advanced economically, had a denser population, and was more urbanized -factors which played a decisive role in the advance of literacy But even though differences in literacy rates persisted within this zone, indicative of the fragility of educational institutions and the novelty of writing in certain areas, overall male literacy rates were already above 70 per cent at the end of the eighteenth century, with the proportions in many towns rising even higher. For Europe as a whole, regional patterns emerge that in fact trace long-standing cultural boundaries: such is the line between Saint-Malo and Geneva which separates the more advanced north and north-eastern France from the far less literate west and south; so too the Stralsund-Dresden line which divides east and west Germany. Even within the much less literate zone of southern Europe, the north of the Italian peninsula (Liguria, Piedmont, and Lombardy) contrasts with the largely illiterate centre and south.
In fact, uneven literacy rates were due to complex combinations of economic, social, and cultural factors. All recent studies have stressed the error of assigning one particular cause to the advance or lag in such rates. Above and beyond questions of property ownership (regions of large landed estates such as eastern Prussia and Pomerania or the south of the Italian peninsula had higher illiteracy) or the general lead of town over country (not the case, however, in the Kingdom of Naples), three points must be stressed. First, it is clear that linguistic diversity could hinder the success of educational policies: regions of Prussia with the highest concentrations of non-German speaking populations - particularly Polish - were also the most unreceptive to teaching in German. Similarly, areas of Scotland where inhabitants spoke Gaelic were those with the lowest rates of reading and writing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In southern France, where Occitan was usually the sole language spoken and understood, virtually no one knew how to read or write. Here catechisms, hymns and carols were memorized through the words of an intermediary such as the vicar, clerical school teacher, or missionary, who used printed collections or manuscripts. In general, only the elites learned French, viewing the acquisition and mastery of this language as the primary means of cultural integration. Yet the wide difference between Calvinists and Catholics in the French Midi should also be noted. The Catholic hierarchy opted for an oral ministry, based on the use of collective singing and memorization to reach the people in their own language, while the liturgical language itself remained unknown to them. In contrast, the Huguenots elected French as the sacred language for both Bible reading and the singing of psalms. It is thus not surprising that the male and female 'prophets' who appeared in Dauphine and
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