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Essay / Research Paper Abstract
A five page paper which looks at the importance of religion in the increase in literacy rates in Britain and France during the seventeenth century. Bibliography lists 5 sources
5 pages (~225 words per page)
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in both France and England which took place during the seventeenth century can only be assessed against a background of religion, since during this period of European history, state politics
and religious belief systems were so closely interlinked that it is virtually impossible to separate the two. In England, for instance, the interregnum might well have been a period in
which both the Catholic faith and the monarchy were held in abeyance, and hence the era seen as one in which religious influences were minimal: however, the Civil War which
gave rise to the republicanism of Cromwells time was, in large part, based on political differences which had as their origins a separation between different religious doctrines.
Prior to the 1600s, literacy had been associated in great part with religion, in the sense that
the majority of those who could read and write had learned to do so through the education provided by religious establishments of one sort or another. The social hierarchy of
the time dictated that only those in the higher echelons were privy to knowledge, and the means by which to disseminate it: for the lower orders, literacy was irrelevant, since
their function was only to labour. As Wood (2002) points out, historians tend to measure levels of literacy by the percentage of a population who are capable of signing their
name in writing, rather than by a notarised mark: by the beginning of the seventeenth century, literacy levels were rising noticeably, partly because of the increased secularisation of formal education.
However, as Wood also notes, in those towns where there were no formal grammar schools,