Reconstructing Mazarin’s Library / Libraries in Time and Space

Sources, Tools and Hypotheses

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The author launched a project to virtually reconstruct the two successive libraries of Cardinal Mazarin in Paris. The first, maybe the largest book collection of the western world at that time (from 40,000 to 56,000 books), which was scattered during the Fronde in 1652; the second, which had been developed from 1653 and had been settled in a long gallery newly built in Mazarin’s palace, of which very few architectural elements remain today. The digital edition and the analysis of the seventeenth-century inventories are combined with research on the history of the Palais Mazarin, to better know the development, content, arrangement and transmission of the library.


A Journal Devoted to Manuscripts and Printed Books




Yann Sordet, ‘D’un palais (1643) l’autre (1668): les bibliothèque(s) Mazarine(s) et leur décor’, Journal des Savants, (2015), pp. 79-138.


BnF, Mss., n.a.f. 5765, f. 61: ‘Biblia antiqua lettr. goth. absque loco impr. Fol vol 2’.


BnF, Mss, n.a.f. 5765, f. 73.


BnF, Mss, n.a.f. 5763, f. 235.


  • The Library Wing in Mazarin’s Palace: Reconstruction hypothesis corresponding to the period 1648-68 (Loup-Menigoz Agency, from Yann Sordet’s indications).
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  • Mazarin’s Palace (Library Wing in foreground), from Jacques Gomboust, Lutetia, Paris 1652.
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  • Inventory mapping process (1661-2): 8 main possibilities on a horizontal point of view.
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  • Inventory mapping process (1661-2): several hypotheses on a vertical point of view.
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  • Reconstructing Mazarin’s Parisian libraries from catalogue sources (1643-68).
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