I know there were proto-newspapers in Britain at the time, but how did people in, for example, Huntingdon or Worcester, find out what was happening in London or Oxford? Did Royalist or Parliamentarian heralds/functionaries travel around their territory, putting up pronouncements about events, like the King's capture or the outcomes of sieges, and distributing their journals locally?

I've not found a great deal about this or about the history of journalism (if that fits), and I'm not really sure where to look, though I've read about the Mercurius Aulicius being circulated in Oxford (and smuggled elsewhere) and the Mercurius Civicus being published in London, but being as how they both had limited reach at times, and information would be hard to verify as well as the process of printing having issues, it interests me how Britain could have stayed informed when so much changed. A librarian friend recommended Joseph Frank's "The Beginnings of the English Newspaper" as covering some things, though I'll have to wait a while to read it on interlibrary loan. Has there been anyone else who's written on this at any point?


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In the 17th century, written news were distributed mostly in the form of pamphlets, simple sheets of papers containing only information about one subject matter. They could also contain a woodcut drawing, or a song sheet.

The British civil war is known for its polemics brought to the people in the pamphlet wars. There are several large collections available. One of the largest is the Thomason Tracts, available at the British Library. For others, see for example this overview by the Newbury library. A quick search found this collection online:

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