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A Broken Engagement, A Traitor Assistant and Capturing Holy Light

gutenberg in quebec city art galleryI bumped into Johannes Gutenberg at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec City and was reminded of some of the interesting stuff I’d learned about Gutenberg when I visited the Gutenberg Museum in Johannes’ home town of Mainz Germany. gutenberg-statue-mainz-germany

Gutenberg was born in Mainz in 1395 but when a revolt against the nobility happened there in 1425 Gutenberg’s family moved to Strasbourg France where legal documents indicate Gutenberg was involved in a broken engagement with a young lady from Strasbourg.gutenberg-bible

Before inventing the printing press and printing the Gutenberg Bible Johannes was involved in manufacturing metal mirrors designed to capture holy light emanating from religious relics. These mirrors were sold to pilgrims on journeys to holy sites.

mural-at-gutenberg-museumA businessman named Johann Fust loaned Gutenberg the funds to build his printing press. In 1455, Fust took Gutenberg to court, claiming Gutenberg had mishandled his loan. The court ruled in favor of Fust, leaving Gutenberg bankrupt. But guess who was one of the witnesses during the court case? Johannes’ former assistant Peter Schoeffer, who proceeded to take over Gutenberg’s former shop and help Fust run the printing press and turn it into a profitable business. 

gutenberg-in-mainzPoor Johannes. He never got credit for inventing the printing press in his lifetime and there were no known images made of him while he was alive. Maybe he’d be happy to know he is famous now and there are images of his likeness all over the world including in his hometown of Mainz Germany and in a museum in Quebec City Canada. 

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