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Peasants into Frenchmen The Modernization of Rural France,

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Presentation on theme: "Peasants into Frenchmen The Modernization of Rural France,"— Presentation transcript:

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

2 Weber’s Thesis During the Belle Epoch/Fin de Siecle –so during the 3rd 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
1810- 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 1906- only 1 in 4 draftees could explain why July 14th was a national holiday

6 Peasants resistant to Change
NOT just mindless devotion to the old ways…. 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

7 Agencies of Change Transportation Educational Reforms
Universal Military Conscription

8 Transportation Rail Road Bikes & roads Centralization Results
“Greatly undermined the isolation of separate communities” Bikes & roads Centralization Results Culture connected Trade GREATLY increased 1850 1860 1890 1870 31 496 9,167 23,089 38,109 Kilometers of RR in…

9 Education Reforms Jules Ferry led reforms (1881-1886)
 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
Continued the process schools began Orders and signs… Patriotism & nationalism shared experience  Made the gov’t more acceptable agent of emigration  Illiterate soldiers had to serve one more year 

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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