July 8, 2007

Literate? Be Thankful for Underwear

Moveable type may have had a role in increasing literacy but don't forget underwear.

“The development of literacy was certainly helped by the introduction of paper, which was made from rags,” says Dr Marco Mostert, a historian at the Centre for Medieval Studies, Utrecht University and one of the organisers of this year’s International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds.

“These rags came from discarded clothes, which cost much less than the very expensive parchment which was previously used for books. In the 13th century, so it is thought, as more people moved into urban centres, the use of underwear increased – which caused an increase in the number of rags available for paper-making.” [Alpha Galileo]

I snatched the above quotation from a University of Leeds news release published by Alpha Galileo. The news release says several other abnormally interesting things about literacy in the Middle Ages.

Via Language Log

Posted by Duane Smith at July 8, 2007 2:21 PM | Read more on Odds and Ends |

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


I hope they washed them first...

Posted by: Aydin at July 9, 2007 12:09 PM

OK, now I've read the news release. But what was the connection between urban living and the wearing of underwear?

Posted by: Aydin at July 9, 2007 2:15 PM

Post a comment

Please read Abnormal Interest's Comments Policy.


Email Address:


Remember Me?


The following HTML tags are allowed in comments:

and no others.