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Untitled map of the “Pays de Jansenie”

  • Author: DE LISIEUX, Zacharie [Pseud: Louis Fontaines]
  • Engraver: Nicolas Cochin
  • Date: 1660
  • Dimensions: 39.5 x 26.2 cms


Mid-17th Century satirical propaganda map engraved by Nicolas Cochin for a printed French work targeting the Jansenist heresy

About this piece:

Untitled map of the Pays de Jansenie

39.5 x 26.2 cms. Uncoloured. Traces of old folds. Reinforced on verso with fine archivist tissue for better preservation. Left side margin cut in, at lower left, where originally bound in, and cropped very close to outer neat line in this 14.5 cms section, otherwise fine. Fine dark impression of map. Supplied with disbound 1660 first edition of the accompanying book, “Relation du Pays de Jansenie”, lacking bindings and endpapers.

A splendidly engraved propaganda map, the work of Louis XIV’s master engraver, Nicolas Cochin [1610-1686], and published as an accompaniment to Relation du Pays de Jansenie [Paris, 1660], an account of an imaginary journey to the Land of Jansenism, the work of the aged French Capuchin friar, Court preacher and satirist, born Ange Lambert in Lisieux, Normandy, but better known as Zacharie de Lisieux [1596 – 1661] who here works under the pseudonym, Louis Fontaines, Sieur de Saint Marcel. He also used the pseudonym Pierre Firmian [Petrus Firmianus] for one of his other publications.

In 1653, Pope Innocent X had issued a Papal Bull Cum Occasione condemning the five purportedly heretical propositions that had been published by the Flemish cleric, Bishop Cornelius Jansen [1585-1638], following the investigation of a group of French theological scholars at the Sorbonne in Paris. They had raised several theological question marks over Jansen’s religious views, based primarily on a critical examination of his life’s work & magnum opus, the Augustinus, a weighty treatise on the theology of St. Augustine, never fully completed, but published shortly after his death in 1640. The principal tenets of Jansenism included an Augustinian belief in original sin and thus the necessity for efficacious divine grace. The movement became associated with a distinct moral rigour and Jansen himself was violent in his opposition to the Jesuits, who continued to hold a powerful grip on French religious thought and political power in both France and Spain. The position was further complicated by the fact that the Abbey of Port Royal des Champs near Paris had become a powerful bastion of Jansenism, as a result of the appointment of Jansen’s companion, Jean du Vergier de Hauranne, Abbé de Saint-Cyran, as spiritual director of the abbey in 1634. The Abbey drew to itself a core of like-minded defenders and benefactors, such as the Arnaud family, Pierre Nicole [1625-1695] and the theologian & philosopher Blaise Pascal [1623-1669],who famously defended it against the Jesuits in his Lettres Provinciales [1656-7], a work which accused the Jesuits of “relaxed morality” and casuistry and particularly angered Louis XIV. The Jansenists also had a good deal of support and backing from many prominent figures at Court, including the Dukes of Luynes & Liancourt. Port Royal was also well-known for the several schools which it operated and which provided a high quality of elementary education. The playwright Jean Racine was a product of just such a Port Royal education. Politically Jansen had also aligned himself against French expansion into Spanish Flanders, most notably in a pamphlet Mars Gallicus [1635], which had elicited particular anger from the then French leader, Cardinal Richelieu.

Cochin’s map was an important element of the attack on Jansenism, as de Lisieux himself noted, what the map might lack in detail it made up for in panache and impact, and so it does. The wonderful border frame includes vignettes of clogs, wicker baskets, and ice skates, setting the location of Flanders as the hotbed of the Jansenist movement. Moreover the territory of Jansenie is adjoined by the neighbouring regions of Libertinie (Libertarianism); Calvinie (Calvinism) and Désesperie (Desperation), the inference being that Jansenism is tainted by association with such heretical bedfellows. The principal River which runs through Jansenie has tributaries from these neighbouring heretical lands which flow into it, raising the water levels to such a point that, when it finally reaches the Sea of Jansenie, any would-be navigator will be swept to his death in a heavy storm of heretical destruction, in which even the monsters of the sea appear roused to display new levels of violence against the assemblage of shipwrecked vessels.

In the accompanying booklet, De Lisieux describes the Jansenists as having very hard heads and thick skulls, and also as having two hearts, an explanation perhaps of their well-known lack of sincerity. Their philosophers were also accused of displaying a distinct lack of common sense, perhaps because of their thick skulls. Printing is the most highly prized and developed art of Jansenia but whilst their books may be exquisitely beautiful they are full of lies, errors and mistakes. In military affairs, the Jansenists describe all their defeats on the battlefield as victories. All their weapons are imported from Calvinia and interestingly, their gunpowder has the peculiarity of being silent, as a result of which Jansenists make very dangerous enemies. Their fauna includes wolves in sheep’s clothing, foxes which roost with hens and extremely talkative black parrots. Detested by their neighbours, Jansenists are also accused of a propensity for secrecy and espionage, maintaining whole armies of spies and of transacting business in the dead of night, their houses being quite distinct in having their doorways at the rear so that the inhabitants can come and go without being seen.

Indeed there was a very real fear amongst the French authorities of the possibility of a covert Jansenist fifth column or secret Jansenist conspiracy within the French corridors of power and within the French Church.

It was with this in mind that the French authorities decided to force every Catholic priest within France to sign a formulary, whereby they accepted the Papal Bull and confessed their own spiritual faults. Many Jansenists were left with little option but to sign. However many did so with the caveat that they were doing so whilst making a distinction between their de jure acceptance of the formulary and their de facto acceptance of the actual reality of the facts. That is that whilst they might accept the Papal condemnation of these five supposedly heretical propositions, they were not thereby denying the core of Jansen’s beliefs because, in their own minds, these five heretical propositions were not to be found anywhere within Jansen’s Augustinus and Jansen’s views were, in very fact, part of contemporary Catholic orthodoxy ! The formulary controversy rumbled on through the 1660’s, causing considerable divisions within the French Church, until finally resolved through a more consciously flexible interpretation of its terms was agreed at the start of the new Papacy of Clement IX in 1669.

De Lisieux’s book and Cochin’s map nonetheless stirred up considerable controversy and heightened the growing backlash against the Jansenists in 1660-61. In the same year as this work first appeared, 1660, copies of Pascal’s Lettres Provinciales were ordered to be publicly burnt by order of King Louis XIV. At one stage a Jansenist mob gathered outside the Parisian publishers to seize remaining copies of the work to prevent their further distribution. The book however remained in print over a considerable period, with several editions being published through to the late 1680’s and a new, slightly inferior quality, smaller scale map being engraved for one of these later editions. In 1660, the Archbishop of Paris banned the Abbey of Port Royal from offering the Holy sacraments. In this same year, the elementary schools attached the Abbey were closed by papal authority and in 1661 it was forbidden to accept any new novices within its community, thus ensuring a gradual slow decline & withering on the vine. The end did not finally occur until some fifty years later, when the Abbey was dissolved by Clement XI in a papal bull of 1708, with the remaining nuns being forcibly removed in 1709 and most of its buildings razed to the ground in 1710.

This map provided extremely powerful visual ammunition in the campaign against the Jansenist movement in France at this critical period in 1660-1661, and undoubtedly played a continuing part in its final demise in the ensuing fifty years.

Refs: Peter Barber (Ed): The Map Book, pp.162-163