The Manuscript Tradition
|Although it would eventually
be recognized as one of the most important technological developments in
history, printing was not immediately embraced. As
one scholar points out, even forty years after the invention of printing,
many book collectors were still commissioning manuscripts even though
"every manuscript ascribed to the second half of the fifteenth
century is potentially ... a copy of some incunable [that is, early
printed book]."1 There are several
reasons for this. Most scholars and collectors of the early
Renaissance were more familiar with manuscripts and were not willing to
let go of them so quickly. Further, printing was developed in
Germany and the Germans were still regarded as barbarians to the
inhabitants of the Italian peninsula, particularly the Florentines.
Of course, printing did eventually become widely adopted but not without a
somewhat rough start.
The illustration at left shows Jean Miélot, a well known Flemish scribe, at work in his study. Miélot died in 1472, just as his scribal craft was beginning to be replaced by printed books.
1. Bühler, Curt F., The
Fifteenth-Century Book: The Scribes, the Printers, the Decorators, (