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Prior to 1500 and for a short period afterwards the catholic Church still held an enormous amount of power and influence in Europe. Medical science and those most often considered 'learned' were educated principally through the Church. This gave the Church the ability to limit medical info deemed 'uholy' or 'sinful'. A clear example of this would be the Church's advice to avoid public bath houses, which in turn actually lead to a rise in the spread of disease, in places such as Italy (which previously had a tradition of public bathing) due to a substantial decline in hygiene. However, after the spread of liberal ideas and medical knowledge through the renaissance, the Church began to lose some of its influence. Combine that with the invention and spread of the printing press and it becomes clear why the authority of the Church and the political establishment over medical matters began to wane. In addition, the rising middle class could tap into this new invention and spread information which had previously been restricted. It removed the monopoly on thought and education and allowed literacy rates to rise across Europe. Once the old idea of sickness and pestilence being a "work of God" was eroded the practical science of the Ancient Greeks and Romans (spread through the renaissance) could be explored without the fear of persecution.