Document-based question (DBQ) “Levels of Literacy” (60 minutes, 1,000 words minimum)
Task: Describe the variations in the levels of literacy in Old Regime France and trace these variations over time. Analyze the factors that promoted or discouraged the spread of literacy.
Analysis of fourteen documents for the DBQ “Literacy in France” essay question:
Document # 1:
Document # 1 was a comparison of the degree of literacy in France between the seventeenth and late eighteenth century as well as between men and women. During the reign of Louis XIV (1638 – 1715), focusing on the years from 1686 to 1690, merely more than forty percent of the French men were literate…show more content…
Document # 3:
In document # 3, literacy in France was examined by social groups and classes; the dates compared were again 1680 and 1789, i.e. French Absolutism as opposed to the days of the French Revolution. Overall, three social groups were examined. The first groups were the nobles and professionals: interestingly enough, these two groups were on opposite sides at the time of the French Revolution. Whereas the vast majority of the powerful nobility mostly sided with the Ancien Regime, resisted attempts to reform, and defended its privileges, the highly educated bourgeoisie became revolutionary when it realized that political representation of its vested interests was not possible in Old Regime France, and political change was prevented by the First and Second Estate. Only then did the bourgeoisie desire to overthrow the French medieval state and replace it with a modern state that would truly represent the interests of the French bourgeoisie.
In 1680, ninety-five percent of French male aristocrats were literate, and that number would not have changed by 1789. In 1680, sixty percent of French aristocratic women could read and write, and by 1789 up to eighty-five percent of French noblewomen had become literate. These numbers were identical with the literacy rate of the French bourgeoisie, both men and women,