Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a minister to Louis XIV from 1661 to 1683 and was one of the principal architects of royal absolutism in seventeenth-century France. His personal library served him as one of the major sources of information for the administration of government and the augmentation of the rights of the monarchy. Many of the archival sources available to the royal administration had been dispersed since the late Middle Ages. The two librarians working under Colbert, Pierre Carcavi and Etienne Baluze, assembled many of the necessary documents in the Colbertine and functioned as "reference librarians" to provide Colbert and his associates with memoirs and documents for government decision making. As such the Colbertine was a national archive and library until ministerial archives were created at the end of the century.


Library, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, France, Government, Administration

Published in:

Libraries and Culture, 26(Spring 1991):283-300.

Date of this Version

January 1991