- 1 See David L. Smith’s article in this volume.
1The execution of Charles I and the abolition of the monarchy by the English Parliament in the early months of 1649 sent a shockwave throughout Europe, forcing neighbouring powers to redefine their relation with England and the other kingdoms of the British Isles. Between 1649 and 1652, France changed its diplomatic approach towards the new English regime. Its initial reaction of rejection, motivated by the horror of the regicide and support to the Stuart dynasty, transformed into a more pragmatic stance, when France formally recognised the English Republic at the end of 1652, in the wake of other European countries.1 In fact, the war against Spain made it necessary for France to enjoy an alliance or at least to normalise relations with England, not only to possibly benefit from England’s military – essentially naval – strength, but mainly to stop Spain, which also recognised the English Republic for similar reasons, from allying first with the new regime. The French national context of the Fronde, which saw the creation of ‘rebel’ assemblies inspired by republican ideals – such as the Ormée in Bordeaux for instance – and important political figures, like the Prince of Condé, turning against royal interests, accelerated the recognition of the English Republic by France, as Mazarin was worried the enemies would seek and be granted support from England. Conversely, the Republic was eager to find legitimacy in Europe, and did so with a combination of show of force – its naval supremacy – and asserting moderate claims towards Europe – essentially the defence of oppressed fellow Protestants on the continent. From its inception, the Republic sought to influence its continental neighbours through the circulation of government-approved news and viewpoints, as part of its quest for legitimacy. Immediately after the execution of Charles I, Parliament published official pamphlets which circulated on the continent where they met with hostile popular or more erudite responses (Ascoli 70-87). In France, popular opinion was rather hostile to the new regime, and to any rapprochement Mazarin might have wanted to initiate with Cromwell before 1652 (Goubert 409). From a Parliamentary point of view as well as from the French government’s point of view, public opinion therefore had to be influenced into accepting a possible recognition of the English Republic.
2What role did the press have in making the initially hated regime into a potential ally? The two periodicals under study here are known to have been close to the governments of their respective country. Like all periodicals, they had to comply with censorship rules and therefore circulate government-approved news. But their ideological/editorial programme also met with more prosaic commercial matters in that, first, the published news had to meet the interests of readers and, second, sound credible enough for the readers to keep buying the periodical. In any case, the choice, contents and display of news, by circulating new interpretations, helped to create new cross-Channel representations, thereby informing both the readers and their perception of events. For instance, one may therefore wonder whether the news as published in La Gazette followed the same evolution as the diplomatic position of the French government it was close to. Likewise, the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres, which relayed Parliament’s voice on the continent, strove to prove the legitimacy and respectability of the new regime to an audience that did not support it but was interested or open-minded enough to read about it. Still, the published news in both periodicals had to be close to truth as any controversy might have been detrimental to their commercial and ideological/editorial success. This article will deal with the contents of the periodicals under study as well as the phrasing and “staging” of the news, and what they revealed of the intended or effective impact on the reader.
- 2 See Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin’s article in this volume.
3This article therefore provides a comparative study of two periodicals supportive of their own governments, in a transitional period for Franco-English relations. Why then, focus on the representation of Irish affairs? This article comes as a complement to two recent French theses which broached upon the representation of English events for a French audience – the first one by Stéphane Haffemayer on La Gazette from 1647 to 1663, the second one by Jean-Marie Darier on Cromwell’s foreign policy as seen in the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres. The Irish case is also of interest, casting a different light on cross-Channel dialogue, as Franco-English relations were never limited to those two kingdoms. The 1649-52 period was transitional for Ireland too. After nearly ten years of war since the 1641 rising, the Irish Catholic Confederation and royalist resistance were falling apart, unable to overcome their own divisions to show a united front to parliamentary troops (Ohlmeyer). After the infamous campaigns by Cromwell and Ireton, Ireland was considered “pacified” and an “Act of Settlement” was voted in 1652, in an attempt to put a final term to the disruptions of the 1640s (O’Siochrú). Ireland and Irish affairs were a source of interest for both publications, although for different reasons. The enduring Irish loyalty to the Stuarts, their Catholic religion and the long tradition of contacts between France and Ireland – through regular levy of Irish soldiers for instance – explain why Irish affairs might have struck a chord with French readers of La Gazette.2 Conversely, the parliamentarian Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres could use the situation in Ireland as an example of the new regime’s strength and determination at reducing its opponents. This was all the truer from the summer of 1650 when the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres started to be published: the Cromwellian conquest was over and the submission of Ireland was underway. The “pacification” of Ireland was shown as a first step before Parliamentarian troops moved to Scotland and came face to face with Charles II’s troops.
