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 a free imperial city in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.


In 2005, the World Association of Newspapers accepted evidence that the Carolus pamphlet was printed beginning in 1605, not 1609 as previously thought. The Carolus petition discovered in the Strasbourg Municipal Archive during the 1980s[3] 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]

Soon the Relation was 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 published regularly at intervals short enough for readers to keep abreast of incoming news) then Relation was the first European newspaper.[5]

Using a single criterion of "format" rather than frequency and function, however, English historian of printing Stanley Morison held that the Relation should be classified as a newsbook, on the grounds that it still employed 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 Morison's definition, the world's first newspaper would be the Dutch Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. from 1618. By the same definition no German, English, French, or Italian weekly or daily news publications from the first half of the seventeenth century could be considered "newspapers" either. As noted above, the World Association of Newspapers and many authorities have not adopted his definition.

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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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