In the first half of the sixteenth century, the printing of mathematical books in Paris developed rapidly. Parisian printers were able to sell their productions to a sufficient local market, and even to achieve such quality as to become attractive at a European level. They achieved this quality with printing houses that could afford to be equipped with all necessary material, but their chief asset was collaboration with skilled teachers and mathematicians who had a talent for innovation. This article first analyzes the Parisian book market in the European context and examines ways we can evaluate the circulation of Parisian mathematical books. Then it focuses on the career and practices of Guillaume Cavellat (ca. 1500–1576), who devoted the main part of his activity to the publication of mathematical books. The network of his scientific collaborators, both inside and outside the University of Paris, was a crucial factor in his prolonged success. Lastly, the essay discusses the impact of the quality of the layout and illustration on the capacity of mathematical books to circulate, and to attract attention and customers, across a wide area: Did the emergence around 1540 of a “Parisian style,” with unique features from the beauty of the books as material objects to their efficiency as learning and thinking tools, contribute to the visibility and attractiveness of Parisian mathematical books in the European market?
- Guillaume Cavellat
- Parisian printers
- Mathematical books
- Book history
- Book layout
As Alissar Levy and Richard Oosterhoff show in the present book (Chaps. 2 and 13), the printing of mathematical books in Paris developed rapidly from the late 1480s up to the first decades of the sixteenth century, due to the prominent status of the University of Paris and the heft of its faculty of arts, the affluence of students from different French and foreign nations, and the successful efforts of reformers, who strove for establishing a “mathematical culture” in the bosom of the Alma mater Parisiensis (Oosterhoff 2018).
During this period, Parisian printers of mathematical books were able to sell their production to a sufficiently vibrant local market, and even to achieve such quality as to become attractive at a European level. They achieved this quality with printing houses that could afford to be equipped with all necessary material, from fonts for special characters and numerals to woodcuts for diagrams (Levy 2020, 199–204). But their chief asset was their collaboration with skilled teachers and mathematicians who had a talent for innovation.
Richard Oosterhoff has shown that Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples (1450–1526) and his disciples had influence in Spain and Germany (Oosterhoff 2018, 16–7), but with Oronce Finé (1494–1555), the first royal lecturer in mathematics at the Collège Royal (appointed in 1531) and some of his successors, especially Petrus Ramus (1515–1572), the possibilities of international reach were scaled up. Indeed, though King Francis I (1494–1547) had not drawn up a chart of all the tasks he entrusted to his royal lecturers, he expected them, in any case, to promote disciplines that were not taught (or that were badly taught, according to the humanists) in the very conservative University of Paris, and to teach these disciplines to as wide an audience as possible (Pantin 2006). Finé brilliantly fulfilled this task, mainly through his books. Paradoxically, Pedro Nuñez (1502–1578) acknowledged this fact when he published, in Coimbra, his De erratis Orontii Finaei, a devastating critique of the royal lecturer's work (Nuñez 1546; Leitão 2009).
From 1530 onward, the networks of the international book trade had become denser and wider, but the way this impacted the printing of mathematical books in Paris is far from clear. This is the first question I shall investigate.
In any case, a strong indication that the publishers of mathematical books were able to count on a sufficiently stable and large customer base is the appearance of publishers that specialized in this field. Guillaume Cavellat (ca. 1500–1576) is the best example. He was a Parisian bookseller and publisher. From 1549 to 1563, before entering into an association with another bookseller, Jérôme de Marnef (ca. 1515–1595), which led him to diversify his production, he devoted the main part of his activity to the publication of mathematical books. I shall analyze his production and inquire into the reasons why it could be maintained over such a period of time. In particular, the network of his scientific collaborators, either inside or outside the University of Paris was a crucial factor of Cavellat's prolonged success.
The third and last issue I shall address is that of the emergence of a “Parisian style” (notably in layout), which may have contributed to the visibility and attractiveness of Parisian mathematical books in the European market.
2 The Parisian Mathematical Books in an International Context
2.1 The Parisian Book Market and Its International Openness
Without too much exaggeration, it can be argued that the book market of the early modern period had always been an international market: even before the advent of the printing press, books were circulated through well-organized commercial and scholarly networks, which were already highly intensified at the end of the incunabula era, notably through the activity of major printing firms in different European countries, such as Aldus Manutius (ca. 1450–1515), Lucantonio Giunti (1457–1538), and Giovan Battista Sessa (d. ca. 1509) in Venice, Anton Koberger (ca. 1442–1513) in Nuremberg, Johann Amerbach (1440–1513) in Basel, Antoine Vérard in Paris (d. ca. 1512), and others (Harris 2009; Hellinga 2018; Nuovo 2013, 21–96). Moreover, books were sold at seasonal fairs, which were the very nodes of the international trade network, notably those of Frankfurt in Germany (Thompson 1911) (Chap. 6), Lyons in France (Gascon 1971, 237–262; Cassandro 1979; Matringe 2016), and Medina del Campo in Castile (Lapeyre 1955; Casado 2018). During the first half of the sixteenth century, the traffic of books between different towns and countries of Europe increased steadily (Febvre and Martin 1997, 216–247; Pettegree 2011b, 65–90).
Paris, one of the largest printing centers in Europe, participated in this trade, mainly through the activity of important booksellers whose commercial success was supported by extensive networks in France and abroad, like Jean Petit II (fl. 1518–1540), Oudin Petit (fl. 1540–1572), Chrestien Wechel (1495–1554), Jacques du Puys (fl. 1540–1589), and Michel de Vascosan (1500–1576). Moreover, numerous foreign publishers sent agents or correspondents (facteurs) to Paris; some of them settled there permanently and opened a bookshop. For instance, the celebrated Ecu de Bâle (“Arms of Basel,” or Scutum Basiliense) was run by Conrad Resch (d. 1552) from 1516 to 1526 to sell books printed in Basel, and then was transferred to Chrestien Wechel (Parent-Charon 1974, 159–160; Bietenholz 1971, 33–34, 171–172 and passim). Agents who worked for foreign publishers also bought Parisian books that they sent to the home branch.
Paris attracted foreign booksellers, among many foreign merchants, for it offered an exceptionally large pool of potential customers. It was then the most populated city in northern Europe, with probably about two hundred thousand inhabitants around 1550—more than twice as many as London (Braudel 1976, 83; Chaunu 1978, 198)—and it contained a numerous, wealthy, and educated elite. Paris was the administrative heart of France and the principal residence of the royal court. Its parliament was the highest sovereign court of the kingdom and played a political as well as a judicial role, which brought about bustling activity. Moreover, in the period from 1520 to 1550, the University of Paris was still the most frequented in Europe, with 10,000–11,000 enrolled students, before its rapid decline during the religious wars (Brockliss 1989). This had always been crucial to the prosperity of the book trade in the town: a large community of printers, engravers, bookbinders, and booksellers was able to live on the local market.
Yet this was detrimental to Paris's active engagement in the international trade. Compared with Lyons, Venice, or Antwerp, where book production was export-oriented (Adam 2017; Coornaert 1961; Gascon 1971; Nuovo 2013, 21–87, 298–301; Pettegree 2011a; Voet 1973), Paris imported more books than it exported, to satisfy the needs and curiosities of its students and professors, not to mention its lettered and wealthy citizens, the lawyers of its parliament, the courtiers, and the officers of the royal administration (Parent-Charon 1974, 154–166; Parent-Charon 2000). In this regard, it remained an exception in Europe until at least the first decades of the seventeenth century (Maclean 2012, 207–208).
In any case, mathematical publishing was a niche. In Paris, during the whole period of 1480–1550, the average production of mathematical books to the whole production of books was about one percent (Levy 2020, 138–141). The commercial traffic of this product could thus never affect the external trade balance of any city or country. This essay discusses the possibility of small quantities of mathematical Parisian books sold in the foreign market—it being understood that the booksellers obtained their main profit from the trade of more largely saleable books, like religious books.
2.2 The Circulation of Parisian Mathematical Books: A Few Clues
We have only a few clues to clarify this issue, for the main indicators and data sources ordinarily used to evaluate the commercial circulation of books are incomplete or absent. Registers of account and other documents from notarial records and bank archives do not specify the kind of books that were sold or bought, except in the case of the account books of the booksellers themselves, which are extremely rare in the archives, notably in Paris. Also rare are the postmortem inventories of booksellers and wholesalers, which could give some idea of the breadth of their trade.
The inventories of Renaissance libraries, private and public, provide precious but sparse information, as they remain largely unexplored.Footnote 1 The collective catalogues of the Frankfurt fairs are the most detailed and complete sources of information on the international book trade, but they were not published before 1564, so we must resort to more diffuse indicators.
