University of Pennsylvania Finding Aids

Navigation Aids

University of Pennsylvania Finding Aids
Search Finding Aids
 

Main Content

Jean-Baptiste Colbert letters to Gabriel de La Reynie

Ms. Coll. 578

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

Repository:
University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Creator:
Colbert, Jean-Baptiste, 1619-1683
Title:
Jean-Baptiste Colbert letters to Gabriel de La Reynie
Date [inclusive]:
1667-1678
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 578
Extent:
0.2 Linear feet (1 box)
Language:
French
Abstract:
Jean Baptiste Colbert served as the French minister of finance under King Louis XIV and achieved a reputation for his work of improving French manufacturing and bringing the economy back from bankruptcy. The letters deal with a variety of subjects ranging from trade regulations, licensing, taxes, and imprisonment to simple requests for the expedition of certain orders.
Cite as:
Jean-Baptiste Colbert letters to Gabriel de La Reynie, 1667-1678, Ms. Coll. 578, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
PDF Version:

Return to Top »

Biography/History

Jean Baptiste Colbert served as the French minister of finance under King Louis XIV and achieved a reputation for his work of improving French manufacturing and bringing the economy back from bankruptcy. He created a favorable balance of trade and increased France's colonial holdings by advocating the policy of mercantilism.

Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie was selected to fill the new position of Lieutenant-General of the French Police in 1671. The duties of his post were vast, and by the end of his term he managed to transform Paris, improve tremendously urban law enforcement, restructure the Paris Police Force, reduce dueling, and increase state control over prostitution.

Scope and Contents

Signed from St. Germain-en-Laye and later on from Versailles, the letters deal with a variety of subjects ranging from trade regulations, licensing, taxes, and imprisonment to simple requests for the expedition of certain orders. The correspondence brings clarity to La Reynie's wide range of responsibilities, since his position entailed not only jurisdiction over the security of the city and its environs but also control of food supply and prices, elections of masters and wardens of the merchant guilds, publishing, printing, and book selling, and reports of surgeons. At the same time La Reynie was in charge of police organization, which he managed to restructure in order to improve its efficiency. It becomes evident from the letters that both Louis XIV and Colbert himself left to the Lieutenant of the Police a high degree of independence in his work. A large part of the correspondence puts Colbert in the role of the King's messenger to La Reynie, often reinforcing the confidence that the two had in each other, while demanding evidence, elimination of privileges, and even imprisonment of certain subjects.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  2015 May 12

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Clémence Scouten

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Source of Acquisition

Purchased, 1962.

Return to Top »

Controlled Access Headings

Form/Genre(s)
  • Correspondence
Geographic Name(s)
  • France--Politics and government--17th century
Personal Name(s)
  • La Reynie, Gabriel Nicolas de, 1625-1709

Return to Top »

Collection Inventory

Box Folder

1667.

1 1

1672.

1 2

1675.

1 3

1677.

1 4

1678.

1 5-6