4In this context, the analysis of the actual published news on Ireland, focusing on the chronological fluctuations in type of news and contents will illustrate the irresistible demise of Ireland and affirmation of the Republic. A brief presentation of both newspapers is first needed in order to better map them, their editors and readership.
- 3 This was published in the first issue of La Gazette. Here is the French original: « le droit exclus (...)
- 4 Louis XIV became King in 1643 at the age of four. He only took full control of affairs after the de (...)
5La Gazette was created in 1631 by Théophraste Renaudot and was the first French periodical with long-lasting success (Feyel, “Théophraste Renaudot”; “La Gazette”). Renaudot was granted open government support in the form of “the exclusive right for him and his heirs, to have printed at home or elsewhere, sold and circulated all over France, all that will take place within and without the realm, either under the name of Gazettes, News – ordinary or extraordinary, or Relations or other” (Rossel 15).3 Even though Renaudot’s proximity with power was well-established – to the point that Richelieu and Louis XIII are said to have contributed articles to La Gazette (Feyel, “Richelieu et La Gazette”) – it should not hinder analysis of La Gazette’s contents. Stéphane Haffemayer’s rather operative thesis was that Renaudot could not afford to simply publish a version of events dictated by the monarch or his representatives, for fear of losing his readership4. His conclusions, based on the study of booksellers’ registers of subscriptions, show that La Gazette’s main aim was essentially “psycho-social” and consisted in supplying news to an audience who was in demand for it (Haffemayer 12). Therefore, the need to satisfy his readers’ expectations, which was essential to the commercial success of the periodical, served as a counter-force to the government’s influence on published contents. It led Renaudot to establish the first rules of journalism in France, according to Haffemayer and in the wake of Gilles Feyel’s research, combining an attempt at truth and moderation with the constant search for reliable information (28; Feyel, “Ethique des journalistes”).
6La Gazette included two weekly publications in one: Les Nouvelles Ordinaires dealt with news from Northern Europe and the Orient over four pages while La Gazette proper dealt with Southern Europe, France and the British Isles over eight pages. Each news item was presented in a separate paragraph entitled with the provenance and the date of the correspondent’s dispatch. Delays varied between seven to ten days for dispatches from London and were of about two weeks for dispatches from Chester, which mostly concern news from Ireland. Dispatches from Dublin were few after the summer of 1649 – fighting resumed and parliamentarian censorship started, making exchanges with France more difficult. The two weekly bulletins were frequently, if irregularly, supplemented with additional information, longer documents and official texts published in Les Extraordinaires. They often also included editorials as preambles, which are choice objects of analysis as they constitute, along with the actual choice of news and provenances, the only hint at some editorial line and the only example of editor/readers interaction, the former addressing the latter directly. In a study about the information press in early modern France, Gilles Feyel describes how La Gazette was read by the political and social elite of the time, both eager for news and sometimes suspicious of it (Feyel, L’Annonce 256-7). He argues that Renaudot’s choice of news, largely dependent on available sources and therefore likely to sway between different opinions, educated La Gazette’s readers to reflect on the distinction between news and history and sharpened their critical sense (262).
7News from the British Isles were prevalent in La Gazette and Les Extraordinaires, which suggests a strong interest among the readership. Stéphane Haffemayer calculated that between 1647 and 1653, English news came in fourth position in La Gazette (9.6% of the contents of an issue on average) and in first position in Les Extraordinaires (38% of its contents) (152). News from Ireland, dispatched mainly from Chester and London, and to a lesser degree from Dublin, were published nearly every week. Between 1649 and 1652, Ireland enjoyed sustained coverage in Les Extraordinaires, with 10 documents related to Ireland published in 1649, 14 in 1650, 9 in 1651 and 15 in 1652 (my collation).
- 5 Both notices explain how Milton’s actual role in Dugard’s conversion is not well documented but pur (...)
