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Early Modern Broadsides

It is undoubted among today's researchers that broadsides have been of paramount importance for the (communication) culture of early modern times. Broadsides as carriers of succinct literature and imagery had an influence on almost all levels of life from the 15th to the 18th century, or, vice versa, were initiated from there. The scope of topics conveyed by the medium of the broadside was correspondingly broad. Thus for instance the subjects of politics (e.g. in comments on the political situation of the time), of law (ordinances) and of religion (e.g. polemic articles of the time of Reformation, pilgrimage leaflets, etc.) were broached. Broadsides contained reports about natural phenomena, monstrous people and animals, and preserved traditional songs. Broadside calendars were helpful to structure the course of the year, and thesis sheets bore witness to the successful work of the universities. Last but not least, broadsides were also a means of advertising (e.g. for book printers and traders). There are a good many more topics and subtopics. The illustrated broadside surely played a special role, but the variety of forms of appearance is great – from pure text up to printed images bordering on graphic prints. This plethora of topics and the multi-functionality of broadsides, which can be outlined only roughly here, really requires interdisciplinary research or an evaluation from the perspective of a great number of individual disciplines. All research has to be put on a sound, secure material basis, though. The digitisation of broadsides by the Bavarian State Library is intended to create such a basis.

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