Licensing Loyalty

Printers, Patrons, and the State in Early Modern France

By (author) Jane McLeod

Paperback - £23.95

Publication date:

15 April 2011

Length of book:

312 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271037868

In Licensing Loyalty, historian Jane McLeod explores the evolution of the idea that the royal government of eighteenth-century France had much to fear from the rise of print culture. She argues that early modern French printers helped foster this view as they struggled to negotiate a place in the expanding bureaucratic apparatus of the French state. Printers in the provinces and in Paris relentlessly lobbied the government, hoping to convince authorities that printing done by their commercial rivals posed a serious threat to both monarchy and morality. By examining the French state’s policy of licensing printers and the mutually influential relationships between officials and printers, McLeod sheds light on our understanding of the limits of French absolutism and the uses of print culture in the political life of provincial France.

“Beautifully written, elegantly argued, and extensively documented from archives all over France, Jane McLeod's investigation of how provincial printers were licensed and supervised between the reign of Louis XIV and the French Revolution adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of how the old regime worked. She shows how inadequate it has been to form a view of the world of print from evidence only about Paris and from illicit works produced beyond the kingdom's borders. Her book will now be essential to a fuller understanding of the prerevolutionary public sphere.”

—William Doyle, University of Bristol