere from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean and from Anatolia to the Sinai Peninsulathe Semiteswho made up the baseof the population had created city-statesthat struggledto resistinvadersand were subjectto rival imperialisms. used wood plaques or skins to write on. and the Greeksused syllabary techniques before Homer. showed that linear B was a syllabic writing systemand that it servedto record the earliestknown Greek dialect.Pylos. but unlike in the Eastern civilizations that used ideogramsno monumental inscription records the deeds of the sovereigns.or perpetuatesthe memory of their dead (Olivier Masson). after a gap of several centuries. in particular.If we add that all theseunbaked clay tabletswere not made to be conservedand have only come down to us by accidentand thanks to luck.in the ldnds bordering the easternMediterranean. Thus writing was practicedin the Aegeanworld even before the arrival of the Greeks. however: asidefor a few painted inscriptions on vasesit was used primarily to keep accounts. whose cedar wood they exported. had built the city of Ugarit (not far from the current Latakia) near the mouth of the Orontes River.Ancient methodscould be remarkably persistent:that systemcontinued to be used through the classicalperiod and disappearedonly in the third century n. Another essentialpart of the picture comes from Cyprus. Further to the south still other Semiteswho took the name of Phoeniciansbrought prosperity to the ports of Sidon. Later.publishestheir decisions. and Byblos.a syllabary systememergedfor noting the Greek dialect of Cyprus.

thus they were highly adaptabletg other Semitic languages. Can we take alphabets still further back in time? It is presently impossible to draw sure conclusions from the disparate corpus that is called "the Protocanaanitedocuments" or from the pseudohieroglyphicsof Byblos that have eluded decipherers. Moreover. and a few words incised on bronze arrowheadseven permit us to date it back at leastto the twelfth century B.and so forth-all written in the language of Ugarit.Semitic and non-Semitic. They were consonantal alphabets that transcribed only the roots of Semitic words.contracts.and made up largely of tabletsand inscriptions.We do not know when and how this system was perfected. datesfrom approximately 1000 s.Cneprrn ONE fiercely independent mercantile cities little inclined to unite in an empire. Asiatic.and thirteenth-century writings-myths. Theseinscriptions show that this alphabetwas fully formed by that time. Excavationsstarted in 1929 of the site of ancient Ugarit at RasShamra.c. rituals.The sameis lesstrue of the inscriptions called "Protosinaitic" that have causedso much ink to flow sincethey were discovered. the systemwas widely used. The inscriptions are situated near other inscriptions in Egyptian hieroglyphics near a rock temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor. legends. Evidence seems to indicate that the Ugaritic alphabet preceded the Byblos alphabet. This was only the beginning. and (often) Semitic workers. they are apparently in an unknown .not alwaysdecipherable.bookkeepingrecords.reThe earliest example of the Phoenician consonant alphabet is in the royal inscriptions of Byblos.c. and the alphabet was later simplified and reduced to twenty-two signs to note a variety of languages. letters. This is the setting in which the earliestknown phonetic alphabetswere developed. toiling under high-ranking Egyptians. Becausethe peopleswho used this alphabetwrote on papyrus sheetsthat time has destroyed. Above all they looked to the sea and were guided by an extremely acutepractical sense. Soon deciphered. though they accepteddistant protection. from the sarcophagusof King Ahiram.near Latakia.our physical evidence of it is extremely sparse. the most famous of which. where Egyptian. throughout Palestine. Theseare brief inscriptions found in the Sinai Peninsula on the site of Serabitel Khadim.they were revealedto use an alphabet of some thirty charactersfor a wide variety of texts that could be dated as fourteenth. unearthed not only :uneiform tablets with Akkadian texts but others bearing a small number of other signs also in cuneiform. came from time to time to work the turquoise mines. the protectressof mines.

It is contrary to the spirit of traditional ideographicproceduresand their strictly concrete corresponding forms of thought-as one glance at the mathematical reasoningof the Mesopotamiansageswill show.rcSysrnrvrs 3I writing system of some thirty-five signs of pictographic or geometric aspect. as we have seen.which are anchored in the minds of peoplesin a determined area and are enriched by accretionsbrought by successivegenerations. Syria and palestine. One cannot help but be struck by the degreeof abstractionof a consonantal system that isolatesand representsonly the roots of words. the sign for beth was an egg.from Anatolia to Crete.c.Let me simply reiteratethat the Egyptianssucceededin isolating consonantsbut did not use them as the basis for a simplified system. Gardiner also suggestedthat *ris practice conformed to very ancient naming practicespointing to a pictographic origin of the alphabet.A genuinemental revolution took place when that degreeof abstractionwas achievedand writing was directly attachedto speech. Thus it seemsnormal that new systems should grow up in a new context on the fringes of the domains of the systemsthat precededthem. Some have suggestedthat the Egyptian scribesdid not want to exploit this possibility for fear of losing their power. This hypothesisis too simplistic. a British Egyptologist.Thus one sequenceof four or five signsthat returns several times in these inscriptions should be read lb. Unlike Hittite hieroglyphs (to pick one example) their writing was not created to celebratea national .lt or b"lt. Although scholarshave not yet satisfactorilydecipheredthesetexts. Gardiner argued that they use acrophony-that is.die only when the civilizations that secretedthem die. Gardiner.Nor is it surprising that it was the Phoenicianswho brought offthat revolution.c.Wnrrrr. etc. which was said alph. and they can be dated at least as far back as the fifteenth century n.alephby a house. a familiar Semitic word for "lady" or "mistress" and a perfectly logical designation for the goddessHathor. Writing systems. supposedthem to note West Semitic texts.Alan H. each sign standsfor the initial phoneme of the word for the object symbolizedin the pictograph. It is what was to happen in the Far East when Japan invented two syllabariesto complete the Chinesecharacters and when the Koreans invented an extremely simple alphabetic writing that for centuries they refrained from putting into current use. Thus this script transcribed. This happenedrepeatedlyduring the second millennium B.. and in Mycenae and Cyprus.2o I need not insist on the fragility of this sort of speculativeconstruction and will leave it to the specialiststo debatethe origins-Mesopotamian? Egyptian?autonomous?-of the Phoenicianalphabet.

where in the fourth century it produced the Ethiopian syllabary. The first center of this culture appears to have been Petra.)2 CnaprEn ONr pantheon. and there is even some thought that Indian graphic systems may be of Semitic inspiration. Between the fifth and the third centuries. From that moment on. This means that Aramaic inscriptions range from Asia idinor to Pakistan and the Punjab. a people who played an essential role in the Middle East.c. in particular. and they subjected peoples who refused . Moabites. Next a graphic system appeared tJ. The consonant system reached as far as Abyssinia.at served the needs of the merchants of Mecca and was used in the primitive Islamic state to assure the smooth operation of a growing administration and to guard the original purity of the text of the Koran.It very soon became the vwiting of all the peoples of the Canaanite language group-Phoenicians. realized as they were about to swarm throughout the Mediterranean. Unfortunately. This move may have been one of the Phoenicians' commercial innovations. of the Aramaeans. to the south of Jerusalem. and Kalmucks-adopted inspired by the Aramaic alphabet. It was only in the sixth century. and Hebrews-and. the destiny of that writing system was tied to the Muslim religion and to Arab imperialism. Consonantal writing had a rapid and lasting success. Aramaic even tended to supplant Akkadian. Similarly a number of peoples of Iranian origin and even the Indo-European and Altaic populations of central systems and northern Asia-Uighurs. Phoenician.q. that the nomad Arab groups in the Syro-Mesopotamian steppes immediately adjoining Arabia. an important stop on the caravan route that once reached from Medina to Damascus. however. the essentially perishable nature of their writing materials prevents further speculation. but may descend from models predating Phoenician writing. It was Aramaean scribes who administered the empire of Cyrus the Great (in their own language and using their own writing) after he took Babylon in 539 s.c. and Hebrew (which became a religious language).. various forms of consonantal writing were introduced in the Arabian Peninsula. adopted the cursive script of Nabataean writing.. Further to the south. who had begun to organize into semi-independent kingdoms. The first evidence of such writing dates from the seventh century s. Rather it was a technique for merchants who used skins or papyrus and a cut reed to inscribe the simplest possible signs as a way to keep their business accounts and to communicate over long distances. The Arabs welcomed converts. Mongols.r.

for instance. with written coptic being limited to religious use by christians. where Coptic was spoken. when the written word and the divine word eventuallyjoined forcesthey encouragedreligions in which an invisible God was known by his word alone. It was even prohibited to copy it in anyrhing but its canonical form.Not only were Muslims obliged to read and study the Koran in its Arabic text. the palacesand the temples. To this day children learn to read and write classicalArabic. The graphic systemof written Arabic was applied to persian. and it was even used in areasas remote from its sourceas Malaysia and black Africa.WnrrrNc Sysrrus )) complete assimilation into Islam and drew tribute from them.Arabic script was even used to note Turkish and several Altaic languages. Simple shepherdsin the desertsof Arabia could carvegraffiti evenbeforethe coming of Islam. thus assuringthe unity of the Muslim world. The same thing happened to Afghan. also an Iranian language. Arabic ringuistic dominance was establishedsomewhat lessrapidly in Egypt. especially in Upper Egypt.who used Hebrew characters to note the Arabic they spoke. could be read only in its original text. and in turn they favoredteachingand the diffirsion of reading. and the merchants. The only exceptionwas the Jews. Beginning with the caliphate of Abd al-Malik (685-7051. It occurred even more slowly in Berberlands.and Pahlavi (Middle Persian)script. or that Muslims tended to prohibit all representationin their art.2r * The appearanceof consonantalwriting brought on an important revolution. its use spread. A writing systemcenteredon consonantspermitted religions of the Book to flourish. was eliminated. which had been in use up to that point. The Koran. Arabic became the sole official administrative language in the conquered lands. In the domain of languageand writing they appliedvery strict rules. as Allah had dictated it to Mohammed (hence it had to be read in classicalArabic). when the art of writing emergedfrom the closedcirclesof the scribes. Becausethey usedthe sameword . which continuesto be spoken among the learned.All theseregionsthus used Arabic writing. and it was very incompletein Spain. fhose who ]ived in regions where national languageshad persistedhad to learn to read and write Arabic as well. which meant that Arabic culture was soon dominant in the Fertile crescent (although isolatedislands of Aramaean culture remained). Thus it is not by accidentthat the Bible shows God'schosen people struggling to combat the Golden Calf. the word of God.Its sphereextendedto china and India.

but the phi.For the other vowels.oc As the Phoenicianalphabet was constituted.34 Cneprrn Or. the sin became the2 (sigm4). thus that the artist took to himself a power that belonged only to Allah. perhaps in the ninth or eighth centuries.was used for A (a).rr for "create" and "paint."woodcutters")by du-ru-to-mo. Assigningparticular graphemesto representvowels was made easierbecausecertain consonant sounds in West Semitic languageshad weakened in Greek. a graphic varianr of the F (drgammal. (il thiechi (1).eY (upsilon) and the I (iota).it was unable to transcribeGreek satisfactorilybecausemany syllablesin Greek were vowels. the y (chil. freeing the correspondingsigns for other uses. t}aesdmek. wtich noted the lanTngealocclusive.the word (drutomoi. the Greeksfelt that these signs were insufficiently .'whereasthe tau (T. and Greek adjectives.the A (alpha). the xi (f) was derived from a Semiticletrer.The letter alep.The result is familiar to all. and the psi (r!) were Greekcreations (of obscureorigin). and the letter he." Muslims felt that an image could be called to life. which furnished th. which noted a soundedaspiratedlaryngeal. Syllabic writing systemshad to make do with approximations. was moved to the end of the alphabet before the g (phil. 6pur6p. Very soon.that the Greek alphabet-the ancestorof modern Western alphabets-appeared. and the r! (psil were added. Finally (and still according to Michel Lejeune). Hencethe need to complete the Phoenician alphabet and to change its characterin order to make it over into an essentiallyphonographic system. however. The consonant function of the semi-vowels w and y had by and large disappeared. for example. "gold"l. u). Similarly.nouns. The w kept its value as a consonant in certain dialects.where it took the form of the F (digammal.the Greeksused the Semitic larlmgeal consonants. Greecewas emerging from a long period of troubles during which Mycenaean civilization had been destroyedby a new wave of Hellenic invaders.the sadeserving as a sibilant in place of the sigmain certain Greek alphabets. and verbshad inflections that required accuraterendering. It was during that period.and the E (epsilonl. the letter ayin. wltich noted an unsoundedaspiratedlaryngeal.was used for E (Michel Lejeune).22 The originality of the Greek systemlay in its precision. a While the Phoenicianmerchantsand marinerswere spreadingout through the Mediterranean.The word ypucos (khrusos. was used for O (o).was renderedin Mycenaeanby ku-ru-sou. z) was borrowed directly from the Semitic alphabet and the upsilon (Y.the O (omicronl.

the Greek alphabetattemptedto provide an accuratecopy of spoken discourse. In principle. They also show a high degreeofcoincidence. however. the changesin their languageled the Greeksto reservethe\ (upsilon) for the sound lj and to adopt the graph oY to represenrthe sound z (in English oo)in dialectslike Boetian that still retained this reconstirutedphoneme. Thus writing reached a new stage.and a new sign.for example. Thus it is simple conjecturethat Greece'sinnovative alphabetresultedfrom contactswith the Phoenician world. a sign first borrowed as a mark of initial aspiration.we can concludethat the alphabet caught on in responseto a wide variety of needs. or they were in "boustrophedon' style. the Greek alphabet attempted to break down spoken discourse into sounds. reversingdirection like oxen plowing. with a few modifications to its list of signsit permitted notation of any language.Unfortunately the Greekworld. which hasbequeathedus such a rich literature through later intermediaries. the first known inscriptions were written (as were Phoenicianinscriptions) from right to left...Furthermore.cannot be pronounced alone) (JamesF€wier).of Milettis.the indivisible atoms of speech.a question to which I shall return..c. Finally.left practically no direct evidenceof the beginningsof its writing systemasidefrom someinscriptions on stone or a few signs painted on clay pottery.was createdto accompanythe o (omicron). but economistsdoubt that writing was much used in the forms of commerce practiced at the time. all later than the eighth century. Merchants have often been credited with adopting or adapting Phoenician writing and with spreadingits use in the Greek world. was officially adoptedin Athens (403 r. It would be extremely interestingto know when this systemwas elaborated.).but the documentsthat have come down to us attest the existenceof a number of local alphabetsthat show differenceshard to explain.a nation broken up into particularist city-states. They also wrote the closedlong"e" as a diphthong. In ancient Greece. . to contrastwith the E (epsilonl.Unlike purely consonantal systems.23It is also conceivablethat the new systemwas a learned construction. called . The H (6tal.writing was not fully unified until the fourth century when the Ionian alphabet. Moreover. which. Keeping in mind that traders differedlittle from other groupsin the Hellenic cities.The resultswere imperfectbecause not all the letters utilized correspondedto true audible phonemes (occlusives. Greek began to be written from left to right only well into the sixth century.WnrrrNc Sysrnrvrs 35 precise and used special signs to note the timbre and length of certain vowels. the O (omegal.

this implies ways of thinking totally different from the Chinese. so that it was ill-suited to the task when it was called on to break out of the framework of language. This limitation is particularly noticeable in our own century. an exercise requiring a high degree of schematization. was marked from the outset by an interest in efficienry. retaining only the logical sequences. Hippocratic medicine developed. first appeared in the sixth century B. it never proved capable of expressing anything more than language. It is easy to recognize decisive innovations concentrated in the three fields of geometry. a discipline in which figures and arguments have equal weight. on the banks of the Pactolus River in Lydia. Any system has its drawbacks. where caravans arrived from central Asia. were striking "private" money. Finally. It was certainly not by chance that coinage. It also resulted in the Greek scribes' long-standing hostility toward abbreviations and in their slowness to adopt cursive scripts.Cnlprrn Our The question arises whether this new and totally analytical form of writing engendered new forms of thought.2aWhen Plato created the doctrine of ideas he was simply developing these ways of looking at things. Money arose not long after a writing system that strove to be universal. at a time when the Greek cities of the Asia Minor coast. Miletus in particular. As Jacques Gernet has emphasized. This resulted in a tendency among Attic epigraphists to place equally spaced letters in regular columns irrespective of the form of the individual sign. wlth Euclid's Elements geometry became a wholly written science "in which the writing of the demonstration has already made a selection. By linking sound and the letter as closely as possible (one word originally expressed both notions in Greek). inspiring a number of treatises composed for written publication and authors who relied on writing to lend accuracy and pertinence to their descriptions of illnesses. writing to transmit the flow of spoken discourse was so strong that it long neglected to separate words and sentences. geography. Pure graphics in its operations and its instruments. These disciplines broke with precedents known in the civilizations of the Near East to place graphic practices at the center of their activity (Marcel D6tienne). for example: . and he created the geographical map. in the common sense of the term. Thus geometry was invented. and medicine. This system. the legendary land of Gyges and the kingdom of Croesus. and money was to become the spur and motive force for everything in the West. which gave the West its form of logic." Anaximander dared to draw the inhabited earth. The tendency of alphabetic.c. the Greeks privileged what was heard over what was meant.

Born with the Greek city. in China it was never conceived of as the measure of all things and a sort of common denominator.26 The peoplesof Italy. which Etruscan later eliminated.Wnrrrxc Sysrrlts It seemsto me personallythat there is a fairly strict relationship between the mentality that permitted the invention of a uniform money and the invention of the alphabet. treasuresand precious objects. beganto note their languageduring the secondhalf of the seventhcentury s.This was particularly true in Lemnosand in Etruria. the alphabet as we conceiveit today became under Alexander the Great the instrument of a new imperialism and the symbol of an intellectual superiority. was only beginning. but rather as a sort of goods on the samelevel as cerealsand cloth and on a different level. The art of writing seemsto have servedfor sometime as an instrument of power kept in . where signsinspired by Greek letters were put to the serviceof languagesthat probably were closely related to Greek-signs that we can read without fully comprehendingthem. Writing. Its evolution seemsdeliberate.and the vowel O. borrowed from archaicEtruscan. but the number of inscriptionsincreasedonly slowly.According to Cicero (De divinationel they bequeathedtheir sacredtexts to the Romans.however. In any event. on whom the Indo-European invadersof the later secondmillennium had imposed their idiom. The Latin alphabet initially had twenty letters including the soqnded consonantsB and D.c. becamemore common under the influence of such men as Livius Andronicus.who held the Etruscan religion to be the religion of the Book par excellence. and especially in contact with Hellenism.for their part. This system'sconquest of the universe. The Etruscansseemto have used writing largely for religious purposes. which had rarely been used up to that point. and Ennius.The Latins.In the sixth century the digammabecamethe F and the unsounded aspirateVH lost its secondelement. Plautus. By the sametoken it relegatedAramaic writing and its derivativesto the rank of symbolsof resistanceamong nations at the edgeof Hellenizedregions. Many peoples took the system that the Greeks had elaborated and adaptedit to their own language.25 A simple history of writing systemscould stop here. I believe that it would be possibleto demonstratethat money did not have the samefunctions in China and in the ancient civilizations of the Mediterraneanbasin.The G appeared during the third century. borrowed writing not from the Greeksbut from the Etruscans.as if thought through by a classof prcifessionalscribes.

On different level the bas-reliefson the sarcophagiof the imperial epoch that show the intellectual life of the deceased-who are shown reading. In the third century after a number of individual attempts and experiments. This slow assimilationhelps us to understandwhy writing (and for even greaterreason. The Arab conquest interrupted . It doubtless served for other purposes than the sacred and liturgical texts. the writings of the sects.Cseprrn ONE the hands of an oligarchy. for instance. which aimed at fixing memory for all eternity) retained a magical aspectin Rome-a magic that writing has never totally lost. Roman conquestslater enormously extended the use of writing.2TWe do need to recall. which becamemore and more common in the administration of an increasinglyvast empire. such scenestake on a symbolicmeaning and a religious overtone. the Iast stage of the Egyptian language. particularly since it was easier to write than Egyptian scripts. and even more the poet or the scholar were treated as heroes. Thus the child prodigy. how religion and certain forms of nationalism elicited new systems of writing and on occasion made them prosper.inscription. Like the sculptures on Trajan'sColumn.for example.Especiallywhen they show children. and the books of piety that we know today. The idea had developedthat intellectual pursuits in this life assuredthe deceaseda participation in the divine and a true immortality. declaiming. the cultivated man. of the role of the Greek model in the elaboration of the Indian and Ethiopian writing systems.Above all they contribute to \eeping alive the memory of a departedperson who pursuesa reduced life in the beyond and who is periodically reanimatedby sacrificesand libations. however. Egypt in the time of the Ptolemies was by and large Hellenized. Coptic script permitted notation of various dialects of the Coptic Ianguage. and so forth-are testimony to the eminent value that writing had taken on in the life of Romansof that age. This was truer in Rome than in Greece. For that reason certain Egyptians attempted to use the Greek alphabet to transcribe their language. a system was devised-Coptic script-based on the Greek alphabet with the addition of a certain number of signs borrowed from demotic. certain monumental inscriptionsdo not seemto have been conceivedto be deciphered. a The long history of the conquests of the Greek and Latin alphabets throughout the centuries and an enumeration of their adaptations lie beyond the scope of this book. I will not even pose the problem.

for it was perfect at the start2e . Mesrop Machtots.the samewas not true of two others. e.but the merit of having resolved the problem falls to St.2sSeveralwestern provincesremained within the sway of the EasternRoman Empire and seemed destined for Hellenization. Since the Persians could hardly allow the Armenians to remain culturally linked to Byzantium.o. and the systemwas so well establishedthat it fumished the Armenian nation with a definitive expressionof phonetism. Mesrop elaboratedan alphabet of thirty-six signs inspired by the Greek systembut with the addition of Semiticcharacters. Sahac. and King Vramshapuh encouraged various attempts to constitute a national writing system.and royal acts that until then had been redactedin Greek or in Syriacbeganto be written in Pahlavi. Armenian and Cyrillic. Mesrop had studied Greek literature in his youth.but he noticed that the letters that Daniel used f'were insufficient to spell the syllablesof the Armenian language. He studied with the Syriac bishop Daniel. which he had undertaken to translate. the principal rival of Christianity in that region. after which he servedas "chancellor of the ordinances of the sovereign" and custodian of the royal archives until he went to evangelizethe province of Siunia. St. Emperor TheodosiusabandonedArmenia at the end of the fourth century thus sealingits destiny for centuriesto come. learned and religious circleshad to speakSyriacand study in Syrian schools. who lived in Mesopotamia. an expressionthat has persistedto our own day without having to undergo any change [and] without ha\ringto submit to any improvement.the patriarch. 3l I -S4) createda Gothic script on the basisof the Greekalphabetso that his West Gothic compatriots could know the Bible.WnrrlNc Sysrrus its course.Thus he brought into being what the linguist Antoine Meillet called a veritable masterpiece: Each of the phonemes in Armenian is noted by its own sign. which helped a people or a group of peoples to asserttheir personality.Bishop Ulfilas (Wulfila in Gothic.and today the Coptic languageand Coptic script are used only by the Coptic church.Although this systemhad only a limited success.but the greaterpart of Armenia had becomea royal fief of the Sassaniddynasty of Persiankings who practicedMazdakism. Writing thus becameinaccessibleto people not conversantwith those foreign cultures. In other casesevangelizershad a notable part in creating new writing systems." After taking counsel with a group of scribesin Edessa who were working on an analogousproject.the official languageof the Sassanids.

The hagiographers report that Constantine-Cyril was seized with sudden inspiration and invented a system of writing to note Slavic.Cneprrn ONr Armed with this tool. the two brothers had served ten years in the Byzantine administration when Methodius became a monk and his younger brother Constantine went to Constantinople to continue his studies. when he had retreated to the monastery in Bithynia that his brother served as abbot. which included Czechs and Slovaks. with the backing of merchant patrons. It is more probable that he had begun working out this system several years earlier. Mesrop and Sahac supervised a team of scholars who translated the Bible into the national language. the Armenian clergy used this same alphabet ten centuries later to set up typographical workshops in Europe that provided books that helped the Armenian people safeguard their cultural cohesion and resist Roman Catholic encouragement-also by circulating books-to attach the Armenian church to Rome. the largest of which were the Moravian kingdom. We shall see how. who wanted to differentiate it as much as possible from the Greek and Roman alphabets. if not from the Hebrew. designed a set of rather round letters. whom he served as librarian. The evangelization of the Bulgars is connected with the names of two brothers. Like Armenian. Under the protection of Photius. thus giving a new impetus to evangelization. Born in Thessalonica as sons of a Byzantine government official. Constantine's career as a scholar and professor was interrupted by diplomatic missions to the Middle East and Asia. while in the north they were in contact with the West. They began to group into principalities. and where there were a number of Slavs (855). using circles.creator. and the kingdom of Bulgaria (where the Slavs gradually assimilated their Bulgar conquerors). the latter becoming a monk on his deathbed and taking the name of Cyril. this system of thirty-six signs earned the admiration of Antoine Meillet. Methodius and Constantine. the patriarch of Constantinople.3o In the ninth century the Slavs who occupied the greater part of the Balkans bore down on the Byzantine empire to the south of them. Unfortunately. When Ratislav of Moravia requested a bishop to instruct his people (5621. The history of Cyrillic writing is more complex. its. the emperor designated Constantine and his brother. to the point of controlling the commercial routes connecting Byzantium to Russia and northern Europe. In all probability. what Constantine-Cyril spontaneously invented was not the writing system that has inaccurately been called "Cyrillic" but rather Glagolitic. . which covered a large area toward the end of this period.

Thus an alphabet came to be elaboratedand adopted (893) in which all the letters.while Russianbecamethe languageof culture throughout the SovietUnion. with their alphabet. probably found the new letters extremely ugly. except for religiouspurposesin certain diocesesof Bosnia and Dalmatia (Croatia). to Bulgaria. Glagolitic writing stopped being used. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius used this system with great success during their missions in Moravia and Pannonia. and the evolution of Russiansociety from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuriesbrought a genuine "graphic explosion" (at least in certain regions). Their initiative.was bound to displeaseRome. gavethe disciples of Cyril and Methodius a warm welcome and encouragedthe adoption of a writing systemthat would permit the developmentof a Slavicrite. which must have seemeddaring even to the Byzantines. .within the limits of practicality.Most of the Slavswho rallied to Rome rejectedit. the Serbs in Cyrillic and the Croats with Roman characters. as is known. After a long career. The Cyrillic alphabetwas adoptedby all Orthodox Slavsand servedto note their literary language.Finally.When the Hungarian invasions definitively cut off the Moravians and the Pannonians from Byzantium the disciples of Cyril and Methodius were obliged to move. the ex-Soviet Union did much to put into writing the languages spokenby the peopleswithin its borders.Wnrrrnc Sysrnms 4T triangles. however. which createdthe paradoxicalsituation in ex-Yugoslavia. where they found a Slavic people strongly impregnatedwith Greek culture but eagerto maintain their independencefrom Byzantium.where two peopleswho speak the same languagewrite in different scripts. When the Russiansconvertedto Christianity in the following century they chose Cyrillic script.and crossesthat perhapsevoke eternity. during the sameperiod they wrote a liturgy in a compositelanguagelargely inspired by the Macedonian dialect. the Trinity. and Christ's sacrificebut that are generallyconsideredugly and awkward. as evidencedby discoveriesmade in those areassince l95l and by a wide variety of documentsinscribed on birch bark. The learned men of the country.Czar Boris. but they adopted its phonetic system. who had been baptized in 864 but had no intention of establishingcloseties with his powerful neighbor. even though it implied no direct attachment of the new church to Constantinople.were written on the model of Greek uncials. who knew Greek and had often atternpted to note their language in Greek script.for the most part noting them in adaptationsof the Cyrillic alphabet.

Far from it: look at Japan.of the efforts of Westernmissionaries. contemporary experienceprovesthat no systemcan be said to be a culminating moment linked to the triumph of Westernlogic. however. The histories of the Armenian and Cyrillic scripts attest that the creation of a new system-at any rate. Finally. Graphic convention. writing-even more than texts and languages-constitutes the soul of a society. At the sametime.for instance. which generates law in the faceof custom.as the Chinesecan testify-requires an act of government. Similarly. .and scholarsto adapt the Roman alphabet to the many languagesof the world.preciselyby its testimony to the immutable: it is difficult to bring about change. colonizers.is itself a form of law.the reform of a writing system-including an ideographicsystem. but the moment has cometo sum up. It also proves that writing that seemsillogical and poorly adapted to a language is not necessarilya cultural handicap. a phonetic written system-is above all a deliberateact on the part of a group. thus a concerted policy.42 Cneprrn ONr I might go on to speak.even orthographic change.This means that the disappearance of a systemand its replacementmark the death of a civilization.

/riting systemsare not disembodied. The Chineseideogram standing for a book seemsinitially to have representedslicesof bamboo. When they are laid out without separationsthey remind us that our modern page layouts are recent acquisitions. the study of writing materials reminds us that the greatestcivilizationg are mortal. Hence wooden tablets came to be covered with a layer of wax that could be written on with a stylus.Hence all these odd objectsneed careful scrutiny before we can begin to understandwhat the always ambiguousrelationship between speechand text may have been in their own time. and it was difficult to reuse. or transmittedfrom generationto generation. discoveredin tombs. but becausethe wax surfacewas eminently per43 .When they are written on scrollsthe text unfolds like a film. Even when it was carefully prepared.{utc TheWrittenandthe SpokenWord from past \ f. The search for materials has always created a problem. Natural substances.wood receivedsignspoorly. By their very aspectthey remind us that the shapeof written signsdependson the material on which they are written.and vwitten messages V Y times are objectsthat speakmore than one language. When signsare written with carethey afiest to an interest in proclamation and durability. Indian manuscriptswere inscribedon palm leavesuntil modern times. C1prus. This was a technique widely used in the West up to early modern times for keeping accounts and making first drafts. and the Latin term liber alsosuggestswood or bark. were tried first.wood in particular. when they are cursive they show that a societywas familiar with writing. they often seemodd to us and a far cry from our modern books. When only a small number of charactersappeiils on eachpage rapid reading proves impossible. Egypt. The solemn graphic style of those inscriptions bearslittle relation to the style used for everydaywriting (of which even graffiti-when we have them-give us only a distorted image). Bark-birch bark in particular-long servedthe samepurposein India and especiallyin Russia.Dug out from the soil.preparedin variousways.and many other placesused wooden tablets. WnrrrNc Marnnrers More than anything else. Quite often the civilizations that utilized perishable materials are known to us only by carved and graven inscriptions.

but the clay tablet guaranteed them a degree of durability even though clay deteriorates over the very long term. however. but inscriptions on stone or metal kept a vertical layout and theii decorative graphic styles. Bas-reliefs and paintings often show standing scribes writing on a clay tablet held in the hollow of the hand. a phenomenon that often occurred in cursive writings. Scribes with a jar full of damp clay at their side fashioned a lump into the form they wanted. For example the Code of Hammurabi. The direction of the writing changed as well: instead of proceeding in vertical columns from right to left. had curves that were difficult to make on fresh clay and that tended to be distorted as the clay dried. thus producing the form of writing we call cuneiform. Clay presented certain problems. The tablet was then dried in the sun or baked in a kiln so it would last longer. In Mesopotamia. appears as a graphic illustration of a stable regime. !'ery early-from the epoch of Shuruppak (now Fara.260O n.c. Their pictograms. If they worked on a larger tablet they had to place it on a board. its triumphant parallels and right angles mark the subjection of the sign to a sort of military discipline (Jean Nougayrol). Although these graphic techniques do not permit recognition of the scribe's hand they do reflect the psychology of each successive epoch. as we have seen. The scribes gradually left off tracing their signs and instead learned to imprint lines and wedges with the aid of a reed cut for that purpose. ca."' The writing of the warrior kings of Assur and Niniveh reflects their soldierly conquering spirit.) and perhaps even before-the signs took a ninety-degree turn to the left. men who had already leamed how to make and paint pottery found it natural to use clay to make writing tablets.'? The peoples of the Middle East used a good many other materials. This means that archaeologists have been able to recover intact entire buried libraries and archives.CnlprBn Two ishable. the greatest king of the first Babylonian dynasty. "imposing on everyone the clear and serene will of a powerful administrator. then traced signs on one or both faces while the clay was still malleable. writing on waxed tablets ordinarily served only for provisional notation. which at first they traced with a pointed tool. In both the West and the East the societies that succeeded one another were obliged to seek other solutions. Excavations carried out from 1973 to 1976 on the acropolis of Tell Mar- . A number of peoples of the Middle East and the Aegean world followed their example. Writing on clay later diversified and tended toward simpliflcation. the characters came to be aligned from left to right. one line following the other.

c.Its roots could be sucked. The new find. some 730 terra cotta tabletsfrom the years445-40) 8. was excavatedfrom a chambermeasuringroughly 5. and the archives. and more-and they show how an active court organizedcommercial caravans.75 meters. Babylon. received reports and state correspondence.This means that above all the cuneiform clay tablet was an aid to memorization. This member of the cyperaceaefamily was a swamp plant that grew in clumps at times nearly ten feet high. It found its ideal habitat in the Nile River delta.c.. we have to turn to Pliny's Natural Historyfor informa- . where it gaverise to a bustling industry.collectedtaxes and tribute. financial.The findings include documentsof all sorts-economic.a The clay tablet was a heavy and relatively cumbersomemedium. but cuneiform writing permitted a large number of signsto be crowded onto a small surface.It permitted a reconstructionof the activities and the commercial methods of the Mura5fi family. it could be used to make sails for boats. literary.Tns WnrrrrN AND rHE SporEu Wono 45 dikh.and where it was most firmly established many merchantscontinued to use it well after consonantalwriting on papyrus had becomethe rule in lands newer to writing. have laid bare the royal palace of Ebla (24OO-225On. BecauseEgyptian sourcessay little about how paper was obtained from the papyrus plant.loindoths. sandals.).5 x 2.3 In 1893 a discoverywas made at a site some one hundred kilometers south of Babylon at Nippur (now Niffer). the site of a temple library that had already produced twenty-three thousand tablets dating from the twenty-third century n. Nearly seventeenthousand tabletshave been found there in the palace administrativequarter. a Like bamboo in the Far East and in SoutheastAsia or the agaveplant in Mexico. a large family of Babylonian businessmenof Jewish origin.5Attempts to break the Egyptian monopoly by cultivating papyrus in Syria. Tradition weighs so heavily on communication that for severalmillennia the clay tablet fulfilled its function successfullyfor the businessmenof the Middle East. the discoveryof which upset a number of notions that were considereddefinitive acquisitions.c. sixty kilometers from Alep. historic. woven baskets. agrarian. the papyms serveda large number of purposesin Egtrpt. lexical.and instructed messengersand sent them out on missions.They reveal a hitherto unknown form of protoSyriaccivilization.and even the hulls of light boats. and (much later) Sicily were only moderately successful. the audiencecourt.

Cneprnn Two tion. It is generallybelieved that the Akkadians knew papyrus in the sixteeqth century s.The first mention of it in a Greektext appearsinthe Anabasis.270Ol show a scribewith his writing tools and a scroll. which contains texts from the flfth dynasty. The scribesused a cut reed dipped in ink to write on it. The Egyptians seem to have used papyrus very early. used it and traded it at least from the eleventh century. It is not clear when this prestigiousmaterial moved beyond its country of origin. and of a brilliant ivory white. and the "oldest book in the world.which leadsus to the conclusionthat leather was widely used in the Middle East. papyms paper felt like silk to the touch. The famous squattingscribein the Musde du Louwe datesfrom about 2400 s. The only samplewe have from that epoch is one virgin papyrus (of good quality.I900 e. The resulting sheetwas beatengently with a mallet and left to dry in the sun. where Xenophon describesa shipwreck off the coast of Thrace of a ship carrying bales of papyrus sheetsthat had already been used on one side and were undoubtedly on their way to that distant region to be reusedon the verso. 25O0-2350). and that the Phoenicians. 3100-ca. Next it was smoothed with an ivory or shell tool." the Prusspapyrus.c. but most are written on skins. Flexible.who had close relations with Egypt. Thesestrips were then laid down in close-setrows on a damp tablet and covered with another similar layer laid down in the oppositedirection.c.Although Herodotusmentions the papyrus plant in his description of Egypt he does not add that it servedto make paper. solid.c. Finally a number of these sheets(usually twenty) were glued end to end to form a scroll. The first documentswritten on papyrus sheetsare no older than the fifth dynasty (ca. Mesopotamian bas-reliefsand frescoesrather frequently show two scribesside by side taking notes.where papyrus must have been rare and expensive. The Greeksmust have had papyrus by the seventhcentury n.Alphonse Dain remarks: .. given that inscriptions from the first dynasty (ca.c. The fibrous pith of the stalk was cut into thin strips as much as 40 centimeterslong.Someof the Dead Seascrollsare written on metal or papyrus. given that Greekmercenariesand merchantshad flocked to Egypt and had made Naucratisa greatcommercialcenter.. seemsto havebeen copiedin hieraticscriptas late as 2000. the Assyrian scribe writing on a clay tablet and an Aramaean scribewriting on a scroll that may have been made of papyrus or of leather. however) found in the tomb of a functionary.

when legislatorsgavewritten form to the law. whether in the city's intervention in blood crimes or in the assembly'sobligation to acceptthe will of the majority. In a word. The averageGreek wrote on anything at hand. the city made its rules monumental and visible. it gained a new status.We need to insist on this point. until the mid-fourth century the Greekslacked a common.in the time of ftolemy. In a later age. to transform public life.It soon appeared on the walls as inscriptions. . inexpensivewriting material accessibleto all. They wrote on waxed tablets. an ode of Sapphowas vwitten on a pottery fragment." Henceforth.r Wono 47 To tell the truth. and first on pottery fragments-ostraca.would probably have dis- . The ordinary person in Greeceused quite perishable materials for his private purposes.6 This means that in the Greek world the status of the written text was not at all what one might think. to make sure that all would submit to its will. We must also remember that the scarcity of writing materials for individual use was so acute and the role of oral teaching so important that disciplesjealously conservedthe works of the great mastersin single copies. Aristotle's works. . We have all seen the picture in our schoolbooksof the sherd on which an ordinary Athenian had vwitten the name of Themistoclesto vote for his ostracism.? This demonstratesthat the importance of public inscriptionsin the ancient city was clearly to asserta presencemore than to be read..They used thin plates of lead and later sheetsof gold and silver.bits of leather or piecesof skin-one document was written on snakeskin.c. writing became "a publicity agent" and a "constituent in the political field. A complex organizationservedto support [the rules] in the Prytaneum. to impose new practices. which spent long yearsstored in a cave.THe WnIrrnN AND rHE Sporrr. materials that have left only very few authentic fragments.eventually accompanied by the works of their respeciive commentators.and after 650 s. But also affirming a will to act. When the alphabet appeared everyone could use writing as he wished and as he understood it. the place for political decisions: [there were] writing tablessetup in the centerof the public space[and] written signs lauding the independenceof writing. and writing left the dwellings of princes and the closedcirclesof the scribes. the Greekshad no paper. lead was preferredfor formulaic incantations. As Marcel Ddtienne put it. .

we should not forget that nearly all the operations and circumstances of civic life involved the frequent use of writing. since it could nor be fully lived without a fairly high degree of literacy. Voting-tablets were used. was unusually high. as Claude Nicolet has demonstrated: Despite the overwhelming importance of eloquence and oral techniques. in markers for the . of ballots on which the candidates are distinguished for the benefit of the illiterate by different colours. writing seems to have been omnipresent in Rome beginning in the late Republic. We may deduce from it that only a privileged minority generally took part in civic life. came when the material on which the text was written was itself the object of large-scale production and became a trade commodity.s Anyone who walked the streets of a Roman city would encounter abundant evidence of the omnipresence of writing. Or. in dedications and honorific inscriptions incised on the monuments. * More than in classical Greece. The greatest innovation in materials occurred with the large-scale introduction of papyms into Greece after the fourth century as a result of the Ptolemies' support of exportation. Such indications give the impression of what may almost be called a clerical civilization. This. including that of Romanized Italy. may be accounted for in two alternative ways. the true appearance of the book. Declarations to the censor were copied on to registers. as were the names of candidates for office. traces of which can be found in Athens in the fifth century. From that time on libraries developed. on the contrary we may note the various signs that most of the citizen body took a remarkably large part in the different forms of communal life and. . we may infer that the proportion of literates in the population. on which the elector himself had to inscribe a few letters at least. .Cneprpn Two appeared if they had not been bought by an intelligent bibliophile. texts of proposed laws were posted up. in altars at street crossings. . . but so did commerce in books. of course. As a result. . in boundary stones that showed the limits of a jurisdiction. We never hear of a Roman citizen being at a loss when called on to vote in an election (contrast Plutarch's story of the Athenian peasant asking Aristides to write his own name on an ostrakonl or. since this involved the use of writing. as in some new democracies at the present day. in the sense in which we understand the term today. pictures of animals etc. .

The number of literate citizensseemsto have been high. Atticus. 79. It is true that the fine ladies of the city had slavesto write for them when they went to call on their bankers. Innumerable graffiti attest to a high degreeof day-to-day familiarity with vwiting and to a broad-basedacquaintancewith poets like ovid and propertius. cicero's correspondent. Atticus kept a fairly large number of slaveswho could copy books in Greek and on occasionin Latin as well. we do not know how big a "pressrun' an -edition.Everyonedid his own bookkeeping. We can find . The excavations in Pompeii and Herculaneurn. as were many cities of the Roman world. and traceshave been found of more advancededucational institutions.but we do know (from a letter of pliny the Elder) that Regulus'seulogy of his young son was distributed in thousandsof copies and that authors often revisedtheir texts in view of a secondedition. Furthermore.or the many lost written pieces-posters. confirm this observation.and placardscarried on sticks during processions(Mireille corbier). like all the elite troops.buried as a result of the eruption of vesuvius on 24 August in e.however: one baker had his portrait painted holding a volumenwhile his spousemade preparations to use a writing tablet. .asa captain coignet wrote his memoirs phonetically. Publishing and the book trade were also deveropedin ancient Rome.. in authorizationsto construct granted by public administrationsor institutions.fine hands" even among the gladiatorswho.Tnr WnrrrnN AND THE Sporrn Wono 49 aqueductsthat crisscrossedthe city. writing provided a spectaclelacking in the medieval city (Armando petrucci). had severalelementaryschoolsthat functioned largely outdoors.written on papyrus sheetsand ostraca. were probably not the brutes that they are so often imagined to have been. the evidencefrom Pompeii can be comparedwith indicationsin the archives of a second-centurycompany of auxitii found in the desert of Libya. Pompeii.eIt is possiblethat the literacy rate was no higher in the Roman legions than it was in the regiments of the Napoleonic Empire in which Jean-Rochcoignet served:obliged to learn to read beforehe courd be promoted to corporal. and many slaveswere trained to write. when he retired.was also his bookseller. not to mention the Forma urbis. and at times he used correctorsto revisea text.show that the Roman t'oops had almost as much red tape as modern armies (Robert Marichal). of a work might have.In pompeii a number of "electoral posters"have been found painted on walls.o. which had strong ties with Greeceand was bilingual. with somewhatrustic equipment. signs. the marble map of Rome in the Forum of peacein the age of septimius Severus. Thesearchives.

as attestedby finds in Pompeii and Herculaneum. it took its place on the racks of one of the bookstoresin the busiest quarters of the city.in Spain.Always a scarceand preciouscommodity.This meant that only the richest citizenscould amasseven a few volumina. and glass.if one could calculateannual papyrus production in the Nile Valley the figure would surely be well below the production figures of fourteenth-century paper mills. or on ostracahave also been found in the four corners of the empire.Under the Empire the larger provincial citieshad their own bookshops.linen. and for the final draft of official acts. on wooden tablets. €. and in Africa.where the literacy rate was high (at leastin certain milieus and certain sectors)seem never to have found a way to procure sufficient quantities of an appropriatewriting material-until the appearance of parchment. Innumerable sumswritten on walls. Moreover we know that important people had slavesto write their letters for them on waxed tablets. and Ovid consoled himself in exile with the thought that his works traveled west through the empire to reach Rome and Italy.enabling Horaceto boast that his Ars poeticawas sold on the banks of the Bosphorus.'o Lest thesefew remarks be misleading.The company of booksellers was sought after.for authenticateddocuments. papyrus paper was still for the most part reservedfor record-keepingand accounts. Pliny statesthat Varro was read in all corners of the earth. Propertius expressedsatisfactionat being read in the frigid lands of the North. Parchmentbegan to compete with papyrus in the West between the first and the fourth centuriesa.) stated that Egypt was to deliver to Rome. papyrus. in perpetuity and as a tax in kind.o.n. The Roman administration made increasinguse of papyrusunder the Empire. and Martial at having readersamong the young people and the elderly ladies of Vienne on the banks of the Rh6ne. Similarly a good number of contractsbetween private personswere drawn up on two tabletsattachedlike a diptych and then closed and sealedto avoid fraud. and men of letters often frequentedtheir shops.CnnprEn Two Once a new work had come out. hemp. and it took care to keep its administrative offices supplied: the ScripturahistoriaeAugustaetells us that a decreeof Emperor Aurelian (third century e. in Gaul. rr . New publications were publicized by postersand flyers and extractsmight even be circulated. One might well wonder whether the major merchants often used papyms. Classicalsocieties.

old parchments were washed and reused. dressedwith chalk. It was a material that could meet demand only in an era in which the use of writing was extremely limited. Parchmentwas made by taking the skins of sheep.n.and the absenceof the imperfectionsthat dotted the skins where the bulbous hair roots of the adult animal were removed. vellum was made of the skin of a stillborn or very young animal and was known for its suppleness.or calvesand first scraping them clean. removing the hairs. the technique for making parchment from skins was invented by the inhabitants of pergamum after ptolemy v Epiphanes. one inestimableadvantageof parchment was that it could be produced in the west. in order to economize.goats. Large-scale nranufacture of parchment as a replacementfor papyrus most probably began when it becameobvious that papyms production was insufficient. still. after the Arabs had taken over Egypt. had prohibited the exporrarion of papyms out of jealousy over the founding of the library of pergamum by King EumenesII (197-158 e.c. According to an ancient tradition. thus freeing Europe from the vagariesof papyrus shipments from the Middle East and decentralizingthe production of writing materials. Although lessprestigiousthan papyrus. it offered a good number of advantages:more resistant.). and it was not until 676. and rubbing them smooth with pumice. it was only a palliative. to the great delight ofpaleographers. thinness. Moreover its preparation required a certain technologicalknow-how. the king of Egypt. Although it has become fashionableto refute the somewhat whimsical calculation that one manuscript cost the lives of an entire flock of animals. which contains 792large-format leavesmeasuring roughly 560 x 390 mm). and it beganto be used soon after the appearanceof the codex.o.Txn WnrrrnN AND THE Spo. During this time a far greaterrevolution was in the making in the orient. . For a long time papyruscontinued to be usedin the East. Thus. The skins were then washed. it nonethelesstook two hundred skins to make the souvigny Bible. and the surfaceswere finished with a lime-basedwash. producing the famous palimpsestson which the older text appearsfaintly under the new. it defied time. The pontifical chancerycontinued to usepapyrusuntil the ninth century. that the Merovingian drancery gaveit up. Farchment was widely used in the early Middle Ages when communication routes with Egypt were disrupted..rnN Wono 5l From time immemorial animal skins had served to write on. This is why an edict of Diocletian(301) calledparchment membrana pergammaand St. 330-420) calledit pergamenum.private records were often written on papyrus up to the sixth century e. for the most part using Sicilian-grown stock.Jerome(a.

Here is what Jean-Marie Durand has to say about this arrangement: . Scholars have recently found shreds of paper.n.Cnaprrn Two The Chinese. a government official and director of the imperial workshops who wrote a report on the subject to the emperor-regent in e. where papyrus culture was on the decline. CnnlrrNc A TExr The way a document was presented-whether words were considered significant entities and separated from one another. Thus Cai Lun's contribution was probably to encourage the use of paper instead of silk cloth. ramie) dating from the flrst century e. and the Byzantines began to write their books on Syro-Iranian paper starting in the eighth century and their acts starting in the eleventh. Gradually Baghdad. a vernacular language that became a language of culture after the definitive triumph of the Akkadians.. Vietnam. of a substance made of vegetable fibers reduced to a pulp. Its use spread to Korea. and Syria became active centers for manufacturing and. The Arabs carried the art of papermaking into Egypt. in each one of which signs were inscribed for groups of words that together bore a message. apparently with men of the Caliph of Baghdad acting as intermediaries after they had been imprisoned by the Chinese and had learned the secrets of the fabrication of paper from their captors (early eighth century). These columns were initially divided into circled sections-"cartouches"-reading from top to bottom.o.I2 After that date the Chinese made constant improvements in paper. The first case in point is Sumerian. who normally used thin wooden boards or bamboo strips to write on. Armenia. and Japan. and then on into Morocco: there were four hundred paper mills in Fez in the twelfth century. in principle reading from right to left. exporting paper. which was a valuable commodity. Persia. silk in particular. whether texts were punctuated and broken up into sentences and paragraphs or not-allows us a better comprehension of the relations between speech and writing within any given society and over the course of history. The invention of paper-that is. 105. placed in molds or forms and then dried-is traditionally attributed to Cai Lun. Mesopotamian writing. began very early to write on textiles as well. which would put the discovery of paper back two centuries. as we have seen. It reached the Arab world. was set down in vertical columns. Thus the disciples of Mohammed had an inexhaustible supply available for the development of their culture and the extension of their administration. then throughout the Orient. on the surface of clay tablets. one of them made of various fibers (hemp.

and the cartoucheswere replaced by horizontal lines. .. particularly in the case of literary compositions.r3 The scribehad to determinethe length of his text accordingto the format of the tablet. I shall not return to hieroglyphics. arrangeshis signsin the inscribed spacenot accordingto their order of pronuriciation but accordingto a criterion of filling [the space]that could be qualified as either aesthetic or utilitarian. This rneansthat an archaic Sumerian tablet can be distinguishedfrom a later copy by its incomplete redaction.He was also freer to develop the contentsof the document that he was transcribing. from the point of view of reading. without word separationor punctuation.the moment he notes only what his spaceallows him.progressin the notation of sumerian was tied to the fact that the Sumerian language had ceasedto be the vernacular and had become the language of culture-a pattern that we will encounter repeatedly in the courseof this book. and in fact he occasionallycarried the text over onto its sides." ra conceivably. and the number of cartouches available.r5 From the time of the Middle Kingdom writing systemsless monumental than hieroglyphics-hieratic.This occurred in a period when spoken Sumerian was beginning to be forgotten.Tnr WnrrrnN AND THE SporrN Wono ij Given that the archaic cartoucherepresentsa unit of meaning. what is understoodis not a series of words but the set of signifiersthat make up [the cartouche]. one must first take on the comprehensionof the cartouchein an archaictext. the dimensionsof the tablet.but I need to add a note on Eglrytian writing systemsbefore passingon to Oriental writing. then demotic-were written to be read from right to left. the scribeswho performed that explicitation interpreteda given text in different ways.r6someonefrom western culture (unlesshe is a specialist)might find this all the more surprising because thesewere systemsfor writing rapidly. When this happened the scribewas limited only by the size of the tablet.and what he inscribed quite naturally functioned as an aid to memory that might bear more than one meaning. moving from pure ellipsis to total phonetic notation. one of which was eventually consecratedas the vulgate in the Recent era (first millennium).As Jean-MarieDurand puts it. How could such messagesbe deciphered with any sort of fluency? Oriental writing systems-Chinese and Japanese-will help answerthat . If this is accurate.This form of vwiting later lost its compartments. it is logical that the scribe. Thus one seesthat.progress in the notation of a Sumerian text went in the direction of a more and rnore thorough explicitation.

to express languagesthat are admittedly of a completely different structure from our own. Doubtless in most Phoenician epigraphic texts.Similarly. Consonantal scripts were to remain faithful to this need during their entire existence. It is also and in a certain sense a script of words since every word. once the epoch of archaic . Certain administrativedocumentshad a number of blank spacesthat undoubtedly aided comprehensionof the text. Indeed. decipheringjuridical and technical works or administrative documentsmust have been aided by acquaintancewith the stereotypedformulas they contained. with the exception of a few extremely brief particles.r7The People'sRepublic of China has adopteda horizontal layout but the Japanesecontinue to use the traditional style (although not exclusively) in published books. For a long time Chineseand Japanesetexts were not punctuatedand the end of a sentencewas not marked. in Japan completed by syllabaries. even more than Egyptian and above all more than Sumero-Akkadian.when oral teachingwas the rule. it was because the abstract nature [and] the very imprecision of that written notation necessitated the distinction of words in order to vocalize them.though.Traditionally they were aligned in vertical columns reading from right to left with no separationbetween the words. which makes the reading of classical Chinesebooks written in the traditional manner seemto us extremely arduous. If Phoenician writing.however. that for tens of centuriesthe Chinesehave practicedforms of fluent reading and ways of setting down a text that seemto us singularly primitive. readingmust have been guided by the rhythm of the phrases. is separated from the others by a vertical bar. and they do so at no cost to rapidity of reading or agility in their thought processes:quite the contrary.'8 + When we examine the oldest texts in alphabetic writing we can see that in consonantal writing systems the need to separate words for reading aloud seems to have led scribes to separate words in the written text as well. They continue to use an ideographic system. they may not have given thought to the problem.Cneprnn Two question. rigorously separated words.In the past. In principle all Chinese characters were inscribed inside an imaginary squareof uniform size. We need to remember. if you prefer. As James F6wier says in connection with Phoenician script: It is the perfect type of the consonantal script-of abstract writing. A horizontal disposition was also in early use.

We know.where most of the papyri pertinent to the questionhave beenfound. conseryedintact.. a Macedonian. takesus back to Egypt. since the copyist did not follow the metric pattern of the poem. in the last descendantof Aramaean writing. at first separatedwords in their inscriptions with a bar or one or more points.s qconomy (notably. the Greek and the Latin.c. poets.the Aramaeanswere apt to separatewords with a small space. Furthermore. The scroll. they also made Alexandria a major center of Greek thought.what is more. contains a work to be sung to cithara accompanimententitled ThePersianswritten by a certain Timotheusof Miletus (ca.c." one of the oldest known Greek manuscripts.they evenwent a good deal farther and for certain letters created special forms for final letters to wam the readerthat he was at the end of a word. this text is nonethelessnoted in scripturacontinuawith no break between words or punctuation except for a .20 The manuscripts of the great classicalGreek texts must have been presented in much the same way.. that after the death of Alexander (323 s. when writing cursively.).c. copied in a regular hand. and grammarianswith gathering together all the Hellenic masterworks. the separativesigns tended to disappear. The "Timotheus papyrus.line with the figure of a bird and a "coronis" separatingthe account of a battle and the poet'scommentary. they charged scholars. is made up of twenty-sevenlines of unequal length.The fifth colurnn.who had taken Phoenicianwriting or a systemcloseto it as their inspiration for an alphabet.and they employeda throng of copyists. The problem of textual disposition in the two alphabetsthat were the direct sourcesof our civilization. is composedof sheetsmeasuring 19 x 22 centimeters.Tsr WnrrrnN AND THE SportN Wono 5i Phoenician had passed(and in great part under the inJluence of Greek epigraphy). as if it seemedto them unnecessary.re The Greeks. They then stoppeddoing so. but they subsistedsporadicallyand we find them again in NeoPunic and especiallyin Paleo-Hebraicuntil the secondcentury s. He and his successorswere not content to develop Egypt.c..paragraph. however. The custom has persisted. In particular. Arabic. given that Arabic script is an Aramaic script.400 s. by massiveexportation of papyrus).which we can dateto the late fourth century s. found in a tomb in the Nile valley.Their .l and the division of his empire. managed to make Egypt the leading power in the easternMediterranean.men of letters. ptolemy I.It goeswithout sayingthat the work showsno trace of either breathingsor accents.

Similarly. most of the voluminameasured25 centimetersby some7 to l0 metersin length.Finally. When the soldiersof Emperor Aurelian burned the library of the Museum in *o.800.CneprEn Two palacelibrary contained some490.D. but the texts that survived in copiesmade from original manuscripts in Alexandria and in Pergamum. which could not be stored in infinite quantities. Diacriticalshelped the reader to separatesentencesand paragraphsand to pronounce and accentuatewords correctly.2' At the sametime. Division into books and chapters. the most famous works were accompaniedby explanatory scholia. Thus breathings and accents arose. Standardizationprimarily concernedthe dimensionsand the contentsof the scrolls.22 Thus the basisfor ancient punctuation. which means they could contain relatively extensivetexts. Beginning in the first century A. a point on the line between letters at mid-height or on a level with the tops of letters sometimesseparatedphrasesand indicated paragraphbreaks. iambic trimeter. The lines normally contained a limited number of full characters-in poetry one line of epic hexameter. The two points that initially signaledthe end of a sentence later showed a changeof speakerin a dialogue. Relativelyshort lines made it easierto graspthe text by eye or to read it aloud.Furthermore.000 scrollsand the library of the Serapeum 42. as far as it went. 273 a good many masterworkswere lost.Only very occasionallydramatic dialogue used abbreviationsto show who was speaking. a horizontal line under the lettersbeginning a line servedvery early to indicate the end ofa sentenceor a paragraphand the beginning ofa new paragraph. The texts were usually written in scripturacontinua. grammariansand copyiststook on the enormous task of text revision.Finally. a trend toward standardizationinfluenced by the text editors in the library of Alexandria led to the appearanceof a certain number of diacritical marks. These ancient books were generally written in particularly clear and elegant charactersthe quality and size of which depended on how much the scribe was paid. Although an occasionallover of letters might order a copy made with large margins on a scroll 40 centimeterswide or a "dwarf" barely 5 centimeterswide. they were largely responsiblefor the modifications discernible on the papyri that have come down to us.not originally practiced. or dramatic declamatoryverse. was essentially .give witness to an immense effort of standardizationand revision. in prose usually twenty to thirty lettersper line.beganto appear.whose rulers had similar policies.

The problem of Latin punctuation is infinitely complex and still not well understood.comma. In a famous passagefrom his prefaceto the text of Isaiah. who both wrote in prose not in verse. a brief. punctuation was not unknown. unlike modern punctuation (in German in particular).o. The punctuation mark par excellencewas for them the period or point (punctusl.periodos. in metrics. who differentiatedamong the "distinction" (a dot on a level with the letters). but it was never given any great importance. or a break in metrical texts.23 It is also important to know how Latin understood the Greek words colon. The term seemsto refer to breaking the text up into brief phrasescontaining a complete idea that can easily be graspedby the eye. Tlnecolondesignateda part of a phrasecomplete in all its grammatical parts and. a particular sort of pause.and. If we can give credence to the inscriptions and the few Latin papyri available to us. however (JeanVezin). more exactly. the Latins separatedwords by dots up to the second or third centuriese. . he saysthat he had borrowed "the practice of Demosthenesand Cicero. of transcribing their texts per cola et commatafor the convenienceof readers. although at a very early date the jurists adoptedsystemsof reference.Thus copyiststranscribing a literary text did little more than guide reading by settingoff divisions in the discourseby a changeof line and by writing the flrst letters of the new paragraph into the left-hand margin. We know lessabout how the classicalLatin manuscriptswere redacted. perhapsat one glance.. where punctuation reflectslogical analysis.Tnn WnrrreN AND THE SporBw Wono 57 rhetorical. although ancient grarnmarians elaborateda slmtax of words."The meaning of "per cola et commata" is not easy to define. a part of a strophe with the proper number of feet.while the distinctiodesignateda pauseor. complete clausein prose. A pause for rhetorical reasonswas often rnarked by a blank spacewithin a line.I cannot go into it further here exceptto recall that st. Jerome worked out a particularly painstaking systemof punctuation to facilitate the reading of sacredtexts for friars with relatively little instruction.In reality. outside the vertical justification of the text. The commadesignatedan incised phrase.Among Latin grammariansand theoreticians these terms seemto designateparts of the sentencerather than punctuation marks. Theseterms were first applied to forms of punctuation by Donatus (fourth century). after which scripturacontinuacame into generaluse. the appearanceof a syntax of propositions had to wait for the labors of the medieval grammarians and the eventual accomplishmentsof the grammarians of port-Royal-another proof of the importance of the art of oratory in antiquity.

s also seemsto have referred to a layout of the text analogousto that of verse. St. The text was written on it in parallel columns of between l5 and J0 charactersto the line. and the "middle distinction' (at the midpoint of the letters).the "subdistinction" (a dot by the base of the letters). As a generalrule. who kindly gave me a note on the subject.were presentedin ways that highlighted the composition of the oratorical phrase and that resembledthe layout of certain poetic texts in distichsor triplets with the first line set in or out from the margin in relation to the others. Donatus' works were widely consultedand commented.beginning with the liber archetypus. but it seemsthat certain texts. Composition in coliset commatibu. Still. the umbilicu.2a We need to turn to how a manuscript was constituted and presentedto the reader. it was some 6 to 8 meters long.thus with readingaloud.s. we must hope that Pascale Bourgain.the librarius. the papyri that have come down to us show that many texts of the first centuriesof the Common Era were not punctuated.and we can supposethat he punctuated in the fashion of his times by placing dots at various distancesfrom the baseline. which meansthat it was based on oratory more than on meaning. which made "pages" of from 300 to .will soon enlighten us with a study on the conceptsof Latin grammarians.Next he smoothed the two edgesof the rolled scroll with a pumice stone. The librariusfirst wrote his fair copy of the text on separatesheets. This sort of manuscript was written by a highly specializedslave. He then made a title slip (titulusl by writing the name of the author and the title of the work on a band of fine parchment (membranulaland attachedit to the scroll. Jeromewas a pupil of Donatus.in particular by Serviusand Diomedes. the two ends of painted. like its Greek counterpart.oiled their backsto protect them againstmites and mildew. and glued them end to end to form a volumen. then he attached tlre first and last sheetsto a cylindrical stick.and two ways to mark lesser pauses.It is extremely difficult to ascertainexactly what that layout was. particularly those for use in the schools. It was his task to carry out the physical redaction of the work and deviseits pagelayout.and decoratedwith ivory disks (cornua\. which had been blackened. For the rest. for whose servicesthere was keen competition and who might on occasionbe lent to a friend.Cneprnn Two which marked a stop at the end of a sentence. Finally he placed the scroll in a parchment envelope or wrapping that he colored purple. the author's manuscript on the basis of which (in principle) other direct copieswere made. each column being 25 to 45 lines long. The Latin volumenwas thus a precious object.This form of punctuation was linked with breathing.

however. The first trace of the codex comes from six epigrams of Martial (40103 a.25 This sort of scroll was meant to be unrolled as the reader passedfrom one set of columns to the other. and Martial himself. according to Jean Mallon. One might think that from the outsetall codiceswere made of parchment. They also preferred parchment. Cicero.that .Christians preferredthe new form.and can be held in one hand.500 charactersor a printed page of the presentwork of some 3. for preservingtheir sacredtexts and the writings of their doctors becauseit made the works easierto consult.as comparedwith today'stypewritten pageof somewhatmore than 1. the oldestcodicesin our librariesusually chosethe most compact form possible.This means that each volumencontained a text notably shorter than that of a slim book today. use papyrus as well.but the oldestof them (admittedly.o. can be used conveniently on a voyage. the oldest codicesdate from the third and fourth centuries. Heirs to ancient traditions.It was only during the Carolingian Renaissance.26 The effectsof this revolution were felt only in the long term. Pliny is credited with having first thought to place something like a table of contents.) written." Should the readercareto return to a previouspassageor jump ahead to a later one.350 signs. hence reading was necessarily"continuous. Consulting a specific passagewas made even more complicatedbecausethere was no table of contents and no index.He Stresses that thesenew books do not encumberlibraries. written on a special scroll. a The appearanceof the codex-the work presentedon pageswritten on both sidesrather than on one side of a continuous scroll-was undoubtedly the most important revolution in the book in the Common Era.000 characters(including the spacesthat do not exist in a manuscripttext written in scripturacontinual.which he conceivedas an encyclopedicwork. Rare exceptionsaside.We can thus supposethat the traditional public remained faithful to the elegant volumen. Livy. when Latin had ceasedto be considereda current spoken language. to serveas labels for six codices distributed by lottery and containing the works of Homer. he had the irritating task of manipulating this elegant and somewhat fragile object. which was more resistantand durable than papyrus paper. The poet expressesadmiration that such immense works could be enclosedin such a reduced space. at the head of the volumes of his Natural History.TnB WnrrrrN AND THE Sporrx Wonp 59 1. His wonder seemsto indicate that they were then a novelty. Virgil. Ovid. found in Egypt).

they take notes facing a sovereign or. The history of writing helps us to understand both the relationship between the scriptor and the text and the diachronic evolution of the morphology of signs. writing either on a hand-held tablet or on a papyrus spread out on their thigh. Furthermore it took a long process of development and the advent of another renaissance. a high functionary or an accountant. on a somewhat humbler plane. In Mesopotamia they are represented holding a tablet. but it was used only for taking dictation. First the scribes. Usually standing. Bas-reliefs.'z? A bas-relief from Ostia shows two scribes taking dictation from a third scribe. Is this simply an exception? In any event a number of illuminations before the thirteenth century show authors writing on a tablet resting on their knees. a fourteenth-century statue from Verona (now in London) shows a person seated taking notes on a board placed in front of him and connected to the back of his chair by two movable arms. all three of them seated before low tables on which waxed tablets are piled up.28 The calligraphers and illuminators who worked on valuable manuscripts were probably never satisfied with such incommodious installations. the other knee up. Still it is clear that the desk. We can also see Egyptian scribes crouching to write on a papyrus or a leather scroll spread out on their knees. and statuettes show them at work. or a leather scroll in one hand and a reed or a stylus in the other. before each word was represented as a separate entity on the written page. that of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Finally. The position is singularly uncomfortable. paintings. WnrrrNc It should hardly be necessary to recall that the art of writing requires physical operations in which the hand must respond automatically to commands given by the brain after the brain has accomplished a particularly complex set of analyses. or sitting on one leg. a papyrus. Hence the innumerable complaints from copyists that such work tires the entire body. This is proof that writing practices that we take for granted resulted from a process of perfecting physical techniques that took several civilizations and innumerable genera- . as we know it. was not cornmonly used until around the thirteenth century.Cneprrn Two the copyists attempted to reproduce texts more correctly and to insert punctuation into them. One statue in the royal portal of Chartres Cathedral (twelfth century) gives a singularly precise portrait of a scribe tracing letters on a portable desk posed on his knees.

For a long time. that emanatedfrom the great chanceries. When our immediate ancestorsthought of the Roman alphabet they had in mind tlle capital letters that they could see on the facadesof monuments that still stood beforethem.Theseare essential matters that most historians unfamiliar with paleographictechniques carefully avoid and leave to a handful of specialistswhose work they seldom know.Today'sspecialists have quite other preoccupations. graffiti. Latin manuscripts-rare exceptionsaside-have been lost. . This may perhaps have been the most urgent task at hand. There are even fewer Latin manuscriptson papyrusthan Greekmanuscripts. Thesetechniques(and here we must focus on WesternEurope or be Iost among generalizations)produced Latin writing. the paleographerswho studied Greek and Latin writing were primarily interestedin classification. after the Common Era. in all societiesof the manuscript. Furthermore. Becausepapyrus paper was an extremely fragile material.to which we can add. ostraca. stylesdiffered according to milieu and the sort of text they noted.Tns WnrrrrN AND THE SporsN Wono 6l tions.They are awarethat writing is in constant evolution and that changesdependedupon three things: the writing instrumentutilized and the sizeof its tip. We need to begin by noting that there are gaps in the history of Latin writing. and the order in which marks were made on the sheet.2e The paleographer'stask is far from easybecausewriting is never consistent in any one epoch or region. The result is a broad variety of recognizablemodels all of which reflect their civilization and require an extremely complex processof decipherment. and notes taken on waxed tablets. If there is a problem regardingsourcesthere is alsoa problem of method.and there are usually cursivehands in constant evolution that may someday becomecanonizedand provide a model that will be distorted irr its turn.which is called the ductus. There are formal hands. the writing material and its position in relation to the writer. shredsof papyrus and scrapsof parchment.This meansthat the history of Latin writing must depend upon inscriptions on stone. Next-as always-they attempted to justify their nomenclature by defining the graphic properties correspondingto each name. but they tended to forget that a writing style is an ongoing creation on the part of living beings. the canonized legacy of past traditions and habits. This continued to be true up to the triumph of Christianity and the barbarian invasionsor until the fourth and especiallythe fifth centuries.so they strove to name (or to "label") each variety that they thought they had isolated.

Cnlprrn

Two

'
fpt/(/rrilt[ tN(, u]rlrr,]r,rr\.rr(
] rrxI vL
Fig. I. Cursive Latin. Pompeii, graffito, immediately prior to 80 s.c.: veicinei, incendi a, p ar ticipantur.

Fig.2. CursiveLatin.Pompeii,graffito,ca. 60 e.o.: amorisignes,si sentieres
.
(Figs.f and2 takenfrom Marichal,"L'€criturelatine,"2O5).
The relevanthypothesesare alwaysfragile and regularly challenged.The
terrain is mined, but let us advanceinto it. The first documents that we
have in Latin scripts are inscriptions.Their capital letters are easyto decipher, but for a long time they seem cold, as if a peasant'slanguage was
producing a peasant'swriting. The influence of the highly refined style of
the Greek stone-engraverswas felt only centudes later, and Latin letters
gravenin stonewere not habitually given serifsuntil the first century.After
all, Cicero makes a point of being unaware of the work of Hellenic artists.
Moreover, we do not know at what point the Romans were sufficiently
familiar with writing to use (or have their slavesuse) a cursive hand.
Waxed tabletsfound in Pompeii and written by professionalsbear tracesof
letters that still correspondedto archaic traditions, but graffiti from that
samecity show that the Latins made extraordinary advancesbetween 80
and 30 n.c., passingfrom a stiff and fairly rudimentary cursiveto a supple,
broad,and elegantone (figs. I and 2).
Urbanitasreplaced rusticitasin a societyin which knowledge of writing,
as RobertMarichal points out, was indispensableto the citizen.3o
The still heterogeneousmaterials available in the period nonetheless
show that Greek and Latin writing was singularly homogeneousthroughout the empire from the North Seato the Saharaand from the Euphrates

TnB WnrrrnN AND THE Sporsl.r Wono

6j

to Spain in any one epoch. If the documents(for the most part from military sources)are to be believed, this is striking proof of the intensity of
exchangesand communicationsthroughout this vast space.It also shows
the coherenceand force of penetration of a culture that managedto persuade the majority of the Gauls to forsake their language in only a few
centuriesand that taught their Gallic elite not only the languageof their
Latin conquerorsbut also their written culture.
Writing evolvednonetheless.I shall limit myself to a rapid review of the
theories of Jean Mallon, which specialistsuse as a basis for discussion.
Mallon gave final expressionto his long study of the question in a film of
a high degreeof scholarly rigor, Ductus,ou la formation de l'alphabetmoderne,presentedfor the first time in 1976.In this film Mallon used the
medium of the cinema to trace the execution of graphic strokes and to
show how their long-term evolution slowed or accelerated.Emmanuel
Poulle,professorof paleographyat the EcoledesChartes,summarizesMallon's conclusions:
One can seehow, as if in a logical progression,the dominant
horizontality of writing, which leadslettersto open towards the
right and tip toward the left, transformed painstaking calligraphy [1critured main posde]into a cursivescript called "classical
common writing," then how, in the secondcentury changesin
the technical conditions of the act of writing led to a shift of the
angle of the thick strokesthat, applied to cursive scripts, created
a new common writing. As this change was taking place, the
most famous specimensof writing that antiquity has left to us
paradebefore our eyesin all their graphic diversity: the Epitome
of tivy and the De bellis macedonicis,that "miserable scrap of
parchment" of a few square centimetersthat is both the most
ancient evidence of the codex and the essentialevidenceof a
graphic situation from which the new writing was to spring.3r
We can see how a primordial manner of writing made of carefully
formed capital letters, now lost, could have served(and accordingto Jean
Mallon did serve)as a model for both a more conservative,formal writing
that emphasizedthick strokesand thin strokesand was used in books and
official acts, and the old cursive script (the "classical common writing"
mentioned above), which was smaller, lighter, and more cursive (fig. 3).
This script was characterizedby a systematicelongationupward and toward the left of oblique strokesdrawn from left to right. Particularlyvisible
in the letter A, this form of negligencebecamean eleganceand a stylization

Cneprnn Two

l

AD

\-__--l

2
Fig. 3. The effectsof ductus:changesin the capital B (taken from Mallon, Paldographieromaine,)41.

and was even introduced into epigraphy. It reflects the somewhat Baroque
aesthetic of elegant circles in imperial Rome in the time of Tiberius or Nero:
Thus, as Robert Marichal points out, it is mistaken to call it "rustic" (rustical; to the contrary itis urbanissima.32
In the third century however, a new graphic t1rye developed, doubtless
as a result of a series of transformations that had begun as early as the first
century (new common script; Mallon's //common writing"). Through the
centuries it replaced the older script ("classical common writing") to which
it bore no relation. Comparison of sketches of the same word, praefectus,
written in the two "common" scripts clearly shows how different they
were (figs.4 and 5).
The new writing style may perhaps have resulted chiefly from a change
in the angle of writing in which the sheet came to be tilted toward the left,
as the orientation of the thick strokes seems to show. This change in angle
brought on a change in the ductu.sof the letters, certain of which came to
look quite modern, but it also resulted in more vertical stems, some of

Tnr WnrrrnN AND rHE SporrN Wono

65

yWn
fY,ary
Fig. 4. Praefeaus,classicalcommon writing, first century.

Fig. 5. Praefectus,
new common
vwiting, fourth century (figs. 4
and 5 taken from Poulle, "Une
histoire de l'6criture," 144).

which now had ascendersand descendersstretchingmore decidedlyabove
and below the body of the letters.This characteristicled some scholarsto
call this hand a primitive minuscule, a notion that Jean Mallon contests,
arguing (rightly) that many other hands also show the characteristicsof
minuscule.3r
Be that as it may, nothing is ever immutable where writing is concerned,
and the appearanceof the new cursivescript was only a stagein a complex
history. Emmanuel Poulle tells us why:
During the last centuriesof the Empire and in the barbarian era
the subtleinterplay, on the one hand of distortionslinked to the
action of cursivity, which developedcertain morphological elements exaggeratedly(to the point of caricature) and, on the
other hand, of stylizedcanonizationsof those distortionsaswell
as reciprocal influences that operated among the various
branchesissuingfrom the sametrunk-the new common writing-led to the appearanceof that masterpieceof medievalcalligraphy that was Carolingian minuscule.ra
The importance of the appearanceof minuscule can hardly be emphasizedtoo much. RobertMarichal explains:
In relation to the capital the minuscule is an absoluteadvance:
it is much more readable.Legibility is not something relative:
oculists [and] type-font designershave drawn objectivelaws of
legibility from the mechanismof reading and a comparison of
different type styles, and the primitive minuscule conforms to
[those laws] much better than the capital. Certain characters
have shafts that rise above or descendbelow the body of the
letters; each word has a silhouette of its own. The top portion

Cneprrn Two
of the body of each letter is more differentiated from the other
letters than with capitals; the eye can recognize them more
easily when it follows the upper part of the line, as is the case
in rapid reading.3s

It is surely not a coincidencethat this graphic mutation began with the
successof the codex at the time of the third-century crisis that resulted in
enormous changesin the Roman world in the reign of Diocletian. It was a
time when classicalLatin itself was undergoing profound changes and
when Christianity,increasinglywidespreadin the West,adoptedLatin over
Greek as its liturgical language. Compared with radical change of such
scopethe evolution of a few pen strokeswould certainly not have merited
more than passing mention here if this shift in long-standing habits of
hand, eye, and the mind did not reflect profound transformationsin Roman society.
Still, under the Empire there were nearly infinite variations in writing
styles in the Latin world. Not only did cursive hands change but more
solemn and calligraphic stylesdevelopedas well. Where books were concernedthesestyleswere the various forms of rustic script or squarecapitals
that derived from the graphic systemof the first century and continued to
be used for copying manuscriptsat leastuntil the sixth century.The uncial
and the half-uncial, an almost perfect "minuscule," accompaniedthe new
cursive script. Finally, although the old cursive script (the "classicalcommon writing") disappearedlittle by little. the imperial Roman chancery,
which was just as conservativeas all great chanceries,continued unperturbed to write in a stylized "celestial" version of the old script whose
calligraphy was elongatedout of all measure.The emperorsValentinian II
and Valenswarned their proconsulin Africa not to allow his administrators
to counterfeit this version (e.o. 367). This made for great variety, a phenomenon that we shall encounter again.
This apparent diversity should not mask an essentialfact first noted by
Emmanuel Poulle that concernsa break in the wav the letters were executed in all writing styles:
Throughout this history of Latin writing, from the first monuments that we can interrogateup to Carolingianminuscule and
even much later, until the fourteenth century one thing remains constant: the fragmented execution of each letter. This
was a major fact of civilization, even if it appearsclearly only in
a cursiveor negligenthand, and it alone can explain the dependent relationsthat were establishedbetweena given form in the

Tnn WnrrrsN AND rHE SporsN Wonp

67

original capital alphabetand the correspondingand apparently
aberrant form in the cursive alphabet, as Mallon has demonstratedin a now classicarticle on the letter B. This fragmentation persistedin the hands that Mallon called "linked" lli6esl,a
term one can acceptonly if we acknowledgethat such hands
respecteda necessarilyfragmentedexecutionof eachletter. The
combination of two contingencies at first sight contradictory-on the one hand a morphological definition accordingto
which eachletter must be executedin two or three strokesand,
on fhe other hand, the economy of the graphic gesturethat encouragesthe hand to reduce the number of times it raisesthe
pen-this combination, I say,producesthe characteristicphenomenon of ligaturesfrom head to foot, a systemin which the
last part of a letter is linked to the first part of the following
letter while the two parts of the secondare separatedby a similar connection. There is something impressivein noting that
eight centurieslater the samecausesproduce the sameeffects:
between the cursive but fragmented ligatures characteristicof
the group [of letters] "test" as found in a testamenton papyrus
of the sixth century and in a diocesan legal document fune
charted'fficialitel of the thirteenth century there is a remarkable
identity of structure that testifies,above and beyond appearances,to the continuity of graphic gesturesduring more than a
millennium.16
Ways

oF WRrrrNG AND RnaorNc

All these matters pose the essentialproblem of the relationship between
the written and the spoken word in ancient societies,notably among the
Greeksand the Romans.
We can draw one clear conclusion: the texts discussedthus far-those
redactedin alphabeticalscriptsbut probably those in ideographicsystems
as well-were meant to be read aloud. The "tool words,' that are so numerous in Greek and Latin were all the more precious becausethey permitted the readerto mark progressfrom one proposition to another.Above
all, the rhythm observedin the arrangementof short and long syllables
marked the articulation of the period, notably in Latin. Later, the accent
indicating higher pitch rather than quantity played a comparable role.
Latin sourcesfurnish innumerable proofs of reading aloud in this manner.
This is why the scholarJosephBalogh, in an article written in 1926, could
gatherpassagesfrom such authors as Lucian, Suetonius,Horace,and Ovid
that attest to silent reading being consideredunusual at the time.37The

CHeprrn Two

most explicit text is from St. Augustine. Speaking of St. Ambrose in the
(6.3) he says:
Confessions
When he was reading, his eyes ran over the page and his heart
perceived the sense, but his voice and tongue were silent. He
did not restrict accessto anyone coming in, nor was it customary even for a visitor to be announced. Very often when we
were there, we saw him silently reading and never otherwise.
After sitting for a long time in silence (for who would dare to
burden him in such intent concentration?) we used to go away.
We supposed that in the brief time he could find for his mind's
refreshment, free from the hubbub of other people's troubles,
he would not want to be invited to consider another problem.
We wondered if he read silently perhaps to protect himself in
case he had a hearer interested and intent on the matter, to
whom he might have to expound the text being read if it contained difficulties, or who might wish to debate some difficult
questions. If his time were used up in that way, he would get
through fewer books than he wished. Besides, the need to preserve his voice, which used easily to become hoarse, could have
been a very fair reason for silent reading. Whatever motive he
had for his habit, this man had a good reason for what he did.
(Trans. Henry Chadwick, l99l)
The texts that Joseph Balogh and his followers presented prompted polemics that have recently been revived. Various interpretations might be
put on these texts or other passages cited-from
Horace, for exampleto attest that silent reading was practiced in antiquity. For Armando Petrucci, to cite one dissenting voice, highly varied forms of reading existed
at that time:
In reality, as everyone knows, the custom of tacite legere was
already known in the ancient world (Horace Satires2.5.68)., and
where the early Middle Ages are concerned the situation is a
good deal more complex than it seems at first sight. It is in fact
possible to distinguish three techniques of reading that were
widely diffused and consciously used for different purposes: silent reading, in silentio;reading in a low voice called "murmur"
or "rumination," which aided meditation and served as a tool
for memorization; finally, vocalized reading that, as in antiquity,
demanded a particular technique and was quite similar to the
practice of liturgical recitation or chant.38

Tnr WnrrrrN

AND THE Spor<Er.iWono

69

Each of thesetechniquescorrespondedto a precisefunction, but beyond
a doubt the practice of.suiptura continuawas connectedwith a concept of
reading aimed primarily at the declamation of literary texts-a concept
quite evidently linked with teaching methods. Henri-Ir6n6e Marrou, the
author of a classicwork on education in ancient Greeceand Rome. is of
help here.3e
With the democratization of Hellenic society came a corresponding
growth of schools for free boys and girls. we know about the methods
elaborated in these schools, which were used throughout the Hellenic
world and taken up by the Romans,thanks to documentsfound in Egypt.
The schoolmastersof the time practiced a strictly analytic pedagogy,in
appearanceperfectly logical, that was praisedby authors as late as St. Augustine and st. Ambrose. Pupils first recited by heart the names of the
letters in order-an exercisewith added significancebecausethe letters
servedas.symbolsfor cosmic elements.once this vocabulary was assimilated the children passedon to recognitionof the correspondingsigns,then
of syllablesof two and three letters,where they had to name the characters
beforepronouncing the resulting combination.Next they worked on words
of two syllables,then on longer words. Rare and complicatedterms were
preferredbecausethey added to the challenge.Then they moved without
transition from reading phrasesor short texts to reading selections(also
committed to memory) from recognizedauthors such as Homer and Euripides. unlike later schoolchildrenin the christian west, they also learned
to write on waxed or unwaxed wooden tablets.They alsopracticedmanual
comput-that is, they did simple calculationswith their fingers or with tokens-and they had to be able to write numbers and fractions.
Henri-Ir€n6e Marrou calls this pedagogysurnmary and brutal, and in
many ways it resemblesthe methods in practice until recently in certain
countries of the Middle East or North Africa. Indeed, it required the child
to remain passiveand it seemsto have relied exclusivelyon fear and emulation for motivation. The method offeredlittle enrichment, and it is hardly
surprising that pupils progressedvery slowly or thar their real education
took place elsewherein the many contactsthat daily life provided in the
ancient city. At least when young Romans got out of school they could
write their names, inscribe the names of electoral candidates,decipher a
practicaltext, and do simple sums.
Many did not stop with elementary schooling and went on to take lessons from a grammarian. whatever the limits of ancient grammar, after
such training the pupil could analyze the structure of discourseand rec-

Cneprnn Two

ogrize correct forms, for example, of verb tenses.Thus at a relatively advanced age he was equipped to manipulate the language.As a practical
exerciseand an initiation to traditional culture he had to study the works
of the great classicalauthors. This could prove a delicate operation as the
language and vocabulary of such authors were antiquated or specialized
(particularly in poetry), but having to comparetwo levelsof languagemust
necessarilyhave sharpenedhis senseof precision and broadenedhis field
of knowledge.
One specificexerciseseemsto have been the end-point of all these labors: an "expressivereading" of texts that were also committed to memory.
All the documentsagreeto show that the traditional ways in which texts
were written made careful preparation for this sort of reading imperative.
Papyri have even been found in Egpryton which the student separated
words to show accentuationand broke them into syllablesto aid in scansion. When we add that the third part of ancient education was basedon
the study of rhetoric, we must admit that, at the time, writing was conceivedas a simple meansfor fixing and memorizing spoken discourseand
that the higher goal of all instruction was initiation to the art of eloquence
in a societydominated by the prestigeof the orator.
Theseattitudeshad consequencesof enormous importance for the intellectual realm, first concerning the way literary works were composed.If
we rememberthat the art of writing, fine writing as well as speed-writing,
was the specialtyof slavesor freedmen,we might wonder to what extent
Latin authors, among whom dictareat times seemssynonymouswith composition, practiced a form of oral composition. In fact the notables of ancient Rome (like executivestoday) dictatedofficial notes,memoirs,reports,
and letters; Caesar,like Napoleonlater, kept severalsecretariesoccupiedat
once. Since signatureswere not known, men of that rank often added a
short note in their own hand at the end of a missive (Cicero'sValel.They
wrote confidential texts and personalletters in their own hand.
Still, this was hardly the epoch of Balzacor Proust.Pliny tells us that he
worked late into the night becausehe neededdarknessand silencein order
to concentrate.He composedhis text mentally, memorizedit, and dictated
it the following morning. He was of course acting just like intellectuals
today who prefer to "sleep on" a problem or reflect on it overnight in the
thought that "the night brings counsel." Pliny undoubtedly memorizednot
only his text but also the rhythms and cadencesthat he wanted to give to
his text. Yet the same Pliny took along tablets and styli when he went
hunting and put them to use during long waits by the nets while the beat-

Tnn WnrrrsN AND rHE SporrN Wono

7T

ers were flushing the game. Virgil speht his mornings meditating on the
versesthat he later dictated to his secretary.He then took them back and
correctedand organizedthem during the courseof the day,probably working alone. Horacerecommendsfrequent use of the blunt end of the stylus
to rub out what one hasjust written lSatiresl.IO.74-751.
Cicero declares(De oratoreI.33.f 50-53) that a carefully meditated
speechwas still inferior to a written composition that was the fruit of assiduous labor. He adds that thoughts and brilliant expressionsflow spontaneously to the tip of the stylus. Quintilian declaredhimself opposedto
dictation.
All in all Latin authorswho composedworks to be spokenwere certainly
inconvenienced in certain phases of their work by the fact that it is extremely difficult to declaim a text as one is writing it. They seemnormally
to have begun by taking notes (notare, adnotarel.Next they drew up a
detailed outline or a first draft (formare).Then they dictated the text, paying special attention to its rhythms and periods. Finally they reread and
correctedthe final version (emendarel.
The importance of the art of oratory in Rome-and of these methods of
compositionand reading-reflects the placethat rhetoric occupiedin Latin
discourse.One result is that in spite of the adageres,non verba,Latin spoken discoursetended to be verbose."Another is that Romans paid little
attention to the material organizationof a manuscript into phrases,paragraphs,and chapters,or to following an outline or presentingthe text so
that its divisions were obvious at a glance. Consequentlycertain works
seem to us negligent and poorly organized.It undoubtedly bothered the
Romanslessthan it doesus that Cicero'sDeoratoreis a patchwork of separate and disparatetexts. Even though Seneca'sworks are constructedaccording to strict and scholarlyrules they nonethelessseemto us somewhat
scattered;and, as Henri-Irdn€e Marrou has demonstrated,themes and
ideas are mingled in St. Augustine.The developmentof a topic was interrupted before the limits of the reader'sattention span were reached,and
the topic was picked up again later. Incidental materials and digressions
were inserted to amuse the listener. There were innumerable repetitions,
but they were not the result of negligence; rather, they reminded the
reader-listener,who often read the scroll one sequenceat a time, of what
was essential,and they lessenedhis tendencyto be distracted.
Thesemethodswere bound to influence the ways that classicalantiquity
rememberedand reasoned.In order to get a closergrasp of theseways of
thinking we need first to examine the various stylesof reading aloud. In a

72

Cnaprnn Two

society in which writing was used in the most ordinary daily occurrences
there must have been many men who could read faster than their lips
could move when they were reading something relating to specific matters
in a familiar context-posters, business letters, simple corresponoence, or
contracts and official or juridical acts in which repetition and stereotyped
formulas aided comprehension of the message. Truly cultivated people
seem to have been able to read literary works in a genuinely cursive manner. Martial tells us, for example, that the most studious men carried a
book in a string bag when they went hunting; pliny states that Minerva
could be encountered in the woods just as easily as Diana; Horace took
reading matter to his country house. Catullus did the same when he went
to Verona, and booksellers made copies of works that could be read on
voyages.
Still, there is much that we do not know. Were these men reading or
rereading? We should also remember that the rhythm of the phrases
guided reading and contributed much to the pleasure of the reader-listener,
and we know that physicians in antiquity recommended to their patients
who needed exercise that they read, just as they recommended walking,
running, or playing ball games. This proves that at the time reading implied an involvement of the entire body, which helps to explain why
Greeks and Romans so often had texts read to them by a special servant.
Notables listened to poetry recitations during banquets, and in certain periods they went to hear an author or a lecturer read some new literary
work at recitationespublicae that somewhat resembled the literary c1nacles
of nineteenth-century France. This fashion, which spread first under claudius and Nero and again under Domitian, occurred in an age when the
orator no longer played an important role in the city and when authors
addressed a public more restricted than the entire citizen body. Nonetheless, we have to admire the culture and the attention span of men capable
of appreciating on simple hearing the refinement and the subtlety of works
as dense and allusive as those of Tacitus.
It is difncult to measure the effects of the barbarian invasions on reading.
According to Armando Petrucci, copyists were recruited among the lessgifted monks, and the little care that they took to facilitate the task of their
readers shows that such copies were made above all in order to conserve
the work. Still, people continued to read aloud. The christians'respect for
sacred texts led them to intone as they read, maintaining a predetermined
and regular rhythm. As Father Jean Leclercq says:

Tnr WnrrrrN AND THE Sporrr

Wono

7J

With regard to literature, a fundamental observationmust be
made here; in the Middle Ages, as in antiquity, they read usually, not as today, principally with the eyes,but with the lips,
pronouncing what they saw, and with the ears, listening to the
words pronounced, hearing what is called the "voices of the
pages."It is a real acousticalreading; legererneansat the same
time audire. . . . No doubt, silent reading, or reading in a low
voice,was not unknown; in that caseit is designatedby expressionslike those of St. Benedict: tacitelegereor legeresibi.
Leclercqconcludes:
This resultsin more than a visual memory of the written words.
What results is a muscular memory of the words pronounced
and an aural memory of the words heard. . . . This repeated
mastication of the divine words is sometimesdescribedby the
use of the theme of spiritual nutrition.4
Becauseboth the act of writing and the act of reading obligatedpeople
to subjecttheir actionsto the operationsof thought in an endlesstwo-way
exchange,they long found it difficult (for a number of reasons)to grasp
that a written text could be independentof speech.Their auditive memory
was more highly developedthan our ovrm,and often it was aided by the
rhythm of setformulas that facilitatedretention of what was read or heard.
To what extent did the practicesand attitudes of the ancient Greeksand
Romans resemblethose still current in the East, particularly among the
Arabs, who in so many respectswere the heirs of ancient culture? The
Arabsuseda consonantalscript that separatedwords but did not punctuate
or indicate capital letters. This form of writing correspondedto a highly
rhythmic form of reading aloud accompaniedby body movement. The
Arabs had an astonishingcapacityto memorizeand to learn by aural repetition, but they found it difficult to take notes during lessons and indeed
notes were normally dictated. Like the ancient Greeksand Romans, the
Arabs were highly skilled in rhetoric, but by the sametoken the development of their critical spirit was hampered.This may explain why even today in the Arab world there are periodic demands for a reform of their
graphic system.

and . Tnr WnruNG oF THE LAw: Cusrou AND LAw Very early in history writing served to remind people of the debts and obligationsthat they contractedwith one another. breaking it as a sign of dispossession. In traditional societiesthe juridical act-in classicalLatin the negotium or manifestation of a will implying an intent to create. a redistribution of tasks.A comparable ritual occurred in the west among certain barbarian peoplesof the early Middle Ages. In Mesopotamia.{a.by processesthat we need to examine.however. but their druids refusedto use it to set downthus to divulge-the secretsof their religion. The history of proof in contractual matters illustrates the changesin ways of thinking that this processbrought. It can happen that writing is introduced into suchmilieus for preciseand limited ends. their legends. and eventually the rise of new forms of logic. Still the appearanceof writing was usually connectedwith changesin which tribes and clansmergedinto a larger whole and developedan urban civilization. The Gauls used Greek writing to keep the accountsof their cities or to draw up lists.interfering with traditional mechanisms. or do away with rights or promises-was expressedby somesolemn act.transform.witnessesdie.ep SpeechandLetters I ll societiesof the oral tradition have their laws.poets. someonewho sold a plot of land would transfer a lump of dirt to the buyer or throw a lump of dirt to the ground.gu. but a written text remains.Moreover many contractshad clauseswith specificsthat were important to remem74 . usually by symbolic gesturesand words exchangedunder the eyes of the gods who guaranteedthe operation and in the presenceof witnesseswho would keep it in memory. their myths. and other guardiansof collective memory who are inspired by the breath of the divine spirit. shamans. The radical changessetin motion in this manner were felt only gradually. The safeguardingof these things is entrusted to leaders who render justice and to specialists-priests. the new systemof communication was imposedin all domains.' Spokenwords pass. for example. When this happened.This in turn led to a break with the past.

which even predatedwriting and was charged with a symbolic force closely associatedwith the name and the personof its owner. To satisfythesetwo conditions the Mesopotamiandebtor recognizedthe obligation that he had contractedby placing a personalmark (asif he were abandoninga part of his person) on the damp clay of the tablet-a fingerprint.SpEncn aNo Lrrtrns ber. If we add that for a long time orality remained equally important in procedural matters it is clear that in many . Not all ancient culturesutilized and assimilatedthe principle of the written contract with equal ease.what is more). accordingto the primitive mentality. the act redactedon such an occasion had to reflect the symbolic gesturethat linked the contracting partiesduring the solemn ceremony. Thus it was also out of the question to comparethe probatory force of these different forms of witness: in this sort of society oral tradition and written tradition appear inextricably mixed.3There was never any question of settingup an opposition between the dead speechof the tablet and the living speechof personspresent: anyone who "denied" his sealwas severelypunished. for instance.c.writing nonethelesshad only probative value. the Romans retained the stipulatioin their contracts-questions and responsesthat followed a time-honored pattern and recalledthe eminently oral and solemnnature of this sort of agreement (called de verbis. There were problems involved with written contracts.any document of the sort was juridically valid only if it was "tr1ft1s11i6"-that is. commercebetween cities and maritime law. the imprint of part of his cloak or of a amulet button attachedto his cloak. second.a merchant people. The written act was recognizedin the law of the time only in extremely specificsectors.and although in Athens written testimony gradually replacedoral testimony as proof of a contractual agreement. On occasionthe contractingpartieswere so eagerto avoid falsificationthat they sealedup the tablet witnessing the act inside a clay envelopethat at times bore the text of the contract in even more explicit terms and offeredmore spacefor affixing signsof validity for the simple reasonthat an envelopeis alwaysbigger than its contents.though.The Greeks.but even they did not use writing with genuine consistencyuntil the fourth century n. or aboveall an imprint of a cylinder seal. are reputed to have soon becomepastmastersin such affairs. First. if it bore the required signs of validation.2 How was this new form of proof regardedin a society accustomedto heeding the word of living witnesses?Babylonianjudges sometimesspoke of the contentsof a tablet as its "mouth" or said that they had "heard" the tablet. As late as Justinian's compilers.

the source of authority on which.5 One consequence of this slow advance in writing in the domain of contracts was the rise of a new category of scribes placed under the sign of power whose activities gave those who held power dominatiqn over people and things. that professional scriveners. on the other hand. In a parallel evolution. it arises within the group without notice.76 Cnaprrn TnnrE domains the Latin people long gave more importance to speech than to writing. we need to keep in mind several essential notions. however. or tabellions. Rome. Following Henri L€vy-Bruhl.:. Therefore it has no birth certificate and is apt to evolve. it can thus be applied in an extremely supple manner.6 Since all life in common supposes juridical rules custom is. in spite of heavy hindrances. in increasingly secularized societies the need to effect incontestable transactions resulted in a growing role for public power.a Be that as it may. It consists of the repeated use of a rule applied to a specific case. as a consequence. Preexisting its formulation. and in the later Empire they were placed under the supervision of the public powers. the authenticity of the act depended. it seems to be the direct product of the collective consciousness. . or municipal administrative bodies were granted the right to record the acts or declarations of private individuals or to register contracts and deliver certified copies of them. Soon after written contracts had become the rule. It is of course closely connected with religion in traditional societies and thus it constitutes something like . it is revealed only when it is violated. at the same time that society evolves. Greek law was quick to reach this stage and to offer private individuals institutions to facilitate the authentification of contracts. appeared. the barbarians invaded the Empire. then by the redaction of the originals in public offices. reached this stage only rather late. resembling the Germans in that respect more than they did Semitic peoples. first by noting them on rolls. Hence the appearance of a corps of public notaries (that took many forms) and the rise of the notion of registration. in the last analysis. but once the system had been set up it was never totally forgotten. law became distinct from custom. It was only under Constantine that a number of central. we are told that it was only in the third century A. and it is quite probable that the medieval notarial system was based on it. provincial.D. the primitive and normal model for the formation of the law.

