Dissertation Information for Steven Russell Brandt
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Jean Girard: Genevan publisher (1536-1557)
Abstract: This study treats the formation of French Protestant publishing in sixteenth-century Geneva. Unlike the period after mid-century, the foundation of the book trade in that city was the responsibility of several key individuals, the most important of whom was Jean Girard. Shaped by his Waldensian past, Girard was sent by this heretical group to establish a printshop for the dissemination of their vernacular-based religious literature. His original vision was altered by events that affected the safety of the Waldensian community in the Piedmont. Girard, therefore, adapted to the evolving social and religious Genevan context, forming relationships with leading Protestant merchants. With the return of Jean Calvin in 1541, his fortunes were increasingly tied to that famous ecclesiastical leader. The identification of Girard's publishing program with Calvin has overshadowed other facets of Girard's career. Tensions, rooted in their radically different backgrounds, did not emerge into the public view until after the arrival of famous French exile printers such as Estienne. This threat to his dominance in the Genevan publishing business, Girard faced unsuccessfully and he lost hold of his privileged position. Calvin, who now utilized alternative outlets for publishing his prolific literary efforts, turned his back on his former publisher. Abandoned by his political support in the Genevan City Council after the defeat of the Perrinist party, Girard suffered a precipitous decline.
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