Anyway, when the numbers of cadets issuing from their universities (‘universe’ means one-voice) and colleges reached their target, the next phase of the Dark agenda began. Although a moveable type press had been stamping around in China for aeons, the first western version only appeared in the mid 15th century. The credit for this has been given to Johann Gutenberg, (1397 – 1468), who operated out of Bruges, in Belgium. A lettering style called Black Letter later arose in Germany. This style was adapted by Gutenberg and used to print the 42-line Bible. This Bible was printed in Mainz and each page had 42 lines.
In the early days the quality of the printing varied considerably until Nicolas Jenson (1420-1480), a French-born printer and publisher developed the first standardized typeface for printers. Jenson had studied under Gutenberg and eventually settled in Venice, Italy. Jenson’s highly regarded type known as ‘Old Style’ is the forerunner of the classical Roman styles so prolifically used today such as Times Roman and Times New Roman.
The Aldine Press
Jenson designed type for the first successful mass market publishing house, the Aldine Press which was set up in Venice in 1494 by Aldus Manutius (1450-1515). The Aldine Press concentrated on producing the classical works of writers like Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Virgil and Sophocles. Influential later writers like Petrarca, Dante and Erasmus were published too. They introduced ‘Aldine Type’ which was developed by Francesco Griffo we call it italics today. So prolific and efficient for its day The Aldine Press which continued until 1597 is acknowledged to be the prime motivator of literacy in the general population.
Another kingpin was Christophe Plantin who came into this world in Saint-Averin, near Tours, in 1514. Financed by Philip II of Spain he published the “Biblia Regia”, an eight volume Bible in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Syriac and Aramaic, between 1569 and 1572. Philip ‘the Sap’ had been the husband of England’s Mary 1st (Bloody Mary – us kids used to love saying that at school) who had died in 1558. Four years after Christophe Plantin’s epic appeared Phil smote the Dutch and Chris legged it to France for a couple of years having been accused of heresy. He’d been printing stuff secretly for a band of ne’er-do-wells (Protestants) called the ‘Famille de la Charité’, and encoded it so well that he managed to persuade the Church that it wasn’t him, guv’. The Plantin Press knocked out Church gear for two hundred years and pocketed quite a nice little earner, thank you.
An interesting character with powerful State and Church connections brought printing to England. His name was William Caxton (1421-1490). Caxton was born in Kent and was a mercer by trade. In 1446, only six years after the Habsburgs had become Holy Roman Emperors with Frederick III, Caxton had removed to Bruges. While there he was a member of the household of Margaret of York the Duchess of Burgundy. She was the sister of the English kings Edward IV and Richard III. (Edward and Richard were probably half-brothers.) Margaret was also the step-mother of Mary of Burgundy who married Maximilian son of Frederick III in 1477. Maximilian became Holy Roman Emperor himself in 1493. Some time in 1462 he was appointed Governor of ‘the English Nation at Bruges’ a trading quango often embroiled in politics. No doubt this involved a bit of the big black hat and cloak over the face stuff too. The marriage of Margaret to Charles “the Bold” of burgundy was part of a 1467 trade settlement that Caxton was prominently concerned in.