Saint-Germain – Luxembourg District 06, Paris, Ile-de-France, France
The Bibliothèque Mazarine (biblijɔtɛk mazaʁin) is the oldest public library in France. The Bibliothèque Mazarine was initially the personal library of Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), who was a great bibliophile. His first library, arranged by his librarian, Gabriel Naudé, was dispersed when he had to flee Paris during the Fronde.
He then began a second library with what was left of the first, assisted by the successor to Naudé, François de La Poterie. At his death he bequeathed his library, which he had opened to scholars since 1643, to the Collège des Quatre-Nations which he had founded in 1661. Reopened in 1682, the Mazarin library has occupied the eastern wing of the Bâtiments du Collège since its inception. The Collège des Quatre-Nations became in 1805 the Palais de l’Institut de France.
By the time of the French Revolution, the Bibliothèque Mazarine sheltered more than 60,000 volumes. The library became public and received a considerable number of books seized from the nobles or from religious congregations. Among its collection of 2,370 incunabula is a specimen of the Gutenberg Bible known as the Bible Mazarine.
Former French president François Mitterrand’s once illegitimate and hidden daughter Mazarine Pingeot is said to be named after this library because of her parents’ love for books.