Jour Fixe: ‘Obstructive Collaboration’ – Rulers, Printers, and the Publication of Ordinances in the 16th Century

Jour Fixe

  • Date: Dec 12, 2016
  • Time: 12:00 - 13:00
  • Speaker: Saskia Limbach
  • University of St Andrews
  • Opponent: Manuela Bragagnolo, MPIeR
  • Location: MPIeR
  • Room: Z 01
Jour Fixe: ‘Obstructive Collaboration’ – Rulers, Printers, and the Publication of Ordinances in the 16<sup>th</sup> Century

‘Obstructive Collaboration’ – Rulers, Printers, and the Publication of Ordinances in the Sixteenth Century

Abstract

It is well known that from the 1450s onwards, the printing press proved an increasingly important weapon in the drive to spread the tentacles of authority. With the help of Gutenberg’s invention official announcements could be produced quickly and inexpensively in unprecedented numbers. Therefore printers and their presses progressively became an integral part of early modern governments in the Holy Roman Empire.

A lesser-known fact is that the technical innovation also posed particular problems for many rulers. Printing was a capital intense business. Therefore the use of the press was determined by the economics of the print industry. By analysing the design of printed ordinances, their print runs, their production costs as well as instructions for circulation, this paper will examine some of the challenges that accompanied the publication of legal texts. The ideal arrangements between rulers and printers were often negotiated over a considerable time. The sixteenth century was a period of experimentation, as governments attempted to find the most suitable printer for their work; in many parts of the Empire this period of trial and error lasted until the very end of the century.

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