8From the summer of 1650, French readers’ curiosity about news from the British Isles could be satisfied with a new weekly publication: the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres. It was one of the two official newspapers authorised by Parliament following the censorship law of October 1649 which stipulated that “no book or pamphlet, treatise, sheet or sheets of news was to be published without a licence”. The other authorised newspaper was the Mercurius Politicus, published from the spring of 1650 for the domestic market. Conversely, the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres specifically targeted the European market. William Dugard was the editor/printer, under the penname Guillaume Du Gard. The available biographical information about him shows he was of Huguenot descent and had worked as a headmaster and schoolteacher before starting into the printing business. He printed mainly schoolbooks, but also the first editions of important royalist texts like Eikon Basiliké and Saumaise’s Defensio Regia, following which he was arrested and his printing material confiscated. It is said that John Milton, then Latin secretary of the Commonwealth, converted him to the republican cause (Fabre; Briggs and Fabre).5 He came back into favour with the new regime in 1650 and was given the title of printer of the Council of State. His aim with the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres was to inform the French-speaking European elites of the most remarkable facts occurring in the British Isles. His ideological/editorial programme was detailed in the first issue:
- 6 « Les troubles & les diverses Révolutions arrivées depuis 10 ou 12 ans en Angleterre, Ecosse & Irla (...)
The troubles and various revolutions that have occurred in the last ten to twelve years in England, Scotland and Ireland have offered such a high number of great actions, even if the partiality of writers, mainly from abroad, tried either to stifle them through suppression or to tarnish their prestige by lessening their worth and value, yet enough of them were published, although as if through a cloud, to allow admiration in the best minds that heard about them. Now that the war in Scotland, that in Ireland and the current disagreement with Portugal seem bound to offer some more, I have thought it not a disagreeable thing to do to the Foreign Nations to inform them, in a language that spread and is heard throughout Europe, about the most remarkable and noteworthy events that happens in those parts. 6 (NOL 21-28/07/50)
9Both contents and tone had a clear parliamentarian bias. News items, essentially of political, religious and commercial nature, were published only after validation. Parliamentary successes tended to be glorified and difficulties minimised, even if the tone remained neutral enough so as not to look like obvious propaganda. In his recent study of the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres, Jean-Marie Darier showed their role in the new regime’s strategy of international self-assertion to gain respect and – genuine or ad hoc – recognition from its neighbours (137-79). The role of the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres was first to inform on the new regime by reporting on daily politics in London and quoting new government ordinances and parliamentary legislation. It was also to assert the strength and legitimacy of the regime, by stressing its maritime power or denouncing attacks or disrespectful acts by its neighbours or opponents. It was, finally, to have its legitimacy recognised and get readers to forget about the regicide by showing the ability of the regime to maintain order and the rule of law.
10The layout of the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres is less reader-friendly than that of La Gazette. Each issue contains an average of twenty paragraphs or news items, the provenance of which is given in the first line, with no distinctive font being used. The Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres have been described as “conformist and dull”, “inoffensive, innocuous” by Joseph Franck, a historian of the press (211, 223). Yet such a dull impression may well have been cultivated rather than fortuitous, in order to show the regime it described was not to be feared. As often with newspapers of that time, indications about readership are hard to come by. Jean-Marie Darier mentions a circulation of a few hundreds (25), which makes the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres a marginal publication compared to La Gazette – with a circulation around 5000, including reeditions. Yet Dugard complained of counterfeited editions of the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres in the Hague, its main centre of distribution on the continent (26). This, in itself, can be interpreted as a sign of the newspaper’s popularity.
11News from Ireland and Scotland were very frequent in the first years of publication of the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres. According to Jean-Marie Darier, they represented more than 60% of the newspaper’s contents between 1650 and 1652 (142). Interestingly, these were the years when the last pockets of resistances were defeated but also when international news involving the Republic was not very dense, as the regime struggled to get recognition. From the summer of 1652 however, news of the Anglo-Dutch war eclipsed Scottish and Irish news, the space for information remaining the same – four pages – while the source of danger shifted.
