- Johannes Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press changed the history of the world. Share these Johannes Gutenberg facts for kids!
In the history of the world, there are few technical inventions that have changed history as much as Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press.
After all, the printing press allowed people to be able to quickly and accurately reproduce written material like books, tracts, and pamphlets. Before that, every word had to be painstakingly hand-written. (Oh, the hand cramps!)
The invention of the printing press allowed news to spread quickly. Ideas like the Ninety-Five Theses of the Reformation and the arguments for the American Revolution were easily publicized and shared with common people. Because of the printing press, families were able to read the Bible together.
The printing press was a pretty big deal.
Johannes Gutenberg, also known as Johann Gutenberg, was the inventor of the printing press. He was truly a man of mystery, as we know little about him.
Your kids are bound to find his mysterious life interesting, and knowing the history of one of the most impactful inventors in history is important!
Johannes Gutenberg Facts for Kids
Elementary-aged kids love facts. Their brains are geared to memorize easily! Here are some Johannes Gutenberg facts your kids will love.
- We only have one document from all of history that has Johannes Gutenberg’s handwriting on it.
- In fact, everything we know about Johannes Gutenberg comes from 28 legal documents.
- Only two of those documents mention printing. We know Johannes Gutenberg to be the inventor of the printing press through those legal documents, circumstantial evidence, and a few notes others wrote about him. We have to be good history detectives to learn about Johann Gutenberg!
- In medieval Germany, big houses were named. Patrician class (non-aristocratic) families were named after their houses.
- Johann’s name came from the family house in Mainz. Gutenberg means Good Mountain. Johannes Gutenberg means God is gracious (on the) good mountain.
- Johannes Gutenberg was a very good inventor and a great secret-keeper, but he wasn’t very good with money. He borrowed money, but didn’t pay it back. That’s one of the reasons we have all those legal documents involving him! It’s also the reason the Gutenberg Bible didn’t originally bear his name.
- One of the legal documents we have involving Gutenberg involved a lady who believed Johannes Gutenberg had promised to marry her daughter, Ennelin zu der Yserin Thüre, which means Little Anne of the Iron Doors. Johannes said he had promised no such thing. Can you imagine getting sued for talking to a boy or girl?
- In 1462, when Johannes Gutenberg was between 58 and 68 years old (we don’t know exactly when he was born), there was a fight in Mainz between people who thought the Catholic Church should be run by the Pope and those who thought it should be run by councils. The pope appointed a new Archbishop of Mainz, and then a newer archbishop when the original new archbishop didn’t obey the pope. The two archbishops when to war in the city of Mainz–while Gutenberg was living there. Over 400 citizens died in one night and the next morning, 800 were exiled from the city.
- Johannes Gutenberg lived the rest of his life in Eltville where, mysteriously, a new printing shop started up.
- The revolt in Mainz in 1462 scattered printers all over Europe where new printing shops were founded and, often, the Bible was printed in the language of the people.
Learn More about Johannes Gutenberg
God used Johann Gutenberg in an amazing way to spread the Bible across the world. Your kids can learn more about Johannes Gutenberg, the Gutenberg Bible, and the printing press with my new book, What Was the Gutenberg Bible, a free Gutenberg Bible lapbook, and a fun craft about the printing press!
The printing press, Johann Gutenberg, and the Gutenberg Bible changed the course of history. Your kids will love learning about the history of this mysterious man!
Painting: Gutenberg’s First Print (Detail), Friedrich Reichert, 1871, Public Domain
Man, John. The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History. Bantam Books, 2002.
Thorpe, James. The Gutenberg Bible: Landmark in Learning. Huntington Library, 1999.
Davies, Martin. The Gutenberg Bible. The British Library, 1996.
Christian Biographies for Kids | Christian History for Kids | Theology for Kids
Christian History Matters for Our Kids.
History matters. Now, more than ever, we see how important it is for our children to know and understand history and the Bible.
- God is the sovereign ruler of all things. It’s important for our kids to see his hand in the history of nations and in the lives of both peasants and kings.
- Christian history is the story of our family history. Our kids get to see how people who love Jesus follow him.
- Understanding history can help our kids learn historic and biblical theology. They learn what the Bible says and what that means for us. They also see when the study of Scripture has taken important turns that have changed the Church.
- Reading Christian biographies and history can be a wonderful way for kids to think outside their own time and culture. God’s Church spans centuries and includes people from every nation.
- Christian biographies help kids consider their own faith, walk with Jesus, and the impact their witness may one day have on others–and on history.
The Who What Why Series is the perfect resource to teach your kids about history, while helping them apply biblical truths to their lives today.
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