IDES 141 Chapter 2 Summary

This chapter had a huge leap in technology, from the ancient way that people would make books, to the invention of the printing press. Before the printing press came along, each book and document was written and decorated by hand. What really fascinated me was the creation of illuminated manuscripts of the late Roman Empire, because I didn’t know that they were decorated using actual gold leaf. Making an illuminated manuscript required a lot of work, so the workload was divided between scribes and illuminators. Scribes were left with the task of writing and illuminators would basically decorate the page with imagery, borders, and gold leafed drop caps. I find this process just beautiful and I wouldn’t mind if I could get my hands on one for myself—just not the Codex Gigas because it’s way too big and heavy.

One of the biggest revolutions that I often heard teachers say in school was the invention of the printing press in 1450 by  Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. This was such an important creation because at that time people needed to find a faster, efficient, and cheaper way to record information and to write books. This allowed books to be printed at a faster and mass productive way. His invention though, only allowed books to be printed in one color. While Gutenberg’s invention might have seemed revolutionary, I’m really upset that he didn’t gain anything at all from it; instead, his business partner, Johann Fust, and Gutenberg’s assistant, Peter Schoeffer benefited the most from his invention. However, not all of this was a downfall because soon enough they founded the most important printing firm, Fust and Schoeffer, and further developed Gutenberg’s invention and later printed the first colored book. Without this progress, we would still be writing books out by hand today.


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