Biography of Johannes Gutenberg, the father of printing

Biography of Johannes Gutenberg, the father of printing

Johannes gutenberg became famous thanks to a prodigious invention: movable type printing. Thanks to her, books with larger print runs began to be produced, since they did not have to be done by hand. Everyone knows the printing press, butwho was gutenberg?

His real name was Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden. The date of his birth is not known with certainty but it is believed to have been between 1394 and 1399. He was born in Mainz (Germany), where his family resided. His father was a local patrician and had the profession of goldsmith and director of the Casa de la Moneda. His mother was Else Wilse, a bourgeois whose dowry was what gave Johannes its name, the mansion Zum Gutenberg.

During his childhood, his father and some relatives They instructed him in the art of goldsmithing and the minting of coins. Until he was 30 years old, his life passed quietly, immersed in these types of activities. Riots broke out in his city due to social and political upheaval due to the confrontation between the unionists and the patricians. Gutenberg saw forced to flee his hometown, settling in the suburb of Saint-Arbogast on the banks of the River Ill.

Then came to Strasbourg. There he teamed up with Hans Riffe, Andreas Dritzehn and Andreas Heilmann. Gutenberg offered to teach activities such as gem cutting or mirror polishing in exchange for money. At that time he was immersed in a secret project. Upon being discovered by his partners, he confessed his plans and in 1438 they signed a contract stating that everyone would be part and each would invest 125 florins.

But nevertheless, Dritzehn passed away at Christmas of that year. That caused his brothers to claim from Gutenberg the money that the deceased had invested in his project or to enter society, to which He said no roundly. Dritzehn's brothers decided to take him to court and it took place the Strasbourg trial in 1439, ruling against the heirs.

The exact nature of his project was not known. According to witnesses at the time, he worked without rest day and night and they brought him materials that were familiar to printers. It is believed that there he laid the foundations of his invention, establishing a series of technical measurements obtained thanks to the large amount of tests he carried out in his research hours.

Little is known about his whereabouts between 1444 and 1448. In 1448 he returned to Mainz. He had come to get money. Johann Fust, a wealthy man, took notice of Gutenberg's project and in 1450 decided to offer him 800 florins, accepting Gutenberg's tools as collateral in return and officially becoming his partner two years later.

They started a business called Das Werk Der Bücher. Was the first letterpress printing. To carry out the work, it had a calligrapher, Peter Schöffer. They worked quietly, which made Fust impatient. This required more speed in the commercialization of the works, but Gutenberg preferred to dedicate more time to them and that the works were perfect, so they began to have tightness.

In 1455 the first masterpiece made with movable type printing, the well-known ‘42-line Bible '; it was called like that because they were the number of lines that each column had. It was about Scriptures of Saint Jerome in Latin version. To carry it out, it was necessary to create close to 5 million movable types. About 120 copies were published on paper and 20 on parchment.

However, not everything was successful. Fust brought against Gutenberg a lawsuit for not meeting its financial commitments. He was sentenced to pay 2,026 florins. Due to such a high quantity, lost his workshop and most of his material. Fust teamed up with Peter Schöffer, who had testified against Gutenberg. Both published two years later the 'Mainzer Psalterium ’, the first book named after its publisher and probably started by Gutenberg.

Gutenberg went bankrupt and was harassed by his creditors, who they took him to trial. It finally ended up in the religious community of San Victor. There he received the help of a city official, Konrad Humery, who supplied him useful for setting up a small printing press.

Adolf II of Nassau, Archbishop-elect of Mainz, became his patron, which allowed him to breathe economically from 1465. It introduced him to the royal court, allowed him to avoid having to pay taxes and granted him an annual pension for grain, clothing and wine. During those years he could see how his invention it spread to all the countries of Europe. He died on February 3, 1468. He was buried in the church that had the foundation of Saint Victor in Mainz. His tomb was destroyed due to fighting in the city in 1793.

Images: Public domain

With a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was a child I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.


Video: The evolution of the book - Julie Dreyfuss