Apart from wondering how small a tsunami has to be to become a mere wave, whether the relative accessibility of trees should not be worked into the stats, and what a pechelingue was doing off Galicia, I was curious as to the origins of Nick’s figure for literacy in Spain–20% in 1606. The 1860 Spanish census includes literacy data and suggests that in Catalonia, one of the country’s more industrialised and school-ridden regions, 77% were still unable to read (off-topic comparison: 80% among non-whites in the USA in 1870). I don’t know the contemporary literacy figures for the bible-reading Netherlands, but I imagine they must have been fairly high, and an unsourced figure of 50% is cited here for New England in the first half of the C17th.

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