The tale of Hans Gensfleisch, later Johannes Gutenberg, and the invention of the Gutenberg press. Packed with interesting historical tidbits:
- The Austrian city of Strasbourg was known as Argentina during Medieval times – a reduction of Argentoratum as it was called by the Romans – and frequently appears under that title in manuscripts;
- During his time in Strasbourg, Hans/Johannes likely witnessed the completion of the impressive cathedral, then that tallest building in northern Europe;
- Our modern-day interpretation of "roman fonts" (think Times New Roman) aren't Roman at all. They're based on the mistaken identification of what was actually Carolingian minuscule, a script invented during the time of Charlemagne and later revived by Italian humanists;
- I really like the image of Medieval pilgrimage as the equivalent of modern wanderlust and can't help but wonder if their pins aren't that far removed from modern backpacker pins 😂;
- It's also amazing to know that pilgrim badges were effectively curios, to the extent that you could buy "parody" versions, often phallic or obscene variants of common pins – they truly were just gap-year students after all!
- Gutenberg got his main start (certainly as far as we can tell) by making and selling badges for the Aachen pilgrimage, including ones with mirrors in them that could "capture the relics' reflection or 'sacred emanations'" and allow pilgrims that couldn't get close to the most sacred of relics to still leave with some amount of their divine blessing;
- Gutenberg and his business partners were effectively building their press in secret. If true, that would make Strasbourg the source of Gutenberg's revelations around printing, something which is not unlikely. He was already casting metal objects in the form of pilgrim badges or pins and one of his business partners owned a paper mill, so all the pieces of the puzzle were present.