Touraine - from then until now!

This blog is an attempt to show some of the vast history of Man's prescence in the Southern Touraine.... from first footfall to the present....
especially in and around le Grand Pressigny area.... with special emphasis on life at and around le Moulin de la Forge.
There will also be occasional entries about time before man was here and when the area was at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea...

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Demise of a once-great newspaper

The first French newspaper, La Gazette de France first appeared on 30th May 1631 as a weekly under the name of La Gazette.The first edition consisted of a single sheet, printed on both sides and folded in four (en quarto) to give eight pages.

Its founder was Théophraste Renaudot, a medical man, doctor to king Louis XIII. Renaudot's wish was to make available to anyone who could afford a centime or two all the news of the affairs of state and from abroad. Cardinal Richelieu supported the enterprise, seeing yet another way to manipulate public life by propaganda. The king himself participated for amusement. In 1635 the state gave Renaudot and his successors a state monopoly of news from government.

Théophraste Renaudot. Drawing by Eustache Lorsay after a contemporary print. Magasin pittoresque, 1869.
Renaudot became known as commissaire aux pauvres du royaume - commissioner for the poor of the Kingdom - not just for giving alms to the poor and tut-tutting behind his beard, but for actually doing something about it in an age where the homeless were imprisoned or whipped out of town. The activities of this dynamic bundle of energy in just ten years were:
  • He established the world's first employment agency, le bureau d'adresse et de rencontre in 1628 or 1629, with the objective of bringing together artisans seeking work with those seeking skilled workers. 
  • In 1633 the state obliged the unempoyed to register with this bureau. 
  • Renaudot in the same year started to publish a journal, La Feuille du bureau d’adresses, where for anyone with 3 sous to spare could advertise propositions for employment, sale or rent.  This effectively made him the inventor of the small ad
  • His direct, low cost approach to journalism upset the bookselling, publishing and printing establishment. Eddie Shah, you weren't the first! He also upset the medical establishment by offering free consultations to the poor, anticipating the birth of the British NHS by over 300 years.
  • In 1637 he opened the first pawnshop in France, le mont de piété, giving someone forced to sell their property at least the prospect to get it back again if times got better.
 He lost his two most powerful backers, the king and Richelieu, in 1642 and 1643 respectively. All his activities except the newspaper lost state support and were closed down. The regency did not risk antagonising its enemies by suppressing La Gazetter as well. At Renaudot's death in October 1653, the state monopoly was confirmed on his son, but he was unable to protect it from an increasing number of rivals.

There is a museum dedicated to his life and work at Loudun, in our neighbouring Département of Vienne, where he was born.

La Gazette became La Gazette de France in 1762. It remained royalist throughout the revolutionary period, but was careful to toe the government line, and survived. Its association with the royal family is indicated by the report of the Chambord fire, to which I can find no other reference. The Bourbon Parma family were a junior branch of the French royal family. Was the person who bought the paper a royalist?

La Gazette de France closed forever less than five months after our scrap of paper was printed, on 30 September 1915.

***UPDATE*** La Gazette de France has nothing to do with the scrap of newspaper. My thanks to Christian Bach of BNF for his assistance.

1 comment:

Susan said...

La Gazette is one of the sources of information for those investigating wolf attacks. There is apparently a sharp increase in the incidence of attacks in the 17th C, but it may simply be a function of there now being a vehicle to report this stuff more widely. They took a fairly tabloid approach to all things lupine.

If I come across anything about the fire at Chambord I will pass it on.