First of all, as already mentioned, the publishers of mathematical books in Paris had above-average means for the community of printers and booksellers, and they had also a wider expanse of trade.Footnote 2 For sixteenth-century Paris, only 25 booksellers’ catalogues with prices are known. Drawing up and printing a catalogue was still a rare practice that indicated that the author of the catalogue was actively involved in trade with other booksellers and wholesalers, either inside or outside of Paris. The 25 Parisian catalogues were all published between around 1540 and 1562, by only seven booksellers: Simon de Colines (fl. 1520–1546), Robert Estienne (1503–1559), Chrestien Wechel, Regnault Chaudière (fl. 1509–1554), Jean Loys (fl. 1535–1547), Mathieu David (fl. 1544–1562), and Guillaume Morel (fl. 1548–1564) (Coppens 1992; Proot 2018). At least four of these seven booksellers—Colines, Chaudière, Wechel and Loys—were particularly involved in the publication of mathematical books.
At a more general level, mathematical books were not, as a rule, local-interest products, even in the case of textbooks published at the request of some lecturer: elementary formation—based on a small set of standard manuals—was the same in all European universities. Moreover, the rise of interest in the discipline, due to the development of so-called mathematical humanism, nourished an appetite for pedagogical and editorial novelties in all European countries, wherever those novelties came from. An even stronger appetite was aroused by technical development in many fields, notably in the arts and in tactics of war, and increased the demand for books to teach various aspects of practical mathematics applied to the needs of artisans, engineers, and merchants (Bennett 2006; DeVries 2006; Hall 1997; Long 2011; Oosterhoff 2014; Büttner 2017; Valleriani 2013, 35–39, 2017).
One obvious sign of the circulation of mathematical books is the fact that the publishers of these textbooks frequently borrowed texts, commentaries, diagrams, and layout patterns from foreign editions. In particular, from the beginning of the 1530s, Paris began to play a growing role in this kind of exchange “bank.” I have already observed this phenomenon in the case of the two main astronomical textbooks: the Sphaera of Johannes de Sacrobosco (d. ca. 1256) and the Theoricae novae planetarum of Georg von Peuerbach (1423–1461). In both treatises, several innovative diagrams, conceived by Oronce Finé and first printed in Paris, were borrowed in Wittenberg editions of the same textbooks, and through this intermediary were in turn copied in later Italian, French, and Dutch editions (Pantin 2012b, 2020). Oronce Finé probably also had a key role in the diffusion of the practice of printing the diagrams with the accompaniment of a detailed legend—a practice soon adopted and perfected in the Wittenberg editions of the Theoricae novae planetarum (Pantin 2012b, 2013).Footnote 3
2.3 Toward a European Regulation of Production?
More important still, when we catalogue the European production of different kinds of mathematical books (scholarly editions of fundamental sources like Euclid and Ptolemy; university textbooks; manuals for practitioners; books of instruments) year by year, a sort of topo-chronological logic emerges.Footnote 4 Without ever having a monopoly, different centers of production successively exercised a kind of leadership role in the production of certain books: they printed the largest number of copies through frequent editions (which indicates a wide circulation), and they launched innovations that were imitated elsewhere.
2.3.1 Astronomical Textbooks
Thus, in the case of the pocket treatises of the Sphaera, Paris had its moment of leadership during the 1540s and 1550s (Pantin 2020). The Theoricae novae planetarum does not provide so clear an example, as it was less frequently printed, but it is worth noting that after the death of Erasmus Reinhold (1511–1553), though his commented edition of Peuerbach was not printed again in Wittenberg (or elsewhere in Germany) before 1580,Footnote 5 this remarkable commentary in pocket format was circulated in Catholic countries in editions published in Paris by Charles Perier (fl. 1550–1572) in 1553 and 1556—with many copies also bearing the date 1557 or 1558.Footnote 6 Whereas the surviving copies of the 1542 and 1553 Wittenberg editions are in majority kept in the Germanic area, those of the Perier editions are kept in France, in Spain, and, in a significant proportion, in Italy.
Surviving Copies of the First Editions of Reinhold's Commentary on the Theoricae novae planetarum:
Edition: (Peuerbach and Reinhold 1542), Wittenberg:
Germanic area: Aschaffenburg, Stiftsbibliothek; Bremen, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek; Budapest, Országos Széchényi Könyvtár; Freiburg im Breisgau, Universitätsbibliothek; Gotha, Forschungsbibliothek; Jena, Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek; München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek; Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum Bibliothek; Strasbourg, Univ.; Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek; Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; Wien, Universitätsbibliothek.
Other countries: Avignon, BM; Grenoble, BM; Marseille, BM; Oxford, Bodleian; Paris, Observatoire.
Edition: (Peuerbach and Reinhold 1553b), Wittenberg:
Germanic area: Erfurt, Stadt- und Regionalbibliothek; Freiburg im Breisgau, Universitätsbibliothek; Göttingen, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek; Halle, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek; Jena, Universitätsbibliothek; Mainz, Stadtbibliothek; München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek; Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek; Zürich, Zentralbibliothek; Zwickau, Ratschulbibliothek.
Other countries: Toronto, Univ., Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.
Edition: (Peuerbach and Reinhold 1553a), Paris:
France: Bibliothèques municipales of Besançon, Bourg-en-Bresse, Lyon, Nancy, Poitiers, and Rouen; Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Italy: Bologna, Biblioteca universitaria; Firenze, Riccardiana; Lecce, Biblioteca provinciale Nicola Bernardini; Pisa, Biblioteca universitaria; Piacenza, Biblioteca comunale Passerini-Landi; Roma, Biblioteca nazionale centrale; Roma, Biblioteca dell'Osservatorio astronomico.
England: London, Wellcome Library; St. Andrews, University Library.
France: Bibliothèques municipales of La Rochelle (A), Nancy (B and C), Saint-Mihiel (C), Toulouse (A), Troyes (C), and Versailles (B); Nice, Bibliothèque patrimoniale Romain Gary (B); Paris, Arsenal (C); Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France (C); Paris, Observatoire (A and B).
Italy: Alessandria, Biblioteca civica Francesca Calvo (B); Bologna, Univ., Dipartimento di Fisica ed Astronomia (A and C); Cremona, Biblioteca statale (B); Fermo, Biblioteca civica Romolo Spezioli (inc., B); Nardò, Biblioteca comunale Achille Vergari (C); Roma, Biblioteca nazionale centrale (B); Roma, Biblioteca Lancisiana (C); Roma, Biblioteca universitaria Alessandrina (B); Roma, Osservatorio astronomico (B); Roma, Vallicelliana (B); Serra Sant'Abbondio, Biblioteca del venerabile Eremo di Fonte Avellana (C).
Spain: Madrid, Compiutense (B); Sevilla, Univ. (B).
Other countries: Dillingen, Studienbibliothek (B); Munich, BSB (A); Salisbury, Cathedral Library (C).
2.3.2 Treatises of the Astrolabe
The books on the astrolabe provide an even more telling example.Footnote 7 During the 1540s and 1550s, Paris, and secondarily Lyons, became the first centers in Europe for their production, in spite of the fact that Lyonese and Parisian mathematicians had no outstanding expertise in this field. According to Anthony Turner, mathematical instrument making was “a relatively new trade in Renaissance Paris” where there was “no commercial manufacture and no craft organization” inherited from the Middle Ages (Turner 1998, 63–64). Only the clockmakers were united in a corporation, whose statutes were granted by King Francis I in 1544 at the request of “seven masters clockmakers resede in our city of Paris” (7 maistres orlogeurs demourans en nostre ville de Paris) (Lespinasse 1897, 549–552; Bourcerie-Savary and Marc 2019, 132).Footnote 8 Despite the efforts of Finé, who strove for the development of practical mathematics, and conceived, described, explained, and sometimes made several instruments (Eagleton 2009), their production in Paris and in Lyon remained limited compared to that in Nuremberg, Antwerp, or Louvain: the French collections bear witness to this fact (Chapiro and Turner 1989; Turner 2018).Footnote 9 As concerns, the astrolabes, between Johannes Fusoris (ca. 1365–1436) and Philippe Danfrie (ca. 1532–1608), no Parisian maker left a mark in history (Poulle 1963; Turner 1989), and French mathematicians gave only modest contributions to the literature of the astrolabe.