Sprrcnauo Lnrrnns 77 a secretconservedby an oligarchy.where an Elamite king brought it after the sackof Babylon. since [law] is promulgated by means of specific procedures."e In Mesopotamiathe king. We seehere the sun-god Shamashdictating his law to the king." "sentence. which marks it with its seal.Law. it was designedto facilitate the fusion of Sumer and Akkad and the absorption of recently conquered territories. held the right . procedure.7 We can seehere the difficulties that Mesopotamianscribesencountered when they wrote the law. meant "offense" or "sin. penal law. from the wife to the child. as it would a birth certificate. Thesecasesconcern the most conmon sorts of questions-justice. 176OB. separatecategoriesof thievescould be distinguished. on a diorite stelefound in Susa. but although inspired by the gods the law is not a religious law After the prologue." "trial. for example. has an author: the competent power. inscribed ca. Although Sumero-Akkadian writing was perfectly adaptedto writing contracts (even complex ones).By a logic natural for the time and place it moves from one topic to the other by association of ideas:from the field to the garden."and even "law". Finally an epilogue profferscursesto anyone violating theselaws.contracts. Thus it cannot evolve and is only replacedby another law. as we can contemplateit in the Louvre.c. a tendencyoften explicit in similar written "laws. from the husband to the wife.marriage. Rare exceptionsaside. accordingto context. comesa seriesof short articlestreating concretecasesfor which the king gives a juridical solution.but it was impossibleto define theft in the abstract. It made no claim to replacecustom but tended to conservea good part of the previous law by bringing unity to customspertaining to specificpoints. in which the king invokes divine authority and affirms his own obligationsas dispenserof justice and protector. dinum.it lacked the precisionneededfor definition and for distinguishingbetweenabstractnotions. At the same time the ruler seemsto have intervened to seek a more equal justice. from the garden to the house. land ownership and rights of usage. family. on the other hand.to the most famous of the law codes.the Code of Hammurabi. Arnum. ln this domain as in others the effectsof recourseto writing were felt only over the long term. Let us return to Mesopotamia. the vicar of the country's god. meant "judiciary litigation. succession.it is written. A self-declared "rule of peace" that extended the military and political deedsof the sovereign to other lands." but it also expressedthe penalty inflicted.8 Hammurabi's code fits into a clearly defined context.

97-10j.c. when the popular classesdemandedthat the fundamental rules governing societybe set down.tt Henceforth the written law opposedcustom. who watched over the Acropolis. custom then being evoked only to complete or (when necessary)conect the law This revolution-for that is what it was-could be accomplishedonly when a certain number of conceptstook on a deepermeaning.According to tradition. which expressedfirst "judgment" then the generalidea of the law.to judge). The law was made by the ruler or resulted from a democraticdecision. The notion of law appearsin Homer only in the term thdmis(tithdmai:. peace.who was the head of the clan (genosl. Henceforththe laws of the city were redactedby legislatorsand tyrants..78 CHaptrn Tnnrr to interpret custom.Discipline. though precarious.. who inspired him and gave him clairvoyancealthough.which long remained the rule in jurisprudence: one of the decreesof Lycurgus is supposedto have gone so far as to prohibit "written law. 630-ca.c. the . although the Sophistsdenied the existenceof a superior order. are universal law made explicit.).the spouseof Zeus. 500 n. "bringer of light.to pose)." in Sparta. as Nestor explains in the Eiad 9. reinforced the powers of the city leadersto the detriment of the clans. Finally.in the fifth and fourth centuries. whose mission it was to point out the unjust to her father. he might consult the eldersand the peoplebefore making a decision. The growth of the urban population in the seventh century s.the peopleparticipatedin the elaboration of the law.and Justice (Dike\.with Heraclitusof Ephesus(ca. claiming that justice and truth flow from a law that can vary from people to people and land to land. Later.) juridical notions becamesecularized and nomoscame to mean the law receivedby the city." ro In Greecethe shift from custom to written law was attachedto the name of Solon (ca.It was fallible and might ap- . inspired legislatorsdid so-Lycurgus.which at first evokedjudgment inspired by the godsbut also referredto the stable rules posed by the gods. and in the term dik€(from dikazeih.serpentgod. In primitive Greecethat right was held by the king (basileusl. the successorsofthe inspired legislators. Thesesageredactorsof ancestralcustom reportedly had no intention of suppressingcustom. plato held justice to be innate in man and Aristotle held that human laws. and the mother of three daughters. the Greek king enjoyed the protection of Themis.c.the daughterof Earth and Sky.and in Athens Draco. Hence HesiodpresentsThemis. while nomos becamethe law as prescribedby the gods. 560 a.Irpassedto the king of the city when the city replacedthe clans.God'srepresentativeamong men.

The pontiffs long remained the masters of customary. of its . gave Rome ea{y knowledge of the writings of the Etruscan priestly caste and bequeatheda portion of their sacred books to Rome.The Etruscans. The original purpose of the Twelve Tables. Founding his power on the keeping of ongoing records*formularies.and knew the proper prayersfor every circumstance. because they were postedon twelve painted wooden planks.and controlled the judicial calendar. The result was the Law of the TwelveTables-so-called. reflected the traditional system of a society divided into priests. and Quirinus. even more important. was to set dovrma limited number of customarylaws. legendtells us. Sacredknowledge was deposited in him: it was the pontifex maximus who fixed the calendar.t2 The Republic challengedthis power basedin custom.however. * It was the Roman people who defined the forms of written law that we know and that are still practicedin someparts of the world today.representedby the flamens of Jupiter. Whatever the truth of the tale.and minutes (ActaPontificuml.An IndoEuropean people. which explains the indictrnents of the law in Sophocles'AntigonearrdOedipusRex. and registersof important facts (Annalesl-he figured as the guardian of the city.Rome'sneighbors and long its dominators.The Greeks.noteson juridical matters (Commentariil. discoveredhow to pose the essentialproblems when the use of writing gradually led them to isolate the abstractcoirceptsthat are one aspectof the mental equipment of homoscribens. and their principal priesthoods. The pontifex maximus was thus master of trials. set the wording of invocations.We do not know preciselyhow the pontifex maximus took over from the kings at their fall. in historical times we see the pontifex acting as a counselor to the magistratesand the Senatein matters having to do with the cult and with religious affairs.Sprrcn eNo Lrrrrns pear contrary to natural law.law and. it kept the sacredbooks. the Romans formed a strongly structured society from the start. in early yearshad exclusivepossessionof the formulas for initiating juridical proceedings.The pontifical "college" that he headed servedas guardian of the generalwelfare. writing was thenceforth used to protect the people against an oligarchy. rituals.warriors. According to tradition the tribune Terentius Arsa led a demand to have the decemvirs charged with redacting "laws" (after consultation with the elders).who secularizedthe law. and peasants. Mars. togetherwith decisionsregarding the social crisis that had prompted their writing.

particularly in the domain of obligations. when recruitment to their numbers broadened. They also composedtheoretical works. schooled by the most famous dialecticians and rhetoricians of their day-the ones whose works we know at least in part-they tackled the fundamental problems of the law Since they also practiced law. their methods were casuistic.Augustus reinforced the authority of certainjurists by granting them the jas respondendi so that they could hand down consultations ex auctoritateprincipis. municipes.they redacted acts.began to give public consultations.l that the 47g4ns-1rtgformulas for legal proceedings. and they servedas guides and leadersfor judges and factions.80 Cnaprrn Tunnr application.and freedmen(many provincials among them) becamejurists. practitioners more than theorists.at least not at the start.reflecting practical concernsand resembling those of the Stoic moralists. largely becausetheir interpretationsoften went beyond the texts to offer new solutionsto fill in the gapsin legislation. they actedas consultants.ejus civile andfounded (they thought) in natural reason. and it was imbued with the spirit of tradition. thus providing a body of legal opinion that judges welcomed (at least when the opinions were not contradictory).13 The Romansmay have been peasantswith a penchantfor formalism but that did not make them legislators.and agere-that is. and so forth-were finally divulged.It was only when Appius Claudiuswas censorpl2-3o7 z. we have knowledge of quite a few texts of the greatRomanjurisconsults. candidates for magistraciessoon imitated his example as a meansof forming an electoralclientele.c. Thejurists originally derived their authority not onry from their learning but also from the fact that they were members of the aristocracy. .to createa jus gentiumto accompanytt-. Tiberius Coruncanius.Later.Their merit was to have attached particular importance to jurisprudence and to have createda doctrine that permitted the interpretation of texts.they were sensitiveto the law when it becamepoorly adaptedto circumstancesor when the passageof time made it totally inapproDriate. Things changed with the end of the Republic: with the breakup of the priestly collegesknights. Their role was an essentialone.the datesof propitious days.since public life was in the hands of the nobility.cavere. juridical sciencelong remained the privilege of the great families. Toward the mid-third century the first plebeian pontifex maximus. The earliestRoman jurists were practitionerswith a triple missioni respondere. As their domination spreadand their relationswith foreigners increasedthey eventually felt the need.

commentarieson law in the form of writings on practice. often abridgedand combined.o.). A century later Justinian. was published 2l May 533 and had the force of law. 395 accessto the whole body of laws given by Constantineand his successorsbecameextremely difficult sincethey were scatteredamong the archivesof four prefectures and a number of provinces. and general treatisesor manuals for the use of government officials.the Pandects or Digest.notably under Justinian (sixth century A.Agesin their original form. 528-29. also emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire.r4 Well-establisheddoctrine fosteredthe developmentof a broad and coherent set of laws brought together in the Byzantine codifications.Valentinian III. TlrreCodeincluded a selection of imperial constitutions.D.rt . The ancient Latin legislativetexts rarely reachedthe Middle.439.a work conceived as a basic law text without citations to the sourcesof its extracts. Thesecompilations provided a conceptualizationof human relationsthat was the result of centuriesof reflection and experience and that the medieval West had the incomparable good fortune to recoverwhen the time came. along with decisionsrelating to specificcases. TheodosiusII. reached an agreementwith the emperor of the West.Sprrcn erqo LnrrBns 8l They are elementary treatisesin systematicform: rules to be learned by heart. the Novelsor new laws were promulgatedfrom 533 to 565. The most famous of them are Ulpians Regulaeand Gaius'sInstitutes. to chargea sixteen-membercommissionto redact a generalcollection of new laws by pruning and correcting the texts of imperial constitutions. the Institutes.which took effect JanuaryI. adding to them the more important opinions of classical jurisconsults.The emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. was a vast collection of decisionshanded down by the most famous jurisconsults sincethe beginning of the Empire. The Codexconstitutionum {r.o. undertook an even greatertask when he decidedto encouragereform in his administrationby collectingand adaptingall the constitutionsrendered since Hadrian.This becamethe TheodosianCode. The work was carried out by commissionsworking under the direction of the indispensableTribonian. revisedin 534) was divided into twelve books that were in turn subdividedinto titles and laws.also dMded into books and headings.Unfortunately we have few texts that are more than fragmentsappearingin the compilations of the late Empire or elementsincorporated into the "barbarian laws" of the sixth century. all arrangedunder headingsand presented in chronological order. After the division of the Empire in a.

The siegeof Troy occurred in the thirteenth century e.With an incredible audacity they took Homer's name to be some sort of symbol for poetic genius and saw his immortal creations as the collective work of an entire school of Ionian poets of the twelfth to the eighth centuries s. GiambattistaVico in Italy and Christian von Wolff in Germany expressed doubtsthat Homer had ever existed.The reign of the chancerieswas beginning. Our TnaprtroN AND Wnrrrxrv TnaprrroN The druids who opposedwriting becausethey did not want their legends and the secretsof their religion set down or divulged did not take that stand without good reasons. its end is not yet in sight.Although the world owes the literatures that we know to the use of writing there was a price to be paid..true power passedto the administrativeofficesand especiallyto their jurists and their redactors. which has continued nearly to our own day. I need not recall the power that knowledge of the key to ideogramsgaveto a very small number of Mesopotamian or Eglptian scribes.The men of classicalantiquity used Homer's works as the basis of their children's education. Writing liberatedcustom from a secrecy that the dominant groupsin traditional societieshad guardedjealously. however.c. Byzantium then took them up.What is important to note is the extent to which the rise of written law. especiallyin the third century when the emperor becamesolemasterof the law.Cnlpren TnnBn The rise of written law did not mean that custom ceasedto be the essential and even. How were those epics elaboratedand transmitted during that long period of the Greek "Middle Ages?" On examination they prove to be composite works.asthe Senatedeclined.Nonetheless.but it gave rise to new dominant groups. Here too writing offered advantagesbut also disadvantages. During the Enlightenment. Henceforth.they had solid argumentsto back them up when they questionedthe very existenceof Homer.c. in a sense. Since they tell a story that gives . later condensedand refined. closelylinked with the growth of administration. whereaseverything seemsto indicate that the Iliad and the Odyssey could not have been written down until the eighth century s. contributed to modifying the internal equilibrium of society under the Roman Empire.. and after the Renaissancethe entire West salutedthe genius of the blind bard.c.the only sourceof law. The most illustrious casein point is that of the Homeric poems.No poet has ever been more reveredthroughout the ages.'6 Could anyone deny the mission of genius in literary creation with greaterimpudence?Vico and Wolff causeda great stir.

yet they reflect forms of cMlization that are Dorian-that is.Sprrcn eno LrttBns 83 prominent roles to the Achaeans.Furthermore it is generally acceptedtoday that the Homeric epics cannot be held to be single. and any individual's work is ceaselesslymodified. Specialistslike Milman Pany.brouglrt . memorize thousandsof lines of verse. Scholarshipduring the last fifty yearspermits a better grasp of the possiblegenesisof thoseworks than Vico and Wolffcould have had.linguistic and stylistic analysis revealsthe frequent recurrenceof groups of words that seemready-made for dactylic hexameters. self-contained works. Lord. One can alsofind the traditional themesof this genre of literature in thesetwo works and can point out recurrent techniquesof composition. the work song. A number of examplesstill exist outside Europe. Ultimately it becomes an anonymous work.who were the victors in the Trojan War. All studies agreethat in the society responsiblefor classicalGreek culture the narratives and myths that explained the world were castin a poetic mold. reworked. that speakof the people who destroyedthe power of the Achaeans. Thesepoetsbrought an equal facility to the epic poem.and combat. men playing their citharasand singing. the last living epic poets in Europe. composing. B. or even a funeral chant resembling the one Mdrim€e tells us that Colomba improvised in early nineteenth-centuryCorsica. A.This defeat. although no two versionswere an exact replica of one another. and in a sense recreated every time it is performed.they could be taken to be of Achaean origin. Thus the Homeric poems representthe legacy of oral traditions transmittedfrom one century to another by generationsof. To return to the Iliad and the Odyssey. and their followers had the idea of seekingout the Yugoslavbards.aoidoslike the singerspictured in thoseworks. vengeance. however. According to Pierre Chantraine the plot of the Iliad leads us to think that a primitive nucleus of the work centeredon the defeat of the Achaeans. and transmitting are forms of activity that blend together.One example is in the qualifiers that.accompany the name of the hero.and recreatethem in recitation. They heard such men creating their works as they performed. whose descendants.developit.like the Homeridaeof Chios.'7 Thus within traditional societiesthere were forms of literary creation that called on individual invention and imagination. For people of oral tradition. learning. not merely with words but using formulas to embroider on such traditional themes as anger. claim Homer as an ancestor. They found that thanks to this method the poets of oral cultures could still improvise on a subject.

c. perhaps from the same cycle-a scenario that in no way excludes the notion that an artist of genius wrote down the cycle. and the death of Hector. Perhaps originally these classical themes of anger and vengeance even formed the basis for separate poems. Anaximander and Hecataeus used techniques from Babylonia and Egypt to draw the first maps of the world. the musicians). others are not part of the original composition and are later additions. for example. the vengeance of Achilles. The mythic epic gave way to the historical narrative and the work of fiction.re * The Romans found it difficult to follow the example of Greece. are in a sense the legacy of a society of oral culture bequeathed to a new world in which writing was imposing its law. who was interested in explaining the role of Athens. prompted Zeus to intervene. usually as the result of a more careful job of producing the physical text. while at the same time new visions of time and space began to emerge. some say developing out of local chronicle. thus leading to the actions of Patrocles.in this interpretation. incorporated elements from the history of that city into his own work. religious practices. and tl:. for instance.2' All invocations to the gods. We can imagine great banquets lasting several days during which one bard after another sang poems. Soon historiography was born. out of a search for the most likely version of events drawn from a variety of sources. In any event.e vateswho composed the rhythmic verse banded together in powerful "corporations" (as did the tubicinae. perhaps composed in order to change an Achilleiad into a Trojan Want8 It would be interesting to know when these various songs were assembled and whether parts of the text were set down in writing even before the appearance of alphabetical writing (perhaps in some late form of linear B). Like The Song of Roland in a later age. others. although certain lays make up the heart of the primitive work. The Latin literature . The work could undergo only minor changes. were made in rhythmic verse. the Iliad and the Odyssey.84 CneprBn Tnnrr on by the anger of Achilles. Hesiod attempted to put Greek myths into a rational chronological order. Herodotus. As early as the sixth century g. With Thucydides past events began to be traced from written documents rather than by relying on traditions revised through the ages by oral transmission. sacrifices were performed to the sound of the flute. The origins of certain elements in Latin poetry can probably be traced to the Romans. All subsequent works among the Greeks and the Latins had an author and a birth certificate as soon as they were written.

kept Rome's archives.The archiveswere burned by the Gaulsin 390 but they probably were reconstituted. the guardiansof the sacredbooks.c.c. which had become the greatestmetropolis of the Mediterranean and the capital of an immense empire. where Greekwas often spoken. however. and fell to the lot of the Livian family. the tutor of the princes of Hesse-Homburg. who was also born near Taranto and who took it upon himself to compose a Roman national epic.and alIowed to stand only the Memorial of the Families. which meant that it was fashionable to scorn some of the cults of the common people. Andronicus. and throughout Italy.which were basedon ancient traditions.Thus one might supposethat Livy (59? e. In their city. That state of affairs in turn helps us to understand certain aspectsof religious evolution in ancient Rome. and the Tablesof the Censors.as we have seen."ut This means that the pontiflcal archiveswere fakes. reflectedthe hesitationthey felt when the moment cameto set dovrm religious tradition. At the sametime a desireto return to the ancient virtues of the Latin race and a fear of seeing traditions lost incited scholarssuch asVarro ( I 16-27 s. The early introduction of writing among the Roman people may help to explain both the meticulous ritual of ancient Roman law and the poverty of the Roman national myths. But in the eighteenth century a scholar. the Latins had known writing since the seventhor the sixth century B.o.Spnncn ANo Lnrrrns that we know began to develop only in the thfud century B. The statementsof the Latin historians."22as is always the casewhenever a culture begins to admire what Michel de Certeaucalled "the beauty of death. and the pontiffs.Varioussortsof mystic cults from the Eastalso took root.the national godssimply co-optedthe legendsof their Hellenic cousins. When he was freed. played a well-known role in that evolution.-e." After the end of the civil wars Augustus put all forms of religious propagandaand even the gods to the serviceof his reconstruction program. . who was carried off during the siegeof Taranto in 272 s. odd as that seemed. Louis de Beaufort. rejectedas nonexistent or falsified the AnnalesMaximi of the pontiffs.c.theOdyssey. Still. Next came Ennius.made an astonishingdiscovery. and was Iargely of Hellenic inspiration.As GeorgesDum€zil tells it: "He sifted the sourceswhich [Livy and Dionysus of Halicarnassusllist.l to becomeearly "folklorists. which. he challengedas being brazenly misleading. 17) had availabledependablesourcesfor his history of Rome. Andronicus became a friend of his forrner master and the preceptor of his children. for whose benefit he translated.c.c. the libri lintei.

The history of myths is a tale of eternal return. in the long run this movement resultedin putting the imperial cult on a relatively solidbasis. If myths of our own century are so poor it is perhapsbecausea societycannot give more than it has. Virgil first among them. Thus the myths createdby oral tradition survived. Sheer play.the tableaux vivants presentedbefore sovereignsat their solemn entries were filled with allusionsto classicalmythology. Better. they are renewed.2sBut how can we deny that such works.For centuries Greco-Romanmythology would continue to inspire paintersand artists. and an entire literature-the literature of emblems-would attempt to explain that mythology with the aid of images. Still.Neither Homer nor Virgil were forgotten during the Middle Ages. It is not indispensableto certain forms of technological progress:think of Neanderthalman. In partially literate societiesit can be used only to keep alive a literal knowledgeof a sacredbelief within a priestly caste. of course. the history of French classicalliterature shows that the men of those times were still persuadedthat mythology contained elementsof an ancient wisdom.It is not revolutionary. They were not the last to think so. took an increasingpart in all this.86 CneprEn Tnnnr These were the circumstancesin which the greatest poets. * The ancient myths did not disappear. codified and rationalized what formerly had been consideredinspired by the gods and sacred(GeorgesDum€zil)? Despite some artificiality. when writing is introduced artificially into traditional societiesout of contact with the rest of the world it is soon forgotten.In the Renaissance. composedin the context of a concertedpolicy.but it . but it tends to control secondarygroups by secretinga bureaucracy. and they still survive in spite of reforms aimed at their elimination. so strong is the hold of symbolic imagination. Later petrarch and Boccacciorediscoveredthe Iliad and the odyssey. and other legendscame along and were added to those of Greece and Rome. WnrrrNc lNp SpnrcH rN ANcrnNr Tnoucnr writing is neither necessarynor sufficientto turn societiesupside down.Finally. The heroesof antiquity stood next to King Arthur and Charlemagne among the Nine Worthies (les Neuf Preuxl. it has hardly any role in relations within primary groups like the family. sought inspiration in Greco-Latintraditions. ovid was read with passionate interest and French poets sought Trojan ancestorsfor the Franks.

becausespeechand writing belong to the same global systemof social communication and share its tasksin an alwaysprecariousequilibrium.the second existsfor the solepurposeof representingthe first. Furthermore. This illusion . Finally. the spoken forms alone constitute the object.writing prompts new sorts of connections in the reasoningprocess. because the relation of man to the spoken and the written word has never stopped changing through the courseof time. But the spokenword is so intimately bound to its written image that the latter managesto usurp the main role. When this occurs it acceleratesthe changesset in motion within that society.the historian must make sure not to set up a binary opposition-as Goody says. Like the ethnologist. .and the only writing . As Jack Goody has observed (in a work with a particularly suggestivetitle in French translation. Ferdinand de Saussurestates: Languageand writing are two distinct systemsof signs.Why? First.24 The second reason is that writing castsspeech onto a two-dimensional spaceand fixes it there. Peopleattach even more importance to the written image of a vocal sign than to the sign itself.but a skeptical current can develop there only to the extent that it takes root and crystallizes around a stable supporting structure that accumulates ideas and observations.2s The "first linguistics" saw writing as a reflection of spoken discourse. because it visualizes discourse. Next. A similar mistake would be in thinking that more can be learned about someoneby looking at his photograph than by viewing him directly. The linguistic object is not both the written and the spoken forms of words. thus permining speech to be an object of reflection outside of any context.this meansthat skepticalindividuals ready to question certain rites can exist within traditional groups. .26 What we have learned about the role of the image in the appearanceof the first writing systemscontradictstheseassertions. it permits the storage of that thought. La raisongraphiquel.This means that the new medium surpassesits initial object and comesto have a role of its own in the linked stagesof the cognitive process.between oral cultures and cultures of writing for instance. becauseeach graphic systemhas its own logic and dynamism. has alwaysexisted.a "Great Dichotomy"-between cultures.There are two reasonsfor this. The first is that culture is nothing but what the thought of successivegenerations has produced.Sprrcn exo Lnrrpns Appearsevery time that a revolution in communications and exchanges prompts a fusion into a larger whole.

width.2E The Egyptians showed comparable tendencies: they are reputed to have taught geometry to the Greeks but they too concenftated on furnishing solutions to concrete problems. Sumero-Akkadian. but they remained arithmeticians and showed no interest in developing geometrical models. not for their inherent interest. without ever stating or demonstrating a general mathematical principle. Administrative lists. the Babylonians were no more capable of defining general mathematical principles than they were of formulating a general definition of the notion of theft. Thus a tablet is apt to give a set of problems all of the same type differing only in numerical quantities. Similarly. Theselexicons exclude verbs and adjectivesto concentrateon the nouns that. or area of a field. they suggestedways to classifyreality that extendedto the ordering of all things. They offered simple aids in the form of tables for multiplication. in certain series even giving exponential or logarithmic relations. seems to have been developednot to reproducea preexistentspoken discoursebut to commit to memory concretebits of information. Despite their remarkable achievements in developing systems of calculation. inventories.27 For the Mesopotamian scribes the appearance of writing was connected with their need to develop their calculation skills. Above all the complexity of their script soon led them to make up lists of signs. The . remained primarily within the context of an astral religion. But that is as far as they went in abstraction.88 Cnaprnn Tnnrr whose origins are to some extent known. The astronomers of Babylon followed the progress of the stars.and accountstestify to their ingenuity. Not only did such lists provide materials for a number of specificdefinitions. but because they represented divinities to whose movements men's destinies were linked. Babylonian astronomy. division. were closelyconnectedwith existenceand reality. but in both calculation and writing they failed to achieve generalization and abstraction. in their minds. lists that are true lexicographical compendia. or square-root tables. The oldest of these tablets gave direct answers to specific questions such as how to calculate the length. This quite naturally led the Mesopotamian scribesto make a scienceof the art of organizing a list and using a clay surfaceto make selectionsand reclassificationsin tables arrangedin columns. The scribes who performed those observations for the kings and whose responsibilities were religious and terrestrial did indeed acquire precise knowledge of certain phenomena. The mathematical documents they elaborated were essentially collections of problems. although highly developed.

differ fundamentally from our own.3o It would alsobe interestingto know to what extent continued use of the last of the great ideographic systems-Chinese-contributed to giving somepeoplesof the Far East a mentality different from that of Europeans.He concludesfrom this that their mutual incomprehensionwas due to the difficulty of expressing in a agglutinating languageideas that had been formulated in an inflected languageon the model of Latin or Greek. it offered the possibility of dissectingthe signifier to advanceknowledge of the signified. Joseph Needham has contrasted the Greeks' attempt to explain natural phenomena by an investigation of their causesto the associativethought processesof the Chinese. In linguistic terms. This might explain why the Chinesehave kept their ideograms. proper names and the deductionsthat could be drawn from them.2e Ideogramsalso had a logic of their own.while the Semitic peoples and Indo-Europeans of the Middle East eventually adoptedvarious sorts of alphabets. JacquesGernet has shown that the Chinesereactedto the wdtings and the messageof the missionariesin ways that often reflecteddifferencesin mental categoriesand mental frameworks both in questionsof the relation of politics to religion and of the role of reflectiveawarenessand spontaneityin the moral realm. Similarly.One simple conclusion might be that each of these two types of language eventually found its deepestcharacteristicsreflectedin the writing systemit now uses.rr The role of writing seemssecondaryin this sort of debate. Gernet also stresseshow difficult it was for missionaries speakingin Chineseto explain that the concreteand the singular are fundamentally different from the abstractand the general. It is hardly surprisingthat the sciencethey turned to for an explanation of things was divination. Thesedifferences were particularly clear in tlie refusal of the Chineseto distinguish a level of stabletruth separatefrom the world of phenomenaand the rationale of senseperception. the sciencethat revealedconnectionsbetween words and things. * .Sprrcn ano Lnttnns attitude of the Greekswas totally different: for them the universewas inscribedin mathematicalformulas. In asking that question we need to remember that the languagesthey speak. Chinesein particular. The writing systemsthat used them involved things and were basedon a principle of semanticreconciliation that permitted the more learned scribesto shift from one meaning to another. the reality of the written word and the messageit transmitted.

This makes the passagesin his dialogues in which he speaks of writing all the more interesting.32 The Greeksbroke only very gradually with poetic expressionand all that it implied.the heroic age.up to that point the Greeksbelievedthat divine powers and occult forcesintervened directly in the life of men.s givesa summary of his point of view. who lived in a world in which the domain of writing was like an island of literacy surrounded by peoples of oral tradition. as legend tells us Homer was. the primeval age or original time. Athenians of the ageof pericles and the grand tragediansstill limited their definition of cultivatedmen to thosewho had been formed in the disciplinesof the Mousikd. As JeanPierreVernant put it.. he unveiled the past asthe soothsayerunveiled the future. nor even the past in generalas if it were an empty framework quite independent of the eventstaking place within it. themes. without cultural implications. with all their own particular content and quality-for example. he saw into the invisible. It was not until the age of Plato (428/27-348/47 B. As in all primitive societies.and formulas and learning genealogies. young phaedrushas brought with him a manuscript of a speechby Lysias.which were the archivesof peopleswithout writing and which allowed them to establish order among heroes and gods.and in Hesiodmemory reignednot only over what had been but over what was and what was yet to be. Blinded by the light. The poet had to undergo a harsh apprenticeshipmemorizing plots. The knowledge or the wisdom that the goddessMemory dispensedto both the poet and the soothsayerwas a divinatory omniscience. a highly artificial .) that languagehad evolvedto the point of permitting easymanipulation of abstractconcepts.. the poet'srealm was "not his own personalpast.We need to pause and think about that a bit. or. like his cousin the soothsayer.c. was perfectly aware of the revolutionary changestaking place in Greece.Time did not exist for either of thesefigures. The poet.Cneprrn THREE With the alphabet the stylus captured and imitated the flow of speechby taking speechas the model for written signs. the word Grammatikoscoming into use only in the fourth century when it indicated.the domain of the Muses. even further back.33 Plato.Among the Greeksthis innovation seemsto have been accompaniedby a revolution that was all the more profound becauseGreek societywas rapidly evolving when it passed from a nearly exclusivelyoral culture to use of an easily accessiblewriting system.olden days. The Phaedru. but rather the .was inspired by the gods and possessedby divine delirium.The poet had somethinglike an unmediated experienceof past worlds. a person who knew how to read.

and the mission of the memory is to permit accessto the world of ideas and to achieveunion with the divine. to one is it given to createthe things of art. Phaedrus. geometry and astronomy.If men learn this. His argumentsagainstit are well known: You know. . Socrateseasily demonstratesthat this piece of so-calledliterature totally lacks authenticity and seriouspurpose. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples. it will implant forgetfulnessin their souls: they will ceaseto exercisememory becausethey rely on that which is written.not to mention backgammon and dicing." ta According to Plato true opinions acquiredduring the courseof previous existencesare awakenedwhen we cannot answer a question.What follows is the famous fable in which Socratestells how writing was invented by Theuth. And so it is that you. and to another to judge what measureof harm or profit they have for those that shall employ them. but with the conceit of wisdom. which makes it truly analogousto painting. not with wisdom.Sprrcn ^a. they will be a burden to their fellows. He delivers a closely argued criticism of the art of the Sophists. which he contrastswith a rhetoric founded on dialectic."Here.for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seemto know much. When it cameto writing Theuth said. It is the same . O king. is a branch of learning that will make the people of Egypt wiser and improve their memories.my discoveryprovidesa recipefor memory and wisdom. while for the most part they know nothing." But the king answeredand said. the ibisgod of Naucratis. have declaredthe very oppositeof its true effect. The painter'sproducts standbefore us as though they were alive: but if you question them. by reason of your tender regard for the writing that is your offspring. "O man full of arts. they maintain a most majestic silence. what you have discoveredis a recipe not for memory but for reminder.uo Lnrrrns 9l rhetorical exercisefull of virtuosity.but only its semblance. saying that they ought to be passedon to the Egyptiansin general.Thus learning is equivalent to remembering. and as men filled.who was also the father of calculation. .that's the strange thing about vwiting. and revealed his arts. This vision perhapshelps to explain Plato'smistrust of the new "artificial" memory. calling things to remembranceno longer from within themselves. . This is how Theuth presentshis discoveryto the pharaoh Thamus: To him came Theuth.but by meansof external marks.

then. though. we shall crown him with flllets of wool. in the substance of their discourse. it alone permitted deliberation before a collective decision could . to whom he prefers the legislator: Suppose. and repeatedly resort to ruses and lies. but communication in Greek society nevertheless remained essentially oral. and not address the wrong. The alphabet was born in the ancient city. Rather he criticizes the immorality of the tales that mothers and nurses told children in their most impressionable years. It alone permitted compromise and peaceful settlement of con{lict.92 CnaprnnTnnrp with vyritten words: they seem to talk to you as though they were intelligent. And when it is ill-treated and unfairly abused it always needs its parent to come to its help. we shall bow down before a being with such miraculous powers of giving pleasure. change their appearance like magicians. and conduct him to the borders of some other country. we shall employ the poets and story-tellers of the more austere and less attractive type. and it had favored the growth of democracy in that setting.36 Plato's mistrust of both writing and the "inspired poet" needs to be returned to a context in which the relations between speech and writing were not what seems natural to us today. but equally of those who have no business with iU it doesn't know how to address the right people. For our own benefit. drifts all over the place. that an individual clever enough to assume any character and give imitations of anything and everything should visit our country and offer to perform his compositions. whatever it may be. the composition. getting into the hands not only of those who understand it. And once a thing is put in writing. they go on telling you just the same thing for ever. anoint his head with myrrh.r5 Plato does not sing the praises of traditional oral culture. but we shall tell him that we are not allowed to have any such person in our commonwealth. In a well-known passageinthe Republic(3. Discussion was considered indispensable as a way to hold the collectivity together. from a desire to be instructed. conform to those rules we laid down when we began the education of our warriors.3961he declareshis downright hostility toward the inspired poet. who will reproduce only the manner of a person of high character and. and he denounces mythological tales in which gods and heroes fight for utterly trivial reasons. but if you ask them anything about what they say. being unable to defend or help itself.

transcription of the progressof the spirit in the searchfor truth.enabled the orator to demonstratea point or its contrary. and nothing could replace the word of the master. rather than as revelatory of being. writing permitted the Master of the Academy to note that languagehad by no meansbeen conceivedor organizedby somephilosopher'slegislation. Plato denounced Denys." By the sametoken languagewas conceivedas an instrument of human relations.based on purely formal procedures. This explains the reflections . a poetic . That attitude was to some extent symbolizedby the fact that the word logoshad. their methods included ways to concealor invert the true nature of relationships.Sprscn ANo Lnrrsns be reached. The searchfor public successencouragedthis sort of rhetorician to think that the power of discourselay in its excellenceeven when it obviously ran counter to fact.Thus languagewas of no help in attaining the essenceof things. Plato.multiple meanings ranging from "speech" to "reason. who criticized the tradition that basededucationon the study of Homeric verse.who went from city to city teaching rich and wellborn young people eagerto get aheadin the world how to triuinph over their adversariesor improvise speechesin which they appearedcompetent in matters about which they knew little or nothing.the young tyrant of Syracuse.Similarly debatewas seenas the bestmeansfor attaining truth and wisdom. in the seventhletter attributed to him.Thus Plato'srejection of written philosophy and his much reiterated proclamation of the preeminence of oral expressionmake us wonder about the relationshipbetween his own written work and his oral teaching.Plato consideredthis a genuine misdirection of the mission of philosophy. By the same token it invited the sageto distinguish the truth (epktdm7lfrom receivedopinion (doxa\. even as a means for domination over others. This is why a statesmanhad to be an orator capableof swayingcrowds. as a means of expression. or why Plato preferred the dialogue.for having had the audacityto present his philosophy in a book. By making languagean object of reflection.rT It is clear why Plato contrastedthose who love true logoi (the philosophers) and those who produce only copies or appearancesof them. also disapprovedof the teaching of the Sophists. How can we deny that underlying his theoriesthere is an implicit vision of the written word and a logic of the division of labor that reflectsthe logic of the alphabet? Writing forcibly removed speechfrom the instant. It is just as clear why. The instruction of the Sophists. One wonders whether Plato was not uEingthis rejection of writing as a way of making a hermeneutic appealfor its proper use.

This is what made dialectic.that I may gain the power to speak and to think. then to decipher increasinglycomplex syllables.necessary. following the objectivearticulation.and thus to make plain whatever may be chosenas the topic for exposition.and finally to understandwords and phrases.It is characteristicof Plato that as his life advancedhe accordedless importance to reminiscenceand insistedmore and more on the two proceduresof dialectical method summarizedin three famous passagesfrom t}:e Phaedrus. we are not to attempt to hack off parts like a clumsy butcher. I am myself a lover of thesedivisionsand collections.The basicprinciples are these: The first is that in which we bring a dispersedplurality under a single form. I follow "in his footstepswhere he leadeth as a god.As an aristocrat he thought it appropriateto make them warriors by a exposureto a balanced program of gymnasticsand music to teach them control over their bodies.94 CnaprrnTnnrr in the Cratylus.Plato followed the lead of Hippias of Elis and the pythago- . seeingit all together. the scienceof reasoning. The secondprocedure [is] the reverseof the other. Plato was led in this direction by his proposal for a program of education to form citizens.Hencethe need to study mathematics.where Plato statesthat knowledge of the truth of things must be first be apprehendedin relation to things like language that are only its image. whereby we are enabledto divide into forms. The two processesseemed to him quite evidently based on the same technique. the purpose being to define so-and-so.3e * such efforts could lead only to a classificationof the sciencesand a hierarchization of knowledge.he saw the real problem of education as detaching the child's mind from the world of the sensesso that he could attain the world of the intelligible. particularly the citizens promoted to philosophic dignity who would be leaders. Although Plato admitted that certain qualities of verbal expressionwere indispensable." 3s SincePlato held that thought is made by joining separateelementsit is hardly surprising that he comparedthe dialectician'stask of analysis and synthesisto children's efforts to learn their letters. the higher degreeof abstraction. and whenever I deem another man able to discern an objective unity and plurality.

which like ethics concernedthe activity of the agent unconnected with its results. This helps us to understandAristotle's division of the sciences. to use the expressionof Aristotle's commentatorsat the beginning of the early modern period.the abstract sciencepar excellence. even acting intelligently. the practical sciences(from praxis\. For Aristotle.which perhaps correspondedto a curriculum.ao This view suggestsa hierarchy of knowledge that we have inherited. We need to return to Aristotle (JS4/85-)22 s. probably becauseit was a\ organon(an instrument).) for the final word on thesematters. were not identical functions in man.acoustics. Although he was just as severe as Plato on the immorality of Sophistsand rhetoricians. their very indifference to truth in their discoursemade it all the more necessaryto dismantle the mechanismsof their argumentation.and astronomy.logic had no place of its ovrmin this hierarchy. Only after such studies(which lasted until the age of thirty) should the student have accessto the study of dialectic.and physics.and limited himself to adding solid geometry which was beginning to have an important place in the schoolsthanks to Theaetetusand Eudoxus.c. knowing and acting.the object of which was knowledge for its own sake. the great philosopher was himself above all a logician. he saw it only as a method . which concernedthe art by which thrngs are made.but when he reducedrhetoric to a simple theory (what is commonly calledrhetoric is an application of that theory). Paradoxically. into the poetic sciences(from poilein.to do or make).Realizingthat the very nature of languageled to its misuse. Still. Contrary to what Plato statesat the end of the Cratylu. and the theoretical sciences(from thedria).the "first philosophy. geometry.s.S p E B c ne u r L r r r r n s 95 reans.Aristotle took up the study of linguistic forms and structures in order to spring their traps (Pierre Aubenque).who had alreadyproposeda quadriviumbasedon the study of arithmetic. which meant that he paid special attention to languagewhile Plato was content simply to talk about it. Hencethe ambiguity inherent in Aristotle's dialectic." At leastthis conceptionrecognizedthat the natural sciencesand technologieshad a certain dignity. a valuejudgment between something good and somethingbad (thus to be avoided)was not the samething as a judgment concerningexistenceor truth. At the summit were mathematics.Aristotle thought that the philosopher could not escapewords.For examplehe cited as a "proof" the confidencethat an orator can inspire and he studied the formal techniques of persuasionand showed how to appeal to the passions.

It did not aim at dissociating the two.Their speechhad religiousefficacy. The function of Rome'sheralds and ambassadors. He also was the first to attempt to impose univocality in the practice of language-that is.96 Cneprnn Tnnrr for discerning the arguments put forward about the problem under discussion. The Categoriesmake obvious use of linguistic analysis.a' In the last analysis Aristotle deflned man as a speaking animal. It was quite natural that the orator should have a centralplacein cicero's . respondedin ritual formulas. to suggest the need to give only one meaning to each word in a phrase.Similarly. as in Athens. the orator was the city's guide. the premises of which were simple opinions and so merely plausible (L6on Robin). given that Aristotle's categories for the analysis of thought are basically those of the Greek language. propositions.consulted by the king of Romebefore he declaredwar. and in his Categoriesand his Topicshe attempted to set rules for meaningful discussion. consistedespecially in pronouncing declarationsof war by calling the gods to witness that the enemyhad broken commitments. which in his hands. and thanks especially to the syllogism it furnished a solid framework for coherent oral debate.the fetialesand the oratorespublici. Thus the discipline of rhetoric no longer concerned a search for truth but only coherence in discourse. as Charles Serrus said.4r Obviously. the essential parts of which were terms. which is always torn between reason and passion. He achieved a secularization of speech. and syllogisms. Aristotle studied (particularly inthe Analyfrcs) the conditions of demonstrative knowledge. Thus it represented one of antiquity's most valuable gifts to the modern world." a2 At least Aristotle had the merit of revealing the ambiguity of speech. became a manipulable instrument. Critics have periodically reproached Aristotle for moving in the universe of discourse rather than in that of reason and for having occasionally adopted somewhat naive positions. though. In Rome.the term orator originally had the technical meaning of one who speakssolemnly in public. Aristotle's analysis was dependent upon a comparison between spoken and written discourse. a Like their Greek neighbors the Romans remained primarily a people of spoken discourse. stripped of myth and poeticization. the patres(who were also the senators). by "simply making explicit a certain metaphysics spontaneously present in the Greek language. Since the aim of philosophy must be to attain truth.Under the Republic.

speakingconfidentially.or elicit their approval.so often . he must manifestgravitasin all its seriousnessand weight. twisting his toga or accompanyinghis speechwith gesturescalculated to raise a laugh. After the civil wars Cicerostill saw that same eloquenceas the last rampart of the Republicand a meansfor putting the Senateon guard and for rallying the people. Hence the simplicity and universality of Cicero'slanguage.a bearerof the national virtues.he must appeal to all sentimentsin order to vary and adapt what he had to say. Cato'sreiterateddefinition of the orator-vir bonus. or using sarcasmor the powers of seduction.It made the orator consciousof his mission as a mediator and the bearer of a form of wisdom.Furthermore he had to have encyclopedic knowledge in order to be able to raise his argument to the level of generalideasthat embracedall particular cases.dicendiperitus-stressesthat he must be bonus. but Cicero saw it as a demandingmistress.He statedhis theoriesat some length: the orator pledgeshimself to virtue and to his sworn oath (rtdesl.then an orator and statesman.Spercx aNo Lrrrrns 97 reflections.not only in the theater but also in the Forum and in the law courts.reachingfor the sublime. an orator could not be eloquent without a crowd to hear him. In Ciceronian philosophy authority was one of the facesof power. thus the greatwriter who proclaimedhis faith in the rectitude of popular judgment held that cultivatedlistenersshould cedeto that judgment. Eloquencethus procured one of the most evident forms of superiority.Thus a glorious advancesanctionedby social institutions made the citizen first a soldier.When he does so it is becausehe is also a patronuswho must not only defend his clients but also give an exampleto the young people who come to him for instruction.In Cicero'sview the Greekshad practiceda theoreticalsapientia that his fellow citizenshad put into action in both law and custom. he must practiceall genres from eulogy to discussion.and finally a thinker.a As in Greecethis conceptionaroseout of an urban setting. he must display the dignitasthat generatesconsideration. There the Mediterranean public who crowded around a lawyer could give an expert evaluationof his performance. the other being potestas. eliciting pathos.The orator must have all styles at his command from the sublimeto the joking. move his hearersto tears.Spectaclewas everywhere. Eloquencewas a weapon not only for the lawyer but also for the magistrate and the statesman.He used other resourcesas well. This was a prideful program and one that conferred audoitas on those who followed it.Like the actor the lawyer carefully cultivatedhis diction and adaptedthe rhythm of his speechto his aims.Just as a flutist could not perform without a flute.

In other words. At times the doctiwere in . the elite of the Latin or Latinized young in the West. Never has a writer been so studied. It has also been suggested.In the course of his careera lawyer often had to plead a casefor and against the same person. he found it difficult to reconcilehim with the Sophists. The Senatecontinued to debate. translated.and thought. Although Cicero admired Plato.Like Homer. Similarly. and becausehe too representeda unique moment in the relationshipbetween speechand writing. Nonetheless. a relatively cultivated public that usually had long years of study behind them. and the docti. thus he declaredthat when the judges were not up to the task the lawyer must embody Roman wisdom. Since Cicero was well acquainted with the law courts. when Octavian and Antony had him assassinated. language. Roman customsand fashions spreadto the provinces. .the magistratesto discoursewith ritual pomp. It was particularly from him that scholars of the Renaissancelearned their first lessonsin style. Romansbeganto distinguishbetween tbe indocti. The eclecticismof Cicero'sphilosophy did little to resolvethe tensionbefween ancient ethicsand ancient rhetoric.not without reason.frequentedthe schoolsof rhetoric. if only to haranguetheir troops.As Romanizationspreadwith the Empire.that he was not a major mind. the lawyers to plead their cases. Early on. Cicero furnished an unequaled model. limiting the lawyer's province to what was likely.Cnaprnn Tnnrr admired. and to note the failure of his politics. As someone "in the trade." he tended to glorify his profession. there were a number of ambiguitiesin a thought that in fact gaveaction priority over principle. which sought verisimilitude more than certitude. like their Hellenizedcounterparts in the East. and plagiarized: only very recently have his works (in fact if not in theory) been removed from school curricula. Experiencehad taught him that to win a casea lawyer's plea must appeal to the passions.the adventure of the last of the great orators of antiquity was only beginning on that day in 43 s.& The art of oratory by no meansdisappearedfrom Romewith the Republic. however.tlrre rough common people. The emperorsthemselvespracticedit.and he attemptedto eliminate what bothered him in Plato'sStoic doctrine.c. It has becomefashionableto denounce Cicero'spride. he left it to the judges to find out the truth. and he tended to present confrontations between lawyers as loyal combat. to stressthe ambiguity of his philosophy.

Thus the Roman man of letters was born. and contributed greatly to developingthe heroic talent of virgil. he playedthe role of the disinterestedlover of the Muses and left direction of the world of letters to Augustus. Also very early.SpnrcneNo Lrtrrns sufficient number in the court for Ciceroto addressthem directly (in spite of the democratic principles we have just seen). the theater depended on the patronageof the greatfamilies who sponsoredthe ludi. just like the prdcieuxof seventeenth-centuryFrance. literary "micro-milieus" grew up. a role he appearsnot to have enjoyed. Still. whose adoptedgrandson. they often exchangedbrief poems-nugae-when they met.jealous by nature and at times arrogant. This is where Maecenasentered the picture.a5A singular and complex person.c.and a certain belief in ingeniumand in the natural liberty of the artist.grew up under the tutelage of Laelius Sapiens. BeforeActium he urged Horaceto abandonlight versefor the aestheticof virtus.). A mediocre poet with baroque tastes.but he refusedall official posts.were welcomedinto this circle.c..ScipioAemilianus. in his magnificent dwelling on the Esquiline. In partial disgraceafter 22 s. his fits of bad humor had alreadv led Horace to dream of . He was of coursenever independent. this knight from an aristocraticEtruscanfamily was both the friend and the factotum of Octavian (later Augustus).the son of a slave.He warbled with Horace in his park and gave him a villa in the SabineHills. like many of those who have taken on the role to which he bequeathedhis name.After Actium he becamethe patron of the highest forms of poetry preachedtriumphant lyricism. He seemsto have been torn between the demands of the patron. Epic poetry centered on noble historiography.Authors of modest origins such asTerence. and even elegant poetry and the familiar ode never totally ceasedbeing commissioned verse (Jean-Marie Andr€). In the classicalage the "learned" included a number of provincial notableswho proved eagerto meet famous authors when they cameto Rome. Maecenas understoodthe force of public opinion.He receivedRoman lettered society. The oldest of these Roman circles in which literary exchange took place grouped around Scipio Africanus(235* 183 n.The women who reigned over such groups-Precia and Lesbia in the days of Cicero and Catullus-fostered careersand helped authors to win fortune. The members of such groupswere Hellenizedand fond of elegantand literate correspondence. as soon as what might properly be called writers began to appear. writers were invited to put their art to the service of the reconstruction of a Roman ideology. With the Empire.Virgil in particular.

It would even be hazardous to be too quick to denounce imperial censorship when the Sophists rather directly criticized the emperors' acts in certain periods. Nonetheless. just as certain political figures of our own day insist on displaying their music-hall talents on television. and later he glorified the emperor himself. however. extremely courteous but firm. and orators launched a fashion for recitals in which they showed offtheir talents before a select audience. labor. 56-ca. the writers and orators of the Empire tended to address a more cultivated public. not to the incompetent throng but to one man alone. Maecenas would today be an excellent literary editor of a publishing house. and homeland. 120) composed his celebiated Dialogus de oratoribus in which he denounced (in moderate terms. the wisest of all. This was the setting in which Horace wrote his Odes. In a word. because his art furnished ruses that permitted him to . ca.Lo functioned as public prosecutors in Rome still attracted great crowds.100 Cneprnn Tnnnn some form of social status for the writer. People flocked to the public sessionsin which rhetoricians exhibited their pupils. and the question of the extent to which the Romans believed in their myths has often been raised." Relations between the orator and his public were impure. Virgil received a standing ovation one day as he entered the amphitheater.aT This was the climate in which Tacitus (e. Tacitus continued. and Ovid's verse (in somewhat garbled form) has been found among the graffiti in Pompeii. and the "predestined" man who presided over it all. Authors and professional readers presented new works (or new in principle) in recitationespublicae. There has been extensive debate on the scope of this restoration. the orator was no longer at the center of political life and the heroes admired by the throng henceforth tended to be from the circus or the games-which explains why Nero and Domitian took it into their heads to perform there themselves. It was in that same climate that Virgil's Georgics were written to celebrate a return to the land.le delatores w}. their poets were extremely popular.a work of national inspiration in which he glorified ideas dear to Augustus.1.a6 Was the art of oratory in decline? The discourses of t}. the reestablishment of peace. Be that as it may. however) the decline of eloquence and stated that it had come to occupy a less important place in a state in which "governmental deliberations belong. More and more. It is certain that the imperial power brought a good deal of pressure to bear not only on writers' works but also on lawyers' arguments and orators' harangues.

however: the easystructure and style of their works may at times surpriseus but they were worked out in scholarly fashion.a8 .he appointed the historian Suetoniusas director of the office a litteris (chargedwith sendingletters). When writers such as Senecaor Tacitusaddresseda cultivated audiencethey abandonedCiceronianperiods and elegantconjunctions to practicean "abbreviated" style. However when Hadrian reorganizedthe chancery (up to that time it had been staffedby freedmen). This is true.Furthermore. We may at times find disconcertingthe density of information that Tacituspacksinto his historical works.Make no mistake.Spppcg arqo Lrrrpns l0t dominate his listeners.and multiply services. introduced jurists into the imperial council. for instance.and there was hardly a jurist of any renown who had not servedthe emperor in one way or another. which continued to provide the foundation of classicalculture. but we need to ask to what extent Roman rhetorical formation and literary tradition.hencethere was a need to recruit increasingnumbers of competentpersonnel. of Seneca'sdialogues. The Sagewould thus liberate himself by consenting to the designsof the gods and arming. Although. for example.the stormy relationsbetweenNero and Seneca made Tacitus pessimistic about the likelihood that the Sagewould ever govern the Prince. By the sametoken. however.enlargeadministrativebodies. where they were its most stableelement. Imperial policies over five centuriesare beyond the scopeof this work.more and more jurists (whose formation included rhetoric) were called upon to fill administrative posts. The oligarchy of the Republichad reducedadministrativepersonnelto the minimum. but the cultivatedlistenerof his times was accustomedto the techniquesof oral recitation. and understood and appreciatedthe lesson in wisdom that was being offered to him. throughout his lifetime.himself with courage. but henceforth he tended to addressthe many doctksimiof the age and adjust his style accordingly.thus the reign of eloquencehad developedunreasoningpassions. as . which follow the rules of a very elaboratefhetoric with which his public was familiar. this style worsenedthe split in Roman society between the elite and the rest of the population. could prove satisfactoryin this new state of affairs despite their muchcriticized formality and conventionality. As the Empire evolvedand jurisprudence advanced. The historian (who could not be sure of being a sage)of course had duties toward other men. the Stoics' weapon. By reasonof its nature the imperial regime tended to fill in the gaps.could seizeevery allusion.:. Hadrian.

However that may be.This meant that schools proliferated.Henri-IrdndeMarrou has written on the popularization of stenographictechniquescharacteristicof scribal activities during that period.This introduction to the law certainly provided them with as good an education as the young maitresdesrequAtus of great families "of the robe" in eighteenth-century France or certain bureaucratsin France today who have come out of the Ecole nationale d'administration. the cultural systembased on the techniques of the art of oratory createdby the senatorialelitesof the Republiclastedonly aslong asthe Empire.lo2 cneprnnTnnnr has often been pointed out. given the total destruction of the archives of the time. were the championsof that culture. it left descendants. Gratian. a Pannonian. discourse. who gave his former tutor the important post of praetorian prefectwhen he in turn becameemperor. However.tr RrrrcroNs oF THE Boor The power that words had over things seemedapparent to primitive populations. We can decipher funerary inscriptions nearly everywhere in which the dead or their loved onesask that their namesbe pronounced or that an offering prayer containing their names be read aloud. One would like to know more about the massof officialswho crowded the officesof the imperial administration. Professors in the schools of Autun could promise a fine career to their pupils.reer as a magistrateand held high administrative posts.5o Thus the cult of rhetoric.They attractedlarge numbers of students and furnished a great many administrative officials.and that the Christiansrespectedas well. particularly in the East.and letters survived to the bitter end-a cult that the senaton had promoted in yearsgone by and continued to respectin the third century when they left the cities to take refuge in their country estates. Professorshad perhapsnever had greaterauthority than during this period when ancient culture seemedto be sinking into barbarity.soldiersof fortune.4e The statein the late Empire was even more reliant on its dual baseof the army and an increasinglytentacular bureaucracy. Pliny the Younger(like Tacitus)had difficulties with certain juridical problems. called the Bordeaux poet and rhetorician Ausonius to be tutor to his son. Nonethelessthe young people who followed this sort of careerusually had made their reputationsaslawyersafter completing their rhetorical studies. almost as if . Thus ValentinianI. Perhapsa new type of relationshipwith writing developedin the late Roman Empire that we will never know. The last emperors. he pursued a c.

All genresand epochsmingle in the Old Testament. In the CratylusPlato statesthat words are not born of simple conveniencebut made by analogy with the very nature of things. even before the Book. mythical tales basedin the cosmogonyof the Middle East. they explain why signsfor dangerousthings were slashedin two in the subterraneanapartmentsand why certain statuesand inscriptionswere held to possesscurativevirtues. Eglpt made a priestly scienceof such concepts. they constructedthe Ark of the Covenantto contain the Tablesof the Law that he had just given. Jews. . who from the outset. prophecies.liturgical pieces. In a similar spirit.The same conceptsled to the defacementof statuesfrom former times in periods of crisis.legislativeand sacerdotal documents at times bearing traces of laws and institutions that came from other nations and other ages.but it also explainsthe effortsmade to enrich it with new signs. * It would be tempting to passwith no transition to the attitude of the Hebrews as they fled from Egypt and when.Sprrcn nno Lrrrnns r03 that could make them live again.s2Since language contained a cosmic force. and monotheism was the result of a slow conquest.Thus the Old Testamentreflectsthe slow gestationof a people who began as an aggregateof tribes and gives the history of its relations with God.We are also awareof the power of magical formulas. so formidable is the Word of the Lord. words that resembledone another could not do so fortuitously. Hieroglyphicswere chargedwith magical values.a notion that we also find in the first versesof the Bible. oral traditions concerningnational origins. was the God of Scripture.It was a way for Israelto preserveits personalityin the face of the many temptations to synchretismin the land of Canaan. still wash their hands before and after they have touched the Torah. popular and religious songsof all sorts. hence one must study their genealogy. following the orders of Yahweh. It contains the verse of a nomadic people. It would also be tempting to contrast traditional polytheism with the religion of the one God.who in one section of the Psalms refrained from writing the name of God. This may explain the systematic exploitation of the richly evocativepossibilitiesof hieroglyphic script and its seemingly immutable principles.annals or chronicles. whose chosenpeople it was.There are burial vaults in the Nile Valley covered with inscriptions not put there to be deciphered once the tombs were sealedbut that nonethelesshad full efficacy. For the Eglrytiansthe godshad only to speakto create. But the passagein Deuteronomy that relatesthis story is a late work.

it is in fact a collective work in which we can recognize extremely ancient traditions preserved in sanctuaries and transmitted by tale-tellers or simply repeated among the people as generations passed. the Hebrews used poetry first. A desire to fight contamination by other religions and to ward off . in classical fashion. come from the oldest period. The king had a minister who functioned. as both personal secretary and secretary of state. seems to come from the south. whereas Current E. as do the two great narratives.5l The Old Testament is a library the result of a series of redactions and revisions over more than a thousand years. in which God is called Yahweh from the name revealed to Moses.and tales and romanticized fiction. in 722 e. Long attributed to Moses. the pentateuch)-the five books of Genesis. The Torah. and Israel to the north and Judah to the south were set up as independent states.).c. probably came from the north. Current J." Certain portions were perhaps written down in the time of the Judges (twelfth and eleventh centuries n. and grouped into cycles when the traditions came to be written down. progressively modified. in which God is called Elohim. Like many other peoples. meant that Jerusalem fell heir to the legacy of the north. proofs of the power that speech had at the time.c.c. and his administration included a good number of scribes. The death of Solomon split up his kingdom. Samaria. Numbers. chronicles. probably around the end of the period of the kings. The two oldest currents that we can discern in the Pentateuch come from that period. and that way of preserving tradition developed with the establishment of the monarchy. and Deuteronomy-provides a case in point. This is the age to which the official texts inserted into certain narrations belong: annals. the Law of the Jews (for Christians. Magical poems like Joshua's curses. The Assyrian attacks on Israel and the fall of its capital. and the history of the reign of David found in the Book of Kings in which the misfortunes of the aging sovereign are related in a relatively independent manner and which seems to have been set down a good while after the events related.moralizing texts often inspired by outside sources. when David conquered Jerusalem around the year 1000 and the Temple of Solomon was built around 950 s.lO4 Cnlprnn Tnnrr collectionsof proverbswritten down long after their first appearance. Hence the E and J currents merged. Exodus. it reflects a constant interpenetration between an ongoing oral tradition and periodically updated written versions. the "Book of the Wars of Yahweh" and the "Book of the Just. Leviticus.

c.horror-struck that his people had been unfaithful to the Law for so long." Josiah. Theseredactions had been greatly influenced by the prophetic movement. but keep the commandmentsof Yahweh your God just as I lay them down for you. and the redaction of the priestly code persistedlong after the Jewsreturned to pal- .This was the context of the "discovery" by a secretaryof the king of the Book of Deuteronomy in that temple (probably in 622 n.Thus God told Jeremiahto note down the warnings that had proliferated in the last twenty-five years. At that time. mounted on his chariot. With him prophecy at times resembledarticlesof law. NonethelessYahweh. but what they had to say was often noted down. the city was taken and the Templedestroyed. they were also the critics and counselors of kings. In Deuteronomy 4:2.)."Inspired" poets. had him eat a scroll covered with lamentations. Religiousforce compensatedfor the failure of the temporal power. appearedto Ezekielin 59). Ezekiel was the product of a priestly family and he was quite familiar with phoenician and Mesopotamianliterature. When all had come to pass. and their mission was to remind the chosen people of the demandsof the Lord and to incite them to obey and to love Him. and take nothing from it. One result in the time of King Josiahwas legislation that attempted to proclaim the Templeof Jerusalemthe sole sanctuary of Yahweh. to mark the date and urge the Jews to repent now that Jerusalemwas threatened.).Srrrcn aNo LurrsR.c.But the king of Judah tore up the scroll that was read to him.c. a school of redactorsmay have undertaken the task of merging versionsJ and E. We do not know when this text had actually been elaborated (perhaps in the north in the eighth century e. There were in fact a number of prophetswho proclaimed the Word of Yahweh around the Temple. As orators and preachersthe prophetswere men of the oral tradition. their labors furnishing the D current of the critics. and on occasionthey engagedin literary skirmishes. to give him inspiration. ordered him to prophesy. Moses declares: "You must add nothing to what I command you.s 105 dangersfrom the outside then made it imperative to maintain cohesion among God'speople.he describedhis vision of the Temple restoredand religion triumphant.Thus the Babylonian Captivity correspondedto an episodeof intense literary creation.and. and the priestly scribeswho were the leaders of the dispersedcommunitiestook on the task of writing down the rites of the cult as they had been practiced in Jerusalem.). brought them together to read the work to them and had them contract a new covenant with their Lord.and the Hebrewswere deporteden masse to Babylon (586 n.

The nucleus of Deuteronomy. Writing helped the kings to put order into their administration and to levy taxes. The richnessof the Bible camefrom the incessantdialoguebetween the chosen people and their God. and responses. for instance.c. throughout Leviticus. which is the text found under Josiah. and in the fifth century s.the first of which (in the beginning of the Book of Genesis)springsfrom the priestly tradition. and the eldersof the cities long played an essentialrole in the courts. Similarly.r06 CnApren Tnnrn estinein 538 s.however. Sincethis current (known as 5P) was last in date.who punished his people for their faults before raising them up again in his goodness. more on the terrain of wisdom and practical piety. and as early as the eighth century Isaiah denounced kings who promulgated iniquitous decreesand wrote oppressiverescripts depriving the poor of justice and despoilingthe widow and the orphan. As the Pentateuchwas being constituted in this manner a seriesof redactorsdid their best to adapt the texts of their predecessors. objections. The sovereign. at the risk of offering differing descriptionsand interpretationsof the sameevents. In later passagesthe priestly current can be discernedat the end of Exodus.Everything began to change after the Exile.Moreover the redaction of the priestly code was coming to an end and a new era was beginning ih which new writings of a different nature. Thus the use of writing developedamong the Jews as it did elsewhere from the moment when tribes and clans tended to merge into a greater whole. and in the better part of Numbers. it gave the Pentateuchits deflnitive framework and on occasionhas been thought its original nucleus. Malachi.one Yahwist and the other Elohist. All he could do was to have the assemblyof the people approve the successivetexts of the Law given by Yahweh. In reality Hebrew law remained customary.Thus we find two descriptionsof the Creation. there are two descriptionsof the Flood and two Decalogues. The line of the great prophets died out. one supposedly written by God himself and the other dictatedto Mosesafter he broke the first tablet of the Ten Commandmentsin his indignation at seeingthe Jewsworshiping the Golden Calf. is framed by a discourseattributed to Moses that was also inspired by the priestly tradition (the last chaptersof the book aside).c. were . was not the sourceof the law.seemsless a spokesmanfor a superior will than a moralizing preacher operating by intuition. arguments. neither of which contains ten articles. in particular from the idea that the history of that people was not the result of a seriesof chance occurrencesbut rather of the will of Yahweh. which Scripture traditionally attachedto the revelation receivedby Moses.

the product ofabroad variety ofbackgrounds.the commentary on the Pentateuchthat Pharisee tradition saw as originating in Moses. They also played a leading role in the redaction of wisdom literature.the Easternand the WesternTalmud. Peter was probably martyred in 64 or 67. were in command. Titus besiegedand capturedJerusalemand took the city in 70. to oral memory.conforming to the traditions of Judaic piety. Solomon.by and large.the most learnedof them discussedactionsto be taken and transmitted their thought to their disciples. to whom so many writings are attributed.54According to the opinions most broadly acceptedtoday. are often connectedin the Old Testamentwith the notion of wisdom. Henceforththe scribes. were castin definitive written form only in the fourth and fifth centuries l.and translations (targums). sold. after which most of its inhabitants were killed. and Paul decapitatedin 67 or soon after.and we can date the Passionin the year 30. Paul convertedaround 34. commentaries. and they not only took an interest in the hallakah-the law-but also in the hagadah-the history of their people. the First Letter to the Corinthians was written between 54 and 57.as seenin the Dead SeaScrolls.the priest-scribeand learned interpreter of the commandmentsof Yahweh whose name remains connectedwith the history of the Torah.o.o.They played an essentialrole in the law courts and were indispensablein the administration and in diplomacy. The Letter to the Thessaloniansdates from the year 50. seemsto have been a scribe-king. Groupedin colleges. Thesemen of letters. was their model.Spnncn eNo Lrttrns r07 being addedto the sacredtexts. The history of the New Testamentis an evenmore typical illustration of the closeconnection between oral tradition and written tradition. 200 was the mishnah. By that time. and only around a.Jesuswas born in 7/6 e. It was not until the time of Vespasian(e. andhis first mission can be situated between 45 and 48.:.o. or sentencedto forced .whose importance had grown during the Exile. His public life lastedapproximatelythree years.and they bgcamethe prime interpreters of the Law. They read and commented on the Torah in the synagogues. . Christianity was spreadingthroughout the Mediterraneanbasin.Nonethelessthe Jewslong remained essentiallypeople of the spoken word. 9-791that the canon of the Bible was closed. and in both their disputations and their teaching they appealed.c. The Jews' great collections. Such personscould translate the sacredtexts from Hebrew into Aramaic (the only language the post-exilic massesspoke). and they annotated or composeda mass of texts. given wdtten form.and Esdras.

and Matthew and attempt to establish the existence of presynoptic documents. mnemonic procedures. As for the evangelists' sources of inspiration.1) Ecclesiastical tradition attested in the second century. although both by their style and their redaction they seem earlier than the letters of Paul. first written in the "Hebrew language" (that is. tradition has identified two rival tendencies. thanks to advances made by German scholars.108 Cnaprnn Tnnrn labor. key words. word displacements. writing in the latter half of the second century has this to say about the writing of the Gospels: Thus Matthew published among the Hebrews and in their own language a written form of Gospel in the epoch in which peter and Paul were evangelizing Rome and founding the church there. the Gospel according to John and the other later Johannine texts received deflnitive form at a later date. also published the Gospel while he was sojourning in Ephesus in Asia. consigned in a book the Gospel that the latter preached. inclusions. was later the basis for the Greek version that is the only one we know. Mark. Still. St. (Irenaeus Contra haereses ). There is a tendency today to place the Gospel according to Mark at about the time of the death of Peter and before the fall of Jerusalem. the companion of Paul.1. who also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. The texts of these three Gospels offer a kinship that makes them generally held to have come from a corlmon source or to have been inspired by one another. the very one who had rested on his bosom. and so forth-to determine more precisely the exact role that . After their death Mark. a disciple from Jerusalem. The first is that of the exegetes who seek to determine the relations between the Gospels of Mark. Then John.n. the disciple and interpreter of Peter. a publican who had belonged to the "college" of the twelve apostles and whose work. Luke. Irenaeus. also transmitted to us in writing what Peter preached. Luke. Finally. a physician perhaps born in Antioch.c. thus attributes the Synoptic Gospels to three specific persons: Matthew.. while the Greek texts of Matthew and Luke are doubtless slightly later in their flnal redaction. Specialists in Aramaic have used stylistic studies-studies of the phrase rhythms. and Luke. Today we are better informed. The second is that of the champions of the oral tradition who once excluded all notion of a common literary dependence on a sole previous Gospel and held that the catechesis of the primitive church had rapidly become stereotyped because of the poverty of the Aramaic language and the laws of continual repetition. in Aramaic). the disciple of the Lord.

During Jesus'lifetime palestinewas the site of many spiritual curents. or religious propaganda. and consecrateoral traditions (often ancient ones) that it seemeduseful to set down to consolidatethe faith.where christians often were to be found. and finally of pagans. or the spacesaround the portals of the Temple.writing was widespreadthere. The samewas the case with the New Testament.The critics still fail to agreeon the extent and the duration of this inJluence.Thus with time and thanks to reiteration traditions developedthat were nourished by the memory of Jesus but had their own ends and functions.Nonetheless..Good News.particularly in matters involving-disputation. Similarly.which without a doubt representsa part of the "functional" literature of the earliestchristian communities. as we have seen. of such texts. still easily retained in these milieus where auditory memory remained well developed).places. .all that writing did in the orthodox Jewish world was to select. of course.for the ..Furtherrnore. still other texts were composed for preaching missions during which the Gospelwas preachedto larger and larger crowds. Speechwas still dominant. instruction.and also on the possibleexistenceof earlier written sourcesin Aramaic. It is probable that when the apostlesleft a community that they had founded they gave the congregation a written summary of their sennons.we need to distinguish among several different .. and more than ever it was a land of encountersand contacts. where they listened to the teachingsof the apostlesand broke bread together. fust of Jews. other narrativeswere repeatedin private meetingsbetweenfollowers of the new belief.." seemsto have been set down in writing at an early date. The exegetes'patient and painstakinglabors also give us a better understanding of the climate of opinion in which the redaction of the New Testament may have taken place. of the death and resurrection of Christ.ceaselesslyrepeated.SprncnaNo Lrrrrns 109 this form of tradition may have played in the writing down of the synoptic Gospels.production.fix. then of samaritans. it had close connections with the Hellenistic world. was subjectto Roman domination. notably within the Jewishworld. The narration.If we consider the term "church" as referring to the actual assemblyin which the first christians becameaware of their common call and soughtto establishconnectionswith all others who respondedto the samevocation. First there were the synagogues.. we can consider that church gatheringswere where the fust christian literature was elaborated (the term "literature" being understood to include not only written but also oral compositions.for as long as christians were admitted to them.. the Kerygmaor . notably in their houses..

A liturgy eventually developed. and St. Christian authors trained by the techniquesof classical schooling. As it spreadthrough the Mediterraneanbasin with an astonishingrapidity. Basil wrote a brief treatiseon the utility of profane letters. prayers. Furthermore. However. taking inspiration from Deuteronomy.55 Thus a new form of Greco-Latin literature developedin the age of the Fathersof the church. if all were written down. and soon written down. the world itself. I suppose." This explainswhy Christiansat first recognized only the Old Testamentas their Holy Scripture and becameaware of the rise of a New Testamentonly later. Christianity maintained its unity and developed its doctrines only by recourseto writing.After an initial period of uncertainty Christianity assertedits universality. the way in which the Gospelswere elaboratedhelps us to see that they cannot be said to representan objectivenarrative of the life and sayingsof Jesus. St. the only way it could conquer the Roman Empire was by appealingto Greek and Latin culture. often raised the question of whether they should read so many classicaltexts imbued with "superstition" and authorize others to read them. compared pagan culture to a captive whom a Jew could take to wife on the condition that her head be shavedand her nails cut.and canticles.few of which have come down to us. . not to mention the epistles. repeatedorally. and they tell only a part of what the apostlesand those who had approachedthe Messiah knew of him. Proof of this is the last sentencein the Gospelaccording to St. * The one God of Israelcontinued to be the god of one people.whose circulation gavecohesionto the widely dispersedchurchesand which were gradually collected together. John: "There were many other things that Jesusdid.would not hold all the books that would have to be written. The Gospelsare a codification of texts primarily designedto spread the faith. Most of them thought knowledge of such reading matter not only indispensableto their own intellectual formation but also a necessarytool for converting the pagans by using conceptsand argumentsborrowed from their own philosophersPlato and the Stoicsfor the most part. The shift from the oral tradition to the written tradition seemsto have occurred within some thirty years. Next came compositewritings.lI0 Cnlprrn TnnrB the sayingsof Jesuswere memorized. Jerome. an exceptionally short span of time. the first time that a religion had done so. the rules of rhetoric in particular. complete with sacredformulas.

The Council of Nicaea. and that source was necessarilyrevelation. transmitted from generation to generation by the paths of tradition and still living in its bosom. religious doctrines. It resultedat the century'send in the rout of the pagans. awaiting his word with raisedstylus. which proclaimed the consubstantialityof the Father and the Son. and St." The defi- . it is "the transmissionof historical facts.who defendedthemselveswith some dignity. 185-ca .which explainsnegligencesof style. It is hardly surprising that the greatestFathers of the church were grouped in one generation: among the Greeks. 312). legendsfrom age to age by oral means and without authentie."56 The Littr| Dictionnairede la languefrangaise.Like any other institution. Epiphanius attributes two thousand writings (St.St. St. but thanks to wealthy patrons they had an army of scrivenerswho knew shorthand and to whom they could dictate their compositions. unleasheda phase of intense doctrinal activity. 347-4O7).an apostle of secularity. and he admitted that he could not stop to reflect when he saw the scrivener before him. lists eight hundred entries). Jerome worked in just this manner: he translated the Book of Tobit in one day.but that climate also included incessantcontroversy and the claims of a number of heresies.o. his brother St. St.gives tradition as "the action by which one transferssomethingto someone". the church neededan indisputable sourcefor the dogma it adopted. Basil l33O-79). Jerome(347-4191. by St. The Christian authors of the early centurieswere surprisinglyprolix. Beforegoing on we need to recall what was meant by "tradition. 328-89). Augustine (354-430).Sprrcn ano Lrrrrns lll The definitive battle between Christianity and paganism was launched during the fourth century when Constantine. to whom St. overladenphrases. among the Latins. Epiphanius' own bibliography. tracesof whose work remain in definitive versionsof the texts.andwritten proof. Jerome. t This was the climate in which the doctrines of the Catholic Church were elaborated. Ambrose Q33-971. the first Christian emperor.A number of sermonsand homiIies (with notations of the hearers'reactions)were taken down by stenographersplacedamong the crowd. Authors like these worked without respite. cregory of Nazianzus (ca. 253/2551. The prize goesto the Alexandrian Origen (ca.and brusque shifts of topic.the Book of Estherin one night. accordedfreedom of worship to the adeptsof the new law (e. and St. Gregory of Nyssa(335-951. St. St. John Chrysostom(ca.

and St.Paul indicates in his SecondLetter to the Thessalonians. This statementneeds qualification.and it normally draws its authority from supernatural forces. is not limited to the transmissionof previous materialsby the intermediary of living beingsand institutions." This was how what is commonly called the apostolic tradition came to be established. transmissionfrom century to century of the knowledge of things concerningReligionand that are not in the Holy Scripture. re-creationof the valuesof a community.and we know that.what was neededwas to point out the day-by-day consequencesof the divine message. It was what Jesushad in mind when he told the apostlesto spread the Good News. for example. as with the solemn contracts of customary law." He tells his disciple Timothy. But that tradition concerned more than a narration of human events. however. however: we have seen. brothers.u2 Cneprrn TxnEn nition continues." Tradition. tradition remains."Stand firm then."It was God who decided that we were fit to be entrusted with the Good News.that the codification of custom did not hinder a revolution in custom in ancient societies.declared. on its way it also integratesnew givens or principles. Paul." Becausehe may have written the better part of his letters when the first versions of the Gospelshad not yet appeared. Heresiesprompted the .which spoke of a secretteaching communicatedby Jesusto a few apostlesand transmitted to a handful of the "perfect. even in today's society. hand it on to reliable people so that they in turn will be able to teach others.It proceedsfrom the myth of the Golden Age and the Platonic idea of a need to return to primordial forces in the face of a continual decadence.It appears (and rightly so) primarily as a mode of transmissionproper to societieswith an oral culture. "You have heard everything that I teach in public." Moreover as time passedand Gospelsthat the church considered apocryphal spread.As with the Jews and the Old Testament. "particularly in the Catholic Church.the essentialsourceof law. whether by word of mouth or by letter. who had not known Jesusdirectly but was in contact with him through personalrevelations. and keep the traditions that we taught you.which was how it differed from the Gnostic heresy.witnessesto Jesus'messagebecame increasingly vague and increasingly subject to caution. By the same token it cannot depend on mere human forces. Thus tradition is renewal. in spite of the triumph of law. Tradition is thus connectedwith the prestigeof the past. Wasthe samething true in the Christian religion? The oral tradition reigned supremeat the origins of Christianity.

have establisheda Church in every place. Both come from the Holy Spirit. which the ecclesiasticalauthors defend by appealingto their antiquity or their universal presenceand accep- . in all ancient documents(YvesCongar).Thus one could justify the appearanceof traditions not atlestedby Scripture.the principle according to which ministers had authority to teach the faithful in continuity from the apostlescan be found. both presupposelife in the Church.notably those concerning liturgical customs.Tradition and gnosis are related as means and end. St." Father Congar concludedfrom this: It is in this.sT From that point on. the depositit contains.contrasting that notion to the Gnosis. whose church had been founded by Peter and Paul. which consistsin the chain of successionby which the bishops.cameto indicate a sacredtrust that must be guarded faithfu\ This did nor mean that the Holy Spirit did not continue to explain the inexhaustible content of that depositedtrust and bring it to life in a world in perpetualevolution.'r in the active sense. Paul insisted the faithful should be filled with.like a beautiful vaseto which the spirit communicatesunceasinglya superabundance of youth while renewing. It is a spiritual gift which has as its object or content the knowledge of the ways of God. becauseonly the church was inhabited by the Holy Spirit. the distinctive (recognizable)mark of the Body of Christ.through tradition.Spnrcn lno Lnrrnns ltl problem of legitimacy. "tradition.explained that "true gnosis" was "the doctrine of the apostles and the ancient order (cuor4 p.al of the Church throughout the whole world. As soon as a truth had to be transmitted from one generationto another by mortal men. the bishop of Romein particular. Irenaeus. Irenaeus. the understanding of the great saving acts accomplishedby Christ and of their proclamationin scripture. also. the receptacleof the Spirit. remained an ideal in the early Church. the Fathersof the church ceaselesslyassertedthat the church was the unique depositoryof the truth. At the sametime lists of authorized texts (the Gospelsin particular) beganto circulate. Although the notion of tradition had been formulated before the notion of apostolic succession. saysSt. which the apostleshad passedon to it. saysIrenaeus. Thus the notion of tradition was formed within the Catholic Church. The Church is.that true gnosisconsists. in one way or another. Irenaeus attempted to show that the only incontestablecriterion of legitimacy was the apostolic successionof bishops. and St.Tlljs gnosis which St.

* The difficulties inherent in setting down prophetic revelation in writing are even clearer in the history of the Koran than in that of the New Testament. It was only after the Hegira (6221 that certain disciplesof the Master beganto inscribefragmentsof what they had heard on camel shoulder-bones.58 For Muslims. Abu Bakr. This move arouseda storm of criticism. Later. ignoring all logic and chronology.This structure posed problems. Ali. The very term "Qur'an" (and the verb from which it was taken. the most important of which was collected by the first caliph. 570-6321in a seriesof visions. and he informed his entourageof the divine discourseorally. u. and Mohammed stated explicitly that he had done nothing but transmit the messageof Allah.the first of which occurred in 612. qu'ranl originally meant vocalizedrecitation. the ll4 suras(chapters)that made up the work were arranged in order of length. in order to put a stop to disputes. The ProtestantReformationlater severelvcriticized and denied the apostoliccharacterof thesetraditions.n.the third caliph. Furthermore. but the theologians claimed it was divinely inspired. not a written book." That archetype was revealedto Mohammed (a.the Koranic revelationswere gathered into a number of corpora. enlargedthis corpus. Moreover every surajuxtaposedrevelationsfrom different epochs.lI4 CneprnnTnnrn tance. After the death of the Prophet. the Koran (in Arabic. and rl omitting short vowels. who was assassinated.written Arabic allowed only for notation of the consonantal framework of words plus the three long vowels €. 'Uthman (645-6i).Above all the limitations of Arabic writing made interpretation difficult. Mohammed was probably illiterate.ordered the destructionof all the writings set down during the Prophet'slifetime.bits of leather. Someof Mohammed'scompanions were indignant that their contributions had been left out. Mohammed's son-in-law and cousin. and. adding nothing and removing nothing. The Shiites accusedthe caliphs responsiblefor the compilation of having intentionally eliminated the passagesdemonstratingthe legitimacy of claims to spiritual leadershipof the fourth caliph. or any other materialsthat came to hand. In the seventhcentury. according to what seemsto have been Arabic custom. one sign was used to note consonantsthat were articulated . Qur'an) was nothing less than the transmission "in clear Arabic language" of a divine archetype kept in Heavenfrom all eternity and graven on "the guardedTablet. drew up a vulgate from it.

and there was no indication of the function of certain words or the articulation of the phrases.and the various interpretationsof the divine Word were considered a form of enrichment that permitted better rendering of its hidden truths (RdgipBlachdre). Grammatical studieswere developing during the sameperiod. There are thus characteristicsof Arabic script that explain the tenacious survival of reading aloud and of memorization of the Koran and that justify the role of a body of readerscharged with restoring the contents of the sacredtext to its full integrity. a vulgate could be read and acceptedwith slight variants. like Judeo-Christiaflscripturaltexts. Under theseconditions. After the ninth century such variants were thought to correspondto seven"chains" establishedby scholars whose authority was recognized. arosein lands in which rpeech precededletters within populations who knew writing but neverthelessremainedwithin an oral tradition. and it furnished little more than a guide to memory for repeating aloud a text that had already been memorized. Muslims may also have felt some fear in noting down the word of God.Spnrcn AND LETTERs ll5 very differently. rounded cursive.A graphic systemof this sort obviously lent itself to varying interpretations. and the copyistsof Koranic texts tended to abandon the angular and monumental Kufic script in favor of a handsome. In the eighth and ninth centuries the extension of Islam to populations who did not speak Arabic and could hardly be expectedto guessat what had been left out prompted a series of improvements aimed at clarifying the reading of the text. The Koran. This was still not enough to remove all the ambiguitiesof the original system. Thus it did not substitutefor oral tradition. Is there any reason to criticize the disciplesof Allah who admitted that all speechis polysemic when Christians were doing their utrnost to make speechseemunivocal? .