12While both La Gazette and the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres regularly published news on Ireland, they did not stress the same aspects. Irish news in the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres were mainly military: they related troop movements and positioning (attacks, sieges), reinforcements being requested, waited for and arriving. Another recurrent theme was the campaigns led against Tories, and the need to “clear the country”(NOL, 26/9/52) of such “scum” (NOL, 18/5/51). La Gazette was more prone to relate difficult living conditions, provisions and food shortage or epidemics. Both publications mentioned the divisions among the Irish parties – Ormond, Owen Roe O’Neill, the Catholic clergy – as to what position to adopt and who to support, as well as fluctuating Irish allegiances. The documents published in Les Extraordinaires included both public and private sources: treaties of capitulation, official declarations by the King’s representative or the clergy, petitions, new legislation but also correspondence between soldiers and Parliament on the state of affairs in Ireland, between ecclesiastics on what strategy to adopt, as well as various other letters sent from Ireland or in Ireland. The different nature of the news published point at a different treatment of information in the two newspapers, which is confirmed by the difference in the provenance of dispatches. Renaudot seemed to have been concerned to let both camps be heard in La Gazette. Dispatches from Chester were pro-parliamentarian but an attempt at counterbalance can be seen in Les Extraordinaires, where royalist documents and sources were also used. However, strict neutrality was difficult to achieve, as sources were not as easily available from both sides. No such concern at neutrality was observed in the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres, where all news from Ireland came from parliamentarian sources. The selection and bias were part of the newspaper’s line.
- 7 Stéphane Haffemayer describes how La Gazette reported on the Civil War and the place the death of C (...)
- 8 « Les Irlandais, après avoir publiquement condamné ces procédés si injustes [ceux des Anglais contr (...)
13The presence and representation of Ireland fluctuated with time. After the execution of Charles I in 1649, traumatised France took side for his successor.7 Although it tried to maintain a form of neutrality, La Gazette naturally took up a royalist stance on the question of Ireland. Dissensions in Ireland are mentioned but as the Irish resistance to Parliament was one of the last royalist hopes, Renaudot chose to stress military progress and victories, to the point that Ireland, although destroyed by war, soon became the example to follow in some of the documents published in Les Extraordinaires. A speech by Ormond, quoting the Prince of Wales, declared that “the Irish, having publicly condemned such unjust proceedings [that of the English against the monarchy], now strove to maintain it [the royal lineage]” (NE 21/4/49).8 Renaudot himself took on to praise the Irish in several editorials of Les Extraordinaires. For instance, immediately after the monarchy was abolished in May 1649, he penned the following introduction to the protestation of the nobles of England:
- 9 « Les Anglais reconnaissent de jour en jour, mais trop tard, qu’ayant cru détruire la monarchie ave (...)
The English are realizing day after day, albeit too late, that having thought to destroy the monarchy with their king, they have fallen in a pit of confusion and disorder. Such offence will not only subject them to the wrath of God for a long time to come, but they will feel His anger in the continuous string of enemies to come. You have seen like me how the Irish declared themselves against such inhuman action. Here is the true English nobility, peers of the High Chamber, who will strive not only to chastise the past excesses of the House of Commons, but also to prevent the effect of their new doings. Here is how they talk. (NE, 5/4/49) 9
14A few months later, in July 1649, Renaudot published a letter in which a partisan of papal nuncio Rinuccini denounced the injustices he had endured which had led to his leaving Ireland in February 1649. The letter was introduced by a long description of the wealthy natural resources of Ireland – mentioning the existence of silver and lead mines, the abundance of fish, wool and leathers exported to the rest of the world – and of its strategic role in the fight against Parliament. Renaudot’s introduction is a plea for the recognition of Ireland’s grandeur. He writes:
- 10 « Les mouvements survenus dans l’Irlande depuis les huit années qu’ils ont duré, vous ayant été div (...)
