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The Reformation : The Uneniable Impact Of The Reformation

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The Reformation was arguably the greatest revolution in Christianity. It shortly followed another revolution, which was in technology: printing. In c. 1445, the German, Johannes Gutenberg, began to develop the first printing press in Mainz, using movable metal type. The first book printed by Gutenberg in this way was the Bible in 1456. Over the course of the late-fifteenth century, printing presses were quickly established throughout Europe. Printing transformed the consumption of information. It was cheaper and quicker than paying a scribe to copy a manuscript, and thousands of copies could be made instead of dozens. By the time Martin Luther wrote his ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ in 1517, there was a printing press ‘to be found in every important municipal centre’. Soon, works by Luther were being read and distributed all over Europe, and people flocked to his cause. Over the ensuing decades, Reformist printed media continued to circulate around Europe- both written works and printed images alike. This had an undeniable impact. Print put the Reformation directly into people’s hands, exposing hundreds of thousands of people to new, radical ideas. Although the Reformation would certainly not have been as far-reaching or impactful without print, it is also important not to completely disregard other factors, which will also be discussed in this essay, such as the spoken word and persecution. One way to highlight the impact of the printing press is to compare the Reformation with
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