Then in the late tenth century we will see the brusque awakening of a world that seemed regenerated. All this happened before the great Renaissance of the fifteenth century when. a transmission of knowledge that has raised much controversy. in that year of disgrace. with newcomers gaining a better mastery of the techniques of writing. and eventually the Empire had to make room for occupation troops and their families. and in which new invasions brought writing close to the zero point. We will see a series of centuries in which writing survived only with the aid of religion. In any event it should serve to remind us that the Eastern Roman Empire survived for nearly another thousand years. is a break neither worse nor more satisfactory than any other. Tnn Impecr oF THE BARBARTANS There is a price to pay for decline. It is even hard to say whether Charlemagne was an emperor in the Roman fashion or the first ruler of a society on its way to something new. Hence we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of writing-a moment of decline par excellence: that of Rome. Raids became more frequent. we shall see a change that took place on the fringes of an older culture. as always. Romulus Augustulus. to the east of territory that was the old Romania printing appeared and provided a point of departure for many new changes. The Deathand Resunectionof Written Culture I ny break cripples chronology.the populations of the Roman Empire welcomed auxiliary troops who were willing to do their fighting for them. Through all this time the translatio studii. After the catastrophic fifth cenrl6 . nonetheless preserved the essence of the classical heritage and enabled northern Europe to discover it once more. and that the death agony of classical culture continued in the West at least until the eighth century.n. Setting the end of classical antiquity at fle. And at a period whose unity is factitious-the Middle Ages. In other words.Totu. 476 under the pretext that a barbarian prince deposed the last Roman emperor of the West. The great invasions often began in insidious ways when entire peoples came to seek refuge behind the Roman limes and. in which the Carolingian "renaissance" provided a sustained underlying note. The economic and moral weakening of the Empire delivered its western half to the barbarians.

and aristocratscontinued to frequent granlmar schools and schools of rhetoric. Nonethelessthesepeopleswere ready to acceptthe fiction of the Empire. Some Romans. The school systemcontinued to function.and sale contracts. especiallyin the more profoundly Romanizedand lessmassively occupied southern portion of Europe.3Theodoric the Great. and their songs. to the rhetoricians' schools. as before.acts of donation.Furthermore. Some acts were still posted up in Rome or Ravenna. They had systemsof real and solemncontractsfor transactionsthat concludedby swearing to superior powers in the presenceof witnesses.They had their legends.their poems. in the archivesof the municipalities. and he gathered together in his court in Ravennaan elite of administratorsand Latin rnen of Ietters along with his own warriors. Theodoric posed as the champion of Romania.the pax romanaseemedto be xeestablished.the poet Apollinaris Sidonius.refusedcollaboration as best they could.They continued to use scrivenersto draw up the usual acts. leigned over the north of Italy.and their theaters. At one point a hostageat the court in Constantinople.Boethius. certainly. a greatHellenist from an illustrious family that had ral- . though. except in particularsituations.Their only juridical rules were their own customs.Thoserulers quite naturally thought it good policy to offer the local elites certain forms of collaboration. which means that they had their own clergy-often well organized-were hostile to Catholicism. and Arian prelates. and their recently implanted kings had every interest in reassuring the populations that they had subjected. king of the Ostrogoths.r Nonethelesseverything had changed.their baths. The barbarianswere there in their midst with their chiefs. but others sought to becomepart of the new order and to influence its evolution.T H e D n e r g e w o R n s u n n E c r r o No p W n r r r n r s C u r r u n r t17 tury the century of great wavesof invaders. and wills were still drafted according to formulas carefully regulated by the jurists. and were inclined to acceptthe laws of the Empire forbidding interrnarriagebetween Romansand barbarians.and their traditional culture. kansmitted orally.and they preferred a warlike moral training at the court of their rulers.for instance. where the virtues and the exploits of their ancestorswere taught. much of the middle class receivedthe usual elementaryinstruction. mostly for magical purposes?And had not missionariesgiven the Goths a vwiting systemof their own?2 The Goths could not seethat it had much use. Had not some of them created runes. their assemblies. The barbariansknew writing. After the German conquest the populationskept their monuments.which they deposited. Germanic poets. when they converteden masseto Christianity durrng the flfth century most of them adopted Arianism.

also from a family of notableswho had rallied to the Ostrogothicmonarchy. Such. As a general rule laws of the dominant group pertained: and individuals were judged under their own law.. Another problem was to know those laws.4In this way Boethius served as an intermediary between the wisdom of antiquity and the Christian thought of the Middle Ages. At least they attemptedto teach their conquerorssomeaspectsof classicalculture. Gundobad.if the customs.As for Boethius.the systemthat prevailed varied according to the region or the epoch. passedpart of his life at court laden with honors before he was taken prisoner by Belisarius.all established"breviaries" of Roman law for the use of their Roman subjects. and taken off to Constantinople. although when barbarian and Latin law clashed.llg cneprrn Foun lied to the Ostrogoths. a Visigoth. Using a dialectical method inspired by Aristotle's late Neoplatoniccornmentators. and executed. Cassiodorusalso wrote or supervised the drafting of a number of official documentsthat later servedas models for many medieval chanceries.codes. his abundant and varied collectedworks included not only theological treatisesbut commentaries on greatGreekand Latin philosophers.It is tempting to wonder what life was like for theserefined men of letters at the court of a barbarian king and what sorts of relations they might have had with poets from a totally different world. and was thrown in prison. Boethius was later suspectedof conspiring with the emperor of the East. cassiodoruswrote a flattering HistoriaGothoruminspired by the legendsof the Goths as much as by Roman historical sources.too. tortured.he consoledhimself at the thought of his approaching death by recalling argumentsin favor of the existence of a profoundly good and providential God.and he did his best to presentthe Gothic kings as combating Rome against their will.The barbariansalso understoodthat contact with Romanized populations threatened their customs with contamination. a Burgundian.and he helped to elaborate-ar rimesin tragic circumstances-the legacy of classicalknowledge in works all the more important for being perfectly adaptedto a new world in formation. The coexistencein the sameterritory of ethnic gr<iupswith different customs and traditions posedmore urgent problems. Heedful of the need to adapt the work of the last Roman emperors.Justinians general and the conqueror of Italy.. were not written down.For instance.He wrote his famous Deconsolatione philosophiaewhile in prison. an Ostrogoth.the persecutorof Arians. if not replacement. and Theodoric.it was important to know which law had priority. of law redacted by order of the sovereignby Roman jurisconsults (who . then magisterpalatii.shone in this company.Alaric. proclaimed consul.Cassiodorus.

Chilperic is even reputed to have ordered that texts be rubbed off old parchments with pumice stone so that new texts could be written on them. His greatwork. Gradually.but probably also as a way to note the new sounds that had appearedin the pronunciation of vulgar Latin. the uncompletedencyclopedia of origins. the Germanic aristocracyturned to classicalculture and the sovereignsprotected letters. The Salianshad barbarizedAustrasiabut Neustria was lessprofoundly affected.6 North of the Loire the Frankish warriors and herders remained faithful to their traditions. where the invaders had been relatively few in number. This was the climate in which Isidore of Seville lived. The legend of the Trojan origins of the Franks seemsto date from the same epoch: echoesof it can be found in the chronicle of Frankish history supposedly written by Fredegarius. in imitation of the emperor Claudius. In Visigothic Spain. and seemedto have wanted to reform the alphabet. or Etymologiae. in reality remained customs.This gigantic labor.seemsa desperateeffort to give order to the knowledge and activitiesof his age.whose sinisterportrait Gregory of Tours has left us. revision ceased.Clovis'sconversionto Catholicismbroke down a number of barriers between the Franks and the Gallo-Romans. Chilperic.After King Reccaredconvertedto Catholicism (5S7) and after the Third Council of Toledo. Granted easyaccessto the great classicaltexts in a land with a long-standingand lively Latin tradition.where his name was emblazoned ahead of those of the VenerableBede and Richard of Saint-Victor.s The situation changedin different ways from one region to another. and it won him a placein the fourth heavenof Dante'sParadiso.or Wnrrrrn Currunr Tnr Drarn euo RrsunnEcrroN lI9 necessarilyinfluenced their interpretation).was to make Isidore the most frequently consulted author of the early Middle Ages. He composedhymns in imitation of the poet Sedulius.and as generations passedthe people began to forget and judges came to lack the training that would enable them to read the texts on which they were supposedlybasingtheir decisions. Byzantium's reconquestof part of Italy and of certain Mediterranean coastal areas favored the survival there of what remained of classical culture.dabbled in theology. Isidore compiled with passionwhatever camehis way.and they required periodic revision with the aid of the people'sassembly.whose role (along with the king's) was essentialin such matters. They evolved as society evolved. .however. moving inces$antly between the secularand the sacred.and the Merovingian conquestof the south of Francehelped to win over the Frankish aristocracyto written culture. played the enlightenedruler. the written act continued to serveas the usual way to handle social transactions.

At least they did not abandon written bookkeeping: they probably kept registers like the ones that have been found . If a person initiating an act or the witnesses to the act could not hold a pen even to trace a cross. and the court of young King Dagobert was a genuine center of culture. As in the case of other legal instruments. Rolls continued to be drawn up for the collection of taxes that grew out of the Roman system.s Still. although some of the oldest medieval deeds have autograph subscriptions and signatures. The texts of the ancient laws were recopied and consulted even when they were increasingly inappropriate.e Good King Dagobert sent his political enemies to collect the taxes in the hope that they would not return. The barbarians refused to pay these taxes. Scribes lost sight of the real meaning of the formulas they recopied. they were invited to touch the parchment (the manufirmatio). Every man of letters is closely dependent upon the society in which he lives. save in strongly Romanized regions like Septimania. at times active ones that attempted to keep up ancient traditions and that produced letters and texts of a legislative or regulatory nature. Nonetheless. Rulers everywhere maintained chanceries. and the disappearance of public services was no incitement. The redaction of private acts as well long showed a close filiation with the redaction of the acts of Roman times. seems nearly a caricature of the classical tradition. deviations arose.livingon the revenues from their domains. His grammar was fanciful and his style rough. after the seventh and eighth centuries autography became more and more the exception. writing kept its prestige throughout rhe centuries.r2o cnepr'n Foun Princes and aristocrats displayed their taste for song and for religious literature. the probative value of such notices depended on the lists of witnesses they furnished. and faith alone cannot explain the credulity and naivet6 of his lives of the saints and his Miracula. Gregory of Tours reports that chilperic threw the tax rolls of the city of Tours into the fire rather than displease the great St. Rulers began to reside on their villae. Martin.T It would be interesting to know all the stages of this very slow disintegration. and this rule was even truer of Gregory of Tours (534-941 than of Isidore of Seville. Gregory an aristocrat of Gallo-Roman origin immersed from early youth in a bustling milieu of strong barbaric influences. The new masters found it harder and harder to keep the tax registers up-to-date. Above all his Historia Francorum shows little capacity for discerning connections of cause and effect. particularly in the tenth century when the conclusion of a juridical act is described in a third-person narrative of a solemn ceremonial.

ro Thus psalmody developed. The Rule establishedby St. that every monk had to read one volume in extenso during Lent.which were createdin Italy in the fifth century admittedly had totally different objectivesin mind. the mastersof great domains continued to have copiesmade of the inventoriesof their goods. The more Romanized western Mediterranean world from Italy through southern France to Spain rernainedloyal to a sharedconceptionof written matter and saw Latin as the mother tongue of all culture. Soon a dividing line separatedthose more southern lands that remained loyal to written law from the lands of customary law of the North.They reserveda place of honor for psalmody.A renascencethat had begun on the shoresof the Mediterranean blossomedin northern lands. During this period a new church-pontiflcal. More important than the common heritagewere the deep cleavagesthat marked Europe with an indelible stamp. and missionary-was becoming organized. This impregnation was to be reinforcedby reading aloud during mealsand before compline. It was soon deemednecessaryto encouragethe study of Scripturein the .It was a scienceof reading aloud. Also soon.TUE Drern aNo RpsunnEcrroN or WnrrrEN Currunp 121 for St. This sort of reading was undoubtedly interspersedwith pausesfor meditation and a better comprehensionof the passagethat had just been read. it was in fact so arduousthat St. It was an exercisethat required more concentrationthan was customaryfor the age.It would pick up the heritage of classical antiquity.Furthermore. Contrary to ancient habits. Benedict specifiedthat in summer three hours of the day must be reservedfor readingand in winter two. the Westconfirmed the law that newcomersbuild new forms of thought on the basisof the acquisitionsof older peoples.The foundersof the first monasteries. Martin of Tours. and that monks must carry a small book with them when they traveledand open it during halts. and effectits transferto northern lands.copiesknown to specialistsby their late Latin name. polyptychae. a form of rhythmic reading in which the reader avoidedany personalinterpretation and acquiredwhat might be calleda muscularmemory of the divine Word. Their aim was to form a militia dedicatedto prayer and asceticism. every monk was to devotelong hours to individual reading. Benedictstipulatedthat two older ryronksmust supervisethe reading "work" of the younger monks and report them if they were lazy. monastic. {.which filled thosewho sangwith the Word of God. adapt it.

until finally the British Isles were wholly Christianized though divided between the Irish and the Roman traditions. he organized a monastic group at Vivarium. Along with this florid writing style they cultivated the illuminator's and the goldsmith'sarts. After Cassiodorus abandoned secularlife in 537. Left to its own devicesin a land without cities. In their isolation their Latin kept its full purity. a style of proliferating periphrasesand epithets. The British Isleswere unified under Rome . were also bishops of the surrounding territory. as Pierre Courcellehas remarked. where he tried to persuadethe monks that he had brought there not only to read sacredworks but also to copy them. that they have the appropriateintellectual baggage-as a way to reach a better understanding of sacred works.This was a modest beginning. Soon after the Irish joined the first missionarieswith efforts of their own. Understanding that his mission was to evangelizethe barbarian peoples. Under their direction the monks pursued an asceticismmuch like that of the East and studied sacredtexts. When the Romansretreatedfrom the British Isles. and Saxons.following the example of the Byzantine monks.122 Cneprrn Foun monasteries.perhapsinfluenced by national oral traditions.the Irish church regroupedinto monasteries whose abbots.where Gregorythe Greathad become pope. rather he stressedthat the classicsshould be read not in and of themselvesbut as a means for attaining a better comprehensionof Holy Scripture and the works of the church Fathers. making extensiveuse of spirals. There were also newcomersto be converted-Angles. He insistedthat the monks learn the rudiments of profane letters-in other words. often. Hencethese apparently closed milieus (but in which relations with Byzantium had never been totally broken) produced a flourishing but strangeand mannerist style that in some aspectsrecallsclassicalAsian qualities.To assemblethe necessary materialshe had manuscriptsbrought from Africa at greatexpense.and so forth). They had no scruplesabout studying the liberal arts.rr Soon a new chapterin the history of the translatiostudii beganin northern Europe. and highly stylizedhuman and animal figures.interlaced motifs. but their specialtywas ecclesiasticalreckoning (drawing up the church calendar. Latin culture took refuge further west in the regions in which the Celtshad settled when the German invaders chasedthem out of England. In communicating a taste for intellectual work to his companions. Cassiodoruswas careful not to condemn pagan authors.fixing the dateof Easter. notably grammar and rhetoric. Jutes.but it was a beginning.and he had them stored in nine cabinets.in 596 he senta small group of monks to settlein Kent. The initiative camefrom Rome.

Rome becamethe next important purveyor of materials. and Adrian.rhetoric. Bede enteredthe monastery of Jarrow in 685 at the age of thirteen. biblical commentaries reliant on the church Fathers. The newly founded abbeysand monasteriescould never have become the centers for study and copying that they did if they had not initially receivedthe materials they neededfrom elsewhereand then kept up exchangeswith the outside. . and speculation. Very soon schoolsprospered besidethe churches.Contact increasedbetween the British Isles and Europe. A later pope sent two scholars. along the coast and moving up the great rivers. mistrusted tricks of dialectics.and both texts and men went back and forth between the British Islesand Rome. an African. The first missionariesthat he sent to England took with them not only liturgical trappings and ornaments but booksprobably liturgical works. went to Rome in 67J-75 (the first of five such voyages). and a De natura rerum in some ways comparableto the Etymologiaeof Isidore of Seville but purged of all reflections of the cosmogony of classicalantiquity. a thane of the king of Northumbria who had made the decisionto serveGod. and it contributed much to the creation of a network of abbeysthat henceforth formed the nerve centersof WesternChristendom. and astrology. and they welcomed pupils from other lands. Close ties were establishedbetween the Anglo-Saxons and the Holy See.Tnr Drlrn eNo RnsunnEcrroN or Wnrrrnx Currunr lzJ in 663.r2 This renewal of island cultures at a time when the Arabs were seizing the greater part of the Iberian peninsula and ravaging the southwest of Franceshifted the Continent'scenterof gravity toward the northeast.and concentratedon clarifying scriptural texts with the help of grarnmar and on studying ecclesiasticalreckoning. a Greek. grammar. thus forming a nucleus for further growth free of the weight of old habits at the edgesof the ancient Latin cultural universe.One result of this movement was that a group of peoplesadopted a languagetotally foreign to them as their languageof sacredculture. and they undoubtedly stocked up on the necessarytexts before their departure. to educatea native clergy.and ecclesiasticalreckoning. This proved a help to the Irish and AngloSaxonmonks when they in turn took up missionarywork. Thus Bede laid the foundations for a scholastic tradition that subordinatedculture to religion. Thanks to Gregory the Great.A discipleof masterswho were illustrious in their own right.Theodoreof Tarsus.measures. Similarly.treatiseson spelling. In the fifth century the Irish encouragedthe lmportation of books from the Continent.bringing back a large number of manuscripts. He later wrote a Historia ecclesiastica gentisAnglorun. Benedict Biscop.

the monasteryof Corbieacquireda number of manuscripts from pilgrims returning from ltaly. whose aristocracy was nearly completely illiterate and whose clergy. Above all. archbishop of Lyons.t24 Cneprnn Foun Between these two poles the abbeysof the Continent were the crossroads of a variety of influences. not long after its founding. Thesenew establishmentsand the cathedral libraries were indispensableintermediariesfor rescuing seculartexts. later it was taken to Frisiaby a missionary and it endedup in LorschAbbey. Agobard. Benedict from Monte Cassino. bishop of Orl6ans and another. an Anglo-Saxon scholar who had taught at York but who.similarly. He took in Spanish scholars who were fleeing the Arabs and made one of them. Charlemagne assured him a brilliant career. After the capitulation of the Lombard King Desiderius. the monastery of Fleury-sur-Loire receivedrelics of St. Nearly everywhere abbots and monks interestedin gatheringmanuscriptshad them copiedand sentfrom sisterhousesin Italy or England. In 6j2.14 The most striking (but also the most ephemeral) results of Charle- .t3 a Thus it is hardly a coincidence if the revival of the West arose in the region between the Meuse and the Rhine rivers in Austrasia. whom he made bishop of Aquileia.This manuscript. He retained Paul the Deacon. No Frank figures in the first small group of men of letters that Charlemagne assembled around him to give luster to his reign.probably copiedin Italy in the fifth century passedinto England in the seventhor eighth century. was particularly ignorant and corrupt.and it continued to have close relations with that great Italian monastery. was only a deacon and abbot of a small monastery. The revival quite obviously happened as the result of a cultural appeal to outside forces on the part of a people who had reached maturity through previous contacts. he used both violence and seduction to attract the people he needed. Charlemagne brought back the aged and knowledgeable Peter of Pisa and Paulinus. Theodulf. Charlemagne succeeded in attracting Alcuin. which tended to disappearalong with the culture they represented.where a sixteenthcentury humanist discoveredit and published it. at the age of fifty. Like many other conquerors. This land was the birthplace of the Carolingian dynasty. according to its reformer.Nothing symbolizesthe importance and the fragility of this sort of exchange better than the history of one known manuscript of the Fifth Decade of Livy's Annals. who had come to beg a pardon for a brother who had been compromised in a conspiracy. the AngloSaxon Wynfrid.

and that he never becametruly proficient. the chanceriesof the Carolingian monarchs were extremely busy. He also encourageda revival of writing in diplomacy and administration. The revival of the imperial ideology also showsthat Romeand its culture had struck profound echoes among these barbarians of the North. though. He certainly read Latin. and after his coronation he attemptedto have the laws of his various peoplesset down. Diplomas proliferated.He issued a proclamation in Italy in 787 affirming that the written law was superior to oral custom.'5 One might regard the efforts to develop the use of writing during this period with someskepticism. for example) that can be found for the sixth and early seventhcenturies. working at night when he could not sleepwith slateboards or sheetsof parchment that had been placed near his bed. How much hyperbole is there in this portrait? The emperor certainly must have understoodthe distorted Latin of his subjectswho spoke a Romance tongue. particularly writs to establishproof of private rights. when Einhard himself addsthat Charlemagnelearned to write late in life. but Einhard admits that Charlemagneunderstood Greek better than he spoke it. but there is no trace of the sort of written nominations to high office (to a countship. Einhard's flattering life of the glorious sovereign(a closeimitation of Suetonius'Livesof the TwelveCaesars)statesthat Charlemagnecould expresshimself with equal easein Latin and in his native tongue (a Germanicdialect). Charlemagnehimself contributed to these animated debates. but his own level of culture was highly questionable. We are left wondering. who probably drew more inspiration from the sight of the proud monuments that still stood in the cities of the West and the prestigeof the Byzantine emperor than from texts alone.a circle of poets and great personages particularly active during the late eighth century whose members each chose a name borrowed from classicalantiquity or Scripture.Tnn Drern exo RrsunnEcrroN or Wnrrrrrt Currunr 125 magne'seffortscan perhapsbe measuredin the decorationof the palacein Aachen and in someof the prestigiousmanuscriptsmade for the sovereigns and their entourage.Grammar and astronomy were debated in the Academy in the presenceof courtiersand young nobleswho had come to completetheir educationand servethe sovereignat what has been called (somewhat erroneously) the Palace School. We need to guard against too idyllic a view of the PalatineAcademy.Both bear witness to an indisputablefamiliarity with classicalart.Admittedly.Charlemagnerearranged and republishedthe old legal dispositionsconcerning the church and the state and added new decrees.his capitularieswere never drafted as carefully as the diplo- . Nonetheless.

Furthermore.tT The men of those times had something quite different in mind when it came to restoring written culture.Charlemagnedecreedthat every church must send a choirmaster to study with those cantors and correct the antiphonaries. but the documentsaddressedto the Palacewere frequently drafted incorrectly and the questionsaddressedto the counts and their responsesshow clearly that on both sidesan appropriateintellectual formation was so obviously lacking that writing did not always result in communication.This was ttre predominant motivation behind Charlemagne'seducational policies. were loyal to the chapeland to its head. Every church and every monastery was to teach the . quite naturally. and to perpetuate correct and uniform performance of rites and sacramentsfor the glory of God and the unity of the West. which simply brought order and systemto long-standing efforts to prepare a competent clergy. The essentialact in the legislativeprocessthus seemsto have been the "word" (verbumlby which the sovereignmade known.t26 Cneprnn Foun mas were. In the Admonitiogeneralisof 789 Charlemagneinsisted (as his father had before him) on the need to teach the clergy the "Roman" style of chanting as it was done in the Scholacantorum founded in Romeby Gregorythe Great.Forms of administrativecorrespondencedid exist. a decision that the diet may have previously consideredon the basisof a simple oral report. On occasionthe missieven specifythat envoyssentby the countsto bring back their instructions had to be capableof understandingwhat would be explained to them. the arch-chaplain. The written document that resulted often took the form of a memorandum. It is clear that Charlemagneand his successorsstruggledagainst odds. thus it seemsto have been a device for giving public notice of a decision rather than a document that had force of law.16 Any change in this domain was hindered by an increasinginability to write Latin in lay circles. solemnly or informally. and the documentsthat have come down to us bear no trace of validation.many of them future prelates and men who.Recallingthat he had established cantors in Metz and in Soissons.when in the reign of Louis the Piousthe archchancellor freed himself from this subjection to the arch-chaplain. it was for reasonsof personalaggrandizementrather than to supervisethe redaction of acts. Their intent was to use a common learnedlanguage-Latin-to gain an acquaintancewith and a better comprehension of Scripture. The Merovingians had lay chancery offlcials to redact documents but it becamethe rule to replacethem with clerics.which continued to be done by clerics.

In this manner a few superior minds had accessto a coherent abstractthought and produced someworks that have resistedthe ravagesof time. the Fablesof phaedrus and Avianus. the Credo. and the Psalms in Latin. The scribes of the period concentrated on the . learning "punctuation' (really the art of reading aloud). and studying the figures of speech and prosody with the aid of the De nuptiis Mercurii et Philologiae. well into the eighteenthcentury semi-literateswho could decipher a text but could not write. He was also taught the rudiments of Gregorianchant and the readingsof the Mass.They were alsoto keep correctedcopiesof books and make sure that no one corrupted a text when reading or copying it. Charlemagnewas fully aware that the clergy neededa good knowledge of written Latin. correspondedfrom one institution to another. He was referring to a specificpedagogicalmodel. By following this program the student could acquire basicnotions of rhetoric and dialectic and an introduction to ecclesiasticalreckoning.rs The aim of this educationalprogram was to prepare prieststo servethe altar. and grammar. Although this intellectual revival was the work of small groupsit had an undeniable importance. ecclesiastical reckoning. singing. The study of grarlmar in the broader sensealso included learning one'sletters. learning words. helped to raise the level of studies in religious circles throughout northern Gaul and Germany.Henceforth clerics in search of instruction went from one abbeyor cathedralschoolto another to hear the leading masterscomment on sacredtexts and (on occasion)offer genuine theologicalinstruction or the rudiments of philosophy.Bishopsand abbots.written in the fifth century by Martianus Capella. who were often kin.He then leamed practical vocabularythrough the use of glossariesbasedon the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville. The pupil must be introduced to the study of Latin through elementary texts like the CatonisDisticha. and Alcuin's Praecepta vivendi. spreadin large part by Alcuin from the Abbey of Saint Martin in Tours. which he had to know how to intone. The aim of all this was to prepare for the monastic lectiodivina. Thesemethods.t}rrenotaeTironianae(a shorthand system).Tnr Drarn aNo RrsunnEcrroNoF WRrrrENCurrunx 127 Psalms. In a letter vwitten some years after the Admonitio arrd addressedto the bishops and the abbots he stressedthat grammar alone permitted penetration of the meaning of Scripture.The teachingof writing was of secondaryimportance-a pedagogicalview that becamefirmly ingrained and that contributed to producing. exchanging letters of humanist inspiration and manuscripts. The schoolchild'sfirst reading texts were the pater.and he used Donatus' short grarnmar as his basictextbook.

while monastic and episcopal workshops presented an enormous variety of hands.te * We need to turn next to the documents themselves. heavy thick strokes. Consciously or unconsciously thinking of ancient writing systems in terms of inscriptions on monuments.r28 Cneprrn Foun copying of liturgical texts. attempting to describe their peculiarities and giving them somewhat romantic national names such as Lombardic. or Merovingian. Saint Gall. Faced with this much diversity. but they were not limited to these. they were put off by the look of old parchments. Anglo-Saxon. and Lucca remained fairly close to what they had been. the direction and sequence in which letters were written that . and they attached little importance to ductus. These models spread with the missionaries to the abbeys of Luxeuil. the paleographers of yesteryear concentrated primarily on classifying this bewildering array of styles. All scholars who have edited texts know how often they have used Carolingian manuscripts or copies of manuscripts made in that period. and marked serifs. Some traces of confusion are visible after the barbarian invasions of the fifth century. In Merovingian France the acts of the sovereigns were written in a tortuous and complicated hand with haphazard ligatures. but there was also the "Beneventine" script of Monte Cassino. and to the writing styles. Visigothic showed a degree of unity. Beyond a doubt the Carolingian renaissance was an essential link in Ihe translatio studii. They may have thought that these scripts reflected deep-seated tendencies in each of these peoples. In Spain. Visigothic. while new scripts appeared in Ireland and in England: a majuscule with short ascenders. and a pointed minuscule. a particularly tempting notion that perhaps was even justifled in the case of the highly characteristic decoration of Irish manuscripts. and Bobbio. There is a good reason for this attitude. Vercelli. then. in the total collapse between the sixth and the seventh century the "landscape" of writing seems overwhelmed and fragmented. A fragment of a catalogue of the Palatine Library written in 790 by an Italian shows that the classical works contained in that library could also be found in the collections of many of the great French and German abbeys-a clear indication of concerted efforts. In Italy the writing styles of the chapter workshops in Verona. In those years the scholars who scrutinized the documents of the early Middle Ages had not yet given more than a passing glance at the graffiti of Pompeii and were unaware of the work of the papyrologists.

starting .T x r D s e r n a n o R B s u n n E c r r o No r W n r r r n N C u r r u n r r29 gavea written hand its structure. The appearanceof Carolingian letterswas the last act in the long drama of classicalwriting. seemedto come into their own. directly or indirectly. It is characteristicof the scribeswho perfectedit that they also developed systemsof punctuation to facilitatereadingand recital of the texts that they copied in a languageand a syntax that were increasinglyforeign to their contemporaries.The concentrationof the art of writing in the cathedralcomplex and the abbeyhad at first encouraged a compartmentalization that was subsequently eliminated as the networks of communication from one institution to another tightened. Morphologically. but one that had its limits. is only apparent.from the point of view of. each one seeking to affirm its own style. the Hungariansinto the east. but in the ninth century new wavesof invadersrushedinto Charlemagne'sformer empire. The Carolingian script was preparedgradually during the eighth century with the appearanceof minusculeswritten with separated lettersrather than cursively. men. In a ravagedEurope the Germaniclands.but for all its unity and sobriety Carolingian minuscule triumphed over regional stylesonly during the ninth century. The Saracensmoved into the south.ductustheir writing was in no way a point of arrival or even an advance. a graphicreform announced a renascence. Charlemagne and his successorsencouragedthe re-creation of graphic unity as an expression of their own desire for political universality. to the halfuncial. now split up into severalparts. Nonetheless.in which each letter is written as a whole. its characteristicfeature was a writing of letters in severalstrokes. which meansthat the similarity between that script and our modem writing styles.2o It is easyto image how this shift occurred. Thus they failed to seethat the contours of the scripts that they dubbed national were of the same inspiration as Roman writing. Nrw Dnpanrunns The Carolingian achievementswere fragile enough. They prompted a far-reaching revolution.Onceagain.even in Romance-speakinglands. the Carolingian script seemsto owe much. Technically.it was a total successand a clear advancein legibility. and written matter gradually stopped circulating and where the variotts scriptoia had evolved independently. The way the barbarian kingdoms were constituted had simply set up a graphic comparffnentalizationin a Europe where goods. These copyists were precursorsof the humanists and the fathers of our modern Roman letters. lessstricken.and the Vikings into the north.As with the writing of the ancient Latins.

and stone churchesdecoratedwith a host of statuesappearedin both towns and villages. Raoul (or Radulfus) Glaber claimed he had seen the Devil (who looked just like the many portrayals of him soon to be seen in cloister capitals)..A large number of inJluencesintersectedand mingled in the art that .The ottonian dynasty moved out to defeatthe Slavsand the Hungariansand to claim the imperial title. Moreover. He protected Gerbert.A Burgundian monk. Educatedas a priest. Toward the end of the tenth century the invaderswere either in retreat or had become integratedinto a world they had found to their liking. But "as the third year after the year 1000 approached. He also stated in his Historiaethat three years before the year 1000 an enormous dragon had been seenin the sky "coming out of the northern regionsand moving toward the south. The western world may have been terrorized. Letteredprelatesand cultivatedprinces gravitatedaround him. The somewhat rough illuminations of ottonian manuscripts are a good illustration of theselast glimmers of the carolingian renaissancein regionsthat had been relatively untouched. but especiallyin Italy and in Gaul.church buildings were being rebuilt in nearly all the earth.but it revived nonetheless. The Roman_ esqueagewas on its way." Just then a severefamine affectedthe entire Roman world. with the tenth century great abbeysand cathedral churches rose up under the supervision of prelate-builders.2r Revivalwas not destinedto spreadout from Germaniclands.I30 CnaprrnFoun with Saxony. otto III settledin Rome in 99g. in a tightly compartmentalizedworld they managed to learn new ways to behave and to survive. thanks to a seriesof technological innovations. he sent copyiststo Bobbio and to Reimsand he instituted a searchfor the works of the great Latin historians and for memories of Roman glory.a monk of the Abbey of saint-G6raudin Aurillac who had studied mathematicsin catalonia (a region in contact with the Arabs) and had taught the future King Robertthe pious in Reimsbefore becoming archbishop of Ravenna.while further to the north the great episcopal schoolsof Utrecht and Colognewon a brilliant reputation. It is hardly surprising that a revival of symbol and image figured prominently in the art of this Europe that was finding its personality once more.22 such men had an astonishing destiny: in the depths of adversity they found the memory and the vitality neededto make a new start on the basis of extremely ancient acquisitionsthat at times had been preservedas if by miracle. throwing offbolts of lightning. At the sametime the abbeysof Richenau and saint Gall flourished unaffectedby the invaders..then pope under the name of Sylvester II.

and they soon found themselvesat the center of complex networks of an increasingvariety of commercialoperations. and there were contributionS from the barbarian invaders. l N p R n s u n n E c r l o N o r W n r r r r u Currunn l3l had sprung up so suddenly-there were ancient traditions inspired by Roman ruins and enhanced by the vision of the Carolingian epoch. or a knife or a sword to symbolizethe right to employ violence. an exchangeof saliva and vital force.when the vassalplacedhis joined handsbetweenhis lord's.and a gesture. and even . bulls.they encouragedactiveindustriesin their own fast-growing cities. and.physicians.T n s D n A . Thus there was a revival of the image. r H.jurists.Italy had been profoundly marked by writing and had never totally forgotten the many usesthat could be made of it.2a Northern France was the epicenterof these revolutionary changes. there were borrowings from Byzantium and Islam. involved both a declaration. and object. enjoyed a new prosperity once better times returned. a rod to grant power.centaurs-extremely ancient forms dranm from collectivememory-appeared eve4rwhere. the form of collective communication that enables the illiterate to contemplate what they are unable to grasp through vwiting.the feudal society that was coming into being between the eighth and the eleventhcenturiesremained strictly traditional. the Roman scrivener-notariesonly barely survived south of Rome. Northern Italian merchants traveledall the routes of Europe.or the scenesfrom Scripture and the lives of the saints and imagesof divine majesty in the frescoesof church apsesand choirs transformedinto vast picture albums. anthropomorphic monsters.but northern Italy. and with an oath sworn on the Bible and on holy relics.griffins.even on knights' shields. which had suffered relatively less destruction. Homage. for example. Sworn loyalty was sealed with a kiss on the mouth.23The result was a closedand introverted aestheticdestinedfor the learned. act. In Italy one could still find schoolmasters. but also a profusion of representationsin which everything was languageand pedagogyfrom the deadly sins'sculptedon the capitalsin the cloistersto God enthroned in majesty and the depictionsof divine mysteries carvedinto the tympanum of the churches. An entire fauna of liqns. Vassalicrites continued to make use of the three tlpical symbolic elements of word. and above all public notaries.Admittedly. Nonetheless. This profusion was'dominatedby high learned conceptsthat made visible the ordered harmony of the world and turned not only architecture and the figurative arts but also music and liturgy into an initiation into higher things.When a great lord invested a vassalwith a fief he gavehis man symbolic objects-a branch or a piece of turf to symbolize a landholding.the vassal'sswom engagement.

" Emilia and Tuscany soon had an educatedand competent administrative personnel as well. the great merchants found themselvesobligated to use increasingly abstract written instruments in their long-distancecommerce. Next came a wide variety of partnership contracts between land merchants. They developedthe habit of taking notes in the presenceof clients before they drew up contracts.operations like these forced the notaries to sharpen their methods. the notaries of the city began to use a registerin which they entered their notesso they could have a written record of them.Thus a simpler and.25 This competentpersonnelpermitted the early developmentof relatively complex commercial techniques.cdntractsfor orders began to appear that spreadrisks and profits between the merchant who took to the seasand his flnancial backers.more efficient systemthan that of ancient Rome cameinto being and once more placed written proof under the protection of the most powedul public authorities.In the eleventh century first in venice and Genoa and then elsewhere. Northern Italy still had notaries. only the most prestigiousauthorities-the pope. As if symbolically. and the versionssent out simply authentic copies. abbots. launched an effort to unify their land. the emperor.King Berengar(888-915) and King Hugo (926-451. after philip the Fair.I32 CneprEn Foun in Rome they had degeneratedto becomepublic writers of various sorts. By the sametoken. the king of France-had the right to nominate public notariesin the regionsof public law in the south of Europe.grouping togetherthe businessmenof one family or one city and creating diversified networks through correspondence. men of diverseorigins and often attached to the new authorities: bishops. Kings of Lombardy.and borrowers.The principal difficulty in this sort of systemwas to maintain a balance that would assureeverymemberin everyplaceaccessto the necessarymeans of payment. the draft copy of an act came to be consideredthe original. and ever sincethe carolingian conquest the Lombard kingdom had had a well-organized "sacred palace. all things considered. Alternately money changers. and in the twelfth century when Genoabecamea great mercantile port. The complexity of the monetary systemsexplains why the earliestbanks grew out of a need not for credit but for an exchangeservice. however. and even insurance systems. and cities.Next.26 Gradually associationsof various sortsbeganto be formed on the shores of the Mediterranean.in order to fulfill a need ro guar- . and.the basilicasof the prado were built over the tombs of notarieswho had worked on the shoresof the venetian lagoon when Venicewas still a village.lenders. counts.

this sort of contract might also produce a profit for someone who could juggle rates of exchange in different places and through time. net-worth accounting. When maritime trade deVelopedalong the shoresof the Baltic and the North Sea. in a spirit of symmetry subtracted sums credited to the account. thanks notably to the Lombard merchantswho frequentedthe fairs of Champagne. In the sixteenth century it was further developedby the practice of endorsement. and finally proflt-and-loss accounting. In this form of contract (unknown in Roman law) the "giver" furnished a certain sum of money or its equivalent in merchandiseto the "taker. Thus it was both a credit operation (but with payment shifted to another place) and a money-changingtransaction.which also came to be nearly universally adopted during the sameperiod. This in turn hastened the circulation of goodsand.The greatmerchantsof Italy addedto an accountingoftheir cashbalance(cashexpendituresand receipts)accounting techniques on behalf of third parties (credits and debits).and the merchant bankers who representedthe great Italian companiesand . and innumerable kinds of negotiable instruments developed out of it in the nineteenth century. Becausethey wanted to enableinterestedpartiesto be able to read their accountsfrom their own points of view (moniesowed and owing).There one could meet pawnbrokers of Lombard origin (who were treated with somescorn). money-changers(who were treatedwith consideration).All contractsof this sort involved these two closely connectedoperations. Soon these new techniquesspreadoutside Italy. in the long run. a procedure seeminglyjust as unnatural as alphabeticalarrangement.Bruges becamea major center of European trade and the place where Venetian and Genoesetradersmet their counterpartsof the HanseaticLeague. This was how the techniques that were to regulate the management of businessaffairsthroughout the early modern period got their startbetween the thirteenth and the fifteenth centuries. At first a document drawn up before a notary.where they met other merchants-Flemish merchants in pafticular. It permitted vast speculations. createdwealth. This was the birth of double-entry bookkeeping.The bill of exchangeappeared sometime between L275 and 1350. Both techniquesmarked the triumph of specificforms of the logic of writing.Tnn Drern exp RrsunnEcrroN or WnrrrrN Currunn 13) antee paymentsand facilitate the granting of credit.27 Accounting methodskept pace. the merchantsreversedthe order of their own cash transaction accountsand.When it came due. by the mid-fourteenth century it functioned more like a letter missive." and in exchangehe receiveda long-term promise to pay.

were still were using systemsof land rents that dated back to the years ll25-501. who were still of a more primitive mentality. had lost their prestige.and when askedto rranslate into Latin instructions that had been given to them in their own language they drafted their Latin versionswith the aid of whatever models they had at hand. other regionsthat had remained essentially agricultural witnessed a return to wdting by other paths and with other goals. by the late twelfth century customs that hitherto had been transmitted orally began to be written down. and wax. however. just as vwiting had becomeindispensableto relieve an overburdenedmemory.Thus thanks to the use of writing. Gradually. made possiblean increaseduse of writing. lords createdchanceries by attracting to their serviceclericswho also functioned as their chaplains. and major commercial figures continued for centuriesto carry on their affairswith much more rudimentary methods.where land clearinghad developed.ink.In the eleventh century there was an increasein the number of the various sortsof documentsthat go by the name of chartesin French.the practices whose rise we have been following long remained within an extremely small world.first in the eyesof the merchantsand the landowners (who. Nonetheless. In the lands of langued'oc in the eleventh century one can even find pas- .This was the casein France.Relationsamong individuals and among groups had grown more frequent and more complex. Economic progress. Henceforththe written act seemedto be the bestway to define individual rights and duties preciselyand compellingly. At the sametime.which made it easierto procure hides carefully preparedto make parchment. and invoke God and the celestial powers from crossesand shrinesby country roads. seals. The common people.however. Solemn contracts came to seem imprecise and poorly adapted to circumstances. for exampleasking an ecclesiastical institution to draw up the papers for donationsto their benefit.now too frequent and asif polyvalent. lay lords had to turn to them.the population had increasedgreatly. then in the eyesof a large part of the population. dies. Many of thesemen were not very well educated.l)4 Cnaprrn Foun dealt with sovereignsas equals. to cite one practice. acceptedwriting as something with magical powers that could set down the Word of God. since the clergy had monopolized the practice of writing. with the result that the traditional gestures. stumbling over a word or an expressionhere and there. Europe began to be organized between two great centers of urban civilization. and commercial and other exchanges had come to be organized. keep the memory of the dead in funerary inscriptions.

under the authority of the archbishop of Reims. There were also increasingnumbers of officials on the local level. Things began to changearound 1060.2e The full extent of this change can best be measuredin England. long a shifting body composedof the vassalswho happened to be present. then coronerselectedby the county court.judiciary. in theory.or Parlement.Later an increasein the number of actspassedin the royal chancery coincided with the growth of royal authcirity.T n r D n a r n e n o R r s u n n E c r r o N o F W R I T T E NC u r r u n r f 35 sagestranscribed in dialect. Similarly. and within the limits of their jurisdiction the lords who held title to the greatfeudal domainsissued diplomas and charters analogousto the royal diplomas. as in France at the time of Philip Augustus and later of Philip the Fair. The royal administration also became more important. these judges eventually remained fixed in one place. As a result. then escheatorsnamed by the king.developedevenbefore the king's council. In England in the shires (which becamecounties after the Norman conquest).Called baillisin the north and sdndchauxin the south. and the same thing happened in regions of langued'oil acentury later.Other courts followed. thus indicating that an embryo of the institution of the monarchy already existed. among them the Chambre des comptesor auditor's office. prdvitsappeared in France in the eleventh century and royal judges toured the provinces beginning with the reign of Philip Augustus. it was customaryto write a number of documents of this sort in the vulgar tongue. became better organized and eventually gaveway to a royal council of competentmen who enjoyedthe king's trust and whose functions gradually becamespecialized.28 The first Capetiansseemto have had only a modest "office" with only a few scribes working. dlus (electedjudges)and gen€rauxdefinance(tax collectors)appeared.who traditionally had the title of archchancellor. The king's court. lawyers. and financial functions above the level of the prdv6lsand were assistedby lieutenants.Later they were freed from their financial responsibilities by the receveur* Finally. in France a judicial subdivision of the council formed. and in 1239 ittook the name of Pallamentum. The Anglo-Saxon kings had already developed a form of original culture in Britain that utilized neither Latin nor the vernacular idioms but an official .Thesemonarchs held real authority only over their own domains.the financial organ of the monarchy. when Philip I named the bishop of Parisashis chancellor.In England the Exchequer. a pattem that held true in all lands. and king's prosecutors. there were sheriffs. When the king went to Poitiersin 1076 his royal seal remained in Paris.where they performed adminisnadve. in the fourteenth cenntry.soon subdividing into chambers.

Are we to attribute the relative scarcity (only some two thousand pieces have come down to us) of archival documents emanating from Harold's dynasty to the massive destruction that took place after the fall of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy? Edward the Confessor. Still. the last king of his race. nothing can replace an examination of the documents themselves. the French language competed with Latin for a primacy that French had won at Hastings. and contracts drawn up between private individuals. Hence the famous DomesdayBook. In any event. wlnich so struck people's imaginations that it launched a tradition. to popularize certain great texts of clerical culture and to set down the national poetry.sr Let us look first at the documents that were most highly charged with meaning. and briefs proliferated. Thus we can estimate in the hundreds of thousands and perhaps at more than a million the number of acts concerning the sale or granting of lands to peasants or serfs that were redacted during the thirteenth century. It is hardly surprising that toward the end of that period King Edward I ordered the lords t'o produce the acts that justified the franchises or privileges conceded to them. Such documents aimed at validation and authentification. the acts by which men attempted to regulate their juridical relations: decisions of public authorities. who had no chancery in Normandy. During the twelfth century autograph documents. Change was particularly rapid between I140 and I160. ordered a census taken of people and beasts after his victory.3o * When it comes to measuring the power of the written word. was also the only one to use a royal seal. William the Conqueror. obligingly spread by the supporters of the new monarchy. a period in which the number of letters sent seems to have tripled. Henceforth even illiterate peasants had to submit to the rule of writing. answered by producing an old and rusty sword that his ancestors had wielded at the Battle of Hastings. letters missive. hence their origin and content had to be unambiguous. there is little doubt that the disturbances accompanying the establishment of a new order did much to encourage the use of writing. This explains the importance of the notion of . but this revolution induced a mental turmoil that could lead to resistance.116 cneprrn Foun language-Anglo-Saxon-that was also used. that the invaders from the Continent had introduced writing into their new land. During that period. as in the anecdote about the count who. to judge from what has come down to us. as we have seen. before English triumphed over them both. judgments handed down by the courts. when ordered to prove his rights.

At first it took the form of an autograph declarationby the .with engrossed fair copiesthat might be deliveredto the interestedpartiesbeing considered simply as authenticatedcopies. with the result that the only way to decipherthe text is by squinting. the first line of the text.in the modern sense.did not yet exist. however. on a sheetwhose dimensionsdependedlesson the length of the text than on the power of the authority from which it emanatedand especiallyon the nature and the importance of the decision.The subscriptionwas the form most currently used in the early Middle Ages. in certain cases.It is difficult for a modern reader to imagine the problems this raised at a time when the autograph signature. the Middle Ages long had to make do with a subscription or a seal. it was just as true of the bollaticaof the Vatican in the early twentieth century in which only the thick strokesof the letters are drawn in. schematizing the contours of their letters and stylizing them by lengthening the ascenders and decoratingthem with extraneouselements.from late antiquity the scribesof the great chanceriesproclaimed their affiliation with time and tradition by affecting a deliberatelyarchaic script. In a societystill marked by traditional forms of the contract thesedocuments must have seemedto reflect the word of the emitting party and to serveas a physical affirmation of the solemnity of such engagements.T H r D e a r H a N o R r s u n n E c r r o No r W n r r r r r v C u r r u n r t)7 the original document. including an invocation to divine power.Thesewere exceptionalcases.but as a general rule the originals of public acts were delivered to the beneficiaries. carefully whitened with chalk. The physical aspectof the document is not what mattered most. who were expectedto keep them.and the salutation. This was already true of the litteraecoelestes of the Roman imperial chancery. As in classical antiquity. the name and title of the sovereign.the mark of the witnesses. The charter redactedby the chaplain of a minor lord seemsmodest indeed beside the diplomas or letters patent of a powerful sovereign.This mannerism could reach the point of artifice and strive for prestigethrough illegibility. the undersideof the hide. notaries' minutes were soon taken to be true originals of contracts.they had to bear appropriate and incontestablesignsof the agreementreachedby the contracting partiesand. In the older royal diplomas. As we have seen. is usually written in closely spacedand spidery letters with particularly elongatedascenders. for example.in lands of vwitten law.More generally speaking.The documentsthemselvesvaried enormously in appearance:they were written on the "noble" side of the parchment. In order to take on their full value such documents had to be an integral part of the authority from which they emanated.

Certain sealsthat belonged to more public physical or moral entities came to have special force.rr Authentication was accomplishedin two ways: southern Europe preferred the use of notaries and northern Europe the use of the seal. That personthen had an act drawn up to registerthe declaredintent of the partiespresentand had the act sealedwith his own seal.The autograph signature disappearedalmost completelyin the tenth century: as GeorgesTessier has said. They had exactly the samevalue as a signature today (GeorgesTessier). They were called "authentic seals. "Neglect of the notion of autograph is one of the most characteristicphenomena of the decline of the written act before the seal cameto give it back its validity and efficacy.Under Pepin the Short a simple crosssurrounded by a legend functioned as the royal signum. In France bishops used sealssooner than lay lords. the verb subscribere in a personalform. Soon clerks' officessprang . after which the notary drew the whole signum.thus giving physical proof of his quality as a privileged witness. someoneelse would write the subscription and he would add a signum-a sign-such as a cross. Othersbegan to use sealsin the late eleventh century and their use spread gradually. wrote their names at the bottom of their preceptswith a formula of this sort added in their hand or another's.r3g cnlprrn Foun person involved that included his or her name. The Merovingian sovereigns."but there were a number of degreesin that form of authenticity. as did communities and jurisdictions. if he held a sceaunotoire.private personsin northern Europe who wanted to draw up a probative written contract without appending to it a list of witnessescapable of initiating judicial action in caseof contestarionturned to their lay lord.who had some instruction. The use of sealsbecameuniversal in the early thirteenth century when commoners and humble beneficedclergy had a seal. or even to their sovereign.to their bishop.If a great personagedid not know how to vwite. under Charlemagneit was drawn by a notary in certain caseswith the emperor simply marking his approval with a pen stroke. but for some time only sovereignsused it to validate an occasionalact."12 The seal had been known from earliest antiquity and had never been totally forgotten.or recognizedseal. and a formula explaining the reasonsfor the act. We can understandthat thesesymbolicobjectswhose images "spoke" so clearly must have seemedto men of the age an unambiguous affirmation of a personality or a will.Later the monarch's monogram was substituted for this cross. and they were used earlier in northern Francethan in the Midi.

instrumentumlrests on a juridical act (negotium). which only very slowly caught up to the higher technical level of the notariesin the south. marriage contracts. this formality became indispensablefor testaments.34 We have many indications of how responsibilitieswere assignedin the elaborationof an act. Nonetheless. and writing it down had only a probative value.No R n s u n n E c r r o No r W n r r r r N C u r r u n r t)9 up near the courts of law that held the "graciously accorded" jurisdiction-juridiction gracieuse-to handle casesinvolving private persons. SinceMabillons path-breakingwork in Latin paleography. Rare exceptions aside.the "diplomatists" observethat in practice the eiistence of the act was linked with its being set down. To cite only one example. What do such men have to tell us about writing? First.certain royal letterspatent bear a formula written on the fold by the notary and signedwith his name.Hence one must distinguish carefully between the actio-the accomplishment of the juridical act-and tlre consciptio-its setting down in writing.Tnn Drarn rc. * An act was not born by spontaneousgeneration. In the north of France. the scienceof diplomatics. that every writ that establishesruIes for relations :rmong men (in Latin. and mortgage contracts.the ofrcialitdsand the baillageshad such offices.donations. as did certain large cities outside France. in principle the act was "perfect" without having been written down. stating the authority by which he received the order to draft the docu- . Thus the "disposi tive" value of written acts appearsto have involved the gradual conquest of a certain form of power on the part of secretariesand notaries. This was the origin of scriveners'officesin northern Europe.In a number of ways their work prefigured that of analysts of communication techniques today. Its elaboration and its publication were part of a chain of operations leading from the issuing to the receivingpartiesin which a number of people had a role to play. the courts of. a juridical act was valid irrespectiveof the means that its author had chosen to manifest his (or her) will. incontestably the ancestorsof the innumerable drafting specialistsin modern administrations. According to the theory most widely acceptedby jurists today. As time went by. the law has also always been written since the Middle Ages.thesemechanisms have been studied with singular perspicacityby austerespecialists who have made a veritable scienceof the study of diplomas and charters. In other words.

In the council of the king of France.r5 An increased use of writing led. who was traditionally chosen from among the great lords of the kingdom. the essential part of which was affixing the seal. Next an official of the chancery checked the act one'last time to be sure that its form followed the rules and its content was consistent with the intent (recognitiol. but the document still had to be copied into a register and then passed on to the officials of the chancery responsible for drawing up the actual act. the Parlement. To this day the minister of justice in France is also keeper of the seal.The king's notaries and secretaries wrote up a draft called "minute. and under the ancien rdgime he became the second most important person in the state. Then came the validation. In France this might be the chancellor or a maitre des requ|tes. or the Chambre des comptes.In the course of these the chancellor could question the interested parties. Later the garde des Sceaux. Those who controlled use of the pen in these operations had an almost measurable power from the outset. if they were present. when appropriate. In due course a decision was reached and. We can see why the thirteenth-century kings of France feared the power of the chancellor. picked up the title of chancellor. and why a king sometimes chose to leave the post vacant. the Conseil de la Chambre des requ€tes. As early as the Middle AgeS there was a division of labor within a sovereign's council and his chancery.140 Cneprrn Foun ment. When the pope assented to a formal petition he wrote fiat on the request. for example. the request. In the case of an act under juridiction gracieusethe various phases of the actio were as follows: First the basic document. and .originally an official of a much more modest rank. to the rise of administrative bodies and procedures involving a division of labor. In France that operation was performed in the Chancellerie and by the chancellor himself during sessions known as audiences du sceau. The next phase was that of the conscriptro. was delivered directly or indirectly to the ruler. We might compare this custom to the initials placed on executive letters today to indicate who typed the letter and who wrote it. Often the order might come from someone who held authority for a particular matter rather than from the sovereign himself. this might be a maitre des requ€tes. who would initiate proceedings. counselors who gave ties-important their advice." which was passed on to be transcribed by a calligrapher. and of course witnesses. the order was given to draft a corresponding act.Next came consultation with or action by third parpersons who supported the petition. as if ineluctably. should a problem arise. if not the signatory. then was transmitted to the appropriate official.

This meant that the numbers of the procureurscharged with preparing such dossiers increasedenormously. who had been no more than ten in number in 1285. The kings put so much trust in such men that in 1547 King I{enry II put four of them in charge of expediting state affairs. The number of registersof the Parlementof Parisincreasedtenfoldbetween 1320 and 1360.t6 The chancery was not the only organism of the French monarchy in which the use of writing increased. fifty-nine in 1361. In the twelfth century under Philip the Fair.were depositedwith the office of the clerk of the court by the procureul(the state'sattorney). Robert-HenriBautier has calculatedthat in the reign of Philip VI (1328-50) sometwenty thousand letters sealedwith the great sealemergedfrom their officesand fifteen thousand more were sealedwith the sceaudu secret.THs Dslrrr eNo RrsunREcrroN or WnrtrnN Currunr 14l by tradition he precedeshis colleagues.The Grande Chambre eventually came to delegate such matters to a specialchamber. the members of the Parlement developedthe habit of keeping a record not only of all their decisions but also of their principal deliberations.the Chambredes enqu€tes. forty-eight in 1320. after which they were passed on to a conseiller who drafted the document on the basisof which the full chamber deliberated. and seventy-ninein 1418. The number of acts and letters increasedto the point that the chancery officials began to give them a less and less solemn form.Certain of the "notary clerks" becamesingularly important. Unlike the chancery officials.sealedwith different qolorsof wax accordingto the presumedduration of the declarationsthey contained. notaries. grew to a body of thirty in 1316.More and more. matters brought up before the Parlement and requiring additional inquiry involved an arr€t d'appointement obligating the parties to produce written reports. letters patent appearedto join the diploma. the clerks-notary of the king. After l3l6 three of their number were attached to the person of the king as clercsdu secret.and the officesof the clerk of the court to the Parlernent of Parisand the provincial parlementsestablishedspecialized'subsections staffedwith an entire roster of court clerks. Such reports. At the sametime. Next came sealedletters. missive letters. This is how the posts of secretaryof stateand minister of the king of Francewere created in the ancien rdgime. called productions.and they had copies made of all . and lettresde cachet sealedwith the modest seal of a simple chamberlain-the sceaudu secret-rather than that of the chancery.Toward the end of the fourteenth century other clerks had exclusive rights to control letters relating to expenditures.and secretaries. Various categoriesof letters patent were established.

both in their general aspectand their ductus. of the use of writing in the most ordinary acts of life. This is a sureindication. but the breaksand ligaturesof the new writing reflected the skeleton of the word.rT The further growth of writing in Franceduring the thirteenth and fourteenth centuriesis beyond the scopeof this study. lateral compression becamemore and more pronouncedand eventually resultedin a clear verticality. The first known parish registersin France are those of Givry. In the Romanesqueera letterswere treatedas separate entitiesinsertedinto a whole. At first this registrationwas conceivedas a formality.marriages. Cursive writing hands.covering burials from I336 to 1357 and marriagesfrom 1344to 1348. writing hands went through various stages.Let me simply recall that it was in that period that parish priests began to keep registersto note baptisms. According to JacquesBoussardthis revolution was a fashion that Anglo-Saxon scribestransmitted to their Continental colleagues. it was within the scribe'spowers to refuseto write somethingdown. asHenri Pirennenoted sometime ago.and of coursemen of lettersbegan to feel the pressof time and to note texts with a running hand. Thus the new hand derived from .Thus civil registrywasborn.and G.and burials. This was the origin of the droit de remontrancethat so often led the sovereignsof the ancien r6gime to presideat a lit dejusticeto command the court to register and observethe contesteddecisions. It also becamehabitual to separate words more. however. and the broken curyesthat appearedaround l2l0 to 1230 may also have been an attempt to give words greaterindividuality to make them easierto read.merchants. near Chalon-sur-Sadne.38 * Once again. which had disappearedin the seventh century first returned in Italy.t42 Cneprrn Foun the acts communicatedto them by the sovereignin casethey should need to refer to them later. on occasion. A more connectedand rapid hand appearedthere as early as the twelfth century in particular in the pontifical chancery. The Roman script inherited from the Carolingianstended to change form: the contour of the letters began to be broken.to demonstratethe Parlement'srefusal to conform to the royal decisionsby not registering them.In the thirteenth century notaries. but eventually it provided an opportunity to make observationson the content of the actsand. I.Henceforth. Lieftinck is undoubtedly correct when he statesthat this fashion reflected a searchfor a more compressedtext.3e The evolution of writing hands in northern Europe was somewhat different.

The best known of theseis the lettrebdtardethat appearedin the fourteenth century at the court of France and was frequently used in manuscripts in the vulgar tongue. Only public notaries so validated their (engrossedfair copies). and bastard or rnixed hands developed. Thus we can seethe beginnings of tenacious efforts over two centuries. where it bore a resemblance(as has often been remarked) to flamboyant Gothic architecture. Cursive writing styleswere freed in an evolution that beganin the fourteenth century.Tnt Drern .a characteristicmark or device. Of courseancient traditions long persisted. and they beganto place autographnotes and their namesin the margins of the original of acts.marking them not minutes(drafts) and their grosses only with an autograph signaturethat they attempted to make uniquely their own but with a hand-drarnmseing. starting from the ancient Carolingian script.Notariesbeganto abandon the systemthat had predominatedsinceclassicalantiquity of linking the head of one letter to the foot of the next.the autograph disappearedin the validation of acts.in which every detail is conceivedto emphasizethe basicstructure of the building. notably in the "satanic" writing hands of notarial minutes in the sixteenth and seventeenthcenturies that are so difficult to decipher.Informal scripts gradually penetrated the written style of books. In both northern and southern regions the continuing need to write fasterbrought not only a retum to cursivebut incessantchange.4o The rise of the autographsignaturewas an extremelyimportant addition to the dynamic changesthat took place in fifteenth-century writing.Rulerseventually did the . Though the scrivenerswho redactedactsfor the chanceriesdid not actually sign documents. which forced a hurried writer to pick up his pen to make the second stroke of certain letters.as we have seen. It can be found in a more baroque and elaborateform in the court of Burgundy. through a number of seemingly minor modifications.lxo RrsunnEcrloN oF WRrrrEN Currunr 143 the samesort of spirit as Gothic architecture. It made little differencethat the humanists' innovationsmoved in preciselythe opposite direction. Emmanuel Poulle has recently suggestedthat the cursive form of this script used in the chanceryof Francemarked an essentialmoment in the evolution of writing styles.they were sufficiently accustomedto working with a pen to developdistinctive hands. to change the order of strokesin the letter so as to enter into and exit from each in a way that moved naturally from the dudus of the one to that of the next. In rrixed writing the personnelof the French chanceryseemsinsteadto have preferredto link strokeswithin the letter. the r and the s in particular. From the eleventh to the twelfth centuries. Our modern handwriting is the result.

thus they were at times the authors of spiritual works and almost alwayspreachers. This movement was of courseclerical.and pavia.ar . The first phase of this revival came at the same time as renewed commercial exchangesin Italy.Soon everyonewho could handle a pen learnedto trace his or her name. Bologna lay surroundedby fertile wheat fields at the crossroadsof the main routes to Rome. Europe in the eleventh century was no exception to this rule. a region that had sufferedrelatively little destruction. exacerbatedduring the reign of the Ottonian emperors. Its promoters were men of the church concerned with endowing the new society with appropriate forms of thought but also with communicating the divine messageto the illiterate masses.They were philosophers and theologians. and Roman influence.r44 cnaprrn Foun same. Tne RnvrvAL oF Spncur. Thus while the Lombard merchants were taking to the road all over Europe. it stood near the borders of Byzantine. which probably grew out of an earlier school of the liberal arts. at the heart of the territories later disputed between Guelphs and Ghibellines. and the revival of the use of writing for practical purposesappearsto have been closely connected with a return to the legacy of classicalculture and a renewal of speculativethought. The law school was organized by Irnerius. which nonethelessis used to this day for the most solemn sort of documents.uvE THoucHT Acceleratedcommercial exchangeincreaseswealth and opens new horizons. From the time of Charlemagnethe sametension had incited the pope and his champions to draw arguments from Roman law and even to forge documents. Pisa. at whose fortresscastleof Canossapope Gregory VII receivedthe penanceof Emperor Henry IV. Soon the signatureof the sovereigncameto completeand even replacethe seal.The fust king of Franceto sign his name on actswas John the Good.between the spiritual and the temporal.the most famous of which is Constantine'ssupposeddonation of Rome to the pope. the ancestor of glossatorsand a man closeto CountessMatilda. Lombard.q.and its primary source was a tension.It is accompaniedby new investmentsof intellectual capital and gives rise to new ways of thinking. Its law school.with varying degreesof success. This was the start of the greatestjuridical university in Christendom. owed its first successto law studies in the age of Gregory VII.rather than be reducedto marking documentswith an x or a cross. It emerged on the plains of the po Valley. Bologna knew its finest hour.

Chicago. Ninth century.and the John M.) .Manuscript fragment from the New Testament. written in a Carolingian hand of Tours. Wing Foundationof TheNewberryLibrary. (All illustrationscourtesyof TheNewberryLibrary.

Italv. Compendiumhistoriaeromanae.written in a humanistic hand. 1464.Johannes de Crivellis. .

.

. 1300. Thomas Aquinas.'.France.ca. .. Note pecia mark at lower right edge of the page.ry" . . . Commentaries. . .

Mainz. 1460. JohannesBalbus. . Catholicon.Johannes Gutenberg.

John. . 1470. Swabial?1. ca.St. Apocalypse. Pagefrom a hand-colored block book.

Lyons. Jean Trechsel.Illustration from Terence. 1493.Comoedia. . 29 August.

.Fl -- Pietro Bembo.Aldus Manutius. February. DeAetna. 1495t6. Venice. .

'iffi t .

. Venice.. Aldus Manutius. (The Wing Foundation) .The first book printed in iralic type.150I. Opera.} Yirgil.

Aetatummundi septemsupputatio. This title page shows a typical printing shop of the sixteenth century. Paris II520].. pressman.. .and type setter. with an inker. Badio.Charlesde Boucelles. . I.

JacobMyt. Printed book with a glossedtext and illustrations.Comedie.Terence. 1525. (The Wing Foundation) . London. October.

A searchfor canon-law texts in Italian libraries led Gratian (around f f 40) to compile his Concordia canonum.an eminent mathematicianwho had spenthis youth in Algiers. perhaps in the office of the Exchequer. Born in England. and Helenus.a Jew. and theological texts came from Byzantium. where he exercisedhis accounting skills. Adela. discordantium the very title of which is an entire program.the jurisconsult. Adelard studied music in Toursand played the cithara before the queen of France. People of many sorts-statesmen.Tnr Deern auo RrsunnrcrroN or WnrrrsN Currunr t45 Henceforththe awakening and reorganizingWest sought the great texts of classicalantiquity that it had lost. they were interestedin understanding and assimilatingthe learning of the Arabs. forgotten for centuries. commissioneda translation of the Koran.the abbot of Cluny. As it turned out. made around 1140-43 by a team of Christian scholarsthat also included a Jew and a Muslim. counselorto cities and princes. Very early. notably with most of Aristotle's works. Gerbertwent to the abbey of SantaMaria de Ripoll to seekinformation on Arabic learning and.however. which also pro- . Also very early.hagiographic. and with its rebirth there appeareda new personage. Europeans quite logically went to seek for them (and for other precious works) among the Greeks and at the confinesof Islam. Pontus. nearly all the grammatical. Eventually he returned to England.a Latin.Salernus. The immensetask of retrieving ancient texts was not completeduntil the early thirteenth century. he went to Sicily. clerics. Above all. Written law was alive once more. It was in the twelfth century.a2 During its long dormancy the West had lost contact with many other texts. medicine emergedfrom its torpor thanks to the school at Salernofounded (tradition tells us) by four masters.43 Another was LeonardoFibonacciof Pisa. an Arab.after teaching in Laon. Peterthe Venerable. a Greek. are reputed to have been found in a sixth-century manuscript that the Pisanstook when they defeatedAmalfi (which was allied to the Byzantines) and that was transferredin the sixteenth century to the Biblioteca Laurenzianain Florence. In his desire to know more about Muslim religion (with the aim of refuting it better). and from there to Palestine and Syria. The Pandects. One of these was Adelard of Bath. that interestin Arabic culture increasedall along a contact zone whose strongestpoints were Spain and Sicily. but also merchants and adventurers-traveled far and wide to procure sought-after texts. in the absenceof decisiveproof to the contrary he can be credited with first popularizing Arabic numerals and the asffolabe in the Latin world. where his father served as consul general and was an active merchant and a manuscript-hunter.

and dialectic as well as theology. in the twelfth century with Bernard de Chartres. and Thierry de chartres. except to note that throughout Europe cathedral chaptersthat had been reorganizedaccording to the Gregorianreforms encouragednew cathedralschoolsunder the direction of a scholasticzs. where texts had simply been conserved. first under the bishop Fulbert and the canonist Yvesde chartres. News flowed into the towns and discussion was no farther than the nearestsueet corner. Parissoon beganto attractboth mastersand students. and Hero of Alexandria." Then came the turn of Laon with Anselm. as did English scholarslike Adam du Petit-Pont. outside France. Guibert de Nogent.Instruction also diversified to cover grarnmar. I need not retrace the history of this revival.law. it then spreadto the cloistersof the nearby abbeysof Saint-victor. medicine. then.In the eleventh century chartres stood out as one of the liveliest centersof learning. later it moved to various places on the slopes of the Montagne Sainte-Genevidve. Teachingin Paris at first took place in the cloister of Notre-Dame. often foreigners. and citieswere reviving in a Europethat was much more heavily populated than it had been in Roman times.Gilbert de La porr6e. the "master of masters. Henceforth studentsflocked to the banks of the Seine from the four cornersof Europe.and.This explains the successof translationsmade in Spain with the aid of Spanish scholars and the borrowing of a large number of Arabic scientific and technical terms that came into western vocabularies. More and more young peoplewent from one city to another in searchof famous teachers.who stated that in his childhood (around 1066) no schoolmasterswere to be found in small towns and hardly any in the cities.146 cneprnnFoun vided two Platonic dialoguesand a portion of the works of Euclid. SainteGenevidve.and Saint-Marcel.John of salisbury and Robert of Melun and Italians like PeterLombard. Bourges." then of Auxerre.both mastersand students organized into corporations .a5 The medieval university systemcame to be organizedduring the same period.while Abelard was pursuing his tumultuous careerthere.of Durham and Toledo. rhetoric.rme to Paris to reach. Thierry de chartres and Gilbert de La Porrde c.observedfifty yearslater that there were so many schoolsthat even the pooreststudent could attend one.4 some monastic schoolsstill continued to flourish during this sametime. proclus. westerners often preferred to seek Greek texts through the Muslims in an age when Arab scientificknowledge seemeda more fitting heir to Greek learning than Byzantium.Guillaume de Conches.The professorsof Tournai at one time made that city a "new Athens.

the entire affair ended in literary sublimation. and doctors of theology were normally over thirty-eight yearsof agewhen they completedtheir studies. Padua.Thesepragmatically derived infrastructures were all minimal and flexible: the masters first taught in rooms that they rented.Naples. but also in Oxford (when Henry tr forbade his subjectsto go to the Continent to seek instruction). was terror-stricken to see the consequencesthat his act was to have on his career as a cleric. The teachersdominated someof the institutions organized during this period. Abelard was arrogant and aggressive. Abelard. and Valladolid. might be the sameage as a master of arts. and he attemptedto show how certain theologians (St. in othersthe studentscommanded. Caught in his own trap.Salamanca. Bernard. Augustine.hr his strugglefor supremacyover Guillaume de Champeauxhe conceivedof dispute as a combat in which the loser bit the dust and the winner carried off the booty (in the form of the defeated professor'sclientele). To that end he studied the languageof those authors with care.c. Abelard attemptedreconcilethe texts of Scriptureand the apparently contradictory opinions of the Fathersof the church. first in Parisand Bologna. Intellectuals of his time had a confidencein the infallibility of a well-conducted argument that we have learnedto temper.The course of studieswas extremely long. a man who had seemedto think himself pure spirit. trylng to take into account copyists' errors and the existenceof apocryphaltexts. The theology studentsof the colldgede Sorbonnewere usually from twenty-four to thirty-five years of age. A pure intellectual. His love affair with Heloisebegan as a scientific experiment in seduction. it would have been extraordinary if there had been no clashes between those who believedin the revived logic of writing and those who sought to serveGod and enter into direct contact with him. Given the atmosphereof constant confrontation that reigned in European cities. studentsin Bologna.Cambridge.Tnn DsarH .Toulouse. After the irreparable act of his castration. Although students at the Faculty of Arts in Paris could finish the seven yearsof the cursusby thg time they were between the agesof twenty-two and twenty-five. then in collegesset up for poor students or membersof religious ordersor congregations. The son of a Breton knight.No RrsunnEcrroNor Wnrrrrn Currunr 147 on the urban model. for example) had changed their points of view during their lifetime. and later in Montpellier. who had often had some practical experiencebefore coming to study. This eternal debatebetween the intellectual and the prophet was made flesh in Abelard and St. He also demonstratedthe need to develop a scienceof languagein order to determine the adequacyof words .Ceremoniestook place in the cloistersand the churches.

he also had to be a preacher capable of swaying and converting crowds. and Guillaume de Champeaux. Bernard's rhetoric was thus in a sense ciceronian. the realist. as Etienne Gilson put it. was based primarily on the study and interrogation of . legere. to Abelard.148 Cnaprrn Foun to express reality. A pastor and a leader of men." a6 We can imagine the anger that seized some people when they heard problems of faith discussed with cold logic in this manner. praedicare. the great quarrel of the age. A mystic and a man of action. In the debate on universals. He has left more than 350 sermons.doubtless disputable. shaped by the need to understand and interpret Scripture. Bernard. he was horrified when he first came into contact with the schools of paris. Bernard. A man fond of direct contact with listeners. Teaching. whom he recalls from more than one point of view. but assuredly rigorous and. The written word and logical analysis of discourse did not have the same meaning for him as for Abelard. when he gave his famous sermon against the modern Babylon. He presented a complete expos€ of the problem and proposed a solution that was. Abelard opposed both Roscelin. An aristocrat born in the country and a solitary by vocation. some given before large crowds of people whom he wanted to enflame and others before small groups of monks.. . Bernard did not hesitate to use "political" means to silence Abelard. Bernard had the temperament of an inquisitor and an orator. forms chosen in the interest of being clearly understood and as ways to move his auditors. St. Above all a man of the church. A "literary" author if ever there was one. His style was elegant and easy.new. and we can understand the reaction of St. The scholarly exercises that gave him that dual formation were summarized in the lapidary formura. he refused to quote the authors of classical antiquity. the prophet of the Second crusade. Like Bossuet. His chief means of expression were public letters and sermons. the intellectual had to be a theologian skilled in textual analysis and able to construct faultless arguments. we have them in their Latin versions. some seem to be from his pen. Bernard undoubtedly did not compose all these texts in advance. Bernard had devoted his life to a different search for God and ro quite different combats. the prideful intellectual.aT The dual functions of the medieval intellectual were incarnate in Abelard and St. the nominalist. however. but at least some sermons must have been given in French. nourished on the lectio divina and the Fathers of the church. disputare. but others were most probably written from an outline he furnished to the team of notaries that he employed or were reconstituted after the fact from notes taken as he preached.

normally included other doctors and their disciples. for example. In the Faculty of the Arts. to which the student gained accessonly after completing the curriculum of the Faculty of Arts. also called a "determination." in which objectorsand respondentsfaced off as in a tournament.In the lessonfollowing this oratoricaljoust. limiting his lessonsto its literal meaning.summarize it. they were Priscianand Donatus for grammar. and give his own overall conclusion. Cicero'sDe inventione and Rhetoricaad Herenniumand Quintilian's Institutiooratoriafor rhetoric. following the methods of the times.suggestingcounterarguments and raising objections. in certain cases.This was the formal debateor "disputation." The most solemn disputes. When we add that both mastersand advancedstudentswere obligatedto .imposing his own resolution (determinatiolof the question. and Porphyry Boethius. gumentsfor and againstthe question posed. the quodlibetic debates.Only after this lengthy exercisecould he discussthe underlying meaning of what he had dissected. when appropriate.aE The most solemn activitiesin the University of Pariswere thus oral debatesin which each participant had to be on constant guard to keep his argumentsfrom being distorted in a persistentuse of the dialectic method.after which he was permitted to offer his own conclusions. He (sententiarybachelor) by offering as could become a bacheliersentenciaire proof of mastery an interpretation of passagesof his choosing from Peter Part of his presentationhad to be a discussionof arLombard's Sentettces.In this exercisethe master. the Faculty of Theology. on the next available "reading" day. more restricted.however. Each faculty had its own. with the professoracting as arbiter and.He might judge it opportune to present this latter part of his course as a special exercise that displayedhis superior knowledge and that of his more advanceddisciples. word by word and phraseby phrase.was quite naturally prompted to raise problems and. the masterwould return to the problemsthat had been raised. Methods were even more rigid in the noblestfaculty.offer his own thoughts on it. to translate them into questions. aided only by his "bachelor. and Aristotle for dialectic.or WnrrrnNCurrunr Txr Dnarn aNo RrsunnEcrroN 149 authorities. the student was receivedas a bachelor in theology and could himself explicate the Bible. After severalyearsfollowing the teachingof the master.The masterwho read Scripture.audience.which he then attemptedto answer. The reader of one of theseworks was expectedto begin with a detailedexamination of the text. he would sum up the debate before his usual." answereda variety of questionsin what Father Pal6mon Glorieux has compared to a pressconference.put the argumentsinto order. or.Finally.

They were expectedto assimilatenotions up to then totally foreign to them.Every pagewas supposedto be compact and full. They first neededto be initiated into a new languageof an implacable logic and learn not only to understand it but to manipulate it.often made with colored ink. often of modestorigin and rural background.ae The organization of St.The copyist indicatesits component parts at the head of the work.to draw a lessonfrom them. using texts that often had been composedmore than a millennium earlier and must have seemedto come from another world. Thomas'sSummatheologica is exemplary in this regard. disputation. and to passon that lessonby meansof reading.By dint of long efforts to master spoken discoursethey learned to construct a rational argument with the aid of a restrictedvocabulary of carefully defined notions. to the point of filling a blank spaceby recopying a passage that had alreadybeen written. Abstractionwas a long and difficult conquest. we need to open a manuscript of Scholastictheology.to analyzewritten authorities. Medieval university methods can be explained by the social context of the times. When young men. and sermons in a world where speechremained the highest form of communication. But we can also seesigns.and every question is precededby a sum- . arrived at the schools. doggedly pursued. but carefully leaving out the punctuation to tell the readernot to waste his time on it. It is copied in a small. In the last analysisthe Scholasticmethod was an attempt. every treatise. and every part. which had been promoted to the rank of a superior discipline in virtue of the persistentand latent idea that there were correspondences between the laws of languageand the laws of thought. This goesfar to explain the weighty argumentsand the impersonalstyle of most medievaltheologians. Hence the importance of the quadrivium-the disciplinesof language-and the recognizedpreeminence of grammar.l5o c n a p r r nF o u n give sermonsin Latin at which attendancewas also obligatory for all students and that many of them also preached in the churches and other religious institutions of the city. a In order to understand what part writing played in all this. it is clear that the chief objectiveof a theologian'sformation was to preparehim to dispensecorrect doctrine to large audiences. that highlight new argumentsand clarify the overall structure of the text. broken hand that bristleswith abbreviations.they knew practically nothing about the written word and the practice of writing.

Then.and so forth (RobertMarichal). not just to guide the inJlection of the voice but to aid comprehension.the complex organizationof university sermonsand Dominican preaching. an argrrment (usually only one) againstthe point originally raisedgivesan answer dicendum to the question. after the formula sedcontra(but to the contrary). beginning in the third century the codexpermitted Christiansto add to the books of the Bible "capitulations" .which. with its written trefinements.All civilizations had some indexing system-we need only think of Mesopotamia. Hence the systematicuse of conventional abbreviations.The Roman jurists were past mastersat it.and indeed the Scholasticmethod required the readerto make incessantjourneys back and forth on the page to assimilatethe master'sthought. Thomas could not have composedhis monumental work so rapidly if this framework had not been available. The samepsychologyand the samefondnessfor subdivisionand afficulation underlay this system.Tnn Drarn eNo RnsunnEcrroN or Wnrrrru Currunr I5l mary. precededeach time by ad primam.the first of which is introduced by the formula videturquod non (it would seemnot) and each of the following by praeterea(furthermore). Thus it reflecteda societyin which each "micromilieu" had its own vocabularyand language. As soon as all knowledge dependedon systematicreferenceto a growing number of authorities. The copyiststook great care to punctuate such texts.and the broken writing of the Gothic period. Although the new systemundoubtedly facilitated the work of students skilled in its complexities.on the whole it was conceivedto manipulate only a relatively reducednumber of abstractions. In the body of the article. Even more.Lether). introduced by respondeo (I answer saying). the basic unit in this hierarchical stmcture. like ideograms. as Erwin Panofsky and Robert Marichal have demonstrated. each objection is refuted in order.permit the reader to grasp a notion at a glance. Each article.The same aim led to concentratingthe greatestpossible amount of text on one page and to a searchfor a density that expressed more than a simple desire to saveparchment.the very structure of Thomistic logic derivesfrom the sametechniqueasthe Gothic vault. ad secundam. Furthennore. Referenceworks were needed. St. double-entry bookkeeping. The word and its precise and technical significance gained predominance over the syllable-by-syllabledeciphering preachedin classicalantiquity.Nonetheless.the texts that he composedneededto be read and reread.Altemative possibilitiesare followed by series of objections.memory and reading-even cursivereading-were not enough. in which opposingthrusts are balancedby a keystone. has a title beginning utrum \w}.

Eusebiusof Caesarea(ca. quotationswere marked (for examplewith two points that prefigured quotation marks) or the name of the person being quoted was sometimes given in the margin in a sort of "headline.peter Lombard even declared that he had compiled his book so that people who sought information would not have to waste their time searchingthrough a large number of works to pick out quotations. some yearsbefore. and they deviseda systemfor locating an entry based on a division of the page into zones with corre- . sinceit used a systemof letters of different sizes.however. In their eyes it risked opening the door to totally arbitrary reconstructions. but the appearanceof a seriesof Distinctionesthat listed the various meanings of words repeatedin different placesin scripture drew a sharp reaction from theologianswho found this procedurethe antithesisof reasonand contrary to an order of nature fixed by God (Richard H. an ElementorumdoctrinaeErudimentum.Such methods were too convenient to be abandoned. there were a number of other systems that I cannot dwell upon here that simplified the work of the learned by the use of pageglosses. Papias had no immediate imitators. The cistercians showed themselvesto be great compilers of indices.placed in the margins.Furthermore.Efforts were also made to facilitatethe consultationof manuscripts. Rouse). however.who worked in northern Italy in the mid-eleventh century compiled the first work arrangedin alphabeticalorder.A summary of chaptersappeared with increasingfrequency at the head of a work. 260340) conceivedof a systemto esrablisha parallel life of Jesusfrom the four Gospels.Thesetwo inventions. to guide the reader.so that when a number of proceduresfor indexation and classificationappearedbetween the eleventh and the thirteenth centuriesthey reflecteda real revolution in scholars'working methods that is in someways comparable to the revolutionary effectsthat electronic data banks have had on scholarshiptoday. a running title headed each folio.152 Cnlprrn Foun listing the subjectsmentioned in them. papias. It is worth thinking about. Bernard. was delighted to have his listenersor his readerslaunch into lengthy studiesif they wanted to understand his thought. colored letters or "signs" helped to locate a given passage.a sort of encyclopediawhose original presentationcopyists at times misunderstood.but some contemporariesfound them surprisingand resistedthem." Thus while St. peter Lombard was pleased that his carefully codified presentation would facilitate the work of his readers. Gratian'sDecretumand peter Lombard's Sententiae were works of a totally new conception.5o Thesesystemsseemnatural and elementaryto our eyes. seemedto sufficefor centuries.

exemplaria-carefully correctedmanuscripts-were rented out one quire at a time. By the same token. Henceforth the reader looked at a page rather than listening to a text.until the appearanceof paper.All this implied new attitudes toward writing and above all new ways of reading. This systemmay seemto us primitive. Textswere accumulated. In order to facilitate the work of both the copyistsand the students. they made sure that the texts were not corrupted. With the enormous increasein study. any reasonedargument was as if detachedfrom the realms of God and men and took on an objective existence. Henceforth texts were recopiedand sold by booksellersand stationersunder rules set by the university authorities. as was written matter of all sorts.Nonetheless. that they were open to a quantitative evaluation. The latter made sure that "just" prices were charged. more important. questionedthe relations betweenwords and things and the reality of ideas. parchment was costly enough to dampen the zeal of most students. Thus there was a revolution that was the daughter of the alphabetand the mother of printing. and his eyesmoved over the two-dimensional surface seeking a particular word or scanning for reference points or colored letters. €. This may have facilitated heretical propositions. This meant that when a friar from one of the mendicant orders arrived at .the manuscript remained a rare and expensivecommodity because.a calculation of the profit to be gained. That meant. No wonder the philosophers of that age.even more than in Plato'stimes.The written text becameamoral becauseit became detachedfrom the writing processand no longer demanded that the reader take on responsibility for it by reading it aloud.no longer primarily in human memory but through the aid of external instruments. however. the period during which most texts were reproducedin monasteriescameto an end. What then was the "book capacity" of the medieval intellectual? The history of the book and the history of libraries will help to answer that question.Tne Dr.lrn aNo RssunnEcrroN or WnrrrBN Currunr r53 spondinglettersplacedin the margins-a procedurethat remainedin constant use until well into the Renaissance. but for centuriesit proved totally satisfactory so much so that the stock of available school texts grew in succeedinggenerations. Such changes in the ways in which a text was apprehended were truly revolutionary and specialistsagree that they took place primarily in the fourteenth century at a time when texts and instruments for consulting texts were proliferating.

stiu.A theologianwould probably not have understoodthe vocabulary or the abbreviationsof a jurist or a physician. In the fourteenth century only sometwo hundred exemplariacirculatedin Paris. They set in motion a rupture with the mechanismsof oral tradition and they preparedthe conversionto the logic of writing.t}re Sententiae of peter Lombard. It was an age of micromilieus. had its writing style and its internal communication networks and each one of which functioned as if in a closedcircuit. the relative scarcity of books had consequences:one of them-as is always the casewhen books are scarce-was specialization. Each discipline had a highly precisebut extremely limited vocabulary. Thomas's Summatheologicafor the Dominicans or St. Bonaventura. remained very few. Peter Comestor'sEcclesiastical History. while the Anglo-saxon invaders .154 cn. According to university regulations.In 1338 the library of the Sorbonne.. Fortunately. Germanicdialectshad held their ground eastof the Rhine and had gained ground in some territories toward the northwest and the west. they had undeniably lost the immense auditive memory of traditional societiesthat reading aloud had enabled the Greeks and Romans to retain. The only way to grasp this change-a changethat moved the West out of the categoryof a partially literate society (which is what it had been for centuries)-is to look first at the linguistic situation of Europe at the time. each one of which.s summafor the Franciscans-he was consideredaffluent. Studentscould certainly not have read all classicalLatin texts fluently. had only 338 books for consultationchained to its reading desksand 1. let alone his thought.prEn Foun the university with four works on long-term loan from his order-a Bible. the variouspeoplesof Europe were beginning to write in vernacularlanguages and to put down on parchment both their literature and their customs. The collectionsof the other collegesof the period included no more than three hundred works. and St. Although now they could consult a work by scanning it.c. When they satdown to read a pagethey struggledwith every word and every phraseuntil they had totally assimilatedit.100 of which were listed as lost.but one might well wonder how they could possibly have procured them.the richest library in christendom. studentswere supposedto have one course-bookfor every three students. among them the greatbasictexts.rr The medievaluniversity student'sattitude toward the book was nothing like our own.728 works for loan in its registers. as we shall see. Tnn WnruNG oF Narroxel LTTERATUREs At the sametime that a new form of clerical culture was developing.the "required texts.