Anyway, the topo-chronological scheme mentioned above also operates in this case. In the beginning, the books on the astrolabe were only printed in Northern Italy (in Perugia, Ferrara, and Venice). They began as a few medieval Latin treatises written by Robert of Ketton (fl. 1141–1157), Henry Bate of Malines (Heinrich von Mecheln) (1246–1310) (Gunther 1932, II, 368–376), Andalò del Negro (1260–1334), and Prosdocimo Beldomandi (ca. 1370–1428), and an adaptation by Marcantonio Cadamosto (1476–1556) of the Compendium astrolabii, then attributed to the Persian Jewish astronomer Messahala (ca. 740–815). To these were added some Byzantine sources, thanks to Giorgio Valla (1447–1500), who included several texts on the astrolabe in his miscellaneous collections of translations (Segonds 1981, 105–111; Raschieri 2012): works by Proclus (412–485), Johannes Philoponus (ca. 490–ca. 570), and Nicephorus Gregoras (1295–1360), and the Explicatio altera, an anonymous treatise falsely attributed to Nicephorus (Delatte 1939). Only one contemporaneous work appeared in this period: the Annulus astronomicus of Bonetus de Latis (ca. 1450–ca. 1510/1515), which describes an astrolabe finger ring (Gunther 1932, II 326–327; Rodríguez-Arribas 2017).
Treatises on the Astrolabe Printed in Italy (1475–1507)
(Listed in the order of their first publication)
Edition: (Negro 1475).
Edition: (Beldomandi ca. 1477).
Edition: (Bate of Malines 1484).
Edition: (Latis [1492–1493]).
Edition: (Valla and Proclus, Nicephorus Gregoras, Pseudo-Nicephorus 1498).
Edition: (Valla and [Johannes Philoponus] 1501).
Edition: (Cadamosto 1507).
Then, from 1510 to 1545, the more interesting publications were printed in the Germanic area. There were new editions of translations of Arabic and Greek sources (published in Nuremberg and in Basel)—notably the explanation of the Saphea, or universal astrolabe, by Azarchel (1028–1087) with corrections by Johannes Schöner (1477–1547), and an edition by Jacob Ziegler (1470–1549). But the main feature of the period was the appearance of modern treatises. Johann Copp (1487–ca. 1558) even published his work in German, in two very different versions: one printed in Augsburg, the other in Bamberg. The Astrolabium imperatorium of Johann Stabius (ca. 1450–1522) was not a planispheric astrolabe, but a rectangular instrument devised for making horoscopes and printed on a single sheet (Kremer 2016). Two treatises would be particularly successful: the Declaratio of Jacob Köbel (1462–1533) and the Elucidatio of Johannes Stöffler (1452–1531).
Treatises on the Astrolabe Printed in the Germanic Area (1510–1545)
(Listed in the order of their first publication)
Edition: (Valla and Pseudo-Nicephorus. 1510).
Edition: (Stöffler 1513); repr. 1524, 1534, 1535.
Edition: (Stabius ).
Edition: (Copp 1525a).
Edition: (Copp 1525b).
Edition: (Boemus 1529).
Edition: (Colb 1532).
Edition: (Köbel 1532); repr. 1535.
Edition: (Bronkhorst 1533).
Edition: (Arzachel and Schöner 1534).
Edition: (Jordanus Nemorarius 1536).
Edition: (Latis 1537).
Edition: (Dryander 1538).
Edition: (Sophianos 1545).
Over the next two decades, the production of treatises of the astrolabe dwindled in Germany and remained dormant in Italy. Its primary site of production ought to have moved to the Netherlands where the work of Gemma Frisius (1508–1555) was giving a strong impulse to instrument making, cartography, and surveying. In fact, while the astrolabe was being supplanted in some of its traditional functions by more efficient tools (notably astronomical ephemerids), it remained useful in surveying and also in the determination of longitudes (as reliable and exact clocks were still rare). Gemma Frisius himself conceived a new model of astrolabe, described in a treatise posthumously published in Antwerp, in 1556.Footnote 10 However, at that date, Paris (followed by Lyons) had already established itself as the first place for the printing of such books.
After a small group of early publications, launched in Paris by Henri Estienne (fl. 1502–1520), Nicolas Savetier (fl. 1524–1532), and Simon de Colines between 1519 and 1534, the number of editions of treatises on the astrolabe increased significantly from 1545, and this production was maintained until the end of the 1550s. In the next decade, the Parisian book trade was to be disorganized by the impact of the wars of religion.
Treatises on the Astrolabe Printed in France up to 1560
(Listed in the order of their first publication)
(Fernel 1527): Description of an astrolabe invented by Fernel. Dedicated to Diego de Gouvea. Printed in Paris.
(Finé 1527): Description of an astrolabe quadrant, an improved version of the one devised by Profatius Judaeus (ca. 1236–ca. 1305). Printed in Paris (Savetier).
(Jacquinot 1545), in French. Dedicated to Catherine de Medicis. Printed in Paris (Barbé).
(Poblacion 1545): new edition with (Regiomontanus 1545). Printed in Paris (Corbon).
(Focard 1546). Dedicated to Noël Alibert, valet de chambre of Marguerite de Navarre. Printed in Lyons (De Tournes).
(Bassantin 1555) with (Focard 1555). Printed in Lyons (De Tournes).
(Bassantin 1558) with (Jacquinot 1558). Printed in Paris (Cavellat).
(Battink [1557–1558]). Printed in Paris (Du Puys).
(Stöffler 1560). French translation with notes. Printed in Paris (Cavellat).
The treatises printed in Paris and in Lyons were all modern with only one exception: the texts of Pseudo-Nicephorus and Proclus translated by Giorgio Valla (Valla 1498) were joined to Juan Martinez Poblacion's (fl. 1517–1535) De usu astrolabi in three successive editions (Poblacion 1546, [1553–1554], [1556–1557]). Two of these treatises had already been printed in Germany (Köbel 1545b; Stöffler 1553), but, for the most part, they were original treatises, some of which explained the construction of new instruments (Fernel 1527; Finé 1527, 1534; Rojas Sarmiento 1550). The authors taught mathematics, but they also wished to attract patrons. Jean Fernel (1497–1558), then a regent at the college of Navarre, dedicated his Monalosphaerium (Fernel 1527) to the head of this college, Diego de Gouvea (ca. 1470–1558), who had ties with King João III of Portugal (1502–1557).Footnote 11Dominique Jacquinot offered a manuscript copy of his treatise to Catherine de Médicis (1519–1589), then dauphine of France,Footnote 12 two years before dedicating the printed version to her (Jacquinot 1545).
These authors were either French natives (Fernel, Finé, Jacquinot, Focard) or foreigners who stayed in France for various lengths of time: Juan Martinez Poblacion, a Spaniard, who was to be the physician of Eleonora of Habsburg (1498–1558), queen of France (Levy 2020, 95–98); James Bassantin (d. 1568), a Scottish astrologue who remained in France until 1562; and Rudolf Battink (1542–1622), a young mathematician and physician from Groningen, who explained, in his profuse dedication letter to the “Count of Emden,” Edzard II, count of East Frisia (ca. 1533–1599), dated from Paris, that he had lived the three previous years in Brabant, and that he hoped he would find in Frisia, his homeland, the patron for his work that he could not find in either Brabant or in France (Battink 1557–1558, A6r-v).
More significant still, though puzzling, is the Paris edition of the treatise of Juan de Rojas Sarmiento (fl. 1545–1550), the most remarkable contribution to the subject since Stöffler's Elucidatio. In fact, there is no evidence that Rojas, the younger son of Juan de Rojas y Rojas, first Marquis of Poza, who lived between Spain and Flanders, ever stayed in Paris (the dedication letter to Charles the Fifth bears no date or address). Though it made some impact in Paris,Footnote 13 the edition represented, above all, an accomplishment of the Flemish school of instrument making: it published, for the first time, an orthogonic projection conceived by Hugo Helt (ca. 1525–after 1570), a pupil of Gemma Frisius, who was in the service of the Marquis of Poza in Palencia between 1546 and 1549.Footnote 14 In 1545–1546, Rojas had also been a pupil of Gemma Frisius in Louvain (Maddison 1966; Turner 1985, 161–165; Esteban Piñeiro and Vicente Maroto 1991, 266–280; Pantin 2009). The fact that this beautiful and prestigious book was printed in Paris, and not in Louvain or Antwerp, is probably indicative of the high reputation of the Parisian production of mathematical books in the mid-sixteenth century. Part of this reputation was certainly due to the quality and elegance of the layout and illustration of these books, but the soundness of the editorial and commercial organization of the booksellers involved in their edition played a key role.
