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Invention of Printing_

The books as the mass pastime have been ousted from our lives for several decades already. Modern electronic mass media (radio, television) are ousting books more and more; the bookshelves in people's homes are getting sparse. However, several hundreds years ago the invention of printing was the initial factor that at once changed all conditions of the intellectual life of Europe.

In Europe the books became cheaper and more widespread when the use of paper became more frequent, especially as a strong rise of intellectual life of society went together with the development of universities. Already in the 15th century almost everywhere there were booksellers and corporations of book-copiers who tried to satisfy the needs not only of rich people, but of people with medium income as well. These were the books of prayers, didactic and entertaining books. But still, if a man started reading or even copying books at the time, he did it basically neither for his own pleasure, nor for education. He was most probably interested in the matter of saving his soul.

In the 17th century the book becomes both interesting and instructive and the production of them makes progress in quality, cheapness and beauty.

One of the most important epochs in the development of printing was the 19th century. At this time a good book started to bring good money to its author. Then people began to give the word "writer" the same meaning as we do now.

Finally, in the 19th century the book becomes a powerful political weapon.

There is a well-known saying "An invention is the child of necessity" and it was probably an unusual passion for classical writers at that time. Copying books by hands could not satisfy the risen needs. Undoubtedly, having received such great amount of information, human thought started working faster than ever before. At least, the mental outlook of the mass that directly or indirectly participated in intellectual movements broadened.

The church as the main guard of mediaeval traditions received the first strike from printing. Luther King helped in the spread of books of small format and small volume. It may be said that Luther did a revolution in printing, this even disregarding the publishing of the Bible.

In the end of the 16th century there is already censorship in all Western European countries where there were printing houses. In France in the reign of Francois I an attempt was made to prohibit printing houses at all. Anyway the books were obtained and printed beyond the law. Nevertheless, measures of this kind slowered the development of printing considerably.

In European countries, and not only there, there appears a stable form of their own literary language, and the most essential works of literary authors were brought in correspondence with them.

Speaking about the political treatises of the Antiquity and the Middle Ages, it can be noted that after the works of Plato, Aristotle (Politica), Augustine Aurelius ("On the City Divine"), a new splash of development of political thought happened right in the time of the spread of printing. Niccolo Macchiavelli may have become the founder of the theory of the state with free morals, the theory, which penetrated the humans' hearts with the help of books.


It was not surprising that under the influence of the growth of education of the people the population started to understand politic better.

Before the 15th century the level of the development of the scientific knowledge was extremely low. People judged the world only on the basis of religious dogmas or, at best, on the basis of superficial observation of the surrounding reality.

But the social practice faced man with the problems which were impossible to solve on the basis of old conceptions. Now the scientifically based knowledge, which summed up the experience and created the theory, had the decisive importance.

New ways of research, based on observation, experience, and experiment were worked out. New knowledge in the spheres of mechanics, astronomy, chemistry, natural sciences, and geography was accumulating. New sciences also appeared - such as hydrodynamics, trigonometry. At the same time people were doing a large number of inventions and discoveries: the microscope, the telescope, the thermometer, the barometer; it was proved that the Earth is spherical, and that, together with other planets, it spins around the sun. Europeans get to know about all the continents of the Earth.

Before that, in the 15th century a way of production of the cheap writing material (paper) and book printing were invented, which became a true revolution in the development of science and education. The exchange of knowledge and the spread of new ideas would have been impossible without that.

However, the development of scientific thought did not come to Europe without blood. In the middle of the 16th century all-European Catholic reaction began, and Italy became its first victim. In the reign of cardinal Caraffa the struggle with the educated thought and books reached its acme. He issued "index of forbidden books" and it was periodically reprinted and added to with the greatest works of human thought. A punishment threatened one for reading these books, the books themselves were burnt down.

So, printing was the greatest achievement of the epoch of the Renaissance, this invention virtually turned over the whole European life in the 16th century. Books served as a weapon for fighting between the Catholic and the Reformist churches. The institute of censorship appeared and took its final shape in Europe.

Together with the publication of works of literary authors the official print also appeared and became a weapon in the hands of state apparatus.

But probably the most important thing is that printing led to lowering prices on books and, therefore, the increase of their availability for the population. This, in its own turn, led to the increase of education.

Scientific and creative thought is being stimulated, new sciences appear. Printing creates an additional possibility for the spread of scientific knowledge. Literary languages of European peoples' are formed, which, in their turn, leads to the growth of national self-consciousness.

First significant treatises on political philosophy since the times of Antiquity appear. Europe approaches the epoch of the Enlightenment.

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