The Celtsin the British Isleshad comparablewriting systems. but they were not systematically hostile to it and even used it in certain cases. Lothaire.T n n D n a r n a x o R r s u n n E c r r o No r W n r r r r N C u r r u n p 155 had imposed their languageon most of England. metal.where Nithard must have found them.and even to wTite fragmentsof poetry. for example. Elsewherethe barbarians had adopted the languageof the peoplesthey conquered.and the Helvetes noted on tablets the names of emigrants gathered to invade Gaul-338.53 Writing posedquite different problemsfor the various gloups in Europe. Celtic idioms were now spoken only in Ireland. Louis and Charles.and Irish missionariesleft notesand glossesin their own language . they first harangued them in their own languages-Louis's troops in Tudesque and Charles'sin Romance.Sincethey wanted to be sure that their respectivearmies would understand them. The majority of the Germanic populations as well as the Celts who had escapedRomanizationheld to oral traditions that had never died. the Germansworked out a systemof runes that they used to write inscriptions on stone. It is a familiar story: Two of the sons of Louis the Pious. and sealedtheir alliance during a solemn meeting near Strasbourg.Caesartells us that the Gauls. people becameacutely aware of languages. The barbarianswho had contact with Greek or Latin culture only rarely thought writing useful. after which the armiesswore a similar oath in their own languages. or wood. where refugeesfrom the British Isleshad flocked.54 After coming into contact with Rome.and Comwall.opposedanother son. now broken up into separateregions-spoken languages had gradually drifted away from classical or post-classicalLatin to arrive at languagesof a totally different structure.52 When Charlemagnerevived the Roman Empire. so it seems.000 of them. The words spoken on that occasionwere set down in Nithard's Historyof the Sonsof Louisthe Pious.and the schoolbookstell us (somewhat erroneously) that the StrasbourgOathsin 842 marked the birth of the French and German languages.in somewhat the way that contemporary Arabic speakersview literary Arabic. used Greek charactersto keep their cities' accounts. Romanized peopleslong saw Latin as the leamed form of their own spoken languages. not only for magical purposesbut also to remember an event or communicatea message. as well as in Brittany.But in Romania-the former ByzantineEmpire.Wales. Next they both swore alliance in the language of the other one's troops.The oaths were probably judged of enough importance to have been agreed upon and written down beforehand and preservedin the archivesof the two sovereigns. Scotland.

but Roman Catholics refused to give up the Latin language that had guaranteed their cohesion and their domination. some of which date from the seventh century. One interesting question is the attitude of the Catholic Church in its long struggle against the barbarians' Arian national clergies. and a version of a harmony of the Gospels made around 830 in the Abbey of Fulda. Snorri Sturluson. missionaries trained in Byzantium created alphabets in order to evangelize the Goths. composed (between 1220 and 1240) a sort of manual of poetics for the use of young skalds. after Ulfilas had introduced it among them as an aid to their evangelization.e Edda was .. His work also included fragments of older works and even entire works. They do not seem to have written down their traditional tales. and the Slavs in their own languages.ri6 cnaprrn Foun on the margins of Latin manuscripts in Bobbio and in Wurzburg. and as the Christian religion triumphed it prohibited (in Germany. As we have seen. which were part of another system. one of the most prestigious of the Icelandic chiefs and himself the author of a saga. to subscribe to acts redacted in Latin in the parts of northern Italy that they occupied. and we know that the barbarians had written laws (written in Latin) for the use of their Romanized subjects. Snorri Sturluson got around the unavoidable problem of allusion to pagan mythology by presenring mythology euhemeristically. the Ostrogoths used writing on occasion. when missionaries reached those lands and they became more thoroughly Christianized. and there were translations of the common prayers. it was penetrated by multiple influences and only in northern Europe and Iceland were the old traditions conserved. Benedict and of hymns. The end of the "old Germanic legends" is typical. one such was the famous Abrogans compiled around 77o at the instigation of the bishop of Freising. stating that the ancient gods were men given divinity by tradition. When the Germanic clergy was obligated to learn Latin. Similarly. Finalty. As we have seen. Caesar relates that the druids consistently refused to write down their legends. lest they forget the metaphor systems and conventional denominations of the traditional poetry. all but a few Exceptional individuals felt a need for bilingual glossaries. a Rhenish Frankish version of the De Fide catholicaex vetereet Novo Testamentocontra Judaeosof Isidore of seville. the Armenians.55 Thus throughout Europe we can find works written in the vernacular if we look for them. for example) the transcription of pagan traditions. Thus tt. thus to clerical culture. their poetry or their songs. bilingual versions have been found of the Rule of St. When Germany opened up to Christianity.

and epic texts were written down (we have them in eleventh.permits us to admire the beautiesof an already moribund culture. All that has come down to us is (perhaps)a few fragmentsof an epic song conservedin the Abbey of Fulda. * .and a poem in Rhenish Frankish.the histories of the VenerableBede. which tells of the deedsof Odoacerand Theodoric. Ecclesiasticalmilieus also began to produce texts in Romance.57 Nearly all the known texts in the Germanic languagebefore the eleventh century were written by clericsand reflect their curiosity or their religious interests. The only historical enterprise of this kind that bore fruit was that of Alfred the Great in the late ninth century.The six thousand lines of the Heliand.A manuscript from the Abbey of Saint-Amand. Augustine.as well as the Soliloqzies to St. the Hildebranslied. the Ludwigslied. But what part did oral traditions play in the various lands of Europe?To what extent could epic narrative forms developor revive in lands of Romancelanguage that had been profoundly marked by Latin culture? And how. did preacherspreparetheir sermonsin the vernacular?Theseare the questions to which we shall turn next.and Gregorythe Great.celebratingthe exploits of King Louis III at the battle of Saucourt in 88I. for example. Alfred had a number of standardtexts translatedfor the use of the children of his aristocracy-a Cura pastoralis. attributed PaulusOrosius. written in Saxon dialect verse. in its Scandinavianwritten versions.bearson its last folios twenty-eight lines of rhythmic versefrom the CantildnedesainteEu' lalie.t6 Charlemagnedid severalthings to preservethe history of his people. Noting that many of his subjectscould read Anglo-Saxon but that knowledge of Latin was waning. influencedby Prudentius. which.have probably survivedbecausethe work was inspired by the Bible.58 What conclusions can we draw from the few relics that chance has granted us? First. and he even ordered the compilation of a grammar of the Frankish language. Anglo-Saxon becamethe official language of his kingdom. he ordered the transcription of the very ancient poems celebratingthe oldest kings of his race. According to Einhard.and twelfth-century copies but they surely date from much older times). that people probably knew how to write in the various vernacular languagesa good deal earlier than has been thought.Tnr DsarH eNo RrsunnEcrroN or WnrrrnN Currunt 157 born.near Valenciennes.

158

Cnlprrn

Foun

The definitive break with oral composition techniques and the oral tradition began in France when the Romance chansonsde gestewere written down.
How did this changetake place?The first evidencewe have comesfrom
the physical aspectof the manuscripts.A dozen are small in format and
written in one column without superfluous decoration. The oldest are a
manuscriptin the RoyalLibrary of Brussels,which can be datedfrom I 130
and contains 661 lines of octosyllabicverse of.Gormontet Isambart,and the
Oxford manuscript of the ChansondeRoland(Digby 23), somewhatlater in
date. Thesemodest volumes have been called ,,jongleurs,manuscripts,,,
though with little justification. There are also manuscriptsof later cyclical
works that bring together separatetexts on a related topic, probably compiled for aristocraticlibraries.
Thesenarrativesembroider on ancient and real events:the attack on the
Abbey of Saint-Riquierby the Normans in 881 for Gormontet Isambart;an
ambush setfor Charlemagne'stroops on their return from an expedition in
Spain (778) for the ChansondeRoland;the history of a Frank who became
the count ofToulouse and earned glory but was defeatedby the Saracens
at the gates of Carcassonnefor the Chansonde Guillaumed'Orange. In
nearly every casethe epic crystallizesaround a hero, accordingto the rules
of the genre. All or nearly all the charactersand historical eventsgo back
to the Carolingian epoch.never beyond. The psychologyof the heroesand
the view of the vassal'srole and the royal systemhave nothing carolingian
about them, referring instead to feudal values and to the vicissitudesof
Capetiansociety,its first, as yet powerless,kings, and its restlessbarons.
On the level of composition thesepoems seemto follow a formal technique that Jean Rychner has described.ieThey are divided into lays of
decasyllabicor octosyllabic (on occasion, hendacasyllabic)verse using
assonanceor rhyme, and they seem to have been intoned rather than
actually sung. From their many attention-catching expressions(,'oyez,,,
"€coutez") and from reiterated statementsthat the singer has to interrupt
the story becauseof the late hour or becausehe needsrest, it is clear that
such works were meant to be declaimedor spoken.At times the jongleur
statesthat he is addressinggentlemen, but what mountebank does not
flatter his listenersin that manner? Everything indicatesthat the chansons
de gestewere elaboratedin aristocraticmilieus but were destined for an
eventual larger public.
Their genesisremainsa mystery.Despitethe studiesof Edmond Faral on
the jongleurs, those who conceivedand sangsuch works are just as much

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of a mystery as the origin of the works themselves.60
Documents may be
lacking, but the hlpothesis-makershave gone at the questionwith wholehearted energy.
One of thesewas L6on Gauthier,who wrote during the SecondEmpire.
In Gautier'sview the Romanceepic was Germanicin essence;with Gaston
Paris, he sought their origins in cantilineslike the Ludwigslied.With the
Franco-Prussianwar in 1870-71 Gauthierrepatriatedthe French epic and
declaredit wholly Romance.Philip August Becker and JosephB€dierlater
declaredit wholly Capetian.An inspired writer, B€dier evoked the world
in which the jongleur recited-and later jongleurs modified-his version
of suchtales.Above all B6dierfound the theme of the Crusadeeverywhere;
he gatheredinternal evidencethat the memory of epic heroeswas attached
to pilgrimage churches; he proclaimed that "in the beginning was the road
and the sanctuary." After World War II, some of the most perspicacious
scholarswere seeking indications of their manner of composition in the
texts themselves,and Ram6n MendndezPidal tracedthe legend of Roland
after the Carolingian period. Even more recently Italo Siciliano devastated
the thdory-makersby explaining that a style highly reliant on formulas is
not obligatorily a guaranteeof oral composition.Hencehis declaration,"In
the beginning was the caste."6r
The debatemay be eternal: in any event, the chansonde gesteappeared
in the form in which we know it in the eleventh century and it flourished
in the twelfth century the very high point of feudalism, whose ideology it
transposed.But the chief problem lies, as it always has, in judging how
great a share of the creativeprocessto attribute to collective creation and
how much to the person who wielded the pen when the legendwas noted
down. To what extent did the vwiter simply join scatteredsongs into a
coherent whole? These are the same questionswe had for the Homeric
poems. The least we can say is that the evolution of a society that valued
entertainment (just as Ionian society had in the distant past) facilitated a
proliferation of poets and reciters, many if not nearly all of whom were
clericsby training. It is clear that thesemen drew on sourcesof inspiration
within the feudal aristocracyand its traditions, but it is equally clear that
they put their works-at leasttheir epic songs-in contactwith the people,
whose reactionsmust have had some influence on them. It is hardly surprising, then, that sovereignsand great feudal lords take a leading role in
thesenarratives,even when there is an implied criticism in their depiction.
The people are presenteverywhere,however, becausethe people function
as a judge and are the principal support of an ideology in which the mon-

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arch is shown, through the legendaryfigure of Charlemagne,to be working for unity, peace,and order. In the last analysis,the chansonsde geste
representa form of mythic interpretation of the feudal systemand a popular and clerical vision of its ideal operation. Once again, thesepoems were
a legacyfrom an essentiallyoral tradition to a societyturning in the direction of the written word.
*
A highly elaboratedform of lyric poetry appearedin the paysd,Oc around
the year I100. After the jongleur came the troubadour, and after him the
trouvdre and the minnesinger.62
We need to sketch the scene,even at the risk of indulging in imagery.
The troubadour arrived, dressedwith a certain elegance,after the passing
of winter, the dead seasonfor things of the spirit, festivity, and warfare. If
his voice was fine, a troubadour might himself sing his compositions,but
ordinarily he left that chore to a jongleur dressedin particolored clothes
who accompaniedhis recitation with a harp, a drum, a viol, or castanets.
Of the 450 troubadourswho have been identified, somewere mighty lords
(one was william of Aquitaine, the grandfatherof the illustrious Eleanor);
others were loyal feudal lords or honest knights; some were clerics and
burghers. Some,finally, were of extremely modest origin, as was Bernard
de Ventadour, whose mother was the baker in the chdteau of Ventadour
and who may have been one of Eleanor of Aquitaine's lovers.
At the center of this sung poetry was the canson.The troubadour might
strive for simplicity in his style; frequently he soughtto show his virtuosity
by the richnessof his rhymes (trobar ricl; at other times he gavehis verse
an aristocraticcastby use of a hermetic, allusive style full of double meanings (trobar clusl. or he might abandon the cansonfor the sirventes,satiric
verse, the ensenhamen,
moral verse with a lesson for living to offer the
child, the damsel,the squire,the knight, or the jongleur. Or he might prefer
t}aetenson,a discussionin dialogue, the planh, or complaint, tt,.epartimen,
a gameinvolving taking sides,the pastorelle
or pastoral,the albaor morning
song,or the descort,a learnedbut not strictly ordered sort of poem.
Thus a refined poetry arose that was constructed in accordancewith
precisenorms by authors who had read all of ovid. It was verseobviously
destinedfor a public able to appreciateits subtleties,and it was sung in the
medievalfortress,a center of attraction for landlessnobles and young vassalscome to complete their social and military education.The cult of the
Lady,following the rules of courtly love, undeniably had a symbolic value

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in a setting of that sort. Let me support, without insisting on the point,
Erich Kohler's thesisthat the aim of courtly lyric poetry was to make use
of a common ideal to neutralize a persistingtension between the higher
feudal aristocracyand the lower nobility in a systemthat membersof the
upper bourgeoisieat times tried to join.63
As long as the feudal system flourished the troubadours had admirers and imitators in the Pays d'Oil and, soon, throughout Europe, from
Italy to the north and from Portugal to Germany.It was then that a new
genre,the verseromance,sprangup in northem France.This was at first a
sort of marvelous tale in which a large number of episodeswere strung
together or intermingled, often thanks to the device of the quest, and in
which the charactershad a unique psychology unlike the stereotypesof
traditional epic literature. It was a tightly governed and learned literature
popular in lordly and princely courts; Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of
King Louis VII of Franceand later of Henry II Plantagenet,and her children
played an essentialrole in the acceptanceand diffusion of the genre. Once
again, there are difflcult problems of transferfor the historian interestedin
tracing the sourceof such works. Many of theseromancesare qualified as
classical:there is the Romance of Alexander, the first version of which
datesfrom the eleventh century the Romanceof Thebesinspired by Statius, the Romance of Troy, and the Aeneas,whose charactersreflect the
spirit of the barons and the knights for whom they were composedin line
with a principle stated by Chr€tien de Troyes that chivalry was a legacy
from Greeceand Rome. Other works used tales and legendsalso found in
the East: Barlaamet Josaphatwas a Christianizedversion of the life of Buddha borrowed from a Greek romance translated into Latin in the tenth
century; the Lai de I'oiseletwas basedon an Oriental apologue; the Dit de
l'unicornecamefrom a fable of Indian origin known as far away asJapan.64
Thesewere undeniably learnedworks, composedin an agein which the
Crusadeshad developedrelationswith Byzantium and an interest in classical antiquity and the East.The samepoets who adaptedthesetales also
used Celtic legends,however,and we might well wonder by what channels
thesehad reachedthem.65
Which brings us to the problem of the origins of the Arthurian legends.
There is no doubt that Geoffreyof Monmouth played an essentialrole. A
cleric of Welsh origin, protectedby Robert of Gloucester(who was himself
the son of Henry I Beauclercand a Welsh concubine), Geoffreyamplified
Gildas,the
the meagerinformation that he had found in his predecessors,
VenerableBede, Nennius, and William of Malmesbury, to write his own

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HistoriaregnumBritanniae.Geoflrey'swork, which immediately circulated
among the Anglo-Norman and eventhe French courts,narratesthe history
of the kings of Britain from the arrival of the first of their number, Brutus,
three generationsafter the fall of Troy, to the last, caedwalla, who died in
689. The principal hero of the history is Arthur, however, an ancientwelsh
chieftain whom Geoffreydepictschasingthe saxons out of England in the
sixth century and conquering a part of the Continent.
Edmond Faral has shown that Geoffrey,who was denouncedas a forger
even in the twelfth century used his imagination to make vast improvements in the written, but probably also oral, sourcesthat he had chosento
exploit. The least we can say is that his history reminds us, once again,of
the incessantexchangesthat took place between the oral tradition and
clerical literature-as in the lives of the saints.Everything indicates,however, that the Arthurian legend soon spreadthroughout Europe. The adventure of Queen Guinevere, for instance, appeared in statues on the
tympanum of the cathedral of Modena around 1120. We know that
Eleanor of Aquitaine heard celtic bardsat her father'scourt in poitiers,and
Marie de France tells us herself that her lays were inspired by the songs
of Breton harpers. But the first Arthurian romance, the Romande Brut,
was simply an adaptation by a cleric, Wace, of the Historyof Geoffrey of
Monmouth ( I I 55), and chr€tien de Troyesrelatesthat he found the story
of the Grail in a manuscript supposedlygiven to him by his protector,
Philippe d'Alsace.Thus we get the impressionthat the courtly authors integrated celtic traditions into their imaginary universe with the encouragementof the Plantagenets,at a time when the welsh courts were losing
their original personality through contact with the Normans, but we do
not know by what channelsthey receivedthose traditions. It is probable
that clerics noted down this fast-disappearingform of literature. Unfortunately the few modestvolumes that give us snatchesof theseworks are no
older than the thirteenth century so a link is missing in the history of this
transfer.
During this sameage German feudal societywas becoming aware of the
chansons de geste and the French romances, and German singers and
poets turned toward the few ancient sourcesin their own land that had
not been totally eliminated by time and christianization, in particular the
sourcesof the epic of the Nibelungen.This complex work joins and merges
severaldifferent narratives. one tells of the exploits and the death of the
young siegfried, a story probably known in fairly brief songs;another re-

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lates the death of the Burgundian kings, who probably furnished subject
matter for an earlier epic around I160. Although it is not signed,the long
poem was almost certainly composedby an Austrian man of letters Soon
after the year 1200. Later sources,in particular in Norway, show how that
writer could composea Christian work on the basisof pagantales,because
the hero Siegfriedand his enemy Hagenwere probably originally mythical
beingssymbolizinglight and dark, and Brunhild, at first a Valkyrie and the
daughter of Odin, becamethe virgin queen of lceland. The various stages
of tra{rsformation t}rat the epic underwent after that period are of Iessinterestto us. As it had happenedlong beforewith the Homeric poems,more
recently with the Chansonde Roland, and, to a certain extent, with the
Arthurian romances,when the Nibelungenepic was set down in writing it
resultedin a masterwork that was somethinglike a testamentthat passed
on a legacyof oral traditions whose dayswere numbered.66
*
The victory of writing is often only apparent. Ffust,becausewriting exists
only by right of previous speech,thought or spoken,and its first aim is to
set down spoken discoursein visual form. Next, becausein a certain sense
written discourseremains spoken when it is conceived to be recited in
public. Last,becausepoetry was primarily spoken,at leastin the West.
All this was confirmed during the Middle Ages, as Paul Zumthor has
often reminded us.67As is always the case, the literary messagepassed
along through a series of operations that are familiar to specialistsin
communications: production, transmission, reception, storage, and repetition. In a society that practiceswriting, each of these operationsoccurs
either through oraVaural sensory channels or through vwiting, which involves sight. Midway through the shift that interests us here, during the
eleventh to the thirteenth centuries in particular, when literary works
continued to be spoken in public, there came a moment that Zumthor
has called "performance." This is a moment in which the voice is important (as are silences)but gestureand stanceare also involved, as they
are in the sermon. Any performance is a spectacle, and needs to take
place in an appropriate place: for the chanson de geste,that place was
the fairgrounds,the courtyard of the chAteau,where we can easilyimagine
a jongleur declaiming the Chansonde Roland, or the great hall of the
chAteau,where the troubadour and his jongleur cameto presenttheir latest
canson.As an "auditive" object, the utterarrcecannot be dissociatedfrom

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the process of uttering it, and the very notions of author and actor tend to
blend. One result is that, if writing had not intervened more and more
directly in the transmission of the message, the west might have arrived at
a search for formal perfection comparable to that of the Japanese No
drama, where all the elements, from the sound of the musical instruments
to the tone of the actors' voices and the pace of the discourse, contribute
to the stylization.
The medieval poetic text was thus originally conceived to address a coherent collectivity rather than today's set of individuals who do not know
one another and do not know the author of the book they read or the film
they have come to see in a darkened hall. This means that the value of the
work depended on the relationship that could be established between its
author, its interpreter, and its public. It had to prove its worth at every
performance. Quite often the actor in that performance was in a situation
comparable to that of an actor in classical repertory theater today, who
must transmit a message written for the system of reference of a bygone
society. But the age of the manuscript was not the age of print, and the
way a medieval work was composed bore little resemblance to our modern
methods. In Breton romances Merlin the Enchanter does not himself
write; secretaries who are often eminent personages note his words and
assemble them. Another thing we do not know is whether courtly lyrics
were always written before they were later gathered together in the songbooks thanks to which we know them. It is also clear that such transfers
to writing occurred after a filtering process that it would be too simplistic
to call censorship. More generally, orality continued to play an extremely
important role in medieval literature. Even more, the notaries who recopied the texts seem not to have had any more compunction than the
actors who performed them about introducing changes in them, if only to
adapt them to the dialect spoken by a new audience. This means that when
we have several manuscripts of a chanson de geste they present noticeably
different versions. Like custom, and for comparable reasons, literary rexts
were not yet totally frozen by being written.
In the end, however, this was a game that writing always won. This is
particularly clear regarding the romance. The product of two convergent
ftaditions-the
chanson de geste, from which it originally borrowed a
number of procedures, and the historical chronicle or a certain kind of
hagiography-and
of the ancient epic, the romance arose at a time when
history was definitively replacing myth in the national collective memory.

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Romanceswere usually written by an author who had closerelationswith
aristocraticprotectors; at first it often used an octosyllabicverseform with
alternating masculine and feminine couplets, a rhythmically weak form
whose use emphasizesthe gap between musical expressionand the rational expressionof speech.
Around I22O-30 we arrive at the triumph of prose.At the sametime, a
more systematicuse of writing worked in favor of carefully constructed
cyclical romance.As FerdinandLot pointed out sometime ago, the Arthurian cycle came to center on Lancelot and the Grail, chronological logic
was strictly respected,and ch4racterswho had become superfluouswere
eliminated in later episodes.6sThus the epic was replaced by a genre
manifestly conceivedto be read aloud in small groups or even alone in
a murmur. Next, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, becausethe
languagewas changingand the peoplefound it increasinglydifficult to understandthe old verse compositions-a sign of the times-"de-rhymers"
(ddrimeurs)put the chansonsde gesteand the verseromancesinto prose,
quite clearly adapting them to new reading habits. It is characteristicof
such men to statethat verseprevented"speakingshort," "being brief," and
holding fast to the truth. According to them, versified narrativeslied and
prose was better suited to such storiesand to history. They eliminated the
old, familiar words, the epic clich6s,the attention-gettingdevices,but also
too-lengthy descriptionsand psychologicalembroidery.Writing aimed at
efficacy,which meant that it gave priority to the concreteand to action,
but also to verisimilitude, henceto detailsof time and place.
Manuscripts confirm this trend even in their physical appearance.
Manuscriptsin prose,which were often commissionedfor dynasticor political reasons and were written in an elegant hand, illuminated, and
bound, could be beautiful objectsthat lent sacredaura to their contents.
Like many modern luxury publications, however, their text is often faulty.
Ddrimeursand copyists,at times the sameperson, might add a long prologue explaining and justifying their effortsto the readerin terms that often
approach the languageof publicity. More to the point, they divided their
narrative into chaptersprecededby headingsannouncing or summarizing
their content. This provided natural breaksin reading, which by now was
done among small groups or by lone individuals. It permitted the imagination to wander arld meditation to take flight, and it establisheda dialogue with an author who, henceforth and ever more, remained invisible
and mute.

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CouNrnnPorNT
A rich harvest of advancesin writing occurred by the end of the fifteenth
century: there was a return to written sources,a revival of commercial
correspondence,the appearanceof an administration dedicatedto writing,
a growth of speculativethought and spiritual literature, the development
of techniques for abstract calculation and of procedures of classification
and retrieval that obeyed a purely graphic logic, and, to end the list, the
appearanceof written national literatures.The harvestwas so rich that one
might imagine that our tale had ended and henceforth Europe was converted to writing, or that writing was the samefor all peopleseverywhere.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. First becausethe small world of
writing was still compartmentalized.But also becausethat world was only
one thin layer of society-some few hundred thousand clerics,merchants,
notaries, scribes,and "writers." All around them there were tens of millions of men and women who continued to live and to think in the traditional mode. Let us try to seehow so many groups and different milieus
operatedtogether.
*
We need to look first at the circulation of written information. Here we
have a good indicator in writing hands, which varied enormously in this
period, and which ofler us something like a reflection of the groups that
produced them. G6rardIsaacLieftinck took on a nearly impossibletask in
his classificationof the vastassortmentof Gothic hands of the period.6erhis
does not mean that a good paleographercannot identify the source of a
document or a manuscript at first glance. It is possible to guess,for example, that an act written in a cursivehand without embellishmentscomes
from an Italian mercantilemilieu, or that another in a more crampedhand
was written,by an Italian notary. Difficulties arisewhen we try to systematize such observations.Istv6n Hajnal has listed thirty-five types of chancery
hands, noting identical tendenciesin countries quite far apart, and he has
atftibuted these similarities to scribesof different nationalities who had
studied at the sameuniversity. Book hands are equally difficult to classify,
in particular becauseperiodically they were influenced by the writing
stylesin documentsand updated.To
rhe result was an immeasurablediversity of scripts.The picture is further complicatedby a hierarchy of writing
styles according to the degree of solemnity that a document or a book
merited-a hierarchy that, disconcertinglyenough, was obseryedonly in

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the great chanceriesand copyists'workshops,whereaselsewherestyle depended on the whim of the scribeor the needsof the personwriting. This
means that there is no internal logic even in the names that fourteenthand fifteenth-century writing mastersgaveto their models.
To examine specificcases,let us look at the most solemn volumes, liturgical books. It does not much matter whether we call their written style
turtura,formata, or formata textualis;such terms are scholars'quarrels and
the secretgarden of paleographers.All we need to note is that their calligraphy tends to be monumental and that it clearly attempts to stressthe
architecture and the structure of the letters by giving them an angular appe.rance. This writing style,which was originally intended for usein choir
books that had to be read from a certain distance,remained stablefor several centuries.It inspired the charactersof the greatBibles: Gutenbergtook
one of these styles as his model. There are limitless gradationsbetween
thesemodelsand cursivebook hands- cursivacurrensor notula,depending
on the specialist.The university manuscriptsprovide one coherent group
of them. Their copyistshated empty spacefor the reasonswe have seen,
and their minuscule was relatively rapid: the Parishand was chiseledas if
into facetsand was made up of broken lines whose finenesscontrasts,as
in the English style, with the thicknessof the other strokes.The Bologna
minuscule had more rounded curves, tended to avoid breaks, and quite
evidently reflecteda different sort of mind. As for the construction of the
text as a whole, let me refer to what has alreadybeen saidand simply recall
that although the many conventional abbreviations facilitated a rapid grasp
of information during reading, they slowed down vwiting. St. Thomas
avoided them. During this period, finally, the chancery scribes,urged on
by the need to produce ever more rapidly an ever-increasingnumber of
originals and correspondencecopies,createdand then canonizedincreasingly functional forms that were often used for literary manuscripts aimed
at lay readers as well. Every institution quite naturally wanted to affirm its
own identity with its individual style."
Not only were the scripts of the Gothic age highly diversified; their ceremonial forms grew more and more complex, resembling flamboyant
Gothic architecture.Therewere different script families that were used according to the nature and destination of the text to be noted, and there
were often variations within one script family connected with attempts to
achievegreatersolemnity or greaterrapidity. One overall trait was a stylistic differencebefweenthe lands of northern Europe,where scriptsshowed

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the attraction of the Gothic and an affirmation reflectedin verticality, and
the stylesin Latin lands that remained loyal to rounded letters and prefigured the humanist script. Thus eachmodel had its public; eachfunctioned
as a "logo" to reflect the self-imageof cultural micromilieus that remained
relatively distinct from one another.
Most people who used writing had not yet reachedthe point of being
sufficiently familiar with these writing styles to be able to use them for
natural written expression.Missive letters had of course continued to be
written since classicalantiquity, and during the Carolingian age learned
abbotshad made them a literary exercise.But it was still out of the question to use correspondencefor immediate and practical purposes.Nothing
could replacethe messenger,and a letter of Charlesthe Bald to the inhabitants of Barcelona is an exception.The redaction of letters began toward
the end of the tenth century.We possesslettersof Gerbertof Aurillac, Peter
the Venerable,and St. Bernard, and the letters exchangedby Abelard and
Heloise (the authenticity of which raises some questions) are famous.72
Exceptionsaside,thesewere still literary exerciseson the part of men (or
women) of letters, or even brief treatisesaddressedto a great personage
and his entourage.Some "letters" do not even seemto have been sent to
their apparentaddressees,
who thus becomemore like dedicatees.Sending
correspondenceposed a number of problems.The letters of Peterthe Venerablewere carried as opportunity aroseby students,merchants,pilgrims,
minstrels, and even gfeat persons.On occasionPeter sent his correspondents a person entrusted with confidential information to be transmitted
orally or who could supplementa written messagewith additional information and could receivea response.Should we find it surprising that the
crusadersonly exceptionally sent letters to France?In reality, if they had
no model before their eyeseven educatedpeople long found it extremely
difficult to put down on paper narrativesor sentimentsthat touched them
personally.The universitiesplayed an important role in private letter writing: they originated the Artesdictandi,the ancestorsof modern epistolary
manuals, which offered studentsexamplesfor all the important eventsin
life. Thesewere still stylistic exercises,however, destinedto make a good
impressionon a far-off relative financing the young man's studies.Tl
Writing nonethelessgainedground constantly.Its use spreadin mercantile circles,where merchantsoccasionallyaddedpersonalnotations to their
still stereotlped businesslanguage.Ta
The great cities in Italy were already
putting order into their correspondence(for example on the occasionof
the fairs in Champagne),and the king of persia granted free passageto

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Florentine couriers in 1326. About that same time administrative correspondencecameinto being. Acts came to resembleand to be called letters
patent, letters missive, or sealedletters, for which the Artesscribendioffered
rigid models, imposing a decorumappropriateto every situation. This created a need for couriersto be sent regularly on public business,which led
to the rise of the postal service.
The church, a centralized institution with branchesthroughout Christendom, showed the way. As early as the fourteenth century the popes in
Avignon createda corps of couriers, horsemen and officials of fairly high
rank. The members of this corps were relatively few in number, however-forty or so around 1350-which meant that travelers were still
entrusted with letters and, above all, with answers. Next, professional
couriers appearedin Avignon who were paid by the trip or who worked
for one of the greatcommercialcompanieswith which the Holy Seemaintained relations. This made it possiblefor a messageto reach Paris from
Avignon in five or six days, Brugesin eight days, and Venice,Florence,or
Naplesin from ten to fifteen days.
Other systemsof communication arose.In France,by the late thirteenth
century the University of Paris, which included students and professors
from all over Europe,had a service(alsoavailableto the public) for sending
lettersand packages.Next, the courts and other juridical bodiesusedcouriers to transmit the dossiersof casestransferred from one jurisdiction to
another. As in Italy, French merchants joined forces. This movement
reachedits height in the fifteenth century when Louis XI employeda large
number of horsemen-226 at the time of his death-and set up way stations along strategicroutes supervisedby functionaries who took the name
of mattresde postesunder the reign of Francis I. During that sameperiod,
the Taxi family, originally from Bergamo, headed an organization under
the protection of the emperorsthat soon counted as many as twenty thousandhorsernenand that serveda good part of Europe.Tt
*
What were the relations between those who had masteredwriting, those
who managed to write with some degree of difficulty, and the illiterate
masses?
A first reliable indication is in the connection between custom and law.
There were at the time innumerable customs that governed human relations within the various groups and communities. In the eleventh and
twelfth centuriesthere was a felt need to write down theserules. This hap-

was primarily addressedto their peers. ll82.and a fear of seeingeverything changefor the worse at the whim of events encouraged writing down the law. Henceforth the mission of the governing power was not only to defend the peacebut also to govern and to legislate. Lucca. In principle one could go no further. Florence. Cadastralsurveys appearedin the flfteenth century in Italy and in some cities of the . using writing to passjudgment and raise taxes. legal practitioners for the most part. the Roman conception of law had not been completelyforgotten in the Mediterraneanworld.Under the influence of the Germanicinvaders.then in Frisia.who had studied rhetoric. and beginning in the eleventhcentury the Christian idea that sovereigntywas a ministeriumgiven by God favored a revival of legislative activity.Further progresswas made with methodsto count each family's movable and immovable goods (Toulouse.the law had long been held to be immutable in the early Middle Ages. Law in France began to give priority to the monarch'slaws over custom. The first attemptsto set down customswere made by individuals. It was not until the thirteenth century however. then throughout Europe.legislation consistedin reconstituting an order that the governing power servedrather than created. The discourseof the law-makers. Communicationsbetween those who made the law. that rulers began to expresstheir will as it applied to all their subjectsrather than dispensingfavors or privileges to some of them.77The need to control this shift dictatedthat new rules be established.it was presentedto otherswho might hear it as proof of a store of knowledge from which those others felt excluded.12631. in a world that no longer seemedtotally static and in a universe whose order no longer seemedexclusivelydivine.and at a time when the revival of cities and economicdifficultiesraisedjuridical problemsthat had never been encountered before. in the thirteenth century local or regional authorities ordered customswritten down.t70 Cneprnn Foun pened first in Barcelona. so customarylaw gradually "petrified.a move opposedby the wealthier families. Higher powers eventually intervened and written custom took on the force of law. but it becamean instrument for inequality.Still. Administrative structureswere weak. as the history of taxation clearly shows. and solidarity among the dominant group often incited its membersto twist the decisionsthey were supposed to apply. and the massesthat they were intent on governing was not without problems. For the Germans.12021. The Italian cities devised systemsfor counting households and for assigning to each household something like a coefficient for estimating its wealth (Pisa.l162. In principle the law was equal for all. next."76As a corollary the notion of "law" was recast.

"as were the poor. The relations between written and oral literature after this period are a particularly striking case in point. In France the taille was apportioned. but fraud and dissimulation reduced the tax revenues from year to year. an "execratedtax on the defenseless hinterland.but writing led its practitioners to break with the mechanismsof traditional transmission. A gulf was thus createdbetween the "elites" who participatedin written culture in one manner or another and the rest of the population. The attemptsof Philip the Fair to establisha tax either on capital or on income (or simply by household) failed when his subjectsproved incapable of the necessary evaluations.Tun Drarn eNn RrsunnEcrroN oF WRrrrEN Curtunn t71 south of France.In early fourteenth-century England King Edward I succeededin making his subjectspay a real-estatetax proportional to their financial holdings. but it was replacedsoon after by the taille."TeWriting was of coursenot responsiblefor all thesesocialills.Taxesin Englandwere on an individual-quota basisand proportional to real-estateholdings.In both France and Germany the epic disappearedwhen it engenderedthe chivalric romance.as Bemard Guen€ehas said. tallage was based on real property in the Midi.The city of Florencesucceededin freeing its citizensfrom taxation by shifting the burden to the surrounding countryside. in those days as in our own. Written literature fed on oral literature: its composition and its manner of reading remained in greatpart spoken. A census of households (still far from perfect) was finally achievedin 1328. and the changesmade when taleswere written down are only exceptionallyfound .then among the €lections.nobles and cities did not pay the taille. Fromthe fifteenth century on. This was true of popular tales as well.and eventually among parishes. and the amounts to be collected were divided among thiegdndralitds. In Francethe sizeand the diversity of the French territory made the problem of taxation nearly insoluble. The correspondingtax was eliminated by CharlesV on his deathbed(1380). No return from the written to the oral seemsto have taken place. whose numbers consequentlyrose with suspiciousrapidity. By using the harsh but efficacious procedure of applying collective responsibility in every cornmunity. all it did was help to spreadthem. In France.Ts The chief question. which became. was to decideon a tax base. but northern Francehad a personaltax basedon households. Exemptionsproliferated. What it comes down to is that the illiterate masseswere the primary victims of a systemthat the use of writing had engendered. the French governing powers made the collection of taxes easierbut opened the door to all sorts of pressureand negotiation. In England the clergy was exempt from the "percentage.

their debates were not to weaken the edifice of the church.8t An organization such as the church could only be monolithic: as in all authoritarian societies. on the other. the laity could also find edification in the painted or sculpted images in the churches.8o * We still need to Iook at one essential element: religion. some from folklore (supernatural tales in particular). Dogma-that is. some of learned inspiration.172 Cnaprrn Foun in the tales that continued to be repeated orally up to this century. It included both explicit and implicit truths. the set of verities that were the objects of faith-issued from Revelation. To begin with. or when any or all of these lost the ability to draw from humble sources of piety to guide . Except in certain regions of the Mediterranean where literacy rates remained low. which drew conclusions from their findings. But when bishops attacked one another. Between them stood the cleric. whose function was to make Sacred Doctrine accessible to all. One familiar aid to preaching lay in collections of exemplacontaining brief moralizing tales from a variety of sources. and the faithful participated in its life and in its evolution. And in such matters. love was the chief concern of the church. just as God was one. as attested by the great number of cults. At the center stood the preacher. The church was one. not theological dispute. the Truth was one. when scholars moved their doctrinal disagreements out of their own circles and appealed to a larger audience. Communication in the vast area of religion can be seen schematically: On one side there was God. Everything became more complicated with advances in writing. the invention of relics. It continued to draw enrichment from popular sources. a man of several cultures. to attend the same theatrical performances in symbolically closed spaces. when the clergy faltered or simply proved unequal to their task. did not God prefer to address the humble? This meant that messages circulated in both directions. The theologians' mission was to clarify dogma under the supervision of the hierarchy. because the church held that Revelation was not entirely contained in Scripture but also reposed in a living tradition that continued uninterrupted from the apostles. oral literature thus tended to reflect only one aspect of society and to become residual. however. and miracles. while people in "lettered" circles joined together to share the same reading matter and. the mass of the faithful. later. an initiate of a sacred language and an intercessor endowed with supernatural powers. Furthermore.

and Aristotle arrived. as a last resort. After the Fathersof the Council of NicaeacondemnedArius and fiis doctrine (3251. Censorship:finally we get to a topic that every reader of this book must have expectedon first opening it.disappeared. censured on several occasions. The West had once more begun to accumulate a capital of texts. and the book after the coming of writing. in the oral tradition.64Such operations remained the exception. The model that was alwayscited is in Acts 19. It is symbolic.Tnr Drern aNo REsunnEcrroN or Wnrrrpn Cutruns l7i and channel the aspirationsof the masses. We are in the twelfth century. Normally censorshiptook other paths. first becauseit concernspractical works of an operativevalue that the fire turned into impalpable ashes(as it did many hereticsand sorcerers)." replacing it with a term less shocking to orthodox ears. This was why compartmentalization was necessaryand. censorship. The Romansof classicaltimes had used comparableforms of destruction againstthe Christians:the "traitors" (seethe Dictionnairede th1ologiecatholique)were those who. the Catholic Church used coercion againstthe heresiesthat assailedit. "porphyrians. turned liturgical objecrs or sacredbooks over to the temporal authorities.s2When Christianity triumphed.not so much becausethey were destroyedas becausetheir condemnationstruck such horror and fear in potential readersthat the works were no longer studied or copied." procedures of that sort wiped out a number of heresies. one volume . Paul preachedin Ephesussomeof the Ephesianswho had practicedmagic piled up their spellbooksand set fire to them.Es This was the beginning of a long seriesof book burnings. however. This is censorshipin a nearly perfect form. We need to go back quite far to seejust what it entailed. willingly or unwillingly. The most direct form of censorshipand the one that strikes the imagination most vividly aims at destroyingthe causeof scandal. After St.secondbecausethis was self-censorshipand a ceremony was that intended to obliteratethe works from memory which is the highest form of censorship.then heterodoxy threatenedto crystallizeand the seamlessrobe to tear. The most famous and the most massiveduring the Middle Ages were the pyres lit by the Parisiansubjectsof the saintly King Louis IX to burn Jewishbooks after the pope had anathematizedthe Talmud becauseit portrayed Jesusas a common criminal.which means the speaker and the word.many of the works of Origen. More than ever the theologians' thought was nourished by the ancient philosophers. Emperor Constantine commanded that the books of Arius' sectbe burned and prohibited the use of the term "Arian.

David of Dinant. began to be concernedabout the conclusionsthat certain mastersof the Faculty of the Arts were drawing from these recently translatedtexts.which included the capital of the kingdom.86This censorship. to the extent that the incriminated works could be read and meditatedin private. as Gilbert de La Porr€eseemsto havebeen the first to do. This created three opposing camps: the radical Aristotelians such as Siger of .on its own initiative.The only way that right doctrine could be drawn from such instruments was by lengthy confrontation of opinions.however. Gregory IX ordered a commission to examine what measurescould be taken to permit Christiansto study books that were not allowed to be taught.the two main university exercisesdiscussedabove. the authorities simply attacheda list of the suspectsectionsto the volume or marked the incriminated passages with a specialsign. Denunciation becamecensorship only when it came from the ecclesiasticalauthority in one of its jurisdictions. and they were even openly taught at the University of Toulouse between 1229 and 1245.and ordered that the Quaternuli(doubtlessthe notebooksof a master.not books. and when this happened the aim was usually to correct someone's thought. and denunciation of adverseopinion was an integral part of a searchfor the truth. in I148. Between 1200 and l2l0 the bishops of the province of Sens. prompted a great deal of ink to flow It was a benign censorship.The author himself sometimestook responsibility for making the necessarycorrectionsin a text.s5 This systemfunctioned nearly perfectly when Aristotle'sMetaphyslcs and Physicspenetratedinto the West.174 Cxlprnn Foun after another. They forbade them to be read (in the university sense)in public and private lessons.and the Faculty of Arts finally decreed. who was probably also a physician) be brought to the bishop of Paristo be burned.promising to eliminate them in later copies. that all of Aristotle'sworks could be put into the curriculum (f 255). When Averro€s' commentariesbecame known.In systemsof that sort. It proved more efficaciousto prohibit the teaching of a suspect doctrine or replace a teacher than to suppressa manuscript only some parts of which were blighted by error.which was confirmed by the statutes of the university in 1215.The affair was inconclusive. When a manuscript was judged in error. thus enriching their thought as the ancient Hebrewshad enrichedtheirs with Egyptianlearning. the word is more important than the letter and the idea more important than the text. by way of the "impure" channel of Jews and Arabs and bearing their conimentaries. which is what justified the lectioandthe disputatio. Scholars debatedpropositions.

where the Gospelhad been diffusedin translation into Old Slavonian (which.the Book par excellencewas the New Testament(since they viewed the Old Testamentas having been inspired in greatpart by the . The measurestaken by spiritual authority. was not the vulgar language of the land). moderateslike St.and proclaiming a variety of objectivesthat often were pantheisticand nearly alwaysanticlericaland antisacramentarian. seemsto its most recent historian. the bishop of Paris.When heresythreatened to crystallize. denouncing the dangersof free interpretation. It remains to be seenwhat they and their followers really knew of Scripture. during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries vast spiritual movernentswere set in motion in the samemystical and prophetic current that launched the Crusades. had weighty consequencesin the long term: their full effect was felt in the fifteenth century.It is unimportant for our purposes whethel the censorstwisted the thought of some of their adversariesor whether or not they were attacking St. To calm the dispute. as long as books circulatedamong the learned the church held back its attacksor only made a symbolicgesture.published a list of thirteen propositionshe judged to be heterodox (1270). and conservativeswho evoked the authority of St.E7 Thus. In 1O79.however.Making their way along the trade routes.In the short term. which expressedthe theologians' mistrust of the intellectual domination of philosophy. Thomas who wanted to reconcile all parties. these movements had as prophets inspired preachers whose only weapon for denouncing the visible and official church was the divine Word. appearng first in commercialcenters. a recently Christianized region closeto Byzantium. incidentally.GregoryVII forbadethe translation of rhe Bible into the vernacular in Bohemia.a hasty job inspired by the neoAugustiniansof the Faculty of Theology. the most important in the Middle Ages. the masters of the Faculty of Arts learned to distinguish more carefully between the content of thelexts they studiedand the conclusionsthey drew from them. For the Cathars. Augustine.It is not coincidental that the first form of dualism to appear in Europe-the Bogomils-originated in Bulgaria. This condemnation.T n r D n a r n e N o R s s u n n E c r r o No r W n r r r e N C u l r u n r t75 Erabant and Boethius of Dacia. it attackedmen. Indeed.who becamethe championsof an autonorrous philosophy not easily reconciled with Christianity. Roland Hissette.Etienne Tempier. On the pope's insistence. The measurestaken by the hierarchy had attained tangible results.he then appointed a commission of inquiry and on the basis of its findings Tempier published (in 1277\ another denunciation of heterodox ideas listed in 219 articles. Thomas.

eoClericspose the classicproblem of the possible connectionsbetween forms of learned culture and the culture known as "popular." The story of the Amalricians-the disciplesof Amaury de Bdne (Amalric of Bena)-as elucidatedby Marie-Th6rdsed'Alverny. To suppressthis movement the church condemned Amalric of Bena'sdoctrine of love again in 12l0 and removedhis remains . A dialecticianwho.knew how to apply the methods of logic and theology. When they made convertsby preaching or direct contact. Waldo. Among the Cathars. According to Amalric.the Good Men. is an enlightening casein point. Amalric of Bena quite certainly drew inspiration from Joachim of Flore and John ScotusErigena when he gave the broadestpossibleinterpretation to the notion of the mystical body of Christ. every Christian should be held to be a true member of Christ.poorly assimilatedby only partially learned clerics.The records of the trial of someof their number show how theoreticalteaching. who camefrom a merchantbackground in Lyons similar to that of St. those by whom salvation came. winning over severaldiocesesfrom Troyes to Amiens.on the head and the shouldersof the impdtrant (the candidate)during their ceremony of. preachedfrom a vernacular translation of the Bible.Similarly. and someilliterate membersof his sect learned by heart what they could not decipher. They placedit. could produce strangeresonancesamong the ignorant faithful who usedwhat they heard to construct a religion more in line with their own aspirationsand their mental universe.We can easily imagine the role played by conventiclesin which the participantscould air their thoughts even if they challengedthe basicprinciples of receivedfaith. the Cathar missionerswere apt to lend the hesitant convert a volume to hasten the process.88 During the sameperiod.Ee One can sensethe sharethat modestclerics(notariesin particular) might have had in all this-one example is the Authier family made famous by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. symbolically.Consolamentum. but his pupils had already spreadhis heterodox theoriesamong the laity. Identical Cathar propagandapieceshave been found in widely scattered places. even in translation). like many of his contemporaries. were those who had the Book that contained the true Text (even though some of them were incapable of reading it.176 Cneprrn Foun Bad God).due to an imprudent visionary and their ranks penetrated by a spy. Francis in Assisi.they were the object of intensive investigation. He was obliged to retract before his death in 1206. the Catharswho preachedthe Good Newswere often escortedby a companion who read a passagefrom the Gospelon which the preachercommented. After the Amalricians had been denounced.

somewhat late in life (t)721. Let us try to seewhy. then. spent the rest of their lives in prison. Above all. For the first time.his future archenemyand at the time bishop of London (February t377). if they retracted.but those who thought they could draw practical conclusions from those principles died at the stake or. Paul'sbefore William Courtenay.the French. and passedinto the serviceof the king. if Amalric of Bena wrote his teachingsdown on parchment or if they were diffrrsedorally.He then took to the pulpit to defendthe interestsof his Lancastrianprotector. a doctor elaborateda doctrine that counseled rupture. But it was already true that once the Book that transmitted the divine Word appearedin the vulgar tongue it was a weapon of redoubtable force that enabledclerics and semieducatedlaymen to demand from the learned the right to know and to speak. for having . the results of his meditations and his teachingin a seriesof hastily written and increasinglyaggressiveworks. the doctrine of Amalric of Bena found enough championsamong the learned to avoid new condemnations. when the two first great modern heresies-those of John Wycliffe and of Jan Hus-got their start. vwiting played only a secondary role in the diffusion of heresies. Thesedemandscould only grow as the use of writing increased.Tnr Deern aNo ResunnEcrroN or Wnrrrpn Currunn 177 from consecratedground.We do not evenknow.This is clearly visible during the secondhalf of the fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth. he denounced the failings of the church. corrupted since the time of Constantineby a searchfor temporal power. During this time.but his attackson the church brought him a citation to appearat St.el In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.Ibtee centuriesafter the author's death. Already known for his anticlericalism. John of Gaunt. Worse. John Wycliffe (ca. 1330-84) was born into a family of modest means. for example. The De divisionenaturaeof John ScotusErigena (a work more heterodox than heretic) was burned again in 1225. Wycliffe published.He proved a formidable preacher.wycliffe was sent to Brugesto participatein negotiationswith the papal legatesin an attempt to arrive at a financial modusvivendi. Things moved fast afrer that. Both endedin failure. in some rather dubious causes. After a long course of studiesat Oxford he receivedhis doctorate in philosophy. and the English hated the Avignon papacyboth for its policiesof centralizationand for its efficient colection of taxes on English soil.And the right to lead revolts againstthe establishedpowers and authorities.Avignon was in league with England's enemies. however.piece after piece and book after book. England felt its position in Christendomwas rather marginal.

poor priests. Wycliffe retired to his rectorate at Lutterworth.in fact. the pen) to his secretaryJohn Purvey. it was abundantly clear that Wycliffe'sdoctrine poseda threat to the establishedorder. whose mission it was to make the law of the Gospel reign everywhere.A former nominalist convertedto an extremerealism. Moreover.just as the Gospelcould profit only the just. which had becomethe body of the Antichrist.drawing their hostility . He was buried in holy ground in 1384.Wycliffe's emphasison civil society. Forbidden to preach. no longer had any connection with the community of the elect (the mystical bride of the Word).The consecratedhost remained bread and Christ could not be physically presentin iU he was simply inscribedin it. It could exerciseonly minor functions for the salvation of men. who concluded in his favor. with the resultsof a universitycommissioncalledby his enemies and a synod brought together by Courtenay.and died soon after in his bed. After sufferinga stroke. Courtenay avoided even mentioning his name in the condemnation of 1382.t78 Cneptnn Foun developeduselessinstitutions and recornmendedsterilepractices. however. The church's relatively mild treatment of Wycliffe can be explained by the university traditions of free discussion. Wycliffe had his partisans. The rupture came only in l38l-82. Wycliffe mercilesslydrew the consequencesof his premises:Jesuscould give himself only to the predestined. Wycliffe held that the visible church.He appealedto his friends at the University of Oxford.e2 The ecclesiasticalauthorities reacted swiftly. freed from its glossesand in everydaylanguage. Summoned to Lambeth in March 1378 by the bishop of London (the same Courtenay).to the massof the faitMul.and his enemies were aware of the importance of his early protectors.the clergy should no longer hide Scripturebut give it over. and since we cannot know to whom God speaks.Wycliffe attackedtransubstantiation with particular vehemence. By that time. compensating for his obligatory silenceby a rage to write. In l)77 the pope condemned eighteen articles drawn from Wycliffe's writings and demanded his arrest. For years. is expressedin his proclamation that the active life was superior to the contemplativelife and marriage to chastity. and that the church could be regeneratedonly by the temporal power. he was invited to ceasespreadingfalse doctrines.at the time in full expansion.he passedon the torch (or rather.It also showsthe weaknessesof the official church. The Great Schism savedhim. however. We can recognizein this languagethe servantof a king whose administration was increasingin efficiency. like a messageon paper. The church in its present state offered more evil than good.Above all.

Writing in the vemacular was already frequent in orthodox circles. but resistancewas strongeramong the common folk. were modest chaplains.Most of the Lollard leaders. learned to read and write late in life and wrote tracts invoking the Scriptures and the Fathersand condemning auricular confession. the occasionfor John Ball's famous "When Adam delved and Eve span.and writings in the vernacular that have been attributed to him seem in many casesto have been the work of his disciples.competing with the efforts of the mendicant monks. We often find referencesto gatherings in which the membersof a household.William Smith.doctorevangelicus by his followers. The Lollards went so far . some of whom ovrmedcopiesof lhe Romande la Roseor Ihe PoCmes of EustacheDeschamps.On the fringes of this world there were black-robed visionarieswho proclaimed themselves"doctors of religion" and catered to the gentry or even to learned knights.He was certainly behind Nicholas Hereford's translation of the Bible.Tnn Drarn auo RrsunnEcrroN or Wnrrrrn Currunr 179 toward the establishedchurch from the same sourcesas Wycliffe. in its spirit.and here it becamean instrument of propagandaand a tool for personal reflection. who was then the gentleman?" Wycliffe immediately dissociated himself from this movement and seemsnot to have wanted any rapprochement with the popular preachers.They had a totally different attitude.works like the Lay Folks Mass Book. an opponent of alcohol. a vegetarian. which followed the text of St. 1380 had been the year of the famous peas4nt Revolt.Inquisition commissionswere setup in f 388-89 to seekout heretics and their books.indulgences.e3 Preachingwas the best meansfor conqueringfollowers.One of these. and the cult of images. Even more.and artisans. Above all an intellectual and called. and a self-taught man if ever there was one. at aiding preachersand attackingthe greatlordly estates(not a total novelty). A good many universitiesabjured and profited from their abjuration. Purvey. went about preaching ideas close to those of the Waldensians. merchantsof a certain substance. This is how the movement of the Lollards arose. It is no wonder that the ecclesiasticalauthorities took increasinglybrutal measures. while Courtenaypursued Wycliffe's disciplesone by one. but many of the Lollards were capableof reading Scripture. Jerome's translation almost word for word and was doubtlessaimed. Wycliffe was not eagerto bring theological quarrels into the streetsand marketplaces.priestswithout a living.listened while one of their number read and commentedon the divine Word. and tracts.joined by a few neighborsin the evening. however.who gave a much more accessibletransIation of Holy Scripture. wrote a vast number of tracts aimed at a large public and dranm from Wycliffe's sermons.

At this point Thomas Arundel. after which camethe Hus- . provided a doctrinal basis for a reform movement preachedby no less a personagethan the archbishop of Prague. His bones were thrown into the river that runs through Lutterworth. I shall not repeat its history except to note that it too ended in failure when the Council of ConstancesentencedJan Hus and Jerome of Pragueto be burned at the stake(1415. The measurewas not passeduntil 1401.primarily because the lay world of the written word had not yet acquiredthe autonomy that humanism was later to give it.e4 Wycliffe's movement had been doomed to fail from the moment the royal power joined forces with the church in 1382 in a move to avoid attracting contestationitself.Wyclifle's failure was the defeat of a counterpowerthat did not manageto impel recognition. Sincethey were part of the clerical world. Arundel launched (1407-8) thirteen propositions condemning unauthorizedpreachers. In 1409.a priest. and the Council of Constance ordered his remains removed from consecratedground. was the first to die at the stake. which apparently were burned at Oxford the following year. and William Sawkey. who had replacedCourtenay as the archbishopof Canterbury demandedthat the monarchy decreethat hereticswould receivecapital punishment. carriedto easternEurope in the late fourteenth century by students returning home from Oxford. The Council of Rome in l4l3 confirmed the condemnation of Wycliffe.forbidding translationsof the Bible without the agreementof the hierarchy. The manuscript tradition was probably simply not enough to guaranteethe coherenceand unity of "activist" groups.prohibiting the reading and teaching of Wycliffe's works pending further examination. by the end of the fourteenth century the true heirs of Wycliffe were no longer in England. the Oxford University scholarswere doubtlesspoorly armed for drawing the consequencesof the theological positions they had taken.180 Cueprnn Foun as to place placardson the doors of Parliamentin 1395 summarizing their principal theses. After that. Heresy in Bohemia found a leader in the person of Jan Hus. l4l7l. In the end. and. ordering the university authodties to inquire into the opinions of the members of their collegesand other institutions. Theseinquisitional measuresmade the Oxonians lose their taste for theological speculation once and for all. Be that as it may. the commission that had been called in responseto Arundel's demand condemned 267 errors in Wycliffe's works. His movement was also the movement of a nation.His writings. above all. the mendicant ordersproved better armed to conquer the masses.

Sincewe cannot rewrite history. before the appearanceof printing. to coordinate the heretical forcesthat were latent everywhere?This thesishas been argued a good many times.Are we to impute this failure to the Czechs' isolation in a world unable. I shall simply posethe question.T u r D r a r u e N o R n s u n n E c r r o No r W n r r r B N C u r r u n r l8r site wars and total collapse.e5 .

the city then regained populationslowly. One result was a crisis in rural areas.the first. GnnuaNv's MourNT CoMEs Renaissancesare the daughters of depressionsand crises.where he had taken refuge to avoid the "putrid miasmas" of Florencein the valley below. and although it abatedin Germany. and the mining techniques of the time were insufficient for pushing further. when Genoeseshipsreturning from the Crimea landed some sailors ill with the plague in Messina. TheArrival of Print echniques for the serial reproduction of multiple copies of texts by meansof movabletype appearedin Europebetween l4l0 and 1450. it took only two yearsfor the diseaseto spreadto the greaterpart of the West.in which mid-sized landholdings tended to fail. Were these due to demographicpressuresthat threatened an alwaysprecariousequilibrium in a "full" Europe?Were the looming misfortunes triggered by an abrupt change in climate? Whatever the reason.000in I338 to 50. but comparable procedureshad already been used in Korea for several decades.food shortagesbeganin 1305. There were also wars for survival initiated by lords whose feudal revenues were sorely diminished and conflicts that were continued by r82 . still sporadic.Like the flrst ravagesof the Hundred YearsWar (13371. economic conditions worsened and everything seemedto fall apart: even ore depositsgave out in mines that had been easily exploited.If I adopt the point of view of the West here. Slowly. however. they remained localized in France.000around 1380. and they are brought forth in pain.In the following yearsthe plague continued to strike harder and harder. it is not out of intellectual shortsightedness but becauseit was from that part of the globe that typography conqueredand imposedits logic on the entire world. In 1348.the Low Countries.000or 80. Clouds had appearedon the horizon by the late thirteenth century. The ageof Petrarchand Boccacciowas an ageof anxiety.reaching70.%ae.Boccacciocomposed the Decameron in Fiesole.000in 1350. The population of Florencewent from I10.It took Europe until the late fifteenth century to fill in the gaps in its population.and Spain in the late fourteenth century there were parts of Europe that trembled for many yearsto come.r This was particularly true of the great Renaissance of the fifteenth century.

but they were insufficiently armed to enforce a reign of order and justice. from the Rhine to the Danube.Burgundy. perhaps. deeper mine shafts were dug that provided accessto several galleriesat Once.Quite the contrary. the peoplesof Europe managedto live more or less as they had in the past and even to preparethe future. soon.In Styria an ore was discoveredthat contained a high proportion of coppermixed with silver-bearinglead.They found that commerce alone was not enough. More livestock were raised: labor was scarceand more costly but husbandry required little manpower. Although the Medicis long concentratedon bank- .The citiestoo were in crisis. Proceduresfor rolling metals and for drawing wire were improved. Jacqueriesand urban revolts of all sorts arose. The economic downturn of the fourteenth century had incited the enterprising businessmento defend their interests by perfecting their accounting methods and financial procedures. silk weaving in particular." Statesinvented taxation..In Germany. was also sick: the papacywas in Avignon and the Great Schismusedup all its energies. The church. The desertedvillages that made such a deep impressionon the historians who discoveredtheir desolationwere more an indication of a new start than of depopulation. The woes of the times did not hold back technologicalprogress.The production of iron was increasedby improvementsin smelting ovensthat eventually led to the blast furnace.and textile production techniques improved. "strong" wines were produced. Despite all this. The mining industry devised methods for exploiting abandoned mines and opening new galleries.and the cultivation of flax increasedin southern Germany. less wheat was produced and what was neededwas imported at low pricesfrom the Baltic while agricultureturned to more profitable crops. to end the list. and ltaly.for isolating antimony. The fulling mill. invented in the thirteenth century came into common use as workers becamemore scarce. hrfertile lands were abandoned.Tns Annrvlr or PnrNr 183 profit-seekingsoldiersof fortune who caredlittle for trucesand peacetreaties. for making engravingplates. Mines eve4rwhere. and in Nuremberg around 1425-rrot many yearsbefore Gutenbergbegan experimenting in Strasbourg-methods were developedto separatethe silver from the lead and the copper and. searchedout the precious metals that so aided the economy but also other metalssuch asthe copperneededfor castingcannonsand.led by sorcerers'apprenticeswho set "the small" against "the great.and water was drained off by more powerful pumping systems.and the deadwere replacedby newcomers seekingan often illusory shelterwithin the city walls.

controlled what I am tempted to call an industrial complex. they becameaware of being part of a homeland. Even more. Although there were contact zonesand exchangesamong them. and the Americas. men with close connections with the mercantile world from which they had sprung. although the peasantswho made up the majority of the population lived under a variety of regimes. and refugeeshad flocked to Italy after the fall of Byzantium. Venice had constructedits merchant empire on the debris of the ByzantineEmpire.their horizon often extended no farther than two or three leaguesfrom their villages. from the ScottishHighlands to Sardinia.perhapsto the fairs and markets for which they might go to nearby towns. once the center of a unified whole. Byzantine (with Slavic areasof inlluence).immutable worlds. and.The Mediterranean. Similar figures. Europe knew the Eastonly through the reports of a handful of voyagers. were still closed systemsunknown to Europeansand unaware of one another. however. and they had heard tell of the conflicts that rent the church. his back to the wall.Muslim. the world was still made up of separateuniversesset off from one another by vast empty spaces.r84 Cnaprrn Frvr ing before cornering the market for the pontifical alum mines. They also knew that beyond their lord they were subjectsof a prince or a king. had been forced to beg help from Rome. dominated the city-states of both Germany and Italy. in the courts of sovereignswhose realms were no longer expanding. theselhree cultures opposedone another more than they penetratedone another.Africa. Europe.with their large populations. Separatedfrom the great civilizations of the Far East by vast spacesor by rapidly shifting nomadic empires. closely followed by the Fuggersin Augsburg and then Nuremberg. finally mature. and in France as in England and soon in Spain. Western Europe received African gold and Asian spices and other valuable commodities through the Muslims. had been split up since the seventh century and was borderedby three quite different societies.but in its bosom. self-contained. Latin Christianity pushed toward the north and slowly eliminated paganismin Scandinavia. Jacques Coeur in France. Europe'straditional source of precious metals.their powerful presencechallengedthe feudal aristocracy. a In the early fifteenth century when Europe was emergingfrom a period of woes that were felt more keenly in someregionsthan in others. .it containedsmall. and WesternEuropean. They knew the pope. graspedthe importance of Greek culture only after the emperor of the East.

The Hundred YearsWar had shifted trade routes toward the Alps and the Rhine corridor. and its trade with Saxony and Silesiawas increasing.In 1332 the Nurem- .thus laying the foundations of their later power. the largest Germanic city of the Middle Agesand a city placedstrategicallynear the Rhine delta. Germany's power expanded rapidly in the fifteenth century. In the 1320s. had stopped growing in the fourreenrh century.It was the market city for Flemish textiles sold in central Germany. Luther was a miner's son. a lesscostly substitutefor wool cloth made of a mixture of the Iinen that was cultivated locally and cotton imported from North Africa or Egtrpt. and Lyons was not yet ready to be an important commer' Cialcenter. Westphalian roads started there.whose rnerchantshad long traveled the routes of northern Italy.the capital of the late Gothic world under the dukes of Burgundy.It was Germany'smoment. Francecut a pale figure in comparison.it exported luxury items.Bruges. it traded in iron and in linen. and they made life difficult for the merchanrsof the HanseaticLeague. Cologne.During the fifteenth century the merchantsadvancedfunds neededfor the exploitation of the mines. Hungary.but in the interior large-scaletrade no longer traveledits roads.Socialconllicts occurredin southern Germany. but even there the landscapewas beginning to change.Tnr Annrver or PnrNr 185 The ports of the North Seaand the Baltic pursued trade in a variety of ways. Mines founded its new wealth-mines in the Hartz mountains and in Bohemia. Although the Hanseaticmerchantsno longer reigned supremein the Baltic. they masteredfund transfertechniques. and as lendersto the rulers they could buy metals at discount prices. was the "Florence of the North.on the eveof the greatcrisis. but Augsburg patricians (unlike those of Cologne) made sure that lhe government was favorable to their businessinterests. Still. But its port was silting up and Antwerp was preparing to take its place. it specializedin lending money at extremely high rates. Augsburg. was first among them.Wars lingered on. Henceforththe future belongedto the English and the Dutch. Nuremberg became even more prosperous. and it was still a major businessand commercial center. and Styria.the economy of Augsburg beganto pick up thanks to the inuoduction into Swabiaof techniquesfor weaving fustian." It had not yet sufferedtoo much from the decline of the textile industry in Flanders (which was losing out to English and Dutch textile factories).notably in 1368. the cities of southern Germanywere growing rapidly.Thanks to what they learned from the Italians. and the kingdom recoveredonly slowly from its wounds. France'sAtlantic ports began to awaken.

then with France. Curruner Monnls rN A CoMpARTMENTALTzED Wonrp It is difncult today to imagine what book culture might have been in societiesthat knew writing but not printing. when it is basedon effort and not on luck. goldsmithing.humanists. and correspondents. They becameexpert in metallurgy.grouped together in small. to someextent. Germanic lands also experienceda remarkable intellectual revival. were collections of notes or copies that students. A small number of men and commercial groups dominated the territory and from the early fifteenth century Germany'sprosperity spread to the West. Since Nuremberg lay at the crossroadsof both north-south and east-westroutes.Becauseall new wealth. one milieu.a fragmentedempire. New works circulated-slowly-among the author's protectors. In the early fifteenth century they increasedtheir relations with Liibeck.There books emergedfrom the locked cabinets and conquereda place of their own after the revolution of the twelfth century. or one place to another. and each social group exploited the stock of works that the passinggenerationshad accumulatedin any given place. What were these groups and these models in the century of Gutenberg? We need to turn first to the oldest libraries. cutlery and. Europe was ready for Gutenberg. and they developedtheir arms manufacturing and specializedin hardware. those of the cathedralsand the long-establishedabbeys. as we shall seefor Strasbourg. The majority of the manuscriptsin circulation. specializedworkshops to reproduce texts for university professors. At the end of the Middle Agesan author often wrote with his own hand the presentationcopy of a work he offered to a protector. Germany. and copyists.By the fifteenth century books were housedin quartersthat might .usually working on commission. however. its merchantsprofited fully from the flourishing mining activitiesthat surrounded them. friends. had a densebut decentralizednetwork of routes. or men of lettersmade for their own use.or pious laymen.186 CseprEn Frvn berg merchants enjoyed special customs privileges in sixty-nine cities in Europe. and as far north as Livonia. manuscriptswere by definition unique. engendersthe form of capitalismthat is intellectual activity." strictly speaking. thanks to their municipal ironworks. People usually were generous about lending the books they owned. Therewas no "market. churchmen.for a new book. Unlike our printed books.s The result was a variety of self-contained groups and cultural models that differed greatly from one epoch. which subsequently passedfrom hand to hand.

For gxample. The humanists made their greatestdiscoveriesin just such libraries. Many of these collections seem not to have changedfor centuries. the chapelsin the church.the canonsof the cathedralof Bayeux owned 74 valuablebooks carefully housed in coffers ar.The largest of them. had a large and varied collection: 340 volumes kept in a room near the dormitory.Tnr Annrvar or PnrNr 187 be modest or cramped-over a chapel. This means that although some milieus were open to change during this period. and the vwitings of the Fathers. but we should not take too literally their explanationsthat they carried off precious manuscripts in order to save them from certain loss under the monks' negligentcare: they neededto justify their thefts. An inventory made in Clairvaux in 1506 lists 1. allegoriesof the liberal arts decoratethe walls abovebooks on the related subjects.In 1480 the Abbey of Citeau. Such spacesmight contain hundreds of volumes arranged by categoriesin bookcasesalong the walls. that of the Collige de Sorbonne. In the fifteenthcentury frescoesin the chapter library at Le Puy.but the collection givesthe impressionthat the canonswere unaware of Scholastic culture.Ld243 others laid out on shelves. Bibles (glossedor not). Saint Gall. Bibles. and the abbot's apartment.with the result that Joan of Arc's judges.most of them in extremely ancient copies. In the Jura the Benedictinesof Saint-Claudelived surroundedby liturgical works. classicalauthors. and Reichenau.who on occasionborrowed scriptural and classicaltexts. 748 more distributed among the choir.788 manuscripts (and only three printed works). forming a decor for the room that was alreadyan expressionof a cultural ideal. for instance*but that were dedicated to book storage. which often sentits young monks to study in Parisat the Cistericancollege.Thesebasic collectionsincluded liturgical books.Such libraries testify to the activity of venerable scriptoria.a University collections had a quite different aspect. aimed at offering its readers accurate .Someecclesiasticsseemedmore open to newer ideas:the canonsof Rouen Cathedraloften bequeathedto their chapterthe treatiseson theology and canon law that they brought back from their studiesin Paris.The samewas true of the Abbey of Saint-Ouen. and works of the Fathers of the church. seem quite well educated.the chapter room. the deambulatoriesof the cloister. the schools.The sameis true of Monte Cassino. 157 others in a nearby room. The chapter library in Lyons had copies of works that were transcribedthere in the fifth century and annotatedfrom generationto generation. others had closed themselvesin as soon as manuscripts were produced in lay workshops rather than in monastic sciptoria.the novices' quarters.

s Most of the libraries of the mendicant orders were comparable to the university libraries. and they worked to give an exemplary organization to courses of study for their order. Solinus. Valerius Maximus. The Dominicans were fond of comparing their books to weapons. Among these volumes were grammars. relatively recent surnmas and treatises. before he left his province.188 Cneprnn Frvn copies of the texts most useful to their studies. if appropriate. Books were working tools that. they were then sent to interprovincial studia theologica. From the outset. and finally. By the same token. For its time it was an exceptionally large collection: the libraries of the other colleges in Paris amounted at the most to a hundred or so books in the fifteenth century and the same was true of Oxford and Cambridge. since a theologian must know how to preach. though. Plato's Phaedo. Peter Lombard's Sententiae. A nearby storeroom contained a lending library-1. the Sorbonne had received valuable manuscripts as bequests: Cicero's Epistolae ad familiares. Each friar received a few basic works. Boethius. Seneca. as we have seen. and they could be consulted at all times.t}re works of the Fathers. Hence university libraries provided a notably insufficient documentation that limited the horizons of masters and students alike. they kept to narrow areas of specialization. would provide accessto honorable religious or secular careers.728 works (300 of them marked as lost)-that included roughly the same titles plus a few classical authors: Cicero. and an entire series of collected sermons. and the Elegiesof Tibullus and Propertius (of which Petrarch and Colluccio Salutati had copies made). This explains why men of letters and ecclesiastics filled their wills with clauses leaving their friends and relations books. Their libraries in France and Italy only rarely contain the books of spirituality of the most illustrious members of their orders. and it included practically no books in French. an errant Roman de Ia Roseexcepted. a few treatises on law (which was not the specialty of the Sorbonne). The . and above all many theological works-commentaries on Scripture. Thus the Dominican (and the Franciscan) libraries were vast reserves of duplicate copies. Aristotle and his cornmentators. The novices and young brothers first received instruction in the monastery itself. The Sorbonne collection gave only a highly fragmentary vision of ancient thought. An inventory made in 1338 declares that it had 338 usuels-noncirculating volumes chained to the reading desks lined up facing the twenty-six benches of the reading room. to a university. after solid studies. although these same works can be found in female convents and among the Carthusians. and the pseudo-Socratics.

and above all St.an immense compilation treating current political and social problems. and pious tales) translationsof Latin works of immediate utility to the king and his advisorssuch as Aristotle's Ethicsand Politicsand his De caelo. and Jean de Berry. the first bibliophile king of France. fitted in with other interests.a sort of encyclopediaof nature by BartholomaeusAnglicus).and Theseus deCologne. shared their father's taste for rare books and fine illuminations. all of which servedto provide the Charlesle Chauve.Charles V's collection also contained works of politics and astrology (in that age the scienceof predictions). In the religion sectionthere were Bibles.and multiple copiesof Vegetius'Epitomarei militaris.He gatheredaround him a team of translators.Tnn ARnrvar or PnrNr r89 libraries of the mendicant orders also contained few works from classical. But the constitution of a librairie.often illustrious ones-Nicole d'Oresme. the works of the attribFathers. in the darkest years of the fourteenth century. antiquity.6One getsthe feeling that certain prohibitions were in operation. Augustine'sCityof God and the Soliloquies uted to him.HuguesCapet.allegoricaland satiricalworks. at least for the first two of these men. Valoisdynastywith illustrious ancestorsat a difficult moment in its history.From the time of Philip the Fair a polemical literature had developedin France. and Charles V who had had to take over the reins of governmentduring his father'scaptivity (and who had to dealwith Etienne Marcel) realizedthe importance of propagandaand the power of ideologies. Florentet Octavien. Deproprietatibusrerum (On the Properties of Things. .liturgical books. For ancient history there were Livy. when literary production had slackened.The three princeswho were the most illustrious promoters of the library Charles V Philip the Bold.There were also books of a more immediate interest: Ze songedu Verger.sometreatiseson Roman or feudal law. * From 1350 to 1460 new models for librariescrystallized. and a few long epics. the Livre desprofitsruraux et champ€tres of Pierrede Crescens. and Flavius Josephus.Raoul de Presles.His acts illustrate the problems pbsedby the growth of a secularized clerical culture in a society dominated by a feudal aristocracy. Valerius Maximus.'Theoldest of thesewas the Franco-Burgundianprincely model.and the Carmelite Jehan Golein-so that he could add to the most famous national texts (the romancesof the Charlemagne cycle and Breton romances. It had been createdalmost from nothing by the sonsof John the Good. Housed near them were Plato's Timaeusand almost all of Seneca'sworks.

the copyist and engrosser.then transcribedin Roman numerals in their registers.2OO. When the bourgeoisietook hold of power in the municipal governments.the great dukes of the West brought "writers" to their court who had the combined the skills of the compiler. Time has confirmed his choice. and his library was dispersedunder his son.also a writer.and by 1338 Giovanni Villani could say of Florence. The personality of the prince counted for much in the orientation of such collections. the children who were learning calculation and mathematicsin six schoolswerefrom 1. on the other hand. Charlesd'Orldanspreferredspirituality and poetry and King Ren6.Feudal lords great and small set out to imitate thesemodels to the best of their abilities.and even the illuminator.while ducal historians wrote chronicles to pass the glorious deedsof their mastersto posterity." When they came out of such schools budding young merchants honed their skills by working in the shops.at the height of its powers: "The boys and girls who learn to read are about 10. continued to be enlarged for more than a century.understood that its children neededto learn to do more than to read their prayersand sing psalms.or while they wrote letters to their correspon- . which was the most dynamic part of that society. Thus the library of the dukes of Burgundy. Lettered princes par excellence. as witnessedby the long survival of the works he had translated. the mad CharlesVI. like the royal library had an important propagandafunction and was central to a politics of munificence.thosewho were learninggrammar and logic in four great [more advanced] schools were from 550 to 600.castingthem in prose.190 Cneprrn FrvE Thus CharlesV encouragedsomethinglike a statehumanism well suited to the spirit of the nation.The experiment was cut short after him.however.so they hired preceptorsto teach what they consideredindispensable:fluent reading. and putting them to the serviceof the Burgundian cause. The library of the dukes of Burgundy.it gave the commune the task of organizingschools. the translator.000. however. and fast and accuratecounting.while the merchantsdid their sums. bringing them up to date. Such men translatedworks from classicalantiquity and adaptedthe heroic romances. The collection of the dukes of Berry was primarily a picture gallery hidden between the pagesof liturgical books.000to l. * Quite soon the merchant bourgeoisiein the cities of Italy. One still cannot help being struck by how little French literature there was in French collectionsof the late Middle Ages. first in Arabic numbers on loose sheets. rapid writing. poetry and allegory.

The promotersof humanism were lessinterested in reaching an understandingamong specialiststhan in proposing a common ideal couched in a languagethat everyonecould understand. Theseintellectual leaderspresentedhumanism as an abrupt break with a culture of their times that was too much under the inlluence of France (but what heads of a school do not affect noisy manifestos?).by adopting fixed referencesfor measuringtime since accounts started and ended at specifictimes. the "godfather" of humanism was Coluccio Salutati. who discovered many classicaltexts. and it led them to question their own reasonsfor action. This was the only secretbehind their enthusiasmfor Cicero and their efforts to make their language a language of literature. Clocks that rang at regular intervals first appeared. The humanists were well aware that the Middle Ages had not waited for their arrival to interrogate classicaltexts. They considered it the business of specialists-who necessarilywere the men of lettersto whom they had entrusted the administration of their cities.thus as a movement in continuity with the Italian past. they saw their communesas the heirs of the ancient city. later occupiedthat samepost. The burghers' spirit of enterpriseencouragedfaith in the individual. and they demandedlessonsof universal wisdom from the classicalauthors. but they did not scorn it. who translated a number of famous Greek texts into Latin.who had a long career as a notary before becoming chancellor of Florence. It is hardly surprising that Petrarchwas the son of a notary in the pontifical chancery or that Boccacciobelonged to a merchant family and himself at one point worked for the Bardi family.8 Mercantile practicesthus contributed to forging a new man. messagesarrived from the four comers of the earth exchanging news of wars or incoming ships. as did poggio Bracciolini. later.Tnr Annrvnr or PnrNr l9l dents. or that Leonardo Bruni. In theserich regions full of the memoriesof classicalantiquity.On occasiona navigator might tell of his adventures:Christopher Columbus owed a good part of his store of knowledge and his intuitions to his contacts with the world of trade. that. and business needs encouragedhim to subject his existenceto the operation of reason. The major tradersand bankerswere too busy for intellectual speculation.for example. but they reproachedthe leadersof university culture with having consulted too few texts and texts too often comrpted by intermediaries.a task made easier becausetheir schools had never neglected the teaching of rhetoric. with twisting the thought of ancient authors in order to support . or organizing trips to distant places.

Thus they set off to search the libraries of Europe for manuscripts of former times.'o The "canon' that Parentucelli established for the library of San Marco. Just as Byzantium was crumbling. divided into Grammar. then Mathematics with Euclid's Elements and the Arithmetic of Boethius. Ovid. But these princes of the Renaissance also showed their desire to complete tradition with the greatest possible . using the collection of the patrician and bibliophile Niccold de'Niccoli as a point of departure for a collection gathered together by sixteen curators grouped around Cosimo de'Medici. and they uncovered a host of Latin works that had been forgotten or neglected. and Statius.e Petrarch hoped to leave his books to an institution in Venice and thus to make them available to men of letters. Last came Humane Letters. A peerless advisor was called on to classify and complete the collection: Tommaso Parentucelli of Sarzana. and Philology. and Coluccio Salutati completed this bequest. The project came to naught. and only five poets: Virgil.Ir There was nothing revolutionary in all this. as Pope Nicholas V later played an important role in founding the Vatican Library. and even with being too often sastisfied with anthologies and extracts. Only a restricted number of ancient authors were represented. which included a number of manuscripts of the great Greek and Latin texts. The Viscontis did not hesitate to add to their collections the literary manuscripts that their French wives brought with them or had sent from France. One decisive initiative was the renovation of the library of the monastery of San Marco in Florence. As tradition dictated. Lucian. and the Aragonese rulers of Naples added to their library the chivalric romances and the Provengal song collections that they had seized from their rebel vassals. all it did was to make the collection less compartmentalized. This basic collection.t92 Cneprnn Frvr their own doctrines. who. History. gives a good idea of the humanists' vision of the ideal library. Parentucelli reserved the first two sections for Scripture and Patrology. but Boccaccio bequeathed his collection to the Augustinians of Florence. The ideal that inspired this canon was primarily Christian. Next came Philosophy and Scholastic Theology (which were by no means excluded). in particular by bringing their contemporaries the thought of Plato in the Latin translations of Marsilio Ficino. was installed in a graceful room with double rows of columns forming three naves. Horace. Poetry. Rhetoric. then Geography with Ptolemy's treatise. the humanists took on the task of restoring the heritage of Greeks letters. which was to serve as a model for all later new libraries. who worked under the protection of Cosimo de'Medici.

which is that of the scribes. had reason to complain about some of the small-letteredgraphic styles.or rather the painters of our times . who had agenfson the lookout for texts all over Europe and employed a number of copyists to supply princely libraries: forty-five copyistsworked to provide Cosimo de' Medici with the two hundred manuscripts he wanted when he founded the abbey of La Badianear Fiesole.petrarch and Coluccio Salutati. He merits the title of father of modern roman letters. .r2 Never had the adoption of a script been as chargedwith symbolic value asin Italy during this epoch. the upper archesof the m and. but in another [hand].Vespasianoda Bisticci. for the most part inspired by the manuscriptsof the tenth and eleventh centurieswith which he was familiar. the ascendersare more regularly vertical and thick and the descendershave reduced serifs. working in the early fifteenth century.Heeding the urging of their humanist friends. careful and clear. the princes often turned to a great Florentine bookseller.Theretoo. Poggio'shumanistic hand is more regular and more geometric than the Carolingian script. Men of letters who deciphered Carolingian manuscripts were struck by how legible they were.and twelfth-century heirs. These men had not servilely copied either the Carolingian letters or their eleventh. This was the rise of a script whose adoption becamea sign of solidarity with the cultural program of its promoters. As Berthold Ullman observed. Still. Italians could do nothing to change the angular. Petrarchhimself alwayswrote in a rounded Gothic hand.but they always preferredrounder scripts closer to the Carolingian model.TnE Annrvar or PnrNr 19) number of classicaltests.and cramped Gothic hand of the theologians. rather.and his friend Niccold de' Niccoli perfecteda somewhat slanted script that developed into italics. closely spaced." rr Elsewhere the great humanist criticized the vertical compressionof lettersand the many abbreviations in the manuscripts of his time. . and Salutati introduced only a small number of new forms. which eventually swelled the sectionsthat we rnight call "techniques of expression"totally out of measure. both of whom probably grew far-sightedwith age. The true creator of the humanist script was poggio Bracciolini."not in that loose and exuberant writing that befuddlesthe eyesand soon fatigues them. petrarchhad shown the way.the n . There is a famous passagein a letter addressedto his friend Boccaccioin which Petrarchexplains that he was occupiedwith transcribing tris Letters. they improved them by introducing detailsfrom the Gothic script to which they were accustomed. and neglecting nothing of writing and grammar.as if heedful of the sight.

GasparinoBarzizzaseemsto have been the first to use parentheses.and we need to wait for the speedof printing for punctuation to becomeconsistent. as the Sicilian exampleattests. which meant that the humanistshad somedifficulty perceiving the exact meaning of many of the texts that they marvelled at but that were foreign to them-even when such texts inspired their own writings. This was true of the patriciansand the merchantsof Florence.however. as Christian Bec has shown.Every man of lettershad his own system. which were in turn an advanceover older forms of writing.with the result that their script combined (with mixed results) ancient capitals and artificially constructed minuscules. at times felicitously. . The humanists' innovations in the written aspectof the texts made even more sweeping changes. In reaction they createdsome of the punctuation signs still used today.but also such works as 15Florencewas by no meansexcept}aeDivine Comedyand the Decameron.and they used them as the capital letters of their new alphabet.They picked out the faults and transcription errors in the ancient manuscriptsthey studied and they did their best to produce accuratetexts.r4 On occasionthe humanists borrowed from Byzantine usagesand picked up recent innovations to use commas and periods in the modern manner. chivalric romances.who. They invented quotation marks by borrowing from twelfth-century manuscriptsthe triangular sign that servedto distinguishthe text from the commentary and using it to replacethe red underlinings of Gothic texts. in its bastardform. All this led to a gain in legibility over the models that had inspired this script. more or lessinspired by that of his friends or his teachers. the i is more consistentlydotted.whereas the Gothic script was made up of a natural minuscule that.The Latin practiced in their times was by no meansclassicalLatin. religious and mystical works. at times owned a number of manuscripts:Bibles and missals. the g is systematicallyrecomposedto take the form it has in typography today. Theseinnovators had before them a much more prestigiousmodel for letters in the capitalsof Roman inscriptions. tional. prefigured the ductusof modern letters combined with an artificial capital letter inspired by classicaluncials.prrn are slightly broken. but their effortswere hindered by the lack of separation between words in the texts they read and by a punctuation system designedto guide the voice rather than to aid comprehensionof the written phrase. The humanist movement could never have developedso harmoniously if it had not conespondedto the aspirationsof the Italian elites.194 Frvn Cn^c.They used mathematicalcalculationsto analyzethe ideal proportions of Roman capitals.

whereaspatrician collections were divided between the law and a humanistic culture. most of thesecollectionscontained texts of Scripture.Soissons.3. and the kings. where there were colligesin Reims. .and classicalauthors. The woes of those times cannot be attributed only to the limited results of the cultural policies of the French and Burgundian rulers: there were structural reasonsfor the failure of those policies. and theologiansowned more than forty books. and an increased use of writing had not set off the same sort of revival in the educational systemas it had in Italy.rsThe notaries. Lyons is a casein point. Clericsoscillatedbetween a canonical culture. patricians and the feudal aristocracyat times owned fwenty books or more.Tsr Annrver or Pnrtr r95 Henri Breschas shown that in Sicily.grammars. chapter schoolsoffered secondaryinstruction. secretaries.a privileged province.of the works of the Fathers. .doctors of law.rzwe can concludethat the merchants of the cities of the western Mediterranean combined a cultural advance with their commercial advancein ways that differed notably from libraries in Franceand England.reasonsthat still affectthe way the French think.and aboveall. Latin culture did not totally eliminate chivalric culture in Sicilian collections. French cities did not have "secular" schools. Augustine. but the attempts of its bourgeoisieto develop elementary schoolsfor their young and a studiumto preparejurists clashedwith the positions of the church. of St.and of course Dante. Lyons was a merchant city in constant contact with merchant cities south of the Alps. a theologicaland philosophical formation.and Boccacciowere alwaysrepresented. To return to France: the thirteenth century had been France'scentury of glory.Finally. Nearly everywhere.which meansthat the law and (at times) medicinepredominated. Petrarch. and an increasingsensitivityto classicalantiquity. although craftsmenand the more modest merchantsowned only a few books.and magistrateswho worked there revolutionizedwriting with the bastard cursive script. like their English counterpartsat Westminster.r6 If we add that recent studieshave shonm that libraries in Barcelonaand valencia show a similar distribution. The University of Paris reigned supremein Europe.beganto developone of the first modern administrativecentersin their palacein the Cit6. To be sure. Francewas lessurbanizedthan other European lands. and physicians.still.and French children continued to be educatedas little clerics. asin Florence. technical treatisesabound in certain collections.however. This was particularly true in Champagne.

but they could marry. neatly filed among his records (Gilbert Ouy).2r The church long gave such men a career.t96 Cnaprnn Frvr and Troyes. he was tonsured and permitted to pursue university studies in Paris at the Colldge de Beauvais. a free man. Paris at the time had forty-one rdgentsand twenty-two maitresses(elementary school teachers) under the rule of a chantre (preceptor). more than a century ago. As Nicolas de Baye.2oSim6on Luce was the first to note. some were peasants. His Iater career is well known. seized his goods at his death. After being tonsured-"crowned"-by the archbishop of Reims. As for the future chancellor of the University of Paris. which proliferated from northern France to Champagne and from Burgundy to Franche-Comtd. Another case in point is that of Jean Gerson. he became archdeacon and clerk of the court of the Parlement of Paris. such as being judged by ecclesiastical courts. His father. and regulations for the schools of Troyes show that as late as 1436 their course of studies concentrated on grarnmar. which accepted "poor scholars" from Champagne (1377\. The college of Soissons was destroyed during the Hundred Years War. Some of them (it may be coincidence that they were almost all from Champagne) had astonishingly successful careers. Arnoul le Charlier. and his heirs could reclaim them only by producing the act of enfranchisement that the late Nicolas had had the prudence to keep. as compared with only a dozen a century earlier. On the other hand.'e Thus an entire category of men grew up who. and some even exercised a manual trade. he must have gotten his first schooling in the primary school in his village. was a carter in a village near Rhetel. he was sent (at the age of thirteen) to Paris to the Colltge de Navarre. in principle. The tax offices of Burgundy." the son of a bondman of the lord of Baye. a city that enjoyed special privileges and that welcomed the fust French humanists. The care he took to give his children religious instruction makes us suspect that he was already a cleric. Enfranchised at the age of nine. had received some instruction and who claimed clerical status. the bishop of Reims. lectured on the elements of theology and law in Reims. Guy de Roye. on occasion eminent ones. One such was Nicolas. At his death he left not only valuable memoirs but more than two hundred volumes. that such men might have rather loose ties to the church: they were tonsured. opened a college in Paris for university students from his diocese. Some became lawyers or scriveners. Masters. which gave them certain privileges. Hence most young townspeople had little schooling beyond the parish schools. From the moment that the . which insisted on considering him merely an homme de corpslike his father. called "Colegon le Crantinat.

and becauseit was in their interest to place themselvesunder his protection and safeguard. the French took that diplomatic defeatas a victory of rhetoric. Laurent de Premierfaict. Next. as for a newborn babe or a tame jay.22 Italian humanism soon penetratedFrance.French men of lettersworking at the Colldgede Navarrein the entourageof Nicole d'Oresme soon set to work.however. it would be a mistake to reducethe movement that swept over Franceto a simple imitation of Italian models. then philippe de M6zidreswrote a Frenchversionof Boccaccio's "Griselda" (llSi).on a mission to Louis d'Anjou. the former chancellor of France.which quite naturally led to hereditary posts. becausethe king was intent on controlling his ftinctionaries. Theseservantsof the state originally had no awarenessof belonging to a separatesocial category particularly sincethe sovereigngave and took away offlcesat will. The king's notaries and secretarieswere in constant contact with their colleaguesat the court in Avignon. to send him model letters to untangle the nets of languagefor him. which had an immense and lasting success.senton a mission to John the Good in 1360. who was fighting in Italy and was besiegedinside Arezzo.Pariskept its full prestige. and French scholarsdeveloped a theology founded on the reading of the Fathers. Sevenyears later. clericswho servedthe king pursued an ecclesiasticalcareer at the same time. At first. When Jean de Montreuil was sent with Miles de Dormans.Etienne Gilson .In lt76-77.he begged Coluccio Salutati. Secularizationincreased.and fine style was a weapon. when Urban V returned the papacyto Italy. CharlesV had Petrarch'sDe remediisutriusquefortunae translated.For quite some time the appointment of royal administrators alternated between designation and election. declared that he had come to France more preparedto learn than to teach. dynastiesof tonsured clerics sprang up.Stin. which meant that relations between them and the Italian men of letters were ambiguous.translated Boccaccio'sDe casibusillustrium virorum (1401) and the Decameror. and later the French discoveredthe Eleganltiae linguae latinae. but eventually theseproceduresgaveway to the buying and selling of offices. however.For such men Latin culture was a matter of professionalcompetence. where the popeshad establisheda large library and where Petrarchwas often present. however.a cleric from Champagneattached to the pontifical chancery. with whom he was negotiating.and petrarch.Tnr Annrvat or PnrNr t97 chancellor of Francewas a layman.where they were not so easily dismissed.After 1400 a French version of De mulieribusclarisbeganto circulate. and Petrarchpiqued their amour-propreby proclaiming that no orators or poets were to be found outside the Italian peninsula.

the Germanicworld commanded.they tended to seeit as an "aborted renaissance. and conflicting forcesbatteredthe land. Above all. belongedto the milieu in which French humanism had developeda century before. who had exercisedthe samefunctions. the son of JeanBud6.and the works of the Fathers. Augustineand St. After a brilliant start the movement had died down under CharlesV around l4f l.The French had different interestsfrom the Italians.Two English Franciscans. if the Italians advancedfrom Cicero to St. Scholastictreatises. France was in crisis: after all.Until that time.When historiansdiscoveredthe "French humanism" of the late fourteen and early fifteenth centuries.scriptural texts.Duns Scotus(1266-1t08) and WiIIiam of Occam(1285-1349\. Thus French learned circlesform a precociouslyrigoristic "micromilieu" of an undeniable coherence. that France reentered the European scene. but all were attractedto ecclesiasticalhistory which at times led them to Roman history.grand audiencierto the chancery and grandson of Dreux. Joan of Arc was burned on 30 May 1431. the French progressedfrom Augustine to Cicero."Guillaume Bud6. royal notary and. They owned polemical books."so often used in thesecontexts. encouragedby Oxford tradition to demand the certitudesof material evidence. Suchmen often owned sizable libraries for the time-over one hundred volumes-that reflect their concernsas jurists primarily preoccupiedwith problems concerning relations between the spiritual and the temporal. from St. Like all labelsthe terms "humanism" and "Renaissance.invite misunderstanding. They may even have sought inspiration in ecclesiasticalmodels for the organizationof the state. they were great readersof spiritual texts. The Dominican masters'grand attempts to unite natural theology and revealedtheology into one solid synthesisprompted a growing number of reservations. but also books of hours. psalters.Their professional interestsdrew them toward rhetoric as well.2. * From the late thirteenth century the cultural systemwhose keystone was the University of Parishad begun to crack. It was only in the last third of the fifteenth century when her wounds had begun to heal. as FrangoiseAutrand has shown in connection with membersof the Parlementunder CharlesVI.reproachedThomism with taking probabilitiesas sure information . and they often owned collections of letters or sermons. Bernard to the lives of the saintsby Jacobusde Voragine.198 Cneprrn Frvr has observedthat.Somehad more classicaltexts than others. Augustine.

