British Library Treasures in full: Gutenberg Bible
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Gutenberg's life  1  2  3  4

4. The last years

After Gutenberg's court case with Johann Fust it seems that he got into serious financial difficulty. In 1458 he defaulted on debts incurred in Strasbourg in 1442, which he had previously paid off regularly.

In 1462 Mainz was involved in a war between two men who both wanted to be archbishop of Mainz. The man imposed by the pope and supported by France won the war, in the face of opposition from the burghers of Mainz. The punishment of those who had supported the losing side was severe. All their property was confiscated and they were sent into exile.

Several of Gutenberg's family were punished but it is not known if this had any direct impact on Gutenberg himself. It certainly affected the prosperity of Mainz, and is one of the reasons why printing began to spread across Europe. The economic situation in Mainz was no longer favourable.

On 17 January 1465 Gutenberg was granted a pension as a courtier of the prince-archbishop of Mainz, and on 26 February 1468 Konrad Humery signed a receipt for some material relating to printing, as a beneficiary of Gutenberg's will. It would appear that he had supported Gutenberg in his last years.

Very soon after his death, Gutenberg began to be celebrated in print as the inventor of printing.

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1. The early years
2. The years of experiments
3. The years of the Bible
4. The last years

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