- Froben, Johann
- (1460-1527)Basel printer, head of the greatest northern Renaissance publishing and printing firm of the early 16th century, which continued under the direction of his heirs and associates until 1587. Froben was a master printer and successful businessman, not a scholar, but he realized the market value of high-quality humanistic publications and made his firm the most respected publisher of classical and humanistic books north of the Alps. He learned his trade in Nuremberg but in 1491 moved to Basel and began printing. In 1494 he entered a partnership with Johannes Petri and the leading Basel printer of the preceding generation, Johannes Amerbach. After the death of his partners, Froben took full control of the press but brought in as a new partner his father-in-law, the bookseller Wolfgang Lachner, who was an astute busi-nessman and looked after the commercial side of the business while Froben handled the authors and editors and the process of production.By 1510 his press had become the center of a large circle of humanist scholars, mostly German and Swiss, who wrote and edited texts for publication. Some of these were Beatus Rhenanus, Heinrich Glareanus, Johannes Oecolampadius, and Conradus Pellicanus, the two latter destined to become important leaders of the early Swiss Reformation, but his greatest acquisition was the leading humanist of the century, Desiderius Erasmus, who found in the Froben press the ideal outlet for his scholarly publications. From about 1515, Froben became almost the exclusive publisher used by Erasmus. The landmarks of Froben's work as publisher of Erasmus, both first issued in 1516, were the famous Greek edition of the New Testament and the collected works of the greatest scholar among the ancient Latin Church Fathers, St. Jerome. In 1521 Erasmus moved from the Netherlands to Basel, where he enjoyed the lively intellectual activity and impressive linguistic skills of the young humanists employed by Froben and found a stimulating milieu in which to work. In large part because of the value (both personal and financial) of Erasmus to the firm, Froben generally avoided the publication of works by Martin Luther and other leaders of the Reformation, leaving that lucrative market to other Basel printers. After Froben's death in 1527, the firm continued to flourish under the direction of his son Hieronymus.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.