TnE Annrver or Pnrrr 199 and with claiming to reduce God'sfree will to rational laws.Vienna (l)64lr. St. Erfurt (1334). another aspectof the future was in preparationin the intensely urbanized region that stretchedfrom the shoresof the North Sea to the mid-Rhineland. More radical than Duns Scotus. Bernard.and Scandinavian lands that until then had been blank spaceson the scholasticmap. This was the origin of a good many apocryphal works. William of Occamconsummatedthe rupture. with the result that the student population in Germanyrosefrom under one thousand around 1400 to more than four thousand in 1520.and. increaseddisseminationof university instruction encouragedboth the expressionof national opinions and the crystallizationof heterodox theories*as with Jan Hus. Theseannotated texts formed new works that circulated.Cologne(138S). Furthermore. It originated in forms of spirituality still presenttoday and basedon dialoguewith God through imagesand books. Thus Nominalism took advantageof a period of disequilibrium to proclaim a divorce betweentheology and philosophy. or St.Thus the twenty or so universities in existence around f 300. the formation of the state.which were usually founded in responseto pressuresfrom professorsand students.contributing to the liberation of scientificthought. Bonaventurefor their own edification had found it natural to jot down at the end of the text the reflectionsand meditations these works had inspired in them. Sincethe twelfth century monks who were shut offfrom the world in their monasteries where they copied the spiritual wdtings of St.the new ones were typically created by the secularauthorities and subsequentlyapprovedby the papacy. Thiswas the casein Prague(13471. scrutinizing with pitiless logic the abstractgeneralizationsof his predecessors.2a The decline of the University of Paris.encouraginga secularization of society. the most famous of which are perhaps the Meditations and .at least half of them in Germanic.were joined by some fifty new universities.25 At the sametime.copy by copy.Uppsala(14771and Copenhagen (1478l'. Victor. Augustine. Unlike the older universities.as if they had been written by the authors who had inspired them.Heidelberg (1336).his elder.Krakow (13691. and inciting the faithful to seek God by the paths of love rather than those of the intelligence. The new universities allowed impecunious young peopleto study closerto home. Hugh of St.later. all situated southwest of an imaginary line drawn from Cambridgeto Paris. and rising nationalism all urged rulers to createuniversitiescapableof forming the personnelthey needed. Slavic.increaseduse of vwiting.

l?281. the Golden Legend. The mendicant orders had the mission of containing and guiding this movement.2OO CneprnnFrvE Soliloquies attributed to St. Gerson often sent correspondents copies of his works: for instance. brotherhoods. Dominican for the most part and inspired by the teachings of the famous Master Eckhart (ca. The Vita Christi. the cloistered nuns. whose convents were hotbeds of mysticism. with whom Gerson had close connections. whose disciples. Some also turned their backs on accumulating wealth and like Francis. chose the way of poverty. The Carthusians of Basel. but also and increasingly by the reading of pious works: the Vita Christi for the better educated. In France Jean Gerson combated the excesses of speculative theology and recommended to learned clerics that they take up mystical theology as well. was "launched" from the Carthusians' Strasbourg house. 1260-ca. which derived directly from an abridged form of the Confessionsof Jean de F6camp (d. the spirituality of the laity was fed by images. Ludolph of Saxony. and the more devout among them yearned for an affective and personal relationship with the Savior for them too.Basel. Pious associations. written toward the end of the previous cen- . and elsewhere were also active in the diffusion of this spiritual literature. Their preachers played an essential and multiple role. Augustine. and he exercised his moral authority to denounce deviate mystical currents and errors in doctrine. but also serving as directors of conscience for their sisters. translating theological doctrine in ways that the faithful could understand. 1365). All through the Rhine Valley and particularly in Cologne a spiritual school grew up. at times giving rise to heterodox tendencies in their midst. he sent one bishop a manuscript of his Miroir de l'kme with the admonition to furnish all the parish priests in his diocese with a copy so that they could read it and comment on it from the pulpit instead of giving a sermon. left sermons and spiritual writings that circulated widely in both Latin and German versions. Gerson wrote a number of treatises on doctrine aimed at the less-educated members of the clergy. passed the same work from house to house within their order. a work that was to have an enormous influence and was atftibuted to one of their brothers. 136I) and Heinrich Siise (d. Strasbourg. The Carthusians in Cologne. and groups that rejected the discipline of the religious orders sprang up.26 In that tragic age when everyone had to be ready to face death at any moment. Johannes Tauler (d. l07S) that continued in print form well into the seventeenth century. City-dwellers came to feel that the traditional collective religious practices were insufficient. the son of a rich Assisi merchant. teaching the lessons of the Gospel in simple terms.

but they were also offered codesof morality and good conduct to sustainthem in the activelife. Finally. in particular.The laity were invited to practice the contemplative life in imitation of the religious orders.which means that many French spiritual texts seemto lack an institutional support or the backing of a great feudal family. One has the impression that this flourishing production did not break down any real barriers. GenevidveHasenohr's studies remind us that asceticliterature in France developed enormously in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.Added to these works were a number of allegoricaltex-tsabout the Abbayedu Saint-Esprit and works to aid in the examination of conscienceand preparation for confession. Augustine and the Sermonde la Passion(some 30 copies).Gerson and the clerics who offered the laity works in the vernacular often seem unaware of anything they did not write themselves or that was not adapted from learned literature. as was the casein the Low Countries or in Germany. the three Pileinagesof Guillaume de Deguilleville (80 copies). a certain number of manuscripts belonged to men of the law. collections of prayersand books of hours from which the faithful read three times daily and that were so ever-presentthat someconfessorsheld it a sin to skip daily reading.the regular clergy.a fact that seemsremarkable. there were other works with an extremelywide circulation. Aside from the GoldenLegend. Among them are Le testamentof Jean de Meun (l 16 copiesextant).the chief inspiration for the spirituality of the age.T n n A R n r v e ro r P n r n r 20r tury by the Italian Dominican Jacobusde Voragine. whose distribution was promoted by Guy de Roye (some40 copies). or the hospitals (where laymen and monks worked together). Such works proliferated..Jean Gerson'sLa mddecine de l'6me or Scimcede bien mouir (45 copies).Other popular works were those Soliloquiesand MeditationsattrTbutedto St. although most of the manuscriptsthat have come down to us camefrom the upper aristocracy. "Fine" manuscriptsoften came out of urban secularworkshops under the direction of a stationeror were copiedon individual commissionin court circles. given that a larger proportion of works from suchlaymen'scollectionsmust havebeenlost.and.27 This was the background of a devotional movement of exceptional . None of the works that reached the laity in France came from religious milieus or from the Brethren of the Common Life. but somewhat anarchically.or to merchants. to judge by the number of manuscript copiesthat have comedown to us. This indifference (or ignorance?) seems tied to the conditions under which such works were produced. to burghers. and the Doctinal aux simplesgens.

the most famous of which is tllre Imitation of Christ.28 The founder of this movement was Gerhard Groote (1340-84). He died young. writing. and they moved on to produce works of their own. as Paul Adam has demonstrated. but also the rudiments of the trivium (grammar. Once his theological studies were behind him. the Congregation of Windesheim. like Gerson. Ludwig Dringenberg. books. The Latin school there was under the control of both the parish and the magistracy. calculation. and they had him named rector of the school in S6lestat. perhaps because some of them owed most of their knowledge to their activity as copyists and they were well aware of the lacunae in their own preparation. Some students from Sdlestat went to Heidelberg. they reacted against tJ'e intellectualism of the Nominalists. starting in the Ijssel Valley around Zwolle and Deventer. Holding that the heart and the will can be educated.202 cn^cprnnFrvn breadth that arose at the same time as the development of mass education. From the outset the Brethren had close connections with school circles in Holland. at first systematic anthologies of passagesfrom works of the masters of spirituality. which often welcomed communities of the Brethren who wanted to enter the monastic life. became rector of the school in Zwolle. The Brethren promoted school reform by introducing their own methods in a large number of schools in Flanders and the Rhine Valley. The Brethren of the Common Life spread their ideas by sermons. and singing were taught. which he made famous and which grew to have more than 1. although the movement was backed up by a congregation of canons regular. where they met a young cleric from the diocese of Paderborn. Reading. they nonetheless attached great importance to education. Groote turned away from benefices and the contemplative life. two Dutch cities whose prosperity was linked to the textile industry. a friend of Gerhard Groote's.200 students. ln 1374 Jean Celse. and by example. The Brethren and the canons regular practiced devotio moderna. a discipline and form of asceticism that concentrated on mastering the passions. but his friend Florentius Radervyns carried on his work. Drin- . to denounce the vices of the clergy. The Brethren of the Common Life that the two men founded was a new sort of confraternity that brought together clerics and laymen outside the monastic system. created in 1387 in the monastery of that name. If. and dialectic). in S6lestat. then original works. rhetoric. a disciple of the Brethren. The Brethren copied and bound books for a living. dialogues. they preached forms of meditation based on readings. preferring to preach. and to work for the salvation of all humanity. Something similar was happening.

which at times they communicated to the outside world. In the early fifteenth century reform within the various ordersof regular clergy spread throughout Germany. and why the Brethren themselvesset up printing pressesin their houses. Sistersand cloisterednuns. the grammars of Donatus and Alexandre de Villedieu).Salvatorsburg. One should not exaggeratethe levels of scholarlyproficiency attained in suchmilieus. $losses. and forming eight class-levels. of the inventories of German. It is easyto seewhy the people who made xylographic block books-booklets printed from wood blocks-and the first printshops so often produced elementary grarnmars.and commentaries. as attestedby the great catalogues. To recapitulate: The Carthusianshad createdmany houses in German lands. they copied a large number of texts for the glory of God. which makeshim one of the founders of Alsatian humanism. German lands as a whole becamethe sceneof an intense effort to produce texts. the Brethren of the Common Life copiedmanuscriptsfor their own instruction.near Freiburg im Breisgau.At times they had more than one hundred students.He. Thus while the cities of southern Germany were enjoyrngprosperity.and to earn a living. Eighty "residences"of canons regular were affiliated with the Congregation of Windesheim. Swiss. not without encountering tenacious resistance. He interestedhis disciplesin history and he himself wrote a long poem celebratingthe defeat of Charlesthe Bold.Txs Annrver or Pnrnr genbergaccomplishedwonders: he kept the previous manuals (notably. but he eliminated texts that he thought uselessand shifted the teaching away from logic.unfortunately still unfinished. for the edification of their contemporaries.particularly in northern Europe. especiallythe works of the Fathers and of the authors of classicalantiquity known for their moral elevationand their style. who did not always know Latin. like his former teachers.however.arid on occasionthey had workshopsto do illumination. built up libraries of pious vernacularworks that might reachthe lay masses. as did the Poor Clares of Cologneand the Cisterciannuns of Lechenthal. and they had thousands of manuscriilts of all descriptionsat Aggsbach. The canons of Windesheim concentratedon copying learned works. using .and Austrian medievallibraries.believedthat nothing could replacedirect contact with the texts. practicing selective admissions.the Brethren of the Common Life prefiguredthe modern private secondaryschoolby dividing their studentsinto groups of ten. and many Benedictine abbeys awakenedto the call of the Abbey of Bursfeld in the north and the Abbey of Melk in the south. and Buxheim.in a school. Nonetheless.

and Vienna.CneprEn Frvn different writing stylesfor liturgical texts and vernacularworks of "modern devotion.3oFurthermore.and then studied law in Bologna and Padua. 15 of metaphysics. earnedhis masterof arts degreein Viennain 1397. Freising.and Rich.35 of philosophy. 27 of logic. for example. Over the yearshe servedas a canon at the cathedralsofAugsburg. worked hastily at times and often produced inaccurate texts. He was named physician to the archbishopof Cologne. 73 of mathematics. Henrich Neithart of Ulm. at the end of the century the monks at Tegernseeowned 1. Victor's Cathedralin Mainz.12 of rhetoric.among them a number of classicaland humanist texts. the new elite gradually collectedthe indispensable works. Donations and bequestsof books flowed into the abbeysof SaintsUlrich and Afra of Augsburg. Tegernsee. In I4l2 he founded a college at the University of Erfurt (from which he held a degreeof doctor of medicine) and richly endowed it with books: 40 works of grammar. 37 of poetry. with the result that a number of religious houseseastof the Rhine owned collections comparable. Michelsberg in Bamberg or Heiligenkreuz near Vienna.which came from many parts of the German and Roman worlds (some from the cathedral Iibrary of Cologne).began his university studies in Praguein l19l.Saint Egidius in Nuremberg. 16 of canon law. All that we know is that notaries and master writers in southern Germanyworked to copy manuscriptson individual commission. who attendedschoolsin Osnabriickand Soestbeforeattendingthe universitiesof Prague. Or there was Amplonius Ratinck (I)$-14351.and liturgical books.Constance. 100 of medicine. 6f of natural philosophy.attracted by the concessionof statutesmodeled on those of the University of Paris.794 manuscripts. for instance." Activity in southern Germany seemsto have been even more intense.and Scheyernemployed professionalscribesto copy sermons. Among these manuscripts.2e Therewere difficulties: the copyistsof the Germanuniversities.and in l4l2 he traveledto Romebeforebecoming prebendary in Cologne.receiving a doctoratein decretals in 1405. encyclopedias. owned 794 manuscriptsin l45O. we do not know of great copying shopsin Germany comparableto the ones in Italy. One way or another. which he bequeathedto the cathedral of Ulm on his death on the condition that they be housed in a small room over his family chapel. at least quantitatively.theologicaland asceticworks. During the courseof his careerhe collected somethree hundred manuscriptsof all descriptions. The Benedictinesof Saint Emeric. 6 of civil law.then dean of St.Cologne. and 213 of theology.Erfurt. to those of Citeaux and Clairvaux. there . The library of Melk.

where he earned his doctoratein canon law.for example.In1458he gavehis library to Kues. This philosopher who was also a mystic and who left one of the largestbodies of works of the Renaissancetook the time during the Council of Basel to comb German abbeys (Fulda in particular) to seek manuscripts of classicalauthors. Sebald.Tgr Annrvar op Pnrrr 20.the most prominent man of letters in Germanyin his time. They helped to give Erfurt the largest stock of books in northern Germany (just as Prague had the most books in lands more to the south). There was also Nicholas of Cusa.the cradle of the German metals industry gives a good indication of the nationalistic enthusiasmthat gripped the German bourgeoiselite. then.In 1429-30. the city of his birth. was the central figure in a circle of men with a passionate interest in classicalantiquity. In 1443 a city judge who had studiedin Praguebequeatheda sizablecollection of juridical and religious texts to the new library.In l4l7 he left for Padua. however. to satisfy a city whose administration alreadyincluded well-informed humanists. as PoggioBracciolini had done. one of the most heeded counselorsof PopePius II. A number of chapelsalso had manuscript collections. Cicero'sDe republica. Albrecht Fleimann. This was not enough.of the bishop of Utrecht. Nicholasdiscoveredtwelve comediesof Plautus. then studiedmedicine in Paduaand becamethe personalphysician of Frederick II of Brandenburg. who owned more than seven hundred volumes in German.who was born in Nurembergin 1410. At about the sametime Hartmann Schedel. It could boast of the library of the Benedictinesof St. where it can still be visited in a roorn in the hospital. In his careerhe was an indefatigablepapal legate chargedwith promoting the religious reform of the regular clergy in Germany. and eventually of the bishop of Augsburg.and books l-4 of Tacitus'Annales. A cleric and celibate. There was also a collection of manuscriptsin the New Hospital. in L449. and increasingnumbers of works distributed among the parish churches. were manuscripts dating from the Carolingian era.a cardinal. a member of an embassyto Byzantium.Nicholas studied in Deventerwith the Brethren of the Common Life and in Heidelberg under Nominalist masters. the magistratesin the City Hall beganto plan another library. Egidius and of collections of equal size among the Franciscansand the Reformed Dominicans. studied at the University of Leipzig.and he introducedhis compatriotsto Tacitus'Germania.receiveda bequestof over two hundred volumes from the parish priest.3rThe son of a Moselle river-boatman. The city of Nuremberg.Schedelleft his books . ln 1446 The church of St.

both pagan and Christian. At the same time.where librarieswere being founded.however. This was true. There were signsof new life in the western Mediterranean. of the small and very international world of the chanceries. each had also woven a systemof referencesreachingbeyond regional barriers. Brugeswas comparableto Florence. For the businessmanand the painter.CneprEn Frvr to his nephew. Writing was making indisputable progress. also named Hartmann (L44O-I516). adventurers. masters and students found the same climate in university cities every- .of the aristocracy. first in Italy. each milieu seemedclosed in on itself. In the West. Epidemicshad finally been stifled. Everyone drew on common sourcesof ancient literature. but also in England. but they had left a good many regions bled dry. the revival was to become evident and universal only during the latter part of the century.even by artists and engineers.but also by churchmen. and on the Atlantic coastsof the Continent. and a common university tradition. as we have seenconcerning education. and merchants. culture remained as compartmentalized as ever. and on a common liturgical and spiritual tradition. which was bequeathedto the city in the age of Diirer and included nineteen thousand iconographic items. the unity of the church seemednearly reestablished. quite naturally found its niche in the City Hall. When Gutenbergbegan working in Strasbourgaround 1434.the most famousincunablurn. Southern Germany was waking up. the various national and linguistic enrities lived as if by different clocks. for example. Moreover.if not to Liibeck or Barcelona(despiteobvious differencesin those cities). a common chivalric culture. completingthe amputationof the easternhalf of Christendom. Similarly. and in German lands and among the Slavs.Byzantium fell twenty years later (1453).I need not recall that the elites of that agemoved about ceaselessly and that roads throughout the Continent were traveled not only by soldiers. the English had not yet been totally chasedout of France. Still. who followed in his uncle'sfootstepsby compiling an enormous dossierof materialson which he basedhis NurembergChronicle. living in a world apart.each seemingto follow its own model.r2 €. Thus immense amounts of material were accumulating in the century of Gutenberg and in the land in which the arts of engravingand printing were born. Still.and of chivalry but it was also true of the various worlds of the monastic orders.however. This documentation.

most probably.Tns Annrvar or Pnrur where. near Valencia.and the resulting slurry was transferred to a large basin and mixed with water. either in the natural stateor in the form of used cordageand.As in the East. whose treatisehas come to us in two slightly different versions. TscHNorocrcAl lNNovarroNs One cannot separatethe history of the techniqueswhose invention is attributed to Gutenbergfrom the history of the inventions that precededor accompaniedthose sametechnological advancesand whose origin raises closelyrelated questions. When the water drained off. they (and the other materials) were cut up with scissorsand the resulting pieceswere put to soak in a lime solution. Catalonia. This pulp was next placedin a mortar and carefully mashed. rags. then rinsed clean and dried in the sun.to dip out and spreada portion of this mix. on occasion tied to one another with horsehair. an industrial region with relations with Italy. The first of thesetechnologiesis paper.34Paperpenetratedinto Muslim Spain by way of Cordobaand Toledo. the resulting sheetwas sizedwith a flour and starch coating to prevent it from soakingup ink.somewhat modified during the twelfth century. When the ropes had been untwisted.Westernpaper- .Damascus. which was very white and somewhat puffy.Papers sold in Bagdhad. becamean important centerfor the export of paper.becamean activeproduction site at leastby the twelfth c€ntury. The quality of the resulting product. For information on how the Arabic and Spanishpaperswere made. dependedon the care and the skill of the papermaker.or Alexandria were reputed to be better than those made in the western Mediterranean. The papermaker then used a frame lined at the bottom with split reed stalks. J6tiva. Did the need to break down barriers that was keenly felt in a Germany catching up culturally engender printing there? Or was the invention of the art of typography an integral part of the technologicalprogressthat lay behind that catching-up process?This is the question to which we need to turn next.The raw materialsusedwere hemp or linen. we needto turn oncemore to the descriptionof Mu'izz ibn Badis(1007-61). and all ecclesiasticaldignitaries of any importance went to Rome once the papacywas reestablishedthere.3rInvented in China and adopted by the Arabs in the eighth century paper spreadwith Islam between the ninth and the eleventhcenturiesalong the southern shoresof the Mediterranean.

At that point. where first the Norman then the German chanceriescontinued a custom that may have gone back to the Muslim occupationof the late eleventh century. In the twelfth century Genoesenotaries followed their example. not far from Ancona. Fabriano owed its first prosperity to the forgesthat sprangup along the banks of the river. except perhaps in Spain.but it was above all in Fabriano that Western papermaking techniqueswere developed.which craftsmen never seem to have improved on. it is obvious that these processeswere a local innovation. 2. Italian industrialists got to work. particularly in Italy. tacks. thanks to contactsmade during the First Crusade.stSituatedin central Umbria.as has often been imagined? Or were they perfectedby local metallurgistswith the backing of businessmenin the aim of competing with the Arabic and Spanishpapermakers?Whatever their origin. and where in certain casesthe bottoms of the forms were reinforced with metal wires. The pulping process. The Fabriano papermakersreplacedthe bamboo used in the Far East and the reeds used for Arabic paper with brasswire so fine that it took tens of meters of it to line each form (thus implying sophisticatedtechniquesof wire manufacturing). The innovations in papermakingthat can be attributed to Fabriano are: l. where mills and millstones were sometimesused to break down the rags into pulp.It is not known whether the zigzagmarkingsobservable in certain Spanishpapers were early watermarks. The form. and studs. During that sameperiod.What is surprising is the complexity of the operationsdemandedby thesetechniques.The Fabrianopapermakersutilized water power to turn paddle wheels connectedwith gearedcamshaftsthat ran batteries of pounders reinforced with studs of various shapesdependingon exactly how the pulp was to be treated. in a basin bordered by hills whose streamsflowed into the Giano River. whose chancery adopted the new material even as early as the mid-eleventh century. In any event. an impressivenumber of innovationswere realizedin that microcosmbetween 1240 and 1280. the use of writing grew spectacularlyin Europe. 3. the first known real watermark (a small design in the paper made by attaching . Around l2l0 Arabic paper was imitated near Genoa. Given that Fabriano was also famous for its nails.Cnaprrn FrvB makers lived grouped together in villages. Were the papermaking proceduresthat appeared there borrowed from the Orient. Watermarks.and they suppliedan enormous market that included the Byzantine Empire. Paper was first used there in regions that had contactswith the Arab world such as Sicily.

In 1390 a powerful Nuremberg entrepreneur fiamed Stromeyr orgarized a complex for making paper at the gatesof the city. Strasbourg(L4451. Toward the middle of the fourteenth century however. Chemnitz (I4O8-251 . and paper could be found everywhere in the Mediterranean basin and even in northern Europe.and in Auvergne.first around Parisin Saint-Cloudand Essonnes. The Fabriano papermakers were soon doing considerablebusiness. but Pariswas nearby. Battaglia.Treviso. its university. By the fourteenth century raw materials-cordage and rags-had become scarcein theseearly centersof paper production.reigned supremein Europe until the late seventeenthcentury As early as the late fourteenth century however.Foligno. Sizing.The high calcium content of the local water probably made the processmore difficult.Brabant and Flanders had paper mills in the late fourteenth century as did much of easternEurope. and when traders desertedthe fairs of Champagneit did not stop papermakersin Troyes from taking over the paper market in the Low Countries.The Frenchpaper industry dominated by a handful of great traders who advancedthe necessaryfunds to the papermakersand distributed what they produced. Champagnebecame active as a center of papermaking. Fabriano papers were sized with animal sizing (gelatin).and the northern Low Countries (in the sixteenthcentury). Paper mills of the same type soon appearedin Bologna. They gave Spanish paper keen competition.and Colle.but alsoin Franche-Comt€.the Vosges. and Basel. Sallo. and its abundant supply of rags. with its administrative offices.Padua. . which gave a smoother surface than vegetableglue made of flour and starch. even in southern France and in Spain itself. the Germans set up paper mills of their own. 4. then in Amalfi.Tnn Annrvar or PnrNr shapedbrasswire to the sheetframe) appearsin paper made in Bologna in 1282 by an artisan from Fabriano.Austria (in 1498). The Senateof Venice.Pignerolo. England (in 1490). and fhe Signoria of Genoareservedto their own compatriots and their suppliersthe right to collect ragsin their territories.the Republic of Florence. These same traders encouragedthe creation of paper mills around Avignon when the popes residedthere.in the Barrois.The products of these paper mills were actively traded by Lombard and Piedmontese merchants. and it was followed by similar enterprisesin Ravensburg(l3B-9a1.In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuriesnew paper mills were createdall over France.aswell as in the Beaujolaisand the Angoumois.

The French paper industry lost its supremacy.high speed in metal-reinforcedvats. the Dutch invented a more vigorous and faster pulping processby fitting cylinders with cutting edgesand using the wind power of the windmills of their flat land to turn them at. Buddhists thought that making multiple images-including statuettesof Buddha himself-was a way to .the sun.as were inscriptions to cornmemoratea man or an event.Beforepaper becameavailable. in part through the monarchy's policy of imposing a return to traditional ways of making paper. The Chinesehad invented severalways to do this. in relief. and a bookkeeperfor Diderot.the hides of a veritable herd of young animals were required to make a single in-folio volume. whose ascentswere made in paper balloons. The Chineseuse of printed charms is at times surprising. holding their breath while they did so to cure the sick.the techniquesthat were developedin Fabriano were hardly modified for severalcenturies.in part through the flight from Franceof large numbers of Protestantworkers.2lO Cnaprrn FrvB The importance of this movement can hardly be exaggerated. The Suishu.invented the first machine that produced paper in continuous sheets. Nicolas-LouisRobert. On the eve of the FrenchRevolutiondemandfor paper was growing. 500. after ca. and they also reproducedimagesand spellson silk and later on paper. As is often the case.The Chinesealso imprinted engraved sealsinto wax or on wet clay surfaces.first in intaglio. The texts of their classicswere customarily engravedon steles. following demand in the early nineteenth century. but the production of continuous-sheetpaper spreadonly slowly.Toward the end of the seventeenth century however. and paper rubbings from these inscriptions were at times offeredfor sale. and it seemsto have been linked with progressin metallurgy.the way was open for printing. The paper industry in Francecaught up only in the age of the Montgolfier brothers.r6 * When industrial methods could be used to produce a writing material-paper-an obvious next step was to reproduce images and texts in multiple copies. then. This revolution had its source in a movement toward industrial use of hydraulic power. After the fourteenth century when the West had accessto a writing material in seemingly unlimited quantities. or the moon.This machine was later powered by a steamboiler.a history of the Sui dynasty(5Sl-617) written in the second quarter of the seventh century tells of Taoistpriests who printed charms bearing images of the constellations.

Finally. Eight-tenths of these prints representreligious subjects:crucifixions.the Mass of St. Given that each woodcut could print thousands of copies before it showed too much wear to be usable.prints must have been produced in enormous quantitiesand been quite common in their day. It was also a procedurethat permitted an image and text to be printed together.Madonnas of all sorts. we have some ten thousand different pieces:they were glued to the coversof small boxes. reaching its first height in the twelfth and thirteen*r centuries. used. we know that the JapaneseempressShOtokuattempted to win the support of Buddhist monks during a revolt. unlike the typographic technique that triurnphed in the West. Christopheror healing saintslike St.by ordering a million miniature pagodasmade.Tnn Annrvar or PnrNt 2rl gain merit.the first woodcuts on paper bearing a date go back to the yearsfrom l4l7 to 1437. A good many archival documentsin Italy. from the fourteenth century with scenes.Formschneider) or playing-cardmakers. perhapsin764. indulgencethemeslike the Holy Face. scenesfrom the life of Jesus.5 cm. which had excellent wood sculptors. Gigantic production figurescould be realizedwith woodblocks: the bibliography of books published in Japanbefore 1867 includes somesix hundred thousand items.simply reinvent a processthat came quite naturally? In any event. making the few that have come down to us all the more exceptional. Above all we have confraternity imagesof travelers' patron saintslike St. then. engravedwood blocks were used very early in Europe for printing textiles.the Low Countries. hung on the walls of housesand preserved by collectors in the past. The technique of printing booklets from wood-blocks (perfectly suited to an ideographicvwiting system) developedsomewhat later.Still.37 Did the Eastteach the Westthe art of wood engraving?Or did the West.and this processseemsto have been transferred without difficulty from one material to another to make paper prints. which indicatesthat the new technique was already quite widespread. used to illustrate manuscripts or printed pamphlets. Gregory and so on.Secularpieces included playing cards. a number greaterthan all printed editions in any major European land of the time. to pad book bindings. allegories on death . each one of which contained dharani (charms) printed on a paper 57 x 5.Biefdrucker. first with repeating motifs.and aboveall Germany mention printers and their like (Drucker. with other papers. Whatever the case. that was rolled up to form a small scroll. Roch and St.but also prints that depictedthe Nine Worthies (/es Neuf Preuxl. who were extremely popular at the time. Sebastian. France.

Toward the end of the century. Nicholas of Cldmanges. may have found their best customers in confraternities. The most one can say is that many of these images came from monasteries in Bavaria (Reichenhall. even at the risk of rigidity. There was a proliferation of images that the most lucid theologians-Pierre d'Ailly. the clergy. or Gerson. Tegernsee. Quentin. and in Austria (Mondsee). and French attesting to an extremely wide distribution throughout central Europe. in an age in which easel painting and tapestry tended to individualize and secularize representation for the wealthy. but the rise of wood engraving is quite obviously connected with the rising fortunes of the mercantile cities. Erasmus. there were also tables showing how to recognize counterfeit coins. who memorized their sermons with the aid of the arts of memory and sprinkled them with concrete exempla. Flemish. Thus the first woodcuts may have been diffused from monasteries and pilgrimage sites. and even the watermarks. and craftsmen used woodcuts to decorate their walls or their household objects.38 These woodcuts have often been studied. which normally point to paper mills of the east of France or from Germany. in the Tyrol as St.2t2 Cueprrn Frvr (mementomoril . that encouraged them to consider the fragility of human life. and in Westphalia (perhaps) as St. in Upper Swabia (Buxheim. There is nothing surprising about this form of propaganda. Ebersberg). Thought was crystallized in images. Style and provenance in these ceaselesslycopied documents. aided by the preaching of the mendicant friars. can only support guesses. Some have defied scholars: for example the same saintly abbot with his fingers pierced by leathermakers' awls has been identified in Dijon as St. where imagecutters. and that they bear legends written in Latin." They nourished their yearning for sacred things with ultrarealistic representations. as well as satirical images. in Picardy as St. Johan Huizinga's classic Waning of the Middle Ageshas shown that manifestations of piety and devotional exercises multiplied increasingly toward the end of the Middle Ages. for . Men of that time wanted to give religious things a specific figuration that could be imprinted onto the popular mind like "pictures clearly outlined and vividly coloured. People felt the need to give the sacred a material form. although they may simply have been conserved with greater care there than elsewhere. Inzighofen). affiliated with the carpenters'and cabinetmakers'guild. they present difnculties of interpretation that can be just as mysterious as their origin. Cassian. Benignus. and the Ages of Man. for instance of cadavers. while the bourgeois.

but the image was ubiquitous. wood engraversimitated works of this type in block-books of their own. If we examine the corpus of xylographic booklets from the point of view of their function. a Brother of the Common Life from the monastery of Groenendael. . they were comparableto the printed booklets studied by Paul Perdrizet.Thus there is a Decalogue showing a barefoot Carmelitepreaching a sermon. mass-producedillustrated religious manuscripts.which arosein the fourteenth century in Swabiaor in Alsace. we would have to mention first the single sheetsand small books aimed at teachingprayersand the commandments.4rsmemorandiNovumTestamentum.in circles close to the Dominicans. each one of which is illustrated and explained with a maxim or two taken from the Pomeriun of Henri Bogaert.and even ways to explain a sermon. following the recommendationsof St.Sacredsymbols may have been cheapened. but they were also pedagogicalmaterialsfor use in the schools. which probably originated in southern Germanyfor use in Bavarianmonasteriesand which employsall the resourcesof the ancient arts of memory. First came the illustrious Biblia pauperum ("The Bible of the Poor. Engraverssoon put texts into their prints: phylacteriesbearing words spokenby the personagesthey depictedor brief legendssimilar to the ones in stained-glasswindows or frescoes. Some of these booklets probably servedas First Communion gifts. there is the .Neither of these works was totally new The Bible of the Poor had been widely distributed in manuscript form in Germany from the early fourteenth century while the SpeculumhumanaeSalvationis.reNaturally.Tnr Annrvar or Pnrxr 2t3 example-often denounced as excessive.In a somewhat different spirit.As early asthe fourteenth century an increasein individual piety and a taste for imageshad createda demand for small. may have been the work of Ludolph the Carthusian. As such. On one page it gives the titles of various episodesfrom the New Testamentand on the facing page the symbol of one of the Evangelistssurrounded by objects as a he'lp in memorizing the episode(one such was a bucket to recall the story of the GoodSamaritan). Thomas.In both casesan image that used the layout of the twelfth-century Mosan enamels commented on a scenefrom the New Testamentand showedhow it was prefigured in the Old Testament." an expressioncreatedby bibliophiles of the eighteenth century) and the SpeculumhumanaeSalvationis. an ExercitiumsuperPaterNosterin which an angel (Oratiol is teachinga young friar the phrasesof the Pater Noster.

which meansthat they would have been a responseon the part of wood engraversto the appearanceof printing. I shall return to the question. printed on three large sheets. or giving relief to the printed portion of a print by punching .and the famous Apocalypse figurde. The Ars moriendi. which had an immense success.one of which was in the library of CharlesV and another of which inspired the famous tapestriesof the Apocalypsein Angers. FrancescoRezzano.2r4 cneprrn Frvr Thesetwo booklets were decoratedwith pen drawings. Finally.They included the Defensorium inviolataevirginitatis Mariae. there were the Histoiredu Neuf Prezx. which had circulated in a number of illustrated manuscripts.the Vita sanctiServatiifor the pilgrimage to Maastricht. Other booklets were produced for pilgrimages: there was a Vita sanctiMeinardi for the pilgrimage to Einsiedeln. often from France. and a Mirabilia Romaefor the many pilgrims who went to the Eternal City.reflect somewhat more literary interests. scholarly opinion thought that thesexylographic blockbooks precededthe first printed books.and a good many Passions. All theseworks seemto have been produced originally for studentspreparing for the clergy. the Passion.near Strasbourg. someof them presentedasthe work of famous professorsto stimulate sales.There is a handsome Cantiquedescantiques. a work inspired by a Dominican from southern Austria.and a number of calendarsand astrologicalalmanacspublished everywherefrom Germanyto Lower Brittany.the Oraclesdessibyllessur la Nativit|. or for pious laypeople. For a long time.first as a block-book and then in printed form. Today however. which was produced for the instruction of confessors.for clerics (who may have used them in missionary work). * During this sameperiod new types of prints were produced by other engraverstrained as goldsmithsand familiar with the traditional graving and chasingtools of that profession. The leastcommon and perhapsthe latestin date of thesenew techniques was cribbling.many of them published in Germany and which often included litanies and prayersfor the canonical hours. Some of theseblock-books. an examination of watermarks indicates that their moment of greatestpopularity was after 1455.the Confessionale. came into being to illustrate a text known in three hundred manuscriptsand only becamean album of imagesafter the appearanceof engravings.

in particular in the mines of Styria. carving out large surfacesand leaving fine lines." When we note that a Flagellation of Chnslby an artist of the school of the Master of the Playing Cards is dated 1447. the place of origin. According to Max Lehrs' catalogue. plants. women.Here the engravertook a copper plate and used a burin to incise thin lines that would receiveink. but it works the wrong way for a metal plate. somewhatlater. in processingores to extract silver and copper.100 such engravingshaye come down to us. which does not take ink easily and is hard to engrave.e The origin of the first copperplate engravingsis perhaps less mysterious than that of the earliestwoodcuts. This procedure may seem perfectly logical.Ttrn Annrver or Pnrrqr 2t5 light marks on the plate that showed aswhite dots in the finished piece.perfectedby goldsmiths and metal chasers.who long remained specialistsin the technique.3. One could.whose wild-looking men. S. Although woodcutscould be printed with the use of a roller or a rudimentary . the metal engraver removed what he wanted to leave blank and left the lines or surfacesthat would receive the ink.and he used stamps for details like small flowers or crossesthat he wanted to make stand out in white. The presenceof cyclamens and the watermarks in the sheetsthat have come doum to us suggestthat these engravingswere made in the Lake Constanceregion. but that took a great deal of work. Copperplateengraving. however. was used more for decorativemotifs or works of art that circulatedwithin a relatively refined public than it was for pious images. Hence most of the prints made with this technique have a nocturnal look to them even when the drawing is fine. some 600 of which are signed with initials or a monogram. But why did this new technique appear?There is quite evidently a close connection between the rise of copperplateengraving and the advances that had been made.not far from there. but it still posesa problem. and from there spreadboth down the Rhine and south t0 Italy.As with wood engraving. of course. This process. was a much more delicateprocedurethan intaglio in wood. and animals reveal the hand of a talented draftsman. A much more important development was the invention in the midfifteenth century of copperplateengraving.The artist used a burin to trace white lines on a black background. make a "positive" (black on white) image by doing just the opposite. of the prolific "Master E.we can supposethat copperplateengravingarosein the area of the upper Rhine. The oldest identifiable master seemsto have been the so-calledMaster of the Flaying Cards.

or the Cologne Chronicle. Although that art was discovered in Mainz.42 . . and antimony. the fourth adds: The noble art of printing was first invented in Germany. and pressedso as to leave an impression on a sheetof paper. The first three texts present Gutenbergas the inventor of printing.ar First. ttre Chronicle of Eusebiuspublished in Venicein 1482by the German printer Erhard Ratdolt.published in 1499by Ulrich Zell. (Readersinterestedin the organization of an artisanal typographicworkshop will find full information in Febvreand Martin.s discoveries. there are still some mysteries connected with Gutenberg. usually steel. To recall the basic principles of printing from movable tlpe: small metal blocks with a character or a typographic sign carved into one end are placed in order in a frame (called a "form").216 Cnaprrn FrvE press. the first trials were carried out in Holland. however. Like all causes cdlibres.They all mention the name of Gutenberg.| Few inventions have as full a dossieras printing. . In order to do this it was essentialto produce setsof charactersof a strictly identical size on shaftsof exactly the sameheight. copperplatesrequired a cylindrical press that could exert enough pressureto force the paper to receivethe ink from the incised portions of the copper plate. It came to us in the year of our Lord 1440 and from then until 1450 the art and all that is connected with it was continually improved.Next this "punch" was impressed into a matrix made of a softermetal such as lead or copper. .be they the Mainz Chronicle. tin. who had learned his craft in Mainz. in a Donatus printed there before that time. €. T/ze Comingof theAook. A cylindrical pressbearssomesimilarity to the machines used in metal-rolling mills. the narrative sources. hence one might wonder whether this was not one of the many casesthat the history of the age offers of technological transfer.and the matrix then servedas a mold to cast setsof charactersout of a mixture of lead. the printing techniques perfected between 1435 and 1450 derived from the arts of metalworking. at Mainz on the Rhine. Each sign was carved so that it would stand up on the top edge of a piece of extremely strong metal. inked. the letter of Guillaume Fichet to Robert Gaguin that figures in one of the first books printed in Paris (1472\. as we have said. Like copperplate engraving.

There are also documentsdating from 1445 and 1451 that mention the purchasein Cambrai and Brugesof a Donatus and a Doctrinal of Alexandre de Villedieu that may have been printed. however.He also drew up a contract with a Strasbourg burgher. in theory printed a SpeculumSalvationis. to exploit a new procedure for making mirrors to be sold at the Aachen fair. without necessarilyhaving any functions connectedwith the goldsmith's art or the coining of money.and he seemsto have had a tastefor punch. Andreas Dritzehn died on ChristmasDay 1438.until one of his servants stolehis secret. From that moment on. perhapswith sand-castcharacters. he paid a goldsmith originally from Frankfurt. Gutenbergmay have been enrolled at the University of Erfurt from l4l8 to 1420. He was sued by a young lady for breachof promise of marriage.Txr Annrvel or PnrNr 217 Thus the problem of the "Holland manner" was posed. and various other books using cast metal characters. where his father. AndreasDritzehn.called Coster ($acristan).closerexamination showsthem to have been printed well after Gutenberg'sinvention. he and Dritzehn set fo work furiously.a Donatus. He had to leave his native city. calling on aid. two men of letters in Haarlem state that the art of typography arosein their city. promising to convey to him a procedure for polishing preciousstones. .Next Gutenberg signed another agreement. Laurens Janszoon.called Gutenberg(from the name of a family estate named "The Good Mountain". the considerablesum of 100 florins in exchangefor "things to do with printing" (daszu demdruckengehoretl. the bailiff of Lichtenau. later joined by Dritzehn and a goldsmith named AndreasHeilmann. In 1566 the physician Hadrianus Junius attributed the invention to a native of the same city.Zu GutenBergen-was born between 1394 and 1400 in Mainz.from Heilmann and the women of the neighborhood. Although copiesof a Donatus and works on doctrine have been found that seemto have been printed in Holland. but we pick up his traces next in Strasbourgin 1434.which seemsa quite conceivablenotion in a city with a lively trade in the local semipreciousstones. ln 1436. Gutenbergeventually agreedand receiveda notable sum of money.43 JohannesGensfleisch. Hanns Dtinne. to which his family belonged. when needed. probably around 1428. during which time his father died. What becameof him next is unknown.this time with Hans Riffe. His partners demanded a share in his other "arts and enterprises" (Kilnsteund Afenturl. a patrician.Quite abitlater. held an honorary post at the Mint. when the guilds revolted against the patriciate. where he was a member of the goldsmiths' guild and appearsto have been well-off.who. in f 56f .

We have the depositionsof fifteen of the thirty-two witnessescited by the two parties. The mirrors made by our associateswere designedto be attached to the headgearof pilgrims after they had been exposedto the graceemanatingfrom the relics that the clergy of Aachen put on public view on the balcony of the cathedral at certain times of the year. ClausDritzehn accusedhim of concealingpart of the truth. the other brother receivedbooks. which the witness also did.Not long be. The depositionsalso tell us. a suit opposing Andreas Dritzehn'stwo surviving brothers.This story has a quite different setting. This sibylline dossierneedsto be completed by a last piece of the puzzle.e Did Lorentz Beldeckknow more that this? In any event. But what can we infer from the testimony of that diligent and loyal servant? Lorentz Beldeck has deposed: that Johannes Gutenberg sent him.ProfessorWolfgang Stromer von Reichenbach. The atmospherethey reflect is in many ways like that of the small teamswho worked on photography in the nineteenth century or on the airplane in the early twentieth century an atmospherein which the team members. worked with their own hands. these pieceswere then to be placed in the press or under the press. however. AndreasDritzehn had sent his servantLorentz Beldeck to fetch the "forms" that his brother was keeping for him.and after that no one was to seeor learn anything. Were they printed by the Gutenbergpress? A German scholar.a5Until then we might simply . to the house of Claus Dritzehn.One brother receiveda press-undoubtedly the pressin question-and a "tool" for cutting (dasScitzelzeugl.inspired by an indomitable faith. after the death of Andreas. which Andreas Dritzehn had put in the house of his brother Claus. once. what is more. large and small. ready to sacrificetheir last penny to achievetheir goal and make their fortunes. over his estate. which may have been a device for polishing stones.for the pieceswould then come apart from one another. fore he died. furthermore.2t8 Cneprrn Frvr and when Gutenbergrefused to take on Dritzehn's brothers and heirs as partnersthey sued. He spoke to me. to tell Claus Dritzehn that he must show no one the pressthat he had under his guard. and said that I was to take the trouble to go to the pressand open it by means of two screws. his late brother. Clausand Jorg.however. that Gutenberghad insisted that no one could seethe pressthat a turner had constructed for him or the machinery on which he was working.may someday shedlight on this mysteriousaffair.

We catch up with him in l444inAvignon. who were meinbers of the merchant group of the Ammeister. Ferrose'scareeris hard to trace.or Venice?In any event. He also played a part in the very suit that interestsus here. which was not far from Basel.a silversmith or goldsmith and a locksmith and clockmaker.for initiating production. perhaps headquarteredin Nuremberg. The flrst "arts" that we seeour engineerpracticing.where his family had connections. and Heilmann. and we glimpsebehind them the silhouetteof a greatmerchantbanker. Friedelvon Seckingen. two new inventors enter into the picture: Prokop Waldfoghel and Girard Ferrose.He was then teaching "an art for writing artificially" (ars snibendi artificialiterlto a highly diversegroup of persons:David Caderousse. with the use of antimony) were specialtiesof Nuremberg.our men were part of a powerfrrl cartel. as the Council of Baselhad done at an earlier date. and he undoubtedly Iearned there how lead. a traditional centerfor copyistsand booksellers.a Jew.whom the documents call. Gutenbergdrops out of sight f16yy1 llQQ to 1448. and Lombardy. Manuel Vitalis.which had just been finished. perhaps.and silver could be extractedfrom ores. the Rhdne Valley. In 1439 he acquired citizenship in Luceme. Arnaud de . Riffe. but Professorvon Stromer has given us a good idea of Waldfoghel's. Dritzehn. precisely during those sameyears. consideringthat he was not only paying for the "secret" but also buying materials for further experimentationand.Waldfoghel belonged to a family of German origin settled in Prague who were known as cutlery manufacturersbetween 1367 and 1418. were among the few Strasbourgmerchantsconnected with the international trade that branched out from southern Germany to the Low Countries.polishing preciousor semiprecious stones and making mirrors (in particular. Will someone some day find tracesof his presencein Holland. Nonetheless. a bachelor decretalistfrom the dioceseof Dax.who representedGerman financial interestsin Alsaceand who lent the partners money againstsecurity and acted as guarantor for them in difficult moments. copper. There was also talk of holding a council at Strasbourgthat would have attractedthe elite of the Catholic literati. Had Gutenbergspent time in that capital of metallurgy? His third art demandeda considerablefinancial investment. Prokop worked in metallurgy in Nurembergin 1433 and 1434.Tnn Annrval or PnrNr 2t9 note that Strasbourgwas not at the time a particularly dynamic city. when the family fortunes seem to have suffered from the Hussitewars. To all appearances.a number of artists and technicians had been attracted there to work on the cathedral. Basel. and Dritzehn seemsindeed to have poured a fortune into it. respectively.

to which he had finally returned. Furthermore. plus how to make bombards and.lead.brass.They probably knew of Gutenberg'sexperiments. In 1446 Caderousseordered twenty-seven Hebrew letters engravedin iron (scissas in ferro\ and devicesmade of wood. Gutenbergdid not respond. and Georgesde la Jardine. had to flee to Frankfurt in 1444.to whom he taught his "artificial writing. But on 17 October 1448 Gutenberg signed an agreemenrin his ciry of birth. apparently a fairly wealthy Avignon burgher. When Vitalis later withdrew from the partnershiphe sold machinery made of iron. an act dated 4 Jruly1444 describingmaterialsthat Vitalis left with Waldfoghelfor safekeepingmentionstwo steel alphabets(duo abecedaria callibis).Cneprrn Frvr Coselhac.who was a friend of Vitalis's. and iron. Walter Riffe. where he lived near Gutenbergand had worked with him.couleuvines(small cannons)and "all that he was skilledin."a6 To judge by these documents. It is interestingthat the two witnessesmentioned at the end of the contract are a locksmith from Avignon and a man from Troyeswho made leatherpunches. Let us examine the dossiercompiled toward the end of the nineteenth century by Abbd Requin. Ferrosecontractedto teacha sixteen-yearold from Troyes named Godini the arts of clockmaking and locksmithing. and wood.copper. and often visited Avignon during this period. who became the leader of the patrician party. and other objects relating to artificial writing (ars scribendiartificialiter\. Waldfoghel lived for most of this time with Ferrose. contracting for a loan guaranteed by a . tin.two iron forms (formasferreasl. Obviously. forty-eight tin forms. Waldfoghel and Ferrose were highly skilled technicians." and who pawned a clock rather than relinquish a collection of tools they had in their house. however. was a goldsmith in Strasbourg. He was not wholly mistaken. tin. * When he was invited to return to Mainz in l4i0 following an agreement between the corporationsand the patriciate.since a relative of Hans Riffe's. The two men had other interests.Moreover.we would love to know exactly what was the procedure for artificial writing these two men used. for two yearshe held 408 Latin letters as security on a loan. but it remains as mysterious as Gutenberg'sequipment in Strasbourg. This would seemto suggest various parts of machinery that was already in operation. Caderoussetaught Waldfoghela cold-water processfor dyeing textiles (which may have been useful for making coloredinks). steel. given that his brother-in-law.

on the last to arrive in this puzzling story. who camefrom a family of wealthy merchant bankers connected. Gutenberghad certainly been treatedin a shoddymanner.Two years later.Tnr Annrver or PnrNr 22r wealthy compatriot and kinsman. Fust accusedGutenbergof not having repaid the sumshe had advanced. and the specialistsagreethat the work in progress was the famous 42-line Bible.He is cited as a witness in the 1455 suit. an actMty undertaken in their joint interest and for which there were projectedexpensesfor parchment. Fust later held titled offices.with trade with Nuremberg.Next we meet another Mainz burgher. It seemsobvious that our heroes had reached a phase in which great things were happening.by inventing an easierway to cast . and he appearsto have been the engineer in his associationwith Fust. on 14 October 1457. Peter Schoeffer.Originally a lawyer.the first work dated and signed by its backers. and ink. In 1450 Johann Fust lent 800 florins to our inventor (the price of a herd of 100 fat oxen) at 5 percent interest so that Gutenberg could make "certain tools" (Geauge\. initiated by Gutenberg. Peter Schoeffer. since at his death the city receivedfrom the archbishopGutenberg'sforms.which he probably used for setting up printing machinery. Arnoldt Gelthuss. Johann Fust.ennobledhim for personalservicesand promisedhim an annual gift of a court costume. tools. he had perfectedthe art of typography. whose daughter he married (and who died in 1467 on a trip to Paris).is history. Schoeffer died in 1502. since they had passedon to the phase of exploitation and profits.and in 1452 Fust promised Gutenbergan annuity of 300 florins for "book work" (Werk der Bucherl. in any case)that with the aid of Fust. Schoeffercopied a manuscript of Aristotle in a magnificent hand that possibly prefiguresthe type of the 1457 Psalter. A few words.but someyearsearlier he told JohannesTritheim (according to the latter.He borrowed the considerablesum of 150 florins (at an interestof 5 percent).When he was still a student in Parisin 1449.and Gutenberghad to repay with interest what remained of the capital that Fust had invested. Gutenbergonce more disappearsfrom the documents. however. as the sayinggoes. the Mainz Psalter appeared. and other objectsrelating to printing.twenty measuresof wheat.He sued.The rest. Gutenbergseemsto have continued to print. the new archbishopof Mainz. and two hogsheadsof wine for his household. Adolph of Nassau.who were Fust and a newcomer. a perfectly realizedmasterpiece. and at this point he was probably uselessto the others.and a younger brother who later becameburgermeister is called an architect or a goldsmith.paper.In 1465.it seems. finally.

Next we find calendars and almanacs. We also find administrativepieceslike the famous letters of indulgence.then. and by printing the necessarycertificatesthey could be produced for less. they neededto be reproduced rapidly in the largestpossiblenumbers at the beginning of every year.has never been supplanted.which.a sort of encyclopediafrom the thirteenth century and other famous monuments of print.In the early sixteenth century one of his sons settled in Basel and became an important type merchant who sold fonts throughout Europe.4T What can we know of the motivations of our inventors and their clients from a list of such books and pamphlets?Let us turn to Seymourde Ricci's survey. although dated. often taken from the bindings of registersin the region around Mairn.48 It showsfragments of short texts.Both in the East and the West. This was what interestedFust and Schoeffer. From the outset. which was designed as a symbol to impress the world and to prepare the conquestof a markeg the 36-line Bible. short texts in quantity for a local public (this is perhapswhat Gutenbergconcentrated on at the end of his life). probably from a rival printshop.There was an obvious advantageto producing such documentsmechanically: the intention was to collect as much money as possible. Given the state of our knowledge. * Tradition dictatesthat we move on from the invention of printing to examine the pieceswithout a printer's imprint from the earliesttypographers and attempt to ascertainwho printed what. can we grasp the dynamics of the developmentof typography and its widespreaduse? Studiesin the history of technologyremind us that the invention of printing was one of an entire . Balbi's Catholicon.222 Cnaprrn Frvr characters. There were also a number of grammar texts-Donatuses-which picked up from the block-books and had an immense public. I shall state from the outset that all who have ventured onto this unsure terrain have brought back no sure answers.who may have been better suited for this sort of commercethan Gutenberg. and to increasethe number of books and lower their price in order to capture an immense potential market. for reasons we have seen.Then there were the great print works: the 42-line Bible. the art of tlpography had found its dual purpose:to produce circularsand common. the relics of a vanishedand probably large output. although recent work on the printing of Giovanni Balbi's Catholiconhas made some troubling discoveriesregarding the methods of the first printers.

The potential of antimony was discovered. it is impossibleto reconstructthe various trial attemptsof thesemen. linked discoveries. tin.The men who achieved these advanceswere the first techniciansof the modern ageto deservethe title of engineers. and antimony that melted at a relatively low temperature.they also showed an interest in coloring agentsthat would enablethem to make various colors of inks. which made it profitable to exploit new veins.Their notebooks.It was not enough.Copper plates required a very powerful press. what those men thought would be the consequencesof their acts.This was how the idea aroseof reproducing imagesand texts mechanically. or PRrNr 22' seriesof other. It is hardly surprising that when copper plates became readily availablepeople should think of using them rather than wood blocks when they wanted to make particularly fine engravings. and on the Fabriano metallurgists'invention of efficient machines (using water-powered camshaftmills. The searchfor precious metals led metallurgiststo devise a technique for extracting silver. though. We do not even know exactly what sort of work Gutenbergwas doing in Mainz. or to determine the part each one played.one fitted with rollers inspired by the technology of the sheet-metalrolling mills. he had a background in the minting of coins and he had manufactured mirrors. The first printers used the metallurgists' discoveriesto study the properties of the metals that were now more readily available.TnE Annrvar. however. Copperplateengravingprobably already existed in the region of Lake Constancewhen Waldfoghel was staying in Lucerne. He was certainly aware of a technology already in use in Nuremberg. like Gabriel Martin. It is not the aim of this book to do so. so he was in an excellentposition to think of decomposinga pageand breaking it down into individual signs. a relatively recent development) before it could transferto paper-a first hybridization-the technique of printing textiles with woodblocks. then of recomposing it with the help of small metal blocks. an inventor.As we have seenwith Waldfoghel.and they explored ways to replicatemetal objects using an alloy of lead. We would like to know. which Bertrand Gille has brought to light.We still do not know exactly what Gutenbergwas trying to do in Strasbourgand what Waldfoghelsucceededin doing in Avignon.They may have dreamedof a better world. who explained to me in 1938 that a "sound . Still.netestify to a superabundant imagination well beforeLeonardo da Vinci. and lead from the ores in which they lay mixed. copper. and one might wonder whether some of the same people were involved in the development of both copperplate engraving techniques and typography.Printing dependedon the appearanceof paper in Europe.

a Gutenbergand Waldfoghel are merely two minor local gods in the pantheon of the demiurgeswho invented means of communication. A presswas not even neededto transfersuch a text to paper. Wang Tzhen. older and wiser. Inventors' motivations are not necessarilyof this world: their inventions are the offspring of the obsessedimagination of men who feed on utopias and sweep all obstaclesfrom their path."but. movable charactersbegan to be used. early Europeanwoodcuts. as we know more keenly today. By their sidein the modest sectionreservedfor printing there are other gods.50 The point of departurewas the same:the use of paper to transferimages and texts. hence of life. But then. In the eleventh century the blacksmith and alchemist Pi Cheng is reported ro have made movable type out of a fire-hardenedmixture of clay and liquid glue.They lived in the Far East. above all. with which he printed (among other things) a local gazettein more than .the fact that the same character had to be recut every time gave a talented engraver an opportunity for variety.This price would surely be lessif the financiersand technocrats. however. excessiveaudacity may be the price of movement.224 cnAprEn Frvs book" would be highly useful to the blind. probably in the early fourteenth century the very prolific author of a treatiseon agriculture and a number of technical works. there is a price to pay for every advance. however. not half so clever and. who always have the last word.and if their dreamsof wealth and power could be guided more lucidly. could foreseethe consequencesof their decisions.must surely have offered similar rewards. a technique that servedto print a certain number of works under the Sung dynasty (960-12791. Next. We cannot be sure of this. There was merit to be had simply by reproducing an image of the Buddha or a sutra. In lands where letters were drawn with Ioving calligraphy and the whisper of the brush on paper was appreciated. had sixty thousand individual wood characterscut. Very early. This can produce what we call "progress.which often represented healing saints or saintly protectors of travelers. since a simple horsehairbrush would do the trick and not even subjectthe plate to much wear.Easily cut blocks of soft wood made the xylographic booklet a perfect solution to the problem of the thousandsof signsin Chinese writing. it is perhapssymbolicthat the sameengineerswho were teaching the "art of writing artificially" alsotaught their disciplesto make cannons. lessagitated.

decreedthat the project be financed by the palace treasury rather than ask his people to bear the burden. the ministers. and the need to codify and set down the new policiesof his kingdom. Koreantypographyreachedits height under King Sejong(14t8-50). The royal clan.5r Soon after that date the Chinesedeviseda procedurefor using movable characters. It is a characteristicdetail that this sovereign. no dynamic market for books ever existed. T'agong (1400-lS). A new dynasty.who thought of himself as enlightened. in his infinite wisdom King Sejongprohibited the saleof the books that were printed in his palace." The charactersthat were cast in this manner were made of bronze or.but these brilliant initiatives produced no radical change. T'aejo (I392-9Sl and his administration published an entire seriesof xylographic booklets.China and Korea may both havehad a certain number of works that were printed with metallic movable type as early as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.The king succeededin his objective. In l44f they produced a systembasedon Sanskritthat used eighteenconsonants and ten vowels. Finally. The methods used in Korea have an almost hallucinatory similarity to Gutenberg's.Tnr Anntvar or PnrNr 225 one hundred copies.of lead. He seemsto have had still other projectsin mind.In any event a work printed in 1377 and exhibited in 1972 at the Bibliothdque nationale in paris enritled Edtfying Treatiseof the BuddhistPatiarchs seemsto have been made in that fashion."Punches" (in this caseincised wooden cubes)were used to form a "matrix" in sand placedinside a metal "mold. the king commandedhis palacescholarsto devisean alphabet that would give his people greater accessto the written word. now that Confucianismhad replacedBuddhism as the statereligion.the Yi. put out a royal command for castingmovable charactersin bronze in 1403." now Korea.The Chineseremained faithful to xylographic booklets and the Koreanswaited until the twentieth century to put their alphabetinto cornmon use. Largescaleinitiatives in both China and Korearemained in the hands of the state or wealthy patrons. His successor. cameinto power in "the land of the calm morning. the difficulty involved in importing books from China. which means that the severalhundred . He justified his decreeby noting the rapid wear of carved wooden blocks. and its flrst king.More important.and certain high functionarieseventually had to pay a share. who also supportedthe developmentof artillery (a symbolic pairing) and copper coinage and whose artisans also made a greatmany convex bronze mirrors.and the royal printshop that was createdby the decreeused movable charactersto produce printed books from 1409 to the nineteenth century. in some cases.

Angers. Heinrich Eggestein.It was useful for information and administration. and Avignon. in the last analysis. printing satisfiedtwo sorts of requirements.We have to grant that for once there were virtues in capitalism. and Schoefferalso printed publicity posters. where we find Schoefferin 1468 and where the Mainz group had a storehouseand an agent.which was conceived in much the samespirit and was updated after the Community of Buxheim had made textual revisions. The next step was to cornmercializethe invention. During those sameyears .at the heart ofEurope and at the brossroads ofseveralworlds. books exactly similar to handwritten manuscripts.where. opened a printshop there. in one extant copy. for Mainz soon lost its monopoly. in 1458 or 1459 a notary in the episcopalservicenamed Johan Mentelin. The 1457 Psalter. Had Gutenberg'swork in Strasbourgleft some trace? Did Bishop Ruprecht actively promote printing? In any event. createda market in which thought could be bought. within somethirty years.s vicar for juridical matters and Keeperof the Seal.printshops sprangup evennvhereunder the aegis of a handful of bourgeois capitalistsseeking profits. a small peninsula situated at the end of an immense continent.They also sold their books in Frankfurt. sold. Fust and Schoefferthen set out to conquer the European market.226 Cneprrn FrvE copies that made up the "edition' of a work were distributed only to a handful of high dignitarieswho were the mastersand dispensersof things of the mind and the interpretersof the ideogramsin that staticsociety. Fust died in 1466 in Paris.made a pact to keep the new art a secretnever to be revealedto anyone. in quantity and at relatively low cost. The 42-line Bible servedas a sort of declaration of intent. It demonstratedthat henceforth one could produce.the bishop. "CEcr Turna Cr'Ll^" But to return to the West: from the outset. Ltibeck.bore the addressof its printers and. preferable. Mentelin and his partner. who was also a calligrapher and who had lived in that city at least since 1447. It also contained the first known attempt to print initials in different colors rather than entering them by hand. Thus it seemsnatural that it should have appearedin the Rhine region. as did many of his imitators.to a society paralyzed by a rigid hierarchy that is often the twin of the processof statehood. and exchanged. their mark-a sign of the times and the first example of printed publicity.but alsofor culture.This was at the same time that books printed in Mainz were spreading rapidly throughout Europe. For centuriesto come the Eastremained immutable while Europe.

in 1466 they were in Rome itself and in Venice. There were alreadypressesin Seville. Paris had a pressin 1470.Breslau. Constance.In an age in which exchangeswere acceleratingand markets were becomingunified from one end of Europe to the other. the fatal moment after which books. and in Beromunster in 1470.which had taken place in Avignon. where they may perhaps have printed the 36-line Bible. Mainz again becamethe sceneof troubles when Adolph of Nassau'stroops attackedand sackedthe city. circulated in lessthan two generationsin a Europe whose population was under a hundred million.and Augsburg.Tns Annrver or Pnrur some of Gutenberg'scompanions seem to have set up shop in Bamberg.and Budapest. nor has any been as glorified by its contemporaries. Luther himself at times . No invention has struck people'simagination quite as much as the invention of printing.Prague. Afterwards.OOO ies. Copenhagen. there were another twenty or so in southern Germany. This would give a maximum of some few hundred thousand confirmed readers. it would be interesting to know whether he was aware of the drama of Waldfogheland Ferrose. while artillery and gunpowder. as can be seenfrom the maps in TheComingof theBook. extremely rapid for its time.t3Rabelaismay have been inspired by the classicaltopoJcontrasting the arts of peace and the arts of war. in 1468. in Nuremberg in L469.There were pressesin German lands as well: in 1465-66 in Cologne. Gargantua writes to Pantagruel (15321 that printing was discoveredas if by divine inspiration. not far from Lyons. Later. This diffusion. German typographersmoved out all over Europe. reminds us that like so many other inventions.not far from Rome. Lyons in 1473.were diabolical works.further to the south.London. now out of their cradle. precisely because it involved things of the mind. and thirty or so in northern Italy.by countersuggestion. are no longer called incunabula. the Continent quite naturally developedways to createan ideologicalsuperstructurethaf reflectedthe mentality of an emergentbourgeoisie. Around 1480 a pattern in the distribution of printshops beginsto be clear: some fifteen were operating in the Low Countries (often under the influence of the Brethren of the Common Life). then in Basel. this vast space filled in with more printshops and reachedasfar asDanzig and Stockholm. however. the invention of typography was a revolution in comrnunications.This processbegan in Germany. The estimated known publicationscertainly representmore than ten million cop27.s2In 1465 we can find Germansin Subiaco.Therewere more than 250 centers of the print trade by 1 January 1501. On the night of 27-28 October 1462.

ta In the section of his novel entitled "Ceci tuera cela" Hugo contemplatesthe heroine of his book and the cathedral. Three centuries later Claude Frollo. which had spreadeverywherethanks to printing. be embodiedin a new material.despoiledby the Revolution and a skeleton stripped of its statues (this was well before Viollet-Ie-Duc gave the church a face-lift). "le liwe tuera l'€difice" (the book will destroy the building).those unsuccessfulrivals of the typographic book. in future. whether the proliferation of books would not encouragehis contemporariesto read too superficially. was also about to changeits outward mode of expression. And who invites us to stop to reflect on what the Westlost in exchangefor the invention of printing.to which they remained closelylinked. block-books treated the texts engravedon their pagesas simple explanations or glossesto their pictures. is paging through a copy of PeterLombard's Sentences printed in Nuremberg when he pronouncesthe enigmatic phrase.text was not even needed for comprehensionof a pictorial narrative.which begana long decline.which often lent inspiration to poets and preachers. different from their Oriental counterpartsby remaining primarily stories told in images.but a poet who was aware of the potential connectionsbetween architectural construction and the structures of thought in an epoch. In most cases. Notre-Damede Paris. more solid and enduring still. in changingits outward form. as did many humanists of his age. it lost a certain form of the languageof images. Hugo proclaims prophetically that printing would destroy the church and that "human thought. and block-books. a new fashion. had becomeindestructible.Like stainedglasswindows and church frescoes. text and woodcuts were printed separately. Five yearsafter the publication of the 42-line Bible Albrecht Pfister.that the dominant idea of eachgenerationwould.228 Cnaprrn Frvr wondered whether he had been right to translatethe Bible and put it into the hands of readerswho drew conclusionsthat he condemned. was to give way to the book of paper. We have seen how much the society of the waning Middle Ages-Gutenberg's society-was obsessedby imagesand by visual forms of representation.so solid and enduring. First. This is of coursea poet speaking.beganto publish the first set of illustrated typographic books (1460-64). the archdeacon of the cathedral in Victor Hugo's novel. Prints and engravingscamefrom that climate." At first.He also worried.secretary to the bishop of Bamberg." The book.but printers soon learned to place the engravedwoodblocks inside the type forms and print them along with the text with one pull on . that the book of stone.

had worked in severalchanceriesand possesseda solid culture. was quite naturally upsetting to the wood eugravers. which at times disfigured them. fables of Aesop and other audestructionis thors reworked by Heinrich Steinwell. Their publicationswere almost immediately reprinted by printers in Nuremberg and Basel.and Tobiq there was DerEdelste:n. the bailiff of a town in the canton of Berne and a Third Order Dominican." Each one of these works had severalprintings. there was Vier Historien. Johann von Saaz. verse the storiesof Joseph. of the illustrated book. a humanist physician of Ulm. disappeared.56This may be why no typographically printed book but Pfister's was illustrated in Germanybefore the seriesthat Giinther Zainer launched in Augsburg in f 47f and his brother Johann launched in 1472 in Ulm.from illustrating his publications. The works chosento be published in this manner are significant: there was DerAckelmannvonBdhmen. the corporation of cabinetmakersand carpenters.Ruth.printers like these put out an entire library of illustrated books. .who felt they were being exploited or pushed asideby keen competition.Tnn Annrver or PnrNr 229 the pressbar.Petrarch'sGriselidis. Around 1466 they attempted to prevent Giinther Zainer from setting up a pressin Augsburg. Esther. as well as Boccaccio'sDeclarismulieribus.Between l47l and 148O. the Belial. a moralizing apologetic work written by a holy bishop of Florencein the mid-fourteenth century in which the Devil brings Jesusto trial before God the Father.and were inspired more by the sortsof pen drawings found in a number of German manuscripts of the time than by traditional miniatures.a dialoguebetween Death and a Bohemian plowman whose author. began to show shading (indicated by fairly rough hatching). a city that was at the time a center of production for playing cards. even more. At the same time the block-book industry which had peaked between 146A and 1475. As time went by illustrations becamefiner. then they did their best to prohibit any member of their guild. among them The GoldenLegend. and gained a degree of autonomy from hand-coloring.were intended to be colored by hand with watercolors. flnally. The illustrations in these volumes were still somewhat minimal: they were engravedin broad strokes. The rapid rise of the printed book and. t}aeHistoia Troiaeof Guido delle Colonne.and Jean d'Arras' Mdlusina all of which were offeredin both Latin and Germanversions.the Speculum vitaehumanae(Mirror of Human Life). there was a "Bible of the Poor. and they seem to have been intended to illustrate sermonspreachedby friars of the mendicant ordersin the German cities and towns. fableswith morals by Ulrich Boner.

Throughout the text." is a good example.It retained somedegreeof autonomy only in scientificor technicalworks. a discreetrecall of a known tradition to which the reader could refer if need be.whose page layout.Pfister's"Bible of the Poor. the illustrated Apocalypses. At the same time. The flexible page layout of the block-books. faithful reproductionsof their manuscript models. the most famous of which is Drirer's. recalls some of today's more ambitious comic strips.they are simple additions to a text rather than.whose emergencewas connectedwith the use of writing. In the hands of the bourgeoisie.2)O Cneprnn Frvn The triumph of lead brought vast changes. were soon replacedby albums of plateswithout text. the four juxtaposed scenesshowing an episodefrom the New Testamentsideby sidewith three prefigurationsfrom the Old Testamentthat were setunder a seriesof arches on the upper portion of each double page of the Speculumhumanaesalvationisln its xylographic version were now broken up into four isolatedfigures separatedby commentariesfollowing one another pell-mell rather than proceedingin parallel columns under their correspondingimages. the printed book came to side with the elites. We need to ponder this point a bit.Finally.the logic of lead slowly reduced allegorical languageto a game. at times with a certain nostalgiafor bygone days.notably lithography. Similarly. despitean occasionalburst of new energy. the illustration or the plate was now merely a variation or a commentary on themes that the text developed. In the typesetversion the pictures are disorganized.as if in compensationfor all that it had gained.This is why romantic (and bourgeois)authors later glorified it. the printed book ceasedto be a simple reproduction of its manuscript model. * Little by little. Until the appearanceof printing the need to copy a text that one wanted to study or keep gave the copier an . inspired by earlier manuscripts.that reflect a totally different conception. it was an instrument of power used to combat the aristocracy. Once again. By the sametoken. There too it lost somethingin the process. we are forced to note that there is no such thing as an innocent medium. as formerly. Henceforth the illustration placed at the head of the work becameits publicity and its glorification. The disappearanceof the xylographic book consummatedthe decline of a certain type of relations between text and image-relations that would be revived in the nineteenth century by new methods. contrastsstrongly with the layout of the typographic text broken in the middle by a woodcut.

or so it seems:the Bibliothdque municipale of Lyons conservestwo copiesof the Missel de Lyon. even progressively and naturally modifying.Except for books for liturgical use.were in constantevolution helped the copyist to offer his own vision of the works of the past.The manuscript tradition.which were owned by the same canon and decoratedby the same miniaturist. All that soon changed. Handvwiting stylesthat. like letter design. glossedtexts. one a manuscript and the other printed in 1482 by Neumeister. They went as far as to reproduce some of their models line by line. and to fill the page in order to trim costs. easedthe transition from the past into the present. copy their original modelswith an unshakablefidelity for a clientele of conservativejurists.the manuscriptswith which they were familiar. which required two passesthrough the press. even his tics. and rubrication and hand-colored initials were replaced by woodcut letters. It encouraged thinking along the samelines as the author-hence the apocryphal texts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries discussedabove.they are distinguishablefrom one other only by the color of their ink and the regularity of their characters. As Iong as new books were in competition with manuscriptsthey were treatedas facsimilesof the older versionsand the text was completed with hand-painted initials and rubrics.imposedtheir logic. hence it cost money.Marginal rubrics to point out the articulation of the argument were no longer highlighted by lines of different colors accordingto section and subsection. It is true that the first printers did their best to reproduce.as exactly as possible.Tur Annrver or Pnrut 2)l almost kinetic memory of its content and an alrnost physical familiarity with the author's intellectual methods and style.At the sametime there was a tendency to reduce page size. Finally. it led the scribeto correct (or add errorsto) the versionsof the greattexts of classical antiquity that lay before his eyesand to give them a new form. Painstakingcare took time.which are slightly larger in the manuscript version.eachtime masking the portion of the form to be printed in the other color. to squeezelines of type closer. It also encourageda form of dialogue that consistedin modernizing. . notably by adding his own punctuation and diacritical marks.t?To facilitatethe compositor'stask. however. Little by little type sorts. Similarly. Hand decorationwas also gradually eliminated. which until well into the sixteenth century often bear witness to the virtuosity and the patienceof the compositorsof those times. the small lead blocks lined up like soldierson parade. in operating as an intermediary between the oral tradition and the written tradition. The two are true twins: unless the viewer is a specialist. a work in the vernacular. printers abandonedtwo-color printing.

those who are so quick to proclaim that the printing pressfreed the great texts from the strangleholdof commentaries would do well to take the trouble to look at some of those as well: they know what such texts have gained.but reading is guided by glosseson the speechesof the various characters.They are comprehensible only on rereading.rather than gazing toward the magical circle at the center of the theater.What high school or university student today would complain of guidance in studying a classicalwork that he or she can no longer understandor even have any instinctive feeling for? Even more.In it the spectators. An excellentcasein point would be the Terencepreparedin Lyons by JosseBade for Trechselin 1491.The people who delight in glorifying Gutenbergand who talk so freely about "popular" reading matter would do weII to take just one good look at the printed texts themselves. The works of the fust generationsof printers still reflect visions of times gone by. Not only doesit offer an interpretation of Terence'scomedies. We shall see what reason gained from the process. that typography encourageda divorce of the text from the image and of the present from the past. in this indictment tJ at we must draw up if we are to be fair. they could be approachedonly by scholars armed with all the tools of erudition.but they might also seewhat they have lost.look out toward the world that the author renderedso well. . thus carrying the pruning processsuggestedby Petrarch to its logical extreme.they becamecodified heraldsof an archaeologizedknowledgewritten in dead languages.it helped to give the most famous texts superstarstatus. however. so that printers did not continually have to cut new alphabets. Thus modern page formats are the result of a gestationperiod that took many centuries.As the generationspassed.Only too often they respondedto the intenogations and the reactionsthey prompted with an icy silence and.2J2 Cnaprsn Frvr ligatures were eliminated and the range of letter styleswas cut down.For the moment. in conformity with the new spirit.which was used again for the Strasbourgand Pariseditions. I shall limit myself to noting. Soon the dynamism of printing encourageda more fluent reading of a pared-down text. the somewhatmysteriousillustrations interpreting the plays in an undeniably imaginary theater are no more a betrayal of the original than somemuchapplaudedmodern settingsof the sameworks. They too have their strokes of genius: one such is the frontispiece of the Lyons Terence. Similarly.

and eventually taking up residencein a town they thought propitious. Barth€lemyBuyer.a man considerablylessadvancedin his studies than they and never destinedto be a greatcleric. and it governedintellectual life by those laws. let us move to Paris. who had continued their theological studies.Guillaume Fichet. castletters." to use Lucien Febwe'sexpression. as were a young Savoyard.some of which becamedominant. and they often attendeda university or had been trained as goldsmiths.rAt this early stagethe small teamsof printers had to know how to do everything: cut type. whose father was a jurisconsult in Lyons and whose mother came from a family of merchant uaders.It was to reign supremeover .In 146l-62 Fichet and Heynlin. halting for several months or several years wherever they found work. to the Montagne Sainte-Genevidve.For a better understandingof how the market was organized. They were likely to be former journeymen or disciplesof the first typographers in Mainz.CL the continent for four centuriesand move out to conquer the world. and a young man from Stein. The map of European publishing centers.composea text. Hence we need to review the mechanismsby which the book.J?e TheReignof the Book I round 1500 printing conqueredEurope. Heynlin in 1455.wlrjch meant that the Colldgede Sorbonneassured 23J . The protagonistsof that conquesthave been studied thoroughly and are now familiar figures. Since it owed its power to the commercial dynamism of the West it was subjectto the laws of the rnarket. that "merchandise. Many of them were itinerant. gradually took shape. While Gutenberg was working with Fust in Mainz. work the press. after which both were admitted to the Faculty of Theology. THn Llw oF THE Manrnr Printing spreadthroughout Europe extremely rapidly. Peter Schoefferwas pursuing his studiesin the Faculty of Arts in Paris (1449-52). they may have encountereda fellow student from Lyons. where they founded a stablepress. near Constance.Around 1460. Fichet obtained his Arts degreein l45j.Johann Heynlin.Thesemen undoubtedly had occasionto leaf through the new books from Mainz and to question Fust or his agents. in the mid-fifteenth century.was able to tighten its hold on societyand to organizeits fields of awareness.were receivedas sociisorbonici.

and later qualified as a magister (master of arts). above all. whose Orationeshe published and whom he presentedto Louis XI.where he had been named dean of the Faculty of Arts.left to their . ambassadorof the king to Pope Paul II. among them Sallust'sHistoryof the JugurthineWar.the duke of Milan. During the winter of 1469-7O he was sent on an embassyto GaleazzoMaria Sforza.the modernists of those times. and a number of classicaltexts.becamerector the following year. Friburger.it was the Epistolaeof Gasparino Barzizza.probably to seek out typographersand materials.They joined the ranks of the traditionalists-the "Realists"-in opposition to the Occamites.But while Heynlin was working to provide accurate texts. was receivedas a bachelor in 1467.Fichet'sRhdtorique. Next. Fichet establishedcontact with Cardinal Bessarion. in order to ask him join a projected crusadeagainstthe Turks. The two men failed to persuadeLouis to their cause. who matriculated in 1461. who took his degree in 1463 and probably learned the typographer'strade with Gering in Beromi.inster. guided by Fichet and Heynlin. The book bears the imprint of the Colldge de Sorbonne and is signed by Gering. probably financed by Cardinal Rolin and. IJeyrdin supported the Realist causein Basel. champion of the Eastern Christians.and they went to Rome. then launched a vast printing program. Guillaume Baudin. where Fichet pursued a somewhat modestcareer.who received his doctoratein 1468.In the meantime Heynlin had returned to Pariswhere he was electedrector of the university in 1467. including those of its library. and Martin Krantz (who had studied in Erfurt).He later retired to the Carthusianmonastery in Basel. perhaps through another sociussorbonrczs. by the duc de Bourbon. also continuing as the librarian of the Colldgede Sorbonne.the Elegantiaeof Lorenzo Yalla.Thus Heynlin and Fichet used their positions at the Sorbonne to campaign for a better knowledge of ancient rhetoric and the ancient classicallanguage. and between L464 and 1467.Cnaprnn Srx them room and board and openedall its doors to them. It is highly probable that in Basel he met Ulrich Gering.an Italian professorof rhetoric. Among other works they produced a treatiseon spellingby Barzizza.2 Heynlin was clearly fond of traveling. and perhaps also Michel Friburger. and Cicero'sDe oratore. who had alsoreceivedhis doctorate. and his friend Fichet.At that point the first Parisian typographers. devotedall his energiesto teaching. Thus the first book printed in Paris appearedeven before the end of the year L47O. Our printers. Fichet pursued his own route. for he took at least one more trip to Basel.A month later Heynlin. Therethey could borrow classicaltexts aswell asthe theological works they neededfor their studies.

and Claude Savreux. bookbinding. printers who wanted to becomeestablishedimitated the example of Gering and his companions. a city renowned for its luxury industries. offering for saleadministrativeacts.had to changecourse.Tnr RErcN or rnn Boor 2)5 own devices. and elegantladieswho usually frequentedthe trials would be sure to pass.there were peddlers.lawyers. Paper and book deliveriescould reachit easily. The booksellersspecializingin new works and works of jurisprudencegatherednear the merchantsof luxury objectswho set up their stalls (somewhatlike the shopsin a modern railroad station) along the walls and against the pillars of the corridors of the Palais de Justice.where magistrates.royal officials. Quite soon. and they shifted their publishing strategies to works aimed at the large numbers of clericsand priestswho frequented the Latin Quarter.brochures. however.All merchantstend to move closer to theirclientele.To end the list of booksellers. and as the city developedand the university lost some of its importance the booksellersbegan to group toward the nonhern end of the street around the church of Saint-S6verinor on the bridgesleading to Notre-Dameand towardsthe ChAtelet.and gazettes.and prohibited books. The rue Saint-Jacquesdistrict was not only near the Seinebut the street was the largestmerchant artery crossingParisfrom south to north. which soon took on a new look. and engravingswere sold on the nearby Quai desAugustins. and bookselling.It seemednatural to settlein the Latin Quarter.3 Togetherthesebooksellersofferedthe Parisianpublic a respectablenum- .inexpensivebooks.sold his books in one of the towers of the abbey in the seventeenthcentury. the seat of the largest university in Europe. Booksellers'shopslined the rue SaintJacques. Paris. At the sametime they replacedthe somewhatawkward Roman lettersthat they had usedup to then with traditional Gothic letters. Thus an entire neighborhood sprang up where hundreds of journeymen worked sideby side:in the seventeenthand eighteenth centuries severalthousand people-workers and their familiesmade their living from printing.partiesto a lawsuit.In the seventeenthcentury the Pont-Neufbecamethe principal rendezvous.while printers and bookbinders settled in the streetsand alleys nearby and the less-frequentedcollegesserved as warehousesin which to store piles of books.Other booksellers sold devotional works around the cathedral. everfaithful to Port-Royal.authorized and unauthorized. and itinerant booksellerswho gradually spreadthroughout the city.and a major crossroads. offered signal advantagesas a highly important centerof publishing. the capital of a vast kingdom.pamphlets.They moved to the rue Saint-Jacques at the sign of the Golden Sun.

Let us follow Barth€lemy Buyer as he returned home after the death of his father. Lyons at the time was a place where two worlds coexistedin near-total unawarenessof one another.As the history of the book trade in Lyons proves. a nephew of the learnedbishop of Puy and of Duke JeanII.Barthdlemy Buyer was calculatinghis chances. The archbishophad built a palacein the Florentine style near the cathedral.. the rue Mercidre where the merchantsgatheredbecameone vast warehouse.236 Cuaprrn Srx ber of volumes: cefiainly more than one hundred thousand books were for salefrom the shopsalong the rue Saint-Jacquesin the eighteenthcentury and in all probability there were tens of thousandsmore in the Palaisde Justice despitethe small size of the bookstalls. where the burghers had becomemastersof the commune.The cathedral.replacingthe somberfortressof Pierre-Scizebuilt by his predecessors. It had becomean incomparablecrossroads. Near them was the residence of the cardinal archbishopde Bourbon. turned their eyeselsewhere.noble and powerful personagesmost of whom lived there only episodically.There were a number of paper mills near the city. Lyons. A lover of art.along the slopesof Fourvidre. the essentialelementslay elsewhere. to the Atlantic. The fairs attractedmoney changers. From its position between the Sadne and the Rhdne. a famous patron of the arts.and money began to . was connectedwith waterwaysthat led from the Mediterranean toward northern France and. Like many merchant cities.Nor was Paris unique: almost everywherebooksellersgrouped near the law courts. either from their local booksellersor directly from the printers.and the larger collegeswere placeswhere other bookshops were concentrated.and readersoften had to order most of the books they wanted. The right bank of the Sadne.5 While the highly cultured canons and the bishop.was still the realm of the canon-counts. they tended to ry their luck at the pontifical court. building their prosperity along with the bridgesthey built acrossthe Sa6neand the Rhdne to enablepeople and merchandisefrom the Empire and from Italy to pass into French lands.whose court was at Moulins. and the Royal Palaceof Pragueall had booksellersspecializingin new publications.the Palais des Etats at The Hague. ttre protector of the Sorbonnepress. in particular around Tr6voux.for after making their way up the university ladder. via the Loire.4 The presenceof even a sizablelocal clientele was not enough to guaranteethat a city would becomea greatpublishing center. and the Hall of Westminster.and in the fifteenth century after the fairs had guaranteedthe city's prosperity. a river port. the bishop'spalace. he had no interest in what went on acrossthe river.There was of course less choice in the smaller cities.

