Petites écoles de Port-Royal

The Petites écoles de Port-Royal was the name given to a teaching system set up in 1637 by the intellectuals who gathered at Port-Royal-des-Champs in the middle of the 17th century at the height of the Jansenist controversy. They functioned from 1637 to 1660.

In the orchards of Port-Royal, the building housing the Petites écoles in the 17th century (before its 19th-century extension which now houses the site's museum)


The monastery of Port-Royal-des-Champs was more or less abandoned in favour of that in Paris (for health reasons - the site was malarial) when in 1637 Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbot of Saint-Cyran, decided to set up a school for 30 children here, headed by his friend, the priest Antoine Singlin. This school shared the building with the Solitaires, intellectuals or politicians who had decided to go into retreat to perfect their spiritual life, many of whom taught at the school.

Its teachers' intellectual calibre made Petites écoles de Port-Royal a place of intellectual excellence, but also of experimentation in teaching methods (based on French and not Latin and thus revolutionary for the time) and in normalization of the French language. They also withdrew from the Jesuit teaching system, which mainly taught in Latin, even when their young students had not mastered Latin. Class sizes were small (never more than 25 children) to create a teacher-pupil relationship that was very strict but also marked by trust and admiration. Discipline was very severe, but many of its teaching rules demonstrate a real concern for what would later be called child psychology.

Students and teachersEdit

Its teachers were drawn from among the major intellectuals of the time:


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Clark 1921, p. 8, line 16: "Elizabeth was sent with her cousin Helen, Lady Muskerry's daughter, to Port-Royal, where, as she herself was not ashamed to relate many years afterwards, the daughter of a penniless refugee, was charitably received and sheltered during seven or eight years."
  2. ^ Sainte-Beuve 1878, p. 107: "Mesdemoiselles Hamilton et Muskry furent mises à Port-Royal; elles durent y être dès avant 1655."
  • Clark, Ruth (1921), Anthony Hamilton: his Life and Works and his Family, London: John Lane
  • Delforge, Frédéric (1985), Les petites Écoles de Port-Royal, Paris: Cerf
  • Sainte-Beuve, Charles-Augustin (1878), Port-Royal, 2 (4 ed.), Paris: Hachette

External linksEdit