# Primary Sources on Copyright - Record Viewer
French Censorship Act, Fontainebleau (1547)

Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France : Mss. Fr. 22071 n° 9

French Censorship Act, Fontainebleau (1547), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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3 translated pages

Chapter 1 Page 1

King Henri the second of that name, regarding the books
which are censored by the Faculty of Theology of Paris.
Published by order of the Parlement's court, the
nineteenth day of December. 1547.
                  EXTRACT FROM THE RECORDS
                                    of the Parlement

      HENRI, by the Grace of God
King of France, to our beloved and
loyal [followers], the people who make up our courts of
Parlement, the Bailiffs, Seneschals,
Provosts, and to all our appointing authorities [justiciers]
and officials, & to each and every one of them, our greetings and affection.
      One of the things which we have most at
heart, & which seems to us most worthy of the name
that we bear (& of the position to which it has pleased God
to call us), is to pursue, by all the
best means which are in our capacity,
the extirpation of the errors and false doctrines
which have pullulated, and are still pullulating at present,
in our Kingdom, to our great regret &
displeasure.      And since it has seemed to us
that among the various provisions which we have
to issue, so as to attain the goal of our wish
& intention, one of the first and principal
ones is to expel from amongst our subjects the use of
condemned books, which are the source &
occasion of the said errors, & to make sure that
henceforth no such books, concerning the Holy
Scriptures, are printed unless they have
previously been seen and examined correctly
and thoroughly, so that before they are brought
to light, if there is

Chapter 1 Page 2


anything bad in them, this should be corrected, &
rejected, and so that only that is passed on and
administered to our people which is of good and
sound doctrine and learning.
      For these reasons, after having received, in
this matter, the advice and consultation of the members
of our Privy Council, we have said, ordered, prohibited &
forbidden, and we do now say, order, prohibit & forbid,
that from now on no Booksellers or Printers, on pain
of confiscation of their goods and chattels, are to print,
or cause to have printed, nor sell or publish, or cause to have
sold & published any books that deal with the Holy
Scriptures, & in particular those which are brought
from Geneva, Germany, and other strange places,
unless they have been seen, inspected, & examined
beforehand by the Faculty of Theology of Paris.
      And, likewise, the said Booksellers &
printers are not to sell or put out for sale any
books of the said Holy Scriptures with commentaries
or scholia, unless the name and surname of the
person who has made these [commentaries] is indicated
& printed at the beginning of the book, & also that
of the Printer, together with the sign of his place
of residence. Also, such Printing is not to be carried
out in secret and hidden places, but rather in their offices
and public workshops, so that each one of them can
answer for what he has done.      Furthermore, that no
persons, of whatever rank and position they may happen
to be, may have in their possession
any books that are mentioned in the Catalogue des

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livres reprouvés [Catalogue of prohibited books], drawn up
by the said Faculty of Theology.
      Thus we wish, command, and expressly enjoin
you to have these present ordinances and prohibitions of
ours cried and announced by sound of trumpet and
through public criers within and across all the places which
fall under your competence & jurisdiction; [and] to
accustom yourselves to making such cries &
proclamations, so that no one can then pretend that
he didn't know about them. And if after the said
restraints and prohibitions have been made, you
find anyone to be violating them, you are to proceed
against them by [applying] the penalties specified
above, & otherwise in such a way that seems a
reasonable course of action to you: For such is
our pleasure.
      And since these present instructions may
come to be required in several and diverse places,
we want every certified copy [vidimus] of these instructions
that is made under the royal seal to have this attestation
attached to them, just as in this original document.
      Given at Fontainebleau, the eleventh day
of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand,
five hundred forty-seven..
      And of our reign the first.

By the King in his Council,

      Announced by sound of trumpet, at the various
crossroads of the city of Paris, the nineteenth day of
December, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, five
hundred and forty-seven.

Translation by: Luis Sundkvist


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