It is traditionally divided into fixed cosrs. and a group of jurisconsults. Venice-not Florence or Rome.The firm he founded prosperedup to the turn of the nineteenth century. Buyer soon set to work other typographersof German origin: Martin Husz from Bottevar. which are based on expenditures made once and for all independent of production volume. Sensingthe importance of the potential market. His timing was good and he establisheda strong position not only in Francesouth of the Loire but also asfar as Madrid and Naples. He gatheredtogether a group of willing workers: a handful of monks and canonsof the church of Saint-Augustin. Even more. of financing. Buyer took into his housenear the church of Saint-Nizier a typographer whose name was Gallicizedas Guillaume Le Roy and who camefrom around Lidgeand was fleeing unrest in that city. His plan was simple: to introduce on the French market translationsof the illustrated editions that had proved so successfulin the cities of southern Germany. Thus the absenceof intens€intellectual activity did not keep Lyons from becoming one of the major centers of publishing in Europe toward the end of the fifteenth century. {. then Amsterdam's and.who translatedpious or moralizing texts.Tne RBrcNor rnr Boor 2)7 flow into the city.Henceforththose who produced and sold books were to face problems of price-cost price and sale price-of optimal production figures. Let us take cost price first. Commercial routes were opening in all directions. capitals of culture and religion-long dominated the Europeanmarket. and variable . The book becamea product made in quantity and subject to the laws of the marketplace.and to carve a place for himself in the international market by publishing the most often used collections of texts on Roman and canon law. And when activity in the Mediterranean area died down. finally. He soon establisheda foothold in the Italian market and showed the redoubtableVenetianssome competition. and Marcus Reinhart from Strasbourg. it was Antwerp's turn. tr"ondon's. Next he opened a warehousein Toulouse and set off on the road to Spain. the book was to be produced and sold in large part in the greatmerchant cities. Nicolas Philippe from Darmstadt.but Lyons did not yet possessa solid industry. most of whom had studied in ftaly.the presenceof a number of pressesand the wealth of the Lyons bourgeoisieencouragedthe flowering of an original literary movement. and of distribution. Henceforth.nearly all of them situatednear river or seaports. during the height of the French Renaissance.

and.Books of erudition and theology long continued to be printed in around 800 copies.500 copiesfor ordinary books and 3. amortization on equipment.800 copiesin Franceof the classicalperiod. catechisms.In that age it was relative easyto lower fixed coststo a negligiblelevel and still keep pressrunslow.paper-were typically high in cost in comparisonwith manpower. school texts were also printed in impressivepressruns in eighteenth-century England. and wear and tear on the equipment-plus the cost of paper or board bindings. Printers.000 copiesin London during the seventeenthcentury. In Englandthe agreementsarrived at in 1587 between the members of the Stationers' Company and the compositors establishedthe maximum figure for a pressrunat 1. the cost of the actual printing.7Publicationssubsidizedby the author could of coursebe published in editions of only a few hundred copies.200to 1. although the customeroften bought a copy of a work unbound. Although these norms were raised in 1637. In artisanalbook production. pressrunsseemsnot to have been much higher than 2. The persistenceof relatively small pressruns(exceptionalcasesaside) is largely explained by the booksellers' interest in not immobilizing their capital in an age in which the price of paper and bookbinding (when required) made up the greaterpart of the printer's expensesbut expensesfor .00Ofor schoolbooks.whereasin our own day the necessaryexpensesfor photo-reproduction and illustrations and for setting up sophisticatedmachinery tend to make fixed costsconsiderablyhigher than variable costs. the principal fixed-cost items were general expenses(work-spacerental.Variablecostswere largely determined by the price of paper and ink.Finally.2)8 Cneprrn Srx costs. Editions were limited to 300 or 400 copies in the still unorganized market of the l47Os.and grammars. This meant that variable costsremained high in relation to fixed costs. press start-up costs.illustrations.nonethelesshad to put out relatively large editions if their priceswere going to be low enough to be competitive. who were still competing with manuscript copyists. and almanacswere updated yearly and printed in enormousquantities: 72. etc.and the pressrunof church books was quite naturally proportional to the numbersof the clergyfor whom suchworks were destined.which are proportional to volume.but books of current interestnormally reachededitions of 1.6 In the artisanalindustriesraw materials-in this case.OOO for Collombat'sAlmanachdeIa cour in 1725. the demand for books of hours was so great that they often were printed in several thousand copies.). but they soon rose to 600 copies. composition and correction costs. in somecases.

which createda need for patrons in the early stagesof printing and later led to the role of merchant booksellerswho investedtheir own monev and operatedmuch like a publisher today. Characters were more costly. setting up a printshop was not overly costly.000 to 200. reprinting the work when necessaryparticularly when the earlier edition could be reproducedpage by page.This was alreadytrue of Fust. and a presspracticaily never wore out.roeuite soon. and elsewherein the 1480s. The pressingscrewrepresentedthe only notable expense. In Germany leading merchants organized fheir own printshops at an even earlier date. Anton knew all the humanists of southern Gerrrany. Cologne.8 Although the publication of a book representedan important investment.500 copies. He had relations with a number of cities and owned book depositsin Lyons and in Paris. when a font wore out it was possibleto use the metal in the alloys for castingnew ones.Thus the cost of even a well-equipped printshop was decidedly lower than the sefup cost for a well-stockedbookshop. The largest printer of the age was Anton Koberger of Nuremberg. Augsburg. It was better businesspractice simply to take care that the remaining stock did not run out. some of whom were goldsmiths. these great enftepreneursfound it difficult to keep their pressesworking regularly. Leipzig. whose family. Thus the most common devotional works were reprinted periodically in the 1770sand 1780sin specialized printshops in Lorraine or Normandy in editions of 750 to 1. Typographers used fonts of reduced size-I00. and even had to make correctionsas they printed so they could reusethe samesorts.Frankfurt. and it was also true of peter Drach. Financial backing was necessarybefore a book could be published. Olomouc. were wealthy bakers who had joined the patriciate. Brno. He even set up a systemfor providing running water to his workshops so that his workers could dampen the printing paper and clean their forms.000 srts-which means that they were forced to reduce to a minimum the time they spent on correctingproofs. Prague.Diirer's godfather. a patrician from Speyerwho seemsto have had a particular\ large printshop with outlets in Strasbourg.Tnn Rercu or rnr Boor 2'9 composition and printing were relatively low. however. They jobbed out some print orders to other typographers:Koberger used the servicesof Amerbach in Basel in this fashion and those of cer- . if not line by line. Seasonedlumber to make a presswas in ready supply..especiallywhen it came to be made of metal rather than wood.Still. and at times he had more than one hundred personsworking in the group of firms he owned.

so they could make use of a limited number of sitesto exchange not only items on their own lists but also their fellow citizens' books. and copieswere sent unbound. book after book.as we know them today. The greatestadvantageof this distribution systemwas its speed.and it becameof the essenceto set up someform of cooperationamong booksellersto enablethem to distribute their publications swiftly and at the least cost to placessome distance away.for the most part. sometimeswith other commodities. in barrels. and shipmentsmight easily arrive damp and partially spoiled. In this manner.and although in principle accountshad fixed deadlines. Finally. in a variety of formats and a large number of editions that printers there and elsewherereprinted immediately.were nonexistent. which was less expensive.Sheetswere stackedand shipped in bales and bound books were shipped.240 CseprnnSrx tain Lyons printshops to whom he supplied woodcuts and perhaps even characters. When calm returned. which meant they weighed lessand could be bound in the style that prevailedin the place of arrival or accordingto the buyer'spreference.but at times carterswho specializedin book-hauling were used. in an age when couriers were relatively scarceand slow and bank transfers.rl .which lastedwell into the eighteenth century required long and painstaking verification.When an agreementwas reached the account was paid off by a bill of exchange. The addresseesfrequently complained that they had been shipped unsalable works. they were always in arrears.and the major printers and booksellersused such occasionsas an opportunity to engagein speculative operations that have left traces in the documents only when the results were catastrophic. and the Wittenberg typographerswere turning out the translation of the Bible that Luther produced. the businessmenof one city could band together to have an efficient systemfor distributing all their products. the market organized. Shipments were usually made as soon as books were printed.The market was feverish.This is particularly evident in the period of the Reformation. When possiblethese bundles and barrels were shipped by water. the German market long continued to be dominated by the great pdnter-booksellers. The booksellerscoped with these difficulties by large-scalebarter. Unlike the French market. They aII had offlcial correspondentswith whom they had particularly closeconnections.Theseshipping methods. the l0 to 25 percent discountsthat the publisher granted (and which varied according to the payment terms and the house'sconfidencein the bookseller)led to long negotiations.

the major names were Vincent. bookseller-printers usually remained people of modestwealth and position. In the late seventeenthcentury this prompted the Parisianpublisherswho specializedin new works to form the compagnie du Palais.Similarly. Amsterdam or London-the most powerfrrl booksellersconstituted a sort of origarchy. It was a systemdependenton a world of literati and settledecclesiastics who shared .which served as a model for their competition in Amsterdam. at a later date. Thanks to his many joint ventures. bookbinders often received unbound books in exchange for the books they had bound.s imprint. like the successivelarge companiesof bookseller-printersin Lyonswho publishedimportant works in civil and canon law. Finally. This system to encouragelong-distanceexchangesaimed above all at guaranteeingthe widest possibledistribution to everyone'slist.In the largest centers-Venice. or." a name derived both from the Latin verb congere(to act in concert) and from the eel. Later. had a hand in roughly one-fifth of all books published in paris during the first third of the sixteenth century. the power structurefavored the establishmentof paris companies. each taking his share of the copies and each lot bearing its ovyn title page and publisher.however. in this small world in which unity guaranteed strength. Jean Petit. but there were also stablesocietiesspecializing in putting out a specific type of book. and nearly all of them owned an assortrnentof books that they offered to private customers. La Porte. and Gabiano. the major bookseller-printersof London formed a particularly dynamic association that controlled a large part of the British market and that was called "The Conger. Thesesuccessstorieswere the exception. and they often servedas magistratesof their cities.In RenaissanceLyons. Paris. and Lyons. in 16g0.Tnn Rrrcu or rnE Boor 24t Such methods helped shapethe way the book trade was organized.At times they even operated as bookseller-printersthemselves. during the counter-Reformation.which enjoyedexorbitant monopolies. Later Horace cardon in Lyons and S€bastiencramoisy in Paris dominated the publishing world of their day. there was no rigorous division of labor. such men accumulated considerablefortunes. Each one of these societieshad its leaders. the son of a wealthy butcher. Moreover. known for devouring smaller fry. Thus a number of ephemeralassociationsoccurred.Most of them formed the habit of combining forcesto publish an unusually large work. and even when they were involved in large-scalebusiness dealings. The master printers were often paid in kind for their work and reinvestedtheir proflts in editions that they put out themselves. where booksellersgrouped together in the sameway.

the doge. he re- . but rather in Venice. a type designerof genius." Renaissanceprinces of an ephemeral realm. so that Aldus owned only one-tenth of the firm that was to bear his name. less cumbersome "units of production" closerto the works' creatorsmoved to the forefront. When the systemwas put to the serviceof the Catholic Church. The doge's nephew provided half the necessaryfunds and Torresanifour-fifths of the rest. Leonardo and Alberto Pio of Carpi. * When it iame time to rethink forms or texts and when a moral or intellectual crisisprompted a strong demand for innovative or contentiousworks. The great bookseller-printers who concentrated on distribution such as JeanPetit or SdbastienCramoisy (or such as Louis Hachetteat a later date) could afford to publish new works only if they confirmed an established success. It was a conservative system.t2Manutius was born in 1451. whose works Marsilio Ficino had just translatedin Florence. For several decadesthe literati of the Italian peninsula had sat at the feet of Byzantine refugeesand had learned to veneratePlato. such men usually jobbed out print work and hardly ever introduced typographic innovations.It seemeda natural move to use the press to awaken minds and to exploit what appearedto be a potential market in order to help ideas crystallizemore rapidly. more supple.and he first pursueda long careeras a man of lettersand a pedagogue. With the aid of FrancescoGriffo. Then new. The most illustrious of theseinnovating printers were the ones who are usually called "humanist printers. that prince of universal learning.What is more. Aldus and his friend Pico both dreamed of a renewal of Italian societythrough contact with Greek thought. Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius) was one of these. this system seemedunwieldy.242 Cnnprnn Srx a common learned language-Latin-and participated in a common culture.A fervent Hellenist and a friend of Pico della Mirandola. and the printer beganto take a leadershiprole. and of Andrea Torresani. it made it possibleto launch "great enterprises"-large pressrunsof works in multiple volumes-without incurring too much risk.an important printer-booksellerwho specializedin traditional works. the metropolis of printing and the focal point of the book market. In this aim Aldus choseto settlenot in Florencenear the PlatonicAcademy and under the protection of the Medicis. With more ideas than money and with the support of the princes of Carpi he managed to win the aid of the nephew of Agostino Barbarigo.reflecting an economic equilibrium and a political stability. and preceptor to his nephews.

and devotionalbooks inspired by the devotiomoderna. the treasurerof the king of Francefor the conqueredterritory of Milan. and on occasion he was away from his press for months at a time.. There were other humanist printers who.but later he worked inaeasingly on his own. Bade moved on to paris to seek his fortune.Tnr Rrrcn or lnr Boo< 243 cast the aestheticsof roman charactersand succeededin the delicatetask of creating type for a Greek alphabet with accentsand breathings. and he acted as a sort of . taking as his model the handwriting of Niccold de'Niccoli and the style of papal briefs. When Bade the humanist also becamea master printer he published a number of works: short texts in good Latin for use in schools.He made Andrea Torresania wealthy man. he createditalic characters. when he was over flfty Manutius married Torresani'sdaughter and belatedly founded a line of famous printers. and between 1494 and l5l5 his four to six pressesproduced ll7 editions. like Aldus Manutius. he used italics to increasethe readability of both the Latin classicsand contemporaryworks in Latin that he published in portable editions.'3A Fleming and a former student of the Brethren of the Common Life and of the University of Louvain. but. He produced thirty princepseditions of Greek authors with this type font. whose daughter he later married. and there Jean Petit hired him to edit and correct texts and later helped him to found his own printshop.and. Already known for his fine epistolary style. and presentedLatin works in editionsfor cursivereading. Bade had stoppedin Lyons on his return from the classictrip to ltaly. More important. Finally. His home becamea gathering place for French and foreign scholarsfrom tefdvre d'Etaples and Guillaume Bud€to BeatusRhenanusand Erasmus . In Lyons he learnedtypography and the correction of Latin texts. with a privilege granted by the senate of venice for this invention. representing 130 volumes or a total of at least 120. for he dreamed of gathering Italian men of letters into one academyand of restoring ltaly to its ancient glory through the cult of dassicalletters. he introduced Italian-style gilded bindings into France.editions of the classics. for the printer Jean Trechsel. got their start with the help of the owners of traditional enterprises. Manutius was a creator of fashions: protected by patrons like Jean Grolier.one such was JosseBade. producing 750 editionsbetween l50j and 1535. Aldus acted more like a literary editor-publisher than a typographer.000 books.literary editor..Aldus himself was a miser who offered his guestsmiserable fare when they were invited to dinner.At the start he often worked for petit or in associationwith him or with other booksellers. according to Erasmus. Aristotle among them.

the small teams of the artisanal age seem to have accomplished an enormous amount of work. In comparison with the bookseller. This was the case when the humanist printers engendered the modern book. All of Holland had no more than some 150 presses in 1671. and the correspondence that they maintained made this small world a singularly homogeneous and mutually dependent society in which the ruin of one involved the ruin of others. Never for example did the humanist printers seem to have available more than from four to six presses (with the exception of Christophe Plantin. "Bad risks" became'notably more numerous. In 1764. and there were only twenty-nine presses in all of Leiden.'a * The barter system and the solidarities it entailed.Bonaventura Elzevier had only four pressesin Leiden in 1651. a rather special case). a figure that amounts to a pressing every ten or fifteen seconds! 15Even if we accept these flgures as theoretical (they appear in all the literature on the subject). which means that the workers switched from one task to another. In the finest hours of Calvinist propaganda. particularly in towns and smaller cities. however. Geneva counted only slightly more than twenty printshops with a total of thirty-four presses. which figured as a great European center. the master printer often appeared as an innovator. They worked under extraordinary pressure fourteen hours a day to print from two thousand to three thousand sheets. Work within the printshop required an even tighter solidarity. Printers seem to have worked as a team. it became customary to take each worker who finished a task and put him to work on whatever was most urgent. however. whose chief concern was to service a traditional market. Paris in 1643-44 had only I83.Cnaprrn Srx (whom he eventually accused of being an advance scout for Luther and with whom he had a falling out). when other modes of payment became commonplace and clandestine works began to represent a larger part of the book trade. and it was to be the case whenever the need arose to circulate books of a revolutionary nature. with compositors assigned to specific presses. at the . Soon. the typographer was always in advance of the bookseller. the booksellers' incessant travel. the climate began to change. When it came to clandestine literature. divided among 76 printshops employing a total of 237 journeymen and 94 apprentices. In the eighteenth century. and the great "publishers" of the Reformation and the Enlightenment were nearly always first and foremost masters of printshops.

he and his comradesmight abandon the shop for severaldays. During his apprenticeship. French provincial cities had 274 printshops. and he might have attended the first years of a collige. they were among the first to enroll during the wars of Religion or the conflicts of the Fronde.Great girl-chasers.As long as the possibility existed. At least in the eighteenthcentury each masterprinter had at his side a prote. The instability of their professionencouragedthem to play the adventurer.Tnr Rnrcwor rns Boor 24i height of the Enlightenment. while paris in l77O had 40 printshops and 389 pressesworked by fewer than a thousand masters and typographers. Traditionally extremely politicized. who were fond of sunshine.and somewhat more than 900 workers.rTFrench journeymen. and in the sixteenth century they demanded the right to bear a sword as a way of showing that they were not involved in "mechanical" labor. The aspiringprinter had probably learned to read and write in a parish school. the son of someonein the printing trade.The greaterpart of the work was done by temporary personnel. perhapseven Greek-indispensable skills for becoming a masterprinter in France after the late seventeenthcentury.then return to finish the job by working straight through. Sundaysand holidays included. where he learned a specializedvocabulary and won a gradual initiation into the trade.Restif de la Bretonr.re. stopping in a city for a few days or severalmonths as the opportunity arose.in which casehe would know a little Latin.l6 a The major problem for everyone was the irregularity of the work load. When he in turn becamea journeyman. but he might also be from a large family of minor notables. a foreman on whom everything depended.the more enterprising:rmongthem attemptedto set up a printshop of their own at the first chancethey had. 697 presses. was the son of a tax-collectorfor a local lord. which required suddenreductionsor increasesin personnelfrom one season to another.for example. Printers were proud of their skills.The journeyman or hired printer was often an enfantde la balle.he would have been the drudge and the whipping boy of the shop. punctuated by gifts he was expectedto make and drinking bouts he was expectedto pay for.usually headedfor the Midi. and once their apprenticeshiphad ended most of them ernbarkedon a "tour of France" or an itinerant life elsewherethat might continue for a good part of their lives.he might also have had a small number of permanent compagnons en conscience who worked on statedtasks. usually in a small city that did not yet have a press.they courted the burghers' daugh- .

a hired apprenticeemployed by the aging printer JacquesVincent. whose specialpet.Cneprrn Srx ters (on occasion. and performed somethinglike a verbal gang rape of his flighty wife. and laid the groundwork for subversive propagandanetworks.was an atmospherefaithfully renderedin NicolasContat'sAnecdotes typographiques. and they waited impatiently for the letter from a masterrequiring their serviceswho would send them money for the "voyage" that would take them-not necessarilyin all haste-to a new place of employment. They had no compunction about breaking a contract if something more advantageousturned up along the way. had his nervesset on edgeby cats (somethe pets of the printers and their wives) who howled all night long under his loft window." they often found lodgings where another printer had moved on. and at times they abandoned the shop simply for the pleasureof "scouring the countryside. The result. in the neighborhood of the Montagne Sainte-Genevidve. La Grise.The hired apprentices. Vincent'swife.as are the many polemical pamphlets of the seventeenthcentury.was particularly upsetby thesecarryings-on.who rose before dawn.their wives." Thesehabits createda small. after rising at a late hour. . The situation seemsto have become increasinglytensein Parisin the eighteenthcentury however. which Giles Barber has edited and Robert Darnton has studied. had disappeared. The documentsconcerning strikes in the sixteenth century are alreadyproof of these.where printshops crowded together. There could be acute underlying tensions between the master and his family and the journeymen. and they hated evenmore the masterprinter who often lived in or near the printshop with his family and. and the typographers who soon joined them often detestedthe prote. One fine day the workers slaughteredthe cats and set up a mock court to try them in the courtyard of the house.the foreman under whose direction they worked. Often they restrictedtheir wanderingsto one region.'8 Contat. would unfailingly beratethem. where they becamewell known.and Robert Darnton shows how the workers ridiculed their master. whose marital problemswere known to all. and especiallytheir widows). In constant correspondencewith one another and careful to call a colleague "Monsieur. coherentmilieu. particularly when master printers attemptedto eliminate the traditional systemof apprenticesand journeymen (who appearedto the mastersas future rivals) and replace them with simple hired help that did not aspire to become masters.

cerN EuRopE By 1500 printing had conqueredits space:a vast area of WesternEurope stretchingeastto Stockholm. Danzig. in principle. which were divided into a number of small stateswith a decentralized economy. nothing could replacedirect contact.'e In 1555. Although information is scanty concerning the place of booksellersin the Lyons fairs. the Frankfurt fairs.settle accountswith the firm's correspondents. usually a father and a son who traveled to visit the booksellers. Every flrm of any importance was run by two partners. especiallywhen any printer could reprint the publications of another printer (who of coursemight reply in kind). booksellersin Gerrnan lands. often run by Germans.or settlea debt through a bill of exchange. when peacereturned after thirty yearsof religiouswar. Every day the major firms that dominated the market wrote to their correspondentsnear and far to acknowledge the receipt of a shipment. Hencethe importance of fairs. Still. northem Italy. propose a discount. The Low Countries. enter an urgent order for volumes wanted by a client. on occasionindicating the price of eachwork.far out- . demand extra sheets.but the conquest of Eastem Europe had barely begun. For a long time. we are well informed concerning Frankfurt and Leipzig at a somewhat later date. From the fifteenth to the seventeenthcenturies the major part of the businessof the leading booksellersstill was in learned works written in Latin destinedfor the librariesof men of lettersand ecclesiastics in all countries. Even that was not enough when it came to drawing up the list of new publicationsand reprints. Bohemia. and novelsin French or Flemish. England was still an export market for French and Flemish booksellersand printers.It took more than a century before printers had established modestprintshopsin smallercitiesthat producedworks of regional or local interest and that functioned as distribution points for the larger centers. Central and southern Germany. and Hungary. felt the need to coordinate their efforts and reorganize their market. and southeast France were well dotted with printing establishments. were open to all confessions. the typographic map of Europe was barely sketchedin. the pressesof the Iberian peninsula.and look over the market. furnished only a regional clientelewith schooltexts. which were already quite active.The publishers of new books-the humanist printers in particular-soon beganto publish cataloguesof their offerings.also did little but supplementlists of books produced elsewhere. which made a specialty of Latin works and. Still. devotionalworks.Tur Rrrcu or rnr Boor 247 Tnr OncANrzATroN oF Sprq.

After the Council of Trent there was a concertedeffort within the church to revisethe Vulgate. offer a reinvigorated theology and an adequatecatechism. had the idea of making up a catalogueof all the works offered for saleat the Frankfurt fair. What exactly do thesecatalogues reveal? First. the twenty-five thousand or so titles with a German imprint and the twenty thousand other titles of foreign provenancegive somenotion of the scaleof the international book trade.Georg Willer. Each had publications that he exchanged with others.post the tablesof contentsof their new publications. Hence there was a particularly fruitful cornmerceamong Catholics that rejectedthe Protestantsas outsidersand reduced them to the role (a profitable role. which itself was revised on three occasions. Each of the booksellersof the Iargestcities published his own list of the most sought-after works. All this helps us to understandthe mechanismof exchangeswithin Europe. they met regularly in the Biicherstrasse-Book Street-to unpack their volumes. Frankfurt thus becamethe place where the greatreligious and scholarly publicationswere "launched. the barter processleading them to accept the specialtiesof their trading partners. and for fifty years or more Frankfurt was the meeting-placefor representativesfrom of all the greatpublishing centersof Europe. distributing both their own editions and those of their conespon- . adapt local liturgies to the Roman rite.and circulate lists of works they were offering for sale or were interestedin acquiring. finally. as it turned out) of challengers. provide a wide variety of commentarieson Scripture.provide accurateeditions of the works of the Fathersof the church and of the decisionsof the older councils. and his idea was picked up by the organizersand was continued until the eighteenthcentury.they confirm that the church of the Counter-Reformationplayed an essentialrole in publishing in an agein which territories that had remained Catholic were becoming dotted with schools and convents. they show tJ.authors and men of lettersseekingemploymentwent from one booksellerto another to offer their services.I shall have occasion to return to the subject.from London and Antwerp to Lisbon.Cnepren Srx stripped the Leipzig fairs. Amid the din of hawkers selling almanacsor pamphlets.From Naplesto Amsterdam." In 1564 abooksellerfrom Augsburg.e astonishing prosperity of European publishing on the eve of the Thirty YearsWar. This encouragedbooksellersto operate as wholesalers.and. Until about 1625 theserepertories servedas a bibliography of the current offeringsof all Europeanpublishers. Second.

Still. like Japan in today's world.while their counterpartsin Lyons dominated the regions south of the Loire. Cologne-with Frankfurt-was the center for the distribution for Catholic publications in the Rhineland. their survival dependedupon their ability to export.2o The printing and selling of books were nonethelesssubjectto the laws governing the general evolution of the European economy. Antwerp and its sister cities in the Low Countriesmade a sweepingentry onto the scene. Soon. Parisexported its books from Rouen (and often those published in Lyons as well) to the lands of northern Europe. Once they were free from the yoke of Spain. Similarly. to the entire Spanish empire." Parisprinters organizednetworks in northern France. The history of printing in Holland is characteristicfrom this point of view. while Genevawas keeping a closeeye on the decline of Lyons. and they were well placedto act as intermediariesbetween Franceand German lands. Lyons maintained solid relations with Italy and the Iberian peninsula through TouIouse and Nantes. Venice and the Italian cities still made a good showing. As in other domains.a beadle in the newly founded University of Leiden who accumulated a stock of books by buying up the libraries of deceasedprofessors . but. During the entire artisanal period.Despitethesehandicapsthey used all their advantages to carve out a place for themselvesin the intemational market. Antwerp held the keys to the SpanishLow Countries and.Tnr Rrrcn or rnr Boox 249 dents among the retail booksellersof the region or the country that was their particular "territory. and in the late sixteenth century Venice remained the largest exporter at the Frankfurt market. however.Just as the Italian textile industry was collapsing in face of competition from the Low Countries. and behind the ultraCatholicAntwerp the silhouettesof the Protestantcitiesof Leiden and Amsterdam (and later London) were looming.From time to time they created well-equipped printshops. they did not draw on the hinterland neededto give a solid baseto their prosperity. Economically they were power{ul and dynamic.the Calvinist citizensof the United Provincescould neither enter into Catholic circuits nor count too much on their Lutheran neighborsin Germany. and Leipzig already dominated trade with Eastern Europe. Venice was mistressof the trade in Italy (despite competition from Lyons) and had closecontactswith Austria and southern Germany. Italian publishing bowed to their superior strength. publishersin the Low Countriesand French Switzerland enjoyed a very special situation. from the age of Plantin. Among their talents was the businesssensethat inspired the first of the Elzeviers.

Just asthe Counter-Reformationwas losing energy.But the Thirty YearsWar. The market was flooded with folio volumes. Paris and Lyons were in retreat. mastersof the nonreligiousbook. Analogous efforts were made in the Spanish Netherlandsand the . The booksellersof the largest centers. broke out in 1617. The Dutch dominated this singularly shrunken international market: Geneva attempted a revival. Still another was a talent for technologicalinvention. When either Catholic or Protestantprinces won a victory in a ravagedGermany they merrily pillaged the library that had been the pride of their vanquishedadversaryor they carried off its contents as spoils of war. format. to set up a printshop in Amsterdamwhose presseswere capableof perfect reproduction of the large copper plates of the atlaseshe published. but recessionspread throughout Europe. The time had come for national literaturesin a cultural Europe that was breaking apart.duodecimo-sizedvolumes and his seriesof "Republics" in a 24 mo. and when peacewas reestablishedin the Empire in 1648 the Venetiansno longer traveled to Frankfurt. and the great texts. a product of the excessesof the Counter-Reformation. formerly so eagerly sought. tiny volumes that are the ancestors of modern travel guides.Cnaprrn Srx and who procured ready cashby inventing book auctions. no longer found buyers.striving to ruin one another in an attempt to survive.the powerful Stationers' Company in London eliminated its Latin stock in 1625.who until then had cooperatedwith one another within the book trade. In England the booksellerAndrew Maunsell compiled t}:refirst Catalogueof EnglishPrintedBooksin 1595. as the Latin book no longer "paidJ As if symbolically. Italy closedin on itself. Outside Germany a somewhat artificial prosperity propped up by the Catholic Reformationfor a time continued to buck the current.Another advantage was the Protestants'superiority in philology. which enabled the Leiden professorsand their friends abroadto provide excellentcritical editions of ancient authors.In German lands that had long lain in ruins the Leipzig fairs organizedby Saxon booksellerswho specialized in vernacular publications gave the Frankfurt fairs increasing competition. penetratedthe Germanand Frenchmarkets. formerly a "mechanic" for the astronomer Tycho Brahe. embarked on a mercilesswar of pirated publications. which led Willem JanszoonBlaeu.the Dutch. and in FranceFatherJacobpublished a BibliographiaGallicanaand a BibliographiaParisinabetween 1643 and 1653. Blaeu also used a particularly black ink that made his press capableof printing clearly with nearly microscopiccharacters-hence his famous collection of classicalauthors in. if not shattering. It was a pyrrhic victory however.

2r .a genre that until that time had circulated primarily among the aristocracyand in the small world of the courts. It would be difficult to exaggeratethe importance of the role such booksellersplayed. . Although the major booksellers had rapidly broken down the barriers separatingthe various literary milieus to organize pan-European circuits for publicationsin Latin. f4SS-89).One such was the famous Shepherd's Calendar.someof which became veritable best-sellers.in reality simply a patchwork of passagesfrom works well known in their day. As a result. They often calledupon translatorsor adaptersfor the works they selected. formerly the head of a illumination workshop in Paris. conversely. As early as l47l-72 a group of printers in Augsburgand Ulm launched a seriesof books of religious instruction and moral edification. printers who had originally worked with the clienteleof their city or their region in mind beganto rent out or sell their woodcuts.:.When they chosean item out of the stock of manuscriptsin circulation they gave its text a survival that may have been unhoped for. which were reusedby colleaguesin other cities who adapted the texts that went with them to their own dialect or language.they condemnedother texts to oblivion.f494) and La mer da histoires(Paris:Le Rouge.and they were abundantly illustrated with pictures to clarify texts published in both Latin and the vernacular.For the most part theseworks were designedto reinforce the lessonsof the preachersamong the urban middle classes.Lyons:Dupr6.In turn the successof thesepublicationsmight be so great that still other booksellershad the iHustrationscopiedby a local artisan. Other booksellerswho were particularly prosperousor who had support from patrons published sumptuously illustrated chronicles.TnB Rrrcu or tnr Boox 251 United Provinces. and in this way many of these works were soon translatedand distributed throughout Europe. Some(Antoine V€rard. along with works of fiction at times of a humanist cast. the constitution of circuits for national literatures was the result of an extremely slow gestation.the most famous of which were the NurembergChronicle(Koberger.Thus a new deal was being preparedthat would totally revisethe rules of the gamefor the Europeanbook trade. or Colard Mansion in Bruges) began to illusftate these tales with engravingseither from their existing stock or with others made for the occasion. At the sametime booksellersbegan to produce a good many chivalric romances.The only way that the printers could meet the cost of engravingtheseillustrationswas to amortize them by massive reuse.1493.

however.gives a good idea of this new tendency. Robert Granjon.and women. illustrated by the official painter of Lyons. he signedup to work with S6bastienGryphe. Jean de Tourneswas born in 1504. Bernard Salomon.The grandsonof a notary and the son of a goldsmith. Not incidentally the new typeface was used for books of .a style that much resembles handwriting and was more readablefor people seekingan introduction to book reading. which they took it on themselvesto refine.and PernetteDu Guillet. De Tourneswas the offrcial publisher of poetsof the Lyons school-Maurice Scdve.2sScholarsand writers were alsoproducing large numbers of pedagogicalworks and books of neo-Latin poetry that gave them respectand celebrity in letteredcircles. This layout servedhim for the publication of two famous works.a humanist printer of the new generation. but also of Spanish and Italian works.22 During this time scholarswere attempting to revive and circulate the great works of classicaland Christian antiquity. particularly as authors werd gradually discoveringthe power of the press.LouiseLabb6. The history of JeanI de Tournes. Around 1530 Greek works as well as works in Latin becamethe fashion. After travels (though we do not know just where). thus making the image more prominent than the text. and it not only did much to popularizethesefamous texts but created an iconography that was copied ceaselessly. De Tournes asked Bernard Salomon's son-in-law. wealthy merchants. often with glosses.252 Cneprnn Srx The booksellers had little effect on the processof literary composition. to createcharactersfor him: the result was the typefaceknown as caractiresdecivilit1. In an effort to createa French typefacethat could rival roman letters. the Mdtamorphoses d'Ovidefigurdesand the Quadrinshistoriquesde la Bible. The enterprising large-scalebooksellersthen plunged into the national market by offering a kind of literature aimed at a fairly well-educatedlay public of government officials. As if in successivewaves. when the market was saturatedand somethingelsehad to be found.The moment came. the bookseller-printersfirst published the scholars' labors in large-sized editions. Claude Nourry in Lyons.IaunchedRabelais'Pantagruel. and it becamea centerfor the translation of Latin and Greek texts. The humanists recalledPetrarch'slessonon the eminent dignity of national languages.then in smaller portable editions in imitation of Aldus Manutius. however.2a He founded his own firm in Lyons (at roughly the same time that Dolet founded his). He followed the fashion of placing an illustration in the centerof the pageof a small-formatwork. who until that point had been content to exhume and modernize traditional tales.

the Betbuchlein.which appeared next. had an equal success:there were a total of 410 editions of itbetween 1522 and 1546. and caricatures. it was used for centuriesin the elementaryschoolsof northern Franceand Flandersto help children learn to write who already knew how to read. at least for a time.and Leipzig. Almost immediately the first modern press campaignswere unleashed throughout Germany in a flood of competing posters. an Augustinian monk.T n s R n r c No r r n r B o o x 25J religious propaganda. however.As if smitten by fever. and his adversaries.Although this script did not eliminate roman letters.his partisans. book by book. it went through fourteen reprintings in that samecity in the following two years.That it was not the first translation of the Bible mattered little: printed by Melchior Lotter in Wittenberg on three pressesworking simultaneously. the pressesproduced vastly increasednumbers of books in Low German.Such works encouragedforms of reading aloud in which . and some works. and in an earlier age over-equippedto supply the greaterpart of the European market.or "Appeal To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation" for one. Strasbourg. Overall it had eighty-seveneditions in High German and nineteen in Low German.Such works alone accountedfor perhapsone-third of German publications in the years between 1518 and 1523.Basel. the motherland of printing.Its successcontinued unabated: In WittenbergHans Lufft was responsiblefor producing thirty-six editions of the Old Testamentfrom 1546 to 1580. bore the full brunt of the first modern meansof masscommunication. pamphlets. went through tens of reprints and reacheda total of perhaps fifty thousand copies. The demand for books was so great that the printshops of every city worked in all hasteto satisfy a local or regional public visited by peddlersin the surrounding villages and rural areas. Germany.It was Luther's translation of the Bible. * In l5l7 Martin Luther. They functioned at top capacity to distribute far and wide the works of the Reformer. Of coursethe Reformationhad quite other origins.the New Testamentappearedin September 1522. so that Jean Crell was hardly exaggeratingwhen he stated that Lufft alone distributed one hundred thousand copiesof biblical texts between 1534 and 1574. posted his propositions against indulgences on the doors of the chapel of the Augustinians in Wittenberg. The Old Testament.that was the mainstay of the press.a land with a high literacy rate for the period.and it was reprinted sixty-six times in Augsburg.2' We are talking about massivecirculation figures that pushed asidethe publishing of learned works.

27Let me simply statethat. This favored a fragmented market that encouraged particularism. At the sametime a cleavageopenedbetween regionswon over to Lutheranism (or Calvinism) and southern lands that had remained faithful to the Roman Church and that would be inundated with a massliterature of their own during the Catholic revival.local and regional circuits grew up that were closerto the wants of the population. The Most Catholic king tolerated the printing of heretical books aimed at "infecting" the kingdom of his Most Christian "brother" on the condition that they not be distributed in his own kingdom. Lutheran writings arrived in Paristhrough Basel. One can easilyseewhy French refugeessoon dreamedof a "haven" where they could be sole mastersof their actsbeyond the reach of all police forces. The competition among certain booksellerswho attemptedto use clandestinenetworks to crystallize opinion is beyond the scopeof this volume.On 4 November 1530 one .first in Strasbourgfrom where Latin editions of Lutheran pamphlets were dispatched throughout France. The works gained in prestigefrom the mere fact of being printed. followed a policy often practiced even in our own day.no amount of repressioncould stifle the book and the messagesthat it was its function to transmit.The booksellers of Basel responded by organizing barely clandestinerelay stations that passedbooks from Lyons to Chalon-sur-Sa0neand from Paris to Nantes. another center of distribution. In this way a vast public beganto have accessto the book in Reformation Germany. a The Reformationin Francedid not result in this sort of division. At the sametime the first basesfor an underground struggleappearedoutsideFrance. as in so many other cases.254 Cnaprrn Srx thosewho could deciphera text would read to their family or to a circle of illiterate friends. so that publishing successstorieswere defined by a high number of editions.26We also need to keep in mind that the typographers of the artisanal age had little interest in producing large pressrunsat one time. Outside the learned circuits that connectedscholars. Antwerp. printing gave them something like a palpable existenceand an implicit verity. a situation that reinforced some forms of a taste for reading but weakenedliterary creationin the national language.and they were immediately condemnedby the Faculty of Theologyand the Parlement. In sixteenth-centuryGermany the Word of God gained in prestige as it was offered in severalmillion volumes: reading was like a revelation hitherto known only in restricted circles which had transmitted no more than glimpsesof it in sermonsand readingsduring the Mass.

however: the Genevaprinters also published the works of heterodox Italians and.and had printed heretical works in Genevaunder precariousconditions. He was soon joined by one of his old associates.In spite of all the laws and all the efforts of the royal police. His activities still remain something of a mystery and he seemsto have had printed in Genevathe samebooks that he published under his imprint in I-yons. Be that as it may. and they establishedprivileged relations with their coreligionistsin Holland.rmeto be a greatpublishing center.Large numbers of typographersand booksellersfrom Lyons took refuge there when the Catholic party won out in their city or. the son of.Conrad Bade. Calvin made his entry into the city and instituted a government of theocratic tendencies.where he chasedout the priests. they specializedin works on medicine and the law.among them a number of peoplefrom the book trades. Support networks grew up among printers and booksellerswho more or less openly supported their cause. This modest handbill was distributed throughout Paris. Antoine Vincent. Some forty pressesfunctioned in ProtestantGeneva.a protefrom Lyons who had worked for ClaudeNourry had been a peddlerin Haute-Provence. This was how Genevac. They figured prominently at the Frankfurt fairs. peddlers who at times paid with their lives regularly provided French Protestantswith the books they neededto nourish their faith. they contributed greatly to furnishing books over a territory that stretched from the Spanish Franche-Comt€to the French Dauphin6 and reached into Huguenot Languedoc.Guillaume Farel.Vingle printed a translation of the Bible by Pierre-RobertOlivdtan. Finally in safety. That market did not suffice.The city. headed this movement.A great bookseller. however.This was how the famors affairedesplacardscameto be vwitten into history to provide an example of the cyclesof provocation and repressionthat are all too familiar even today. arrived in 1549.Eleven months later.and abolishedthe Catholic cult.soon receiveda throng of refugees.most of them working to turn out works of religious propaganda.JosseBade's son. when work orders lagged. like the printers in Lyons. He used the sametype font. on l0 August 1535. When the nature of the book trade obliged them to become wholesalers.where it set off an unprecedentedrepression. and no less a personagethan Robert Estienne in 1550.Pierre de Vingle. enteredNeuchAtel.The revocation of the Edict of Nantescut into . Once peacewas restoredthe Genevansheadeda network that furnished books to the French Protestantcommunities. to print a small poster denouncing the horrors of the Mass. which at the time had only a few presses. the Mass was abolished in Geneva. more simply.T n r R n r c No r r n n B o o r 255 of their leaders.

an author's membership in a religious order or an organizedreligious current were all aids to success.whose hour had not yet come.Italy. which was undergoing an economic downturn. and South America often owned volumes that originated in Geneva printshops from firms that had printed a large number of heretical books and would soon contribute to the circulation of Voltaire'sworks.but it was also a century of theological conflict and the century of French classicism.which meant that booksellersneededto offer the public the largest possiblechoice of books at the lowest possibleprice. Portugal.256 Cneptrn Srx their business.It was also possibleto run a "test" on a poet whose verse was beginning to find a hearing in fashionablecirclesby inserting some of his or her poems into one of the collective publications that took the place of . or Methodeais€e. In the era of the Dlscourseon Method(1637). This meansthat modern vernacularliteraturesdevelopedin societiesthat were closing in on themselves.In our own daysan ambassadorof the SwissConfederationwho is also a learned bibliographer has demonstratedthat the ecclesiasticallibraries of Spain.Like latter-day publishers. and England.The seventeenthcentury in France was the century of the saints.It also prompted new ways in which national circuits occupied the territory-a teritory that in turn subdivided and split into regional areas.the reputation of a confessor. it was no coincidencethat many published titles included phraseslike Abrdgd.2e This totally upset the rules of the publishing game.it marked the end of the euphoria of the Renaissance. a ravagedGermany.28 * The crisisfrom 1630 to 1660 divided the history of the artisanalbook into two quite different phases.but they achievedan astonishing comeback.France dominated the publishing world over Spain. The prestigeof a preacher.Moyencourt.Coming as it did at the moment when Europe was passingfrom expansionto recession. which never had the pressesthat its writers deserved. the booksellersof the time had ways to evaluatethe market.Europe was tipping toward recession.The market needednew ideas.whether they came from the devotional and liturgical books that made up the bulk of the printers' business or from secular literature. they becamespecialistsin Catholic theology and took over the Iberian market and its American dependencies.Taking over from the last great publishers of the Counter-Reformationin Lyons and shamelesslyputting a Lyons imprint (or that of some other more fantastic place) on their publications.

and pens." In that age they were Corneille. and Boileau. and was named third consulof the city. Even at that early date publishersneeded"big names. Racine. however.Now and then he produced works of local interest and books written by local authors. Geneva.and dog and deer hides. The greatestdrawing cards." These somewhat specializedworks failed to balance his accounts.This trade was interrupted by the Fronde.Francis de Sales.however. As treasurer general of the duc de Lesdiguidre.He and a colleague from Grenoble regularly provided the regional market with small duodecimo editions printed in pressrunsof about one thousand copiesof lit- . He handled military suppliesas well. JeanPiot. Let us move to Grenobleon the eve of the Fronde to understand how book pirating worked.3' Jean II Nicolas. No great profits ensued. Still.Le Moyne. another a life of Bayard. and Lyons. one a life of Lesdiguidres. so he neededsomethingto offer his correspondents. which relayed new books from Paris as well as furnishing its own publications. bookselling remained his principal actMty. La Fontaine. who sent him pirated editions of popular theatrical works. and Nicolas did not return to it. were religious: Louis of Grenada. he figured as a notable.but he also sold paper. so he tried exporting other products of the region such as paper from Dauphin6 mills.and Voiture. Works that bore their namesmoved fast at any price.who rose to be Constableof France. and Le Nobletz. whose troupe toured the region.ro Such authors' works were immediately and widely pirated. parchment.the governor of the city pf Grenoble. Similarly crowds flocking to seea new play attracted attention to its author.the heroic "Chevalier sanspeur et sansreproche.All in all. The only solution to his problem lay in printing pirated editions. Like all other booksellers. but in that frontier region he managed to sell only one cannon. Madeleine de Scuddry Guez de Balzac.the son of a Protestantpeddler from Oisans.which sent him Protestantworks for the large Calvinist community in Grenoble and its environs.was a bookseller. to the detriment of the original publisher and the author. he also establisheda correspondencewith a booksellerin Avignon. He knew Molidre.Nicolasoperatedby barter. Soon. His stock came from two centers.and the booksellersof the time already knew-and clearly explained-that only one out of ten of the works that they published had any chanceof selling really well. Still there were no guaranteesof success. After 1660 they were Molidre.Nicolas dabbled in banking. enabling them to make up the lossesthey sustainedon other books.Tnr Rnrcn or rnn Boor 257 our literary reviews. gloves. even in usury and on occasionhe furnished cashto citizensof Grenoblewho neededto go to Paris.

l0 sols.f0 livres for the ten calfbound octavo volumes of Madeleine de Scuddry'sCl1liein 1660. cost him 2 liwes.are not much to look at. Nicolas'swealthier clientscameinto his shop to borrow the work.Nicolas sold it at 3 liwes the copy.for example.Sinceit was not againstthe law to counterfeit a book originally published in another country book piracy pafiicularly affected regions where more than one state shared a linguistic area. or Chapelain'sLa Pucelle.6 deniersfor Corneille'sTh1odore viergeet mar/yr whereas the copy of the original Paris quarto edition that Nicolas had bought. These examples illustrate an ineluctable fact: henceforth reputations were made in Paris.This meant that the paris firms had to realizethe better part of their profits from that first edition by offering it at the highest price that the market would bear. The provincial printer interestedin putting out a pirated edition.and Goethe. printed on poor-quality paper and sold with rough paper covers.and the booksellersof the capital had every interest in offering their new publicationsin a handsomeedition at a high price. Lessing. paying between li and 20 livres. It was particularly widespreadin Italy and even more so in Germany.During the eighteenth century the major German booksellers-those who published the works of Leibniz.Following a tried and true commercial strategy. Lucan'sPharsalia(in the Br€beuf translation). But the Grenoble pirated edition had already begun to circulate in a duodecimo volume that was selling briskly for a modest I liwe l0 sols. but only five of them kept the copy they had borrowed. Neither were they expensive:7 sols. Their curiosity aroused.the publisher of this work. depending on the binding. also illustrated. gave this long-awaited poem a sumptuous in-folio edition embellished with engravingsby Abraham Bosse. When the duodecimo edition.most of whom were established . A brief glance at a pirated edition of this sort is singularly enlightening. the practicereachedthe acute stagewhen a market for new books developed. probably in order to use it for his own reprint.after Vignon. the Parisprinter Augustin Courb6. Or take the caseof La Pucelle. later progressivelyIowering both quality and sale price to reach a larger and larger public.259 cneprrn Srx erary successesfrom Paris-works like Father Le Moyne's Saint Louis. as. That settled the case. Piratededitions were not an exclusivelyFrenchphenomenon. a sum equivalentto half the dowry of the wife of a journeyman printer. had every reasonto try to break into the market as soon as the first edition appeared.A chronic diseaseof publishing. arrived from Paris. The tiny duodecimo volumes produced by Piot. whose costswere less since he reproduced a text that had already been printed.

encouragedthe system. but the clearestexample of it is the Bibliothdque bleue. We shall seelater the role of occasional pieces of all sorts. added Parisiantabainades(farces)to the collection and recent works by Parisian writers teaching the arts of proper social com- .3rTo recall its history: in the early years of the seventeenth century the son of a masterprinter in Troyes.and even classtexts for secondaryschools. but he also offereda number of old chivalric romances and a variety of theatrical works. This trend was universal.and civility books for use in the parish schools. they were instrumental in the rise of the literature that is somewhaterroneously called "popula1. Halle. Whether or not he took inspiration from an earlier initiative.Sinceprinters were in closetouch with a broad public that was gaining an ever-largerfamiliarity with the written word.TnB Rnrcn or rns Boor in Berlin. on the poor-quality paper made in the region. set up shop on his own." n1d they creatednew circuits for book distribution. Printers and booksellershad flocked to secondarycentersduring this period. As in our own day. and the earliest newspapers. the founder's son. often in responseto an appealfrom the local authorities.and the Austrian Empire. As years went by. he gathered together old woodcuts that seemedoutdated in comparison to the new copperplateengravings. they gradually came to realize that most works of that sort interested only a restricted elite. and on a devotional literature popular among the clergy of the region. where JosephII.. Above all.on traditional tales inspired by Scripture.2 €.We can understand why Enlightenment authors denounced what they considereda form of true commercial piracy that deprivedthem of the legitimate rewardsof their labors. and Leipzig-complained bitterly when their best publicationswere systematicallypirated in the citiesof southern Germany.Switzerland.local or regional news sheets. he was betting on the public's tastefor Christian mythology and on the power of attraction of traditional tales. coveringhis volumeswith a rough blue paper. administrativeand judiciary documents. one successfollowed another. pamphlets. using worn fonts. Nicolas II Oudot. they knew how to evaluatethe public's aspirations.and he used them to illustrate smallformat books that he printed with close-settype. For his texts he drew on local hagiography.Nicolas Oudot.but also primers.the printing pressesof that ageservedto provide a large number of other print piecesbesidesbooks. an enlighteneddespot. catechisms.Their chief sourceof income was printing texts of a totallypractical nature-print jobs for the city. In their function as retailersof learned books.

however: it was enriched as the centurieswent by with someliterary borrowings that have been called popular but that were more accuratelyfrom the burlesquegenre. In 1722 the warehousesof the mother house in Troyes contained 40.000 small volumes tied up in packetsof a dozen each. or that the same thing occurred somewhat later in Lidge and Limoges. Before the Oudots. All this had not been createdex nihilo. for example.and civility books.it is hardly surprising that printers in Rouen soon imitated the example of their Troyescolleaguesby creating a Norman Bibliothdque bleue aimed at a similar public. There are traces of members of the Oudot family in Paris at the end of the century. These men drew up an agreementwith a group of Paris booksellerson the Quai des Grands-Augustinsand set out to conquer the capital. The Garnier family later picked up where thc Oudots had left off. collections of Christmas songs.raThis meansthat in the last analysisthe Bibliothdque bleue aimed at furnishing low-cost manuals of maximum edification and accessibleto all who frequented or had frequentedthe parish schoolsin the eastof France. catechismsbearing the approval of local bishops. On occasion.and Aesop'sFables-from one or another of these series. other printers preferred to go to Franche-Comt6and even to the Ardennes. and letter-wdting. for instance. and 2. Given its success. met with enormous success. the Bonfons firm in Paris. Tlryographershad always taken traditional texts that the literati consideredoutmoded and relaunchedthem at a low price to a humbler clientele of relative newcomers to reading.576 reams of printed sheets-enough to make up 350.La dansemacabrefrom Guy Marchand. Other printers in TroyesGirardon. and two inventories (in l78l and 1789) show that their stockswere even larger. Along with books that are still famous today.Cneprnn Srx portment. The Bibliothtque bleue was an ambiguous collection.some of which.it used books published in Lyons in the early sixteenth century.000 octavo-sizedbooks of 48 pageseach.The almanacs originally included astrologicalinformation and gavethe datesof the fairs and the pil- . Febvre. These specialized booksellersalso offered almanacs.It even borrowed a certain number of its chivalric romances from V6rard. and.ready for sale for a few deniers each. the Messager boiteuxaf Lidge for one. had already testedthis formula. conversation. The Bibliothdque bleue borrowed some of its titlesL'Art de mourir. the inventories of the Troyes booksellerslist large numbers of primers. other choicessuch as Perrault'sConteswere tales of a genuinely popular origin but revised and reinterpretedby men of letters. and Briden-soon imitated the formula.a region of early literacy.Le Calendrierdesbergersand.

Their stock included the familiar blue booklets and small devotionalbooks for everydayuse. but also major publications like Voltaire's Oeuwescompldtes." following a set itinerary and selling books and engravings.from Chamagnonin Lorraine. In the seventeenthcentury the books on the Bibliothdque bleue lists seemto have been sold by mercerots of this sort working a limited territory. and they returned in force from Normandy to the gatesof Paris under the Restoration. Merchants from Mont-sous-Vent in the diocese of Avranches. and they persuadedthe authorities to prohibit t}:remerciersfrom selling books other than almanacs and books of hours. the Larousseideology.In the reign of Henry IV established booksellers complained of competition from notions sellers (zerciers). another and more far-ranging form of peddling appeared.where they sold small prints calledfatras. hence peddlers sold them from town to town.aswere the militant peddlers who carried printed materialsfrom Geneva. or in the town squares.some of whom must have been itinerant. which did indeed often dabble in magic and purvey Bonapartistpropaganda.offering a quite different ideology of the book. Peddlershad appearedin France as early as the sixteenth century: Albert Labarre noted their presencearound Amiens between 1540 and 1560. sometimesin a horse-drawn cart.a Norman named No€l Gille but known asPistole.as we can seefrom Jean-ClaudeDarmon's studiesof the peddlersof Haute-Comminges. In the eighteenth century they tended to become more diversified to show an increasingly open attitude toward the wprld outside.and they undoubtedly were highly instrumental in circulating works relating to the ProtestantReformation.s6 The accountbooks of one of thesepeddlers. stopping at fairs and markets. and somefounded illustrious publishing dynasties. Many peddlerseventually settleddown.3t Theselittle books could not be distributed through the usual networks.givesa good idea of their business.but at times they carrie. of course. or from Monestier-lds-Briangon took to the road for an annual "campaign.3T Thesemen often coveredhundreds of kilometers.This sort of literature died off only when the schoolmasters(the hussardsnoirsl of ttre Republicimposed the publicationsof Hachetteand his ilk even in rural areas.T}:rebonsespritsof the mid-nineteenth century often denouncedpeddlers' books.noting the most important eventsof the year just past. Soon.They continued to peddle their wares during the French Revolution. .Their businesstook another growth spurt with the spreadof literacy. however.Tnn Rrrcu or rnr Boor 261 grimagesin the region.offering for sale works that they had brought along.dmerchandiseof quite another kind: prohibited books. at the gates of the chdteaux.

PierreHdron. albeit a few at a time. some of which reached truly impressivetotal pressruns.in Italy peddlers sold devotionalworks often written in verse. and comparable phenomena can be found in seventeenth-centuryJapan and in modern Brazil. But then. show just how books were sold in the age of the Enlightenment. small books.The account books of one booksellerand bookbinder from Langres. in Normandy. L'Angeconducteur.Another example is the Miroir des6mes. Hdron ordered books from Paris and Lyons for customersin Langres.3epeddlers' practicesdiffered considerablyfrom one place to another. In England peddlers usually bought their stocks in London. Many printers (in Lorraine. H€ron.His best-selling title was a sort of book of hours of Jansenistinspiration.rs During the century and a half that precededthe French Revolution.This merits a smile when we learn that H6ron'swife's name was Denise Diderot and that she was a cousin of the philosopher.he ordereda copy of the Encyclop€die. Nearly all the peddlerswho sold them also sold engravingsand songs-a questionto which I shall soon return. moving out from there to country areasto sell ballads.he sold three copiesof FatherLouis Moreri's Grand dictionnairehistoriqueto local cutlers. Venice. and almanacs.Flanders.and France. the city of the Romanellis.originally a French work. distribution circuits (that have somewhathastily been labeled"popular") devoted to a broadly based sale of low-priced books grew up throughout France. One such was the famous Till Eulenspiegef probably first set down by the Strasbourgtheologian Thomas Murner around l5l5 and later circulated in Germany.500 copiessold between 1756 and 1776.and Brescia. and he sold a good number of law books.a good-sizedcity.262 Cneprrn Srx The blue booklets of the Biblioth€que bleue no more representeda distinct sector of the book trade than paperbackbooks do today.Thosewere the cities to which the "Bisoards" (peddlersfrom Briangon) came to fill . For example. even of theologicalworks.provided books to southern Europe. which together accountedfor most of his sales. His principal supplierswere Monnoyer in NeuchAtelfor devotional books and Garnier in Troyesfor books from the Bibliothdque bleue lists. with 2. and its environs. however: we can see it everywhere from England to Italy and from Swedento Spain. and in Avignon) specializedin reprints of best-sellingdevotional books. Moreover. The phenomenon was universal. which has been attestedin variousversionsthroughout Europe and was later carried by Catholic missionariesto the Indies and South America.Avignon. certain works reappearedfrom one region of Europe to another.or Miroir de l'dme du p)cheur. may also have traded in lessorthodox works that he fails to mention. Iike most of his colleagues.

print illustrations had an ambiguousrelationship with their models. and modified its manuscript model. there were specializedpressesoften run by emigrdsthat produced similar forms of literature to attempt to help Armenians and Greeksconservetheir religion and some form of national identity under Turkish domination. redefined. Like the printed book that caricatured. But even when it has distorted their image it has contributed to the glory of some of the most famous works of art: we need only think of the vicissitudesof the Mona Lisa.Nonetheless. Even more than the printed book. even woodcuts.they gave engravingits autonomy and its titles of nobility. and they did much to give it a new rnissionas a reflection of current happeningsand real life. br all societiestexts and imagesmultiply at a similar pace.The first pulls had much greater value for collectors. in the nineteenth century one of the Garnier brothers. the engraving was a .he could not get an infinite number of prints from his plates.The first book networks in South America were createdby French booksellersfrom the Alps or from Normandy-among them. and Florence. as did the "Esclavons" (Slavic inhabitants of the Venetian mainland). with the actual printing and the paper entailing only minimal expense. Any printer of engravings was subject to somewhat different laws than thoseregulatingthe book publisher.Venice. eventually wore out or broke. The first markets for engravingswere quite naturally the major commercial cities-Bruges very early on. plates soon wore down and showed a loss of quality. an engravingappearsto $ubstitutefor the real thing. later Augsburg. With the aid of some talented engravers. By far the larger part of his investment went into the making of the drawing and the engraving of the plate. but they also helped to make engraving something else than an instrument for reproduction. although more durable. Finally. who traveled east to the Greek islands and as far as eastern Armenia and west to Spain and Portugal.Nuremberg. {. and from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries engraving and typography followed parallel careersin Europe.4 When it transcribesa work of art.Such artists often used the new technique to increasetheir celebrity and raise the prices their paintings could command. It is only natural that many of the first engravingworkshops (for copperplateengravingsin particular) were organized around famous artists from Mantegna and Diirer to Rubens.lor rnr Boor 267 ttreir packs.Tnr Rrrcr.

" : sculpsit. became agentsof a concertedpropaganda. took advantageof the artists who flocked to Antwerp and of the city's commercialprosperity to found the fust large-scaleenterprisefor the publication of engravings.Thus the bottom of his plates bears a mention of the personwho provided the idea ("inv.they could be produced more rapidly and printed in larger numbers and were easier to copy." : invenitl." Later they played an important role in spreading the Reformation-largely through Protestant-inspiredcaricatures-and even at that date they servedto illustrate broadsheetsand canards (satirical or sensationalnewssheets). of the one who drew the image ("del.of the painter ("pinx. Is it simple coincidencethat only a few yearsearlier.In Francefor instanceartisansgrouped in the rue Montorgueil around 1560 illustrated booklets on current happeningsand even provided news reports (sold by streethawkers) of the latestnews in the Wars of Religion.264 Cnaprrn Srx bourgeoisart par excellence.but it also appealedto a broadly varied public. By the end of the sixteenth century Flemish engraversalso moved south to swell the ranks of their French colleagues." : pinxitl and the engraver("sculp. Copperplateengravingssignedby famousmasters. Cocx commissionedworks from artists and introduced specialization." : delineavit).or "inc.executedin goldsmiths' circles.they introduced a new religious imagery and their engravingscirculatedin copiesby the million.Galleand Wiericx. Woodcutscould still be found everywhere.a' The Counter-Reformationwas organizing its forces in just this period." : incidit). Cocx's successors.as did plantin and others. Working under the direction of the Society of Jesus. As the sixteenth century progressedthey tended t-oloose their value for collectors. whereasreproductionsof the sameplatesin copiesof highly varying quality were probably accessibleto broader social circles. when Christophe Plantin was about to found his printshop there.Woodcutswere already a propagandatool when Diirer contributed to the emperor'sglory by his depiction of the "Triumph of Maximilian I. When Antwerp was reconqueredby the Spanish.but also of the publisher ("exc.Usually made by anonymous artisans. who had entertainedPieterBrueghel and Giorgio Ghisi of Mantua in his shop. and printed in small quantities were obviously destined for a wealthy elite.around I550.By then printers ." : excuditlwho owned the plate and the right to reproduceit.As a form of popularization. woodcuts beganin Germanybut soon reachedall of Europe. J€rdme Cocx launched a revolution in the engravingsmarket from Antwerp? Cocx.Breaking with the systemin which artists printed and sold their own works.

while cartographersand sellersof mathematicalinstrumentssetup shop near the Tour de l'Horloge. Clermont. Was this change partly due to in the French an increasein the number of wood engraversand dominotiars provinces?Although Toulousehad a long tradition going back to 1465. scholars.also had a shop in which they sold their own works and those of a few colleagues. Finally. and decor were published without delay. peddlers sold almanacsand engravingsof current eventsthroughout the land.omament.and Bordeaux.Avignon.Marianne Grivel's studies have shown that in the seventeenthcentury although nearly 30 percent of lhe works that have been conseryedhave a religious subject. and some of them sold at truly low prices.nearly all of whom also sold images. There was no rigorous division of labor in the engraver'strade. which portrayed reality with less precision.were itinerant singersas well. Le Puy.The time had come when the facesof statesmen. villages.new fashionsin dress.or the most famous artistscould be familiar to everyone.the Chamagnonsfor instance. Limoges.TnE RsrcN or rnr Boor 265 and merchantsof copperplateengravingshad set up shop in the rue SaintJacquesnear the booksellersand book printers.and there were also dynasties of great print sellerslike the Langlois and Mariette families who might also be stationers and bookseller-publishers. All through Europe distribution circuits were set up for images and booklets of this sort. went out of style in Paris and clients deserted the image-makersof the rue Montorgueil. Everywhere a written culture and an imagery circulated in a range'of forms whose hierarchy was symbolizedin the quality and general .particularly in Paris.greatmen. Henceforth copperplateengravingsreacheda large public. Epinal. Chartres. giving a new impetus to businessfor book peddlers.Some. A good many engravers.and even rural areasand the more up-to-date and "modern' books or imagesfor sale in the cities. A tuming point seemsto been reachedin Francein the late seventeenth and the early eighteenth centuries. This meant that woodcuts.a2The spreadof "popular" prints was a phenomenon comparableto the appearanceof the Bibliothdquebleue in that it too was connectedwith the progressof literacy as well as with a more open attitude toward the outside world. and lesserpersonagessold irnageson the quais or outsidethe cemeteryof the Holy Innocents.Similarly.portraits account for a good shareof them (20 percent). Also throughout Europe we can seea differencebetween the ruder materialsdestinedfor small towns.the real rise of the imagery usually known as "popular" came only in the late sixteenth or the seventeenthcentury in a number of other cities such as Orl€ans.

One result was the organizationof systemsof censorshipand repression. The desire to stimulate and broaden the market led booksellersto innovate ceaselesslyand to diversify their wares. At the sametime. and religion were closely connectedwhen it came to regulating the book trade. which means that they reached out over greater distancesto reinforce a variety of intellectual solidarities. * One cannot begin to comprehendthe history of censorshipin Westernsocietieswithout somenotion of the church'sideasconcerningthe discussion and diffusion of dogma.They produced an increasingnumber of works in the vernacular languagesaimed at the greatestpossiblenumber of readers.while nationalism and classstrugglewaited on the distant horizon. and rulers.Thus it had concentratedon pursuing the preachersand had shown little concern for written propaganda.and they invited scholarsto pursue a written propagandafor the use of the less scholarly that often took up where oral propagandathe sermon or the university debate-had left off. producing a phenomenon of "massification' in somewhatthe samefashion as television in its early days. Tnr Powrn SrnucruRE AND THE Pnnss When printing devised a cultural communication network modeled on that of commercialexchangesit was asif it had moved the literati of Europe into the sametime frame. giving rise to a theme that is still with us today. Until Gutenbergthe church had censuredideas more than texts (symbolicexceptionsaside)becauseit consideredthe book primarily as a working tool for the exclusiveuse of scholars. thus launching the slow processof the elaborationof complex legislation. this tendency encouragedthe crystallization of heresies. who were more often arbiters than parties to the disputes.266 cneprnn srx aspectof the engravingsas much as in the messagesthey transmitted. book folk turned to the authorities and askedthem to arbitratethe conflictsthat had grown up within their ranks.found they had to play an active role in the organizationof book distribution circuits if they wanted to keep the public peaceand maintain economicprosperity.Everyonestrove to sing the praisesof the new art and glorify its inventors. By contributing to the moral awakening of large numbers of people and by sharpeningantagonism.politics.The church soon learned that the spread of heresy .Economics. In the last analysisthe distribution circuits for engravingsseemto have been modeled on those of the book.

Berthold of Henneberg. Papal intervention soon became more systematic:in l50l Pope Alexander VI reinforced existing measuresto forbid the typographers of the ecclesiasticalprovinces of Cologne. buyers. who were traditionalistsand dominated by the Dominicans.Tun RErcnor rne Boor 267 was regularly accompaniedby the translation of sacredtexts. Italy was next in line. launched from Nuremberg by the powerful Anton Koberger in partnership with the master of the emperor'smint. repeatedin 1486 and again in 1487.It was a major pubHshing venture.took fright and turned to Rome for help. and booksellers lryereto ask permissionbefore launching a new work. however. under pain of excom- .expressalarm when sometypographerscameto settlein their city (1464-65). Nonetheless.which had becomethe largestpublishing center in Europe.The first censorshipof a printed book was thus promoted by a civil power. especiallymissals. a member of the clergy wrote a pamphlet denouncing maneuvers on the part of the city fathers against beneficeholders in the region.and readersof hereticalbooks were to be chastised. and Magdeburg from printing or causingto be printed.the church did not react when dynamic printers in southern Germany began putting out not only large numbers of edifying works but also Bibles in High German. Trier.In 1485 in Mainz the archbishop.denouncedimproper use of the pressand the avidity of booksellers. the papal legate and archbishop of Treviso. It was not an isolated case. Nicola Franco.Early ln 1478.at Thebook trade in Cologne was still complaining in 154 of this system that hampered its activities. nor when that movement reached Italy. and every time this happenedit denouncedthe dangersof free interpretation of the Bible.Nor did professorsat the University of Cologne. and the magistratesimmediately counteredwith legal prosecution. France. The doctors of the university.and Spain.in northern Germany. His monitory letter. In Venice. The pope'sresponseto their plea arrived in March 1479: henceforth. No one was yet wary of the press.the Low Countries. Mainz. specifiedthat authorization to print a book would be given by a four-member commission that included university professorsfrom Erfurt.but also at works of the classical Greek and Latin authors. all printers. prohibited the printing of books regarding the Catholic faith or ecclesiasticalmatters without previous authorization from the bishop or the vicar general.either through ecclesiasticalcensureor in some other manner. Around the sametime a sumptuously illustrated Bible in I-ow German was beginning to circulate in Cologne.His criticism was aimed at translationsof texts on canon law and liturgical works.

insinuated.. And on 4 May 1515. that traditions were an interpretation of scripture?Also.e The catholic church had thus opted for prior censorshipof the press evenbeforeLutheranism explodedon the scene. catholics and most of the reformersagreedthat the apostleshad not written (or .what we have seenabove of the history of heresiesgivesan insight to its point of view. both savingtruth. any piece of writing without the expressand freely given permissionof the bishop or his representative. the Fathersof the Council declaredin their decreeof 1546 that . what lay at the heart of the matter was the essentialproblem of the foundations of religion. the content of which is not made explicit. Still. Tridentine catholics held that the unity of Revelation residedin the living christ and in the living reality of the christian mystery. but one and the other hold their authority from God-scripture by divine inspiration. the church by divine institution" (Edmond ortigues).as cardinal cervini said) all that christ had taught.the vicar of His Holinessand the Master of the SacredPalaceat Rome. have come down even unto us. and moral discipline.The affirmation of the apostolicorigin of traditions. was combined with the idea that "the Church does not hold its authority from Scripture. and the unwritten traditions which.not in what had been transmittedeither orally or in written form.how was one to situatetraditions in relation to Scripture?Must one hold.in the written books. received by the Apostlesfrom the mouth of christ himself.or the consumption of meat from strangled animals?Like Luther."a5 This text is essential. Pope Leo X published a new constitution prohibiting throughout all christendom rhe publishing of any work without the authorization of one of two persons. nor Scripture its [authority] from the church. in other places... The protestant Reformation confirmed the church's outlook and led it to take positions at the council of Trent that were to shape western society for centuries to come. From the church'spoint of view. how could one explain such changesin the Western church as the disappearanceof prayer to the East.the bishop and the inquisitor. This proclaims the continued successionof the .the fountain of all. from the Apostlesthemselves..was contained . during the Fifth Lateran council. transmitted as it were from hand to hand.communion under two kinds. given the perpetuity of traditions concerning dogma. with Luther (and the post-Tridentine theologians).. the Holy Ghost dictating. If this was the case. and that the Holy Spirit continued the work of Revelationafter christ left this earth. and the marriage of priests..268 Cneprrn Srx munication.

but children were not to be exposedto them under any pretext (which meant that the era of expurgatedversionswas not far ofl). tum ad morespertinenfes) tion of magisteriumand grantsit the power to determine dogma.The bull Dominicigregis(24 March 1564) laid down ten essentialrules: all works of the principal heresiarchswere deflnitively prohibited. were to be brought into line with a carefully revised Roman liturgy. finally. The immense task of textual revision meant the publication of official editions: although the SovereignPontiff tended to reservethe monopoly to Paolo Manuzio. A specialcongregationwas createdsoon after to seeto updating this "honors list" at regular intervals. Local liturgies. the most authentic version in the written tradition. so the church consideredit logical that it be designatedby the supremePowerasthe interpreterof the book and the guardian of a custom.a6 The Catholic religion. To nip controversyin the bud the Vulgate of St. obsceneand immoral works. translationsof the Bible were not exactly prohibited. the mention of doctrinal pertinence in connection with truth and moral discipline (in the for:nula Tum justifies the church'sexerciseof its funcadfidem.Thus in 1564 Pius V after mature reflection. the reading of classicalGreek and Latin authors was toleratedbecauseof the eleganceand the purity of their language. other versions being available for consultation strould its meaning need clarifying. a successionthat gives the bishops a divinely inspired mission and justifies the priesthood and the sacraments. At the sametime Rome attemptedto coordinate repressivepolicies that were burgeoning everywhere.Tgn RrrcN or rnr Boor evangelicministry from the apostlesto the bishops (taken collectively). a religion of the book. which the Protestants had so often denounced. and works on magic and judiciary astrology. the work had to be sharedand it brought immense amounts of businessto the book trade.controversialbooks were to be treated in a similar manner. but the faithful were enjoined not to read them without the permissionof the local ordinary or inquisitor.Finally. Jeromewas proclaimedthe authentic document of Holy Scripture-that is. which permissionwould be grantedonly after consultationwith the would-be reader'sparish priest or confessor. was thus also a religion of a tradition.beginning with the various versionsof the Index that were springingup on all sides. . The Tridentine doctors and the popes who followed their example when the Council of Trent closedin 1564 drew practical conclusionsfrom these premises. as were non-Christian books on religious topics.The Mass continued to be said in Latin with the priest bearing the responsibilityfor furnishing any necessaryexplanationsto the faithful.put out an Index to replacethe hastily drawn-up lists of Paul IV.

Its courts. although the Inquisition played no official role in the processof prior censorship.In 147g. As late as 1558. did not disappeardefinitively until the nineteenth century.asHenceforth religious minorities were to be assimilated.before they were printed.Nor were the church authorities inactive. even those of only a few pages. it put ports under . PrincessJoanna put out (in the name of philip II) a famous Pragmaticthat establishednew rules for printers and booksellers: manuscriptsof all new books were to be presentedto the council of castile to be examined by qualified censors. As a matter of course these councils and commissions contained a number of ecclesiastics. Henceforth the publication of any book was preceded by lengthy formalities since the theologian charged with reviewing a text took his time and made many cornments. In the years around 1500 the spanish Inquisition burned immense amounts of Jewish and Arabic books. and it called on the ordinariesin eachlocality to made regular visits to the printshops and the booksellers'shops. one year before prior censorshipwas establishedin Cologne.and on occasionit seizedbooks that had been published with all the requisite authorizations.it was also costly since it was advisableto offer each council member a copy for his personalcollection.who also retained the manuscript so that they could check whether the publishedtext conformedto it. in 1627. thus preventingthe inquisitors from carrying out prior censorshipon their own authority. The spanish monarchs took their own precautions. a new form of inquisition appearedin Spain under the aegisof both the popes and the Most catholic sovereigns. They sprinkled the first pagesof published works with authorizations. and in 1502 they decreedthat no book could leave the pressesof their kingdoms without their authorization or that of persons designatedby them. Later.47 a Next the church needed to find ways to put its policy into effect. which were even installed in the New world. which meant that it had to turn to the seculararm. the council of castile even claimed the right to examine all documents.particularly when the author was a member of a religious order. thus to temporal authorities. The monarchy never relinquished this power. Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of castile had completed the reconquest of Spain in the yearsin which printing was establishedin their kingdoms. Above all.27O Cnaprnx Srx rule ten reiteratedthe obligation to obtain authorization before the publication of all works. It drew up indexesthat were veritable monuments of bibliography.it did play an activerole in repressivecensorship. however.

Next the king stated. it was even truer in Lyons.He ordered the Parlementto prohibit the publication of books on religion in the vernacular or in Latin without a permission given. Rulers reservedto their own councils both the task of according permissions and the privilege of granting monopolies. by a member of the Faculty of Theology. when Lutheran pamphletsbeganto spread. particularly toward widely circulated religious books.Tnr RrrcNor rur Boor 271 suryeillanceto make sure that no "bad" books came in from outside. where the church and the state had no such organ of control. after examination. In France the alarm was sounded only in 1521. for example in his Lettrespatentesof l7 March 1538.2TJune l55l) that the Parlementhad to refer a work to competent theologians before granting a permission to publish. but as early as the beginning of the sixteenth century demand for this sort of action was rising everywherein the book trade.At this first stagethe king. although for totally different reasons.that no new book could be printed without his permission or the permission of "justice. it was less successfulin the eighteenth century in combatingEnlightenment ideas.but it also shows that the sovereignpower was incapable of controlling everything that was published. During this sameera sovereignsand law courts were also urged to take action by people in the book trade.tof Chateaubriant. As we have just seen. As with prior censorship. it burned a number of seizedbooks and had its readersblack out condemned passagesin books censureddoneccorrigantur.Venice led the way.Judgmentsof the Inquisition have varied: somehave denouncedits rigor. Late in the fifteenth century printers who wanted to launch new publications beganto demand rights to protect them againstpirated editions.This immensecoerciveeffort undoubtedly hindered Lutheran propagandaand clipped the wings of certain forms of spirituality.this is what happenedin Spain in 1558. FrancisI.A decreeof the Parlementof 1532 statedthat its judges were to visit printshops and booksellers' shops. In Francethe king decreed .the various agenciesof the state held competing powers. was torn betweena desireto protect the humanist and evangelical movement and the need to prevent German heretical ideas from spreadingin France.If this was true in an active center like Paris. but others have noted its tolerancetoward philosophical and scholarlypublicationsand toward comic authors." and he later decreed (Edic. This proliferation of sometimescontradictory decisions indicates that in Gallican lands Paris university professorswere consideredlogical choices as censors.ae The emotional reaction of the Faculty of Theology was immediately reflectedin measuresvoted by the Parlement.

and the great works of the christian tradition.l0 september t56? . who edited them and jobbed out large commissionsto a group of printers. were obviously aimed at enablingthe French sovereigns to have a personalsay concerningthe press. then to a booksellers'company.which reorganizedon severaloccasions.whom the journeymen saw as future rivals in the labor market at a time when they themselveshad to .which took as its emblem the ship of the city of paris. February 1566) that henceforth no book could be published without the cong6. the most famous of which in the early seventeenthcentury was the Cramoisyfamily. aswe have seen.Strippedof their legitimateprofits.Philip II of Spain obtained a derogationvalid in his territories that permitted him to grant the task of updating liturgical books to the Hieronymite fathers of the Escorial. they granted a monopoly on printing books of reformed liturgy first to the bookseller JacquesKerver.so During this time the book professionswere evolving. hence granted by the chancellor. The kings of Spainmade a generalpracticeof such commissions. Even in the finest hours of the Renaissance there were tensionsbetweenmastertypographers and their journeymen.Thesemeasures. Spanishbooksellerswere left in a perpetually weak position in international competition. followed by the ordinance of Moulins.Thesepowerful associations. They could not stand by and watch the monopoly for printing these works be reserved exclusively to the printer for the Holy See. The temporal authorities gradually becameaware of the enormous task involved in publishing revisedtexts of scripture. since they had never acceptedthe decreesof the council of Trent in their kingdom. and the monks of San Lorenzo del Realof the Escorial. a privilege to publish the principal works of the church Fathers.srrhe journeymen. and they watched as their mastersturned more and more to the unpaid labor of apprentices.permitted the concentration of the most profitable parts of the book trade in the hands of only a few families. The kings of France had a totally different attitude.and they fixed the price of books at the same time that they granted publishing privileges and accordedexclusiverights to both private people and civil and religious communities such as the GeneralHospital of Madrid.and they granted another company.which were being promulgated in the sameyearsthat the council of Trent was drawing up the rules of the Index.were subjected to a grueling work load.permission.et privitige guaranteedby the Grand Seal. the cathedralof valladolid. riturgical works.272 Cneprrn Srx (by the Edict of Nanres. working first through members of the Giunta family and later using christophe plantin.

which led to the constitution of mmmunautds-trade associations-the most important of which was the Parisian printers'. he occasionedthe creation. Thus one might well wonder whether Richelieu did not regard the new institution as a body of de facto censors. During that entire period prior censorshiphad remained totally ineffective since all the monarchy's efforts in that direction were countered by the claims of the doctors of the Sorbonne.as we have seen. and as such he was responsiblefor the chancery'sgranting of most of the privileges in the book trade.who demandedthe right to judge texts and admitted to no other censorsthan themselves.Richelieu himself encounteredferociousresistancewhen he attemptedto name four doctors to passon new books.the Parisbook trade underwent a crisisof overproductionthat beganin the yearsfrom 1636 to 1640. review the manuscriptsthat were submittedto him. and binders' association. of the Acad6mie Frangaise:its first secretary.thus becoming auxiliaries of the royal police.Valentin Conrart. booksellers'. and he initiated the policy of systematicdistribution to his prot€g6sof privilegesfor older books that were in what we would now call the public domain. unauthorized peddlersproliferated. was also secretaryto the king. Evenlually Chancellor S6guierdecidedto have the officials of his services. had no part in this system.under somewhattroubled conditions. He inauguratedthe long series of censusregistersthat have come down to us. the lessermasterprinters and the bookbindersin Parisrevoltedagainsta policy . The syndicof this organization and his fellow-officers were quite naturally called upon to supervisethe printshops.however. Hence.Moreover. and accessto master statusremained to someextent open. As if in spite of economic conditions. By reorganizingthe booksellers' companies and naming men he trusted as "printers to the king" (who thus enjoyed the lucrative publication of official acts).52 Provincial presses. Strikes of an almost modern nature broke out. publishing prospered in this period when both the Counter-Reformationand the Catholic Renaissanceencouragedreading. chiefly in Paris (1539-43) and Lyons (1569-72). the ancestor of France'sImprimerie nationale today. The Parlement and the king's council intervened to regulatethe professionsof the book trade.Tnr Rrrcx or rnn Boor 273 go from town to tornmand shop to shop in searchof employment. In 1639-40 he created the Imprimerie royale. Did Richelieuimagine going even farther? There are indications that he did. an organism that it was once suggestedshould hold the lucrative monopoly for publication of all French dictionaries and almanacs.the secretariesand the notariesoI the king.to which the ChAteletgranted statutesin 1617.

produced increasingnumbers of Mazarinadesand swelled the ranks of the rioters. they joined forces in a strongly structured organization.the members of Parlement. ex officio. and treatisesand pamphlets published without authorization were distributed openly (164t-44). sinceoutsidethe capital only the universities of Oxford and Cambridgehad an official right to have presses. Bibles.5aThe relatively restrictedBritish market thus reservedto its own the publication of works specific to its interests. and that prohibited Continental firms in England from importing bound books. At first the major booksellersrallied to the support of their best customers. or establishingnew bookshops and printshops. Anarchy was the rule by the time the Fronde broke out.hereticalbooks beganto flood the market. almanacs. printers and booksellers proliferated. In the feverish climate that resulted. The tlryographers. Next came the Jansenist explosion. But the English gradually learned the skills of the new profession.and they took over power in the corporation. catechisms.and it long enjoyed a monopoly over most of the land.53 * In England the printing and sale of books was first developedby foreigners-Frenchmen for the most part-who made up two-thirds of the personnel of the book trade from 1476 to 1533.set out to get the better of the larger. and Henry VIII broke with Rome.and they tried to persuadethe magistratesto approvethe principle of granting privilegesfor older works (a poliry to which the Parlementhad traditionally been hostile).who were short of work.The booksellersand the smaller printers.which receivedits statutesin 1557. Backed by the Commons and by public opinion they won their .274 Cnaprrn Srx that favored the large booksellers.Theseeventsled to a protectionist policy that prohibited English printshops from accepting apprentices from the Continent and from employing more than two foreign journeymen. This special situation encouraged a heightened senseof associationamong the British booksellers.Toward the mid-century the monarch granted master printers who enjoyed the royal trust monopolies over entire categoriesof works: liturgical works. selling books at retail.privileged printers. and even treatiseson cornmon law. by appointing persons who owed everythingto them-among them S6bastienCramoisyand Antoine Vitr6-and charging them with reestablishingorder.psalm books. who held the numerical majority in the assembliesof the Company. the Stationers'Company. The surveillance of the Stationers' Company was efficacious.Latin texts for school use.Already concentrated in London. Richelieu and Sdguier reacted.primers.

As a generalrule the "establishment"-officials of the crown and bishops-did its best to control production in times when religious differencesstirred up incessantpolemics.however. In certain periods.The Stationers'Companyhad by then developedan original and coherent internalr organization.an increasein Presbyterianpropagandafrom Scotland. but also by a copyright (which could. The systemfunctioned so well that by the sixteenth century it was generally acknowledged that proprietary rights to a work could be obtained not only by an official prMlege.a copyright grantedby the Company could enable the publisher to omit the formalities involved in requestinga permission. Pamphlets . It maintained a degreeof order in commercialproceduresand encouragedcohesion within the English book trade. The chief support of this cohesionwas the copyright system.and in 1603 and 1605 the king remitted or sold the contestedprivilegesto the Company.all the while proclaiming that the state should not intervene in matters of faith.During the last quarter of the sixteenth century the Puritans launched veritable propaganda campaigns from the pressesof CambridgeUniversity. The English stock.In order to combat pirate editions and eliminate disputes." a society whose capital was divided into three overall parts corresponding to the three categoriesof master printers (assistants. In spite of the Puritans' powerful backing the Star Chamber decreedin 1586 that all works were to be submitted to the archbishop of Canterbury or the bishop of London before they could be registeredwith the Stationers'Company. be sold).The results of the vigilant surveillanceof the church hierarchy were the rise of clandestinepresses. booksellers and printers who published a text developedthe habit of registeringthe title of the work and the name of its author with the Stationers'Company asa way of giving themselvespermanenttitle to the work. and yeomen). and the principle of prior censorshipwas reinforced in 1549. a proclamation forbade the publication of a book without the permission of the Privy Council. 1551. and 1559. which still existedin the nineteenth century guaranteedthe predominance within the Company of a fairly large group of booksellerswho sharedout to printers substantial and relatively regular amounts of work.Tnr Rrrcu or rnp Boox 275 cause. England was no asylum of tolerance. In 1538. which was normally granted for a limited period. incidentally. There was also a "Latint stock" made of Latin books that were traded at the Frankfurt fairs.liverymen. They set up an "English stock. and an "Irish stock" constituted from proceedsof the rights of the King's Printer in Ireland. and a massiveimportation of Protestantworks from Holland.

The Stationers'company lost its traditional powers.The Houseof Commonsreacted.and prohibited unauthorized publication of anything regarding the deliberationsof the Chamber.Englandhad simply changedcensors.and charlesII createdthe post ofLicenserand Surveyor of the Pressand entrusted it to Sir Roger L.As in France during the Fronde. This did not stop the printing and distribution of books. designatingthe personsto be consulted for each type of publication.The new censorswere particularly zealousin their pursuit of the royalist newspapersheadquarteredat Oxford. Laud was tried. In England they prompted a sharp reacrion headedby Archbishop Laud.Company's control over publications. whom they suspectedof Catholic sympathies. and the new censorshad their chanceto learn the lessonof the futilitv of coercion. Next came the Glo- . and ministers who had so often denouncedthe methods of the ecclesiasticalcensors.This reversal (which incidentally was predictable) led to the publication of Milton's Areopagitica..reinforcing the system of inspections. Severalauthors had their ears.276 cneprsn srx proliferatedboth in Stuart England and in the Franceof Marie de M€dicis. L'Estrangeused his authority to reduce the number of printers in London from between thirty-nine and fifty-nine under the commonwealth to twenty.replacingthe Anglican prelatesand chaplainswith the jurists. When CharlesI was forced to call parliament into sessionin 1640 after the failure of his first military operations.5t After a period of relative toleration under cromwell. Censorsdisappeared.on occasiontheir nose. This drasticchangehad catastrophic results and prompted a new wave of pirated editions. chief adviserto charles I. and in 1637 the Star Chamber decreedthe reinstitution of prior approval. the restoration of the Stuartsbrought a return to draconianmeasures. But the absenceof regulationproducedlarge numbersof unauthorizedprintshopsand pirated editions. pamphlets and gazettesproliferated.createdimportation licenses.and forbidding book peddling.Estrange.at first with moderation.new titles were no longer registeredwith the Stationers'Company. schoolmasters. cut off. tightening control over imported volumes.Taking inspiration from the French model. With the ordinance of 14 June 164) t}re House of Commons reestablishedboth prior censorshipand the Stationers.the pressfound itself suddenly freed of all constraints.the LicensingBill of 1662 setup a rigorous systemofprior censorship. but the Presbyteriansand the Puritans who dominated the assemblyand whose main concern was to curb the propagandaof their adversariescalled for more severecontrols. and of 'Arminians. membersof parliament..

and it founded the modern notion of literary property.and his successor. This concentration. This law. At the sametime the systemof official permissionswas . with the cooperation of Fouquet. while Parliamentworked on new legislativetexts with prudent slonmess. The governing powers prohibited new promotions to master printer until further notice. The LicensingBill. During this sameperiod the Paris printers received constant visits from the commissionersof the Chatelet. Thesemeasuresreducedthe number of printing establishmentsin the capital nearly by half (in principle. to thirty-six).at least for books. then in the provinces (1686). while the lieutenant generalof police. it turned out to be a monument of liberalism. books could enter into France only through certain specifiedcitieswhere inspectionstationswere set up.Colbert was determined to imposethe rule of order in Parisand elsewhere. La Reynie. It also granted exclusiverights for twentyone years to works published before I April 1709 and granted rights for fourteen yearsto works published after that date.In practice. There is little doubt that it encouragedboth freedom of expressionand the astonishing growth of British publishing during the eighteenthcentury. and almost as stringently in the provinces. to bring out Pascal'sLettresprovinciales before S€guiercould act.kept a particularly sharpwatch over the book trade. The Elzeviersand their imitators in Amsterdam and Brusselsput out scandalmongeringlittle books (for example about the illicit love affairs of the young Louis XIV) that were soon to be found all over Paris.however.56 * The presshad never been as free in Franceas it was immediately after the Fronde.d'Argenson. first in Paris (1667). he setup an authoritarian policy that his successors continued without respite. quite naturally set off a deluge of protest from the booksellers. the right to be extended for another fourteen years if the author was living. which abolished the perpetual rights of the traditional copyright. Furthermore. extended severaltimes. The Jansenists.T U ER r r c u o r r u E B o o r rious Revolution in 1688. was abrogatedin 1696.who had solid allies in the book world.After long deliberationsduring meetingsof the Conseilde police. Attempts were made to trace and dismantle the distribution systemsfor clandestinebooks. managed.The Copyright Act of 1709 definitively abolishedprior censorship.resulted in the creation of larger and better-equippedprintshops that also were easierto keep an eye on.which occurred during a recession. Strict controls were setup at the gatesof Parisand balesof books were carefully examined by the Chambre syndicale.

