Connected Central European Worlds, 1500-1700

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A Difficult Market to Control: Foreign Booksellers and their Books on Offer in Late Seventeenth-Century Prague

Mona Garloff, University of Innsbruck

At the Prague book markets of the late 17th century, foreign booksellers occupied a dominant position: novelties from the Leipzig and Frankfurt fairs were brought to the city by booksellers from Nuremberg and Leipzig. They possessed only limited trade rights, however, and religious denomination was used as an argument to restrict their visits to market times. I will first focus on the books on offer by investigating transnational connections: Which books from France and Italy were to be found in these vendors’ ranges of titles? Which genres – from religious literature to novels – were the most popular? Foreign booksellers were under permanent suspicion of selling forbidden literature, and I will shed light on the titles seized from them. In a second step, I will analyse examples of successful integration in the longue durée: Besides Endter from Nuremberg, Johann Zieger was one of the major booksellers at the Prague markets. He was accompanied by his shop assistant Johann Friedrich Rüdiger. After Zieger’s death, Rüdiger took over his book storage in the Old Town in 1712 and became one of the first Protestant merchants to be granted the privilege to open a permanent shop in Prague. I will conclude with some reflections on the role of Prague as a hub for official and clandestine book distribution in Central Europe.


Dr Mona Garloff is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of History at University of Innsbruck. From 2013 to 2020, she was an assistant professor at the University of Stuttgart. She studied history, philosophy and politics in Munich and Paris and completed her PhD in Frankfurt and Trento in 2013 (Irenik, Gelehrsamkeit und Politik. Jean Hotman und der europäische Religionskonflikt um 1600. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2014). She is currently working on her second book, which deals with the Central European book trade in the early modern period (‘Foreign Booksellers in Vienna and Prague, 1680–1750’, funded by FWF – Der Wissenschaftsfonds). She is co-investigator in the research project ‘Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on Academic Failure’ (funded by VolkswagenStiftung). Mona Garloff’s research interests include the history of the book trade and early modern trade; the history of the Habsburg Monarchy, Central Europe and France; the history of the Reformation and political theory in early modern Europe. CV and list of publications.