1902 Encyclopedia > France > France: Religion; Education; Charitable Institutions.

(Part 3)


Religion. Education. Charitable Institutions.


Three churches are recognized and supported by the state in France, - the Roman catholic, the Protestant (subdivided into Calvinist and Lutheran), and the Hebrew. In Algeria the Mussulman creed in equally recognized.

Roman Catholic. – The Roman Catholic Church is much stronger than the others. It may perhaps be said that France is the country where this church is the most powerful; at any rate; it has there its most perfect organization, and raises the largest sums of money; and it is to France that, directly or directly, the Holy See appeals in all its difficulties. Most of the provisions of the "concordat" concluded in 1801 between the first consul Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII are still in force. France is divided into dioceses, each governed by an archbishop or a bishop, and the dioceses into parishes, each of which has at its head a cure, or parish priest. Archbishops and bishops are appointed by the head of the Government and confirmed by the pope; the archbishop of Paris receives a salary of 50,000 francs, and the others are paid 20,000 francs a year. The stipend of the bishops is 15,000 francs per annum. In 1789 France contained 135 dioceses, 18 of which were archbishoprics. The Constituent Assembly made the dioceses correspond exactly with the departments; but this was changed by the concordat of 1815. The archbishop rics and bishoprics now existing in France are as follows: -


Every archbishop has three vicars-general, and every bishop, two, making a total of 190. they are assisted by a chapter attached to each cathedral church, and presided over by the bishop. The cures have a minimum salary which varies from 1500 to 1200 francs, but additional money may be allowed by the municipal councils. They also receive the fees charged for baptisms, marriages, funerals, and extra masses, and have the benefit of a free house called a presbytere. The cures are about 3500 in number and are assisted by curates (vicaires), and by desservants, the latter being priests attached to succursales or chapels-of-ease in large parishes. In 1873 the sums paid to the prelates and priests of France by the Government amounted ot 39,382,495 francs – about two and a half millions more than in 1859.

The Roman Catholic Church possesses in France 89 grands seminaries, in which special instruction is given to young men who intend to enter the church, and 150 petits seminaries, or establishments of secondary education, by which the clergy endeavor to rival the lycees of Government. There are besides a number of schools and colleges kept by the Jesuits and other religious bodies. A recent law has even allowed the clergy to found independent universities, which will be noticed in the chapter on education. Convents are very numerous in France, especially for females. They are inhabited by about 140,000 pesons (including 120,000 women), whose property is worth more than a thousand millions of francs.

Protestants. – The eglise Reformee (Calvinist Church) has about one million of members in France, distributed into parishes, which form 103 consistories, and 21 synodal districts, including Algeria. The Lutheran Church (Eglise de la Confession d’Augbourg) is far inferior in number. It is ruled by a directory, now sitting in Paris, instead of Strasburg as formerly. Sixty-one pastors compose the staff of this Church, whilst the Calvinist Church has 600. The seminary of the latter is at Montauban, and that of the former at Paris since the loss of Strasburg.

Jews. – The Hebrew Church is administered by a central consistory presided over by the chief rabbi. It is subdivided into eight provincial consistories, sitting respectively at Paris, Lyons, Bordeaux, nancy, Marseilles, Bayonne, Lille, and Vesoul. Their seminary used to be at Metz, but has been transferred to Paris.


The National Convention laid the foundation of the system of public instruction that is still in force in France; the Government of the first Napoleon developed and completed it. At the head of public instruction is a minister, who has the title of grand-master of the university, this term describing, not an institution for liberal education as in Great Britain and Germany, but the branch of administration under which public instruction in its university is placed. The minister appoints all the officers of university administration, and fills up all the vacancies in colleges and schools. He is assisted by the superior council of public instruction, which has to examine the books adopted in schools and colleges, to judge and remove incompetent teachers, - in short, to watch over the concerns and interests of public instruction in all its branches. Attached to this council are 19inspectros-general, who visit the principal establishments in the country for the purpose of inquiring into their management and the way in which instruction is conducted.

Academies. – The whole territory of France is divided into 16 academies, or districts of educational jurisdiction, a list of which is appended.


At the head of each academie is a rector, assisted by an academical council, and by the inspectors of the district. His business is to superintend all the schools, colleges, and faculties within the bounds of his educational province, and to serve as the organ of communication between the inferior officials and the minister of public instruction. In the academie of Paris the rector is the minister himself, who is represented by a vice-rector. The rectors have not, however, the entire management of all educational matters, for primary schools are mostly under the superintendence of the perfect and of a department council.

