In this lecture, we learned about things that have considerably changed the world and the way we live. One of these things was gunpowder. The evolution of explosives has allowed us to move forward in several different ways. For example, military might was greatly increased due to having an extreme advantage on the battlefield. It gave power, range and dominance to the side that was using it. It basically gave overall power to the side with the most explosive power, a subject that almost brought us into a MAD (mutually assured destruction) situation during the Cold War, and continues to be an issue with middle eastern countries such as Iran feeling that they should be allowed to develop their own weapons of mass destruction for their own defence.  Even this is being sanctioned by countries with more military might (USA, Russia etc.) to prevent this from happening. It shows that power can be obtained as long as you have the right technologies on your side.

Another one of the things we looked at was the compass. A small yet incredibly useful tool that allowed people to discover the undiscovered world back before people even knew places such as America existed. It allowed navigation to advance considerably, and has allowed us to develop technologies such as satellite navigation, which ironically renders the compass useless.

The final thing we looked at and by far the most important was the Gutenberg printing press. Gutenberg, (1398-1468) invented a mechanical way of making books, and it was the very first example of mass production. This allowed for mass communication. The first book mass produced using the Gutenberg printing press was the Gutenberg Bible, and 180 copies were printed. Before this, all books had had to be hand copied, but this process would obviously and frequently reduce the quality. This process could now be sped up without compromising the quality. Although it was primarily used for religious texts, it’s effect had weakened the control of the Catholic church as different versions of the Bible and different languages could be printed. At the time of this invention, the Catholic Church had their fingers in all the pies, and basically had complete control of everything.

Before the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, the total percentage of Europeans that could read was around 30%. Only 70 years after the invention, 70% of Europeans could read. Gutenberg had given the world the ability to mass produce books, and this helped everyones literary skills to develop. Books became cheaper and more available and they meant that people could follow debates, take part in discussions and the quality and reliability of texts was greatly improved due to the printing methods being used. They made people want to know more.

This was not helping the Catholic Church or the Government maintain total control, and to combat this they seized and monitored the use of the printing presses, to try and make sure that everything that was being printed was in their favour. Some would say though that the ball was already rolling, and that this was to be the downfall of the Catholic Church. Martin Luther was a well connected individual who sought to show the Catholic Church for what they really were. His 95 theses showed people how the Bible was being misinterpreted in favour of the Catholic Church, and ultimately led to the Protestant revolution. The Church was losing control. The Bible was translated to German to show others his interpretations, and although others disagreed with Luther, faith became subjective and the absolute power of the church was severely compromised. All started by the invention of the printing press.

 

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