The University of Manchester - The University of Manchester Library
First Impressions

Paris

Situated on the River Seine in northern France, late medieval Paris was a great university city and offered printers the opportunity to sell their books to teachers and scholars. In 1436 the French King, Charles VII, reclaimed the city from its occupiers the Burgundians who were allied to the English making Paris the capital of France again. There was a ready market for legal texts and courtly books such as romances.

Paris was already one of France's major cathedral towns and famous as a centre of scholarship and manuscript production. The Sorbonne was founded in 1257, one of seventy colleges listed as part of the university in the Middle Ages. At the end of the medieval period, the university had become the largest cultural and scientific centre in Europe, attracting about 20,000 students. Its reputation grew from the prestige of its university masters and the wealth of its libraries, which were equal to that of the pontifical library in Rome.

Discover more about early printing in Paris.