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Ordinance concerning Printers, Booksellers and School masters, Brussels (1570)

Source: Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KW 1704 C 55

Ordinance concerning Printers, Booksellers and School masters, Brussels (1570), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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Provisional Order/Statute and command of the Lords of our King, concerning the Printers, Booksellers and School masters.

With grace and privilege

Printed in the Princely City of Brussels, By me, Michiel van Hamont, sworn Bookprinter, residing in the Dongelmerct or under the City hall.

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Philips, by the grace of God King of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Navarra, Naples, Sicily, Majorca, Sardinia, the islands, the Indies, and mainlands of the sea Occeane, Archduke of Austria;
Duke of Burgundy, of Lorraine, of Limburg, of Luxembourg, of Gelderland, and of Melanen, Count of Habsburg, Flanders, and Artois, palatine of Burgundy, Holland, of Zealand, of Namur, and of Zutphen; Prince of Swabia; Margrave of Burgau, and of the Holy Roman Empire; Lord of Frisia, of of Salins, of Mechelen, of the city, cities and lands of Utrecht, Overijssel and Groningen, and Dominator in Asia and Affrica. Greetings, all who shall see the present. Even if it is that the gracious late Emperor Charles, the fifth of the name, our dear lord and father (God have mercy on his Soul) and we, with several orders, notices, edicts and commands, especially with the order published above on the matter of the religion, confirmed by us in the year xv fifty-six, have provided on the rule, order and conduct, which the School masters have to comply with and observe. Nevertheless, despite this, some wicked and evil minds thereon have commited several frauds and abuses. And it is universally apparent and known that these vices, aberrances and herecies, originated, waxed, and distributed in the netherlands these previous years, have mostly arisen by the unruliness of the aforesaid printers, booksellers, and school masters, as they have imprinted, printed, sold, and taught the pupils, heretic and reprobate books. Due to which we have deemed necessary to provide therein anew, and for the future establish a sharp rule and order, and especially on the matter of printing. So that these printers and imprinters not only print no things that are against the Catholic religion and faith, and the Roman Church: But also print no things by which the good manners may be corrupted. Or that they, by carelessness, ignorance, abuse or impropriety in their art

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or style, do not misuse and damage the public welfare.

So it is that we have taken into consideration the matters aforesaid, by deliberation of our very dear and very beloved cousin, knight in our order, Stadtholder, governor and captain general of our aforesaid netherlands, the Duke of Alba, Marquis of Coria etc., ordained and laid down anew, hereby ordain and lay down provisional edict and command, the points and articles described hereafter. And this besides that which has been ordained therein by us before, and lastly in the holy general Council, held in the City of Trent, which we wish, understand and order to be strictly complied with and observed.


Firstly, Thus in such a principle art as the printing is, in which so much good or evil of the community, and in particular of the religion may be narrated, a certain rule and order should exist, and also a faithfull person of the same art or style, who in the first place and particularly have supervision and superintendence over the other. We have ordered and ordained, that by our authority, and created by our open letters of commission, will be instituted and established a Prototypo-graphus or Headprinter, in order to have the principle responsibility and superintendence on the matter of the aforesaid printing, will have the authority and power to examine and approve the masters and labourers of the printing houses of our aforesaid Netherlands. And will give them, and each of theme, letters of their usefulness and competence, according to their abilities. For which letters will afterwards have to be petitioned from us, or our aforesaid Stadtholder and general gouvernor of the Netherlands, letters of confirmation and approval.


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Which headprinter will be held to have and make a book or register, wherein he will write the names of all the masters of the aforesaid craft, and noting for each of them their country and place of birth, and where they keep residence and shop, as well as the quality of their person. All this so that one may know this, to treat and provide for that which regarding this may be narrated.


