To the general public, Martin Luther is known as the man who sparked the reformation of the Catholic church and issued in a new school of religious thought entirely. His impact is still felt today in the world of Christianity and religion as a whole. But lesser known is Luther’s impact on press and propaganda. Luther could easily be called “the first propagandist”. His use of the printing press to spread his 95 Theses about the abuses of the Catholic Church was a revolutionary use of modern technology to spread his ideas.
The fact that Luther recognized the value in the this little known technology was just as revolutionary as the words in his works. The mass production allowed his ideas to reach new locations and to target those who he knew would support him in his mission to further what he thought was the right way to follow God. Luther used his knowledge of the mounting disapproval of the Catholic Church’s financial demands in his home country of Germany along with the printing press to create a perfect storm of new, influential ideas.
Luther’s innovative use of the printing press to spread his ideas to Rome, Germany and the whole of Europe represents one of the most significant milestones in the marriage of technology, the press and freedom of speech. Like Twitter and Facebook many a century after, new ideas spread with higher velocity every day, and Luther’s ability to recognize the value of such spreadability is to credit for one of the largest religious revolutions in history.