The Renaissance lasting from about 1300-1600 was a period in the history of Europe of “rebirth”. It was a time of growth and expansion for Europeans that lead to many achievements. One of them being art, although art was one of the achievements that was greatly impacted during this time period because of it intricate detail and the intellect people behind these advancements. The most significant change resulting from the Renaissance was the printing press. This is shown through the immense expansion of printmaking in Europe during the years of 1471-1500, the idea of standing up for what you believe in arising from the printing press, and the quantity of well-known books like Don Quixote that were written during the Renaissance Age that influence people’s writings today.
The Printing-Press was the most important significant change resulting in the Renaissance due to the immense expansion of printmaking in Europe during the years of 1471-1500. In a map titled Spread of Printmaking, it is shown that between the years of 1471 and 1500 there is a massive expansion in the printmaking technology (Document 8). It is important that this map displays the expansion of the printing presses because it makes one have an understanding as to why printing was the most significant change resulting from the Renaissance because we see that as a result of this new printing technology people are able to open up new pathways of communication, and interaction. Humans are capable of expressing new ideas through books, catalogs, posters, etc. Readers can not only see that the printing press was growing through Europe but we see the positive effect the printing business had on the number of books that were being printed. In an excerpt from the book How One Man Remade the World with Words, we learn that “printing was in its infancy, but Germany at the time was turning out about a million books a year… ” (Document 10). This is a crucial part of comprehending the importance of the printing invention. In Germany alone, one million books were being printed a year. Seeing these statistics makes one infer that books were now an essential part of the lives of the Europeans and without the printing press, there was no efficient way of printing a large number of books and being able to share them.
Along with the growth of this technology the printing press also brought forth an especially important idea: to stand up for what one believes is right, which makes printing that much more important. The 19th-century American historian Elizabeth Einstein felt that “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” (Document 3). This is key to the development of individual starting to speak out because without the printing business no one could share ideas they had in an efficient way. When the people had this opportunity of sharing many individuals started to form new opinions based on things they read or saw. This then leads to what Elizabeth Einstein said destroyed Christian concord since humans were influenced by things on certain “medias” and communities began to notice that there where other authorities rather than the church. Even though Einstein stated that the printing press in a way destroyed Christianity, it has been said that the item that was most printed were Bibles. Now, some people believe that due to the fact of printing, religion was in a way destroyed. This led to these Europeans lots of times believing that the arts were the most significant change resulting from the Renaissance. The 19th-century American historian Theodore Radd felt that “… the new artistic styles would echo the broader movements and interests of the new age” (Document 7). This is important to pay attention to because although so many people would argue that the art was the achievement that changed the most due to the Renaissance it can be said that without the printing there wouldn’t be as much spread of knowledge as there was, which ended up impacting a lot of the achievements made in the long run of either the arts, mathematics, or even the sciences.
A big impact that the printing press also had was on the numerous amount of famous books that were written during that time that are known today to people of several generations later. According to a chart taken from a catalog titled A Descriptive Catalogue Illustrating the Impact of Print on the Evolution of Western Civilization During Five Centuries, it is shown that many famous books that are known to us were printed during the Renaissance (Document 12). This might not seem as relevant as it is when first analyzing it, but some books that were written that lots of people know and love are part of this list such as Don Quixote, and The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Although these books were not written during the time of the Renaissance they were able to be printed because this advanced technology was made. Therefore we see that Gutenberg’s invention had changed the way things were done even after this time period of rebirth. In a very similar chart, the viewer is shown a list of famous books that were in, fact, able to be printed. In the chart also called A Descriptive Catalogue Illustrating the Impact of Print on the Evolution of Western Civilization During Five Centuries we can see famous titles such as Divine Comedy. Despite the fact that these two documents portray the same message what must me take from these two charts is that without the printing press being invented at the time it was the way it was many of the famous and well-written literature would’ve probably only been known to those close to the Renaissance period and many writers from that point on would’ve had to start on a “clean” sheet of paper with no other examples to reflect off of.
The time period of the Renaissance can be said that it was a time of joy and relief for the Europeans and their goals. Many positive impacts were made on the Europeans lives not only from the arts but also from the printing press. Many historians looking back see that there was a sudden expansion in the number of European countries that had printing presses during the last few years of the Renaissance, and realized that printing had a massive impact on the growth of knowledge that the people in Europe had. Without Gutenberg who knows how knowledge would’ve been gained or the bigger question might even be would the Renaissance even have occurred if there was no invention of the printer that early in the rebirth of Europe?