3 The Case of Guillaume Cavellat: A Publishing Strategy Centered on Mathematical Books
The examples provided above show that the production of mathematical books in Paris enjoyed a golden age in the 1540s and 1550s and that the possible causes for this phenomenon are complex. Among them, we find the growing place of mathematics in university syllabuses, the diffusion of mathematical culture in the larger public, encouraged by the cultural politics of King Francis I and King Henry II (1519–1559), and the existence of a sufficient group of collectors and patrons of the arts interested in instrument making. However, the involvement of several printers and booksellers was a prerequisite.
For reasons already explained, the printers and publishers of mathematical books had to be specialized and required particular means and capabilities; consequently, they remained a minority. Moreover, even when they succeeded in that field, mathematical books occupied only a limited place in their production, as, in the book trade, economic equilibrium was generally based on the production and circulation of a diversity of books. Henri I Estienne, Jean II Petit, and Simon de Colines are examples of this (Renouard 1843, 1–23; Renouard 1894; Armstrong 1952; Schreiber 1982; Schreiber and Veyrin-Forrer 1995; Amert 2012; Levy 2020). Thus, the case of Guillaume Cavellat, who based the success of his business on the production of mathematical books, is worth noting. Cavellat developed and maintained this policy from 1549 to the beginning of 1563. I described and analyzed his career many years ago (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 1988), and here I shall only highlight some factors that contributed to the success of his project.
3.1 Cavellat's Status Within the Parisian Book Trade
3.1.1 Libraire Juré of the University of Paris
Guillaume Cavellat was the first of his family to possess a bookshop in Paris. We know nothing about the social status or occupation of his parents—a likely hypothesis would be that they belonged to the merchant class.Footnote 15 In February 1547, Cavellat was in the service of Jean II Petit, one of the wealthiest booksellers in Paris, engaged in the national and international trade (Parent-Charon 1974, 201). Later in the year, he opened his own bookshop and began to publish some books in association with other booksellers (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 15–17). On April 15, 1549, he was named libraire juré of the University of Paris. He succeeded his brother-in-law Conrad Badius (d. 1562), son of the celebrated Jodocus Badius (ca. 1462–1535), who had been forced to resign his office after being convicted of Calvinism and fleeing to Geneva (Pallier 2002, 59–60).
The libraires jurés were a group of twenty-four booksellers licensed by the University of Paris, and forming part of its suppôts (servants). Their number did not change between the middle of the fifteenth century and 1618, when the institution of the “Communauté des libraires et imprimeurs de Paris” made their function obsolete. The university had created this office (well before the advent of the printing press) to gain better control of the book industry in Paris. The libraires jurés, who bought their office, were supposed to be good Catholics. They took oaths to observe the rules imposed by the university upon the printers and booksellers (and to report breaches of these rules) and to manage their trade in an honest way (by producing correct editions and charging fair prices). They were granted some honors and privileges, mainly tax exemption, and constituted a kind of aristocracy.
More than three hundred printers and booksellers were settled in Paris in the mid-sixteenth century, and the libraires jurés formed an elite in terms of education, wealth, and professional status (Pallier 2002). They were entrusted with missions in collaboration with representatives of the university, like control of the books imported to Paris, when the legislation against the propagation of heretical ideas was reinforced (Higman 1979, 50–52). The benefits received for their trade were many. They have accredited suppliers for doctors, regents, and students, and, in return, their privileged contacts with university members enabled them to find any kind of collaborators they wanted, be they authors, annotators, copy editors, or proofreaders (Shaw 2011, 339–341).
The mere fact that Cavellat was named libraire juré at the beginning of his career, taking possession of the office once held by Jodocus Badius, indicates that he had means and ambition, that he was probably well educated, and that he had a good reputation among printers and booksellers, as well as useful connections.
3.1.2 Family Connections
Cavellat first married, probably in 1547, Marie Aleaume (d. ca. 1558), the widow of Guillaume Richard, or Rikart (d. 1545), a native of Leuven who had had a bookshop in Paris from 1540 until his death. From 1547, Cavellat ran Richard's bookshop, situated in rue Saint Jean de Latran, within the precincts of the Commanderie de saint Jean de Latran, in front of the College of Cambray (ex adverso Collegii Cameracensis), where the royal lecturers gave their public lectures. He also adopted Richard's emblem and mark, the fat hen (in pingui gallina, ‘à l'enseigne de la poule grasse’).
Among Marie Aleaume's brothers and sisters were Jean Aleaume (d. 1573), a Doctor Regent in theology at the University of Paris, Jerôme Aleaume, hosier merchant, husband of Madeleine, daughter of Jodocus Badius (meaning Cavellat became Conrad Badius's brother-in-law), and Pierrette Aleaume—who married first Jean Loys, from Thielt in Flanders (Tiletanus), printer and bookseller in Paris from 1535 to his death in 1547, and, second, Thomas Richard (d. 1568), brother of Guillaume Richard.Footnote 16 Thomas Richard then inherited Loys's bookshop and printing house.
Some of these family ties certainly influenced Cavellat's editorial program. The Belgian connection was an important point. Guillaume Richard was probably related to Jean Richard, bookseller in Antwerp, who notably published (in 1543 and 1547) editions of Sacrobosco that had some similarities with Guillaume Richard's own Parisian editions (Pantin 2020, 284–285).
The emblem and mark In pingui gallina had its origins in Cologne and in Antwerp. It had been chosen by Franz Birckmann (fl. 1503–1529), who ran bookshops in Cologne, London, and Antwerp, and had many of his editions printed in Paris (Renouard and Beaud 1986, 48–56). Franz Birckmann published mainly religious works, and this printer device was linked to Matthew 23:37:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.Footnote 17
Then the mark was used by Franz's brother, Arnold I Birckmann (d. 1542), who in turn had bookshops in Cologne, London, and Antwerp until 1542. Peter Apian (1495–1552) and Gemma Frisius were then published “at the fat hen” long before entering Cavellat's catalog (Van Ortroy 1902, no. 27, 30, 31). Arnold I's widow, Agnès van Gennep, who had bookshops in Paris (1547–1549) and in Cologne (1547–1550), and who settled in Antwerp in 1549, also adopted this printer device, as did her son, Arnold II Birckmann (d. 1576), bookseller in Antwerp (Renouard and Beaud 1986, 58–68).
To get back to more precise data, Guillaume Richard and Jean Loys had published some mathematical books in association (Richard was only a bookseller, whereas Loys was also a printer): Gemma Frisius's Arithmetica, Sacrobosco's De sphaera and De anni ratione, Köbel's Astrolabii declaratio, and Heinrich Loriti's (1488–1563) De geographia. These books were in turn published by Cavellat, either unchanged or with some improvements.
(Gemma Frisius 1545a) with (Peletier du Mans 1545): published by Loys and Richard.
De sphaera (Pantin 2020, 284–285)
(Sacrobosco and Melanchthon [1542–1543]): copied from an edition printed by Josef Klug in Wittenberg in 1540 and published by Loys and Richard.
(Sacrobosco and Melanchthon 1545): new edition with additions and anonymous scholia, published by Loys and Richard.
(Sacrobosco and Melanchthon 1549): follows (Sacrobosco and Melanchthon 1545) with changes and additions borrowed from an edition printed in Wittenberg by Peter Seitz in 1543; published by Cavellat and Thomas Richard.
De anni ratione
(Sacrobosco 1543): copied from an edition printed in Wittenberg, by Peter Seitz, in 1543, and published by Loys and Richard.
Astrolabii declaratio (supra 2.3.2)
(Köbel 1545a): copied from an edition printed in Mainz, by Petrus Jordan, in 1535, and published by Loys and Richard.
De geographia [a treatise of mathematical cosmography]
These editions, which played a significant role in the constitution of Cavellat’s early catalog, obviously belonged to the “Richard legacy”—all the more so as the first of these editions (dated 1549) were published in association with Thomas Richard, the younger brother of Guillaume Richard, who inherited Loys’s bookshop when he married Pierrette Aleaume, Loys’s widow and Cavellat’s sister-in-law. It is worth noting that the few mathematical books printed by Loys alone were not republished by Cavellat. These are Juán Martínez Siliceo’s Arithmetica (1540); a Latin anonymous translation, with notes, of the Sphaera, falsely attributed to Proclus, with an edition of the Greek text (1543), and the French translation, by Martin de Perer, of Sacrobosco’s Sphaera (1546). Cavellat was to publish other translations of the treatises on the Sphere by Pseudo-Proclus and Sacrobosco.
Anyway, Cavellat did not use the Richard legacy indiscriminately. Among the books published by Loys and Richard, he left aside all those which were not mathematical,Footnote 18 which shows that his program had been conceived quite early.
