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The invention of the printing press and its impact on history

The eruption of the printing press in the middle Ages was a revolution: books could be copied with a speed never seen before and their impact was incalculable Modern history would be inconceivable without the invention of the printing press as its use completely changed Western culture and subsequently world history. Until 1453, knowledge was […]

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The eruption of the printing press in the middle Ages was a revolution: books could be copied with a speed never seen before and their impact was incalculable

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

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

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

Basically the invention of the printing press made possible the multiplication of texts in the Middle Ages, when the publishing of books was very 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 church) since it spread knowledge, something that these powers kept for themselves during the ten centuries that the middle Ages lasted.

Invention of paper

To talk about the history of the printing press and how it arose, we must also tell a little about the history of how paper appeared the fundamental element for a printing press to function. Briefly tell you that paper were created by Cai Lun in China in the second century BC, from bamboo fibers, ropes and rags and it is said that it was used since 153. The next step was in Japan and Central Asia. It came to Spain thanks to the Arabs in the 10th century and spread to Italy and France. In Latin it was called papyrus, the Valencians (already in 1056 in Xàtiva there was a paper mill) and the Catalans called it “paper” and later the Castilian “paper”.

Types of binding

Another fundamental part of the printing industry is the binding of books. Traditionally books were bound in an artisan way, authentic works of art were made, but it was an expensive and laborious process, currently industrial means are used that make book production cheaper, making it an object available to everyone.

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