Superior education is given by facilities of theology, law, medicine, sciences, and literature. The facilities of theology are established at Paris, Aix, Pordeaux, Lyons, Rouen, Montauban; those of law at Paris, Toulouse, Aix, Caen, Dijon, Poitiers, Rheims, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Douai, Nancy; those of medicine at Paris, Montoellier, Nancy; those of sciences at Paris, Besancon, Rennes, Caen, Bordeaux, Clermont, Poitiers, Dijon, Grenoble, Lille, Nancy, Lyons, Marseilles, Montopellier, Toulose; and those of literature at Paris, Aix, Beasncon, Bordeaux, Caen, Clermont, Dijon Douai, Grenoble, Lyons, Montpellier, Poitiers, Rennes Toulouse, Nancy. The faculties not only impart superior teaching, but are also examining bodies, which confer the degrees of bachelor, licentiate, and doctor.

The teaching work of the faculties is in some measure shared by 3 superior schools of pharmacy established in the same towns as the facultieis of medicine, 22 preparatory schools of medicine and pharmacy, 5 preparatoryschools of science and literature (at Angers, Lyons, Nantes, Chambery, Rouen), and by the Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes, founded in 1868 at Paris. Secondary education is given in 80 lycees, attended by about 37,000 pupils, and 244 colleges communaux, with an attendance which is not much inferior in number to that of the lycees; but the organization of many of them is still in an imperfect state. The third and lowest stage of national instruction is that of the ecoles primaries or primary schools. Every commune of 500 inhabitants has to maintain a boys’ a girl’s school. The law is not yet very strictly observed; in 1871 the total number of schools was 51,881, of which 20,374 were boys’ schools, 14,837 schools for girls, and 16,670 schools attended by girls and boys together. Primary instruction steadily gains ground in France, although it is neither gratuitous – except when parents cannot pay for it – nor obligatory by law. In 1827 only 420 out of 1000 could read; in 1857 this average had risen to 675, and in 1867 to 775. The following table was published in 1873 by the generals bureau of statistics.: -


To provide the staff of teachers necessary for these educational establishments, training schools (ecoles normales) have been instituted. The ecoles normales primaries are now 90 in number, - 79 for the training of male and 11 for the training of female teachers. The ecole normale superieure, founded by the decree of the 9th B rumaire, year III. (30th October 1794), provides for the education of professors for the lycees or facultes; it maintains 100 students, who, during a course of three years, not only attain considerable proficiency in literature and science, but are trained to the art of communicating their knowledge to others in an attractive and interesting form. It is not, however, necessary to have gone through the course of study of the ecole normale to become a secondary teacher or a faculty professor; the condition required of students of the ecole normale, as of others, is to pass a series of examinations, and to acquire the degrees of bachelier, licencie, and agrege, the last being the only one conferring rights of membership in the university.

The law of the 21st June 1865 has laid down in the lycees and communal colleges a special course of teaching, more especially intended to prepare pupils for commercial and industrial pursuits; it is called enseignement secondaire special. A normal school, for training of teachers who choose this line, was founded at Cluny (Saone-et-Loire) in 1868.

Private Educational Establishments. – The systematic provision thus made by the state for public instruction in France is supplemented in various ways. Not only may any one who possesses the diploma of bachelor engage in the work of primary and secondary education on his own account, but recently by a special law sanction has been given to the existence of institutions for superior instruction distinct from those of the state. The Roman Catholic clergy have not been slow to take advantage of this new state of things, and have established universities in which students may get their degrees, as in the old university of France. In 1872 there were, besides the Governmental schools, 657 establishments for secondary education directed by laymen, and 278 by priests, the latter giving instruction to 34,000 pupils, whilst the 657 others were only attended by 43,000. There are other high class schools devoted to various special purposes, and not in all cases depending on the minister of public instruction. Such are the Ecole des chartes, in which twenty students are trained during a three years’ course to study the documents and historical remains of the Middle Ages; the Ecole des langues orientales; the Ecole des beaux-arts, which every year sends to Rome its best pupil in each of the department of painting, sculpture, and architecture; the Ecole de Rome et Athenes, where young savants find the opportunity of studying antiquities in the two great capitals of the ancient world; several special schools for the teaching of drawing and mathematics applied to the industrial arts at Paris, Lyons, and Dijon; the Ecole poly technique, in which the highest scientific education is imparted to young men who have passed a very difficult preliminary examination, and who wish to prepare themselves for the ordnance office, for engineering, or for highpositions in the different branches of administration; the Ecole speciale militaire, established at St Cyr for officers; the Ecole cavalerie, at Saumur; the Prytanee militiaire, at la Fleche, in which gratuitous instruction is given to sons of officers and non-commissioned officers; the Ecole d’application d’etat-major, for the training of staff officers; the Ecole d’application de l’artiullerie et du genie, at Fontainebleau, formerly at Metz, where old students of the polytechnic school receive a more special and developed instruction; the naval school, at Brest; the Ecole d’application du geniemaritime, for students of the poluthenic school who are intended for maritime engineering; the Ecole d’hydrographie, for sea-captains; the Ecole des ponts et chausses, which is under the minister of public works, and prepare the old students of the polytechnic school for civil engineering; the Ecole des mines, towards which a stage in the polytechnic school is also a first and necessary step; the Conservatoire des arts et metiers, under the control of the minister of agriculture and commerce; the Ecole centrale des arts et manufactures, for the training of private engineers and manufactures; the schools of arts et métiers, established at Chalonssur-Marne, Angers, and Aix; the Ecole forestiere, at Nancy, which trains the administrators of the forests belonging to the state and to the communes; the agricultural schools of Grignon (Seine-et-Oise), Grandjouan (Loire-Inferieure), and Montpellier (Herault); the veterinary schools of Alfort (Seine), Toulouse, and Lyons; the Maisons d’education de la legion d’honneur at St Denis, Ecouen, and Les Loges, for daughters of knights of the Legion of Honor in straitened circumstances.