Cavellat’s second marriage occurred in June 1559. He married Denise Girault (d. ca. 1616), the daughter of Denise de Marnef (d. 1555), and the bookseller Ambroise Girault (d. 1546). After the death of Girault, an association had been formed, from 1548 to 1555, between Denise de Marnef and her brother, Jérôme de Marnef. At his sister’s death, Jérôme became the tutor of Denise Girault, then a child, and arranged her marriage with Cavellat. Cavellat thus allied himself with a family who had played an important role in the history of printing from the end of the fifteenth century, not only in Paris but also in Poitiers, Angers, and Bourges. The size of the dowry shows that the newly-wed couple was rather wealthy, according to the standards of the Parisian community of booksellers and printers.Footnote 19
However, this marriage presaged a deep change in the practices of Cavellat’s bookshop. On May 1, 1563, Guillaume Cavellat and Jérôme de Marnef signed a contract of permanent association. On the same day, Jérôme de Marnef, who was not married and had no children, made a donation of all his property, after his death, to his two nieces, Guillemette and Denise Girault, and to their husbands (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 170, 177). Therefore, Cavellat abandoned his address and his mark, and the mathematical works he continued to publish were immersed in the diversity of books bearing the mark of the Pelican.Footnote 20
3.2 The Constitution of a Catalogue
Guillaume Cavellat, who was a bookseller, not a printer, deployed all the capabilities and activities of a publisher. This is documented by some publishing contracts that remain in the Minutier central des notaires de Paris (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 5, 11–15); by the “notes to the reader” in Latin or in French, which he repeatedly inserted in his books to highlight his efforts for producing useful, well illustrated, and correctly printed books in every branch of mathematics; and, above all, by his remarkably coherent catalog.
Between 1549 and 1563, Cavellat published 76 editions of mathematical books of a total of 150 (the numerous reissue editions are excluded from this count). A few of these editions were luxurious in-quartos, produced in association with other booksellers or with the aid of noble or rich patrons, but the large majority were in-octavos intended for a public of students, teachers, practitioners, and moderately cultured readers. Only the books reserved to specialists, like scholarly editions of Greek sources or astronomical tables, were excluded.
All these publications covered a large part of the field of mathematical knowledge: from the disciplines taught at the university (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy, cosmology) to a diversity of applied mathematics (cosmography, surveying, architecture, the making and use of instruments). As already seen in the case of the treatises on the astrolabe, Cavellat tried to publish a variety of works on each topic.
The following census has been drawn in order to better understand the role of Cavellat as a broker of mathematical knowledge. It lists only the first Cavellat editions of the works and, if need be, the first Cavellat editions of improved or revised editions of the same texts.
A–Publication of Foreign Works (in chronological order)
A-a Cavellat’s Editions that Follow Preceding French Editions
A–a–1 Reprints without modifications
A–a–2 With Additions, Corrections, or Other Modifications
(Sacrobosco and Melanchthon 1549), see supra 3.1.2.
(Annuli 1557). A collection built up from several sources, published in Antwerp (Beausard 1553; Gemma Frisius 1548), and Marburg (Annulorum, 1536; Mithobius 1536), to which was added a fragment from (Finé 1532). A note to the reader by Cavellat.
A–b First Editions in France that Follow Foreign Editions
A–b–1 Reprints without Modifications
A–b–2 With Additions, Corrections, or other Modifications
(Scheubel 1551). First self-contained edition of this introduction to algebra, previously published in Basel with a slightly different title as a prologue to an edition of the Elements (Euclid 1550). A note to the reader by Cavellat.
(Gemma Frisius 1556a). Cavellat has combined two editions of the De principiis published in Antwerp: (Gemma Frisius 1548), which adds Schöner's De usu globi, and (Gemma Frisius 1553), which offers a revised text.
(Gemma Frisius 1557). Cavellat has added to the De radio astronomico, published in Antwerp and Leuven (Gemma Frisius 1545b), extracts on the Jacob's staff from (Spangenberg 1539) and (Münster 1551), published in Wittenberg and Basel. The diagrams are new.
A–c French Translations
(Gemma Frisius 1556b). A translation (with several modifications) by Claude de Boissière of (Gemma Frisius 1556a, see supra A–b–2), with a description of Gemma Frisius's world map, published in Antwerp in 1540 (Boissière 1556c).
(Stöffler 1560). See supra 2.3.2. An annotated translation, by Guillaume Des Bordes and Jean-Pierre de Mesmes. Dedicated by Guillaume Des Bordes to Jean de Maynemares, seigneur de Bellegarde.
(Gemma Frisius 1561b). A translation with commentary by Pierre Forcadel, of the Arithmeticae practicae methodus, already published by Cavellat (Gemma Frisius 1549, 1559, 1561a), without the notes and opuscules by Jacques Peletier du Mans. Dedicated by Forcadel to Hierosme de la Rovere, bishop of Toulon, ambassador of the Duke of Savoie to the king of France. Note of Cavellat to the reader.
B – Publication of French Authors or Foreigners Staying in France
B-a Cavellat's Editions that Follow Preceding French Editions
B–a–1 Reprints without Modifications
B–a–2 With Additions, Corrections, or other Modifications
(Lefèvre d'Etaples 1551). First self-contained edition of the treatise on music, published before in a collection of mathematical textbooks (Jordanus Nemorarius 1496; Jordanus Nemorarius 1514). A note to the reader by Cavellat.
(Finé 1560). First self-contained edition of this treatise on sundials that had been a part of (Finé 1532). Dedication by Jean Finé (Oronce's son) to Odet de Coligny, cardinal of Châtillon. The original diagrams have been reduced by Guillaume Des Bordes. Note to the reader by Cavellat.
B–b First Editions
(Mizauld 1552). A treatise of the sphere in Latin verse. Dedicated by Mizauld to Marguerite de France, sister of Henri II.
(Berthot 1554). A Latin arithmetic in the form of a series of aphorisms. Dedicated to Claude d'Espence, doctor in theology.
(Baeza 1555). A Latin arithmetic.
(Boissière 1556a). La proprieté et usage des quadrans. Dedicated to Antoinette de Luynes, wife of Jean de Morel.
(Ptolemy and Gracilis 1556b). A translation of the first book of the Almagest. Dedicated by Gracilis to Jean Magnien, royal lecturer in mathematics.
(Du Hamel 1557). A commentary on Archimedes's De numero arenae. Dedicated by the author, royal lecturer in mathematics, to Cardinal Charles of Lorraine.
(Euclid 1557). With a preface to the reader by Gracilis.
(Harambour 1557). Inaugural lecture of a newly appointed royal lecturer in mathematics.
(Forcadel 1558). On the method of calculation by counters. Dedicated by Forcadel to Robert Hurault, seigneur de Belesbat, Michel de L'Hospital's son-in-law.
(Peletier du Mans 1559). A treatise on the square and cubic roots added in (Gemma Frisius 1559).
(Bullant 1562). A treatise on geometry for the clock makers.
This census shows that Cavellat drew on all possible means to set up and stock a mathematical bookstore where teachers, students, practitioners, and amateurs could find all they needed. On the one hand, he harnessed the legacy not only of his direct predecessor, Guillaume Richard, as we have seen but also of some great figures of the previous generation of mathematical printers, notably Regnault Chaudière, son-in-law of Jean Higman (d. 1500) and successor of Simon de Colines. Thus, he became the publisher of Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples and Charles de Bovelles (1479–1566) emblematic authors of the first French mathematical school (Lefèvre d'Étaples 1551; Bovelles 1555).
On the other hand, he offered his customers up-to-date books, either by finding new titles in France or abroad, or by refreshing old ones with improved diagrams, new commentaries, or the addition of accompanying texts—for he liked thematic anthologies: his Annuli astronomici (Annuli 1557) is a prime example of it. His catalog, where Dutch, German, Swiss, Italian, and Spanish authors were represented, was a showcase of European mathematical knowledge and could attract foreign customers, but it also fitted perfectly into the trend of the “défense et illustration” of the French language and culture, promoted by the Valois kings, for he published French translations of Latin books, and books originally written in French.
3.3 Cavellat's Collaborators
In his “notes to the reader,” Cavellat portrayed himself as the main actor in this remarkable achievement, but he also wished to suggest that he was surrounded and assisted by a network of advisors, authors, and collaborators, all experts in mathematics, who ensured the quality of his production. Some of these remained anonymous, like the annotators and revisers of (Sacrobosco and Melanchthon 1549; Sacrobosco et al. 1550) and of (Jacquinot 1558), but a majority signed their work or were named by Cavellat. As they belonged to different milieu, they permit us to glimpse the intricate and elusive topography of the world of mathematical knowledge in mid-sixteenth-century Paris.