During the same period a special section of the Conseil privd had responsibility for settling disputes within the book trade.In the early eighteenth century they accumulated considerablefortunes. Allies of the power structure were all the more systematically given preferential treatmentfor priviligesto publish older works. and high functionariesand men of letterswith good connections at court were chargedwith the censorshipof new books.his grandfatherwas Laurent d'Houry who had married the chambermaidof ChancellorLe Tellier'swife. and to the . was a product of this harem system.prnn Srx remodeled.Andr6-FrangoisLe Breton. This agency. to the intellectual prestige of France.by direct appointment.and they encouragedbusinessby introducing into France the English practice of financing publishing ventures by subscription.The book trade in Pariswas a closedmilieu in which mastershipswere a monopoly reservedfor the sonsor the sons-in-law of current masters.by a closefriend of the chancellorand Pontchartrains nephew.278 Cn. and extensionswere concededautomatically. Abb€Bignon.set up under Louis XIV was first headed.c.the son of Chancellor Lamoignon. On severaloccasions thesedirectorsof the book trade conductedinquiries regardingthoseunder their jurisdiction. The result was that France instituted a de facto systemof prior authorization and perpetual copyright just as England was abandoningtheirs. Later it was headed by Malesherbes.or permissionsto publish. the booksellers and the printers of Paris showedproof of both. aided by brilliant young maitresdesrequ€teson thefu way up in government careers. anadministrativepublication equivalentto the Bottin of latter-day France.held what amounted to competitive examinations to name new master printers and served as a court of appeals that set sentencesfor book piracy and the publication and distribution of "bad books. Under the Regencythey put out the monumental publications of the Benedictines. Thesepolicies quite naturally secreteda bureaucracy. Grouped in their powerful community.extending the requirementof the privilige to include almanacs.58 Thanks to such men."t7 "Good behavior" and docility were encouraged. thus obtaining the privilige to publish the Almanachroyal.A specialbureau of the chancery was charged with powers for juridiaion gracieuse-the granting of privildges. With the Revocationof the Edict of Nantesthe Paris bookseller-printersreceivedconsiderablecredits to help them print works aimed at new convertsand were the obvious beneficiariesof priviliges and royal publishing orders. the printer and chief publisher of the Encyclopddie and the first printer to the king. and influential state council members.

and Louis KV's dragoonskidnapped him to force him to give up the title.The superior of the Colldge de NeuchAteland severalnotables kept four pressesconstantly at work. enterprisingbusinessmenof intellectual tastes behind whom there often lurked a strange fauna of literary adventurers founded new fortunes aspublishersand propagandistsfor a "philosophical literature" by and large prohibited in France. who had furnished books to the French Calvinistsand inundated Iberian lands with Catholic publications distributed under falseimprints. they sold offthe Chouets'stocksto speculate on the talent of Voltaire. notably the Low Countries. This was true not only in Holland but also in England and the Belgian Low Countries.Huguenot printers and booksellersalso flocked to places of refuge. who had been modest booksellersin Saumur. the entire periphery of France took part in this activity. They concentrated on exploiting current offerings . reinforcing the existing balance of power. From l74O to 1775. Not only were the printers and booksellersof Parisdetestedby their workers and scomedby writers. But any society that is too protected and too sure of the morrow tends to becomepetrified.Parisexportedimmensenumbers of books during the Enlightenment. The systemthat had been set up to prevent all hostile propagandaended up. where the dynamic atmosphereof those lands so close to England inspired the most gifted of the exiles to innovate. whose businesshad languishedin Lyons. they were also denouncedby Malesherbesfor lacking the spirit of enterprise. where they fed the opposition to absolutism. as such systemsalways do. selling out their first editions in a few daysand leaving it to the printers of pirated editions to reprint them in the various regions. The Huguetanfamily. One of their number had been made a count of the Holy Roman Empire. Stimulated by the renewed prosperity of the empire. thanks to pressesin Bouillon and Lidge.when Gabriel and Philibert Cramer took over from the Chouet family. Their network was a veritable spider'sweb. After the revocationof the Edict of Nantes.made an immense fortune.T n r R e r c r : ol r r n n B o o r talentsof its typographersand engravers. Something like an international cartel of French publisherswas establishedoutside Francefrom Berlin to London and from Amsterdamto Geneva.teThe Desbordesfamily. They launched Voltaire'snew works. becamelarge-scalepublishersin Amsterdam.It reflected the activities of a singularly diverse small Calvinist world in which heterodoxy flourished.the elite of the Protestantintelligentsiafrom Jurieu to Bayle had gone into exile.In Geneva. and they correspondedwith a large number of French men of lettersand actedasboth literary agentsand distribution agents.

sDia tionnaire (which was forbidden in France). When Boisguilbert was given the task of investigatingL'dtatpr€sentdesaffairesde la France. under Louis KV they had been obliged to shift to pirated editions. starting in 1709 at the latest.a clandestinelyprinted work that he himself had written.Louis de Chauvelin. at the time the director of the book trade. acceptedthe dedication of a new edition of Bayle.sday..Even without support they did their best to make the systemwork.They were ferociouslypersecuted for theseactivitiesand.When somewhatlater the regent. Brilliant secondsto the Paris publishers in Corneille. toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV they only survivedthanks to the complicity of men like Boisguilbert. and their journeymen were often the sonsof masterprinters and themselveslicensed masters. to pdnt books that had aIready been published abroad. a friend of Fontenelle's. maintained amicablerelationswith booksellersin Holland.The preeminenceof Paris. As Rouen was a gateway to paris.He agreedto permit the Rouen printers.an "enlightened. prohibited books. and the privilegesthat gavethe capital not only a near monopoly on both new publicationsand existing works made their situation untenable. spirit. thus avoiding local competition. philippe d'Orl€ans.a lover of good wine. In his study of Rouen. and was aware of the disadvantagesof the proceduresthat he himself had helped to put into place. took the risk of seeingthe work in everybody. they pleadedthe causeof their fellow citizenswith Abbe Bignon. he kept a list written in his own hand of such books-books that were not downright scandalousbut to which he could not grant an official privildge. As for the members of the parlement of Rouen. The Rouen booksellers created their own copyright.where literary reputations were made and broken. They had long had a corporate organization.2go cueprrn srx more than on launching sensationalworks: for example. and the father of a daughter.6r Printerswere numerous but poorly equipped in this city of a long-standing literary and intellectual life and in a region of early literacy.the Rouen chief of police. Bignon's successor. they were expert in the art of book smuggling.shands and de- .Jean-DominiqueMellot introduces us into a strangeworld. he respondedto d'Argenson that no publication of the sort could be found. and peddlers'literature. and eachprinter recordedthe titles that he intended to publish.they reprinted the Encycloptdiebut they also contracted with smugglers to carry into France works printed in Switzerland such as scandaloustales about the loves of Louis XV and Madame Du Barry. That ecclesiastic.6o Booksellersand printers in the French provinceswere both the victims and the stakesin this game. with whom he was in constant contact.

Soon some "peddlers" rose from this milieu to open a shop and begin publishing this sort of literature.Even in the beginning of the eighteenth century prominent people receivedvisits from a new sort of canvasserwho offered them-at high prices-manuscript copies of frankly scandaloustexts.Malesherbesmight perhapshave been a good naturalist.A fine fellow but somewhatscatterbrained.an administrativeimposturethat authorizedprinters and booksellersto print and publish (with foreign or fantastic imprints) works on the censors'lists. This was the birth of the notion of tacit permission. For instance." Eventually an entire network of toleratedbooksellersprofited from both a mounting prosperity and an evolution in ideasand mores.Rousseau. This son of the severeChancellor Lamoignon had neither the qualitiesnor the defectsthat make adroit politicians and good police agents. failing to look closely enough at the manuscriptshe allowed to be printed in France. Somebecamefamous. cineof them named Merlin whom Voltaire dubbed "Merlin the Enchanter.whom he had intendedto help. A growing number of theseworks were registeredwith the chancery and when the systemof dep1tldgalwas instituted in 1537 a copy of each of thesebooks was duly entered in exactly the sameway as books published under a pivilige.62 An incoherent situation had reachedits height by the time Malesherbes was named director of the book trade.The first to be seducedby them were of coursethe membersof an establishmentthat nonethelessdid its best to maintain its privileges and prerogatives.He was obliged to play a sort of double game with his father the chancellor (as some of his predecessorshad done). and on severaloccasionshe seemsto have gone too far. The Rouen printers continued to show evengreateraudacity. The new ideas penetratedmore and more deeply into French society as the century advanced. and he seemsto have been quite often misinformed.{ r rnr Boor TnB Rsrcr:o 281 clared that he would prefer to have it printed within the kingdom rather than let money leave the country. was exiled. he lacked the consistencyto read a dossier attentively. A student of Antoine-Laurent Jussieu's. but he often let his heart rule him rather than his reason.It is hardly surprising that some of their number-members of the Malassis or the Jore families-figured prominently on the lists of prisonersin the Bastille or were sentencedto a variety of other punishments. after Emile had been published in France with a simpleverbal authorizarion. Malesherbeswas so little able to reconcile his sentimentsand his principles that when he was first presidentof the Cour des aideshe took the side of privilege during the affair of Maupeou'sconfrontationswith the .

Under Louis XVI. An essential element was still missing.however. Nearly everywhere-in Germany as in France-writers denouncedthe patronagesystemand claimed the right to make a living from the fruits of their labors.282 Cnaprnn Srx Parlement. more discreet. This did not preventbooksellersfrom settingup two sectionsin their shops. The book trade in Francebenefitedenormously. the decreesof the Council of I AugttsLITTT moved in the direction of a recognition of authors' rights by according authors a perpetual privilige when they printed and sold their own works.who in theory worked clandestinely. . The Revolution loomed. thleprivilige was reducedto the author'slifetime or a minimum of ten yearsafter the author'sdeath. the gradual repatriation of the writings of the major philosophes (for which the Panckouckescould take credit) and the police measurestaken on Vergennes'ssuggestionled to a decline of the publishing houses positioned outside France whose works had long invaded French territory.Taking the English copyright law of 1709 as a model. after which fanaticswhose nature differed totally from his own found him an obvious choice for hn expiatory victim and he ended his life on the scaffold.for books attacking the power structure and the royal family.whose works everyonewanted to read. Censorship was to bloom again in the nineteenth century but under new forms. innovation passedinto the hands of "peddler" booksellers.but whom the authoritiesintegratedinto the official ranks of the book trade at regular intervals.a public section for "good books" and another. In spite of his natural timidity Malesherbes later took a heroic stand in defenseof Louis XVI in an appearancebefore the Convention. While the closedcasteof Parisprinters and booksellerscontinued to make money without risk from the privildgesthey had accumulatedover the generations thanks to automatic extensions. when it came time for sweeping reform the systemof publishing priviligeswas totally recast. If they cededa work to a bookseller. that was becoming daily more untenable.massivenumbers of publicationsfell into a reconstituted public domain. By the samedecrees. The power structurehad taken a position againstthe philosophes. Moreover.

but unfortunately we cannot detail the {ate of change.it merely imposesa new division of labor.r According to Gambier-Chevalier. Gutenberg'sinvention was part of a broader context of an unceasingproliferation of writing and images. but a new procedurenever eliminatesits predecessor. for which we have somefigures thanks to information provided in Alix Gambier-Chevalier'sstudy of surveysof the paper industry that were sponsoredby the monarchy. I vention of printing and the great voyagesof discoveryand lasteduntil the French Revolution and the coming of the industrial revolution.We can senseprogress. we can attempt a rough approximation of French paper production during the Enlightenment.eighteenth-centuryFrance had some 750 paper mills and perhaps one thousand pulp vats.000-500. was a period in which the written word. Taking into considera283 . Gradually every region attempted to produce enough paper to meet the demands of local consumption. Tnn hvrrATroN oF WRrrrEN FoRMs The historian traditionally separateswritten culture into the age of the manuscript and the age of print. During the sameperiod.used Iittle more than 400.000 reamsof paper. and some papermakersexperimentedwith using other raw materialsthan the traditional rags. The history of the paper industry shows that paper mills constantly increased in number throughout Europe. an instrument of power. We need to turn next to the documentsof that period to examine their functions and the forms they took. combined with the pressesof the dominotierswlro put out gamesand the like and those of the copperplateengravers. By the end of the seventeenthcentury technologicaladvancespemitted improvement in paper quality. this means that the roughly ten thousand workers who worked in the mills produced somethinglike two million 500-sheetreams of paper. began to be in generaluse throughout Europe. which our schoolbookstell us began with the inTh. the approximatelyone thousand presses in French printshops. If we can estimate that each of thesevatshad an annual production capacityof two thousand reams of paper.At best.JeDet" TheFormsandFunctionsof Writing Fifteenth-EighteenthCenturies modern period. The only way we can hope to measurethat proliferation is through an evaluation of paper production.

The exchangeoperationson which all wide-scalecommercedepended had at first taken place at the greatfairs in Lyons. particularly if we remember that government officeswere already beginning to devour paper. Thus the twenty-five million Frenchmen (men.we can calculatel. were risky.t tion paper for export (partially compensatedby imports) and paper for such other usesas wrapping paper. and Frankfurt. and finance the military expenditures of the great states. Both the . Princely finances lacked organization. Italy had respondedto these challengesin the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by developing partnership contracts and insurancecontracts. and children) of the Enlightenment "consumed" an averageof some 100 sheetseach of standardnote-sizedpaper (21 x 29.the bill of exchange. taken singly. the need for public credit and the development of speculation exploiting differencesin the supply of precious metals from one place to another prompted the rise of permanent exchanges. women.pay ecclesiastical taxes.Antwerp. It also speaksof the vast inequalities in societiesof former times. This is not a great amount. Genoa.000. Francis I relied on the bankers of Lyons.7 cm). The chief problems here were to standardizetransactions.Geneva. and furnish capital to back enterprisesthat. the Habsburgshad connectionswith the Fuggers(without whom Charles V would never have been electedemperor).and the upkeep of their armies. and in order to have funds when and were they needed them heads of state contracted with powerful moneylendersfor short-term loans (constantly renewed) to pay for their sumptuary expenses. What could these sheetsof paper be used for? We need to recall briefly the role of writing in the establishmentof a Eqropean market. many of whom came from southern Germany and from Italy and who pooled their resourcesin an alliance called the Grand Parti. Later.hatFrenchrequirements for writing purposes amounted to at least one million or 500. After that date an uninterrupted flood of bills of exchangecirculated from one end of the Continent to the other.their political programs.the flrst of which appearedin Antwerp in 1531.Cneptrn Snvnr. Such men had ways to make sure they would get their money back.and double-entry bookkeeping.000sheets-for an annual per capita consumptionof some twenty sheets.arrange for billing and collection between placessomedistanceapart and in placeswhere wealth was distributed differently. They covered transfersof funds to send merchandise. The popes of the fifteenth century turned to the Medici family.

The Bank of Venicewas founded in 1584-85. paper became a transferrable asset charged with multiple meanings.at first to lessenthe confusion that arosefrom the diversity of the many coins in circulation and from fluctuationsin the relativevalues of gold and silver.Next the Dutch createdcorporations that issued stock. The Venetiansperfectedthis practice by rendering receipts made out to a merchant's name transferrableby endorsement. From the bill of exchangeto the letter of indulgenceor the stock certificate. and it was backed by precious metals that (in principle) were tucked away safelyin the bank's coffers.in 1609. it still resembleda cashier'sreceipt. Limited advancestook place in the late sixteenth century in a climate of bankruptcy and weak money. This instrument was the earliestform of paper money. Bankersat the medievaltrade fairs had already given receiptsto merchants who depositedfunds with them from one fair to the next. accompanieda famous indulgence preacher.on his preaching missions. the bank of Amsterdam. shares of which could be traded on the exchange.Spanish. which meant they could be used as credit instruments.Next.. but also to facilitate payments. The techniquesthat were used were nonethelessprimitive. Brother Tetzel.TnB Fonus eno FuNcrroNs oF WnrrrNc Fuggersand the Medicis gained control of mines and commercein ores. and in the seventeenthcentury during a period of scarce money and recession.Bills of exchange began to be endorsed. and German financiers guaranteedthe Spanish crown ready cash deliverableon the various exchangesof Europe in return for the right to remove precious metals from the Iberian peninsula at times to be ascertained.A representativeof Jakob Fugger. the Bank of Venicedelivereda standardizedreceipt prepared in varying amounts.had createda specialtype of exchangecontract in Brussels-the famous ascensios-by which Genoese.who had recently financed the election of Albert of Brandenburgto the bishopric of Mainz. and the Augsburgbanker and the Holy Father divided the proceedsfrom the sale of those tickets to heaven fifty-fifty! The Spanish monarchy.This was how international financial exchangesin Europe cameinto being.payableto the beareron sight and with interest. thus prompting the English and the French to create similar corporations. which every year eagerly awaited the return of its fleet of galleonsloaded with American silver.whose depositswere guaranteedby the municipal government. Soon banks began to accept deposits. The financierssoon went much farther.Somenoted that a respected establishmentguaranteedby public authority could issuebills for a value .

paper money has some original sins. and their theoretical treatisesseemto have flooded Francein the sixteenth century. the emergenceof an economy based on piecesof paper imbued with a symbolic value was an essentialstagein the history of writing. led the way here in 1650. It would be interestingto be able to trace the evolution of bookkeeping and accounting practices in merchant milieus from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. It took paper money more than a century to conquer the world. This system. The Bank of England was founded in 1694 after a long gestationperiod. Still. but the Spanishand the Portuguesewere still marking time. After 1650 a number of more inclusive works were published. and Berkeleycalled it a gold mine. That systemreigned unchallenged until 1796. Addison and many other British writers of the eighteenth century praisedthe institution.286 CneprxnSrvrr.which was basedon an act of faith and in one way or another on state guarantees. when Edward Thomas Jones in England suggested better proceduresfor handling the increasinglycomplex operationsof the larger firms. it still has some pernicious effectstoday. Sweden. It was the first to issuereal banknotes.engravedpromissory notes in specific values that developedinto negotiable instruments.permitted England to lay the foundations of its national wealth.whose copper money was cumbersometo carry about.r higher than its preciousmetal reserves. The Germanswere already developingmethods of their own.published in quantity beginning in the later fifteenth century testify to widespreaduse of a good many practicesbasedon the use of double-entry bookkeeping. at least among the great merchant tradersand on occasionamong the middle range.It was also the age in which JacquesSavary offered French businessmenmodels for thirteen kinds of ledgersand explainedthat Colbert had intended to use double-entry bookkeeping in the public accountsof the land. This was the age of Barr€me and his Comptes-faits. One such case . the English and the Scotsbeganto catch up. The mastersof this art (after the Italians) were the Flemish.thus earning a profit on its deposits.We do know that treatiseson accounting. a work that did much to help merchantswith their accounts.a The ledgersthat have come down to us seemto prove that the principles proposedin a number of treatiseswere applied. Like the law. The invention of the banknote was extremely recent in the beginning of the eighteenth century and when John Law introduced it into France it resultedin a failure. but old registerskeep a good many mysteries to themselves.3 This happened-once again-in a climate of crisis and bankruptcies.

Registrywas carried out by the clergy. The church played its part. was to make sure that candidatesfor ecclesiasticalbeneficeswere of canonical age.judiciary and financial files that line the shelvesof public archivesare eloquent proof of how statesmade a growing use of writing to gain an increasingly systematic grip on Westem societies. even in the eighteenth century and weak literacy skills did little to hinder developing commerce. With increasinguse of public records "the logic of writing" more and nore tightly imposedits sometimesKafkaesquelogic. but they also served the purposesof counting Catholics and verifying religious practice. and even of times closerto our own? * To passon to public writing.Daniel Defoe.another was the Soci6t6typographiquede NeuchAtel.As is alwaysthe case when the bureaucraticspirit reigns.What we know of the business practicesof some booksellersconfirms that this was often the case. Civic categorizationwas still embryonic-the identity card.which in the eighteenthcentury kept painstaking accounts and whose directors sent some 25O. whose many works included The CompleteEnglish Tradesman(17261.and the statesupervisedrecord-keepingin the interests of accuracy. which its inventors called a "passport.It was not always the case.one copy to be depositedwith the clerks of the courts of the bailliagesand the sdndchaussdes. merchantsvaried enormously in their masteryof writing. .OOO letters in about a decade.This is particularly true of Francein the age of a developingabsoluteand administrativemonarchy. In Francethe reasonbehind the royal power's original move to record civil statusin 1539." was createdby the Convention. The recording of civil statusappeared in France as early as the fourteenth century and it soon became general practice. Nonethelessit was a flrst step toward a police universe. Temporal concerns soon joined spiritual ones. the great administrative. who noted marriages.Similarly.baptisms(not births). One instanceof this was in counting and categorizingpeople. and burials (not deaths).Cannot the samebe said of the nineteenth century when the bourgeoisiereigned triumphant. "progress" often had seemingly unimportant origins. when it mandatedthe keeping of dual baptismal records. The decisionsof the Council of Trent on the keeping of marriageregisterswere incontestablyaimed at controlling the regularity of marriages. provides an example of a nearly illiterate man who used primitive accounting techniques but whose businessnonethelessprospered.Tnr Fonlrs avo FumcrroNs oF WnrrrNc 287 was the firm of Christophe Plantin and his successors.

This is particularly sffiking in the history of prior censorship of books in eighteenth-century France. Cardinal de Retz sent the clergy of Paris a model for this sort of notation that prefigured card-sort techniques.t Except in Alsacethe Revocation of the Edict of Nantespunished Protestantswho refusedto convert to Catholicism or to emigrateby depriving them of their civil identity. All that remained to do was to note the decision to grant or refusethe privilige in the last column of the register. where it was given an order number. The first stepin the processwas the submissionof a requestfor a permissron(which gavethe right to publish) and a privilige (which gaveexclusive rights to a text). along with a copy of the manuscript to be published. The French bishopsadoptedthe practiceand elaboratedon it. the director of the book trade (la librairie) named a censor. When the censor had turned in his report and given his opinion the latter was inscribed in the register as well. the work's title was copied.Thosewho refusedto marry in the church were accusedof living in concubinage. CharlesBorromeo. Jewshad an equally difificulttime getting their civil sratusrecognizeduntil the last yearsof the ancienr€gime. and the names of the person making the request and the author were noted. whose name was duly inscribedin the samerecordbook.he listed his parishionersby name. to the point of creating virtual card files on the sins and vices.in somecases along with an indication of the length of time for which the privilege was valid.when measureswere passedwith a few measuresof tolerancefor both Protestantsand Jews. but also the edifying reading. noted a number of detailsabout them.This requestwas immediately registeredin a large record book arrangedin colurnns.2gg cnlprrn srvnN 1612 Pope Paul V adoptingmethodsadvocatedby St. hence of legal existence.if parentsavoidedhaving a child baptizedhis or her birth was not recognized.6 The granting of piviliges was the responsibility of the Bureau de la librairie of the royal chancery an agencyshapedby Abbd Bignon in 1700.When a certain Father Olier was named to the "ditficult" parish of Saint-Sulpice. of the faithful. Next.the complex operationsof which Robert Estivalshas describedso knowledgeably. There were already administrative networks set up in ways that strove to be rational but that risked churning in a void. decreedthat books must be kept on the state of parishioners' souls. and revised his recordsevery three months. .the family of someonewho died without receiving the last sacramentshad to seek"alternate" ways to registerthe death.

Writing was superimposedon custom asif on an uneven and shaky . vwiting continued to gain a firm hold in the domains of justice and taxation. If we add that every bale of books that enteredParisset off another seriesof registrations.we cannot but admire the diligence of the army of scrivenerswho attemptedto supervisethe reading matter of the French.In earlier days this notice was simply summarizedin the records of the Chambre.with feuilles de jugement-"judgment papers"-bearing the information neededto draw up the letter.read out the decisionsthat the courts had reachedbut also a rare survival of the oral tradition. The redaction.As if symbolically.These began. The corridors of the Parlementwere crowded with increasing numbers of procureurswho prepared dossiers for those who cameto plead a case.a majority of the books published in France or that penetratedinto France avoided going through theseprocedures. Despite the bureaucraticperfection of these systems. thus eliminating not only the functionary who.both with the chancery and. on specific days.with the Paris printers' and booksellers' Chambre syndicale. for publicity reasons. and validation of this act set off a processthat is difficult to reconstruct.But even this was not enough. the principal result of proliferating regulations and probes was to furnish a pretext to createhundreds of posts that were lucrative for the governing elitesand costly for the French people. T}re privilige that had been obtained in this manner still had to be registered. The sameordinance further stifled traditional proceduresby stipulating that extracts of summonsesto official hearings would no longer be posted on the doors of churches and other public placesbut would be availablefrom the clerks and notaries.for which he of coursepaid a fee. notaries. In an only partially literate society thesemany efforts had only imperfect results. at least in some cases.the post of crier in the Palaisde Justicewas abolishedby the ordinance on cMc proceduresof 1667.dep)tl6galin the king's library. initialed on every page.and secretaries. This involved a new seriesof moves.Next. the personwho had requestedthe permissionand the privilege had to have a letter patent drawn up and validatedwith an official seal.and courts developedspecializedofficeswith an entire staff of clerks.but later it was carefully copied in full in a statelyhand into registerswith fine parchmentpages. verification. Then all the holder of the privilege still had to do was to deliver one copy of the freshly published book to be kept in a sort of. At the sametime.In the age of the administrativemonarchy.Tns FonMs eno FurqcrroNs oF WnrrrNc 289 The manuscript was then returned to the applicant.

as can be seenin diplomatic and administrative correspondenceand in the first printed statisticsto appear in France in the seventeenthand especiallythe eighteenth century. Still. Recourseto wdting made the incoherence of the existing system clear." or on "industry. the unequal imposition of taxes among individuals and from one region to another. and overlapping jurisdictions.and the residents of every parish electedcollectorswho were responsiblefor drawing up a list of taxablehouseholds." on "exploitation.290 Cxaprnn Ssvstr terrain.and the importance of vertical connectionsthat allowed personsof more modest status to call on the influence of more powerful people. rhe tax to be paid was then divided up. The existenceof innumerable special privileges and the government's inability to ascertainthe wealth and the revenuesof its subjects made for a dubious and arbitrary tax base.who were often recruited among tl:e 6lus. but it did not correct it. As a result." these collectors. first among the various dlections. and it was some time until legislative bodies kept a copy of record of their decisions.Between 1738 and 1761. The administration'sefforts were often in vain: on many occasionsUadition imposed continuing use of more primitive procedures.but ) the officials also took into account the opinions of the intendant and his subdelegates. The latter's shares were determined on the basisof "horse rides" (chevauchdesl made by treasurersof France and the dlus(headsof the dlection to estimate the worth of the coming harvest. when the state decidedto divide people'sresourcesinto three categoriesand apply a tax on "property. Once the decree covering the overall gdndralitdhad resulted in a list. it was printed on a form on which all parishioners'nameswere already entered. had to call on professionalsto help them.In the gdndralitdof Paris. We can well imagine the number of specialfavors and the unjust practices that each step of this sort of procedure could create. the breakdown of a compartmentalized world that writing helped to bring about made it even more evident . Despite heroic efforts. Other sourcesof confusion were the coexistence of a multiform customary law and a written law. then subdivided among the parishes.who were often closeto illiterate. as Jean Gudroult has shown concerningthe levying of taillesinthe gdndraheof Parisbetween 1740 and t787.7 The Conseildesfinancesset the brevetdestailleseachyear that statedthe global sum to be paid by each gdndralitd. the fact that procedures were adopted in all these domains helped to break down the compartments into which society was divided. registration of civic identity led to dissimulation.

whereas in Lyons the court clerks of the sdndchausste up an estate inventory only when there was litigation. and probate inventories. But just what forms of writing penetratedinto people'shomes in that period? First there were notarial acts. and professional manuals remind us of the broad range of acts that they drew up.T n r F o n m s a r o F u N c r r o N so F W n r r r N c 291 to people of a logical turn of mind that only a revolution could impose the rule of the law on everyone. to cite one example? It may be symptomatic that in the sixteenthcentury the epistolary art rather than discoursewas the focus of a great debate about prose.The kings of Frances imposed the reign of the royal notary in an attempt to limit the influence of the apostolicnotaries in the Midi. €.8 Every family of somesubstancethus beganto own "papers" that it kept with care and passedon from generationto generation. This debate still concerned a purely literary genre. credit arrangementssuch as rental contracts. In 1512 Emperor Maximilian. set rules for accessto and the exerciseof the notarial profession. but also documentsreflecting the major eventsin private life such as apprenticeshipcontracts.But. many of whom also exercisedother functions) and to reservethe redaction of such acts as probate inventories to municipal clerks and court clerks. Stategovernmentsall over Europe attempted to put some order into this proliferation. outside their businessdealings.Financial pressuresled the stateto sell excessivenumbers of notarial positions (prerevolutionary Francehad some fourteen thousand notaries. Privatepersonsmade increasinguse of the servicesof the notaries and their competitors. In FranceParisianshad a probate inventory drawn up when the deceased drew left minor heirs.Increasednumbersof complaintsabout the incompetence of notaries in Germany in the late fifteenth and early $ixteenthcenturiespoint to a crisis of growth. in a decreenot always applied in practice. An interesting study could be written on the different ways in which people and regionsregardedthe intrusion of writing in such circumstances.marriage contracts. and the first collection of letters in French-those of Etienne Pas- .to what extent might individuals pick up a pen and write personal letters. There were commercial acts such as contracts and agreementsfor the sale and transportation of commodities. and set what limits they could on the prerogativesof the seigneurialnotaries.wills. An infinite variety of practices correspondedto a variety in traditions but also to different ways of thinking.

they then became cornmon in Germany.For sometime.e This period also saw a proliferation of conversationmanuals and works on the "Perfect Secretary" or the "Up-to-date Secretary" offering model lettersfor a wide variety of circumstances. A minor notable usually neededno more than a thick register to note a lifetime of extraordinary expenses.At times people also used the blank pages of almanacs to note accounts and information of various sorts.but when combined with other evidencethey show that just prior to the French Revolution a good proportion of the population of French cities was beginning to have accessto active forms of written culture.and in Protestantlands births and deathswere often entered on the end pagesof the family Bible. has learned to write-who knows where?-thus enabling her to dispatchnotes to her suitor. reminds us how poorly information circulatedin isolatedrural societies. sent letters to his second wife.that leave quite a different impression.to the point that someepistolary writers of the late seventeenthcentury regretteda decline in their art that they attributed to its popularity.Such documentsappeared early in Italy.merchants'letters had included occasionalbits of family news.often adding a word on noteworthy events within his family or his city.'0and Mercier de Saint-L€gershows us woman seryantsand lackeys exchanginglove notesjust as their mastersdid. and they reachedFranceand England in the sixteenth century. In this fashion the "middle class" of . * There were also account books. among their conventional commercial formulas. There are a few sets of personal letters.In the following century the successof the many novels that contained letters and of Voiture'sLettresreflectedthe desireof many women of privileged circlesto learn how to write graceful missives.r' Theseare admittedly exceptional cases.292 Cneprrn SrvEN quier-appeared only in 1583. miraculously conserved.JacquesRychnerhas exhumed someastonishing documents written by journeymen typographers between 1765 and 1780. however.Jean de Coras. The affair of Martin Guerre.the Toulousejudge and a member of a humanist milieu.In Molidre's L'dcoledesfemmesArnolphe regrets that Agnds. He might alsokeep a small notebook in which he noted with particular carethe trips that enlivened an otherwise monotonous existence. In the eighteenth century the epistolary novel marked a new advance in the art of expressingone's sentiments through correspondence. for which Corasservedaspresidingjudge. a farmer's daughter. often awkwardly expressed.

* Still. avoided all paperwork that was not indispensable. Once again the history of writing brings eloquent testimony to the advancesof the written word. there were innumerable courts.The juridical system often involved complicatedwritten procedures-we need only think of the importance of the procureurs-and.On the other end of the scale.noted year by year in a closely spacedhand. ClaudeParadin and the sire de Gouberville wrote in Greek when the first recounted escapadesof the canons of Beaujeu and the sgcond his own adventures.at times even knocking at the door of the world of letters by daring to addressa memoir to the academies. the bdtardeor "mixed" hand. On occasion. Personal notation increased slowly. Nonetheless. as if to purge themselvesof at least the most admissibleof their failings. Although the minutesof.the registersof the Parlement.even in the eighteenth century and the times'most sophisticatedwritten procedureswould seemsingularly sketchytoday.the decreesof the king's council were rapidly written on a loose sheet. even when they were writing for themselvesalone." Despitethe triumph of the humanist writing .Even the biggestcommercialfirms used only a relatively small amount of paper in the eighteenth century. they were regardedas authoritative. refraining from setting down too clearly matters they deemedinappropriate or things that should not be cornmon knowledge. of the affairs of the largestnotarial firms of Paris.Similarly. and the intendants.which set the tone.In the late eighteenth century modest journeymen and artisans began to write their recollections and their reflections. Administrative structures were embryonic evenTwhere. had introduceda new model for writing. on whose parchment pages both royal decreesand its own decisionswere entered in a ceremonious and elaboratehand. three or four bundlesof documentsor registersare enough to contain the records. all this activity shows that a new spirit was abroad.12 Administrative paperwork in those times cannot compare with that of our own day. The growth of the great chanceries. a handful of intellectualscreatedthe artificial and composite script known as "humanist.who had only a small staff. might assiduously set down a full account of their relationswith God in a form resembling genuine credit and debit accounting.certain Puritans. take up very little spacein the national archives. the writers exhibited a certain restraint. while further to the south.Tnr Fonus ano FuNcrroNs oF WnrtrNc 29J officeholdersand merchantsgained an awarenessof being rooted in time in an age when it becamecofilmon practiceto engravedateson the faces of monuments.

more regular style developed. is surprisedby rhe liberties taken by men of the seventeenthand especiallyof the eighteenth century with the presentationand the form of their private texts. and Robert Granjon gave typographicalform to the French hand with the letter style known as caractdresde civilitd. and certain words were reduced to a seriesof strokes. After the Renaissance.but pressureto write more rapidly to increase the production of acts and documentsintroduced changesand modifications in the original model.294 CneprEn Srvrx style in typography.who taught calligraphy along with arithmetic and accounting. and a lesschoppy. Except in some German lands that remained faithful to their traditional gothic script out of hostility to Rome.rrAs a result there are few documentsas difficult to decipher as the original drafts of acts of the sixteenth or early seventeenthcenturies.letter-writing style becamemore flexible and took on the accentsof speech. and in an age in which conversation was an art in some circles. and it heralded modern writing styles.At the sametime. It incontestablyreflecteda desireto make manuscript texts. brought to letters a liberty of form and tone that today would . when the humanists and writers wrote in their national languages. who on occasionwrote missiveswith their own hand. the disappearanceof ancient habits encouragedthe developmentof original and more legible writing styles.Certain calligraphers attempted to canonize these scripts.spellingand punctuation had not yet acquired the rigidity they have today. As if stricken by galloping cursiveness.accessibleto everyone. The historian.Certain letterslong remainedfragmented. whose redaction and deciphering had long been reservedto specialists. who has accessto a broad range of texts.wdting showed an accelerationof strokesapplied to habits of duaus that still retained gothic underpinnings.Furthermore. they preferredtheir national scripts.following the traditional system of foot-to-head connections inherited from antiquity. it broke definitively with a tradition that had lasted nearly two thousand years.the "mixed" hand continued to reign in a large number of governmentaloffices. encouragedthe use of a "financial" hand derived from the humanist script and originally designedto make accounts and balance sheets more readable. Handwriting showed an increasing tendency to follow a fixed canon.whose dignity they proclaimed.Men high in the administration toward the end of the ancien r6gime.calligraphy and even elegant handwriting became the businessof copyistsand accountants. writing masters. This reversalof previous tendenciesoccurred in France toward the mid-seventeenthcentury.

massivequantities of these ephemeraldocuments. a newssheetabout current events. so they have only rarely come down to us. and Bibles. produced them in large numbers.14 Although tens of examplesof the 42-line Bible. There were also canards.are still in existence. and to produce handbills. Psalmbooks.which were never intended to be kept. the art of fine writing embarked on a decline consurnmated much later with the appearanceof the typewriter.rc 29' be taken as nonchalance. others recounted the exploits of the king's armies in the Italian wars. which was probably put out in fewer than 500 copies.The occasionnels on war with the Turks amounted to a genuine presscampaignin Germany and central Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. That was all before the telephone instituted new kinds of personalrelations.Thus they retain their mystery: holding in one'shands a letter of indulgence printed in 1454 that has miraculously been preservedis an . manuals to facilitate the work of administrativeoffices. first sovereignsthen leadersof political factionspublished circular lettersin support of their policies.Later a bourgeoisieof notables tended to mask its lack of savoir faire and spontaneity in an ostentatiousrespectfor forrrulas that emphasizedsocial difference. Later the various courts and still later the ecclesiasticalauthorities and local governments imitated their example.Tns FonMs auo FurscrroNs oF Wnrtrr. or the many sorts of informational piecesaimed at the broadestpossible public. Fnou rHE PosrER To rHE NEwspApER Scholarshave occasionallywonderedwhether Gutenbergand his counterparts intended to use the art of typography that they had invented to put out school grarnmars(the "Donatuses")." which convent schoolstaught along with the rudiments of music. In short.During the same age the art of yvriting a well-turned letter penned in the "English hand. and a depersonalization in hierarchical relations.miracles and diabolical manifestations. French printers.a return to compendiaof formulas. have disappeared." During the sixteenth century it becamecustomaryfor sovereignsto have the texts of their decisionsprinted and distributed to those who neededto know of them.or described"monsters.slight publicationsin pamphlet form that told of astonishing events. Finally. the arrival of the secretary-typist. was one of the accomplishments that a young lady of "good" French society was expectedto bring to marriage. probably with the encouragementof the goveflrment. One suchpiecewas the occasionnel.natural catastrophes and the passageof comets. Such print pieceswere often thrown away when they had been read.

who until then had to have specialized scribes.to copy the sametext endlessly. when a handbill (placardl appearedattacking a piece that Bayle had written against Father . and notices of spectacles. There were also the first printed publicity pieces-handbills prepared by early bookseller-publishersgiving the list of their books and announcing the visit of an agent at a place and date to be filled in by hand. Notices posted up on market days announcing some perfectly anodyne measurecould be read by troublemakerswho presentedthem to illiterate peasantsas announcementsof new taxes that ran counter to established custom.however. accordingto whom theseflyers were printed in tens of thousandsof copies. century-by-century survey of what decoratedthe walls of housesand coveredthe walls along the streetsis an impossibledream.rTTo give another example of the force of public power. notaries' announcements of sales.now freed for other tasks. These first printed "certificates" bear blank spacesin which the name of the recipient and the amount of his payment could be filled in with pen and ink.Cnaprnn SrvrN extraordinary experience. Pious imageswere to be seen everywhere.It was designedby the famous engraverJeanBaptiste Papillon.announcementsof the decreesof the Parlementand edicts of the king.but in the housesof burghers and scholarsin French cities of the seventeenthand eighteenth centuries one might also seea calendar or a thise illustrde.r' Thesebrief notes remind us of the role that handbills and postershave played in all times and placeswhen writing beganto spreadto the people.a large poster illustrated by a well-known artist and stating the main arguments of a thesis.or they displayeda proposedsolution to a problem.Mathematicians posted challengesto their colleaguesat the gatesof the colleges. A complete.One of the latter was an advertisement for bear fights and bull fights that left a blank for filling in the place and date of the spectacle. What a saving in time for both the customerand the ecclesiastical authorities. This was the origin of a number of popular revolts.16 Sincethe power structurecontrolled outsidewalls. They could have a boomerangeffect. The bishopt most recent pastoral letter would be affixed to the church doors.Streetswere lined with death notices. as Pascaldid for his treatiseon conic sections. and illustrated sheetsdescribingthe priest'sactswhen he said Mass or administeredthe sacramentshung in a good many sacristies. in times of civic peace thesedocumentsrecalledthe ubiquity of public power. We need only recall the election propagandapainted on the walls of Pompeii. as on severaloccasionsduring the seventeenth century.

however.'8This modest sheetlooks much like a page from a folio-sized book.severalcopiesof which were found only somethirty years ago padding the sideboardsof a book in the municipal library of Neuchetel. many of them recent arrivals from the country.was perhapsthe one that gaveits name to the "Affaire desplacards" in 1534. commercial advertisingcirculars.however. but the shocking denunciation that it spread throughout parisstarting with its first line. as it did in inscriptions on the walls of the cathedralof Meaux in 1525. the lieutenant of police in Paris. written in bold type. great. La Reynie.or theater tickets. in the hand-written and mimeographed materials that circulated in Paris during the riots of May 1968.the innumerable illiteratesamong the population. bound into volumes. distributed at the expense of the losing party. as is often the case. On the other hand. Nor should we forget. the placard in which Robert Estiennegavehis revisedversion of the Decalogueand proved that the doctors of the Sorbonne had been arguing on the basis of a text in which the two last commandments contained mistakes. Above all. Iike the royal acts printed by the French monarchy and distributed to officeholdersor hawked in the streets. and factums-bnefs for the accused-that were . There were also increasing numbers of the small print jobs known as bilboquets. TIneplacardper excellence. when in the eighteenthcentury the public authorities began to mark the namesof Parisstreetswith tin-plate plaquesand to number the houses. must have felt some frustration. or in Beijing during the Cultural Revolurion.T n E F o n r v r se t o FuncrroNs oF WnrrrNc 297 Maimbourg. and important abusesof the papal Mass"-had enonnous repercussions.as with the 1665 articlesby which the archbishopof Parisorderedthe parish priestsof his dioceseto sendhim written reports on the state of their parishes.They might also originate from the cMl powers. a salvo against the "horrible. there were innumerable print piecesthat. For a final example. Many of these piecescamefrom ecclesiasticalsources. had so many copiesof it posted that it set all Paris laughing and.gave Bayle a good deal of positive publicity. often take up more spacein the older French archivesthan actual books.which ranged from marriage or funeral announcements to tracts. on a different level. who detested Maimbourg. there were English balladsprinted with an accompanyingillustration that played an important part both in the religious quarrels of the sixteenth century and the disputesover freedom of the pressin the eighteenth century. In troubled times the opposition takesover the walls.There were also decreesof the parlementsand the courts.

f 620) seemsto indicate that someephemeralpiecesreached a relatively cultivatedaudiencethat included presidingjudgesof the courts. There were also accounts of royal or princely entries and of public festivities. Canards-occasionalpieceson current news items-have alreadybeen mentioned. however. It would be intriguing to know more precisely who were the readersof such pieces.'e Still. these many piecesrepresentedonly a fraction of production in a constantly increasing use of print. in Samuel Pepys'sjournal.Whenever events reacheda fever pitch. though.Lescaquetsde l'accouchie(ca. or in conversationand song in the tavern.2o Readersinterested in the full range of piecesprinted in France in the late sixteenth and early seventeenthcenturiescan find descriptionsin the Mdmoires-journaux of Pierre Taisan de L'Estoile or.l often quickly snappedup by a public alwaysfond of human-interestitems. and their wives.a totally different sort of pamphlet appeared:genuine appealsto the people.2r Nearly everywhere.often illustrated and at times resembling modem reporting. for late seventeenthcentury England. and the Diamond NecklaceAffair are excellentexamplesof these. single sheets appearedbearing pictures or songs. During great national crises.written following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.and PierreJurieu'spamphlets.We need to remember. a famous poisoner. the registersof the bookseller Jean Nicolas show clearly that only the notables of Grenoble were interestedinthe mazarinades.Cnlprnn Snvrr.in callsto order from the coadjutor'scrieursor the prince de Cond€'scriailleurs.in reading aloud within the bosom of the family or in the craftsmans shop. Similarly. distributed by other means than the usual channelsof diffusion. pamphlets of all descriptionsflooded the streets. Many pamphlets occasionedby wars and religious conflicts are really theological dissertations aimed at the learned. wealthy merchants. Political piecesdeservespecialmention: Ietters from rulers or party leaders to their followers.We need to distinguish carefully among these publications. Similarly. as Richelieu rose to power his person and actsgaverise to true political treatises. How elseare we to explain the many massmovements? .however.were more like small volumes. The affair of the marquise de Brinvilliers. often filled with personalattacks and the result of concerted action. whether in sermonsgiven by monks in support of the CatholicLeague. that such pieceswere always accompaniedby the spoken word. as the term "pamphlet" could refer to very different things. reports of an important event like the assassinationof the duc de Guiseduring the Wars of Religion or the arrestof the princesduring the Fronde.

This print explosion was accomplishedby new pressesset up throughout the kingdom. The periodical originated in newslettersby recognized. at times in port cities on the Continent (in English).prospectuses. in the long run.Studieson the questionsuggestthat in eighteenthcentury Franceone-third of the active pressesdid job work. Finally. This explainsthe existenceof well-establishedfirms that have left us practically nothing. and after 1764 electionsprompted a near deluge of tracts and postersgreat and small.What is more.The declarationsof great polemicistslike John Wilkes were circulatedin broadsheetsthrough alternatedistribution networks."cor- . wedding announcements. even though it would have been nothing in comparison to the flood of paper that submergesus today. giving a daily averageof twelve at certain times in Paris.they listed 250. political balladshad a new impact. which would have produced enough print matter to cover a good number of walls and make a host of labels. There were also circular letterssuch asthoseput out by the Nonconformist churches.even though they excludedjob work proper and some fifty thousand theater posters.and handbills. England led the way in this domain: in the eighteenth century the compilers of the Short Title Catalogue took up the challenge of including the greatestpossiblenumber of "nonbooks" in their lists.advertisements.time-tables. Hubert Carrier estimates that from five thousand to six thousand mazarinadesappearedbetween 1649 and 1653. at the dawn of the industrial revolution.and catalogues for all sorts of products were printed. Denis Pallier has counted some one thousand pieces on the Catholic Leaguepublished within a ten-year period. and after painstaking inquiry among a considerablenumber of libraries and archives. Louis Desgravessetsat nearly ten thousand the number of controversial piecesprinted in Francebetween the promulgation and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1593-1635).22 * During this sameperiod regular correspondencewritten by hand began to shift to print.Tracts.000 pieces.Tns Fonl s aNo FuNcrroNS oF Wnrrruc 299 Although we have a good many postersand ephemeralprint pieces. the democraticspirit. it encouraged freedom of expressionand.the ones we know are only a small part of what the pressesput out. This large production representsthe activity of only a limited number of presses-only some twenty out of the 138 pressesthat were operating in Paris during the Fronde-which tends to confirm the large proportion of print matter that has disappearedforever. this production grew at a dizzyingpace. after I75O. at times in the Antilles or the American colonies.

he attached particular importance to attacksagainsthim from Antwerp by polemicistsbacking the supporters of Marie de Mddicis and was even more sensitiveto attacks from the Protestantfaction. then in Tours(1646) and in Toulouse(1673\. met with notable success. published three times a week. Renaudot cleverly exploited the situation. Furthermore.put out by JeanMartin and Louis Vendosme. and the Gazette.and politicians and were later copiedfor a wider public." Furthermore. Soon after. Was the newssheetNouvellesertraordinaires dediversendroit. Richelieu had come to power with the aid of a pamphlet campaign.first as a weekly and.CneprEn Srvrr. printers very early produced almanacsand annuals that early in the seventeenthcentury took the name of mercures.the most famous of which was the Mercurefranqar (16l l).the physician Th6ophrasteRenaudot. and in 1605 Berhoevenlaunched the first periodical newssheet. after 1620.Ihe NieuweTindinghe.major merchants. to which Louis XIII occasionallydeigned to offer an anonyrnous contribution.l respondents"that were sent at more or lessfixed intervals to bankers like the Fuggers.and he attempted to set up an information network in the form of provincial branchesof his bureau.Becauseit reached the provinces only after long delays and postal expenseswere prohibitive.e Gazetteran advertisementsin the form of afticles. In Antwerp at about the sametime (1604) Abraham Berhoevenwas granted a monopoly by Archduke Albert and ArchduchessIsabelleon publication of accountsof their future victories.200 for Paris and .Renaudot's enterpriseswere well received.first in Rouen (1631)and Lyons (l$3l. He may or may not have had a hand in granting one of his prot6gds. By the sixteenthcentury there were a number of such nouvellistes in Europe.The enterprising Renaudot responded by strengtheninghis own reprint facilities in the provinces. counterfeited versions had already skimmed the market when most of the genuine copies reached their destinations. gazettesof all sortsbegan to appear.two Calvinist booksellers in Paris with connections in Holland and known only from issues published after the founding of the Gazette.a monopoly for a weekly called La Gazette. He also createda lecture seriesthat offered a talk every Monday on "divers secretsand curiositiesof the arts and sciences. although most of its advertising appearedin the newssheetof his Bureau d'adresses.started before Renaudot'snewssheetor in responseto it? Whichever camefirst.the Bureau d'adresses. He furthered the interestsof his periodical by creatingthe first publicity agencyin France.. statesmen. The press runs of t}re Gazettewere not very high: 1. tb. France was a latecomer to news publications.

2l The presscreatednew political and intellectual solidarities. but Grenoble received at least 200 copies. Becauseit reflected the reason- .Leibniz.the readeris referredto the historiesof the press. the book. written discoursein its most finished form. Mere mention of these titles indicates that in a Europe henceforth sharply divided the literary press would play an essentialrole in structuring and diversifying opinion within the cultural elites.many of which passedfrom hand to hand in a rental scheme that cost 6 liwes a year rather than the 12 liwes that a subscriptioncost.for example.2a Let me simply add that suchperiodicalsbore little resemblanceto the modern newspaper.or the Acta eruditorumof.the flrst periodical that reviewed books.Moreover.Scholarsand men of letters-"the Republic of Letters"-were in the first ranks of this rnovement. was gaining an extraordinary authority. a topic to which I shall return.Although the news periodical was a new arrival on the public sceneit took an increasingly important place in political life. the model of the book was so strong that the intention of both the editors and the readersof such periodicalswas that they would be gathered together and bound as permanent volumes. the letters in Latin that such men exchangedwere no longer enough to circulate information on the new works that were appearingthroughout Europe. For a more complete survey of the periodicals of the time.In an age when knowledge itself was becoming nationalized. They offered a somewhat random selectionof news items with no hint of the sensational.T n E F o n r v r sa N o F u n c r r o N s o F W n r r t N c 301 500 for Bordeaux. Thus in France Colbert encouragedthe founding (in 1665) of the Journaldessavants. There were soon a number of similar periodicals-Bayle's Nouvellesde la Rdpubliquedeslettres. at the time of the Fronde (16491. The only newssheetsthat escapedthat obsessionwere the advertising sheets that proliferated during the eighteenth century particularly in the French provinces. while in London the first issuesof PhilosophicalTransactions appearednot long after. B o o rs At this same time. in all their diversity. printed in Lyons.If we add that a number of specializednewssheetswere launched in France during the same period and that the news press was growing rapidly in England. Sixteennew centersfor printing the Gazette were createdbetween 1686 and 1699 and nine others from 1702 to 1716. we can say that by that time modern journalism wasborn.Jean Le Clerc'sBibliothCque universelle et historique.

r ing processand by its very organizationconditioned that process. Other elementswere gradually added to the title and the author's name: a laudatory phrase placed at the top of the title pageintroduced author and title. At the sametime.or a table was placed at the end of the book summarizing the makeup of each signature or giving the word with which each signature began. which was originally left blank. printers or booksellersneededto provide the binders with some indication of the order of the leavesin a volume. This minor revolution had been completed by the last quarter the fifteenth century.first as a simple mention of the title on the recto of the book's first leaf. and in the late fifteenth century pdnte$ began to . which dictated that the publisher must adapt his product to a potential public. but they soon found it more expedientto print it on the sheetsthemselves. and took on characteristicsof its own. Soon a separatetitle page appeared.and becauseit canonized knowledge. the bookseller'smark was placedprominently at mid-page. The most evident sign of that difference was certainly what Lucien Febwe called the "civic identity" of the book-its hallmark. Running headswere introduced. The first was a standardization implicit in the serial production of any industrially manufactured product. But the printed book also obeyedcertain laws. and then repeatedthe same elementsin a colophon at the end of the volume.2' Let me limit my remarks here to recalling that at first printers simply copied the incipit of the manuscript. adding their own namesand the date on which printing was completed.Thus a sign or a catchphrasewas put at the foot of the pageor the end of the signature. It was also subjectto the laws of the market. At first they noted the necessaryinformation by hand in ink. probably becausea printed pagemight easilybe smudgedbeforethe work could be bound. and the foot of the page was reservedfor his imprint.Cneprrn Srvrr. the manuscript. in most casesdevoting a few lines at the head of the first page of text to the title of the work and the author's name. the book more than ever appeared as a symbolic object whose very possessionconferred ownership of learning and ideologies. This serially produced object rapidly differed from its initial model. although cost imperativesmight necessitatesacrificingthe physical aspectand even the accuracyof the final product. its "label"-the history of which is traced in The Comingof the nook and the major elementsof which were the title page (a form of publicity) and folio or pagenumbers.

asItaly's larger clientelewas accustomedto humanistic script and pressrunsseemto have been bigger.he createda new. When Aldus Manutius arrived on the scenein the last years of the century. Iettresde sommefor theology.but later they often tried to economize on paper by reducing the amount of white spaceon the page. at the risk of sacrificing clarity to density.26Jensonsoon found imitators and emulatorsin severalother Italian cities. This tended to favor gothic typefaces. As long as their volumescompetedwith the copyists'books. to the point that Martin Lowry found a number of them in three librariesin Yorkshire. His classicaleditions circulated throughout Europe. Book design was also undergoing a gradual evolution. keeping to lettresde formes for liturgy.As much as possiblethey continued to use certain typefacesfor certain types of publication or to respect certain countries of origin. uniform pagesthat much resembledtheir manuscript models. opened up new possibilities for indexing and referenceand the modern table of contentsbecamepossible.Jenson'sflne-quality lettersproduced somewhat black. a typefacein . more suppleroman typeface(engravedby FrancescoGriffo) so refined that his type casescontained severalslightly different versions of some letters. Thus before the sixteenth century roman charactersremained anltalian specialty.a Frenchman. with their heavier thick strokesand reduced height. the bAtarde typefaces for vernacular languages. The first printers had attemptedto imitate as closelyaspossiblethe script of the manuscriptsthey wanted to reproduce: in Rouen printers imitated the flamboyant batarde letters of the English chancery hand as a way to break into the English market. so typographersturned increasinglyto specialists-often themselvesbooksellers-for matrices or fonts.typographershad not daredto modify the appearanceof the page. Paginati. They soon gave up using large numbers of ligatures and abbreviations becausethey cluttered the type caseand slowed the compositors. which did not replace folio numbers for another fifty years or so. shortening the height of the characters.on proper.and roman fonts for the Latin classicsand Italian authors. over the slighter roman with its more elongated ascendersand descendersthat usually required more paper to print any given text.The first roman letterswere produced in Veniceby NicolasJenson.and printing their lines closertogether. Manutius also invented italics.Tnr Fonmseno FuNcrroNsoF Wnrrrrc 303 number folios (at first often inaccurately)at the head of each leaf. Cutting new dies demanded a high degree of technical skill and took a great deal of time.

which made the works of the great Latin authors easierto read. and a "reader" (lecturer) in French at the Colldgeroyal. He admired ltaly.the vehicle of ideas.qu'on dit lettres romaines.also by the fact that they bore a genuine ideology. as the Germans. In an age in which people agreedwith Leon Battista Alberti that there was a canon for all things. which he had visited twice and where he had studied drawing with the best masters.were thought to be linked with divinity in a Neoplatonichierarchical order of things.In his book he proclaims his admiration for the French language. men like FrancescoFilelfo.dis- . Citing Strabo.the greatBaseltypefounder and the greatestspecialistin roman typefacesoutside Italy. compacting his texts inside decorativewoodcut frames of a style prefiguring Renaissance forms. with letters whose bodies were too large for the interlinear spaces. ThoseoutsideItaly who were reflectingon the problems of writing must have been struck by thesetheories. and English evidently thought it odd.French.27 The roman tlpeface was slow to gain acceptanceoutside Italy.letters.3O4 CneprnnSnvnn which he had accentedletters made in imitation of Greek. was a calligrapher. He used small gothic charactersfor glossesand an undistinguished roman for the text.a printer.rs During the Renaissance. he explains that the Latins simply borrowed their letters from the Greeks.PoggioBracciolini and Niccold de'Niccoli wrote in an adaptation of Carolingian script. The alphabetsdesignedby PeterSchoefferthe Younger. by the prestige of their origins and the prestige of the Latin texts for which they seemeda natural meansof expression. How then can we explain the triumph of "foreign' roman typefacesover the various national letter stylesin much of Europe after t530? First. Tory a rector of a university collegeand a man of many talents. an engraver. which expressedlanguage. Aldus himself may have relied on someof their conclusionswhen he had his roman capitalscut. undertook mathematicalinvestigationsof the ideal proportions for roman letters. who had consulted Piero della Francescaand worked with Leonardoda Vinci. and later Luca Pacioli. were thick.Even JosseBade long continued to use thick-set gothic fonts for his titles. but great artists like Donatello and Ghirlandaio had begun to decorate their works with inscriptions imitated from those of imperial Rome.One characteristic responsecamefrom GeoffreyTory who publisheda work in 1529 (written severalyears earlier) with a title that merits full citation: Le Champfleury: l'art et science de la due et waie proportiondeslettresattiques. among other things a calligrapherand a closefriend of Mantegna's.a painter.

3rThey needed not only to proposecoherentgrammaticalrules and rethink the spelling of words that practice had overloadedwith extra letters but also to make .or that he ends his work with models for perfectly harmonious gothic capitals. whose widow he had married. had attempteda reform of Latin spellingand punctuation. in the codification of spelling. He addsthat the idea for his book cameto him after he had worked on the decoration of Jean Grolier'stown house. Thosewho were attemptingto codi$r a rapidly evolvingFrenchlanguage ran into even more complex problems than the Italians had encountered in the age of Alberti or the Spanishin the age of Nebrija. who gradually renewed his initial stock and in particular made admirable italics. It is surprising to realize that such a great change in reading habits could occur. which these typographersinscribed into the steel of their punches. Tory statesthat he wrote his book as a serviceto French artistsengagedin the difficult task of reproducing roman letters in paintings. to createcharacterswith more body.as if it intended to drive through to the essence-the text. later Granjon and Haultin-surpassed the models of their ltalian mastersand perfecteda typography that was so simple that it must have seemedalmost aggressive.Tnr Fonus aNo Fur.however.3oLater Josse Bade and simon de colines consistentlyused diphthongs and accentsin their Latin texts.It is of little importance that Tory declareshis hope to wrire on French letters one day. French Iettersunderwent an even more important change. who used roman letters. in France at least. and phylacteries. that the champfleury itself is printed in a rather ugly roman typeface. The divorce between typographic charactersand manuscript hands was at last final. At the same time Francis I was sponsoring the printing-also in roman characters-of translations of Latin authors. thus giving his texts more space.and in a dedication at the head of one book that came from lheir presses Guillaume Fichet even congratulated his friend for having made the text so readablethat even a child could follow it. stained-glasswindows. In FranceFichet and Ireynlin. nonethelessdid their bestto make the works they brought out more readily accessible. whose atelier could boastof only primitive humanistic resources. tapestries. but a long line of talented engravers of fine characters-Augereau and Garamond. Publishersof classicaltexts. in less than a generation.rcrroNs oF WnrrrNc 305 torting them in the process.Soonnot only colines.2eIn the aesthetic revolution that was sweeping the avant-gardeof French society he had chosen his camp. and simon de colines recut punches that had belonged to Henri I Estienne.and that before the Roman invasion Gaul had been a center of Greek culture.

The first move in this direction may have come from an Englishman. certain decisions had to be made and held to. AII the diacritical marks that were eventua\ adopted in French-accent marks.De la punctuationdeIa languefranQoyse. the cedilla (probably invented by Geoffrey Tory).Estiennepublished a Briefvedoctrinepour deuement escripreselonla propri€tddu language franEoys(15331. to mark tonic syllables.completedin f 540 by a brief treatise.Simon de Colines. Thus Estienne asked Claude Garamond not only to design characterson the model of Aldus Manutius' but also to engravea set of signsthat permitted a closer rendering of French. l53l). as was the differentiationbetweenthe vowel and consonantvaluesof i and z (the letters i andj. He used Garamond's typeface immediately for a Latin-French grarnmar entitled In linguamgallicamIsagoge(Paris: Robert Estienne.in imitation of Latin.the author of a French grarnmar for English use. plus accents d'icelleby Etienne Dolet. Next. John Palsgrave. Robert Estienne. The publishers of traditional French texts seem to have begun by using accentedletters. u and vl and variant spellingsto distinguishbefween the hard and soft pronunciations of g and c. the Latinized name of the physician JacquesDu Bois. Estiennehad already conceivedthe program for his dictionaries:each Latin term or expressionwould figure in its various acceptations.Behind them we can glimpse Cl€ment Marot.next to which he would give the French equivalent. Since the French definitions would have to be written concisely and coherently.An impassionedLatinist. who had recently emergedfrom the tutelage of his step-father.Since any standardization of the sort could be effected only with the aid of the printing press. by JacobusSylvius.and Marguerite de Navarreand her friends. At fhe center of this group was an extraordinary person. the king's readers. it was essentialto have the necessarycharacterscut and to persuadeboth the typographersand the public to changetheir habits. The decisivereform came from the extremely self-contained "micromilieu" of the humanist printers: men thoroughly familiar with Latin and its grarnmar who were protected by the king.Thus it was important to devise graphic meansfor translatingthe soundsof spoken French with more precision than the traditional alphabet could achieve.the apostrophe-were proposedat that time.in particular the closed a in stressedfinal position (as in abb4l.Cnaprnn SnvnN choices among forms and pronunciations that came from very different milieus and a number of major dialects. The most difficult part of the project still . the diaeresis. after an edition of the Miroir de l'6me pdcheresse of Marguerite de Navarre. and who supportedwhat one might call monarchic centralism. closeto the chanceryand the royal courts.

They were ready to follow the phoneticians. Even though they were unaware that the eye and the mind are capableof graspingand identifying words globally. Various camps formed immediately. however. Above all.In one camp there were phoneticiansin searchof printshops that would not only put their proposalsinto effect but even agreeto engrave a totally new phonetic alphabet. felt more keenly the need to guide their readers (like Palsgravebefore them). The printers. but they soon tried to dampen the scholars' ardor in order to avoid suddenbreakswith establishedproceduresand keep a certain latitude in the vwitten form of words that they found useful for line justification.and of circumllex accentsto replacethe superfluous use of s. he noted in his ourn Grammaire. When Robert Estiennesaw that the public found the grammarsof Du Bois and the phonetician Meigret hard to use. of acute accents. the shift from custom to law was accomplished only gradually. They did much to accustomreadersto theseinnovations.had no wish to upsettheir customers. Authors. published in Genevanot long before his death in 1557. Someof them were tempted to follow the theoreticians.which was to change custom and tradition by attacking the spelling of the commonestwords. The French humanists were persuadedthat a canon existed for everything and they had dreamed of setting absolute rules. The printers made up a third party.at least at first. both of the King and of his parlement of Paris. also of his Chancery and Chambre des comptes: in which places the language is written and is pronounced in greater purity than in any other. which circulatedwidely in France. they were wise enough to retain the rules for mute letters that aid comprehensionof meaningsand functions. they did not want ro shock their public. in particular the poets of the Pl€iadewith Ronsardat their head.In the dedicationto his Tory had calledfor a "noble hearr" capableof bringing "ruIe" Champfleury . Thus their books. All this was not without consequences. Standardizing French spelling was thus an extremely slow process. that it was better to follow the customs practiced "in the courts of France.printers who worked in a milieu and for a public for whom French was more a languageof culture." Plantin in Antwerp and later the Elzeviers in Leiden and Amsterdam.made common use of the letters j and v.Ttrr Fonms lNo FuncrroNs oF WnrrrNc remained to be accomplished. formed a secondcamp. French spelling was not definitively fixed in printed texts until the mid-eighteenth century: as in so many other domains.but they often tended to be prisonersof their personalhabits and eagerto reservea margin of liberty for themselves (notably for rhymes). like the poets.

308 Cneprpn SnvnN to the French language so that it would no longer be "changed and perverted" every fifty years. the revolution that had begun in the l5l0s made a break inevitable between spoken language. Russian printers began to cut punches to print in the Russian alphabet. and written discourse with all its jurisconsults. each at its own pace. and pagination. Vernacular texts continued to be printed in the national scdpt only in German lands. which is by vocation conservative and authoritarian. one result was classical French literature. . The volumes that belonged to the great collectors of the French Renaissance have multicolored bindings at times decorated with geometrical designs and tracery that remind us it was incumbent on the ruler to honor great authors and fine editions with sumptuous covers. the bindings tell us. became regulated and even (with the Acad6mie frangaise.:. table of contents. In the long run the adoption of roman characters sacralized the printed word. for example) became an affair of state (as in China). where the gothic had never lost its creative sap (we need only think of Dtirer) and where the Protestant Reformation had made everything that came from Rome suspicious. index. Toward the mid-sixteenth century the printed book had acquired what continued to be its basic elements: title page. Inevitably these different options helped the nations of Europe to develop divergent ways of thinking. and that each is a reflection of how a text was regarded in its time. learned French. Thus progress. that each one bears the stamp of its place of birth. and successive "laws" that sanctioned or selected and that slowly imposed a new logic. We need only glance at the volumes conserved in our libraries to see that books continued to show an infinite diversity. and its destined public. During this time other nations. text (set in roman). perhaps beneficial from some points of view. Another was that oral traditions and the dialects gradually faded. legislators. henceforth promoted to the status of the national literary language. inevitably brings keenly felt mutilations. Official. adopted roman characters and set out to unify its language. where custom reigned. Further to the east. finally. After Malherbe and Vaugelas. notably with the aid of certain widely read religious texts. . which Peter the Great subjected to authoritarian revision. Eternal illusion of "the logic of writing"! In reality. We do not need to open the books to imagine who first bought them. its times. preliminary matter (increasingly often set in italics).

especiallyin the seventeenthand eighteenth centuries. bears a date from the late sixteenth century and comes from Germany. and the text make the book a whole in which every element contributesto a global expression. and to look at the spine to seewhether the cordsstand out or lie flat. the typography.Tur Fonus eNo FuNctroNs oF Wnrtrnc A binding tells us less when it bears something like the famous device JohannisGrolieriet amicorumrather than the arms of a sovereign.Such books give witness to an ostentatious possessionof a culture but also of an intention to protect it. Prominent among them are the large albums relating a princely enffy.Grolier heededhis own personaltasteaboveall. they were proclamations of a claim to loyalty and instruments of propaganda. a volume whose wooden sidesare coveredin pigskin and whose cold-stampeddecoration recalls French volumes of the early sixteenth century. for example by aiding the Aldine press." Our expert will . Grolier was probably interestedin supporting the policies of his king.A great personagein the state and a wealthy financier. a member of the king's council. "i la grdque. however. thus promoting them in France. bindings whose sole purpose was to celebrate the princesseswho might read the work or to blend in with the setting in which such ladieslived and receivedvisitors.whose publicationshe bought in greatnumber.The sameholds true of t}re Almanachroyal. Then come a mass of bindings in the great libraries that bear the arms of a ruler. On occasion there is a volume that stands out among the others in French collections. had morocco or calf bindings. a festiveoccasion. while humbler figures-even Fouquet-were content with calf. a senseof hierarchy.The overelaboratebindings of the midseventeenthcentury frequent in the circle of ChancellorS6guierare out of harmony with the texts they dress. A great many works. and wealth dictated that morocco bindings were for the ruler and the most powerful in the land. which variesfrom age to age in finenessand treatment.or a ceremony. A connoisseur has little difficulty placing and dating every binding.Distributed by the authorities to celebratean official event. Each nation lived at its own pace until the century of the Enlightenment. Decency. a minister. or somegreat personage. or an intendant. an annual publication put out by the administration bearing decorationswith hot-stampedgold leaf showing the arms of a minister.The sameis true of the infinitely delicatebindings of the eighteenthcentury when they are placed on works of piety foreign to their spirit. All he or she has to do is examine the texture of the skin. When we open it we may find that it is printed in gothic type. and his collection reminds us that harmony between the cover.

The format of a volume could reflect its symbolic value and hint at its prospectivepublic. but also the entire corpus of the Catholic tradition. if appropriate. the advanceof nationalism and national languages prompted the appearance. seem to have hardly everbeen read or even consulted. were particularly fond of parchmentbindings.a lower-grade parchment that was lesselegantbut more resistantthan calf.however. these were usually presentedprinted in two closely set columns per page. and in the eighteenthcentury it might have a title patch in a more brightly colored leather giving more information than before: the author's name.but that after. Heavy folio volumes stated the durability of tradition and an intent to bring togetherin an exhaustivewhole consecratedauthors and the surnmas of religious. This is why many of these enormous sets. Amyot translatedthe ancient classics.printers began to deliver novels and many other works unbound. the book tended to become an item of general consumption on the eve of the French Revolution.and. Suchvolumes reigned supreme. The dukes of Brunswick. In this way.the stock of works that a scholarhad to know if only to refute them. Gradually. and. however.particularly in France.of monumental works of another sort.the century of the Catholic Reformation and the age of the Enlightenment. the commentariesand summas of revisedtheology.Soon the publication of . Most of the books of the artisanal age were bound in much humbler fashion. more generally. great bibliophiles. During the Renaissanceprinters used in-folio volumes to put out the first seriesof collectedworks of the authors of Christian and paganantiquity. juridical. in two epochs.310 Cneprnn SrvrN also need to rememberthat the spine was seldomdecoratedin the Renaissance. with simple paper covers so that readers could have them bound if they wanted to keep them after reading them. and they often included some critical apparatus and used typographical indices that aided the reader who wanted to consult them without reading them through.a volume number. the title. In Francecurrent publicationsdestinedfor provincial readerswere nearly always covered in basane. as everyone knows. for example. peddlers' books were coveredwith rough blue paper. it might show the title enlivenedwith fleurons. bought systematicallyby ecclesiasticalinstitutions. As the memory of written civilization. In the late eighteenthcentury to end the series. Parchment was much used in German lands. or secular knowledge. During the Catholic Reformation they were used for three polyglot editions of the Bible. in the seventeenthcentury. And. though.

and in the late sixteenthand the seventeenth centuries it served to consecrateliving or recently deceasedauthors. Its flnest hour came in the mid-seventeenth century with the decline of the folio volume.The crisis of the years from 1645 to 1665 interrupted the successof such works.Such works ranged from Bayle's Dictionnairehistoique et critique to Diderot and d'Alembert's EnEclopddiedesarts et mdtiers. for Gallican manuals or treatiseson theology. and during his lifetime Racinewas publishedonly in duodecimo. among them Godefroy's C€rdmonialfrangais. for example. complete with notes and indices. Tradition's arsenal was well garnished once more. Voltaire'sHenriadewas published in London in 1728 in a quarto edition. whose purchaseswere indispensableto enterprisesof so large a scope. and the great publishing projects reappeareden masseonly with the Regency. As the "literary" format the quarto lent itself to a certain solemnity. r c 3ll the works of Ronsard in an edition of this sort.and Voiture. The century of Louis XIV was not a leamed age. however. Quartos were still used.Balzac. It was not overly ostentatious (for example when it offered verseprinted in italics). Soon the desire to glorify France and its tradition led French historians to write similar multivolume works. to publish such ventures as FatlrerMaimboug's historiesof heresiesor Bossuet'sOraisons funibres. as well as for the original editions of Corneille'splays. when it was used for the bellesinfidiles of the Jansenisttranslators and for famous editions of Vaugelas. which Joseph II had reprinted in his empire.T n r F o n m s e N o F u N c r r o N so F W n r r r r .Thus a new cultural project was launchedunder the patronageof the powerful and the wealthy. It later dedined.and also a good many other books of the French philosophesthat were published outside France but . however. however. symbolized the entry of the first French writer into the parnassus of immortal authors.32 Throughout this period volumesin quarto format were a brilliant second to the folio volume. The quarto format was to be revitalized in the early eighteenth century. Soon. or the Dupuy brothers' Preuvesdeslibertis de l'Eglisegallicane. M6zeray's Histoire de France. Mdnage. the vogue for dictionaries-works that surveyed a body of knowledge with the intent of deepening and enlarging it-began to challenge the closed set of traditional acquisitions by offering other summas that contradicted or reached beyond the older bodies of I<rrowledge.when they benefited from the technique of publication by subscriptionintroduced from England by the Benedictines of Saint-Maur. both in Fkanceand in Italy.Malherbe. aswas Le sidcledeLouisXN andMontesquieu's Histoirede la grandeuret ddcadence desRomains.

were neither glossednor annotated. editions of the Elzeviersand their imitators. enlarged the audiencefor that publication in a secondphaseof its history. in particular those of "less noble" genres.Often.Here too. servedfor the publication of the majority of literary texts. conceivedat a time when paper was scarce.In a societyon the decline they may have contributed to the formation of cultural countermodels. The quarto edition of the Encyclopddie. less costly. The small 18 mo. Octavo and duodecimo editions. editions put out by Hubert Cazin (for one) during the next century were more characteristic. however. The intentions that lay behind the use of the octavo and the duodecimo formats were much more complex.r were nonethelesswell receivedat court and among the great. however. printed in elegant italics. however. in principle. the bookseller-publisher'schoice of format did not always correspondto a de- .tt2 Cnaprnn Sevrr. and above all they supposeda notable familiarity with the great authors. Sincetheseformats produced volumes that could be transportedand manipulated easily they were also. could at times have an undeniablesuccess:one exampleis the "Fermiers gdndraux" edition of La Fontaine's Contes. as with Dorat's Les baisers. The Aldine octavo editions were relatively expensive. and the perfection of their pagelayout. lesscostly than the folio edition.Thesebooks. the Maitre Jacques-or Jack-of-alltrades-of publishing. It was also to be the casewith books at the end of the ancien rdgime that were conceivedaselegantobjects. Similarly the official edition of Molidre with illustrations by Boucher was published in Parisin 1755-59 in the samenoble but not ponderousformat.The pirated editions of some of theseworks show them to have had a wider public than the handful of bibliophiles who originally createdthem for their personaldelectation.a book that had spawneda long seriesof imitations.The duodecimo and 24 mo. the vogue for which was started by Andrea Alciati.they were closer to the modern editions of the French Bibliothdque de la Pldiadefor a remarkablelegibility in which technological prowess made up for small type. or such as Lesfiguresde la Bible and the Mitamorphoses d'Ovidefigurdesillustrated by Bernard Salomon for Jean I de Tournes. their adorable vignettes. During the sixteenthcentury there was a large audiencefor certain illustrated octavo or duodecimo editions such as the emblem books.bear equally little resemblanceto modern paperbacks.they have the charm of a ravishing but emptyheadedbeauty.The miniaturization of a culture offersmuch to meditate on. designedto seducethe eye by their "gallant" text. whose works.

the volumes of L'Astrdeand Cl6lie. in France as elsewhere. Clandestine publishing grew. when the booksellers were obligedto suspendthe publication of large works and to fall back on "novelties. were no more intent on lowering costswhen dealing with a wealthy clientelethan were their counterparts during the Restorationand the July Monarchy who sold novels with especiallyopen tl?ography and at extremely high prices for the most part aimed at the readershipof the Cabinetsde lecture.translated. sold for quite high prices (6 liwes for each volume of.and changedin their physical aspectto bring them into line with the spirit of the times and make them appealto a specificpublic. Computer techniques may perhaps help scholars show that Europeanculture had periodsof continuity and times of rupture. sure of their public. toward the midseventeenthcentury. The Lettresde la religieuse portugaise(1675) had scarcelymore than 750 charactersper page." they sharedthe market with the publisherswho pirated their editions. the booksellersof the time. Above all.ij Even in periodsof apparentstability. Small books could be transportedmore discreetlyand hidden more easily. The pirates.and perhaps their reduced size was a more enticing wrapping for the attractions of forbidden fruit.the "stagirrg" of the written work-never stopped evolving. Just as twelfth-century Romanesquechurchescoveredwith frescoesreflect a sensitivity and a conception .It could also be a reprint or a republication of a preexistent work. reduced pagemargins and formats in an attempt to reducethe per-copyprice. and it continued its tradition of using octavo or duodecimo formats.Cl€tiein 1660).traditional texts were ceaselesslyrevised.printed in severalthick volurnes and with large type (with only some 1. Such books may have been printed in this manner to facilitate reading by women unaccustomedto that actMty. In the early seventeenthcentury for instance. tC Every publishedwork has a prehistory.TnE Fonns exo FuNcrroNS oF Wnrrruc t13 sire to lower the price of the book. The presentationof written texts-one might say.however.adapted. who served a less wealthy provincial public.whether the work was printed from the author'smanuscript or from a copy of the author'smanuscript.200 charactersto a page). There was also a quite different reasonfor the precipitous move toward smaller formats that began.with or without his or her permission. one of the clearestof which seemsto have occurred around the l650s. In a period of crisis.

. as with Jean de Tournes' folio version of the Bible published in 1554. which continued for centuries in German lands. and RobertEstiennehimself-aesthetic considerationsoften took priority over text.t14 Cnerrrn Srver. for example. Such habits. leading to layouts in which unimportant words that happenedto occupy a prominent place are given in large capital letters and terms bearing genuine information are stifled. In other works-Robert Estienne'sin particular-the printer's mark becomes extraordinarily prominent.to let the word "Bible" stand alone at the head of the title page. which continued through the seventeenthcentury and a fondnessfor lengthy formulaic titles show the continuing dominance of spoken rhetoric over typographic rhetoric.reactedto this custom (at times aggressively)in much the same spirit as when they stripped texts of their traditional glosses. and even later in another way after restorationsof varying felicity. who admired Roman inscriptions. and that for sometime the title pagepublicized the work in lengt\ and hyperbolic phrasesin boldface type. where the words "La Sainte Bible" emergefrom the middle of the page in thick but supplecharactersseveralcentimetershigh. On some occasionsthey succeededbrilliantly. the prince of elegantpagelayouts. When title pagesfirst appeared.the booksellers'primary interest seemsto have been to make sure there was enough material on it: aslong as the gothic style lasted. This fashion.They took particular pains.At times a word is even split in two and spreadover two lines in the interestsof harmonious line spacing.r of man's relationship with God that was expressedin quite different terms when Baroque decorationswere addedto those samechurchesduring the seventeenthcentury and in totally different terms after the Revolution when the churcheswere strippeddown to skeletonsof their former selves.The greatFrenchhumanist printers. presupposedthat typography was still basedon the rhetoric of oral discourse. printed in smallercapitalsor lowercaseletters. Typography was long in winning a place of its own.sometimesleft off his mark. This meant that little attempt was made to emphasizethe author's name or the title. The title page of a book was a declaration of intent that reflects this evolving vision.who married one of Robert Estienne'sdaughters.it seemedto abhor a void. pushing the title and the imprint to the head and the foot of the page. often in two colors. as if to proclaim his self-satisfaction. as if to createa carefully calculated typographical balance between the two main elements separated only by a blank space?raEven among the greatestprinters-Colines. so each republishededition of a work expressesa successivevision of that text.Was it in reaction to this that Michel Vascosan.

It was almost a revolutionary move for Voltaire to dedicate certain of his works published outside France to foreign rulers.or official ecclesiasticalapprobation.some even with tacit permission. Thesesubtle changesoperatedas signsthat enableus to penetrateinto a somewhat Manichaean world in which books were the bearersof graces or sins but rarely seemedto carry an objective message. the gesturewas a professionof allegiancein the hope of gaining somemeasureof support. The title page often mentioned a privilige. and foreign or fictitious imprints in editions printed in France. aggressivelyfantastic imprints on the title pagesof many clandestine publications were certainly receivedas insolent challengesto the power structure.or seventeenth-centurybook. printed ostentatiouslyon the title page of a book printed by Robert Estienneor Etienne Dolet must have had a quite specialresonancein the age of the Protestant Reformation.TxE Fonus exo FuNcrroNs oF Wnlrrnc 315 The persistenceof lengthy discourseson the title page (where we would look for concise information) is still not a complete definition of a sixteenth. if one of theseguararrteesof orthodoxy were missing it was enough to arouse suspicion.The humanistswere also in the habit of placing at the head of their works verse dedicationssent by well-wishing friends to honor the publication-a form of publicity that enabled the reader to identify the circle from which the work had emerged.which the regent accepted (although in principle the work was banned in France) seemedboth an act of deflance and a wise political move. above all. Custom dictatedthat the dedication end with the same formulas as a letter. the text would begin with large decoratedinitials and was usually printed in large-sizeditalic type.Indeed. All this seemsto us pure formality. a permission. thus symbolizing the existenceof personalconnection between the monarch and his writer. show proof of governinentalimpotence. Nonetheless. In this way the author could thank a protector or solicit a reward (Erasmusoften used this means). When the king of France deigned to accepta dedicationit was presentedin the volume precededby a scroll bearing the king's arms.the full text of which might be reproducedon a later page.It was appropriateto place a new work under the protection of a ruler or a great personage. As a result dedicationscould be afflicted with enormous pomposity. This trend was completed when the traditional dedication was replaced by a foreword-an Avis au lecteur* . Similarly the solemn dedication of the third edition of Bayle's Dictionnaire. In contrast.the mention of a royal privilige.an homage that was long accompanied by offering that person a manuscript copy of the work or at least a copy printed on vellum or specialpaper and perhaps illuminated.

and various ways had been devised to indicate sections. who imposed their numbedng system and their rigid references on the great texts. They kept the traditional page layout of the works of the last Scholastics.jt6 CHeprrn SevnN claiming to establish a direct relationship between the author and the reader and launching the book on its own without a protector. in particular the Corpusjuris civilis and the Corpusjuris canonici. but more often than not they skipped the step of having a rubricator underscore the marginal signs in diflerent colors according to the structure of the argument. whose 1555 concordances introduced once more-from the numbering system still in use. sometimes by numbering them. Works had been divided into numbered "books" from late antiquity. The printers made faithful reproductions of glossed texts. The Bible had been given chapters at that time (in principle.l6 The challenge to the traditional scholarly systems of reference thus came from the humanists.the printers at first reproduced exactly what lay before their eyes in spite of the technical difficulties involved in certain layouts. The decisive move cameRobert Estienne.3T Editions of classical authors and of the Fathers of the church were given . * The essential question lies in how the text was cast in physical form. with the letters placed in the margins. and the traditional system of references by incipit. definitively). headings. following the liturgical dispositions of the early centuries of Christianity. and its chapters had been divided into sections lettered frorn a to f or g. Theologians and jurists-the kings of indexing techniques-devised a number of systems for retrieval and reference. publishers in Lyons continued to produce books using chapters. As long as they published the traditional glosses. In 1509 Henri Estienne numbered the psalms and divided them into verses. in the Psalterium quincuplex of Lefdvre d'Etaples. Somewhat after Estienne the Roman edition of Pagninus borrowed the Jewish system of verses. paragraphs. replacing these with numbers only when the critical commentaries of the new school began to appear. Next Jean Frellon in Lyons put the text of the Bible into paragraphs.35 As in other cases. they in turn had been divided into chapters. The Bible was of course the first text to which they turned their attention. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries new procedures were invented to place glosses on the page and provide visual indications of the steps in scholastic argumentation. which the Church of Rome eventually adopted.

took longer to catchon. By the late sixteenth century this becameacceptedpractice.The modern.and summaries.Vernacularworks.3e The Renaissancescholars'efforts to produce accuratetexts had singularly positive results. Advancescame one by one. simple.This choice was to some extent understandablein the caseof "canonical" texts. Systematicnumbering of the lines in verseworks. which makes one realize that people of the time had a truly different conception both of the writing of a text and of its reception.next in Pariswith Claude Chevallonand Charlotte Guillard. in which Plantin played an important role. continued to be printed as long discoursesstrung out over a great number of pageswith no paragraphs or pauses.. Learnedworks in national languages often bore marginal headingsor sidenotes. and lemmas) to indicate textual variants or to explain certain terms and expressions. was printed with no blank spaces. many novelists took care to .publishers of ancient texts gradually began to present works in numbered capitula even when the schemesomewhatfragmentedthe author'sthought. the De re navali of Lazare de Baif. Augustine insteadof the alphabeticalorder that Johann Amerbachhad used.The works of Rabelaisand Montaigne's Essaiswere printed with an equally densepagelayout.and even today plato and Plutarch'sMoralia are cited following the pagination and numbering systemsof Henri II Estienne'sedifions.as were the long multivolume novels of the seventeenthcentury. then in the Low Countries in the entourage of Christophe plantin. Erasmusused a methodical presentationof the works of St." with hanging indentations) and marginal notes to completethe footnotes. first in Baselin the time of Erasmus.all of which servedas somethinglike a parallel argument. ciphers.8 Sixteenth. Admittedly.It seemseven odder to us that the tales and novellas of Boccaccioand Marguerite de Navarrewere printed in solid blocks with no pauses. however.but somewhatabrupt system of notes won over the philosophers' scrupulousnessonly in the late seventeenthcentury.Tnr Fonnns aNo FuNcrtoNs oF WnrrrNc 3t7 similar treatrnent.The first selectionamong innumerableapocryphalpieces was made by the fifteenth-century booksellerswho first compiled various authors' completeworks. Still.and seventeenth-centuryeditors found it a much harder task to give a clear and rational critical apparatusto the texts that they had untangled from their glosses.and they adopted a presentation en hache("like an axe. a work that defined a number of terms and gave examples.At first they used an enormous number of signs (letters.subtitles. which gradually came to have systemsof reference markers introduced into them.

his discipleslater composedtreatiseson comedy and tragedy as introductions to their own dramatic works. The only way to read this sort of work without losing track of the discoursewas probably to closet oneself with it and murmur the text aloud. in which every (unnumbered) sceneis precededby a note telling how many actorsare on stageand what their namesare. Gl'Ingannati.particularly where theatricalworks are concerned.wl:ich also presentdialogue in such a way that it is hard to know who is speaking.15821. After 1576 certain authors experimented with special typographical devices to show rapid speech(G6rardde Viwe.asMicheline Lecocqhas shown.the sameis not true in Cldlieor Le grand Cyrus.prpn Sevnrl arrangepauseswithin their narrationsby inserting lettersor conversations.known in Frenchas La comddie du sacrifice (1543). an activity demanding a concentration that would indeed mean "losing oneself in a book.The practice was adopted for Italian comedy. This movement to divide plays into acts and scenesaffected comedies .who composedseveralepistlesand treatiseson comedy.first in Italy and then in France thanks to CharlesEstienne'stranslationsof the Andria of Terence(1542\ and an Italian play.the tone of their speeches.and the stagebusiness." Similarly. although a letter may be announcedby a title in L'Astrde.The idea was first taken up in fifteenth-century printed editions such as the Lyons Terenceedited by JosseBade and printed by Jean Trechsel(14931. The Strasbourgedition of the same work by Johann Gr0ninger (14961 numbers the scenes.defined the notions of "act" and "scene" and launched a revival of the theater in France.a battle (Beaubreuil.3r8 Cn.aoPrinting a dramaticwork posedparticularly complex problemsbecausethe readerhad to be helped not only to understand the text but also to senseor imagine the flow of the action by the actors' exits and entrances. The basic division of a play into acts is a convention that seemsto have come from Seneca. 15781.without stopping. deciphering its extremely long passages. Still. 1579'. it was a long time before theatrical works in the national language (exceptperhapsin Italy) adoptedthe printed form to which we are accustomedtoday and which was basedon editions of ancient drama.between the dit-il that refers to one character and the reprit-il that refers to another. CharlesEstienne.if not entire volumes. but their experiments found no imitators. Both the page layout that we find familiar and the ways we read result from a long struggle.or impatience and anger (Larivey.whereasthe notion of sceneseemsto have been introduced by Donatus and Evantius in their commentarieson Terence.).c.

with no indication of entrancesand exits. Congreve'spublishers.roFuNcrroNsoF Wnrrrnc 319 first. Establishingsome sort of balanceamong scenescameonly later. but the quarto editions of Shakespeare's plays (publishedfrom 1594 to l6li) bore neither actsnor scenes.then the endsof actsaswell. Such markings were at first sporadic but they becameincreasingly systematic until each scenebecamea self-containedunit.ar When we study a publication we cannot dissociatethe author's contribution and the aspectthat the publisher gavethe work.In the folio edition of 1623 thirty-three out of thirty-seven plays are dMded into acts and nineteen among them into acts and scenes. At the sametime stage directions increased: first monologues were noted. F. But by .In l7l0 Congreve's friend Jacob Tonson published a revised edition of Congreve's works in a much more elegant octavo edition. 164ll containstwo lines of text and a total of thirteen words. two.1636)an entire quarto page is given over to a scene (2:9) that contains five one-line speeches. every book is an Instrument of communication that must be interpreted as a whole. first put out quarto volumes in which dialogue is printed one speechafter another. on occasion not even giving the name of the characterwho is speaking. The publishersof French classicaltheater followed proceduresthat had been createdfor the plays of ancient classicalauthors. McKenzie has shown how apparently minor typographicalchangesgavetheseworks a new dignity-the dignity of all-time "61455is5"-and incited the author to refine his style. for example." "they disguise themselves.During this period English printers.As time went on. It was only in the early seventeenthcentury that someuniformity was introduced into drama in printed form. and in Corneille'sL'illusioncomique(FranqoisTarga. sceneswere broken down into smallersegmentsand more typographical deviceswere used to underscorethe division.""they fighy'). D. After about 1600 acts and scenes were used more frequently and scenic indications increased.Tnt Fonmser. then three typographical ornaments were used to mark the beginning of acts and $cenes. more pragmatic than their French counterparts.but some publishers were strikingly negligent. then the ends of both actsand scenes. No one can claim to restore a famous text to its full. observed no fixed rules. The layout began to overwhelm the text. then exits and entrances. One scenein Guillaume Colletet's Cyminde(Augustin Courb6 and Antoine de Sommaville. One. disembodiedpurity.and finally stagebusiness("he whispersin her ear. Their printed editions of plays often included a number of stagedirections. It was only in the 1709 edition that all of Shakespeare's plays were divided into both acts and scenes.

but also why all attempts to write an epic failed when the enormous scope of such a work composed by a single author and the development of the printing industry made the epic a learned and artificial composition. One entered into the book as into a city or onto a theatrical stage set. As we have seen there was no opposition between spoken and written discourse in a society in which people thronged to listen to a harangue. Jean de Tournes kept to a purely ornamental decoration. for a long time before (sometimes) being published. The answer is simple. In particular we need to distinguish between the attitude of Catholics and that of Protestants. The theater. Plantin conformed to this fashion. as they had been in classical antiquity. a sermon. Thus for some time no one imagined that discourse could be cast in any other language. but Luther's printers framed their title pages and decorated them with scenes from sacred historv. In the century of Bossuet. or a homily and the spoken word was the only means of communication for a great many men and women. a genre that was scorned at the beginning of the century was primarily performance. Generalizations this broad are of course subject to reservations. a scenic construction Iike those set up for a prince's solemn entry.I Cneprnn Srvnx the same token we need to ask why so many texts that we believe we appreciate were originally presented in a form that baffles us. or an 4chafaud. These could be a triumphal arch. Colines in his second career and. imbued with the Book. or follow any other rhetoric. We can understand why the learned considered the epic to be the finest genre. Court poetry and podsiegalante were in fact originally written to be read within certain limited circles and they circulated. later. than that of the spoken word. the sermon was omnipresent. This explains the paradox that classical literature triumphed in France through genres that were considered secondary but that occupied a particularly significant position between the spoken word and letters. In the early sixteenth century a desire to make a self-sufficient entity of the title page had led to a fashion for frames. what mattered was status. and that this was true even though literary quarrels about prose centered on the art of the letter (a sign of the times) rather than on oratory. a The illustration of books in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries reflects a comparable ambiguity. one copy generating another. Marc Fumaroli recalled some years ago that in the eyes of men of the Renaissance great writers were above all orators and men of action. Briefly. . a portico.

and abstractqualitiesor scenesborrowed from mythology. at first using mythology to revealthe secretsand the wisdom of classicalantiquity. The illustrated emblemsthat the painter Bernard Salomon created for Jean de Tournes (followed by those of Salomon'srivals) soon appeared on pieces of furniture. and ancient allegoriesunfolding like a film. For centuries painters. enamels. and faience ware. the story of a dream perhaps inspired by the technique of the arts of memory is the most famous publishedwork of all time. Vices.namusement.THs FonMs eno FuncrroNs oF WnrrrNc 721 Eventually the image escapedthe tyranny of the text and came into its own again.virtues. although composedfor his ovr. Tradition datesthis movement from Aldus Manutius' publication in 1500 of the Hypnerotomachia Polifilii. Thus new forms of allegorical iconography arose. Beyond any doubt these small-sizedworks.42Next came a number of didactic booklets in which every page bore a small picture and a short explanatory text.Love. medalists. which were translatedinto all languagesand pleasedan extremely broad public. respondedto an enormous demand. CesareRipa published his famous Iconologie in 1539.which are full of ruins. all defined with as much precision as an official description of international highway symbols today. symbolicprocessions. Just as GeoffroyTory was addressing not only typographersbut everyoneinterestedin the decorativearts.it was a sign of the times that people of the age also found Egyptian hieroglyphicsintriguing. Justice. each interpreted in a moralizing maxim. an Italian jurist. the work suggests a number of interpretationsbut never revealsall its mystery. It charmsthe readerby both its typography and the quality of its illustrations. whose Emblematadepicted such concepts asvices. Emblem books had an immediate and astonishingvogue. a work probably written by a Dominican prior of dubious morals. Wisdom. as did the emblemsin the seriesof copperplateengravingson the samethemespublished not long after in Antwerp. The cultivated public was also persuadedthat the ancient fables bore eternal . a veritable compendium of symbolic personificationsthat included Virtues. This work. and artists drew inspiration from such figures.and a broad range of other qualities. The metalanguagethat they elaboratedcalledfor codification.was also intended as a help for those who were seekinginspiration for the pewter hat-ornamentsthat were in vogue at the time. Written in an abstruselanguagethat it claims to be a mixture of Italian and Latin. Alciati explained in a "Letter to the Reader" that his book. The fashion for such works was launched by Andrea Alciati. After that camebooklets of "Figures de la Bible" and the Mdtamorphoses d'Ovidefigurles latnched by Jean de Tournes in Lyons.

