On the Burt Franklin Library and the archives of the Marquisate of Laubrières
The Center for Historical Social Science Literature at Hitotsubashi University is a rare book library established in April 1978 to contribute to the advanced study of the social sciences. The history of the Center goes back to 1875 when the Shohokoshujo (Commercial Training School), the predecessor of Hitotsubashi University, was established. For over a century since then, the collection of historical social science literature in Western languages has been expanding continuously. The University Library was particularly enriched by the acquisition of some notable private libraries, such as the Gierke, Menger and Soda Libraries in the 1920s as well as the Burt Franklin Library in the 1970s. Soon it was apparent that the rare materials deserved and required a facility of their own and the present Center was established in 1978, when the pre-1851 books, periodicals and other materials, as well as some of the private libraries, were transferred to a new building specially constructed to manage those rare materials. Since then the collection has increased steadily, and in 2014 it held and maintained approximately 75,000 volumes of scarce and valuable materials in Western social sciences.
In 1974 the Mitsui Group donated to Hitotsubashi University Library an extensive collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, periodicals and manuscripts of the 13th to the 20th centuries, treating economic, political and social affairs. The collection, assembled by Burt Franklin (1903-1972), an antiquarian bookseller and publisher of reprints of scholarly books, comprises about 17,200 volumes. This collection contains some incunabula such as the De Civitate Dei of Saint Augustine published in 1489, and among the approximately 600 manuscripts are a copy of the Magna Carta made in about 1300, and a Medici account book from 1471-72.
The manuscripts from the archives of the Marquisate of Laubrières covering the period from 1372 to 1733 also rank among the most important documents in the collection. They contain many thousands of papers, carefully indexed and handsomely bound in 27 volumes in early eighteenth century French polished gilt calf, most volumes bearing the arms of the Marquis of Laubrières. It would be very unusual for documents of this kind to be found bound: usually they are in rough bundles, tied up with old string. We can classify the 27 volumes into five groups: 1) Fief et Seigneurie de la Saullaye, 1450-1725, 11 volumes, plus 2 volumes of indexes; 2) Fief et Seigneurie de la Saullaye, Assises de Remembrement, 4 volumes plus one index volume; 3) Contrats d’Acquêts, Seigneurie de la Saullaye, 1372-1730 et 1575-1733, 2 volumes; 4) La Saullaye, Registre de 1724, 1 volume in folio; 5) Chatellenie de Beuzon (another property of the Marquis of Laubrières), 1580-1728, 5 volumes plus one index volume. Although there are documents from the 14th and 15th centuries, the main part consists of material from the 17th and early 18th centuries.
Le Febvre de Laubrières were a noble family from the region of Angers, and Pierre Le Febvre, a son of Guillaume Le Febvre and Jeanne de Bourgon, would have been the first seigneur of Laubrières in the middle of the 14th century. His descendants subsisted in Brittany in the marquisate of Laubrières and of Briançon. The most famous of the family would have been Charles-François Lefebvre de Laubrières, bishop of Soissons, who died in that city on 25 December 17381. He was appointed Conseiller of the Parlement of Paris in 1710 and married Marie-Anne de Blair in 1713. When she died in 1718, Charles-François chose the profession of churchman and was appointed Bishop of Soisson in 1731. He was also Conseiller d’honneur of the Parlement of Paris. It would seem that he decided to bind part of the documents (if not all of them) of his family, as witnessed by the fact that some of the volumes bear his own arms.
We decided to digitally publish these extensive documents of one of the oldest noble families in France, as they show the reality and details of the management of fiefs and seigneuries in France. But when photographing the documents we did not want to break the bookbinding of the 18th century, which is in itself a work of art of the era, so some of the documents will not be readable photographically, for which we ask for your kind understanding.