3.3.1 The Collège Royal and the University
At the forefront, we find the royal lecturers in mathematics, connected both to the court and to the university (and also very often to the parliament of Paris). The royal lecturers were selected and appointed directly by the king, their salaries were paid from the royal treasury, and they were under the authority of the king's grand almoner, but they nevertheless belonged to the university: their complete title was “lecteur royal en l'Université de Paris” (Compère 2002; Farge 2006).
Cavellat had his shop “in front of the college of Cambray” where the royal lecturers gave their lectures, for want of a building of their own, and he published works by Oronce FinéFootnote 21 and his colleagues and successors: Pascal Du Hamel (d. 1565) who joined Finé in 1540 as a second royal lecturer in math; Jean Magnien (d. ca. 1556) who succeeded Finé in 1555; Augier d'Harambour (d. between 1557 and 1562), appointed in 1557 to succeed Magnien; and Pierre Forcadel (d. ca. 1572), appointed in 1563. The sole exception was Jean Pena (d. 1558), appointed in 1557, who had his books published by André Wechel (d. 1581), as did Ramus, Pena's master and protector (Pantin 2006).
Magnien was in touch with Cavellat before his appointment as royal lecturer. In 1551 lectures he referred to work on algebra by Johann Scheubel (1494–1570), previously printed in Basel by Johann Herwagen (ca. 1497–ca. 1558) as the first part of an edition of the Elements, and persuaded Cavellat to provide a self-contained edition (Euclid 1550; Scheubel 1551). Cavellat probably sent his edition of the work to Scheubel, a professor in Tübingen, and received a thank-you letter: he related this story in his edition of the Elucidatio astrolabii (Stöffler 1553)—also a Tübingen affair—as an illustration of his devotion to mathematics and of his efficiency. This self-promotional discourse was addressed to a foreign as well as a Parisian audience.
In addition to the holders of an “ordinary” chair, Cavellat gathered a larger group of university men into his circle of collaborators and authors: “extraordinary” royal lecturers,Footnote 22 ex-lecturers, future royal lecturers, or simply the pupils and friends of actual royal lecturers.
Guillaume Postel (1510–1581) had been a royal lecturer in oriental languages (and probably also, occasionally, in mathematics) from 1538 to 1542, before being dismissed from this charge.Footnote 23 Disgraced and condemned by the Sorbonne, he had been absent from Paris from 1544 to the beginning of 1552. Then, until the beginning of 1553, and without being a royal lecturer, he gave lectures at the Collège des Lombards, this time most probably in mathematics in addition to his usual orientalist and messianic themes. His De universitate, which reflects his complex concerns, was published in 1552 by the bookseller Jean Gueullart (d. 1554). But the “brevissima synopsis” of his lectures on astronomy, arithmetic, and music was printed on anopisthograph broadsheets that bore the address of Cavellat. According to the title of the astronomical synopsis, they were new augmented edition of sheets printed when Postel was royal lecturer (Postel 1552a, b, c).
Pierre Forcadel, a young mathematician from Béziers, was not a former but a future royal lecturer. Protected by Ramus, who had been appointed in 1551 as royal lecturer in eloquence and philosophy, he entrusted Cavellat with the publication of his books on arithmetic, all written in French (Forcadel 1556a, b, 1557, 1558), and provided him an annotated translation of Gemma Frisius's arithmetic (Gemma Frisius 1561b). When he became a royal lecturer in 1563, he kept Cavellat (then associated with Jérôme de Marnef) as his publisher.
Cavellat was acquainted with other pupils or protégés of the royal lecturers. He published a versified treatise of the sphere by Antoine Mizauld (ca. 1512–1578), Finé's closest disciple (Mizauld 1552), the Numerandi doctrina of Lodoico Baeza, a Spanish scholar recommended by Jean Magnien (Baeza 1555), and, thanks to Stephanus Gracilis (fl. 1556–1564), an otherwise unknown mathematician, he was able to have Magnien's final works completed and printed (Ptolemy and Gracilis 1556a; Euclid 1557).
3.3.2 Professors of Mathematics Outside the University of Paris
Other professors of mathematics entered Cavellat's circle—some obscure, like Lucas Tremblay (fl. 1561) (Boissière 1561), some famous, like Jacques Peletier du Mans (1517–1582). From 1548 to 1557, Peletier lived in Poitiers, Bordeaux, Torino, and mainly Lyons, where he published his mathematical books. But from the end of 1557–1560 he was in Paris, matriculated at the faculty of medicine to obtain his baccalaureate and license degrees. He entrusted Cavellat to publish a small work on the square and cubic roots, and his Latin translation of his Algèbre (Gemma Frisius 1559; Peletier du Mans 1560).
Provincial towns often lacked print shops capable of publishing scholarly books. Claude Berthot, doctor in theology, principal, and superintendent of the College of Dijon, asked Cavellat to publish an arithmetic reduced to a long sequence of aphorisms (Berthot 1554). Berthot had previously resided in Paris, first as one of the bursars of the Collège de Navarre, then, until 1551, as the principal of the Collège de La Marche,Footnote 24 and he certainly was well acquainted with Cavellat's bookshop. More importantly, Cavellat came into contact with Élie Vinet (1509–1587).
Vinet spent the greater part of his career at the Collège de Guyenne, in Bordeaux, where the university's imprimeur juré, François Morpain (fl. 1542–1562), had only limited means. Simon Millanges (1540–1623), a disciple of Vinet, the first to establish a large humanist printing firm in Bordeaux, would settle there in 1572. Vinet had thus the majority of his works printed in Lyons by Jean I de Tournes (1504–1564), and in Poitiers by his friends, the brothers De Marnef, Jean III, and Enguilbert II (both d. 1568). However, Vinet made several sojourns in Paris, notably in summer 1543 (when he had his edition of Theognis's Sententiae elegiacae printed by Jean Loys), and from July 1549 to the beginning of 1550, during a plague and an insurrection against the salt tax in Bordeaux. At his departure, Vinet left two works that would be printed by Guillaume Morel: corrections to Lucius Annaeus Florus's (70–140) Roman history (Vinet 1550) and an edition of Ausonius, the printing of which was carefully supervised by Jacques Goupyl (ca. 1525–ca. 1564), Vinet's friend and collaborator (Ausonius 1551). Vinet had also prepared scholia on Sacrobosco's Sphaera. As Loys, whom Vinet had much appreciated, was dead, Goupyl probably introduced his friend to the actual publisher of cosmological textbooks of all kinds, Guillaume Cavellat, to whom he had entrusted a translation of his own (Piccolomini 1550).
However, Goupyl did not go so far as to keep an eye on the whole operation, and Vinet fumed when he received the book (Sacrobosco et al. 1551): he discovered that Cavellat, who had a talent for mixtures, had combined his new scholia with anonymous annotations that had been added to the preceding edition of the Sphaera (Sacrobosco et al. 1550). In a letter to Guillaume Guérende, a colleague at the Collège de Guyenne, Vinet bitterly complained about his “shamefully defiled” scholia, “mixed with totally inept” material. This had taught him to be more careful when choosing a publisher:Footnote 25 the same letter, by contrast, warmly praises Enguilbert de Marnef. However, Vinet reconsidered his position—he probably realized that Cavellat was, with all his faults, the best publisher for his works on mathematics. An agreement was achieved; Vinet prepared, for Cavellat, a totally revised edition of the Sphaera (Sacrobosco 1555–1556) and entrusted him with his translations of Michael Psellos and Pseudo-Proclus (Vinet and Psellos 1557, 1573).
3.3.3 Connections with the Court and the Parisian Elite
Jacques Goupyl can be grouped with the collaborators of Cavellat who had links with the Collège Royal, but his other connections have greater importance. A fine Hellenist, he was named extraordinary royal lecturer in 1552 (Omont 1894) and ordinary lecturer in medicine in 1555 (he had obtained his doctorate in 1548). But he was also interested in poetry and in mathematics and was well introduced at the court and among the Parisian literary elite. He had participated in the anthologies published in 1550–1551 to honor the memory of Marguerite de Navarre (1492–1549) and had connections with the young poets who were to form the Pléiade. As mentioned above, Cavellat published a French translation by Goupyl, dedicated to Catherine de Médicis (Piccolomini 1550). In this early phase of his career as a bookseller, he also published the first works of Joachim Du Bellay (1522–1560) and Pierre de Ronsard (1524–1585) (Du Bellay 1549; Ronsard 1550a, b); obviously, he had contacts in this milieu.
