Numeracy and literacy in Early Modern Europe: Evidence from the maritime sector

Bo Poulsen, Jelle Van Lottum

Research output: Working paperResearch

Abstract

This paper reconstructs comparative levels of numeracy and literacy for seamen of different ranks from 14 countries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries using age heaping and signature methods. Results show how skill was rewarded in the maritime labour market, where captains and fishing skippers show higher levels of numeracy and literacy than lesser officers and ordinary sailors. The level of numeracy and literacy among ship masters and Scandinavian sailors are among the highest found anywhere, while Dutch, French and Spanish sailors were a par with the common labour force. This is discussed in light of the migratory and competitive character of the maritime sector
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRoskilde
PublisherRoskilde Universitet
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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