A Literary Tour de France


Population: 152,000 in 1780.
Book Trade: thirty-eight booksellers and twelve printers. Still one of Europe’s main book centers, wholesaling to all of France and Europe, in all types of books, including pirated and forbidden. Publishing and large-scale pirating. Major partner for STN. Guild, chambre syndicale, and book trade inspector.
Institutions: royal Intendance, military government, Hôtel des monnaies mint, tax généralité, chamber of commerce, and large archbishopric. Sénéchaussée court of justice.
Culture major intellectual center with long tradition. College of medicine, school of surgery, veterinary school, three large colleges, society of agriculture, learned academy, academy of painting, drawing school, theater, concerts, two newspapers, and five reading cabinets.
High literacy (for entire département): male 40%, female 21%.
Protestant community.
Communications: one of Europe’s main transportation hubs, with port at confluence of Rhône and Saône rivers. Destination on France’s main diligence post road, from Paris. Post roads to Paris (second route), Dijon, Strasbourg, Geneva, Grenoble, Avignon (then Marseille or Montpellier), and Limoges.
Economy: France’s main commercial city at crossroads between northern, central, and southern Europe. Major financial place. Famous textile industry (silk, high-end fabrics using gold and silver). Large and diversified trade. Major fairs.

Lyon, France’s second largest city, was a great hub of the book trade in the eighteenth century.  It also had been a major center for publishing since the early sixteenth century, but by 1700 its publishing industry had been crushed by competitors from the Parisian guild of booksellers and printers reinforced by the French monarchy.  The Lyonnais booksellers fell back on the wholesale and retail trade, while speculating on clandestine editions and joint enterprises with Swiss printers.  Lyon also served as an entrepôt for shipments that came from Swiss publishing houses.  Booksellers from the chambre syndicale of the guild in Lyon inspected the shipments, neglecting flagrantly to discover illegal and pirated works hidden in the bales, and shipping agents (commissionnaires) then forwarded them to dealers everywhere in southern and western France.

Smugglers and Middlemen in Lyon