The key aspect of this volume is to place Hungary on the map of European literacy rates over the whole period between the initial stimuli of Renaissance and Reformation and the developed, state-organized educational systems of the later 19th century. Toth's work is a broad international comparative analysis, concentrating on the long-term development of literacy rates and the use of written and oral culture in early modern societies. An examination is provided of elementarey schools and their teachers, as well as book reading among peasants and noblemen throughout the 16th to 19th centuries in Hungary. Significant sections are included on the development of libraries during the period and on the use of different languages, particularly Latin. By way of illustration examples are taken of village life, legal and administrative issues and the clergy to contribute to major debates in the field of language, literacy, linguistics and social history.
Part 1 Door to the world of writing; the social history of elementary schools. Part 2 The written word is gaining ground slowly in the peasant culture. Part 3 Writing and reading capacities of the nobility. Part 4 The lower layer of nobility; the petty nobleman living in an oral world. Part 5 The culture of well-to-do noblemen; libraries and their proprietors. Part 6 Outlook in space and time Conclusion