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The Gutenburg printing press

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In the fifteenth century, one man’s invention revolutionized Europe. Johannes Gutenberg invented thmoveablele-type printing press in 1454. Some important consequences of the printing press were religious reformations, scientific and medical revolutions, and the spread of literature. The spread of literature was th most important result of thmoveablele-type printing press and affected the most people. As stated in the background essay before the printing press monks or scribes would write books by hand and would have to rewrite them if they wanted another copy. Only 2 people were needed to write a new book or copy an old book, the speaker and the writer. When thmoveablele-type printing press was invented more people had jobs. Usually it was more like 3-5 people working together to make the books. The press made it faster to make books or any form of literature as well as becoming more accurate. Because there needed to have proofreaders there was an increase in literacy. The proofreaders were then likely to go home and talk about what they read.

To start with, the religious reformations are the second most important consequence and affected the second largest group of people. The printing press was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation and the start of the Lutheran Church. Document 3 states that “Because of the printing press, the 95 Theses were known throughout Germany in a fortnight and throughout Europe in a month.” This started people thinking about how the Roman Catholic Church was corrupted and about separating from the church as a possibility. In response to the 95 Theses, the Roman Catholic Church printed a ban on works of certain authors including Martin Luther. Document 3 includes that “Germany was turning out about a million books a year of which a third – 300,000 – were by Luther. In Document 4 Luther says that Cardinals and Popes are like thieves and heretics, “these cardinals, theses popes, and all this stink of Roman sodomy that ceaselessly corrupts the church of God” and asks why we don’t punish them like we do robbers and heretics. Many, many people saw, read, or heard of Luther and what he was doing because of the printing press. The church later split into two parts; Roman Catholic and Protestant. All of this was made possible by the printing press.

Also, there were improvements to science and medicine do to the printing press spreading ideas. Isaac Newton is considered a genius with his work on gravity and helping develop Calculus. In Document 10 it clearly states that Newton is likely to have not had many of his ideas or discoveries if he had not read the books that he did. “As we turn the pages of his note books we can see his mind leap from summaries of his reading to his own new principles and results…” At the time he was reading modern works that were printed not handwritten and were easier to acquire. Also his work was published for others to see and test. This alone improved the reliability of his work and the spread. Also one Andreas Vesalius worked in medicine learning about and developing a text about the anatomy of the human body. Although his work was controversial and distasteful to many at the time it change medicine and helped save lives. According to document N “He did so by writing a seven-volume illustrated anatomy text, On the Fabric of the Human Body, which detailed the inner workings of the body and debunked many inaccurate notions.” Although this is still important it is still now quite as important as Religion or Literature. All of this was made possible by the printing press.

The most important consequence is the spread of literature. Although some people may disagree it really is the most important. Literature does not just mean stories. Literature is every simple written work even if it has illustrations. As shown in document 1 the pictures illustrate the 2 available ways to make books. The first way is a scribe handwriting a book which will probably take somewhere between 8 months to 3 years for one copy, but the second way is thmoveablele-type printing press and it will probably take 6-8 months for many copies. Although more people are needed to operate a printing press than to hand write a book in all it save time and effort to use a press. Also at the time people actually started to write because they could make multiple copies quickly. As stated in document 8 “In the 50 years following Gutenberg’s invention, ¾ of the 20 million newly printed books were classical or medieval works.” That means that only ¼ were scientific or religious works. 20 million books is probably more books than were made in Europe in the 500 years before the printing press was made. In Document 3 it is stated that between 1518 and 1525 1,000,000 books were printed I Germany alone and 1/3 of them were by Luther. In that case the other 2/3 are likely not religious related works. All of this was made possible by the printing press.

Overall the spread of literature is the most important consequence because all written texts are included in literature. Religious and science are 2nd and 3rd most important, but definitely not the most. The printing press was a remarkable machine that had many consequences and influenced many people.




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