The invention of the printing press and its impact on history

The irruption of the printing press in the Middle Ages was a revolution: books could be copied with a speed never seen before and its impact was incalculable.

Modern history would be inconceivable without the invention of the printing press, since its use completely changed Western culture and, subsequently, the history of the world. Until 1453, knowledge was transmitted through manuscripts prepared by monks: with the invention of the printing press , the copying process accelerated and in a matter of a few years the writings reached a huge audience thanks to the dissemination of knowledge and the lowering of the costs of production.

The monks were until the fifteenth century the only written sources of weight in society. Feudalism granted the role of reproduction and dissemination of knowledge to the Catholic Church , for which reason it also accepted that it play a censoring role and mark the ‘agenda setting’ , the topics that could be discussed and those that were relegated to oblivion. . With the invention of Johannes Gutenberg (Germany, around 1453) the work of copying was expanded and the companies that managed the benefits of the printing press presses came into play and with them the capital.

While the monks had the power to control writing throughout Europe, literacy rates were tiny . Once the copying of books began to be carried out by the printers, these were governed by the topics that were most requested and printed on request. Once the prior censorship was overcome, there was freedom to print books on different themes and this circle opened up over the years. Once the church and the absolute monarchies lost the power to control absolutely everything that was printed, the diffusion of ideas contrary to feudalism and established religion ran throughout Europe.

Basically the invention of the printing press made possible the multiplication of texts in the Middle Ages, when book publishing was highly restricted, it revolutionized culture by expanding the number of potential readers by multiplying the number of books and reducing their cost , so literacy received a huge boost, never seen before.

The printing press was the most important revolution against the absolute powers (monarchies and the church) since it spread knowledge , something that these powers kept for themselves during the ten centuries that the Middle Ages lasted.

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Farrukh Yaqub

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