Optati Galli de Cavendo schismate. Ad Illustrissimos ac Reverendissimos Ecclesiae Gallicanae Primates, Archiepiscopos, Episcopos. Liber paraeneticus. FORBIDDEN BOOKS —, 1590?-1661?, Charles HERSENT.
Optati Galli de Cavendo schismate. Ad Illustrissimos ac Reverendissimos Ecclesiae Gallicanae Primates, Archiepiscopos, Episcopos. Liber paraeneticus.
Optati Galli de Cavendo schismate. Ad Illustrissimos ac Reverendissimos Ecclesiae Gallicanae Primates, Archiepiscopos, Episcopos. Liber paraeneticus.
Richelieu’s revenge

Optati Galli de Cavendo schismate. Ad Illustrissimos ac Reverendissimos Ecclesiae Gallicanae Primates, Archiepiscopos, Episcopos. Liber paraeneticus. N.p., n.d., 1640 [but ca. 1700].

Bound with: Arrest de la cour de Parlement, Par lequel il est ordonné, que le Libelle intitulé Optati Galli de cavendo Schismate &c. sera laceré & bruslé: Et defenses à toutes personnes d'en avoir & retenir, sur les peines portées par ledit Arrest. Paris: Sebastien Cramoisy, 1640 [but later].

2 pamphlets in one volume, 8vo (172 x 105 mm). Hersent: 39 pp. Arrest: 11 pp. Woodcut royal arms on title, initial, and white-on-black headpiece. Bound together in 18th-century gold-tooled red morocco, covers with outer roll-tooled border framing wide inner border built up from individual tools, including tiny star tools, spine gold-tooled and lettered, turn-ins gilt, gilt edges, marbled endleaves (slight rubbing to upper cover, raised bands at joints, and extremities of spine). Provenance: Paul Girardot de Préfond (1722-ca.1800), green morocco gilt bookplate, letterpress shelf-mark label (No. 37), from his second library, acquired largely en bloc by: Justin, Comte de MacCarthy-Reagh (1744-1811), posthumous sale, Paris, 27 January - 8 May 1817 [the imprint erroneously dated 1815], vol. I, lot 1168; Dominique Courvoisier, bookplate “DC,” with gilt tree and motto “Entretenir le feu et veiller sur les cendres.”***

A forbidden pamphlet, together with the parliamentary order to burn it, beautifully bound, from the collection of one of the greatest French bibliophiles. Both are later counterfeit editions, probably from the early eighteenth century.

In a period of friction with the Pope, Cardinal Richelieu intimated that France was considering creating its own “Patriarch.” Hardly a Gallican, Richelieu was bluffing, but he brought the ploy far enough along that he enlisted several intimidated prelates to pledge their support of the plan in writing. Taking the Cardinal’s assertions at face value, an indignant Charles Hersent, Chancellor of the Cathedral of Metz, addressed the present anonymously published text, written under the pseudonym “Optatus Gallus,” to the Bishops and Archbishops of France. In it he not only set forth ultramontane principles, declaring that sovereigns had no right to regulate marriages or to tax the clergy, but he savagely satirized Richelieu’s supposed plan, declaring that the Gallican (French) church would soon resemble the church of England, and that the Cardinal was planning to create a schism within the Church, and even to make himself Patriarch. Richelieu was so enraged by this libel, whose effectiveness was enhanced by its “mordant and uncommonly lively style” (Debure), that he not only commissioned four writers to refute it but ordered a realm-wide hunt for all copies. These were ordered by Parliament to be burned, and all booksellers and printers were enjoined from possessing, selling, or reprinting the text, as spelled out in the parliamentary judgment (arrêt) of 23 March 23 1640, bound after the pamphlet. Richelieu ordered a hunt for the satire’s author, in vain, as he and his subordinates were misled by the false Lyon address at the end of the text, and could simply not imagine that any person of prominence would dare attack the powerful Cardinal.

Consequent to Richelieu’s relentless search and destroy mission, copies of the pamphlet became extremely rare. Perhaps to satisfy the lust of bibliophiles, a counterfeit edition was produced in the later 17th or early 18th century. The book was the subject of a four-page entry in Debure’s Bibliographie instructive (the “Bible of haute bibliophilie,”*), in which Debure listed the points distinguishing the original edition from the counterfeit. He stated that the Arrest, found with the pamphlet, is also a counterfeit, as the original edition contains 12, not 11 pages. Hersent’s pamphlet and the Arrest differ in paper, typeface, and overall presentation. The typeface of the Arrest appears to be seventeenth-century, although the rather crude and cheaply printed woodcut material may be later.

Whatever their dates, French bibliophiles have long regarded these editions of the pamphlet and its official condemnation as worthy of inclusion in their collections, and they are often preserved in handsome bindings, as here. This copy was one of two copies listed in the manuscript catalogue of the second library of the great bibliophile Paul Girardot de Préfond, mainly containing books that he bought after the sale of his first library in 1757. The catalogue was camposed in the 1770’s, with additional entries and notes from 1777; it is preserved at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and was recently studied by Erick Aguirre, whom we gratefully thank for this information. Appearing in the catalogue as numbers 270 and 278, the two copies bear annotated purchase prices (in a later hand, possibly of Debure jeune or an associate) of respectively 105 and 60 livres. 

OCLC locates one copy of Hersent’s pamphlet in the US, at Stanford, bound as here with the 11-page Arrest, and a copy of the original Arrest in the Wing collection at the Newberry.

Peignot, Dictionnaire critique ... des principaux livres condamnés au feu I (1806), p. 179; Guillaume-François Debure le jeune, Bibliographie instructive, vol. 2 (1764) no. 981 (pp. 47-50); Bourgeois & André, Les Sources de l'histoire de France: XVIIe siècle, IV: p. 269, no. 2819; Jammes, Le Bucher Bibliographique (1968), 527 (different copy).  Cf. Nouvelle Biographie Générale, 24: 511. On the provenance, see E. Aguirre, “Les collections de Paul Girardot de Préfond,” Bulletin du Bibliophile 2020, no. 2: 265-309.
Item #4161

Price: $5,800.00