REGULATIONS FOR THE CONTROL AND THE CENSORSHIP OF THE PRINTING-PRESS IN FRANCE. 1500-1700.
Conflicting Authorities. --The invention of printing came into the world at a period when men's minds were agitated by one of the fiercest contests about ideas that history had known. This new art gave voice and wings to thought at the very time when thought stood for war and when opinions, under the name of creeds, were bringing men into fierce combat with each other. Those whose beliefs were wrong (that is to say, those who at any particular time or place happened to be the weaker party) were burned by those whose beliefs were right (that is, by the stronger), and questions of religion were powerful enough to bring nations into battle against each other. To permit the peaceable production and distribution of literature advocating doctrines sufficiently pernicious to be themselves cause for war, would have been not only illogical but practically impossible. It would have constituted, in effect, failure to keep the faith, and treason to the State.
The general constitution of society was no more compatible than were the religious passions of the time with an unrestricted and unsupervised production and distribution of literature. Monopoly was, or was believed to