Garamont's will

On 23 September 1561, while he was living in the Rue des Carmes, Claude Garamont found himself to be "ill" but "sound in thought, memory and hearing." Feeling that his time was nigh, he wrote his will. This document, which was discovered and analysed by Geneviève Guilleminot, sheds new light on the figure of Claude Garamont.

Although he was not very rich, Garamont did not die in poverty. In his will, he left many things to his family and friends. He seemed to be very close to his mother, who was still alive in September 1561 at the time the will was drawn up, although she was "very old, blind, and unable to get by [alone]." Claude left "the surplus of all his goods" to his friend and colleague André Wechel, in order to pay for the support of his aged mother.

"Before us is the honourable Claude Garamont, engraver and cutter of type used to print for the king, living in Paris in the Rue des Carmes, lying ill in bed, but nevertheless sound in thought, memory and hearing…" Claude Garamont's will, 23 September 1561

Garamont's will offers us a glimpse of his religious beliefs. Contrary to the testamentary habits of Parisians, Garamond's will does not invoke the Virgin Mary, nor any saint whatever. Moreover, Garamont does not request either prayers or masses after his death, and is content with a plain funeral in the presence only of the vicar. For his executor, he chose André Wechel, a bookseller at the Écu-de-Basle in the Rue Saint-Jean-de-Beauvais, who shortly thereafter openly declared his Protestant faith. Garamont thus appears to have been a discreet member of the Reform church.

Garamont died shortly after drawing up his will, before France was caught up in the Wars of Religion. On 18 November 1561, his foundry was inventoried by Guillaume Le Bé and Jean Le Sueur. Guillaume Le Bé purchased most of the available equipment. Christophe Plantin and André Wechel also purchased as many punches and matrices as possible.

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