Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Have you ever really thought about how the Post Office started?

Today people might complain about waiting on line at a post office, or the price of a stamp. But I bet you never stop and wonder how post offices came about! As the book points out Thurn und Taxis was one of the first private postal networks. Starting in 1290 ancestors of the family organized and ran a courier services in the Italian city-states. The family was known as the Tassio's during this time. Francisco Tasso and brothers Ruggiero, Leonardo and Janetto later operated a post service. Francisco began to call himself Franz and moved from Italy to Bruxelles (Belgium). This is where he began a postal service between Bruxelles and Vienna. According to Wikipedia the family’s name began to change from Tassio to Taxis in the family coat of arms. In 1624 the family became counts (Grafen). And finally on December 24th 1650 they changed their name to Thurn (Tower) und Taxis. Franz Thurn und Taxis founded the first public-access mail service by carrying both private and government mail throughout the Holy Roman Empire as well as Spain. To carry the mail they had used “horse based message transport system.” This method turned out to be extremely useful, then in 1490 Frederick the 3rd began a communications monopoly. According to Thurn und Taxis homepage, “In 1615, Emperor Mathias rewarded the services of the family by granting the position of imperial postmaster general as an hereditary right in the male line of succession.” As the years went on the Thurn und Taxis employed 20,000 messengers to carry mail and newspapers to Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg. In I852 the family issued postage stamps. As some people say “All good things must come to an end.” Napoleon Bonaparte was the first to attack the Thurn and Taxis monopoly, but it was not till the Prussian from the Northern Germany government bought and nationalized the postal system in 1867. Now next time your standing on line at the post office you can think about how it all started!


At 9:53 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post, nice use of links.

This privately owned postal service met a need for news an information in the 17th century. What kind of people used this postal service? What kinds of news and information were being mailed? What was the connection between the rise of a merchantile elite and the increased demand for an international mail service?


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