Fédéric II Morel  (c. 1552-1630)

‘Pietate et Justitia’ or Piety and Justice.’
One of the last great Parisian scholar printers of the sixteenth century.

Galen, Galenou … Galeni Paraphrasis in Menodoti exhortationem ad artes. Graeca multis in locis, hac editione, castigata sunt … (Paris, 1583), i, title page device of Fédéric II Morel.

Worth’s copy of a two-part Latin and Greek edition of Galen’s Galeni Paraphrasis in Menodoti exhortationem ad artes (Paris, 1583), was printed by Fédéric II Morel (c. 1552-1630), the son of Fédéric I Morel (1523-83), who had been a leading member of the third generation of French printers and booksellers. Morel the Younger evidently printed the Galen edition in the year of his father’s death, 1583, for the accompanying privilege was dated 5 November 1583. Both parts bear two devices: the first, illustrated in Image 1, is the well-known device of the royal printers, with its salamander-headed basilisk wrapped around a spike with an olive branch, but, as we shall see, Fédéric II had more than one printer’s device and more than one motto.

Fédéric II Morel, or Fédéric le Jeune (as he was sometimes called to distinguish him from his father), owed much to his father. When he was 23 years old his father decided to leave him the family printing press, and even before that Fédéric I had played a major role in developing his son’s gifts. Fédéric I Morel was a gifted teacher and clearly taught his own son for Joseph Dumoulin points to verses and commentaries by Fédéric II in his father’s publications (such as the translation of the Psalms of David).[1] Dumoulin recounts a story in the Mémoires sur le Collège de France of the Abbé Claude-Pierre Goujet (1697-1767), which suggests that Fédéric I sent his son to Bourges in 1577 to continue his education with the famous humanist Jacques Cujas (1522-90). His father also introduced him to the scholar and translator Jacques Amyot (1513-93), who would later play a crucial role in his career.

Fédéric I may well have played a role in encouraging a match between his son and Isabelle Duchesne, the daughter of Léger Duchesne (d. 1588), who was a Latin teacher at the Collège Royal. Duchesne or Du Chesne, had, like Fédéric II’s father, been a pupil of Jacques Toussain (1499?-1547), and the match in effect solidified the strong links between the Collège Royal and the Parisian book trade. Together Fédéric II and Isabelle had several children, including Fédéric III and Claude II (d. 1626), both of whom followed their father into the book trade.[2] Fédéric I had other hopes for his son too, not least that he would inherit his own title of King’s Printer. Fédéric I was undoubtedly being overly optimistic in this regard for this was both an audacious and legally impossible project, not least because his son was not of age to receive the title – he was only 23 instead of the required 25. So the wily father went to Amyot, his son’s adviser, and asked him to use his influence with King Henri III (1551-89), to gain the latter’s approval for the ambitious project. This stratagem was successful for on 2 November 1581, Fédéric II received a patent granting him the title of royal printer in place of his father. Technically the age rule was not broken for the appointment was made provisionally – Fédéric II  would not legally become the King’s Printer for two years, until he reached the age of 25.[3]  This masterstroke by Fédéric I enabled his son to retain this major office of ‘official’ printer of the king; and with it the important privileges attached to its function. Fédéric II remained the King’s Printer for the rest of the sixteenth century – he held the post from 1581 to 1602. He collaborated with other ‘imprimeurs et libraires ordinaires du roy’ during the period 1595-1599: Jamet Mettayer (d. 1605), Pierre L’Huillier (d. 1610) and Mamert Patisson (d. 1601/02) – works by all of these printers may be found in the Worth Library.

On 7 July 1583, Fédéric I Morel died at the age of sixty, and his son honoured his memory by publishing and completing the Tumulus which Fédéric I had written earlier that year about the death of his friend, Jean de Morel (1511-81), a French poet and patron.[4] Dumoulin notes that Fédéric II erected a tomb in honour of his father and relatives, and had the portraits of his father and great-grandfather Josse Badius (1462-1535), and his wife Thelit Trechsel engraved on it. This tomb disappeared during the destruction of the cemetery of St Benedict.[5]

Galen, Galenou … Galeni Paraphrasis in Menodoti exhortationem ad artes. Graeca multis in locis, hac editione, castigata sunt (Paris, 1583), ii, title page bearing another device of Fédéric II Morel.

Like his father, Fédéric II had more than one printer’s device and in Worth’s copy of  Galen’s Galeni Paraphrasis in Menodoti exhortationem ad artes, we can see a second device being used on the title page of the second part of the book. It proved to be one of four new devices. Some of Fédéric II’s devices look like medallions, and may have been influenced by illustrative material emanating from his printing house.[6] Image 2 above illustrates the fountain symbol, which is most likely a direct reference to the name of his father’s shop. The shop at the ‘Fountain’ had, of course, been made famous by a major printer of the second generation, Fédéric II’s maternal grandfather, Michel de Vascosan (d. c. 1577). The sign and the related address were, in turn, taken over by Fédéric II’s brother and his descendants after his death.[7]

Underneath the device of a fountain is an elegant distich written by Fédéric II: ‘Iste Galenus opes tibi conferet, addet honores: Quique Galenus erat, Iustinianus erit’. The phrase refers to Galen (129-200), a famous ancient Greek physician and philosopher whose work influenced the development of medicine. The phrase ‘will be Justinian’ refers to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (483?-565), who ordered the compilation and revision of Roman laws and the construction of several prestigious buildings. In short, Fédéric II’s verse emphasises the importance of medicine and wisdom in society and the value of the contributions of the great thinkers and leaders of history. The distich shows that he continued to compose verses for his works, as he had done since he was just 17 years old.

