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Paris: The Educational

The Writing Masters Go to the Police
Establishment In January 1704 the Guild of Writing Masters
(1703 – 1706) lodged their complaint with the Lt. General of the
Police, (Marquis d’Argenson) who was the official
competent to deal with a civil case. DLS was accused
of assuming the title of Superior of the Brothers of
the Christian Schools without legal authorization, of
conducting without authorization or competence
several achools on the pretext that they were charity
schools, and of accepting into the schools all those
who applied, whether rich or poor. A list was
included the names of the sons of artisans enrolled in
the school who could afford to pay. Some may have
been the pupils who have left the writing masters to
transfer to the Brothers’ schools. Among the parents
there were 2 surgeons, a locksmith who owned 2
houses, a wine merchant, a butcher, and several
innkeepers. The complaint also accused DLS of
training teachers and teaching subjects reserved by
The new center on the Rue de Charonne law to the writing masters. They demanded that the
provided a retreat and a rest for the expanding furnishings and school supplies from the building on
Society of the Brothers. At the same time it made the Rue de Charonne be confiscated and handed over
them also vulnerable to the attacks of their new to the guild.
enemies which are the existing Educational When DLS failed to reply to the complaint, D’
establishment in Paris: The Writing Masters, and the Argenson gave the order for the confiscation. On
Schoolmasters of the Little Schools. February 22, 1704, DLS was condemned in Chatelet
By long-standing tradition, the schooling in by default. The writing masters got all the furnishings
France at this time was in the hands of three-groups: of the school. DLS was forbidden to accept in his
The Guild of the Writing Masters, under the school any rich students and was to pay 50 livres for
protection of the Lieutenant General of the police at violating the city ordinances of teaching writing
the Chatelet; the Corporation of the Masters of the
Little Schools, under the jurisdiction of the The Masters of the Little Schools Go to the
archdiocese, specially the diocesan supervisor; and Chancery
the Charity Schools in the Parishes, under the Meanwhile the masters of the little schools
jurisdiction of the local pastor. The policies that DLS too file a complaint against DLS to the new
introduced into the Christian Schools were in direct archdiocesan supervisor. On Feb. 24, 1704, an edict
conflict with all three. was issued from the diocesan chancery forbidding
Admission to the Guild of Writing Masters DLS to teach, to engage or assign other teachers, or to
came only after a long and difficult apprenticeship. conduct schools in Paris. In addition he was fined 50
Its members were sworn to safeguard the quality of livres, and all furnishing in his schools were to be
penmanship and the authenticity of signatures. Its confiscated.
monopoly in these areas, which had been extended to
include mathematics, was under the protection of the DLS Decides to Appeal
king. In the view of the writing masters, it was bad The judgment by ecclesiastical authority was
enough that writing and arithmetic were being a devastating blow. The interdiction which forbade
taught in the Christian Schools, although that was him to assign teachers or conduct schools, in effect,
already a matter of contention with the Little Schools can destroy the Society that he had vowed in 1691 to
as well. The real threat to their monopoly was that establish. So, he knew that he had to act. He hired a
teachers of these restricted subjects were being lawyer, M. Guillaume Quellier, to represent him. On
trained in transferred from the Grand Maison to the March 19, 1704, the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the
faubourg St. Antoine, as well as in the teacher Institute, DLS made an appeal through his lawyer to
training program at St. Hippolyte. the court of parliament against the decision of the
From the Schoolmasters of the Little Schools diocesan supervisor given on Feb. 14. On May 30, the
side, their complained to the Brothers is that the judge refused to accept the petition of DLS and
Brothers provided gratuitous (free) instruction for sentenced him to pay the court cost.
all, including those who could afford to pay, that they
were being put out of business in those areas where The Writing Masters Press Their Advantage
the Brothers had opened competing schools in Encouraged by their victories in court, the
territory officially and exclusively assigned to them. writing masters decided to widen the attack. On June
7, 1704, they petitioned D’Argenson to issue a from Paris for parts unknown, leaving only one
restraining order on DLS, Ponce, Nicolas, and the 16 Brother at the Rue Princesse to watch over the house.
other Brothers. They demanded that the Brothers The next day the children were surprised to find the
cease their corporate activities at once and that a fine doors of the schools locked. When the Brothers failed
be imposed of 500 livres per Brother (almost 3 years to return after a few days, the parents became
salary) and an additional fine of 2,000 livres on DLS. alarmed and went to the pastor to seek an
On July 11 a restraining order was issued to explanation. He had to admit that he was as surprised
that effect, except that the fines were reduced: 50 as they and equally at a loss as to what to do.
livres per Brother and 100 from DLS. In addition, the
decree stated that any parent who could afford to pay De La Chetardie and the Final Compromise
would be liable to prosecution if they sent their De La Chetardie contacted DLS and begged
children to DLS schools. him to allow the Brothers to return to Paris. DLS
Frustrated at not obtaining any money from replied that he would only send the Brothers back to
DLS or the Brothers, the writing masters sell the St. Sulpice if he can assure that they would be
furnishing that were still at the Rue de Charonne. DLS allowed to work undisturbed. He insisted that De La
and the Brothers witnessed the devastation without Chetardie assume personal responsibility for
complaint. This was the end of the Sunday Academy protecting them. The pastor readily agreed, and the
which was the school for many young men aspiring Brothers returned in time to open the schools in the
for better future. The same thing happened at the fall of 1706.
Teacher-training Program at St. Hippolyte. De La Chetardie then met with the leaders of
the writing masters and a compromise meet that the
The Writing Masters and the Schoolmasters Join students of DLS Schools had to present a certificate to
Forces identified that they are poor from their pastor.
The writing masters and the schoolmasters of Parents soon came flocking from all over the parish
the little schools decided to join forces to gather to obtain the required certificates attesting their
more evidence against DLS and the Brothers to poverty. It seems that few of them were refused by
bolster their case when the appeal of DLS would the priest in charge. This device change very little, by
come before parliament. and large the same students as before were enrolled
The only one who could help clarify this case in the parish schools conducted by the Brothers.
and defend the right of the Brothers to teach in his
parish schools was Fr. De La Chetardie, the Pastor of DLS in the Face of Crisis
St. Sulpice, but he did nothing. Instead he even closed Throughout all of these crisis DLS retained
one of the Brothers school in Rue des Fosses- his characteristic calm, remained in the background
Monsieur-le-Prince when the support of school was as much as possible, and went about his business as
drying up from the wealthy donors because of the usual. His secret, was his deep religious faith -spirit
campaign spread that the Christian schools are in of faith- as he called it, considering his work as the
legal trouble and would soon be shut down. work of God. From the Prophet Habacuc: Domine
opus tuum – Lord, the work is yours.
Parliamentary Decisions
The schoolmasters of the little schools,
however, would not be satisfied with half measures.
In December they decided to bring their case before
the parliamentary court.
Realizing that the situation in Paris was
hopeless, DLS was already involved in negotiations to
establish the Brothers in Normandy. By July 1705 he
had opened a school in Darnetal. Soon, he signed a
lease for the property at St. Yon just outside Rouen.
Quickly and quietly he had the novitiate furnishings
that had been donated by Madam Voisin transported
to St. Yon. The Archbishop of Rouen and the
president of the Rouen parliament paid the expenses.
The final decision was handed down by the
court of the parliament on February 5, 1706.
Sentence was pronounced against DLS and the
Brothers. It was communicated to DLS of March 19,
1706 at Rue St. Honore. Finally, the Brothers asked
DLS for permission to close the schools, after some
hesitation DLS agreed. In July of 1706, without giving
any advance warning, the Brothers simply took off