4°:  title page in black and red and text in black, 29 pp.,  printed text, half-calf black binding from ca 1900 with gilt embossed title on the spine, small gilt embossed stamp on the cover below, old bookplate, (Very Good, lacking last blank page, repaired small loss of paper on the title page, old cancelled stamps of the Harvard library on the back of the title page, embossed library stamp on p. 1, some pages with minor staining, spine slightly scuffed).
A book of laws for Carinthia, Austria, with a highly decorative title page, printed in black and red, was printed in 1578 in Graz by a protestant printer Zacharias Bartsch.
Printer Zacharias Bartsch
Zacharias Bartsch (fl. 1563–1579) was, for a brief time, one of the most prominent Protestant publishers in the Habsburg Empire, yet little is known about his biography and all of his works are today very rare. In 1563, he opened a printing office in Graz in partnership with Tobias Lauterbach, although the latter died in 1566. During the 15 years of its operation the press issued 47 known separate works, generally consisting of calendars, law books and scholastic publications. The present book was by far Bartsch’s most elaborate and important creation, especially with regards to Protestant history. Bartsch is thought to have carved the woodcuts personally and the work was supported by wealthy local Protestants burghers. He was also highly regarded by the Protestant nobles who influenced the regional government for, in 1578, he was appointed as the official state printer of Styria.
However, in spite of the public recognition of his fine quality work, Bartsch became entangled in the fractious sectarian politics of the Counterreformation. In 1578, Charles II Francis convened a conference to discuss the threat of an Ottoman invasion of Inner Austria at Bruck an der Mur, to which he invited the leaders of Carinthia, Styria, Carniola and Gorizia. Several Protestant noblemen pledged to avail the emperor of significant funds to defend the region from the Turks. Notably, the great fortress city of Karlovac, Croatia was built the following year with this endowment. In return, the Archduke was to promise not to interfere with the practice of the Protestant denominations in Inner Austria. This included allowing the Protestants to hire their own builders (overriding the guilds) and to construct their own churches wherever they saw fit. However, the agreement also included the demand that every book printed by a publisher in Inner Austria had to submit their work, in advance, for approval by pastors sanctioned by the Archduke, under the order ‘ohne Wissen und Einsicht des Pastors und der Subinspektoren nichts in Druck gefertigt werden darf und der Drucker mit Eidespflicht verhalten werden soll’.
Bartsch did not cooperate with the censorship provision, and this gave the Archduke the excuse he needed to silence Graz’s most prominent Protestant printer. In December 1578, Bartsch was arrested and sent to prison. In order to regain his freedom, he had to agree to give up his printing business. He died in 1579, shortly after his release.
We could only trace 6 examples in Libraries worldwide.