The protests having occurred in Ireland in the last eight years, having been diversely presented to you according to the diversity of the passions in each of the parties; and the Kingdom being today in a position to sway the affairs of Great-Britain in the way it will, all must wish to know the true state in which it presently is. And one should not wonder that Ireland is judged of such consequence. The reason is not just that she is set to share the good fortunes or misfortunes of the new King of England, but it lies in its own grandeur and power. That kingdom, while it is further away from us than England or Scotland, having not been recognised as great, as rich and as peopled as it is. (NE 23/7/49) 10
15While the editorials in Les Extraordinaires adopted a favourable or optimistic tone, dispatches from Chester published in La Gazette had a more neutral tone, even if they insisted, mainly during the first half of 1649, on the difficulties encountered by Cromwell’s troops before and once they reached Ireland – delayed operations because of mutinies and the presence of Levellers among the soldiers, difficult living conditions, troops falling sick, etc. Renaudot’s effort at giving the viewpoints of both sides is exemplified by the publication of the correspondence between Vice-Roy Ormond and Colonel Jones, the governor of Dublin, at the time when Dublin was held by the Parliamentarian troops and besieged by the royalists (NE 21/4/49). As the year went by, parliamentarian troops led by Cromwell took the upper hand. A few months later, censorship of the press was implemented in England. News from Ireland continued to arrive but Renaudot chose to diversify the provenance of the dispatches. For instance, he published a dispatch from the court of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, written by a Sir Talbot, an Irishman newly-arrived in France, who sought to minimise Ormond’s defeat in Dublin in August 1649. He wrote:
- 11 « Les nouvelles de ce royaume là ne nous venant que de Londres, elles y prennent telle forme qu’il (...)
The news from that kingdom only coming from London, they come in the form it pleases English Parliamentarians to give them; defeat is not as great as they have it published. For he [Talbot] assures that the Marquis’s army still counts 30,000 men; that only the presence of the king of Great-Britain is missing in Ireland, which the Catholic people of that country passionately desire; that all the brave soldiers of that nation who served in France, in Spain and in Flanders went there. (La Gazette 4/9/49)11
16The availability of sources meant that news from Ireland became increasingly biased towards a Parliamentarian stance. In October 1649, Renaudot published a letter from Cromwell to Speaker Lenthall relating the taking of Drogheda (NE 22/10/49). He duly kept his readers informed of the shortage of sources, as, for instance, in the introduction to “A Journal of what recently happened in Ireland”, translated from a London publication of November 1649. He wrote:
- 12 « Il importe grandement en un temps comme celui-ci, auquel la plupart des esprits sont intéressés, (...)
It is of the utmost importance in a time like ours, in which most minds are interested and mostly talk about what is happening to their own advantage, to know the provenance of news items; that is why the shrewd reader may make such comments as he wishes on this relation, which comes from the Parliamentary party, about the affairs of the opposing party in Ireland; from which kingdom blockaded ports or contrary winds of the stormiest seas of the Ocean have prevented any letter to arrive for a long while, without which all felt free to sow rumours to the detriment of their enemies, that only time can set right. (NE 19/11/49) 12
17The quotation illustrates how the treatment of Irish news by La Gazette changed in 1649. Early in the year, the royalist bias was clearly the choice of the editor. By the end of it, he was trying to escape a parliamentary bias. Renaudot’s editorials shifted from the actual events occuring in Ireland to the way such events were related.
- 13 « La division & les inimitiés semées de longues main, & industrieusement cultivées par leurs ennemi (...)
18By 1650, Ireland was no longer presented in La Gazette as as the example to follow. On the contrary, Irish factions were vehemently denounced and blamed for their divisions, both in the documents published and in Renaudot’s own hand. In March 1650, a letter from an English Catholic gentleman on the difficult situation of his creed in England and Ireland was published, in which he deplored “long-established division and enmities, industriously cultivated by their own enemies who had so weakened their strengths that they had but entirely destroyed themselves” (NE 10/3/50).13 In May 1650, Renaudot wrote:
- 14 « Tandis que la négligence de ceux du parti royal d’Irlande, & le mauvais ordre qu’ils mettent à in (...)