These contacts did not bear visible fruit, as Cavellat totally abandoned the field of literature, but they probably provided him with useful acquaintances. For instance, Cavellat collaborated with Claude de Boissière (ca. 1530–ca. 1560), a protégé of Jean de Morel (ca. 1511–1581), who played a crucial role in the success of the Pléiade (Boissière 1556a, b, d; Boissière 1561; Magnien 2000; Ford 2004).
Cavellat also collaborated with Jean-Pierre de Mesmes (1516–ca. 1579), nephew of Jean-Jacques de Mesmes (1490–1569), maître des requêtes and king's counselor. Jean-Pierre de Mesmes, an Italianist and poet who committed himself to studying astronomy from 1552, was a prime collaborator in the Marguerite de Navarre anthologies and was welcomed by Ronsard among the group of the Pléiade from 1553 to 1560 (Pantin 1986; Bingen 2004). Jean-Pierre de Mesmes, an early reader of Copernicus and a disciple of Jofrancus Offusius (ca. 1505–ca. 1570), one of the early annotators of De revolutionibus, had a wide and thorough knowledge of recent German astronomical publications (Gingerich 2002, 35–36; Pantin 1986).
3.3.4 The Elusive Milieu of Mathematical Practitioners
The analysis of Cavellat's catalog also provides a glimpse into the world of practitioners who were not attached to an institution and have escaped notice, unless they had published work or signed their name on a notarial document: private teachers, engineers, architects, instrument makers, and instrument sellers.
Jean-Pierre de Mesmes, just mentioned above, was a nobleman and had not to earn his living as a professional mathematician, but he collaborated several times with his friend, Guillaume Des Bordes, “gentilhomme Bordelais,” professor of mathematics (probably in private circles) and designer of instruments. From 1551 to 1556, Des Bordes accompanied Jean de Maynemares, Lord of Bellegarde, in military campaigns, as mathematical advisor (Stöffler 1560, â3r). He had a long-term relationship with Cavellat (Stöffler 1553; Finé 1560; Stöffler 1560; Des Bordes 1570); Cavellat called this excellent draughtsman “the Apelles of printers,” typographorum Apellis (Finé 1560, â4r).
Jean Bullant (ca. 1515–1578), the architect of Anne de Montmorency (1493–1567), Constable of France, is better known. He probably came to a dip in his career around 1560, for he had been dismissed from his charge as Contrôleur des Bâtiments in 1559, and planned a program of publications. In January 1561, he was granted the privilege for printing—at his own expense [à ses propres cousts et despens]—a book on sundials (Bullant 1561, A2r). This Recueil d'horlogiographie was printed in Paris for Vincent Sertenas (d. 1562) in 1561. But on January 2, 1562, by a notarial act, Bullant sold Cavellat his privilege and six hundred copies of this Recueil—probably the entire remaining stock (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 14–15), and Cavellat soon published a sort of appendix to the first treatise, Petit traicté de geometrie et d'horologiographie pratique (Bullant 1562). Bullant's main book, Reigle generalle d'architecture (Bullant 1564) was also published by Cavellat (and Marnef).
As a publisher of books of instruments, Cavellat was acquainted with instrument makers and instrument sellers. On May 2, 1556, Jehan Gentil sold him the privilege he had obtained for the publication of Claude de Boissière's Jeu Pythagorique (Boissière 1556b), on the condition that Cavellat would give him 25 copies of the book, and that an advertisement for his shop would be inscribed on the first page: “The boards and instruments for the game of this book are made in Jehan Gentil's shop, in the courtyard of the courthouse,” (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 11–12).Footnote 26 The same year, another book by Boissière, La proprieté et usage des quadrans, ended with an advertisement for “Jehan Quenif, sur les grans degres du Palais, à l'enseigne du Cylindre,” who sold all kinds of dials and clocks (Boissière 1556a). Cavellat and Marnef made a similar deal with “Maistre Benoist Forfait compassier à Paris,” concerning Guillaume Des Bordes's Canomettre. Benoît Forfait (fl. 1557), who lodged in the Louvre, like other skillful artists and craftsmen, made the instrument described by Des Bordes and provided some improvements to facilitate its use, as mentioned in the title page. He probably supervised the printing process, in the absence of the author, and wrote the dedication to Pierre de Picquet (d. 1579), treasurer of France in the generality of Champagne, to whom he presented the instrument and offered his services (Des Bordes 1570, A2).
This network of collaborators and advisors, which Cavellat visibly worked hard to develop, certainly helped him to keep well informed and to maintain the quality of his publications and his position in the market of mathematical books, not only in Paris but at a European level.
4 The Importance of Being Stylish
This last part is limited to a few remarks about the impact of the quality of the layout on the capacity of mathematical books to circulate and to attract attention and customers across a wide area. By “quality of the layout,” I mean a variety of features, from the beauty of the books as material objects to their efficiency as learning and thinking tools.
We are facing an apparent paradox: on the one hand, the circulation of books across borders depended upon sharing a common visual language—all the more so in the case of mathematical texts where symbols, special characters, and other graphic conventions played a crucial role;Footnote 27 on the other hand, the ability to stand out in the market was important. To combine both conditions, it was necessary to produce books whose visual language could be appreciated everywhere, and that, at the same time, had the allure of innovation. Yet historians of typography generally agree that between 1530 and the mid-sixteenth century, Parisian printing craft achieved this twofold perfection.
The quality and abundance of the paper manufactured in France was the first asset, while German, English, and Dutch printers depended on importation for getting fine white paper and often had to make do with second-rate, cheaper products (Febvre and Martin 1997, 39–44; Bidwell 2002). Another factor was the cultural policy of King Francis I, who encouraged the renewal of the design of books. Under this impetus, Parisian printers progressively replaced their old blackletter fonts with new roman and italic fonts (Martin 2000, 162–209). At that time, Claude Garamont (d. 1561), among other punch-cutters, created typefaces that, in the second half of the century, would be sold or imitated in other European countries (Vervliet 2008, 149–214, 287–320; Updike 2001, 235–236). Until the end of the 1520s, Parisian printers had been strongly influenced by German typography, then Italian influences arrived, and a new style emerged, which stemmed from the fusion of several styles, but “with uniquely Parisian features” (Amert 2012, 47). At the same moment, French and Italian artists, commissioned by the king to decorate his several residences, created a French variant of the Italian style, the so-called Bellifontain style (of the School of Fontainebleau), whose motifs and decorative patterns also reached books (Fig. 1).
This was more than a question of aestheticism. In Kay Amert's words, Parisian printers shaped “a graphic style and a set of presentational practices” that would be accepted in all Europe and become an “international style.” This “universal graphic apparatus,” notably used in scholarly and scientific texts, enabled readers to “preview a text, read it rapidly, ascertain the relative significance of its components, understand how images fit in with it, and refer to things within and outside of it” (Amert 2012, 41, 49)—all facilities offered by the “modern book” (Martin 2000).
Among the features of this “modern book,” some are of particular importance in mathematical works, notably the capacity to make complex texts easily readable by clear organization in the architecture of the pages. In the 1530s and 1540s, Simon de Colines was, notably, a master in this art, and his collaboration with Oronce Finé, who was a book designer as well as a mathematician, probably produced the best available balance (for the time) between legibility and richness of information (Pantin 2013). For instance, in a page of Finé's arithmetic, provided with a running title and a folio number, the use of paragraph numbering in the left margin, notes in the right margin, capital letters, aldine leaves, and pilcrows helps the reader to follow the lesson step by step. Examples of operations with fractions are neatly printed and embedded within the text blocks at exactly the right place, which is a measure of the precision of the layout (Fig. 2). In the following decades, other forms of mise en page, with fewer graphic markings and more blank spaces, became the standard, for instance in the books printed by Michel de Vascosan (Pantin 2012a).
We can compare two quasi-identical editions printed the same year, one in Wittenberg (Sacrobosco and Melanchthon 1550), the other in Paris (Sacrobosco et al. 1550). Both follow the same pattern and are illustrated by similar diagrams (Pantin 2020), but some features of the layout make a difference. The Wittenberg edition (Fig. 3) has no running titles or folio numbers, contrary to the Paris edition (Fig. 4), which also adds marginal notes. Moreover, there is some coarseness in the contrast between roman and italic used by the Wittenberg printer, while the elegant italic font of the Parisian edition creates a sense of unity; here, there is no need to alternate different typefaces to highlight textual divisions, for the Parisian edition divides each of the four sections of Sacrobosco's De sphaera into chapters.
