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Conrad Sweynheim

Early German printer who left Mainz with Arnold Pannartz to establish Italy’s first printing press, in the monastery of Subiaco.

Sweynheim was possibly an employee of Gutenberg’s successors, Fust and Schoeffer. It seems he left Mainz as a refugee in 1462, when the city was sacked, with Pannartz and probably with the Frenchman Nicolas Jenson. The Abbot of Subiaco welcomed them to his monastery, where they installed their printing workshop. Three books, Cicero’s De Oratore, the Opera of Lactantius, and St. Augustine’s De Civitate Dei were published there.

They moved to Rome in 1467, setting up a press in the Massimi palace, from where they published 50 more books.

Their type designs show clearly the rapid transition from blackletter to roman letters, their final books being much nearer the designs of Jenson than of Gutenberg.