While the negligence of those from the royal party in Ireland and the ill manner in which they inform the rest of the world about the state of their affairs give their enemies leeway to inform us as they wish, and because I do not consider that true or false tales are the strongest tools with which to bring credit or discredit to a party’s reputation, I am compelled, either to keep silent about what is happening in that island, distant from the dealings of our continent, or to suffer to be informed by the hand of Parliamentarians. Against which I warn you, so that you are cautious to distinguish impartial narrations from those written by the always suspicious hand of the enemy. (NE 10/5/50)14
- 15 « de laquelle nouvelle on attend plus de certitude avant que d’y ajouter foi »
19The same feeling of weariness, due to imposed partiality, can be felt in Renaudot’s writings through the year. Short warnings like “of which news confirmation is needed before one can trust it” (La Gazette 4/6/50)15 became more and more frequent. Likewise, it became increasingly difficult to defend the cause of the Irish royalists, despite Renaudot’s efforts to diversify sources about them, using for instance dispatches from Irish boats sailing into Nantes or Saint-Malo. As the year progressed, the figure of Cromwell became prevalent in the news. While the infamous beginning of his campaign in Drogheda and Wexford received relatively limited coverage, his victories in Munster – Clonmel, Cork – were given more space in La Gazette, with little counterbalancing reports, the Irish surrendering as the scarcity of royalist sources increased. By 1651, the gap between the fate of the two parties was striking and Renaudot seemed not to want to or be able to bridge it. Renaudot’s resignation and inability to maintain a plurality of sources on Ireland coincided not only with Cromwell’s success there but also with the Republic taking over the control of information and launching its own publications. From the time the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres started being published at the end of July 1650, quasi-identical articles or at least articles written from the same dispatches were frequently found in both publications.
20The treatment of Irish news in the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres is remarkable, from the very first issue, for its minute description of Parliamentarian repression taking place in Ireland. William Dugard described a battle in Ulster between Irish troops under the command of bishop Ever MacMahon and Parliamentarian troops under the command of Charles Coote. The description was very detailed, including the number of men on both sides, a full report on military manoeuvres as well as the chase and executions of the vanquished following the battle – 3,000 dead among the Irish with detail given of the victims’ military rank. Attention to detail goes as far as to mention that the officers and bishops were beheaded and their heads sent to Londonderry to be displayed on pikes. Such minutiae would not be given in La Gazette. The concluding sentences to the paragraph put the final touches to what looked like a methodical show of force:
- 16 « Cette victoire semble avoir terminé la rébellion d’Irlande, qui avait commencé au même lieu, et p (...)
This victory looks to have put an end to the Irish rebellion that was started in the same place and by the same people who, having been the leaders and main actors of the massacres perpetrated in the year 1641 upon the English Protestants of the province, have received in the said place the reward they deserved. The battle which was won with no other loss on our side than that of Captain Hooper and about 12 soldiers dead and a few wounded, has led to the surrender of the sites retaken by the enemies. Following which the said Sir Coote set up a siege outside Charlemount. (NOL du 21-28/7/50) 16
21In the first months of their existence, the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres focused largely on the military dimension of Irish news. Graphic accounts were frequent, including that of the funeral of an Irish rebel. References to the Irish rising of 1641 were recurrent throughout the three-year period under study. Like in La Gazette, divisions among the Irish were highlighted, in particular at the end of 1650 which saw Ormond repudiated first by the Catholic clergy, then by the whole Confederate Assembly.
- 17 See for instance “Etat des affaires de janvier 1651”: « Les Royaumes de la GB désunis, leur roi à p (...)
- 18 See David Finnegan’s article in this volume.
- 19 « Les habitants se trouvent tellement oppressés par le mauvais traitement qu’ils reçoivent des angl (...)
- 20 See for instance Hugh O’Neil and Ireton at the siege of Limerick (NE 04/08/51).
- 21 « Cependant, comme il n’y a point de bonheur si entier qui ne soit le plus souvent suivi de quelque (...)
22In 1651, the two publications offered a very different treatment of Irish news. Initially, Renaudot sounded very detached as to the fate of Ireland17, but his hopes seemingly rose with the agreement with the Duke of Lorraine.18 He seemed more optimistic in his choice of news items, more favourable to the Irish and coming from a variety of sources. Among them, the “consoling” letter of a Roman gentleman, reassuring the Irish as to the support of the Pope and of the Duke of Lorraine to their cause (NE 14/4/51). Another example is the letter of the archbishop of Cashel to a member of the Irish College in Arras, in which he said he could, once all the aid promised by the Duke of Lorraine had arrived, rely on a general rising in all the provinces, where “inhabitants are so oppressed by the bad treatment they receive of English parliamentarians that they are getting ready to die honourably in the country up in arms rather than continue leading a servile and shameful life at home, where they are not masters” (NE 19/5/51).19 With more sources at hand, Renaudot sometimes published both letter and reply on opposite pages.20 Parliamentarian setbacks in Ireland were mentioned to “counterbalance” their victories in Scotland, like in Fife in August 1651, when Renaudot explained that “as there is no real happiness that is not often followed by some infortune, you will see the happiness the English had in this battle was counterbalanced by …” followed by the title of a nine-page letter by Ireton on the defeat of his troops at the siege of Limerick in Ireland (NE 25/8/51).21
23The Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres opted for a different outlook on Irish news. Articles about campaigns against Tories, or Irish bandits, describe them as treacherous creatures and the Irish who did not turn them in as ungrateful. The news of the agreement with the Duke of Lorraine was greeted in a cool and ironic manner. Having reported on the content of intercepted correspondence between the Duke of Lorraine and the Earl of Clanricard, Dugard concluded:
- 22 « Nous verrons si l’effet répondra aux espérances imaginaires de ces gens-là ; cependant d’ici on e (...)
