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Peasants into Frenchmen The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914 Interpretations of Eugen Weber’s Work.

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Presentation on theme: "Peasants into Frenchmen The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914 Interpretations of Eugen Weber’s Work."— Presentation transcript:

1 Peasants into Frenchmen The Modernization of Rural France, Interpretations of Eugen Weber’s Work

2 Weber’s Thesis During the Belle Epoch/Fin de Siecle –so during the 3 rd Republic- …

3 Pre-Modernization France-Mentalite “Most of France was isolated & impoverished peasant communities where urban-based French culture, French language, and national consciousness had made few inroads- despite 1789 and 1848” Underdeveloped France  “1789 & 1848 were not trivial, just incomplete.” Politics remained local and personal until those interests became linked to national ones and understood as such.

4 Traditional Culture of France Oral Culture Illiterate  Majority of rural France was; oral tradition KEY Veillees  Village goes to one person’s house at night to tell stories AND save fuel; creates a sense of community Subsistence farming  NOT part of the market econ Markets & fairs  Local events that create a sense of community Peddlers  Itinerate travelers who carried songs & stories No concept of being part of the nation 

5 Pre-Modernization Statistics Agriculture accounted for 66% of the national product; ¾ of citizens were rural French bell ringers killed during storms to ward away evil hail-bringing spirits in 5 citizens of France didn’t speak French- French was a foreign language! Basque, Breton, Flemish, German, Gascon, Italian, Corsican, Catalan, & Bearnais only 1 in 4 draftees could explain why July 14 th was a national holiday

6 Peasants resistant to Change Tradition  Plot size  too small to modernize Pervasive insecurity  can’t take risks on new techniques Prayer over fertilizer Resistant to education  Distrust of the government  France ONLY administratively unified  1 government, 1 tax code, 1 army, but many nations NOT just mindless devotion to the old ways….

7 Agencies of Change Transportation Educational Reforms Universal Military Conscription

8 Rail Road “Greatly undermined the isolation of separate communities” Bikes & roads Centralization Results Culture  connected Trade  GREATLY increased Transportation ,16723,08938,109 Kilometers of RR in…

9 Education Reforms Jules Ferry led reforms ( )  Free & compulsory education  Centralized curriculum  New buildings & books  Trained teachers

10 Centralization Results of Education Reform Taught French language  Taught urban values  Created shared experience  Taught nationalism  Progress = good 

11 Teaching Nationalism & Lying with Maps Map French texts books are using ACTUAL map of Europe- note the Rhine River The magic “moving” border between France & Germany!

12 Universal Military Conscription  Orders and signs…  Patriotism & nationalism  shared experience  Made the gov’t more acceptable  agent of emigration  Illiterate soldiers had to serve one more year  Continued the process schools began

13 Results Modernity brought “unexpected hope and comfort to the peasants”  “Many grieved over the loss of yesterday, but few who grieved were peasants… Thatched cottages…are picturesque on the outside, [but] living in them is another matter.” When modern farming techniques proved useful… Attitudes toward education changed  Parents WANTED their kids to go to school   Civil Servant jobs  Jobs in gov’t & military   More good feelings about the gov’t

14 More Results Technology changed customs  RR- no more peddlers, so songs & stories die out; better heat, so veillees die out Printing killed oral culture  Development of a national consciousness  French unity now more than just administrative unity--> Altered mentalite  France “becomes” L’hexagone  nickname- ONE nation (state?)

15 Analysis Shows how small communities are absorbed into a nation and a nation-state Reminds us how recent present levels of integration really are


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