Johannes Gutenberg Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1398 – 1468 *** Full Name: Johannes Gutenberg was also known as Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg *** Date of Birth (Birthday): His exact date of birth is uncertain *** Place of Birth: Johannes Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany *** Family background: His father was Friele Gensfleisch zur Laden *** Johannes Gutenberg died in 1468, the exact date of his death is unknown ***
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 1: Johannes Gutenberg was most likely born during the late 1300s, around 1398, in Mainz, Germany. The exact date of his birth is unknown.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 2: Johannes Gutenberg was a German goldsmith, blacksmith, printer and publisher. He is famous for introducing printing to Europe following the development of a mechanical movable type printer.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 3: His parents were called Friele Gensfleisch zur Laden and Else Wyrich. His father was an upper class merchant.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 4: Surviving records tell us little about his childhood. It is thought that he was introduced to the goldsmith trade as a child and that his family were forced to move to Eltville am Rhein (Alta Villa) to an estate inherited by his mother.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 5: Records show the enrolment of a student by the name of Johannes de Altavilla at the University of Erfurt in 1418. It is thought that this student was quite possibly Johannes Gutenberg.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 6: He began experimenting with printing during the late 1430s into the 1440s. He had returned to the city of Mainz by 1448 where Arnold Gelthus, his brother-in-law, gave him financial support, most likely for the development of a printing press.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 7: He had developed a printing press by 1450 and managed to convince Johann Fust, a rich moneylender, to lend him 800 guilders.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 8: Johannes Gutenberg was joined by Peter Schöffer who had experience with some of the first typefaces. He borrowed more money from Johann Fust and a set up a workshop at Hof Humbrecht.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 9: The Gutenberg Bible was completed in 1455 and approximately 180 copies were printed. It was also known as the 42-line Bible. It was the first major book printed in Europe using a mechanical movable type printer. It was written in Latin and surviving copies are known to be amongst the most valuable books in the world.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 10: Johann Fust believed that Johannes Gutenberg had misused his financial help and had in fact, used his funds for other purposes. He sued at the archbishop's court in an attempt to retrieve his money. The court gave Johnn Fust half of the Bibles which had been printed as well as control over the workshop.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 11: Although bankrupt, Johannes Gutenberg managed to maintain a small printing shop. He continued to print Bibles, however, it is hard to establish which are his books as they are lacking names and dates.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 12: He was exiled during the Mainz Diocesan Feud, also known as the Baden-Palatine War. He moved to a town called Eltville where it's thought that he worked at a printing press owned by Bechtermünze brothers.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 13: His achievements were eventually credited in January 1465 when he was given the title Hofmann by von Nassau. Hofmann means gentleman of the court. He was awarded with a stipend (a salary), an annual court outfit, 2,000 litres of wine tax-free and 2,180 litres of grain.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 14: The Gutenberg Bible was beautifully presented and consisted of 42 lines on each page - hence why it was called the 42 line Bible. The book was very expensive, each one was priced at 30 florins which was equivalent to around 3 years' average salary.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 15: Forty-eight complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible exist today. Two of the Bibles are kept at the British Library in London.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 16: The text of the Gutenberg 42 line Bible can be viewed online. There are no paragraph breaks or indentations.Johannes Gutenberg Fact 17: A later edition of the Bible was printed during the late 1450s in Bamberg. The new edition consisted of 36 lines. It is possible that the 36 line Bible was printed by Johannes Gutenberg himself but it's difficult to prove as there are no names or dates printed on the books.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 18: The books printed by Johannes Gutenberg are known as 'incunabula'. The word 'incunabula' describes a book or pamphlet which was printed in Europe, not handwritten, before 1501.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 19: Johannes Gutenberg died in 1468, the exact date of his death is not known. He was buried in the Franciscan church in Mainz, Germany.
Johannes Gutenberg Fact 20: His grave was lost when the cemetery at Franciscan church, where he was buried, was later destroyed.
Johannes Gutenberg Influence & Legacy: Johannes Gutenberg was a very important person as he developed and introduced a printing press to Europe which began the Printing Revolution.
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