All media has some influence on society, but the degree of influence depends on the availability and pervasiveness of a particular medium at a particular time.
Books were once supremely influential because they were really the only printed media. The few people who could read and write based what they believed and the decisions they made on those books. Since the literate were often the rulers of society, those who could not read and write sometimes viewed these people with awe, giving them enormous influence over society.
Reading and writing were never outlawed in post-Roman Europe, but all the books were typically written in Latin, limiting reading and writing to those who were educated as effectively as a ban. Many of the proto-Protestants – the Waldesians, the alpine anabaptists, Wycliff, etc. – ran crosswise of the Catholic Church not because of their beliefs so much as because of their insistence…
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