Notice must also be taken of the College de France, in which 34 professors deliver lectures to the public on almost every branch of human knowledge; the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle, with 16 lectures; and the chair of archaeology attached to the national library of Paris. Government supports three great establishments devoted to astronomical study, - the Bureau des Longitudes and the observatories of Paris and Marseilles.

The highest institution founded and kept up by the French Government on behalf of science and literature is the Institut de France, composed of five Academies as follows: -


The Academie de Medecine is a separate body, divided into 11 sections; it is composed of 100 resident members, and a number of fellows and correspondents, chosen from among the medical celebrities of the world.

Charitable Institutions

Although there is no poor law in France, charitable establishments, either privates or created and managed by the state, are very numerous, and, on the whole, efficient. Orphelinats (orphans’ houses) receive infants which have neither parents nor friends to care for them; crèches and salles d’asile (infant schools) gratuitously give shelter and the first elements of education to poor children whose mothers must earn their daily bread by out-door work; young girls of the destitute class may learn a trade in the ouvroirs or workshops freely open to them in many towns; whilst lads find employment and agricultural training in such establishments as the colonies agricoles of Mesnil-St Firmin (Oise), St Jean, Petit-Mettray (Somme), Lesparre (Gironde), Montmorillon (Vienne), &c. There are also other charitable, institutions, analogous to those which exist in other countries. Besides these private charities, more or less supported by Government grants, there is a special department, called assistance publique, a branch of the minister of the interior, established to superintend, and in some cases organize, the bureaux de bienfaisance and hospitals. The bureaux de beinfaisance give out-door relief to the poor when it is deemed necessary. They are 12,989 in number, or about 36 bureaux for every 100 communes, a proportion quite inadequate-there should be one for each commune. In 1873 these bureaux assisted 1,312,847 people, or an average of 3.61 per cent; but this help is still very unequally distributed, the average being 18 per 100 in the department of the North, and under 0.35 per 100 in the departments of Corsica, Ardeche, and Pyrenees Orientales. The total amount of their disbursement, covered by foundations, grants, a tax on the theaters, and private gifts, is about 12,500,000 francs which gives an average of less than 17 francs (13s 8d.) for each pauper assisted. The same inequality appears here; for, whilst in the department of the Seine the average is 26.95 francs (1 pound, 1s. 7d.) per head, it falls as low as 6.45 francs (5s. 2d.) in less favoured districts.

The number of hospitals, in addition to the Maison Municipale de Saute and the seven great establishments of Paris, is 1481, furnished with 161,520 beds, and employing 2673 physicians and surgeons, 3212 officials, 11,032 nuns, and 11,534 servants. In 1873 the number of patients received was 410,441- that is, 1 patient for 88 inhabitants. Out of 100 patients, 79 were discharged cured, at least for a time, and the death average was not above 9 per cent. Besides the patients who only pass through the wards (37 days in the average duration of their stay), 69,786 infirm, incurable, or old people live as inmates in some of the hospitals, which are specially designated by the name hospice; this number is divided into 27,256 men, 31,037 women, and 11,493 children. This population of invalids, both in hospitals and hospices, was maintained at a cost of 93,269,886 francs.

It must be confessed that all these means of relief, good as they are, provide but very insufficiently for the wants of the million of poor which France reckons among her 36 millions of inhabitants. Pauperism is, there as elsewhere, a sore which civilization has been as yet quite unable to heal.

The census of 1872 shows that there were at that time 87,968 lunatics in France, an average of 2.44 for 1000 inhabitants. Of these 51,004 were kept at home, and 36,964 in asylums, public or private. In 1873 the number of asylums in France was 102, of which 61 were public; of the 41 private asylums 17 received the poor gratuitously. These asylums, at the end of the year, contained 41,064 inmates, of whom only about 8000 were able to pay for board and attendance; the rest were paupers. The average number of cures was 6 per cent., and of these part only would be permanent.

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