Glossary of Early Modern Popular Print Genres



Mercurius Civicus, London's Intelligencer nr. 8, 1643. Wikipedia.

Other languages

  • Dutch: nieuwsboek 
  • Polish: nowiny

Material form



The term newsbook was used in 17th-century England and is used by historians of the 17th- and 18th-century Low Countries (nieuwsboek), but both traditions concern quite different genres. No equivalent term seems to have existed in other European languages. 

The English newsbooks, published from 1641 onwards, take some elements from the mercury as well as from the avvisi. Characteristic was their regular and frequent appearance, usually weekly. For this reason they have been considered ‘the invention of the newspaper’ (Raymond 2005). These newsbooks in quarto format often maintained a consistent title and layout and contained a collection of various forms and items of news, including a variety of strongly polemic articles.  

In the Dutch context, nieuwsboeken is a term coined by historians to designate a type of early modern periodicals that provided annual or semi-annual overviews of recent events. Unlike the English newsbooks or indeed other Dutch news genres, they were large volumes. Several of them include the word Mercurius in their title.  

Related terms

mercury, aviso


F. Dahl, A Bibliography of English Corantos and Periodical Newsbooks, 1620–1642 (London: Bibliographical Society, 1952).

J. Hyde, J. Raymond, M. Rospocher, Y. Ryan, A. Schaffer, H. Salmi, Communicating the News in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge Elements series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2023).

J.W. Koopmans, ‘Storehouses of News. The Meaning of Early Modern News Periodicals in Western Europe’, in: R. Harms, J. Raymond, J. Salman (eds.): Not Dead Things. The Dissemination of Popular Print in England and Wales, Italy, and the Low Countries, 1500-1820 (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 253-273.

N. Millstone, ‘Designed for Collection. Early Modern News and the Production of History’, Media History 23:2 (2017), 177-198.

J. Raymond, The Invention of the Newspaper: English Newsbooks, 1641–1649 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).

J. Raymond, ‘News’, in: J. Raymond (ed.), The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, Vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 377-397.

Modified on: 05/02/2024