Between 1700 and
1789 the medium of print developed into the most effective way
to communicate ideas in Paris. Reaching into personal salons,
cafes, circulating in libraries, and posted on the street, published
materials crossed socio-economic boundaries to influence the
lives of all classes. People whose opinions had traditionally
been ignored began to find a voice in learning about the ideas
of the Enlightenment. This timeline points to major changes
in the production, use, and content of the printed word, and
how these changes affected the Parisian movement toward a revolution.
For a brief glance at the evolution of print, scroll down to
the 2 dates highlighted in red and their corresponding image
1631 - Gazette
de France is published under Cardinal Richelieu as the first
piece of political press.
- 30% of domestic personnel and only 13% of salaried workers owned
books, suggesting that books were a marker
of class distinction.
1750's - Trend
of mass publishing spreads across Europe to create many newspapers,
but all are heavily censored. Chronological gaps, inconsistency
of reports, and failure to address domestic issues show the ways
that periodicals exacerbated the difference between a controlling
upper class and the uninvolved lower classes.
- Rousseau writes about the current inequality of men, arguing
that big business and the court are corrupt, and therefore virtue
lies in the 'commonwealthman.' This new view of social
hierarchy defied the traditional 'divine right to the throne,'
but was initially limited to only book literature.
- Journal des dames begins as an entertainment magazine,
supporting intellectual and philosophical ideas of the High Enlightenment.
By embracing ideas such as Rousseau's, literary journals aided
the movement in criticising mindless acceptance of the power of
monarchy and church.
- French ministers led by Maupeou suppress the paper Journal
- French newspapers claim origins in Geneva, Brussels, America
and England to appear independent of government control.
1773 - Over
10,000 copies of Beaumarchais' memoires
judiciares sell out on the streets of Paris, exposing the
faults of the aristocratic judicial system. The trial briefs were
legal because their origin was from within the upper classes.
- Journal des dames sold to Mercier, who transforms the
magazine into an outspoken opponent of the conservative Old Regime.
He attacks government periodicals, academies, royal ministers
and anything priviledged.
- Linguet's periodical, Annales Politiques, introduces
shocking commentary which helps to reshape the presentation of
information and undermine the Old Regime.
- 40% of domestics and 35% of salaried workers now own books. The
increasing presence of household literature
and publication shows that printed materials are less of a novelty,
preparing a larger available audience for the exchange of information.
- Nouveau Supplement a la France Litteraire is published as
a survey of the various types of public
libraries. Paris contains the most, with 18 collections open
to the general public and 13 associated with specific organizations