Paper, Commerce, and the Circulation of News: A Case-Study from Early Modern Malta
Copyright (c) 2021 William Zammit
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This contribution discusses the vital role of paper in the context of an early modern Mediterranean island-state. From a commerical, but also from a political perspective, the increased amount of seaborne communication not only characterised statehood but indeed made it possible. Paper-based communication was the main channel of formal but also of informal communication, with the latter comprising the exchange of news, rumours, and hearsay between the geographically isolated community and the rest of the Mediterranean and beyond. Such paper transactions comprised manuscript but also increasingly printed genres. The role of these and of other typologies of printed commercial literature went beyond a purely utilitarian one, as very often such forms included decorative iconographical representations asserting either political sovreignity or religious power. Paper-based communication enabled such an island community not simply to receive news but also to be a net distributer of it.