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The mission of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France is to collect and conserve all works published in France, regardless of media, with the explicit purpose of making them available to researchers and professionals.

In those days, however, royal collections were transient in nature as they were irretrievably dispersed on their owner's death.

It was not until Louis XI, who reigned from 1461 to 1483 and was the true founder of the Bibliotheque Nationale, that continuity was established - reflecting the continuity of the royal dynasty.

His son Charles VIII, followed by Louis XII, subsequently added more early manuscripts as well as the first printed books brought back from the Italian campaigns. The Bibliotheque was transferred to Amboise and then to Blois, where it was incorporated into the new "Librairie" set up in Fontainebleau by Francois I in 1522 and entrusted to the care of Guillaume Bude, scholar in the humanities.

On the 28th December 1537, the king introduced a new principle by royal decree, whereby all printers and booksellers were ordered to deposit copies of any printed book put on sale in the kingdom with the Château de Blois library.

This obligation was known as the "Depot Légal" (legal or copyright deposit) and its creation marks a fundamental date in the history of the library, even though the decree was by no means uniformly enforced in the early stages.