The Consequences of a Forgotten Invention There have been people who have influenced every person in the world yet a seldom few know their contributions let alone their names. Of these people was a man named Johannes Gutenberg; the man who invented the printing press. The printing press is one of those inventions that most people take for granted and do not realize their importance. Without the press we would still be handwriting every single copy of any book every written and so the question is what were the main consequences of the printing press? That is, what happened as a result of the invention of the printing press?
The answer is that it marked the transition from script to printing and it allowed the mass production of information, which in turn allowed ideas to spread quicker. The ability to have a mass production of information has transformed almost all aspects life and all fields of study. Two of these topics include religion and geography and exploration. This essay will first explain the importance of the transition from script to printing and then will go on to explain the impact the press had on literature and geography and exploration in order to elaborate on the latter consequence listed above.
Perhaps the absolutely most important thing about the invention of the printing press is that it marked the transition from script to printing. As seen in Document A, whilst comparing the two images, the effect of Gutenberg’s invention is very clear. In the top visual, which shows the dictation method, it can be seen that the process is very lengthy and tiring. Also, only a few books are visible. Whereas, in the bottom visual, which shows the printing method, there are many papers in sight and the process seems to be a lot less time-consuming.
From this it can be concluded that printing is a lot more efficient method of producing books and no longer required laborious hours of writing manuscripts. This conclusion can be supported by the next document: Document B. By looking at the maps it becomes apparent that the people back then also had similar opinions about the printing press as, with-in thirty years, the number of printing presses in Europe more than quintupled. In 1471, there were about a dozen presses but by the end of the century, there were upwards of 65 in the continent. However, Document C represents a contradicting opinion.
This source claims that people still liked hand-written documents over those that were printed. This was bound to happen because, even like today, hand-made items are always considered more precious but the more practical solution will always prevail, which, in this case, was the printing press. In the subsequent paragraphs, the consequences of this transition on various aspects of life will be explained. ‘Gutenberg’s invention probably contributed more to destroying Christian concord and inflaming religious warfare than any of the so-called arts of war ever did. These twenty-four words written by Elizabeth Eisenstein in her book, ‘Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe,’ (Document E) perfectly describe the consequence of the printing press on religion. Around the same time as the birth of the printing press, a desire for reformation in the Church was also arising amongst the people. According to history, Martin Luther lit the fire of desire by posting his 95 Theses on a Church door. However, what is not being taken into account is that Luther’s ideas spread quickly solely because of the printing press, as John Man explains in Document D.
Had his ideas not spread all over Europe with-in a month, reform would have come much later or perhaps never. Similar to Luther’s 95 Theses, the Polyglot Bible, which allowed ordinary people to understand the Bible as it was written in nine different languages, would not have spread around Europe so rapidly if it were not for the press. Both, the Polyglot Bible (Document G) and Luther’s 95 Theses (Document D), fueled the Protestant reform but would not have even close to as big of an impact if it were not for the printing press.
The map in Document F verifies this statement because it shows how quickly Protestant ideas spread around Europe. In merely 60 years, Europe went from being completely Catholic to roughly half Protestant and half Catholic. This in itself further emphasizes how mass production of information allows ideas to be spread faster and therefore demonstrates the one of the consequences of the printing press. Along with the religious turmoil came times of great exploration. Partially credited to Renaissance ideals, Europeans began to explore the world. Perhaps the most famous explorer of all is Christopher Columbus.
In 1492, he did indeed sail the ocean blue to discover the Americas. After Columbus, came other great sailors from various other European nations who explored other parts of the world. Believe it or not, the printing press served a great purpose in exploration too. Columbus sent a letter to the King of Spain, which talked about the New World. According to Document H, this letter was translated and published over and over again and with-in a year it reached places as far as Antwerp. In the succeeding years Europeans embarked upon a great number of voyages.
This indicates that Columbus’ letter was likely to have sparked curiosity or even jealously into the hearts of other Europeans and so they to began to explore the world. There was an obvious correlation between exploration and maps. As seen in Document I, the more people that explored, the more accurate the maps were became. The relationship goes the other way too. The more accurate the maps were, the better the explorer can judge where they were, which then allowed them to have a better sense of direction. The printing press played a huge role in the publication of maps.
With the press, maps now looked the same, unlike before when they were drawn by hand, which allowed for inconsistencies amongst copies of the same work. Once again, this highlights both consequences stated above: the press allowed the mass production of information and marked the transition script to printing. In conclusion, it can be clearly seen that the printing press revolutionized the world on a countless number of levels. It transformed the way people communicated and the way information was dispersed. The transition from script to print was huge because the press was far more efficient for publishing any kind of information.
As a result, there could now be a mass production of information. It was made obvious, through the examples given, how mass production fueled the Protestant Reformation and perhaps even sparked the age of exploration. Taking all this information into account there is no doubt that the consequences of the printing press were that it marked the transition from script to printing and it allowed the mass production of information, which in turn allowed ideas and information to spread over a large distance in a short period of time.
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