“Immortal God, what a world I see dawning. Why can I not be young again?”
The Dutch scholar Erasmus wrote these words in 1517, enraptured by the possibilities created by the Renaissance. The zeitgeist of the Renaissance was closely entwined with that of the Reformation, also dawning in 1517, as Europeans awakened to new ways of seeing the world and understanding their individual roles in it.
It was technology that enabled the ideas of the Renaissance and Reformation to spread like wildfire around Europe: Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press drastically increased the speed and accessibility of information. This technological innovation not only transformed the way ideas were spread, but also played a significant part in developing the ideas themselves, as more and more people were able to consider themselves readers, writers, and independent thinkers.