CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

How might a piece of news be determined to be true or false in Louis XIV’s era? By focusing on the circulation of news from regions outside of Europe, by nature uncertain, and the actors behind these publications, it is possible to describe the process of verification of their content. Using printed sources (gazettes, Mercures, books) as well as handwritten sources (newsletters and letters) about the same event allows us to illustrate the aim of several publications and how the means of gathering news and the news narrative varied on several occasions. Michel Begon, Rochefort’s intendant, was the correspondent of Esprit Cabart de Villermont, who was connected to journalists, in particular Donneau de Visé, the creator of the Mercure Galant. In letters, news was accredited by a series of writing processes in order to verify the integrity of transmission and the fact that an event occurred. This ought to be distinguished from a second stage where news items were written for the purpose of publication, the moment at which what was at stake was no longer facts but politics. Was it wise to publish a piece of news? News was deemed real by the sheer act of writing and publishing it. This also had a determining effect on the credibility of the publisher. Thus, the narrative had to be appropriate for the political field of the navy as well as for Louis XIV’s absolutist aims in order to be published, with limited consideration for the truth. Since credit for publication was bound up with credit for intermediaries, news items that were clearly false were not published: all pieces of news had to be believable so as not to harm those who transmitted them.

Maxime Martignon
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Uploaded on on 30/11/-0001
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