Paper did not make its way to Europe until the Muslim conquest of Spain. During this period, paper production was under a Moorish rule in Spain until they were kicked out in 1244 AD. It was at this time that paper made its way to what was referred to as “Christian” Europe. Before that time paper was scant in 1st century Europe. That was because in a there period the demand for paper was scant in Europe.
The cost of paper was more expensive than what was used at the time which we call Vellum. The paper was considered more fragile than both Parchment and Vellum, which was made of animal skins as opposed to the vegetable fibers used in the paper process. Another factor that made paper not so appealing to the Europeans at that time was that it was associated with Arab and Semitic people whom the Catholic Europeans did not trust. In fact at one point paper was banned all together in Western Europe by the Christian Church, who contended that paper was associated with pagan arts. The only “paper” the Christian Church allowed was parchment to write the holy word of God on according to their rule.
The earliest paper in Europe was called cloth parchment and contained both wood and straw in its pulp. The wood and straw were then beaten to a pulp and mixed with water. The mixture was then pressed out, dried and hardened into sheets of paper. In Medieval times paper was composed of cotton linen fibers. These fibers were mixed with water and then with the help of sieve-like screens the fibers were lifted from the water on to the screens. This was paper.
Italy has considered the center of the paper is making industry. Paper mills were established in 1276 AD. It was Fabriano in Italy that was the first manufacturing center to harness water power to drive the pulping or fibrillation process. Before that, this process was an intensive manual labor. The historically powerful family the Fabiano’s dominated the paper industry in Italy. This family controlled who and where the paper was made. In fact, a law was put into effect that anyone who did not live within a 50-mile radius of the mill was not allowed to make or know the secrets of making paper. It was also enforced that if the secret were used by anyone outside of that mill radius, they would suffer a very stiff penalty.
It was not really until the 15th century with the creation of printing that paper became a popular item in Europe. It was in 1568 in Europe that the first representation of the printing process was released in a wood print by Der Paper by Jost Amman in the Little Book of trades. The paper was a relatively cheap and cost effective process well up until the 19th century. It was the 19th century that brought great advances in the production of paper.
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