Louis Médard

Louis Médard 1768 - 1841

Originally from Aigues-Mortes, Louis Médard's family settled in Lunel in the 17th century, where he was born in July 1768. He was the last son of a Protestant merchant family. Young Louis Médard received a classical Protestant education. He was taught by Pastor Rabaud St-Etienne of Nîmes. A gifted student, he received the works of Virgil as a graduation gift: the first book in his future collection.

Dedicated to commerce, he founded Médard & Parlier in Montpellier in 1801. He made his fortune in the wholesale trade of Indiennes and silks. In 1807, he married Jeanne-Jacqueline Fillietaz, daughter of a Swiss Protestant merchant based in Antwerp, who opened up new markets for him. He criss-crossed Europe in search of the best textile producers, as well as numerous books. He died without issue in 1841, bequeathing his library to his native town.

Louis Médard, bibliophile, a unique gift to the town of Lunel.

His wish was to help educate the people of Lunel: "With the help of a new college, I hope to increase the number of good citizens in my native town who will be useful to their country".

An erudite and well-informed bibliophile, he buys books for their rarity and content. He prefaced many of them with his own handwriting, reflecting his choices and giving a rare anthropological and sociological dimension to this collection. Louis Médard entrusted his works to illustrious bookbinders such as Bauzonnet, Bozerian, Simier and Thouvenin to protect them from the ravages of time.

His library comprises 4,871 works in a wide range of fields: history, belles lettres, science and art, theology, and more. He owns a copy of Buffon's Histoire Naturelle.

At the time of his donation, he drew up two catalogs for the mayor of Lunel: a Grand catalog for public distribution and a Petit catalogue, an inventory of books not to be placed in all hands....

These books, which he kept in a small secret cabinet - his "hell" - were licentious books that he considered "dangerous": books banned after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, pamphlets or polemical reflections on the Catholic Church, etc.

This undispersed library is now one of Lunel's cultural treasures, housed in the Musée Médard, a Musée de France.