In which book or register will also be kept records of the books which each of the aforesaid printers will print, with the day and year at which it has been initiated and completed. On the basis of which no printer may initite to print any book, without having presented the aforesaid headprinter with the consent, patent, or privilege he has, to be permitted to do so, and in particular the approval, which will have to precede the aforesaid privilege, presenting also the original of the book that he will wish to print, in order that the aforesaid headprinter may see whether it is the same book that is mentioned in the aforesaid approval and privilege, in order to note and register it in the aforesaid book or register. With the proviso that the same will be in force concerning the books newly made, composed or commentated, and otherwise not, nor on our notices and orders, which we have published now or in future.


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That the examinators of books, of those which will have been brougth printed from abroad as well as those which will have been handed over and delivered to be printed in our aforesaid Netherlands, will inform and notify the aforesaid headprinter of the book they will have examined, whether or not they have approved it, so that he writes in his Register the name of the Author of that book, with the assessment or censure of the examinator.


That no printer may print any book on which another will have obtained privilege, within three months of the day on which the privilege will have been lapsed, so that of the book (such having been demanded) a new print could be made, or other and better than the first, with the advice and approval of the aforesaid headprinter. On penalty of the seizing of the aforesaid books, for those who would act to the contrary.



That no one may print any book, in full or in part, without complying with all the points and

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articles provided, and each of them in particular. On penalty, fine and arbitration sentencing, aside the seizing and confiscation of the aforesaid printed books.


All which points and articles, and each of them, we wish and order to be strictly complied with and observed, without any remission, reprieve, exception or forebearance. On the aforesaid penalty, fine, sentencing and seizing. Which penalty, fine, and seizing will be disbursed and allocated, one third share for our benefit, another third share for the benefit of the complainant, and the third third share for the benefit of the officer who will do the implementation thereof.


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Which book, thus having been compaired, signed and valued, will be send to the aforesaid headprinter, to keep and archive it in a place, designated thereto by us, and the aforesaid book will remain as original in order to perform the comparison and approval, if the matter will demand such.


The aforesaid commissaries will often visit the printing houses, without declaring the day that they will do so, to review that which is printed, and how the aforesaid orders and notices are observed.


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Dictate and command therefore the aforementioned head President and members of our secret Council, President and members of our Grand Council, Chancellor and members of our Council in Brabant, Stadtholder, President and members of our Council at Luxembourgh, Stadtholder Chancellor and members of our Council in Gelderland, Stadtholder of Limburg, Valkenburg, Daelhem, and our lands across the Meuse, Gouvernor Presidents and members of our council in Flanders and Artois, Grand Bailliff of Hainaut and members of our council at Bergen and in Hainaut, Stadtholder President and members of our council in Holland, Stadtholder President and members of our council at Namur, Stadtholder President and members of our council in Frysia, Stadtholder President and members of our council in Overijssel, Lieutenant at Groningen, Stadtholder President and members of our council at Utrecht, Gouvernor of Rijssele, Douay and Orchies, our Provost of Valenchijne, Bailliff of Dornicke, Steward of Bewest and Beoisterschelt in Zealand, sheriff of Mechelen. And all other judges, justices and officers, and those of our vassals whom

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it may concern, their Stadtholders and any of them in particular as he will deem appropriate, that they, each for himself, will make this here present order, statute, edict and command, be announced and published immediately, in the cities, locations and borders of his jurisdiction respectively, where it is customary to do announments and publications. So that noone could pretend ignorance thereof. And furhermore make the order be complied with and observes, in each and every of its points and articles according to their form and content.
Prosecute and have prosecuted against the infringers and disobedients by the implementation of the penalties mentioned above, without grace, reprieve, remission or forebearance. In order to do so, if this concerns them, we give them, as well as the commisionaries, visitors, examinators and headprinter aforesaid, and each of them, complete power, authority and special command. Dictate and command everyone that they do this, strictly understand and obey. Because this pleases us. For the ratification we have put our seal hereon. Given in our City of Brussels, xixth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand fivehundred and seventy. Of our nations, namely of Spain, Sicily, etc. the xvth and of Naples the xviith.

By the King
In his Stead.


Translation by: Miluska Kooij


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