Humanism and the rebirth of letters

The printing press was given impetus by the humanist revival, just as humanist works were largely reliant on printing workshops. Humanism and typography were thus interdependent.

The growth of a book economy, which involved significant amount of money, gave rise to real competition – printers sought to outdo their competitors by publishing new treatises, or texts that were more complete or more correct. Scholars visited the Royal Library at Fontainbleau in search of manuscripts of classical texts or those by the Early Church Fathers. These texts provided material for contemporary works that represented a new publishing sector. Technical and scientific treatises were printed with lavish illustrations to facilitate understanding and provide clarification. In this way, printing technology helped to further the humanist project of furthering knowledge.

Printing technology furthered the humanist project of renewing knowledge.

Erasmus is the best illustration of how a new generation of intellectuals succeeded through a perfect mastery of "the power of the printing press". Living in Basel in the house of his printer, Johann Froben, starting in 1514, Erasmus kept a close eye on the publication of his works, and supplied text to the typesetters as the printing advanced.

Some printers were themselves authors, and some achieved such a level of skill that they took part in establishing texts. This was the case in Paris with Josse Bade, Simon de Colines and Robert Estienne, and in Lyon with Sébastien Gryphe, Étienne Dolet, Guillaume Rouillé and Jean de Tournes. All copied the example of Aldus Manutius who had been the first to take on the role of scholar-printer. They strenuously defended their editorial choices: Dolet was burnt at the stake in 1546, and Robert Estienne fled to Geneva in 1550 under suspicion of heresy.

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