This is hardly surprisingin an age in which Louis XIV the last of the Renaissanceprinces. and the heroesthat it celebratedwere viewed only through a form of scenicrepresentation. shortly before his death in 1599. like the temple of memory portrayed in its frontispiece. les imagesou tableauxde platte peinturedesdeuxPhilostrate.for epics and novels the Roman or Turkish dressof the tragi-comediesand tragedies.Jacques Callot's TheTemptation of St. The church of the Counter-Reformationused the sametechniques. invited the French aristocracy (its evident audience) to meditate on scenesfrom the most famous ancient legends. surrounded by similarly garbedprincely kin and his marshals. there were engravings celebratingimaginary triumphs such as that of Maximilian I. Therewere royal entriesresemblingthe triumphs of classicalantiquity. compiled a manual for his employer'suse. This work.to take his or her proper place in orderedrank.which he claimedwas the translation of a work by two Alexandrian Sophists. could host a banquet dressedin the gaudy theatrical costumeof a Roman emperor.322 Cnaprgn SnvrN wisdom.who was perchedon his cenotaphhalfway between heaven and earth in a church hung with draperiesand decoratedwith emblems recalling his life and his merits. By the Baroque and the classicalperiods charactersportrayed in books wore theatrical costumes:shepherds'garb and the costumes of pastoral drama for L'Astrde. The appeal of works such as this is incomprehensibleto us if we forget that the society of that age had a fondnessfor spectaclesin which it was both subjectand viewer.Anthonydepictsnothing lessthan a scenefrom an elaboratelystagedopera.A sumptuous edition of the work was published in l614 with illustrationsdrawn by Antoine Caron. In 1599 a secretaryto the duc de Nevers. Blaise de Vigendre. there were funeral ceremoniesand processionswith decoratedfloats as in the obsequies of CharlesV in Brusselsdescribedin the first work Plantin published in Antwerp. asin the innumerableceremoniesand processions in which each person acted.offering edifying explanationsand moralistic conclusionsto go with them. Thus the written word had not yet acquireda direct hold on reality.pro- .During the funeral servicesof the seventeenthcentury preachersrecalled the virtues of the deceased. Soon court festivitiesand ballets drew inspiration for themes and costumesfrom the same collections. as did French classicaltheater with its many "machines" to provide scenic effects.the court painter to the last of the Valois. as if symbolically. and on such occasionspoets (Maurice Scive and Ronsard among them) invented constructionsthat were often carried out by artists who then provided illustrations for a book.

Designwas a simple matter as long as the main task of the title page was to glorify an author. Imagesof the sort often depicted the work's main topics in allegorical form. ln one of its ultimate forms it provided the greatpainted panelsusedduring missionary campaignsto give visual form to the preacher'swords and a concreteimage of love of God or of Good and Evil.THe FonMs er. Rubens made a good many allegorical drawings that include finer points whose meaning escapesus today. as did tractsof both the Jesuitsand their adversaries. as with the Imago primi saeculiSocietatis Iesu.a work with exceptionallyfine illustrationsprinted in 1640by Plantin to celebratethe centennial of the Societyof Jesus.who usedsimilar images to illustrate their opposing views. they explain the ideal. At the height of the Catholic Reformationambitious compositionsof another sort beganto appear.the soul'sascenttoward the divine. three to either side.It was a didactic style and a point of departure for meditations and spiritual flights toward God. the printing of the copperplate engravingsthat were replacing woodcuts involved constraints that encouragedbookseller-publishersto concentratetheir figured messageon the engravedtitle page. While the mysticscalled up mental imagesto help them approach God.rcrroNsoF Wnrrrrc t23 fnoting an iconography that was both learned and broadly accessible.and the action of the companions of St. which in turn is placed between six medallions. Severalpagesof preliminary matter giving a gradual introdqction to the body of the text are followed by a seriesof emblemswith interpretative legends.an edifying style of illustration developed that tended toward the theatrical and was often inspiredby the arts of memory and the art of emblems. the objectives.for example. Ignatius in a triumphal volume that in the final analysisresemblesa festivalbook.43 That Tridentine Rome mistrusted this sort of language is well known. and Marc Fumaroli has shown that even treatiseson rhetoric followed this fashion. showing the contents of the six parts of the work. at the sametime. A medallion representingJustus Lipsius or Ronsardbeing crowned by some illustrious or symbolic personagecould be placed atop a triumphal arch whose sides were decoratedwith meditating figures of like inspiration.io Fur. The popularity of the allegorical image in the Baroque age chargedthe engravedtitle page with a new mission. as Ignatius of Loyola had taught inlis Spiitual Exercises.An androgynousfigure that could be interpreted in various ways standsabove the title. At times a marriage of text and image could enable symbolic languageto become a form of total expression.Thus the work's first pages offer a singularly homogeneouswhole with parts and subdivisionsthat might be comparedto the various parts of a church. In .

Ptolemy. which contained pictures of plants. tlc.a greatartist. which offered views of cities. In classical antiquity ancient writers had often complained of the difficulty of reproducing drawings exactly.Book illustrators desertedthe sculptural model that had so often inspired them. turned away from the complicated frontispiecesof the Antwerp style to design simple imagesshowing figures that are sculptural and. Richelieuwanted to preparea counter-thrust to the prestigiouscompositionsof the Flemish school that were being put out by his Spanishenemies. notable advances in the calculation of proportions and in optical perspective were made in the same age in which engraving and printing emerged. which meant that the works of Dioscorides. At the same time Hartmann Schedel and his nephew.Cnlprnn SevnN theselater years the Imagoprimi saeculiwas somewhat antiquated. Thus although Galen stated that the sick person must be the doctor's textbook. and. one veiled to representthe Old Testament. and the Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctamprinted by Breydenbach in 1486. and Vegetius were known only through their texts. for the Bible. these had disappeared over time. but the time for allegory had passed. and it perhaps hindered their observations of nature and oriented their classifications toward more abstract forms of definition. two female figures.somewhat glacial: Virgil being crowned by his Muse. Theophrastus. with their colors. Vitruvius. and henceforth they turned toward the painters-just as Lodovico Carracciowas giving them a new conceptionof the painter'sart.and a Bible.Theseprestigiousplatesstand out for their noble conception. We know practically nothing about what ancient cartography might have been. a Since the Renaissance. he probably knew little about anatomy since he had never performed dissections. As is known. Galen.the other unveiled to representthe New Testament. a Horace. if some ancient texts had been accompanied by drawings. which he had recently created:a Virgil. illustrations of a totally different type and expressing a new form of thought had made their appearance. and it reflectedits provincial origin.e Gart der Gesundheit printed by Schoeffer in 1485. . In the 1460s an artist went to the Holy Land to draw illustrations for two works published in Mainz. Poussin. in ClaudeMellan's engravings.surmounted by God the Father soaring in the heavens. Moreover.He called on NicolasPoussinto illustrate three of the first works published by the Imprimerie royale. Horace whose satirical mask is torn off by Apollo.

pencil in hand. Nonspecialists.a It is understandablethat when precisedescriptionwas neededthe copperplate engraving dethroned the more suggestivewoodcut.Tnt Fonus eNo FuxcrroNs oF Wnrrruc t25 the promoters of the NurembergChronicles (L4931. and Diirer made his famous engraving on the basis of descriptionsthat were sent to him. Portraitsof the aboriginal Americanswere another fine subject for meditation. and distant worlds were brought closer. Belon placed the upright skeletonsof a bird and a man sideby side at the head of his Traitddesoiseaux.and so forth-to illustrate the works of Vitruvius.collqcteda vast amount of iconographic documentation in order to show views of a number of European cities in their chronicle.By 1612 some six thousand speciesof plants.insistedthat his book not be usedto turn people away from direct study of the human body.from a dMng bell or a sea'diver'ssuit to a pneumatic mattress. and WesternEurope continued to took toward the Levant and the Holy Land more than toward the Americas. A new movement had nonethelessbeen launched. there were also pockets of resistance:the scienceof the age continued to be verbal and basedon definitions. long found it difficult to comprehend and analyze abstract figurative description. Engravingsinspired by Piero della Francescashowedthe life of the earliestpeople-the discovery of fire. The concreterepresentationsthat circulatedeverywherein this manner were an even better invitation to awarenessand imagination than words. ten times more than in Dioscorides.set off. the construction of the first houses. Conrad Gesnertramped through the Alps studying their fauna and Pierre Belon.who criticized Galen'sinaccuraciesand preacheddissection. for the Levant. Vesalius.As the historian of scienceGeorgesSartonhas pointed out. Some innovators feared that the image would itself serve as a screento block out reality.had been identified and named. The works of Ptolemy had of course begun to be . A rhinocerosbrought to Portugalwas receivedwith lively curiosity. who wanted to publish Theophrastusbut found it diffrcult to understand his descriptionswith no illustrations. Western sailors were discoveringnew worlds. Advanceswere not solely quantitative: when drawingswere circulatedand exchangedand noteswere accumulatedthey provided a sort of "feedback" to correct any given author's inaccuraciesand lacunae. The animal was offered to the pope but it died before reaching Rome.Thus imagesmultiplied.and the illustrators of Vegetius'Epitomarei militaris depicted the sometimesfantastic designsof engineersof their own times. reproductionsof works of art and depictionsof famous monuments circulatedwidely. however. Such ventures contributed to the great collectionsof observationsthat are the foundations of modern science.

CnaprnnSnvrw illustrated with maps showing distancesfrom the Holy Land.when plantin and his successors brought out first pocket atlasesthen the great Dutch atlases.Father Claude-FrangoisMdnestrier.risFables. and had no need of images.merchants.volumes of maps whose legendswere translatedinto various languagesaccording to the needs of a market in full expansion. but more concreterepresentationscontinued to be much more common than true maps.and soldiers. Chorography-city views from a nearby height or a bird's eye view of the islandsof the Venetianlagoon-was preferredto strict cartography.Poussinservesas a symbol for the end of the era of the allegorical frontispiecein France. it was not the portrait . however.Contemporary authors of secondrank had often presentedthe sametalesborrowed from Aesop.The Carte du Tendreappearedin the sameage. wrote on the languageof images-and one of his works was condemned by the church.Henceforth.but henceforththey also figured in the libraries of men of letters.ballistics. In France an ability to imagine abstractspaceseemedto accompanythe technologicalrevolution and the rapid growth of the monarchical army of the age of Mersenne and Richelieu.a Jesuitand the last theoretician of such ceremonies. even in the poems of Ronsard. Astronomic observatoriesproliferated.Jean Bdrain opted for classicalsimplicity rather than the Baroquedesignsof M6nestrier for the funeral obsequiesof QueenMarie-Thdrdsein 1683. The many treatiseson surveying. The chief problem was to give maps an iconic languageso that they could be read more easily.asThe language of the great fabulist was sufficient unto itself.and military sciencepublished at the time prove that nearly everywhere people were learning to plot space. and symbolism took refuge in court festivities and funeral ceremonies. He was describingthe beautiesof a dying form of thought. During this sametime La Fontaine was writing }.as did the maps of spiritual itinerariesdrawn up by Breton missionaries. a world in which the witch trials were over and writers were setting down fairy tales and adapting them to the customsof polite society.which is what Girolamo Cardano attempted to do. and he was writing in an age in which no one still believed in correspondencesbetween the celestialworld and the terrestrial world. following the methods of emblematicsby centering each fable on an image.Maps were working tools for sailors. Modern cartography spread out from Flandersin the late sixteenth and early seventeenthcenturies. which came a few years beforePuritan Englandforbadetheatricalrepresentationsand Milton composed his Eikonoklastes. Everything seemedto connect.

Madame de Pompadour engraveda frontispiecefor Rodogurua under Cochin'sdirection. and the younger Fournier.There was less interest in producing original works than in reproducing writing and drawing. ds. the leading typefounder of the time. A true low point in the art of the book.drew illustrations for an edition of Daphniset Chlot. and rs and . when Boileau wrote his Art podtique.46 The art of typography took on new life aswell. Louis )ilV's ministershad opened the way by commissioning Philippe Grandjean to create typefaces worthy of the Great Monarch for the Imprimerie royale. which were later to give painting such keen competition. Engraved texts imitated manuscript writing in luxury editions.and bibliophiles followed with anxious attention the progressof works that they had commissioned. The first change was in the status of the book. The princes of the blood and great lords also owned and used presses de bureau. was printed with the collaboration of her royal lover.her physician. on the other hand.Louis XV.typography was a topic for salon conversation.iis cabinetin Versailles. strove to create typefacesinspired by contemporary calligraphy. Philippe d'Orl6ans.T s B F o n n n se N o F u n c r r o N s o F W n r r r r * c of the author but the frontispiece that provided the only illustration in most books. €.He createdcharactersthat are striking for the horizontal serifs capping the lowercase&s. and she had a printing pressbrought into her apartments in Versailleson which the Tableau 6unomiqzeof Quesnay. learned to compose a text for printing at the same time as he learned to write. the century of Louis XIV produced few innovations.fixing the rules of a rigorous art in which even rhymes were made to be read and criticizing the excessesof the Baroque rhetoric of the beginning of the century he was preparing an epoch without poetry. Similarly. and the regent. He considered printing and engravng merely as ways to acquaint his subjects with the masterpieces with which he surrounded himself and the festivitieshe sponsored. Hence the fashion for engraving techniques that could createthe illusion of drawings (from crayon manner to wash drawings) and the emergenceof the first proceduresfor making color engravings. The Sun King admitted only manuscripts in }. Grandjeanchose to take inspiration from the royal calligraphers rather than wait for the commission charged by the Acaddmie des sciencesto calculate-yet another time-the ideal proportions for letters. Change occurred later and became evident in the age of the Enlightenment.

with its geometric design. its sharpcontrastsbetweenthick and thin and betweenits blacker ink and the whiteness of wove paper. (On occasionthe entire text was so framed.The paragraphconqueredall.England took the initiative in renovating the title page. If Franceset the tone in typography.put out uncluttered title pagesthat look quite modern. who were less committed to tradition than the London booksellers.and they offeredan alternative: Candide. Another Englishman and a former writing master. using forms lined with fine metal mesh to produce a paper that gavenew brilliance to luxury print jobs. where it stood as an affirmation of eternal certitudes. Baskerville also made improvements in printers' ink and cut the rounded roman charactersthat bear his name and that were inspired by those of the Imprimerie royale.) Jacob Tonson changedall that by introducing a more sober presentation inspired by the appearanceof classicalworks.so forth. seemedto have taken inspiration from the rigidity of certain Roman inscriptions.and. The discoveryof Pompeiihad a widespreadinfluence on stylesin Europe during the years of the typographic revival that was accomplishedin Madrid with Joaquim Ibarra and in Parma with Giambattista Bodoni. Titles became simple and suggestive.aT There were attempts to transferrococo style to the printed page. but he also gave a supplenessto roman letters that made them resemblethose of his British contemporary William Caslon. In Francethe Didots' style developedin stagesfrom the reign of Louis XVI to the coronation of Napoleon. worked with John Wattman to invent wove paper. Grandjean'ssuccessor. The Scottish printers. English printers had long respecteda traditional layout in which the title of the work and the printer's imprirrt were set into a frame of ornamental bands. borrowing from Louis Luce.Pierre-SimonFournier. The grandjeantypefacethus bore a relation to the chilly rigor of the colonnade of the Louvre conceivedand built by Claude Perrault after Bernini's Baroque project was abandoned.used a greatnumber of typographic ornamentsto decorate(and overdecorate)his title pagesand the first pagesof his texts. The new typography.It was at its best in the publication of pompous editions of the great classicsor for printing the Codecivil. In its most extremeforms (under the Consulateand the Empire) its letterswere lined up like soldierson parade.ou De l'optimisme. ou De l'6ducation. Paragraphshad . John Baskerville.The new typography was a consciousreturn to classicalantiquity and a reaffirmation of order.328 Cnaprrn Srvnr.48 Pagelayout also changed.r that give the impressionthat the line is perfectly straight and that rhe vertical has become law.Emile.

as did Descartesin Itjs Traitddespassionsde l'6me. The publisher of La Rochefoucauld'sMaximesused the samesystem.Lettersbecamemore rounded with Baskerville. Bodoni.as was Pascal'sLettresprovinciales. As a general rule. Although dictionaries proliferated.becauseI want to put it in a prefaceat the end of the Lettres choisies. The times .which is something that $eatly aids the reader and handily untanglesthe confusion of species. then in the early eighteenth century. but they now becamemore common practicein print.Amyot's translations of ancient classicalauthors were presentedin compactblocks of print. typographical innovations occurred in moments of rupture with tradition-first in the mid-seventeenthcentury. whose letters have more massiveblack parts but were in fact fewer to the page. Such innovations signaled the definitive fiiumph of white space over black type.In contrast. you will copy for me (I beg of you) the Harangue of La Casa.to FulcrroNs oF WnrrrNc )29 of courseappearedin sixteenth-centuryworks. and with Caslon and Foumier letters won a certain suppleness. another work that relied on demonstration.and footnotes became less weighty. Systematicuse of the paragraphwas in fact the result of a gradual process.But I would like it if the copy were ex vera recensioneCapellaniand that he [the copyist] take the trouble to divide it into severalsectionsor (to speaklike Rocolletl alindas. marginal notes tended to disappear. beginning with legislativetexts (in France.ae Thus we can understand why Descartes'Miditations should have been published without paragraphsbut the Discoursde la mithode (printed in Holland) was printed with paragraphs. At your leisure. all elementsperipheral to the text itself gave less firm information: running heads becameless precise.but La Bruydrepreferredto placeat the head of eachof his "characters"a reversed D recalling the sign used in the gothic tradition. The term alindawas officially introduced into the French languageby Guezde Balzacin a letter written in 1644:. but this was no longer true of the bellesinfiddlesof the mid-seventeenthcentury and it was even less true of their successors of the end of the century. fewer books had an index. and the Didots.The use of paragraphswas far from universal. Someauthors even numbered their paragraphs.and at times collections of philosophicalor moral reflectionsused it aswell.royal actsin particular). The paragraphwas also usedin books of natural history when a seriesof items was being described. especiallyin novels.Tnn Fonus ar.as are all my discourses.

We may have to wait for the industrial revolution for ttrat to become a priority. .It is only fair to note that the priority that the Encyclopddie gave to discourse encouragedgeneralization and made the gaps in a sometimesoutdated documentation less obvious. and the book's new layout.It is lessclear whether an interest in clarity was carried over to the general plan of the work. and of the serially produced object. Thus the Enlightenment marked the moment of triumph of the text over the image. The standardizationof the book owed a good deal to the governing powers. as demonstratedby the Enqtclopddie and its separatevolumes of plates. guided reading and tended to suggest. of a certain form of typographical rhetoric over the rhetoric of the spoken word. particularly in France. and for the appearanceof the newspaperand the arrival of a generation of people in a hurry. We should also keep in mind that both the encyclopedistswho realizedthat monumental "Dictionary of the Sciences. Arts. The book that displayed its charms in its title was no longer coy about showing its price on the samepage. Was this not the age of enlightened despotism?Beyond any doubt.What is more. which invited new forms of writing. A cursory examination of tables of contents does not give that impression. a separationfrom which it benefited.330 Cnlptsn Ssvsw were no longer propitious for references. the organizationof the text into paragraphs and an emphasison clarity facilitatedfluent reading. if not to impose. the text was now definitively divorced from the image. an interpretation. and Trades" and the members of the higher echelonsof society for whom it was designedwere no more artisansthan Marie-Antoinette was a shepherdess.

prayers.and only recently have they begun to scrutinize the book as an instrument of communication. Since action taught automatic behavior patterns. and judged. Action played a much greaterpart in the transmissionof knowledge and in the mechanismsof memorization than it does now. but also concerningthe statusand functions of the author and the author's careerstrategies. a prestige shared.By the same fJistorians of the book have long I ltoken.Thesewill be the focus of a chapter that will lead us from the readerto the author. hence the value'given to symbolizationof social order. as in respectingan order of march in processionson ceremonialoccasions. a man investedwith a transcendentpower. explained. The priest.Rememberedgestures were coupled with rememberedformulas.genuflections. Hence the importance of salutations. It is difficult to reconstructtoday the systemthat prevailedin the Westin early modern times before the industrial revolution. and chants. The new technique simply imposesa new distribution of labor in the overall systemthat conditions the way people on the various levelsof a societythink.for the transmissionof information and instructions from spiritual and temporal authorities to the population at large.8W TheBookand Society paid homage to statistics.in the village. they have perhapstended to neglectwhat Marshall Mcluhan vociferouslyrecalledwhen he assertedthat the medium itself was the message. it was predominantly conservativein both the traditional techniques and the social and religious attitudes that it passedon. Today historians are bringing new types of questionsto this topic. AppnrxrrcEsHrP rN READTNG The appearanceof a new communication techniquehardly ever eliminates the ones that precededit. taught.and making the sign of the cross. Those who had accessto writing and who spoke the French of Paris enjoyed a certain prestige in the eyes of peasantswho understood only their patois. first concerning the ways in which print materials travebeen appropriatedand read within societieswhose views of the vwitten word-whose mental universe-has never stoppedevolving and continues to do so. with the reader whom oth33r . He also acted as an intermediary as did the local lord and the notables.

and hear mischievous calumny. all of whom held a seemingly inaccessible learning. not only the church but the village tavern. From . whether in apprenticeships or in the perception of basic social models. long reserved to the clergy. in the city. which. in 1497. It was a world in which everyone's place was predetermined by birth and change was considered somehow sinful. and with print. Anyone who could master the art of the spoken word was invested with prestige. by a process of accumulation. Around 1340. in imparting notions of hierarchy.r The family played an essential role in this acculturation.2 These were exceptional cases. The manuscript did not have the force of penetration of print. from 45 to 50 percent of the children of Florence between the ages of six and thirteen were in school. and the market square. The image of the family cell reached up to the king and even to God. and a stronger state encouraged a growing use of writing. higher production figures. transmitting the principles of a stable world whose equilibrium came from tradition. the magistrate. and in the division of labor between the sexes and among the generations. that many-mouthed monster. the workshop. Writing. had shattered some of the channels of transmission of the oral tradition-the most aristocratic ones. the tale teller. the blacksmith's forge. increasing communications. with the preacher. perhaps. produced new mental attitudes only in certain large cities or certain individuals. one could also pick up hearsay. In such places one could always hear talk about a newly arrived traveler or listen to someone who was "well informed". writing could penetrate society more broadly for the first time. With the Renaissance. 70 percent of the 100.3)2 Cneprrn Ercgr ers could count on to decipher writing and. When the humanists set up culture as an autonomous force independent from both the church and the state.000 inhabitants of Valenciennes probably knew how to read. Even the most cultivated of the literati remained immersed in the atmosphere that had formed them. and salons. guardian of a particular form of oral memory for instance. however. in the cities the courts. they denounced the outmoded methods of traditional schools that relied on mechanical memorization. in relations with others. and the physician. the lawyer. clubs and associations." Such humble means of communication explain the importance of places in which sociability and exchange took place. To what extent Europeans were ready for this cultural revolution is what we need to examine next. or the beau parleur who could dazzle with his "gift of gab.

The literati of the Renaissance were primarily interestedin the formation of elites.and Erasmus outlined its methods in his De puerisstatim instituendis. Children should begin their study of the language of Ciceroat the age of sevenand should learn to read Latin beforethey began to write. They rejected Gerson'snotion that the education of women was always suspect.Like all pedagoguesof his time. however.Tnn Boor lrqo Socrrry i]7 Alberti on.Erasmusfollowed classicalwriters to statethat one could command nature only by obeying its dictates. it long was the principal stimulus for the instruction of the population at large. Whether the establishedreligion was maintained or replacedin any one place.proclaimedthat Scripturemust be the solefoundation of dogma.That position led them to condemn traditional theologicalteachingsand to embracethe . sincewriting was simply a technique. for example. writing manuals. Erasmushad little interest in mother tongues that lacked grammar and written rules: a child's surroundings and the streets would teach the vernacular. Erasmuswas directly interestedonly in the formation of the orator (in the classicalsense of the term).3 €. their patrons included cultivated princesses.and many women in their circles were extremely learned.We need to ask: to what extent did the ProtestantReformation and the Catholic Reformationconfribute to the reorgarization of schooling in the sixteenthcentury? The reformers. and helping to found pilot projectssuch asthe schoolthat the powerful drapers' guild createdat St.Parentsand schoolmastersmust thus heed the physical and emotional stageof developmentof their chargesand adapt their methods accordingly. Paul'sin-London or the trilingual college in Louvain.who rejectedthe use of Latin as a sacredlanguage.Unlike Vives. Nonethelessthey viewed the educationof the "second sex" as a meansfor providing the "first" with wives and mothers-or widows. Hence the greaterpart of the humanists' pedagogicalefforts went into elaborating theories. Above all they aimed at placing humanists and humanistic methodsin the secondaryschoolsthat city fatherswere founding everywherefor the education of their own children and small numbers of other youngsterswho showedparticular promise. Only the study of the Latin language and Latin literature could teach the budding orator how words relate to things and could initiate him into the art of discoursethat was indispensablefor the government of the city. they stessed the need for a reform in education.

and he becameconcernedthat an explosion of the Catholic Church risked fragmenting the German communities. l52O).Every child. demandeda knowledge of Latin. and Holy Scripture must be the prime focus of secondarystudies." urging even the poorest families to make an effort to educatetheir children in order to provide the preachers. This was Luther's stance in the early phases of the movement that he launched.When Luther took on the task of translating Scripture he statedin the prefaceto his translation of the New Testament (1522) that all Christians ought to read daily the Gospel according ro St.but he also denounced as illusory the notion that Scripture could be truly understood without a knowledge of the languagesthat had expressedit and stressed that the decadenceof theology was a result of the theologians' ignorance of the true Latin language. should be introduced to the Gospels before the age of nine or ten.Luther emphasizedthe school's role in "social promotion. empty the schools and universities.sacristans.and urging the authorities to oblige parentsto give children who already worked one or two hours a day away from their tasks so that they could attend school.Hebrew. Greek.Were extremistpreachersto be allowed to denounce education. Luther soon realizedthat dangerslurked in widespreadreading of Scripture. and school-mastersand -mistressesthat the new church needed.tJ4 Cnaprrn Ercnr notion that reading the Bible was the principal meansfor dissipatingerror. when feasible. . John or St. and even women should have enough education to instruct their children and their domesticservants. Paul'sEpistleto the Romans.aHe proclaimed that language is a gift of God that distinguisheshumankind from the beastsand that Germans should cultivate their beautiful language.Thus Luther called on city governmentsto occupy the place left vacant by the Catholic Church and use some of the wealth seizedfrom the abbeysand monasteriesfor a reorganizationof the schools( I 524). Any real intellectual formation. he insisted. and declarethat faith could be basedon individual reading of the Bible in German? For both Luther and Melanchthon there could be no church without schoolsand the basis of all pedagogymust be humanist pedagogy. according to Luthert appeal to the Christian nobility of the German nation (An den Christlichen Adel deutscher Nation. In the days when nothing seemedimpossiblehe saw the father and family head as the perfect catechist:it was the father'stask to explain and reinforce the lessonstaught by the preachers.and.This sort of educationwas indispensablefor anyone who wanted to participate in government. Luther becamea tirelessadvocatefor schools.

he saw it as a "Bible for the laity" that in its simplest version could be taught to the illiterate but that would also servefor students in the Latin schools as an introduction to the sacredtexts that they would study later.however. JohannesSturm.and that when the children were interrogatedthey often respondedby reciting orally taught formulas that they had not understood.Luther intended this booklet for the use of pastorsand preachers. In Strasbourg Jakob Sturm. Sturm founded Latin schoolsthat combined to form a gymnasiumdirectedby Sturm'shomonym. the Germany of Luther'sday was not yet ready for universal literacy.had one thousand young people in its schools-a-figure that implies that a large number of children did not attend school. and the population of London went from 60. it later becamean academy(1566-68) then a university (162ll. Reputed to be one of the best schoolsof its time.the Credo. During the sameperiod elementaryeducation vyasprovided in German schools-six boys' schoolswith 304 pupils and two girls' shools with 126 pupils in 1535. Luther published ltjs Kleine (1529\. On the eve of the Thirty YearsWar Lutheran visiting committees checking on the religious education of the faithful in the Rhineland noted that children did not always attend catechismclasseson Sundays. if the basesof dogma were not clearly explained. however. the reformers worked in concert with the temporal authorities to prepare well-educatedelites. was named scholarch (inspector of schools) at the suggestionof the preachersMartin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito.and primary schoolsdevelopedunevenly in the various regions. and the Pater and its formulas for the sacramentsof Baptism and the Eucharist. Luther's followers drew up a number of specific programs to aid rulers and city magistrateswho were attempting to apply his principles. with a student body of 645 in 1545. with its two-tiered explanation in extremely clear Catechismus terms of the Decalogue. the "iron man' of the city. and medicine to its upper levels. then. England had a period of remarkable prosperity from 1520 to 1640. The authorities paid less attention to German elementary schoolsthan to higher education. This establishmentoffered the rudiments of a solid humanist formation to the six lower classesand two years of elementary theology. Its population doubled.so in the final analysistheir resultswere limited.a prosperouscity with a population of sometwenty thousand.000 to .In spite of incontestable gains. law. r oS o c r e r y )35 All these efforts to improve education would be insufficient.6It is hardly surprisingthat a large number of superstitiouspracticesflourished in thesemilieus.T n E B o o x A r .5 Nearly everywhere. Thus Strasbourg.

the number of elementaryand grammar schoolsin the six countiesthat he studiedpassedfrom 35 schools in 1480 to 410 schoolsin 1660. By the sametoken.and other more modest schoolsshould be addedto thesefigures. freeholders. the schoolsproduced a number of educatedclergy and laity that seemedtoo high for a country whose administration had remained underdeveloped. This meant that at best three-fourths of the shepherds.notably on the local level. and its (often) Furitan schoolmastershad introduced it to classical democracyand a Ramist logic that taught thinking for one's self and veneration of the common law.?Thus there was a school for every twelve squaremiles and for every45. the figure falls to 38 percent in rural parishesand under 20 percent in the north and the west of England.as LawrenceStonehas pointed out. K.000 inhabitants. which dispensedpractical juridical instruction.which around 1640 had a number of students they were not to equal until the early nineteenth century.constructionworkers.Although 60 percent of townspeople knew how to sign their names in 1642.and this resulted in frustrated ambitions and resentment. The generation of the Long Parliament summoned in 1640 was one of the youngest and above all the best educatedin English history.1)6 Cnaprrn Ercnr 450.twothirds of village shopkeepersand craftsmen. Primary schooling and Puritan schooling grew at the samepace. which took in a growing number of students during the early decadesof the seventeenth century and had more than one thousand new registrantsper year between 162Oand 164OAll in all. It was a societythat was renewing itself and growing in wealth and in which the eliteswere becomingawarethat they had responsibilities. Accordingto W. the gentry and membersof the propertied classesrushed their children into institutions of secondaryand higher education. Westminster. which taught them the notion of equality. Only 23 percent of Scots could sign their namesin 1638-41. Jordan'scalculations.000. and smallholders.s One should also add the Inns of Court. and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Winchester.Public schoolswith paid tuition-Eton.and half of the mastersin the clothing and textile tradescould read a bit but were unable to wdte. Hencethe "educational revolution" of the yearsfrom 1560 to 1640 about which much has been written. Still. The distribution of ecclesiasticalholdings tripled the numbers of the landed gentry. the Gospelsin particular. The . however. but elementaryschoolingonly widened the gap betweenthe various social categories.and shopkeeperswho had attended the elementary schools read the Bible. the yeomen farmers.fishermen.

and students. Everywhere they followed the rules laid out in the Ratiostudiorumprornulgatedin i585. denounced their ultramontanism) are a familiar story. at the schoolsof Clermont or La Fldche.by 1640the Jesuits were teaching some 15. Flourishing colligesat times had over one thousand students.craftsmen. Their basic education in grammar.rather. As early as 1575therewere I25 Jesuitsecondaryschools. remained incomplete in the mid-seventeenthcentury.in mid-sized cities in particular. or a city government when they were assuredof revenues. Well-preparedpedagogues and remarkable humanists.e The Jesuitssoon encounteredimitators and competition in France and elsewhere.and on occasionthe quality of their instruction even attractedyoung Protestants.and workers who may have been at a disadvantagein the lower gradesbut in some instancesturned out to be the most brilliant students. officeholders. the Jesuits could make a text come alive better than anyone: they dramatized their teaching with theatrical performancesthat the entire city attended. not without reason.a locale. a bishop. The young of the aristocracybegan to join this movement after the mid-seventeenthcentury.THr Boox aNo Socrery Jt7 educationalrevolution in England. and their quarrels with the University of Paris (which. he eventually came around to the idea that the conquest of souls required the formation of minds. after which they offered three years Of philosophy and.000 studentsin 521 schoolsand headeda number of universities in cities from Poland to Spain. The Jesuitsdid not reach out to found schools. accompaniedby a tutor. arriving. Thanks to their efforts the northeast of France had a denser network of secondaryschools in 1650 than it had in the nineteenth century.Their arrival at times prompted protestsfrom already establishedinstitutions. Meanwhile the Jesuitswere settingto work in much the samefashion in the Catholic world. agreeing b open a school at the invitation of a ruler.Their efforts seemmas$ive when compared to the broad dispersionof Protestanteducation. The offspring of nobles. they respondedto a universal need. four years of theology.The fathers of the Society of Jesusalso managed a number of grammar schools in which Latin was taught in smaller cities and towns.and rhetoric was divided into five classesand six years of instruction. belles-lettres.and burghers nometimesfound themselvesin the minority in these schoolsamong the sons of merchants. like its counterpart in German lands. for pupils studying for the priesthood. Although Ignatius of Loyola showed some reticence regarding schooling.or the Oratorians' school in .

the jurists usually preferredto sell diplomas that guaranteedlittle or no higher learning. In lands subject to Rome this movement was spearheadedby religious congregations founded to promote charitable works. .some of the Jesuits' students went on to study at a university.After finishing the collige.to There were over fifty thousand studentsregisteredin all French colliges around 1650 (someof whom had enteredsecondaryschoolswith little or no preparation).Necessaryrevisionsto this program were gradually in- . Thosewho were still attending school next learned to write. That number remained fairly stable until the age of the Enlightenment. The schoolmastersworked with each child individually while the others kept busy as best they could. but although the professorsin the faculties of theology and medicine offered substantive courses. Gradua\ however. in principle in two years.particularly when the Calvinist school network was eliminated after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.prelates. Teachingmethods were traditional in theseschools:the curriculum was divided so that studentsprogressedfrom one clearly defined phaseto another.:. Often they were also accompaniedby a somewhat older comrade chargedwith helping them to keep up an "accelerated"pace. Catholics and Protestants shifted their emphasis. and fina\ Latin texts. working to develop a program for elementary education that would include the massesand acquaint them with true religion.then words.Thus French societygavepriority to the formation of elites to fill the innumerable officesthat the state had createdin an attempt to increaseits treasury-elites that would thus have accessto the advantages connectedwith the various forms of participation in public life.where they learnedthe arts of war but might also have relatively high-level instruction in mathematics.and notablesto reorganizeparish schoolsand to found free schools(in principle) for the poor. even the most gifted pupils neededat least three yearsto learn to read. moving from deciphering single letters to reading syllables. and at the age of fifteen or sixteen the young aristocratsmoved on to a military academy.338 Cneprrn Ercnr Juilly. In the late sixteenth century the congregationswere particularly active in regions such as Lorraine that were in contactwith Protestantism.In France.first the Compagniedu Saint-Sacrement(Company of the Most BlessedSacrament)then the Aa-secret societiesthat arose from the Marian congregationsfounded by the Jesuits-worked to persuade prominent persons. Taught in this manner.

whose astonishingly high literacy rate led the list for t689-90 with a 45 percent of men and women who signedthe marriage registers. perhaps becausein the regions of the Midi people spoke languagesand dialectsvery different from Parisian French. One exception was lhe Hautes-Alpes.The acquisition of writing skills was still dissociated ffom learning to read. Furthermore.who reorganizedthe schoolsof Lyons (and elsewhere) and founded both seminariesfor future schoolmastersand schools.where the population was better educated.r2The data tn this survey were based on signaturesin marriage records.from southern France. and instruction in arithmetic was so scant that future merchantshad to go elsewhereto completetheir training.literacy advancedunevenly from one region to another: figures are highest for the easternand northeasternregionsof France.Like many other mountain folk. 47 percent of men and 27 percent of women could do so a century later (1786-90). The data also give greaterweight to rural areasthan to the cities. usually to a writing masterwho also taught accounting. they were also book peddlers-the famous Bizoards. which greatly increasedin number during the eighteenth century. and 75 percentof men and 6l percentof women did so in l87l-75. Henceforth French children learned to read in French. at the height of a public debateconcerningthe school system.Peoplefrom comparablemilieus . and they were divided into gradelevelsor "classes"so that all studentsin one classcould work simultaneously.the figures are significanti 29 percentof French men and 14 percentof Frenchwomen signedthe marriage registersin 1686-90.a flgure that later leveled off. however. but eertainly lower than the number of those who could read. but also quite certainly becausethese regions were in generallesswealthy and more isolated.the inhabitants of the Briangon region traditionally turned to tutoring and schoolteachingin order to survive. Often without resourcesand obliged to emigrate. they were subjectto strict discipline that included their movements and their posture. Literacy ratescontinued to vary greatly. so it might give a literacy rate higher than the number of people who could actually write. since some probably could write little more than their names.rr In 1877-79.and for centuriesan imaginary line drawn from Saint-Malo to Genevaseparatednorthern France.Tnr Boox nNo Socrrry ))9 troduced by CharlesDdmia and Jean-Baptistede La Salleand the Brothers of the Christian Schools.Nonetheless. more than fifteen thousand primary-school teachersrespondedto a questionnairedistributed by recteurLouis Maggiolo on the progressof literacy that gives some indication of the successof theseefforts. The winter eveningswere long in the mountains and the Iand was poor.

Somewomen from cultivatedmilieus who had been educatedin convent schoolsbecamegreatreaders. but literacyin Scotlandbeganto rise around 1660. the Puritans embarked on the evangelizationof Walesduring the English Civil War. Thesefigures reflect an undeniable advance. After 1560. England (including Wales). women from a merchant background often learned to write in order to help their husbands. more in towns than in rural areas. A network of elementary schoolswas createdin which studentscould pursue relatively advancedstudies. Thus the figure for signatureson marriage registersrose from 25 percent in Scotlandand 30 percent in England in 1640 to 60 percent (for men) in the two countries toward the mid-eighteenth century reaching 30 percent for English women and 15 percent for Scottish women.first of devotionalbooks then.but when they did they had sometimesalreadybeen taught to read by their parents. which were the seats of administrative omces.t4Englandled at first.passedScotland'sneighbors.Figures .then taperedoff around 1770. courts. creatingsixty new schoolsand printing six thousand copiesof the Bible and three thousand New Testamentsin Welsh. in the eighteenth century of novels. there were fewer schoolsfor girls. John Knox's first tract on religious guidance contained a proposal for universal education that was confirmed by acts in 1646 and 1696. and France between 1600 and 1900. In like fashion.than in the merchant cities. to compare literacy figures for Scotland. and even universitiqs.but they seem relatively modest when contrasted with the figures for North America: 84 percent of New Englanders and 77 percent of Virginians signed their wills in 1787-97. when Catholicswere eliminated from Scotlandand the Church of Scotland was established.at the expenseof the community if need be. Despite the CounterReformation'sefforts at forming Christian wives and mothers. with some temerity.the Presbyteriansshowed an exemplary zeal for reading. Religiousactivism found its most fertile terrain in Protestantcountries. sending 150 preachersto do the job.r3 Can we pinpoint the moments when this conquestof literacy that continued to the nineteenth century leveled off or accelerated?Lawrence Stone has attempted. Other Puritans in New England resolved that the children of domestic servantswere to be educated.and some Scottishcities had Latin schoolscomparableto the English public schools.In 1587 the University of Edinburgh was addedto the three other universitiesthat had been founded in that small country during the precedingcentury. where the masseswere urged to learn to read in order to understand the Bible.Cneprrx Ercnr were more apt to read and write in the larger cities.

England. but the Calvinist elector of Brandenburg welcomed them and establishedthem in Halle in 169l-95. Prussianpeasantsmay indeed have begun to vwite their names during the eighteenth century (10 percentsignedtheir namesin 1750. vinist model would give him an advantageover them.'5 Northern European regions that had seemedsomewhatmarginal made striking advances.they founded a number of hospitals. The FrenchMidi showeda considerablelag in the sameperiod. and later in regions affectedby renewed conflict during the wars with Holland.Tgr Boor eno Socrnry )41 for the north of Frahce. The king of Prussiasaw to it that equally rigorous methodswere applied in the cadet schoolthat he establishedin Berlin. Although the Pietists encounteredsome resistance. He thought their efforts to regroup his Lutheran subjectsin line with the Cal. from Hanover to Hesse. wlth 27 percent of men and 12 percent of women who could sign their IMIInCS.and 40 percent in 1800).showthat in 1786-90.1775 the rules of Pietisteducationwere adoptedin a greatmany Lutheran lands from Prussiato Baden. Once again. the printshop founded in Halle circulateda million copiesof the Bible and two million copiesof the New Testament. 7l percent of men and 44 percent of women could sign their names. Lutheran burghers (in Hesse in particular) were furious when they contemplated princeswho had becomeabsoluterulers with courts that imitated the magnificenceof the court of Louis XIV and patricianswho spentruinous sums on luxuries when some of the population was reduced to beggary. it was when religion entered the picture that radical ad\iranceswere made in the generalmovement for literacy. They organizedinto conventiclesand preacheda return to Scripture.2 5 percentin 1765. In the Protestant lands of Germany. but reading often remained dissociatedfrom writing. In Sweden the Lutheran Church launched a vast campaignto improve reading skills.They felt that Christ had been forgotten and that the time had comefor a Second Reformationto restore the church as the apostleshad known it.The princes took fright and persecutedsuch groups. ravaged by the Thirty YearsWar.and even in the German cities of Transylvania. According to a law passedin 1686 illiterates could neither take commu- .In the century following its creation in l7ll. where sigrmturesoscillatedbetween 60 to 65 percentfor men and J7 to 42 percent for women. and between L725 and. above was a basic all they founded schoolsin which Luthert Keine Catechismus text and each new student receiveda Bible to be used for daily classwork.although not without difficulty.a higher percentagethan for Scotland. and the Netherlandsunder Austrian rule.

r6 As always. then came the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Scotland. the cradle of humanism.accessto the written word cameby degrees. part of Ireland. entered the industrial age with three-quarters of its population illiterate. new fortunes were in the making during the age of enlightened despotism. Further to the east. France (the north leading the south). the Russianeliteslooked to France. eventually becamea closedworld that lost out to the tightly knit area of ancient culture that included England.Cnarrrn Ercnr nion nor marry and women on isolatedfarms worked under the supervision of their pastorsto act as schoolmistresses for their families. The development of a market economyalwaysfavorswriting. Conversely. . and some areas of southern France were no more advanced.however. next came Prussiaand Scotland (with 20 percent illiterates) followed by the other northern lands. which increasedconnectionsand the exchangeof information. and one of the greatestobstaclesto literacy among the peoples of eastern and southern Europe long remained the closedlife of peasantsocietieswithin great domains owned by an aristocracy originally trained (along with a handful of the bourgeoisie)by rhe Jesuits and the Piarists. Meanwhile.Thus we see the same imbalance in literacythat we have seenin the book market. although only a limited elite knew how to write. MediterraneanEurope. including Galicia and Bukovina. generated progressin communication techniques (in the broad senseof the term).and the western portion of the German world. with the result that 80 percent of the Swedish faithful could decipher a text. Culture went where the wealth was. and in someperiods literacy rates even fell. Italy. according to the stillfragmentary data availableon literacy rates. the Low Countries. In the Catholic countries of southern Europe.17 * Like Spain.the circulation of men and goods. and Poland was drawing up ambitious plans on the eve of its Third Partition in 1795. In last position cameRussia(90 to 95 percentilliterates).Spain and Italy always lagged behind northern European lands. In 1850 Sweden led the list in Europe with only l0 percent of its population total illiterates.where agricultural techniques had not changed and population was stagnant. Far behind them came Spain (75 percent illiterates) and Italy (80 percent) and the other Mediterraneanand Balkan lands. Literacy rates in England and Waleshad shown little change for a century (30 to 35 percent illiterates). France followed next (40 percent illiterates).

a The shift to written culture always resulted from a desireor a willingness 'to break down the barriers of a compartmentalizedsociety and a will to join a larger community. With printing. even more.but they have also shown that it would a mistake to impute that position to the use of French in the schools. Linguistic considerationscloSely connected to ttre will of the goveming powers played an important role as well. river. There is a danger of confusing causesand effects. In one senseschoolswere the product of wealth and of a population density of more than fifty people per square kilometer.When that happened. victory always went to the strongestforces. but they were threatened with near-extinction.We also need to keep in mind the importance of the newspaperand experimentsas odd as those of Prussian rulers who attracted an elite of Protestant exiles to their land and transformed their veterans into elementary-school teachers after they had learnedtheir new trade in Berlin. It is hardly surprising that the Enlightenment in Europe was concentratedin zonesthat had a well-developednetwork of dependableroads. where rural industry made up for the poverty of certain uplands. and the withdrawal of these communities into themselveswas older: in an attempt to cleaveto the mechanismsof the . remained a cultural &sert.the cultures embodiedin the languagesthat had been thrust asidemight show gome resistance or foster brutal reactions.and. the men and women of the American colonieswho set off to conquer a vast spaceclutching their Bibles. ineluctably setting up a written languagethat contrastedwith the diversity of spoken dialects.This happenedin France in the fertile lands of Normandy and Champagne. the Swedish farm wives who taught their families to read Scripture or Luther's catechism. Elementary instruction could also depend on the reaction of people faced with an isolation imposedon them by nature.whose idiom the authorities used as a vehicle.Tus Boor amo Socrrrv t43 hndeedfrom tirne immemorial literacy developed along land. while the Massif Central. and sea routesand concentratedwhere routesintersected.French was not used systematicallyin the school systemsof France until the late nineteenth century.FranqoisFuret and JacquesOzouf have noted that Basqueand Breton lands and the regions in which the langue d'oc was spoken always came at the lower end of literacy rankings in France. as with the book peddlerswho descendedfrom hill country nearly eve4rwherein Europe. where peasantsdepended on a subsistenceeconomy.

a handful of notables-parish priests and pedagogues-sought to reinvest the Czech language with dignity.Priority was inevitably given to the formation of a relatively restrictedelite. Third. the system was conceived to guarantee the replication of the group in power and assimilatethe more gifted membersof emergingforces.When Bohemia was forcibly brought back within the Habsburgempire in 1620 several things combined to Germanize a nation with powerful traditions. a process aided by an acceleratingindustrialization that developedthe cities of the land. Could it have been otherwise? . the emperors relaxed their policy of Germanization but remained faithful to the principle of enlightened despotismin attempts to developthe school systemin their lands. During this sametime the Jesuits. During the eighteenth century the Bohemian nobility was decimatedand replacedby a military aristocracyof German origin. and the Czechpeasantry kept its children out of the parish schoolswhere they would learn a language that offered few opportunities for advancement.under JosephII use of the languageof Vienna was mandatory in the various branchesof the imperial administration. as always.The schools changed only as a result of contact with the German colonies.who attemptedto attract the massesby magnificent ceremoniesand pilgrimagesthat borrowed from popular traditions.and when offices tended to becomehereditary it more resembleda caste.which degeneratedto the point of becomingincomprehensible in certain documentsemanatingfrom the Diet. This meant that Bohemianswere by and large better educatedthan other Slavswho remained isolated. a German minority that had been settledon the edgesof a territory rich in mineral ores grew wealthy with the emergenceof an industry that Maria Theresamade every attempt to encourage. in France it came from the bourgeoisie. First.te More widespreaduse of writing and the state'sgrowing recourseto proceduresdependenton writing encouragedthe establishmentof a lay elite of humanist culture.18 The history of the Czechlanguage shows similar reactions. Second.As a result the "better society" of Bohemia tended to forget its own language. In easternEurope this elite was recruited from among the nobility. and. and they obtained the suppression of feudal dues. used Czechfor basic instruction in the primary schoolsbut later switched to German. the peasantsrevolted against a system that favored the nobility and tied them to the soil. Did this mean that Czechceasedto be a living written language?A threefold reaction occurred.j44 Cneprrn Ercnr oral tradition they totally rejected a written culture that was imposed on them.

as we have seen.becauselaw clerks use and set dovrmformulas Cadeand his rnen take to be magical. had learned to read from novels.announcements. of doubting the usefulnessof instruction for the people.Tsr Boor ero SocrerY 345 It was not easyto passfrom one world to another.however. In any event. there were the Jesuits'former pupils who had accessto what we would call the culture of letters. Some reader-writers could decipher a text out loud and write their names in block letters.to something quite new-the unleashing of mechanisms that prompted a new view of self and a spirit of abstraction. Peopleof thesetimes were highly receptiveto reading when writing skills were not required.official texts. In societiesstill imrnersedin orality.and were learning to write a proper letter with the help of manuals like the Secrdtaire d la mode. some craftsmenand merchantswho neededto write for businessreasonscould read only utilitarian documentssuch as posters. in the final analysis. part two. otherswere near-literateand. and perhaps a volume of the Bibliothdque bleue or a religious work. the notion that the people must be educatedbegan to gain ground. could decipher only the capital letters of inscriptions carved on certain walls. like certain Enlightenment philosophes.Somepeople were completely illiterate. At fust the justification for popular educationwas religious. Clitandre'svalet in Molidre's Georges Dandin. Roger Chartier has recalled (in a recent piece to which I am much indebted)'zothat in Shakespeare's Henry W. like Lubin. Still. but they found themselvesmore and more in situations that called for rwiting as well. the clothier and rebel Jack Cade and his followers debateputting a law clerk to death because writing is the instrument of a justice and a power that they reject and. On the other hand. This means that the gradual shift from the world of orality to the societyof writing that we have been examining led. it is simplistic to state that children were taught reflexesthat would make them into good Christiansand obedientsubjects. and also an ability to reachreasoneddecisionsand a higher measure of self-control. changesremained slow and gradual. The French revolutionarieswho burned feudal titles in 1789 may perhaps reflect a similar attitude.Education may well have helped people to conceive of a unique and invisible God. Then there were prdcieuses who had had some schooling. symbolically. scholarswere capable of denouncing printing as an instrument for the prostitution of learning or. as a glance at the full range of the ability to sign one'sname attests. it encourageda logic of the act as well as a logic of the word.Finally. We can imagine the tensions that such a range of skills could create. It is not bv chancethat there was concern in Venicein the . Gradually.

who can investigatethe psychologicalbackground of a representativesampling of living men and women. Moreover. The best sailorsand the best soldiersof all ageshave been those with the best education. and the works of St.in which the penetration of the written word was only partial.)46 CnaprrnErcnr fifteenth century that too many Venetian sailors were illiterate. the proportion of small collections (fewer than ten volumes) Iong remained high: they accountfor at least 75 percent of all book holdings before 1520.and sixteenthcentury Florentines who.2 percentin 1570-1608. Accnss ro rHE Boor Even more than today. 1.texts of Marian devotion. and in which books were still relatively preciousand rare objects. Today'shistorians are less fortunate than the sociologists. at their death. Augustine.being able to read in no way implied accessto even the simplestforms of book culture in societiesin which most readershad only imperfectly masteredthe techniquesof reading. they at least give us the number and often the titles of the volumes they owned on their day of death. Probateinventories are the documentsthat tell us the most about readers in past times. Although they do not permit a reconstitution of what the deceasedactually read. One need only recall the spirit of enterpriseof the Puritans. great Bible readers. Christian Bec acquaints us with the book holdings of a group of fifteenth.6 percentin l53l-69. 67. . Among the works most often mentioned were books of piety such as the GoldenLegend. and 5.The appearance of printing thus brought little changein this group of people who owned books. lives of the saints and brief treatiseson popular religion.1608. left a child or children who becamewards of the city.3percentof them in l4ll-53.4percentin1467-1520.or the many craftsmenin the fine arts who were Jacobins during the French Revolution and. after the council of Trent savonarolaand Machiavelli disappeared. It is as if book culture remained the province of an extremely small minority of wealthier citizens. 4. Historians can never be sure that they understand exactly how their ancestorsread any given text in an environment that is-to say the least-difficult to reconstruct. Although they are frequently listed in their own times. The number of libraries with more than fifty volumes increasedfrom 6 percentof librariesin f 53l-69 to l8 percentfor the period I57O.2rA first surpriseis that very few of thesepeople ownedbooks:3. leadersof the working class. later.5 percent of collections in the mid-sixteenth century and a little lessthan 50 percent of collections toward the end of the century.

Do these figures indicate that Valenciahad a particularly intense book culture? Bartholom6 Bennassarprovides some enlightening figures from Yalladolid. Valerius Maximus. and for more modem authors Dante. and Virgil.hidalgos. The learned remained faithful to Aristotle and to tradition. Petrarch. and churchmen. thanks to the penetration of classical works.T t r r B o o r e . and-above all-Erasmus. which was returned to the French crown in 1477. although there were still noblewomen who read copiously.24 Amiens. and the libraries of the nobility declined.three categories that accountedfor 75 percent of all volumesmentioned. Ovid. Horace. three-fourths of the books were owned by ledrados. within the walls.Valladolidwas alsothe seat of the court of Castile. Albert Labarre provides similar data on Amiens from 1503 to 1575. but they were increasingly influenced by humanism.Sometradesmenand some of ttre wealthier merchants owned volumes: one shoemaker even owned twenty-five books and one merchant twenty-two (booksof spirituality and novels). In Spain as in Italy. In Spain of the Golden Age in the city of Valencia. many of them shopkeepersand membersof the "mechanical" trades. or a . the general picture is one of an openmindedness and a high level of instruction :rmong at least a small part of the population. Still. A city where routesintersected. and the clergy. n oS o c r r r y from theseinventories at least. of some twenty thousand souls.22Readerswere in the minority among craftsmenand merchantsbut in the majority among nobles and even more so among physicians. Plutarch. and Pietro Bembo. They also sought books of spirituality and travel accounts.judges.443 probate inventories drawn up during this period. and spirituality were printed but also humanist texts and chivalric romances. There was very little that was new or that looked to the world beyond: Florence.702 (more than onefourth) of the 2. In strong contrast with Florence.489 probate inventories for the yeaxs1474-1560that Philippe Berger has examined mentioned books.as did the Bible.and it functioned for sometime as the capital of the kingdom and was also the seatof a university. the great Italian authors. 887 mention books.'?3 That Castilian city was a relatively active center of printing where not only books of theology. law. Livy.Through time a minority of ctaftsmen stood out from the others.Of the 4. remained true to its past. members of the liberal professions accumulatedvolumes. Among secularworks the authors most cited were Boethius. the appearanceof printing brought no revolutionary change in a city in which culture was already well established.Ariosto.where few books not of a popular nature were printed.Boccaccio. had an urban population.

and 40 others.seemto servetradition in the form of a family book of hours. and history (about 140. among them a dozen by St. We can identify somethree thousand of the twelve thousand works mentioned (though not always described)in thesedata. and four merchants each owned more than fifty volumes. as do 129 of the 168 men of the law.or a copy of the Golden Legendor some other book that fell into the owner's hands perhaps by chance. as indicated by the presenceof the 205 works by Greek and Latin authors noted above.4l missals. a Psalter. as in Valencia and Valladolid. all 33 membersof the medical professions. among them ValeriusMaximus and 9 copies of the La mer deshistoiresl. the daughtersand widows of noblemen or of men from the milieus of the law and the administration or medicine. 128 breviaries. Also included among these 40 others were some women. and 8 of Homer). printed books were primarily reservedto clericsand servantsof the temporal powers. In lessexalted milieus.Among ecclesiastics.143 out of a total of 196 inventoriesmention books.and one person owned as many as 500 volumes. Augustine. twenty-one of them owned more than 100 volumes. persons from the worlds of the robe.and the church.only 543 of which mention books among the possessions of 26I merchants. Piety and liturgy accountedfor nearly all the reading matter of the citizens of Amiens who owned only one or two books.9 of Virgil. 42 copies of the GoldenLegend. One might well wonder how the Reformation managedto pene- .there were also more than four thousand inventories of the possessionsof deceased from other social categories.There were alsobooks on the law (64). many of which were coursebooks on civil and canon law.534. among them 19 works of Ovid.and 38 out of 52 nobles.Fifty-eight nobles. perhapsa Bible. belles-Iettres(396 titles.and some 50 works of the Fathersof the church.98 tradesmen. 27 Psalters.It is in particular among the larger libraries that we can seetracesof the humanistic spirit.More than half of the identifiablebooks-1. 17 of Cicero. 120 Bibles.thanks to many books on medicine). Thesedata clearly show that in Amiens during the Renaissanceand the Reformation.some 30 postillas. as if symbolically. giving an overall figure of 344 ottt of 449 membersof the privileged professionswho mention books. books.C n e p r n nE r c n r slightly smaller proportion than in Valencia.a dozen books of extractsfrom Scripture. medicine. to be precise-are religious:764 books of hours. The 109 who did not have books listed among their possessions may easilyhave owned a library that was removed from the estate'sgoodsbefore the appraisersarrived. arts and sciences( 198. However.many of them burgherswith an independentincome or "masters" who had someuniversity education.

when Louis KI conqueredMilan he brought back the rich collections of the Visconti and the Sforzarulers of that city which. ex-constableof France (who had inherited some of the treasuresof the duc de Berry). Soon after. . sumptuouslybound and divided between Blois and Fontainebleau.both in the city and in its immediate surroundings. the poet Charlesd'Orl€ans. During the Counter-Reformationthe Catholic Church took the lead in the development of book collections.became a place of study where learned men and philologistscould busy themselveswith the revision of scriptural texts and the Roman liturgy. and "folderol" (fatrasl that probably included someof the bookletsand the calendarsutilized for Protestant propaganda and intended to follow and reinforce preaching and oral propaganda.Tnr Boor rNo Socrrry trate beyond the world of the literate if Labarrehad not also mentioned the presence. of notionssellerswho sold ABCs. In Saxony. The kings of France had shown the way. Archbishop Federigo Borromeo . and the Vatican Library backed up by its printing press. with works confiscatedfrom the duc de Bourbon.the Germanprincesadopteda similar policy.Lorenzo de' Medici's librarian. During the Reformation.Theseworks. and especiallywith Greekmanuscriptsthat the scholarsof his entourageneededfor their studies. a champion of the Protestantcauseand an admirer of French literature. books of hours.formed the original holdings of the King's Library. later augmentedwith careby a long line of book-loving dukes whom Leibniz and Lessingservedas librariansin a library in Wolfenbiittel that servedas a model for the German princes. * During that sameperiod the princes of Europe who wanted to attract humaniststo their entouragescreatedlibraries after the Italian model. the principal residencesof the court and the chancery were placedunder the care of Guillaume Bud6 and Pierredu ChAtel. and the richly illuminated manuscripts of Louis de Bruges. Charles VIII retumed from Napleswith books that he had commandeeredfrom the library of the Aragoneserulers.assistedby Lefiwe d'Etaplesand Mellin de Saint-Gelais. together with the books of his father. seigneur of Gruthuysen. acquired precious manuscripts from fhe abandoned monasteriesand acquiredbooks and autograph documentsof Luther. Thus an illustrious collection was born. and he brought back from FlorenceJanusLascaris. Later.Julius of Brunswick. The library was installed in a gallery of the royal castle at Blois and it was further enriched by Francis I with works from his family collection.

Richelieu. and Father Sirmond. worked in the Colldge de Clermont.mosaics and ceilings painted by Simon Vouet. In Paris.ntfaucon. while Father Mersenne received scholars in the Capuchin monastery of the Place Royal. universities of recent founding. Dom Luc d'Archery brought together in Saint-Germain-des-Pr€s a model library that was used by Mabillon. the founder of positive theology. and Father Ldonard de SainteCatherinegrouped around him in the Abbey of Sainte-Genevidvea group of learned clericswho engagedin rigorous critical discussions. Mri. S6guierbrought back treasuresfrom his expeditions in Normandy to repressthe revolt of the Va-Nu-Pieds. A relatively weak monarchy produced a corresponding decline in the Bibliothdque du Roi.and their followers. he arrangedit so that he would have the right to pick what . Flanders. and sculpturesin the Palais-Royal. antiquities. the editor of the decreesof the councils. Finally.350 Cnaprrn Etcnr founded the Ambrosian Library in Milan and Philip II charged Hieronymite monks with the direction of the library that he founded in a desolate valley near their monastery of the Escorial.who amassedan incredible number of paintings. and in his chAteauxin the provinces.Leading ministers reactedto this decline. which for a cenrury (15601660) was housed in a seriesof temporary localesin the Latin Quarter and was stripped of a part of its printed works in obscurecircumstances. Unbeatablewhen it came to pillage. and he had the monks who had served him as agentsput into prison so that he would not have to pay them.at Rueil. Someof thesecollections-those of the princes in particular-were put to the service of genuine intellectual activity. for example.and France-monasteries old and new. each in his own way.As part of his dream of a reconciliation with the EasternChristianshe ordered systematicsearches for Greekmanuscripts.seizedthe library of the city of La Rochelleand brought together a large number of volumes that he bequeathedto the Colldgede Sorbonne at his death.even among the Turks. and Jesuit or Oratorian secondary schoolscreatedlibraries in which the very order of the folio volumes reflected the solidity of a doctrine that had been revisedduring the Council of Trent and that representedthe sum total of human knowledge. 56guier created a library in two superimposedgallerieswith walls covered with. Father Petau. Nearly everywhere in Europe-in particular in Spain. even though the onesthat were placed on the Index doneccorriganturhad been censoredby carefully blacking out the condemnedpassages. The works they acquired have come down to us in such good condition that they seemnever to have been read.25 Nowhere was this movement more intense than in the Paris of the Catholic Reformation.

Dynastiesof robins(men "of the robe") had a book collection that was an essentialpart of their wealth and would be classedamong their propres(exclusive and incontrovertible property) when they died.and Machiavellians.26 This rapid review doesnot mean. Law . Gallicans. Such libraries servedas a summation of knowledge. establisheda library in his palace (subsequentlythe home of the Bibliothdque nationale) whose woodwork and decorationswere moved after his death to the Colldgedes Quatre Nations. and they were open to the erudite and the leamed. held court at the center of a group of learned libertines. especially in Catholic lands. however. rationalists. Symbols of appropriation. Mazarin. Du Vair. an order reflected in the arrangement of the volumes on the shelves and in the busts and portraits of the authors most revered by the master of the place. the authors of classicalantiquity. to end the list of ministers. Before the Fronde that was the place where Gabriel Naud6. they were in essenceclerical.all good servantsof the king. who had close connectionswith the Dupuy brothers.Although such probateinventoriesgive us little insight into the market for literary novelties. and their chief function was conservation. was invested with a very specific meaning. Very few craftsmen and merchants in France had even a few volumes. and to a marked interest in sciencein the age of the revolution brought on by mechanisticphilosophy. the curatorsof the Bibliothdque du Roi.the Fathersof the church. for whom the family's rise in society often went hand in hand with a humanist tradition representedin their books by Scripture.that librariesrepresentedone unvarying stereotype. Nobles-gens d'epie-had books. also succumbedto an attraction to history ecclesiasticalhistory at first but increasinglymonarchical history. whose missionit was to promote that policy. are nonethelesswell represented. exceptionsaside. and Charron. they were the instruments of a cultural policy.today the Palaisde l'Institut.Medical libraries were a separateworld where the shelvesfor religious books.Thesemen. In the early seventeenth century there were more than a thousand such collections. copyright copies). were singularly bare.physicians.Asylums for both rediscoveredtreasuresand more recent works. but most book-owners in lay societywere lawyers.but also Montaigne.French authors such as Philippe de Commynesand Ronsard. Collectionswere developedthat proclaimedan immutable order even in their architectureand the decorationof the buildings that housedthem.Tnr Boor amo Socrcry )51 pleased him from French print production by invoking the rule of ddp1t Mgal (roughly.and especiallyofficialsin the royal adminisuation. and Roman law. It is hardly surprising that the possessionof a library.

the presumedauthor of AloysiaSigea.Pascal.The plays of Corneille sold ten at a time in low-priced pirated editions. New Testaments.La Mothe Le Vayer. while the Grenobleliterati admired Balzac.who formed the better part of his clientele?First of coursethey read religious works-Bibles.Tacitus. but new literary works in French were snappedup as soon as they appeared. Inventories. Pierre Pithou.whose ultramontane sentimentsare evident in the works they bought.often parvenus.and the king's secretaries. Still we can glean some information from the records of the bookseller Jean II Nicolas.Men active in public finance were more likely to be modernists and interested in the exact sciences. For example. which was particularly popular among female customers.an erotic masterpiecepublished in Grenoble somewhat later. affected costly books and garish bindings. who ran a shop in Grenoble between 1645 and 1668. there was a hierarchy in libraries that normally correspondedto the hierarchy of officesand wealth. but there were also utter libertines such as the Abbd de Saint-Firmin. Both groups followed current events-the execution of Charles I of England or the arrest of the Grand Condd-and at the height of the Fronde La Gazettehad a circulation of more than two hundred copiesbought or rented from Nicolas'scabinetde lecture. If we except lawyers and physicians.and those among them who kept up a massivecorrespondencewithin the republic of letters introduced their circles to the writings of Descartes.Mersenne.or paraphrasesof Scripture-but also catechismsand sermons among the Protestantsand books of devotion and spirituality among the Catholics. and the Dupuy brothers.Psalters. probably with the complicity of Nicolas'sson. attestedto an ultramontane sensibility.Nicolas'scustomersincluded members of the Company of the Holy Sacrament.and Hobbes. Augustine.Latin erudition no longer sold well (our notables' collectionswere already full of the works of Latin authors).)52 Cneprrn Ercnr libraries reflected Stoic and Gallican thought and Seneca. Catholic and Protestant. and Justus Lipsius shared shelf spacewith St. on the other hand. Just what were the reading tastesof the elites of the city. The presenceof Spanish spiritual writers and Jesuit authors. .are normally an inadequatemeasureof the penetration of recent literary works. one could not be the first president of a royal law court without possessinga large collection managed by a secretary-librarianthat occupied a spacein which several copyists worked to gathermaterialsat leastin part relatedto the patron'sprofession.This was also true of the novels of Mlle de Scud6ryand the poetry of Voiture.and Spinoza.which emphasizelarger works and collectionsbuilt up over generations.

On the other side of the Channel. the procureurswho regularly bought paper in Nicolas'sshop only exceptionally bought a book.accordingto the owner'staste.the richer yeomery and the greaterpart of the gentry. England'srupture with Romehad led to the seizureof the wealth of the Catholic clergy.Hence the role played by a particularly dynamic middle classthat included wealthy craftsmen. and membersof the clergy also owned hundreds of volumes in which the law. Certain of thesecollectionsbelongedto aristocratslike the Cobdensand the Sidneys.2sand in his study he mentions important collectionsalready existent in the late sixteenthcentury.on occasion.the saleof ecclesiastical holdings. of a large portion of the Crown lands. but on the part of people of a narrowly defined society:craftspeopleand merchantsalmost never figure on the pages of Nicolas'saccount books.in particular of the monasteries. physicians.only the librariesin the collegesof Oxford and Cambridgewere left intact.A . merchants. in the far southeastof England.Similarly. Such people may have paid cashto buy the ABCs and readersthat their children neededfor the elementary school.2T €. they may also have bought from notions-sellers who carried that sort of publication along with low-cost books of hours and even a few chapbooks. brought on widespreadland transfersand reinforced the power of landed proprietors in a country that had no homogeneouscategorycomparableto the administrative bourgeoisieand t}:renoblesse de robein France.Moreover.under the Stuarts. However.to lesserlords. Men of law. Thus in Grenoble as elsewhere ownership of books seemsto have been related to wealth and profession. and more particularly classicalliterature. served to cement bonds among the elite. the sciences. as opposedto the rest of the population. and both they and the cathedral libraries were undergoing an astonishinggrowth. theselibraries included a good proportion of new literary works. followed by the alienation. in Grenobleasin Paris.Tur Boor eNo Socrnry J5) Thus we seeinterestsopen to the greaterworld beyond. Peter Clark has written about Kent. As far as one can judge. grammar-school teachers.the premierpresidentof the court provided a model for others that he himself had received from higher-placedpersonsand that was echoedall the way down the line to the city's huissierwhose wife and sister aped the prdcieuse*Clearly.and theology predominated. in mid-seventeenthcentury-Francescholarly written culture. Thus far only a portion of the history of private libraries in England has been written.The traditional network of librarieswas nearly destroyed.

154 cneprEnErcnr broader sampling might perhapsshow that thesemen did not conform to the Continentai model. In the three Kent towns that Clark has studied in depth. By this time a good many yeomen.and ballads. This extraordinary advance seemsto have been accompaniedby a greaterfamiliarity with reading. Paul Kaufman has estimatedthat somesix hundred librariesand lending libraries were in operation in England around 1790 and that they serveda total clientele of fifty thousand persons. Canterbury (from five to six thousand inhabitants). Iiterature seems singularly absent from their lists.whose popularity is attestedby their many surviving contemporary texts. books of piety. to which bequests from GeorgeII and GeorgeIII were added.and country folk remained overwhelmingly illiterate. tt is also surprising not to see chivalric romances. The advertisementsin such works show . In 1560 there were books in roughly one houseout often. Both sortsof library often openeda reading room in which books and periodicalscould be consulted. given that the volumes tended to move from the great hall or the study to the bedroom and even the kitchen. Kent was of course not the whole of England. books seem at first glance to have been broadly distributed.It is important to note that the first municipal libraries in England were createdin the early seventeenth century out of subsidiesfrom merchants.popular tales. tradesmen. for the most part) in the early eighteenth century and private societiesorganized lending libraries that offered somewhat more difficult fare.Except among the very rich. Such publicationsmay have seemedof too little value to have attractedthe appraiser's attention. the Bible (thanks to the inlluence of the Puritans) first among them. University and school libraries were built up in record time.and merchantsread the Bible. Faversham. The Restoration slowed this movement but it later regainedeven greatermomentum. halfofthe houseshad books on the eve of the Civil War in 1640. or John Foxe'sActesand Monumentsand (on occasion) works of jurisprudence.Subscriptioncustomers(a system that was already well developed) of the London and provincial press should be added to that figure. and in the eighteenthcentury the British Museum grew out of Parliament'sacquisition of private collections. the middle classeswanted to read books. In any event. It is hardly surprising that even in that age the British excelledat creating the infrastructure of a community.the Shepherd's Calendar.and Maidstone (about two thousand inhabitants each).Caf6sand libraries began to rent out books (fashionablenovels. Books penetrated the areasof commercialexchange.

Gradually a new public formed.becameabsolute sovereignsand refashionedtheir courts to follow the French model. A good many German princes.or Pamela. CharlesAckers. and the account books of one printer. Provincial periodicals began to fill with announcements for the opening of private schools in which studies were based on a good knowledge of English.men preferreddrama or poetry.3oThe schoolmasterstaught reading and elementary rhetoric from such works.ParadiseLost and ThePilgrim'sProgress. and they distributed pamphlets and booklets in their chapelsand encouragedat least one former shoemakerto sell lowpriced usedbooks.2e There is nothing to prove that even the simplest books found readers below the lower echelons of the middle classin an age in which many English men and women remained illiterate. The Methodistsfounded a pressin London. for instance. taking the lead in a movement that spreadthrough much of Europe. Women moved onto L'Astrde. During this sameagepolitical tractsand publicity pieces beganto be omnipresentin British society.At the sametime Englishpeddlersdid an evenmore thriving business than their French counterparts in abridged versions of such famous novels as RobinsonCrusoeor Gulliver'sTravels.TsE Boor eno Socrrrv 355 that a great many new literary works were available in the many provincial libraries. In Puritan circlesthe notion slowly gained strength that the instruction given in the grammar schools {basedon the study of Latin) was poorly adaptedto the times.Le Grand Cyrus. That public could already spell out the balladspostedon the walls of the home or read chapbooks. the Methodist Book Room.show that between [73O and 1758 his printshop produced27.now freed of all constraint.reading continued to spreadto the humbler categoriesof a societyin which everyone-but city dwellersin particular-felt surroundedby written culture. but when hostilities ended German lands underwent a new beginning. * The Thirty YearsWar had pushed Germany to the point of near collapse. As the century drew to a close. which were compilations of extractsfrom secondaryauthors. a public already accustomedby family tradition to reading the Bible or a pious work as they gatheredin the evening.500 copiesof one English grammar." abridgedand simplified. French artists were commissionedto construct and decoratescaled-downversionsof the .but henceforth it developeda tastefor other texts and other forms of reading.Beginning in the 1740sJohn Wesleyand the Methodists made concertedand well-organized efforts to circulate "good books.

356 Cneprrn Ercnr chateau of Versailles. and. however. That most German rulers gave no encouragementto German letters in the age of tl]re AuJkldrung arrd of Sturm und Drang explains why the most prestigious German writers flocked to Weimar. to the enormous profit of French writers and their bookseller-publishers.while the aristocracy throughout Europe adopted the French languageand read French literature.German princes (Frederick II for one) thought that their compatriotslacked wit and did their best to attract French men of lettersto their courts. The questionis. * In Enlightenment France the humanist model was now a mere memory.33These were the milieus from which the subscribersto the original edition of the Encyclopddie were recruited-and without subscribersthat costly edition of Diderot's monumental undertaking could never have gotten beyond the planning stage. directly or indirectly. that reading declined among tradespeopletoward the end of the century. everything points to an emergentmiddle classdominated by pastorsand professionals that imposedits ideason the rest of the nation. devotionalreadingencourageda shift toward secularworks. certain works or certain authors. the sentimentalnovel in particular.history and law overtook theological works in the production boom of the late seventeenthcentury. which meant that in the early eighteenth century a considerableproportion of people owned religiousbooks in cities like Frankfurt. somewhat paradoxically.r2 Whatever their political opinions might have been.even in Catholic regions belles-lettres. Nonethelessthe collections of the aristocratsand the officeholdersprospered. One example is the mardchal de Croy. canticles. asin England. they typically read more works of devotion than works of theology.and pious works.3r In this way a specificallymiddle-classliterature came into being. The middle classeshad no such prejudices. On the eve of the Revolution the large private homes that bordered the better streetsof Besanqoncontainedhundreds of thousandsof books. a man who showedlittle inclination for remaking societyand whose journal Marie-Pierre Dion has studied. . Ttibingen. a decidedly secondarycourt. the owners of these collections were interested in scientific and technological progress and followed the work of the philosophes.The Reformationhad accustomedthem to reading the Bible. Quite understandably. or Speyer. to what extent did it reach the more modestlevelsof the middle classes?One can of coursefind tracesof common people who knew.Thanks to the influence of the Pietists. but the inventories seem to show. Once again.

" and l2O belonged to the professionalmiddle class. Rennes(32 percent of testators) and Rouen (40 percent).r4Of four thousand probate inventories drawn up between 1750 and 1759. Le Mans. for instance-or benefited another. stampedwith their crestson the shelvesof their tovyn housesand their chAteaux.r5 At the end of the seventeenthcentury readerswere proportionally more numerous in the region'stwo large cities. but between L725 -3O and I 755. Caen. were ready to see their privileges challenged. Michel Marion's study of private libraries in Paris in the mid-eighteenth century offers a first response.THs Boor eno Socrrry i57 Furthermore.and Rouen (more tlan 50 percentof testatorswith books).participated in this movement. only 841 mentioned at least one book.merchants.5 percent of nobles (books in their Paris residencesalone) and 62. which put Parisiansfar behind the Germans. and craftsmenusually owned only a few volumes.who provided their writers with the better part of their audience.The 435 othersbelongedto categoriesranging from the merchant to the domesticservant. What is more. however. 60 were clergy.5 percent of clergy (who also had accessto religious libraries). there was a sharp decline in the number of religiousbooks toward the middle of the century in nearly all collections. Was Parisan exceptionalcase?If we follow Jean Qu6niart to the northwest of Francewe shall seethat although most of the clergy owned a certain number of books of Tridentine (and often Jansenist)inspiration-an undeniable progress-the libraries of laypeople evolved more unevenly.a figure that might be misleading unless we note that only 17. but two other factsdeservemention. Of the people thus identified as readers. After 1760 the flgures decline everywhere but in Rouen. as against44. First. all the studiesof 6migr6s'libraries show that even they were children of the Enlightenment in spite of their diversity. Few of them.5 percent of the deceasedwho were the members of the Third Estateowned books. including its most aggressiveforms.second. There may of coursehave been circumstancesthat hindered one cityilliterate country folk flocking into the city. One wonders to what extent the French counterpartsof the British and German middle classes.not the least of which was to have handsomely bound examplesof the most up-to-date culture. even more strikingly.during the later eighteenthcentury there was a de- .Thirty yearslater the proportion of probateinventories that mentioned books showed a gain of ten percentagepoints everywhere. 226 nobles of "the robe" and "the sword. burghers.which reached63 percentjust beforethe Revolution.60 the only tovvnsin which these figures were still rising were Quimper (which reached 37 percent) and.

they fail to mention the many peddlers'books and books of devotion printed in provincial printshops and sold by booksellersand notions-sellerseven in the smallesttowns. to some extent it ex- .which were circulated in large numbers in prerevolutionary France by pressesin such smaller cities as NeuchAtel. Nor do such inventories take into account the almanacs. Like similar documents elsewhere. They also omit pampNets.and lawyers owned Iibraries that typically reached severalhundred volumes and included a good number of classicaltexts." officeholders.developedin Franceonly under the Restoration. probate inventories do not tell us the whole story. In the early eighteenth century the titled nobility seemsto have been won over to book culture. and wholesalers. and finally works of literature and novels. while other readers' collections grew.craftsmen. although some country squiresdropped out just before the Revolution.36 The few volumes that a merchant owned cannot be comparedwith the collections of a lawyer or a magistrate. Readersin the lower social categoriesseemto become "detached" from the rest.Hencein France much more clearly than elsewherebook culture was a sort of privilege primarily reservedto the higher classesof society. Early in the century books can be found in the possessionof someday-workers. Religion was somewhat eclipsed and libraries showed. "Libraries" of fewer than ten volumes became less numerous. or the growing periodical press. then works of history (often of foreign lands). for example. The professional bourgeoisiethat at first followed the traditional model of the "robe" Iater began to show an interest in new works. Later a seriesof breaksoccurred. the printing trade was a good deal more dynamic in Germanyand England than in France in the latter eighteenth century and lending libraries. first. particularly the ones that cdticized the mores of the royal family and its entourage. Such collections seemed to repudiate classicalconceptions and alternate between the interestsof the autodidactand a desirefor escapistliterature and entertainment. which gradually abandonedastrologicalpredictionsin favor of yearly summaries of political events.)58 cneprnnErcnr cline in the number of book owners in general that coincideswith what we have already seenin certain German cities. or the announcements and handbills printed in the larger cities. Everywhere men "of the robe.Also.merchants.At the beginning of this period collectionswere modest and dominated by devotionalworks.Still. increasingnumbers of works from a professionalliterature (Savary'sLe parfait ndgociantfor example). next a new model appeared in a social group ranging from the masters of certain trades to wholesale merchants.

Tnr Boor auo Socrrry 359 cluded merchants and craftsmen even though they spent their daily lives sunounded with vwiting. for example in SebastianBrant's Ship of Fools.Tirso de Molina. In Lyons.RobertDarnton has shornmthat journeyman tlpographers in eighteenth-century Paris were imbued with much the samespirit. directly or indirectly.and what might the members of societies with mental outlooks so different from our own have retained from them? First.Quevedo. and many others owed to such sourcesare well known.The chief result of the Protestantpastors' eflorts to teach the Lutheran catechismto the peasantsof the Rhineland in the late sixteenth century was that after long hours of mechanical repetition the peasantscould recite garbled snatchesof texts that they were unable to understand. That samevein was exploited.Shakespeare. the leaming of social circlesof high literacy has never easily penetratedan illiterate society. Guevara.for example.in Erasmus'sIn Praiseof Folly. we need to recall from our own experienceswith the Third World that it is uselessto open schools in closed societiesthat feel no need to know how to read and write. We should not forget the debt that printing owed to what is commonly called folklore-that is.Authors and readers were still conditioned by other forms of culture and other ways to represent the world and society that were based in traditions that we find difficult to grasp but that often played an important role in both the composition and the reception of textual messages. owed its advancein literacy to the fact that it was a crossroads. Tracesof these traditions can often be seen when book people gathered. a For a long time the book had only a limited place within social communication systems. the oral literature of all ages (that of the Renaissancein particular). The debtsthat Cervantes. and typographical workers were long the major organizersof public mockery. were books received. Schools were not much help: in Catholic societies . for example. for instance. where leamed and popular themes mixed.37 How. then. There is little doubt that Champagne. in the literature of folly. or in the Epistoleobscurorumvirorum that ridiculed the theologians of Cologne. the major booksellers took an active part in such official city celebrationsas royal entries. Mikhail Bakhtin has reminded us. Furthermore.of all that Rabelaisowed to comic popular culture and carnival laughter.Lope de Vega.

Il Fiorettodella . but also in the French royal army. Learning to read might also come at a much later age. It was even truer among Napoleon'stroops.A good many shepherdsseemto have taught their fellowshepherds. perchedhigh in a tree. a miller in Friuli tried for heresyin the latter sixteenth century (a chargefor which he eventually was burned at the stake). There are a few exceptional documents that help us to understand what the encounter of personslike thesewith written culture might have been like. and he had to discoverby himself.In some cases(as with Jean-JacquesRousseau)the child immersed in a milieu in which reading took place knew how to read so early that it seemedto him that he had never had to learn to read. The motivation was usually religious: many parentsseemto have taught their sonsand daughters to read as a way of passingon their own faith. beginning with prayers and psalms. incited him to read. As late as the eighteenthcentury this was all the young Restif de la Bretonne had learned at school. for whom learning to read and write was a prerequisite to promotion to corporal.Soldiers might also teach their comradesto read: this happened (perhapsfor religious reasons)among Wallenstein'stroops. Here commentary (on the Bible in particular) that connecteda text with daily life probably was a primordial influence in the child's intellectual awakening. that he could also read the French contained in a book that he had borrowed from his father'smodest library. later his socioprofessionalenvironment.and the sameseemsto havehappenedamong shoemakers. A child could develop his curiosity and his taste for reading only if his home environment.r8 Voyagesand moves forced young people who left their griginal setting to confront a different world and seekan education.Menocchio seemsto have owned or borrowed religious books that had a wide circulation at the time.and somehave left accountsthat indicate that books were not such rare objectsthat a person determinedto procure them could not borrow them (for examplefrom the parish priest) to forge an embryonic culture that could be developedlater. at least among soldiers in the "scientific" branches of service for whom a minimum of book learning was useful. perhapsafter a move to a larger city. among them a Bible in the vernacular. One such person was Menocchio.whose careerCarlo Ginzburg has reconstructed.Cneprrn Ercnr schoolslong attemptedto teach children to decipherthe Latin texts indispensablefor elementary worship. Circumstancesoften intervened either to help or hinder their development. Hence the importance of collective reading aloud of sacredtexts in Puritan milieus and on occasionin Catholic lands among certain Jansenists.

and they seemto have been designed to give a minimum of instruction to a world of semi-notables.He would then apply to these rnotley acquisitions the lore of a nonliterate cultural tradition.The headstrongMenocchio was so little capableof receiving information that he would retain only one detail or one word. came in this manner? Peddlers'books come immediately to mind: they appeared ln all lands in largely similar forms.and to offer them escapistliterature. Such publications. Their pagespresentedmassedblocks of t1ryeprinted in characterswith suchpoor . For lack of a recognized context a reader unable to write might have no greatergrasp of the story than his hearers. and eventually writing.reduced the narrativesto a series of actions that often "telescoped"the plot and transcribedit in a periodically simplified and modernizedvocabulary. Thesenarratives concern exceptional cases. When one member of a group read aloud it might have made somelistenersfeel that they were being thrust into a new universe.but they help us to image what might have been the ways in which written texts were receivedin milieus of traditional culture. It would be instructive to know how people read these works. presentedin short chaptersprecededby titles that summarizedthe chapter'scontents. At times these diarists uncritically juxtapose fantastic piecesof information transmitted to them in writing.re Can we try to reconstruct the reading matter of the many men and women whose first initiation to reading.and even though they had not totally graspedthe story line they might remember some elements-perhaps a name that they later gave a child or that they used as a pet name for a friend.but becausehe necessarilycomparedhis patois with the printed language his framework of referenceexpanded. at other times they do their best-almost desperately-to bring to bear on their gleanings a critical spirit sharpened by their many experiences.to acquaint them with proper comportment in society. and a translation of the Golden Legend. Recentlyexhumed autobiographiesand journals present self-taught personsbringing together bits of knowledge that they have accumulatedin a seriesof chanceoccurrencesand classifyingthem accordingto half-assimilatednorms. Somesuch "authors" even set down their life histories despitetheir scant acquaintancewith the rules of grammarand their resistanceto systematicspelling rules. He could truly analyze a work only to the extent that he could write enough to become an "author" himself. the Rosaio dellagloriosaVergineMaria. thus creating a wholly personalbut coherent systemof his own.T n r B o o r <e x o S o c r r r y t6r Bibbia. or he would take an image in its most concretesense.

other than the few mem- .ao a When we turn to the readingmatter of clerics.When they wrote w