Paris: np, 1612. 8o: A-I4 [$3 signed] 71pp. 4 ¼ x 6 ¾ in. Red quarter calf with comb marbled boards and endpapers, gilt lettered red calf title on upper front board. Very good, sheets creased with some soiling. Item #6338
Guillaume (Merchand, known as Maître) was the last French court jester. The son of an apothecary from Louiviers, he served the young Cardinal of Bourbon. He reached prominence when he was transferred to the court of Henri IV and later to Louis XIII, where he amused the court with his off-color humor and often engaged in fistfights with royal lackeys. As a jester, Guillaume was not known for his quick wit but rather his violent tricks and knack for physical comedy.
A number of satirical pamphlets that could attract government attention and prosecution were issued in his name, the true authors unknown. Some authors found safety as well as profit publishing under the fool’s name, whose antics were so notorious that he was a popular household name. Presented here, the most famous of these pamphlets fallaciously published under Guillaume’s name: The Voyage to the Other World..., which opens with a biography of the jester.
Guillaume is now most widely remembered for the proliferation of his name as an anonymity granting nom de plume for writers of controversial and/or subversive works.
Five copies located in OCLC as of April 2022, all in France.