The Clandestine Literature of Pierre Marteau

Clandestine literature has its roots in the political and religious turmoil of the Early Modern period in France. The issuance of the Edict of Fontainebleau (1685) by Louis XIV, which revoked the nearly century old Edict of Nantes protecting Protestant religious freedom, precipitated a mass exodus of Huguenot Protestants from France to neighboring countries. Many settled in England while others sought freedom in the new American colonies. Still others fled across the northern border to the Dutch Low Countries.

Holland was already a place of relative intellectual freedom and the sudden influx of Huguenot thinkers resulted in the increase of proto-Enlightenment and early Enlightenment texts. Alongside the more traditionally recognizable philosophical texts, the irate, dispossessed Protestants also produced fractious and seditious works that generally followed three lines: anti-French, anti-Catholic, and anti-Louis XIV rhetoric.

Because the works produced by Huguenot refugees (and their sympathizers) were so inflammatory, and in many cases treasonous, the authors and publishers created a fictitious imprint, “Pierre Marteau chez Cologne,” in order to safely and anonymously or pseudonymously print those works. The Pierre Marteau imprint became an iconic symbol of political and religious resistance. It would last for centuries, utilized by numerous parties, and be co-opted by other printers across Europe (notably, in Germany) as a way to produce and disseminate transgressive works safely. Today, UCLA’s Young Research Library Special Collections houses one of the finest collections on the globe of the first iteration of Marteau imprints, the agonizing and antagonizing works of the Huguenot refugees.

1. Virtual Museum of Protestantism: The Musée Virtuel du Protestantisme offers a virtual tour of the history and immediate consequences of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Replete with images, bibliographies, and both brief and in-depth discussions of Huguenot history, the Musée also offers a virtual library with digital versions of primary documents, such as the Edict of Nantes itself.

2. Deutsche Nationalbibliothek: For more on the usage of the Marteau imprint in German resistance writings, this section from the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek offers a brief overview. The site includes digitized examples of the work of “Peter Hammer” (the Germanic translation of the name Pierre Marteau), and discusses some of the known parties who adopted the name.

3. Jacob, Margaret. “The Clandestine Universe of Pierre Marteau.” December 6, 2001.: An enthusiastic authority in the field, Margaret Jacob’s paper offers a brief but titillating view into the political, religious, and intellectual climate that birthed the Marteau imprint.

4. Gibbs, G.C. “The role of the Dutch Republic as the intellectual entrepôt of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.” BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review. 86(3), pp.323–349. 1971. : The Dutch Republic was a nexus of the Clandestine book trade. Gibbs’ article delves into the details of the book trade in the Dutch Republic and its influences abroad.

5. McKenna, Antony. “Clandestine literature.” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis. 1998. : McKenna’s entry in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy explores the connections between the Enlightenment Philosophes and the Clandestine literature genre. He traces the reach of major Enlightenment luminaries, such as Spinoza, and how such philosophers influenced the body of anti-Christian/anti-Catholic literature that secretly flourished in the period.

6. Harrison, Robert. "The French Clandestine Press in Holland." The LibraryS1-V, no. 1 (1893): 309-22. doi:10.1093/library/s1-v.1.309.: A classic on the Huguenot press in Holland, Harrison’s work discusses the complex and fraught relationship between the Clandestine publishers and the French state.

7. Hochstrasser, T. J. "The Claims of Conscience: Natural law Theory, Obligation, and Resistance in the Huguenot Diaspora." In New Essays on the Political thought of the Huguenots of the Refuge, 15-51. Leiden/New York/Köln: E. J. Brill, 1995. : Hochstrasser’s essay sheds light on the underlying motivations of the Huguenot refugees and why the authors of Clandestine works would risk life and limb to publish their dangerous works.

8. Laursen, John Christian. "Impostors and Liars: Clandestine Manuscripts and the Limits of Freedom of the Press in the Huguenot Netherlands." In New Essays on the Political thought of the Huguenots of the Refuge, 73-100. Leiden/New York/Köln: E. J. Brill, 1995. : A detailed look at the production of Clandestine manuscripts before the development of the print trade in such works. Laursen explores the difficulties of book production even in such a relatively free environment as the Netherlands.

9. Wikipedia. “Pierre Marteau.” Last modified January 30, 2018. : For a broad and brief overview of Pierre Marteau, see Wikipedia.

10. Le Salut de la France: A Monseigneur, le Dauphin. Cologne: Pierre Marteau, 1690. : An anonymous and seditious text, Le Salut de la France calls for the Dauphin, Louis, to usurp the throne from his father, Louis XIV.

11. Les Plaintes des Protestans, Cruellement Opprimez dans le Royaume de France. Cologne: Pierre Marteau, 1686. : A call to arms for Protestants and Princes alike, Plaintes des Protestans details the French persecutions of the Huguenots and solicits aid in righting those injustices.

12. L'Esprit de la France et les Maximes de Louis XIV, Decouvertes à L'Europe. Cologne: Pierre Marteau, 1688. : Claiming to uncover the evil deeds and desires of Louis XIV, L’Esprit de la France pulls no punches in its anti-French and anti-monarchical invective.