We are delighted to announce that our very own Saskia Limbach won the JEV-Fellowship for European Administrative History at the Max Planck Institut for legal history in Frankfurt am Main. This fellowship will allow her to complete work on her thesis and work on the transition to publication. The institute is very interested in Saskia’s research and thus also invited her to work in Frankfurt for 3 months in late 2016.
Saskia’s research project focussed on government use of print in the Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth century. 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. Thus printers and their presses progressively became an integral part of early modern administration. Her study investigates these issues through two case studies: official publications such as ordinances printed in the Duchy of Württemberg and in the Free Imperial City of Cologne. These two contrasting jurisdictions, one a major princely state, the other one of the greatest of the commercial cities, both made increasingly sophisticated use of print to address and school their local populations.
In this study we can trace these tentative beginnings of collaboration between rulers and printers. A sophisticated understanding of the structures of the early modern print industry allows us to establish the business and market conditions that underpinned the production of official work and also establish how disruptions like war, the plague or bankrupcy hindered the spread of authority. All of this will be placed in a transnational context: the case studies allow us to draw comparisons and contrasts to the role of print in the workings of other European governments in the Netherlands, the Swiss Confederation, England and France.