What are some of the problems of interpretation that face historians who wish to use visual sources like that of woodcuts and illustrations on pamphlets etc at the time of the reformation
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Extract of sample What are some of the problems of interpretation that face historians who wish to use visual sources like that of woodcuts and illustrations on pamphlets etc at the time of the reformation
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e would include the language used, the typefaces used, the quality of the printing, a lack of context and a failure to understand the ideas expressed because understanding of science and religion was rather different from what it is today. There may also be symbolism which is lost on a modern audience. There are such things as the way the meanings of some words have changed over time. Also some words have dropped out of use entirely. Spelling was not as fixed as it was later, so there may be occasions when, even if the writing can be clearly read, it is possible to misread a word.
Calvin published his great work first in Latin in 1536, and later in his native French in 1541. We are no longer used to such a formal style, nor to sentences which may extend over eight lines at times, even if we are familiar with modern academic style. We can therefore find ourselves either skipping passages, or needing considerable time in order to unravel the argument , as well of course needing to know the context, which in this case was that many had been falsely accusing Calvin.
Printing was still in its relative infancy. Books were expensive, and even the printing of leaflets would have been relatively more expensive than today. Much of this expense was in the initial setting up of the page, but paper would also have its own cost. It was therefore common to cram as much as possible onto a page, with writing being in a very small font.
There is also the fact that Reformers and the papacy might interpret certain Biblical ideas in very different ways, and unless the source of the pamphlet or image is known it can be hard to know which ideas it is trying to put across. Is the image meant to show Rome as the seat of all evil for instance? Is this what the Reformers were really saying? Were they out to destroy the church or just to bring about necessary change?
The language used. Often reformation documents were written in German or in Latin. As well as this there is the matter
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