Johann Gutenberg, the father of modern printing and printer of the Gutenberg Bible was born in Mainz, Germany, in about 1400, and died early in 1468, perhaps on 3 February1, and certainly by 26 February. Johann was the son of Friele Gensfleisch zu Laden, a citizen of Mainz and merchant, and Else Wirich. The family first used the name Gutenberg in the 1420s. Friele Gensfleisch zu Laden took the surname Gutenberg from their residence in Mainz, "zum Gutenberg". 1

In 1411 Gutenberg's family left Mainz, probably for Eltville, along with many other patricians because of disputes with the guilds involving tax and customs privleges. The family left Mainz again in 1413 because of hunger riots in the city. Gutenberg probably studied at the University of Erfurt in 1418-19. If he did not study there, he almost certainly had some sort of significant education in Latin, as printing a Bible in Latin would be almost impossible without considerable education in the language. The first mention of Gutenberg's name in writing is in 1420, in the settlement of Friele Gensfleisch zu Laden's will. This means he must have been legally of age (at least 15)2.

Gutenberg left Mainz in about 1428 for Strassburg, for poitical reasons. Records show he definitely left Mainz by 16 January 14301, and was in Strassburg on 14 March 14343. At that time, he joined the goldsmith's guild, and taught others skills including the cutting of gemstones, the manufacture of optics, and to some degree, printing. At this time, Gutenberg was doing experiments in typography and printing, the results of which are unknown.

In 1436 or 37, Gutenberg was accused by Ennel zur eisernen Tür of breaking a promise to marry her. The result of this action is unknown. Gutenberg left Strassburg in about 1444, and was definitely in Mainz by 1448, when he printed a calendar for the year 1448. On 17 October 1448, a cousin, Arnold Gelthus, lent Gutenberg 150 guilders for the purpose of printing. In 1450, Gutenberg formed a partnership with Johannes Fust, a merchant from Mainz, with the intent of printing a Bible. Fust lent Gutenberg 800 guilders for this purpose. In 1450, Gutenberg's printing experiments were larger, including indulgences and larger books.

In 1452, Fust lent Gutenberg an additional 800 guilders, for the exclusive purpose of printing the Bible. Gutenberg printed the bible at Hof zum Humbrecht in Mainz between 1453 and 1455. In 1455 Fust sued Gutenberg for failing to use all of the money appropriated for Bible printing for that purpose. He won, and recieved half of the Bibles printed as well as Gutenberg's printing press.

After the end of the legal proceedings with Fust, Gutenberg worked in a small printing shop. On 17 January 1465, Gutenberg was granted a pension by Archbishop Adolf of Nassau, so that he was able to live the rest of his life comfortably. Gutenberg died on about 3 February 1468 in Mainz. On 26 February, Konrad Humery stated that he was the beneficiary of Gutenberg's will and had recieved some material pertaining to printing.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.