We shall see whether the effect with fulfil the expectations of those people; but until then we shall send enough troops to destroy the efforts the enemies of this State may want to make in the said country under such pretence. (NOL 4-11/5/51)22
- 23 « renversé la plupart de leurs desseins, néanmoins leur grand Conseil & leurs ecclésiastiques ne ma (...)
24The following week, he reported that the defeat of Irish troops in Finnagh greatly surprised the rebels and “upset most of their plans, yet their Great council and their clergy have all they need to encourage them to hold strong, despite the miserable state to which they have been reduced, which leads to believe they are being fed hopes of foreign assistance, mainly the visit of the Duke of Lorraine, which our people are really looking forward to, provided that along with his troops he brings with him his gold to the said country” (NOL 11-18/5/51).23
25The same logic and irony were used when reporting on the doubts of the Irish as to the success of the enterprise and their divisions as to what strategy to adopt until the reinforcements arrived – some being tempted by a rapprochement with the Parliamentarians. The end of 1651 was marked by the progress of the Parliamentarian troops, the surrender of many strongholds and the Duke of Lorraine not setting foot in Ireland, which confirmed the scepticism displayed by the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres. With the Lorraine enterprise turning out to be such a non-event, Ireland ceased to be seen as a problem in the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres from 1652. In May of that year, Dugard wrote:
- 24 « On écrit de Waterford en Irlande que toutes les affaires y allaient fort bien, & que la réduction (...)
News has come from Waterford in Ireland that all is well and that the reduction of the country has nearly reached completion. Hardly anything is left to be done, except from hunting down Tories in the woods and marshes where they retire – a task which is being actively pursued. (NOL 16-23/5/51) 24
- 25 « On écrit de Chester du 14/9 que les affaires d’Irlande étaient en état paisible, l’ennemi n’y aya (...)
- 26 « Tout est si tranquille en Irlande qu’un homme seul & sans armes pouvait cheminer 60 miles sans da (...)
26Later in September, “news came from Chester on September 14th that affairs were pacified in Ireland, the enemy having no visible power that could lead to action. The current task was to clean the country of Tories, by deportation or destruction in their lairs” (NOL 26/9-3/10/51).25 Finally in October, letters from Chester informed that “all was so quiet in Ireland that a man could travel safely for 60 miles on his own and unarmed, some Tories only being present in Ulster” (NOL 10-17/10/52).26
27With hardly any military news to report, the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres moved on to stressing the normalisation of the situation in Ireland, with, for instance, reports on new regulations concerning cattle trade and tree felling (18-25/5/51). Another recurrent trait of the publication was to stress the determination of the Republic, not so much in repressing the Irish but in maintaining order and justice. The Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres frequently reported on the incorruptible response given by Parliament’s commissioners in Ireland to those of the Irish who had surrendered and sought to negotiate individually with them – Irish affairs would be settled by Parliament only, as was eventually done with the Act of Settlement of August 1652. The trial of the leaders of the 1641 rising, to be opened in Kilkenny on the anniversary of the rising – 23 October – was also widely covered, as the last act seeking the legitimisation of the regime and related to Ireland.
28As the official publication on the continent, the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres promoted the success and virtues of the new regime. In Ireland, between 1650 and 1652, this meant the pacification of the country by the repression of opponents, as well as the restoration of law and order.
- 27 See David L. Smith’s article in this volume.
