Caxton set up a printing press in Bruges and began hammering out French, Latin and English texts. Here in 1475 he printed a French work, “Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye” he had translated into English himself. This was the first ever book to be printed in English.
In 1475 or 1476, Bill introduced his printing press into England. Later he moved to Westminster with his press where he ran off the first English book to be produced by this means. It had the catchy title, ‘The dictes and sayenges of the phylosophers’ (18th November 1477) and was an early Arabic work translated for Caxton by Earl Rivers; who through his sister, Elizabeth was brother-in-law to King Edward 1V. Shortly afterwards Richard III had Rivers’ body and head parted, knocked off the king in waiting (nearly Edward V) and snatched the throne. Oh what jolly japes the bloodline has.
At Westminster Caxton published his translation of “The Golden Legend” in 1483 and “The Knight in the Tower” in 1484. They contained what are believed to be the earliest mechanically printed English translations of Biblical verses. At the time it was illegal to translate the Titanic Verses into English. Before he died in 1490 he had published more than 70 books. William Caxton is famous for publishing Thomas Mallory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur”, Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and “Troilus and Creseide” and “The History of Reynart the Foxe”. However his main income came from knocking out religious paraphernalia. The church had a sweet little number going with a lucrative counterfeiting racket and Caxton was in on it.
This was the deal:
In exchange for a reduced purgatorial sentence you hand over to us a heap of dosh – property will do nicely too. The Church had taught everyone to be terrified of the after-life setting up a nice little mark. What you got was a little piece of pre-printed paper with room for their agent to write your name on.
Mercers called, ‘Pardoners’, sold them door to door and by appointment. Literally thousands upon thousands were sold every year. Some of these promissory notes called ‘Indulgencies’ survive today. To date no one has asked for their money back so maybe they work….
“Oi! Charlie run us up a few quick!”
With the rise of voracious European empires, the Roman letter alphabet really took off; reaching into every country of the world; and it has long been the most favoured style by far of government, media, and education across the globe. It has been the default font on most of the world’s computers until Microsoft introduced what is basically a sans serif version they call Calibri. Some societies are still struggling to hold on to their own language symbols but the relentless march continues not only virtually unabated but encouraged. During the 20th century, empires fronted by suits in boardrooms replaced empires fronted by gowns and crowns; and increasingly people who refused to bow to the gun obligingly succumb to plastic and electronic baubles.
Gifts it bore,
The guise of friendship wore.
Patiently it tied its knot.
Favourites it chose,
And hierarchies arose.
Jealousy was born.
Eyes turned red
And the Darkness fed.