Illustration was another key issue, and numerous skilled artists and engravers worked in Paris—some of them, like Guillaume Des Bordes, specialized in mathematics. The vitality of this activity was at least partly due to the exceptional durability of the manuscript trade in the capital, where clients for luxury goods abounded (Orth 2015; Rouse 2019). Some printed mathematical books had been previously presented to their dedicatee in manuscript form. This was the case for (Jacquinot 1545) and for several treatises by Finé.Footnote 28
Not only were the Parisian publishers able to produce books with precise and well-executed diagrams like those of the construction of Finé's sundials (Fig. 5) or Rojas's astrolabe (Rojas Sarmiento 1550), but their illustrations had a touch of modernity. For instance, in (Stöffler 1553), the geometrical figures of the original folio edition have been reduced to fit the in-octavo format, as we have seen, and the images showing the “usages” of the astrolabe have been changed. The typically German woodcuts (Fig. 6) are replaced by gracious pictures with elongated human forms and landscapes in the background in the mannerist style (Fig. 7).Footnote 29
All the necessary conditions to produce high-quality mathematical books and to give them exposure in the international market were present in mid-sixteenth-century Paris: the commercial strength and dynamism of the town, the availability of talents of all sorts (mathematicians, copyeditors, drawers, and engravers), the existence of well-equipped print shops, and, more generally, the high standard and good name of Parisian book production. Moreover, ambitious publishers could give an important place to mathematical books in their publishing programs, for they were sure to sell a significant part of their output to the students and lecturers of the University of Paris and its numerous colleges; the possibility of living on the local market was, paradoxically, an aid to venturing securely, at a modest scale, into the international market.Footnote 30
Even before the burgeoning development of bibliographic tools (Charon et al. 2016), Parisian mathematical books were known abroad, at least enough to be noticed by foreign mathematicians, imitated by foreign publishers, and collected in foreign libraries. This does not mean that they circulated in large quantities. We have to keep in mind that mathematical books were relatively rare products, even luxury goods targeting a limited clientele, which did not necessarily lessen their visibility.
For the period we consider here, Simon de Colines and Michel de Vascosan, who published mathematical books, were among the wealthiest booksellers in Paris (Parent-Charon 1974, 200–202). Jean Loys was also quite well off; his daughter, Madeleine, married after his death with a dowry of 2,000 livres tournois (Renouard and Beaud 1995, 21–22). On Cavellat's fortune, see infra 3.1.
Finé was not the original inventor of this practice. A few preceding examples can be found, notably in the astronomical part of (Reisch 1503).
For important remarks on this phenomenon, and also on the existence of so-called market zones concerning learned books in general, see (Maclean 2012, 194–200).
(Peuerbach and Reinhold 1553a), copied from (Peuerbach and Reinhold 1542); (Peuerbach and Reinhold [1556–1558]), copied from the augmented edition: (Peuerbach and Reinhold 1553b). It is worth mentioning that in his augmented 1556 edition Perier used several sheets from his 1553 edition. Thus, this new edition was partly a reprint of the old one.
The “maistres orlogeurs” were Fleurant Valleran, Jehan de Presles, Jehan Patin, Michel Pothier, Antoine de Beauvais, Nicolas Miret, and Nicolas Le Contançois.
On the production of mathematical instruments in Lyon in the 1540s and 1550s, see (Virassamynaïken 2015, 104–109): astrolabes and clocks made by Pierre de Fobis, Noël Dauville, and Jean Naze. In Paris, we know of two astrolabes made by Finé, and two made by an itinerant Spanish instrument maker, Michael Picquet or Piquer, in 1542 (Turner 1998, 65, 90). Anthony J. Turner lists Thirty-two names of mathematical instrument makers in Paris from 1500 to 1650. Among them, only four were active between 1540 and 1560: Pierre Le Compassier, “Hilarius,” Piquer, and Jehan Quenif (Turner 1998). Philippe Mestrel can be added. Philippe Danfrie, a type-founder and cutter established in Paris from 1556, and later “tailleur général des monnaies,” probably made no mathematical instrument before the 1570s (Turner 1989).
Gemma's astrolabus catholicus was a variant of Arzachel's Saphaea: a universal astrolabe using a stereographic projection whose center of projection is the vernal equinox.
Fernel's next work, Cosmotheoria (Fernel 1528) was to be dedicated to King João III himself.
This manuscript, dated 1543 and bearing the arms of Catherine, is in Chantilly, Musée Condé, Ms 323.
The Museum of the History of Science of Oxford has a Rojas astrolabe, made in Paris, by Anthoine Mestrel, in 1551 (inv. 32,378).
In his dedication to the marquis of Poza (dated from Salamanca, 27 September 1549) of a treatise on a kind of astrolabe, Helt thanked the marquis for having received him in his house during three years and having treated him with extreme kindness (Helt 1549, A2r).
A document, dated 6 November 1556 (AnMc, LXXIII, 50), mentions “Jehan Cavellart” (with no detail about his profession), dead before the majority of his sons, Jehan and Guillaume. The document concerns a lawsuit filed against Jehan and Guillaume’s former guardian, Guillaume Cardinal, master at arms, about the guardianship accounts (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 13).
The family ties of Marie Aleaume are mentioned in the contract of marriage of Jehanne Richard, daughter of Marie Aleaume and Guillaume Richard (Paris, Archives nationales, Minutier central, LXXIII, 51), see (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 13).
“Hierusalem Hierusalem quae occidis prophetas et lapidas eos qui ad te missi sunt quotiens volui congregare filios tuos quemadmodum gallina congregat pullos suos sub alas et noluisti.”
(Renouard and Beaud 1995, no. 99, 134, 145, 177, 178, 210, 214, 216, 219, 220, 224, 325, 343).
Denise Girault's dowry amounted to 2,000 livres tournois. Apart from a few exceptional cases (the dowry of the widow of Jean II Petit amounted to 6,000 livres tournois.), the dowries in the wealthiest Parisian bookseller families did not exceed 3,000 livres tournois. As a comparison, the dowry of Perrette Bade, when she married Robert Estienne, was 1,000 livres tournois. (Renouard and Pantin 1986, 14; Parent-Charon 1974, 193–194).
The Pelican, emblem of Christ's sacrifice, had been the mark of the Marnef family since the end of the fifteenth century.
Cavellat settled too late to be the first publisher of Finé's main works, but he asked him to revise, annotate, and illustrate a cosmographical textbook (Borrhaus 1551), and he made arrangements with Finé's heirs, Jean and Claude Finé, to republish works unavailable for a long time (Finé 1557, 1560).
On the category of “extraordinary royal lecturers” and, more generally, on the somewhat nebulous signification of the title of “lecteur royal,” see (Girot 1998).
In 1540, Berthot, still bachelor in theology, was bursar of the Collège de Navarre (Coyecque 1905, 298, no. 1536); in 1543, now a doctor in theology, he was principal of La Marche (Coyecque 1905, 499, no. 2708; 508, no. 2759); in 1551 he resigned his post at La Marche in favor of Jean Chollet. See the documents in AN, MC/ET/XI/22, MC/ET/XI/72, MC/RE/XI/1, MC/ET/XI/31.
“Mea nanque in Sacrobosco scholia, tam, foede contaminata, illisque immista longe ineptissima, Lutetiae meo nomine omnia nuper edita, me monuerunt, ut diligenter etiam atque etiam posthac videam, cui lucubratiunculas meas publicandas committam” (Desgraves 1977, 112).
“On faict les jeux de ce present livre et instruments en la cour du pallays en la bouticque de Jehan Gentil.” The courtyard and corridor of the Courthouse (the “Palais” on the Île de la Cité) were filled with shops.
By leafing through Smith's Rara arithmetica (Smith 1908), one sees that at the beginning of the sixteenth century, there were print shops equipped with special types necessary to print mathematical textbooks in several towns in Italy, Germany, France, and Spain.
See BnF, Ms Fr. 1334 (dedication manuscript to King Francis I, dated 1538, of Finé’s Quarré géometrique, printed in 1556); BnF, Ms Fr. 1337 (dedication manuscript, dated 1543, of the French version of the treatise on the Metheoroscope, printed in Latin in 1544); Harvard, Houghton Library, Ms Typ. 57 (dedication manuscript to King Henry II, dated 1551, of Finé's Sphere du monde, printed the same year).
- Sphaera CorpusTracer:
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. https://Db.sphaera.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/resource/Start. Accessed 07 June 2021
- An. Archives nationales:
- AnMc. Archives nationales:
Minutier central, Paris
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Pantin, I. (2022). Mathematical Books in Paris (1531–1563): The Development of Publishing Strategies in a Competitive International Market. In: Valleriani, M., Ottone, A. (eds) Publishing Sacrobosco’s De sphaera in Early Modern Europe. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86600-6_9
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