29La Gazette tended to follow the same pattern in its treatment of Irish news in 1652, after Renaudot retired in favour of his son (Feyel, “Théophraste Renaudot). The Irish debacle, the determination and intransigence of the Republic were clearly shown, through lack of alternative sources but also because the normalisation of the relation between the French monarchy and the English Republic was in the air.27 Interest for the fate of Ireland had dried up and news from abroad, including Ireland, was now introduced as pure entertainment, in a bitter-sweet fashion, as the domestic context in France had grown more violent with the Fronde. A letter of Colonel Zankey to Cromwell was published in October 1652 and introduced by Renaudot with the following words:
- 28 « Pour divertir vos esprits de l’ennuyeux spectacle où se trouve aujourd’hui la France, je vous fai (...)
To distract your minds of the boring spectacle in which France is today, I inform you of what is going on in Ireland, Holland and Wales, according to the mementoes I have received from there in which you will see that war, domestic divisions and calumnies disturb their rest, as they do ours and that of all Christendom; but with the difference that this kingdom was hit by the storm only after the others, and that its disgraces are only small clouds covering its prosperity, unlike those which attacked some of the other monarchies. (NE 11/10/52) 28
- 29 La Gazette faced other priorities in 1652, as Mazarin’s exile in 1651 meant that the newspaper stop (...)
- 30 « 60000 morts en Ulster en trois mois et plus de 6 fois autant dans le reste de l’Irlande en deux a (...)
30La Gazette’s new editor did not have Renaudot’s initial fiery tone nor, it seemed, his judgement and concern at impartiality regarding Irish affairs.29 The very last article about Ireland in Les Extraordinaires of December 1652 was an account of the 1641 Irish rising by a Welsh gentleman, at the time when the leaders of the rising were on trial. According to him, the rising had led to “60,000 deaths in Ulster in three months and six times as many in the rest of Ireland in two years”. Moreover, the Irish nation “who lived in peace under the crown of England but had decided to rise and become criminal, […] was now facing the judgement of God” (NE 13/12/52).30 The extreme interpretation of the rebellion and its supposed death toll relayed by the article shows how the republican vision of Irish news had eventually prevailed, without any counterbalancing view.
31The comparative study of La Gazette and the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres shows how, from their inception in the 17th century, newspapers have sought both to reflect and influence their own time. While Irish affairs may be seen as a marginal issue in Franco-English relations, several lessons may be drawn from the analysis of their presence and representation in both newspapers. Along with the general objective of informing their readership, published news on seemingly minor questions were used to further broader purposes – for instance, in the case of the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Londres, asserting the strength, determination and respectability of the new regime.
32Then as now, the fluctuation in newsworthiness depended on the availability of sources as well as domestic and international contexts. Although French publications took on a royalist bias during the 1640s, the circulation of parliamentarian material on the Continent, critical of the absolute power of the English monarch, could trigger reflection in France about the very nature of the monarchy there. Indeed, commonalities between the Fronde and the Republic, exemplified by the Ormée’s appeal to Cromwell in 1653 (Ranum 258-63), suggested the French political and social was well au fait of developments in Britain (Knachel 53-77; Haffermayer 60-63).
- 31 See Vivienne Larminie’s article in this volume.
33The study also points to a sophisticated system of news circulation across early modern Europe, which confirms, if necessary, the limitations of national history and the necessity to transcend it, despite pragmatic difficulties.31 As well as the question of access to sources, such restrictions also include, when in relation to the press, the complexity of measuring its impact on its readers and, to a larger extent, on public opinion, then a newly-emerging concept. Indeed, while David Zaret argues the “invention” of public opinion was a by-product of the Civil War period in England (Zaret 9-14), with the proliferation of pamphlets designed for a wide audience, public opinion is largely considered to have emerged in France about a century later, as a by-product of the Enlightenment (Baker). Reporting news may have been rendered more difficult by conflict but political disruption could also generate more eagerness for news and a healthily critical attitude among readers. Correlations in publishing practices may also be observed, with the mazarinades a scaled-down French version of the anti-royalist pamphlets.
34Finally, the role of governments in shaping the news published is hard to gauge, little being known about the actual working conditions and leeway of editors. Regardless of such reservations however, close-reading analysis of published news provides valuable first-hand testimony to the early modern European mind-set and, in the case in point, to the transfers and interactions between France and the British Isles in the eventful decades between 1640 and 1660.