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French young boys in school

School Boy in Paris Circa 1940s

The education system in France can be traced back to the Roman Empire. Schools may have operated continuously from the later empire to the early Middle Ages in some towns in southern France. The school system was modernized during the French Revolution, but roughly in the 18th and early 19th century debates ranged on the role of religion.

Charlemagne greatly increased the provision of monastic schools and scriptoria (centres for book-copying) in Francia. In 789, he published the Admonitio generalis, ordering that each bishopric organises a school for non-ecclesiastic students, which makes Charlemagne - not without exaggeration - to be considered the father of education in France. As in other parts of medieval Western Europe, literacy was mainly in Latin. Church schools associated to abbeys and cathedrals developed from the 8th century onwards and were controlled by the Catholic Church. The University of Paris was one of the first universities in Europe, created possibly as early as 1150. Grammar schools, often situated in cathedrals, taught the Latin language and law.


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