IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > B. Early Modern Europe, 1479–1815 > 2. Science and Learning, 1450–1700 > b. Inventions and Technology
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
b. Inventions and Technology
c. 1455
Printing with movable type, perhaps based on the Chinese method of block printing that reached Europe c. 1250, introduced through the combined efforts of Johann Guttenberg, Johann Fust, and Peter Schoffer, all experimenting at Mainz. Consequences: Though felt only gradually over the next 200 years, printing transformed the public and private lives of Europeans. Governments used it to announce wars, battles, peace, to persuade; propaganda made possible, showing differences between opposing groups, such as crown and nobility, Protestants and Catholics, church and state; the literacy of laypeople stimulated. Although most early books and pamphlets dealt with religious subjects, printers also responded with medical, practical, household, travel manuals; pornography as well as piety assumed new forms. Since printed materials were read aloud to the illiterate, the bridge between written and oral cultures grew. The development of printing with movable type accompanied an increased use of wood-block illustrations.  1
Publication of Leon Battista Alberti's (1404–72) De re aedificora exemplified the extended interests of Renaissance architects and artists in the realm of applied science. A more famous example is Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), who studied human and animal anatomy and speculated on hydraulics, mechanics, air travel, and on military and engineering devices. Structural theory did not advance until the work of Galileo Galilei (Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, 1638), Christopher Wren, and Robert Hooke. The revival of interest in classical architecture, sparked by the rediscovery of the works of Vitruvius, led architects to develop new techniques, flat ceiling, and the dome. Some architects of the period were Filippo Brunelleschi (?1377–1446), François Mansard (1598–1666), Claude Perrault (1613–88), François Blondel (1617–86), Inigo Jones (1573–1652), and Christopher Wren (1632–1723).  2
c. 1500
The Portuguese developed the caravel, a small, light three-masted (square, lateen, or both) ship that when fitted with cannon could dominate larger vessels and carry more cargo; caravels enabled the Portuguese to take the lead in exploration and expansion. By 1700 the four-masted galleon had evolved.  3
c. 1510
First of the handbooks on metallurgy appeared, Probierbergbüchlein on assaying, Bergbüchlein on mining. In 1540 Vannocio Biringuccio's (1480–1539) Pyrotechnica published, the first practical, comprehensive metallurgy text by a professional metallurgist. Included were descriptions of alloying and cannon-molding processes. In 1556 De re metallica of Agricola (Georg Bauer), a physician in the mining area of Saxony, appeared. It covered all aspects of mining from the survey of the site through the equipment and methods of mining to assaying, descriptions of glass-making and blast furnaces, and the treatment of iron, copper, and glass. Agricola was concerned with miners' health and described the diseases to which they are prone.  4
Wheel lock invented, probably in Italy, one of the steps to a single-handed pistol. By 1525 rifling of the gun barrel was a known technique; by 1650 lead shot was molded by means of a split mold; and by 1697 iron cannon were cast directly from the blast furnace. The widespread use of cannon and gunpowder, especially during the Thirty Years' War, increased the costs and destructiveness of war and reduced its glamour. (See Science and Technology)  5
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.