Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pre-1789 Adult Literary Rates in France

They were surprisingly high.
From studying signatures of wills Daniel Roche has discovered astonishing figures of adult literacy in the capital at the end of the old regime [France, before the French Revolution of 1789]. In Montmartre, for example, where 40 percent of the testators belonged to the artisan or salaried classes, 74 percent of men and 64 percent of women could sign their names. In the rue Saint-Honoré—a fashionable street, but one where a third of the residents belonged to the common people—literacy rates stood at 93 percent. In the artisanal rue Saint-Denis, 86 percent of men and 73 percent of women made out and signed their own contracts of marriage. (Read entire post.)
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3 comments:

Kristina Seleshanko said...

The same is true of colonial America. I'd have to look up the actual stats, but the literacy rate then was actually higher than it is in the modern USA.

laBiscuitnapper said...

In his series called 'Medieval Lives', Terry Jones makes a similar point about medieval England - the literacy rates were much higher than one would expect, and not just in English either.

lara77 said...

I wonder if the schoolbooks of the French Republic will mention this? Probably not; it is so much easier to have everyone believe in the "overworked and terribly oppressed people of France suffering at the hands of a cruel king!"