Johann Carolus

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Title page of the Relation from 1609

Johann Carolus (1575−1634) was a German publisher of the first newspaper, called Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien (Account of all distinguished and commemorable news). The Relation is recognised by the World Association of Newspapers,[1] as well as many authors[2] as the world's first newspaper. The German-language newspaper was published in Strasbourg, which had the status of an imperial free city in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.


In 2005, the World Association of Newspapers accepted evidence that Carolus' pamphlet was printed beginning in 1605, not 1609 as previously thought. Carolus' petition discovered in the Strasbourg Municipal Archive[3] in the 1980s may be regarded as the birth certificate of the newspaper:

Whereas I have hitherto been in receipt of the weekly news advice [handwritten news reports] and, in recompense for some of the expenses incurred yearly, have informed yourselves every week regarding an annual allowance; Since, however, the copying has been slow and has necessarily taken much time, and since, moreover, I have recently purchased at a high and costly price the former printing workshop of the late Thomas Jobin and placed and installed the same in my house at no little expense, albeit only for the sake of gaining time, and since for several weeks, and now for the twelfth occasion, I have set, printed and published the said advice in my printing workshop, likewise not without much effort, inasmuch as on each occasion I have had to remove the formes from the presses …[4]

The Relation was soon followed by other periodicals, such as the Avisa Relation oder Zeitung.


If a newspaper is defined by the functional criteria of publicity, seriality, periodicity and currency or actuality (that is, as a single current-affairs series regularly published at intervals short enough to keep abreast of incoming news) then it was the first European newspaper.[5] English historian of printing Stanley Morison, using a criterion of format rather than function, held that the Relation should be classified as a newsbook, on the grounds that it still employs the format and most of the conventions of a book: it is printed in quarto size and the text is set in a single wide column.[6] By this definition, the world's first newspaper is the Dutch Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. from 1618, but by the same definition no German, English, French or Italian weekly (or even daily) news publications from the first half of the 17th century can be considered "newspapers".

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Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "WAN - Newspapers: 400 Years Young!". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  2. ^ Many authors do not make a distinction between a newsbook/pamphlet and a newspaper. See for example: Chappell, W. (1999) A Short History of the Printed Word. Hartley & Marks, Vancouver. Smith, A. (1979) The Newspaper: an international history. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.
  3. ^ "Strasbourg - Archives de la Ville et de la Communauté urbaine". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  4. ^ Johannes Weber, "Straßburg, 1605. The Origins of the Newspaper in Europe", German History 24/2006, pp. 387–412 (409ff.)
  5. ^ Fischer, H.-D. Die Zeitung als Forschungsproblem. In Deutsche Zeitungen des 17. bis 20. Jahrhunderts. Pullach bei München, 1972, p. 13.
  6. ^ Morison, S. (1980) The Origins of the Newspaper. In Selected Essays on the History of Letter-Forms in Manuscript and Print, (Ed, McKitterick, D.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,

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