Fédéric II used three mottos in Greek: ‘Dusmoron ponêtôn genos hous hen gramma kulindei’; ‘E sophias pege en bibliois rhei’; and ‘Basilei t’agatho kratero t’aichmete’. His mottos demonstrate his commitment to the pursuit of wisdom within a Christian milieu. As Dumoulin notes, he also used the royal printer’s motto ‘Pietate et Justitia’, (i.e. ‘Piety and Justice’).[8] This was often accompanied by a device incorporating two women embodying the Law and Bible, seated on either side of the royal coat of arms. The device and motto had been composed by Michel de L’Hôpital (1507-73) for the king of France, Charles IX (1550-74), but Fédéric I and Fédéric II continued to use the motto after the king’s death in 1574, often in the context of legal or religious texts.[9] Since both Morels, as royal printers, were responsible for printing edicts, decrees, legal commentaries and religious texts, it is not surprising to see this motto, symbolic as it was of fairness and morality, cropping up on their publications.

Synesius of Cyrene, Synesiou episkopou Kyrēnēs,  Pros Paionion, hyper dōrou logos, Synesii episcopi Cyrenaei dissertatio super dono astrolabii, ad Paeonium. Graecè … & Latina facta notísque insignita à Fed. Morello (Paris, 1601), ii, p. 1.

Fédéric II probably surpassed his father in scholarship and was one of the most learned commentators of the seventeenth century. Worth’s copy of his 1601 edition of a text by the Greco-Roman philosopher and orator, Synesius of Cyrene (d. 413), is emblematic of this. As Image 3 demonstrates, it is a magnificent work, with wonderful ornamentation and perfectly recognisable Greek. Thus, in addition to ordinances and edicts (which made up the vast majority of his output as the King’s Printer) as well as religious books, he also printed many classical authors. Dumoulin gives us an indication of the range of editions emanating from his press:

‘Fédéric II Morel produced a large number of Greek editions of the Church Fathers … His editions of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), Dio Chrysostom (c. 40-c. 120) and Strabo (d. 24) remain famous, as do his Latin translations of Libanius (314-93), Hierocles of Alexandria (fl. 430), Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus (c. 393-before 466) and Maximus of Tyre (fl. 2nd century). His erudition was so great that his patron, Jacques Amyot, made several amendments to his translation of Plutarch (d. after 120), when Fédéric pointed out inaccuracies.’[10]

Fédéric II remained a printer until 1602, when, like Adrien Turnèbe (1512-65) before him, he retired from business to devote himself entirely to teaching Greek and to publishing his scholarly works. Some of the latter were printed by Abel L’Angelier (fl. 1572-1609), and it is, perhaps, amusing to note that, though Joachim du Bellay (c. 1522-60) had fled the press of Abel’s father, Arnoul L’Angelier (fl. 1536-57), preferring the press of Fédéric I Morel, a few decades later the latter’s son, Fédéric II, would decide to have his own works printed by Abel, his heir. Fédéric II handed over the Morel printing house to his brother, Claude Morel (1574-1626), who also became the King’s Printer, and, like his brother before him, continued to uphold the family printing tradition.

Sources

Dumoulin, Joseph, Vie et oeuvres de Fédéric Morel, imprimeur à Paris depuis 1557 jusqu’à 1583 (Paris, 1901).

Renouard, Philippe, Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer & Brigitte Moreau (eds), Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens: libraires, fondeurs de caractères et correcteurs d’imprimerie: depuis l’introduction de l’imprimerie à Paris (1470) jusqu’à la fin du seizième siècle … (Paris, 1965).

Silvestre, Louis-Catherine, Marques typographiques ou Recueil des monogrammes, chiffres, […] des libraires et imprimeurs qui ont exercé en France, depuis l’introduction de l’Imprimerie en 1470, jusqu’à la fin du seizième siècle: à ces marques sont jointes celles des Libraires et Imprimeurs qui pendant la même période ont publié, hors de France, des livres en langue française, 2v. (Paris, 1853-67).

Supple, James, ‘Morel, Jean de (1511-81)’ in Peter France (ed.), The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French (Oxford, 1995), p. 546.

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[1] Dumoulin, Joseph, Vie et oeuvres de Fédéric Morel, imprimeur à Paris depuis 1557 jusqu’à 1583 (Paris, 1901), pp 60-62.

[2] Renouard, Philippe, Jeanne Veyrin-Forrer & Brigitte Moreau (eds), Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens: libraires, fondeurs de caractères et correcteurs d’imprimerie: depuis l’introduction de l’imprimerie à Paris (1470) jusqu’à la fin du seizième siècle … (Paris, 1965), pp 316-317.

[3] Dumoulin, Vie et oeuvres de Fédéric Morel, pp 74-76.

[4] Supple, James, ‘Morel, Jean de (1511-81)’ in Peter France (ed.), The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French (Oxford, 1995), p. 546.

[5] Dumoulin, Vie et oeuvres de Fédéric Morel, pp 70-79.

[6] Silvestre, Louis-Catherine, Marques typographiques ou Recueil des monogrammes, chiffres, […] des libraires et imprimeurs qui ont exercé en France, depuis l’introduction de l’Imprimerie en 1470, jusqu’à la fin du seizième siècle: à ces marques sont jointes celles des Libraires et Imprimeurs qui pendant la même période ont publié, hors de France, des livres en langue française, 2v. (Paris, 1853-67), printer’s devices n° 507, 589, 1081, 1248. See also Renouard et al., (eds), Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, p. 316.

[7] Renouard et al. (eds), Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, p. 316.

[8] Dumoulin, Vie et oeuvres de Fédéric Morel, pp 136-7.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., pp 94-95.

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