Enlightenment periodicals

The late 17th and early 18th centuries in Europe saw the creation of many scholarly journals. Their functions were mainly to review scholarly works and to publish items that were of interest to intellectual life and debate. The journals as a whole took an intellectually open editorial position and would not promote nor denigrate a particular religion, philosophy or science based on religious dogma. The journals were a force in the Enlightenment, but all of Europe was not equally part of the movement. For reasons of censorship, difficulty of access to foreign scholarship and unreliable distribution of its journal output, France was under-represented in 17th and 18th century journal production, although the French language was, alongside Latin, the international language of scholarly publishing. Therefore, although many of the journals were published in the Netherlands, they appeared in French. Here is a partial list of journals that were published in the early Enlightenment.


Le journal des sçavans. This very early French scholarly journal (established in 1665) became the vehicle for scholarly and philosophical discussion in France. Its role was similar to the role of scholarly journals today – it publicized and evaluated new scholarly publications; it reported on scientific advances and debates; and it published obituaries of intellectuals or contributors to the journal. However, it was not without its enemies and encountered official opposition – it was obligated to stay away from theological or philosophical issues. Gallica has digitized the journal from its inception in 1665 to 1939. (notes on the journal from Jonathan Israel’s Radical Enlightenment).

Nouvelles de la République des lettres. Originally edited by Pierre Bayle. 1684 – 1718. Digitized by Gallica. This journal had three goals: “le premier, de servir de rendez-vous, de point de réunion et de communication à tous les Savans, les Gens de Lettres, les Artistes, les Amateurs & les Voyageurs distingués, nationaux ou étrangers qui se trouvent dans cette Capitale. Le second de réunior sous leurs yeux les livres, les tableaux, les pièces de mécanique, les morceaux d’histoire Naturelle, les modèles de sculpture, & enfin toutes sortes d’ouvrages anciens ou modernes, dont on voudra faire connoître ou apprendre promptement l’existence, la valeur ou l’Auteur. Le troisième enfin de procurer les moyens d’étendre une correspondance & des relations dans toutes les parties du monde & sur tous les objects des Sciences & des Arts.”

Bibliothèque choisie, pour servir de suite à la Bibliothèque universelle (1703-?). Edited by Jean Leclerc. Digitized by Google Books. Published in the Netherlands. 1711. 1718.

Bibliothèque ancienne et moderne (1714 – 1727). Digitized by Google Books. Published in the Netherlands. Edited by Jean Leclerc. Vol. 27, 1727. Vol. 29, 1730.

Bibliothèque impartiale. Digitized by Gallica. 1750 – 1758. Published in Leiden and Groningen.

Histoire des ouvrages des sçavans. Digitized by the Google. Edited by de Beauval.  Volume 1 (Sept. 1687). (Jan., Feb., Mar. 1708). Published in Rotterdam by Reinier Leers.

Journal littéraire. (1713-1737) Based in the Hague. Digitized by Google Books.  Vol. 19 (1732); Vol. 24 (1737);

Bibliothèque raisonnée. (1728-1753) Based in Amsterdam. Digitized by Google Books. Vol. 49 (1752),  Vol. 50 (1753) and Gallica (Tomes I,V,IX, XIII, XVII, XXI, XXV, XXIX, XXXIII, XXXVII, XLV, XLIX.)

Bibliothèque angloise. (1717-1728) In most of Europe, scholarly communication was not focused on English philosophy. Leibniz and others pushed for a scholarly journal that would cover English thinking, and the Bibliothèque angloise was created for that purpose. It was edited by Michel de la Roche, and after its cessation in 1728, was revived as the Bibliothèque britannique. Tome 14 (1726), Tome 15 (1727).

Bibliothèque britannique. (1733 -1747) Based in the Hague and Geneva. Digitized by Google Books. Tome 1 (1733).  Tome 22 (1743). Tome 24 (1746). Tome 25 (1747).

Journal encyclopédique ou universel par une société de gens de lettres (1756-1793).
Founded by Pierre Rousseau, published in Liége by Everard Kints. Digitized by Google Books. This was an important periodical whose goal was to propagate the philosophy of the Enlightenment.
Acta Eruditorum. Published in Leipzig, written in Latin. Although it was widely appreciated, it was on the Papal Index of censored publications in 1702. It was prestigious and high quality, and included reviews by Leibniz and other prominent thinkers of its time. Digitized by Gallica.
Annales politiques, civiles, et littéraires du dix-huitième siècle was arguably the most widely read French periodical, edited by Nicolas-Simon-Henri Linguet and printed in London. Linguet launched this journal in response to an argument with the editor of the Journal de politique et de littérature. He had had an acrimonious history with various philosophes and his journal was partisan in this respect; it often denounced Diderot’s Encyclopédie as well as the writings of other philosophers.
Vol. 16, 1790 (Google Books)
Vol. 18, 1791 (Google Books)
Journal de politique et de littérature
This journal, founded by Charles Panckoucke, one of the publishers of the Encyclopédie, was merged in June 1778 with the Mercure.

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