Print, Press, Public Sphere in Early Modern Europe

Printing has affected the lives of the early modern Europeans in different aspects. To begin with, printing made it easier to spread information and ideas from one person to another (Halasz, 2006.pp.89). At the time when printing was unknown, people used scripture as the only method of copying the information. This way of writing was not interesting as it was very tiresome and took a long time. That’s why books were produced in very small numbers something which made it impossible for most people to access reading materials thus the spread of knowledge was minimal.

The advent of printing enabled many people to begin accessing books and other reading materials hence increasing their knowledge by getting ideas from other people unlike in the early time when the ideas could only be sent verbally. Therefore, inventions were made rapidly in Europe. Also, knowledge did not only spread fast but more accurately than when it spread verbally or through scriptures as the writers would make changes or errors hence making the ideas to be inaccurate.

Another effect is that printing led to the starting of schools as many people had the longing to know how to read and write (Zaret, 2000.pp.567). In this case, Information could also be presented in picture form which helped the less literate people understand it easily. Printing has been generating jobs for many people. For example, those who did the printing earned their living through that. Other people started work writing books. The writers would not be successful in their work if it were not for the printing press. Many copies of their books could be produced and sold hence earning the authors more. In this way, the printing raised the living standards of early modern Europeans.

Printing has also affected religious aspects. This was possible as religious books, like the Bible, could be published and used to spread religious information. Through printing, Evangelism has been boosted. Also, the establishment of Protestants was boosted by the invention of printing because Luther’s views were put into printed books where they were accessed by many people hence gaining many supporters to him.

On the cultural aspect, printing has led to the decline of village storytellers as people put the stories in writing where others could read for themselves. This even encouraged individualism due to what is called silent reading as people could read alone and did not need others to share ideas as everyone could access information from the printed work hence having a positive effect on society (Zaret, 2000.pp.567).

There are also political changes that came as a result of print texts because people have enlightened through reading printed books, something which finally led to nationalism. Besides, printing encouraged the formation of states where people would have written rules which were the constitution which enabled them to live together where they were bound by the same policy. Print played an important role in strengthening states as political ideas were spread with ease through public posts (Halasz, 2006.pp.89). This also brought unity as people would meet as they try to read the posts. Also, as they attend public meetings, announced through the print, this strengthens their national unity. In this way, the invention of print led to many changes in the lives of early modern Europeans in different aspects of their lives.


Halasz, A.G. 2006. The Marketplace of Print: Pamphlets and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zaret, D.K.,2000. Origins of democratic culture: Printing, petitions, and the public sphere in early-modern England. New York: Princeton University Press.

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