Gabriel Naudé's Mascurat (1649) and his acquisition accounts show that he collected many lampoons and satirical tracts produced during the Parliamentary Fronde (1648-1649). Almost no trace of them remains in the archives and on the shelves of the Mazarine Library, except a furtive allusion at the end of a inventory of the collections (late 17th-early 18th century), mentioning the unbound stock of the second edition of the Mascurat and a set of lampoons so offensive to the memory of Cardinal Mazarin that they were neither referenced nor described in detail. In the eighteenth century, tens of volumes of these artificial collections compiled by private collectors – the earliest dating from the mid seventeenth century – appeared in a catalogue of the Collège des Quatre-Nations, probably after the reign of Louis XIV (1715), who had cast a pall over these pieces which stirred memories of a painful period in the great king's life and rule.
In fact, the great majority of the items now in the collection were taken from libraries confiscated during the Revolution. Of the 2,000 or so artificial collections recovered in that way, mostly from ecclesiastical institutions in Paris (monasteries, seminaries, chapters, College of the Sorbonne), about 600 are exclusively composed of mazarinades, and many others contain copies mixed with writings on religious controversies or political criticism from other periods. However the librarians of the nineteenth century, often men of a literary bent with little interest in this type of text, did not deign to process this collection, leaving it in a neglected heap. Célestin Moreau, who published a general bibliography of mazarinades in 1851, was therefore unable to work on the Mazarine Library's collection.
Under the impetus of Alfred Franklin, who had perhaps himself added tens of volumes to the collection between 1860 and 1880, before his appointment as administrator of the Mazarine Library, the collection of 20,000 to 25,000 items, including a few manuscripts and some recent purchases, was at last studied in detail and inventoried. The task was given to Armand d'Artois, previously the curator of the library of learned societies, in 1887. One copy of all the titles supposed to be in the library's collection was removed from the compilations and bound separately. In this way a reference collection of about 5,500 items was built up. The catalogue made available to the public was a copy of Moreau's bibliography that d'Artois had annotated, adding call numbers and some new titles that he considered relevant to the corpus. The description project was largely finished by the mid 1890s and d'Artois then tried to fill the gaps in the collection by contacting librarians, booksellers and collectors in the hope of obtaining exchanges or gifts, but the results were meagre. The undertaking was interrupted by Armand d'Artois's death in 1912. The collection turned out to be the fullest and biggest in the world. The computerisation of the Library and access to the catalogue on the web led, in the 2000s, to a gradual shift from use of the paper "catalogue" to online consultation of the entries for the reference collection. The gift, in 2011, of Hubert Carrier's mazarinades and working papers contributed to an upsurge in interest for this corpus.
For the International symposium "Mazarinades: nouvelles approches" (Paris, 2015/06/10-12), the Mazarine Library organized an exhibition.
From 2019, a new ressource is available online : the Bibliographie des mazarinades.
Christophe Vellet, "La constitution du fonds des mazarinades de la Bibliothèque Mazarine", Bulletin de la Société historique du VIe arrondissement de Paris (book in press).
Recherches internationales sur les mazarinades [online : website by Patrick Rebollar and Tadako Ichimaru, blog and corpus]
[BM :] Bibliographie des mazarinades. 2019-... [on line : https://mazarinades.bibliotheque-mazarine.fr]