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Signed handwritten letter from Bernard-René Jourdan, Marquis de Launay, governor of the Bastille, to a Mr. Moreau regarding a building project with accompanying engraving of Launay

 Collection — Box: 1 [31151034438071], Folder: 1
Identifier: MS-0805
This collection is a handwritten letter, dated March 3, 1779, from the Bernard-René Jourdan de Launay, governor of the Bastille, with an accompanying engraving of de Launay.


  • 1779 March 3


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.


.167 Cubic Feet (1 legal-sized folder (includes 2 items))

Bastille Prison historical note

The Bastille is a fourteenth century Parisian fortress that was later converted for use as a prison for the monarch's political enemies and armory. The site is best known today as the starting place of the French revolution when French citizens stormed the prison on July 14, 1789 to steal the gun powder stores. The mob also freed the Bastille prisoners before killing the governor and eight guards.

Source: Platon, Mircea. "Storming the Bastille (July 14, 1789)." Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective. July 2014. Accessed March 27, 2018.

Bernard-René Jourdan de Launay biographical note

Bernard-René Jourdan, Marquis de Launay, (1740-1789) was the governor of the Bastille from 1776-1789. His father had also been governor. Launay was one of the first causalities of the French Revolution when a mob stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789. After surrendering the Bastille, he was captured and taken prisoner but was killed en route to Hôtel de Ville after the mob attacked.

Source: Lüsebrink, Hans-Jürgen, and Rolf Reichardt. The Bastille: A History of a Symbol of Despotism and Freedom. Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1997.

Content Description

Rewritten from dealer description:

This item is a handwritten letter in French from the Bernard-René Jourdan de Launay, governor of the Bastille, to Mr. Moreau. The letter is signed 'Launey' and dated March 3, 1779. Launay wrote to Moreau regarding materials for a building project under the St. Antoine bridge. The identity of this Mr. Moreau is unknown. A portion of the text reads as:

"Vous me prévenés que la ville sera dans le cas de faire travailler sous le pont St Antoine, mettre des échafauds des matériaux et des ouvriers dans les fossés de la Bastille. Il ne peut le permettre à moins que je n'aye un ordre du ministre."

An engraved portrait of de Launay is included with the letter. A printed caption below the image states: Delaunay Gouverneur de la Bastille. A Parisian address is printed is below the caption in smaller print.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Librairie Les Amazones in March 2017.

Processing Information

Processed by Kelly Daughtridge in March 2018. The Marquis de Launay spelled his title with an "e" ('Launey'), and is thus spelled in American scholarship regarding this spelling of the name. However, in France, his title tends to be spelled with an "a" ('Launay'), and tends to be more common in publication with this form. "Launay" was chosen to be used in this finding aid for better discoverability.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA