Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Sotto L'occhio del Padre. Societa Confessionale E Istruzione Primaria Nello Stato Di Milano

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Sotto L'occhio del Padre. Societa Confessionale E Istruzione Primaria Nello Stato Di Milano

Article excerpt

Sotto l'occhio del padre. Societa confessionale e istruzione primaria nello Stato di Milano. By Angelo Turchini. [Annali dell'Istituto storico italogermanico, Monografia 29.] (Bologna: Societa editrice il Mulino. 1996. Pp. 468. Lire 40.000 paperback.)

This is a wonderfully comprehensive and detailed study of pre-university education in the city and state of Milan from 1500 to the early decades of the seventeenth century. Only about eight percent of the schools in the city and territory of Milan were public in the modern sense, meaning state-supported. Nevertheless, Milan and its territory had an abundance of free education provided by schools sponsored by church organizations, lay confraternities, and endowments. This excellent book describes and measures the free schooling available to the boys and girls of Milan.

The book begins by discussing the several endowed charity schools founded in Milan in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, then notes the new educational initiatives of the Catholic Reformation. The largest and most important of these were the Schools of Christian Doctrine. Meeting on Sundays and holidays throughout the year, the Schools of Christian Doctrine offered two and one-half hours of instruction and provided books, which were combination catechisms and primers, at cost. These schools taught religious instruction and reading first, plus writing to more advanced pupils and those who had no other opportunity to learn. From their beginning in 1536, the Milanese Schools of Christian Doctrine grew to embrace 7,000 lay volunteers who taught, or otherwise assisted the teaching of, 7,000 boys and 5,400 girls in 1599. Other free schools also existed, and Turchini mentions them all.

While one might expect the metropolis of Milan to provide a certain amount of schooling, the most interesting and surprising aspect of Turchini's research is the extensive free schooling available in small towns and rural areas. Although part of this was the consequence of charitable foundations, the Schools of Christian Doctrine were again the most important providers. …

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