Informative Media between Italy and Germany: Circulation, Flows and Periodicity in the Early Modern Age

Changes in communication processes between social groups and between regions far apart in the modern era are attributed to the printing press becoming more common and to the increase in literacy. To the latter we owe the diffusion of reading, writing and also the development of the public sphere. Because of these elements, the printing press is considered one of the roots of modern democratic societies. Recent studies have shown that despite the relevance of new printing technologies, traditional forms of communication remained crucial during the modern era. Handwritten documents had a long lasting tradition in the Mediterranean that persisted among merchants, the urban elites, the clergy and the nobility, gaining increasing importance with the expansion of public and private bureaucracy. Therefore old forms of communication, which date back to the fifteenth century and circulated in handwritten form attached to other forms of correspondence, coexisted with new ones. They consisted of brief written accounts of the main news. Originally conceived in some Italian cities located in confluence points of political and commercial networks, similar sheets spread later on in Europe and in the Mediterranean area. Up to the end of the eighteenth century handwitten sheets reproduced weekly in dozens of copies in copyist shops, sent to subscribers through postal services, continued to cohabit with printed ones.

In particular, the project will study a set of handwritten newspapers kept in the Hofrat archival collection of the Tiroler Landesarchiv of Innsbruck, the so-called “avisi”, similar to the most famous “Fuggerzeitungen” kept in Vienna. They are attached to the correspondence of the imperial ambassadors of the years 1571-1583, sent to the court of Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg of the Innsbruck line. Through the “avisi”, it is possible to reconstruct the circulation of the news, whose “collection and sorting center” was based in Venice and secondly in Rome. On the basis of these documents, we will examine the general features of the handwritten sheets, the languages ​​used, the geographical areas they reached, their periodicity and finally the similarities and differences between the copies written in Italian and those written in German. The coexistence of old and new media, their circulation and reception by the public is part of the broader investigation that aims to frame the process of historical development of the media in all its dimensions (economic, technical, cultural, political and religious).