The power of ink

  After the fall of the ancient Roman Empire, the Middle Ages began to hang over European civilization. Politically, the European princes were divided and wars continued; economically, Europe was stagnant, relying on the sky to feed; culturally, Europe was conservative and imprisoned, and Catholicism dominated everything spiritually. The Middle Ages suppressed European civilization from the glory of ancient Greece and ancient Rome for thousands of years. Whenever historians of later generations talk about this, they will only give the only adjective to “the Middle Ages” – darkness.
  The “dark” Middle Ages began to usher in the dawn in the 14th century, and the Renaissance came quietly in Europe. For a time, those gorgeous ancient Greek and ancient Roman art treasures buried in the ruins and old paper piles were rediscovered in the diligent pursuit of some elite intellectuals. Europe has woken up, but has not stood up yet, because the Renaissance was only a spontaneous attempt by intellectuals, most of which were confined to the elite, and Catholicism still occupied an absolute dominance in a large area of ​​Europe.
  Few would doubt that it was the Reformation that followed that upended the spiritual pillars of medieval Europe. At the end of the 15th century, the Catholic Church criticized the rigid and cumbersome ceremonies of the Catholic Church, and the voices of dissatisfaction with the heads of all levels who relied on religious power to act recklessly became increasingly louder. A number of “heretics” with different religious opinions appeared in various dioceses of the Catholic Church in Europe, which played the prelude to the Reformation. But these “heretical” efforts all ended in failure. Their influence was too limited, and they never broke through geographical restrictions, let alone reached the ears of the general public.
  It is recognized that the true Reformation began in 1517 with Martin Luther in Germany. Luther was originally a devout Catholic, and in 1512 he received a doctorate in theology from the famous University of Wittenberg in Germany. But his years of faith and assiduous study of theology could not bring him peace of mind, because he had witnessed too much religious corruption that was completely contrary to the Word of God. Until one day he studied the Bible and suddenly realized when he saw that “the righteous shall live by faith”. It turned out that people’s salvation is only because of their faith in God and God’s grace, and other forms and laws cannot guarantee it. To “justify” people is even an artificial lie that can only benefit oneself. Luther believed that following God only required the Bible and faith, and that the church and complex religious rituals should be abandoned.
  In 1517, the church peddling “indulgences” to snatch the anointing of the people and the scandal of bishops buying and selling the priesthood became the “last straw” that overwhelmed the status of the church in Luther’s heart. On October 31, Luther began to post the Ninety-Five Theses against the purchase of indulgences at the door of the church at Wittenberg University, and the curtain of the Reformation was officially opened. It was Halloween, and countless crowds saw Luther’s declaration of a public break with the Catholic Church. Unlike before, Luther’s manifesto did not stop at Wittenberg, but spread rapidly throughout Germany within two weeks, and four weeks later throughout Western Europe, from churches to cities, from intellectuals to village gangsters. talking about it. The banner carried by Luther expressed the voice of the public and aroused the resonance of countless people, who responded one after another. The flames of the Reformation burned throughout Germany and quickly spread to the heart of Europe. Calvin and Zwingli of Switzerland, and King Henry VIII of England also became leaders of the religious reform in their respective regions, and carried the reform to the end with great fanfare. The German Peasant War broke out from 1524 to 1526, which pushed the religious reform to a climax, hitting the Catholic Church and feudal forces heavily, and making the spirit of the religious reform deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, which became a tradition and trend in Europe for the next hundred years. By the middle of the 17th century, the Reformation had achieved a complete victory. The “Protestant” (Christian) church, known for its simplification of religious ceremonies, became dominant, Catholicism declined and lost its status as spiritual leader, and the secular regime became the dominance of European politics. The beginning of modern civilization, the Middle Ages were buried.
  So what was the force that made the Reformation so special and so explosive? The answer: movable metal type. In the late 15th century, German craftsman Gutenberg invented metal movable type printing by borrowing the technology of wine machine in order to make more money. Soon, this low-cost, high-efficiency new cultural production method swept Europe. From Germany to France, from Switzerland to Italy, tens of thousands of prints full of ink fragrance are printed and sold to the public every day, and the speed of information dissemination has also increased exponentially at the same time. By 1517, the printing technique was relatively mature, and Luther accurately captured the revolution in communication methods brought about by the new technology. In exchange for another “revolution” victory.
  It is worth pondering that the first book printed after the advent of metal movable type printing turned out to be the Church’s “Bible”. The Catholic Church also gave a lot of funding to the development of printing. In the end, however, the church decided that the printing technique was nothing more than a “little skill”, and it was nothing more than a supplement to the dissemination of the church’s ideas. The church never imagined that a new type of printing press invented by an ordinary craftsman in order to make a living would bring about a change in the way of human communication, and this change first affected the religious reform, making people complete in a short period of time. The renewal of thought, which in turn dug the grave for the absolute domination of the Church in Europe, and brought the end of the entire Middle Ages.
  Big history is by no means an abstract big history, it is made up of concrete and small events. The change of one of the variables will cause the fermentation of the whole system, and then change the course of history. The charm of small and medium events in history lies in this!

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