The French Will Never Change

This is outside our normal scope, but fans of French-style protectionism will enjoy this passage from 1491 , Charles Mann's fascinating and unusually well-written book about North ...
by | December 12, 2006

Cotton This is outside our normal scope, but fans of French-style protectionism will enjoy this passage from 1491 , Charles Mann's fascinating and unusually well-written book about North American history, pre-Columbus, and how many new things contemporary archeologists are finding out about it.

Mann notes that the wool-wearing European explorers quickly swapped their itchy garb for local cotton -- a fashion that quickly caught on back in the old countries. He says in a footnote:

"When cotton became readily available there in the eighteenth century, it grabbed so much of the textile market that French woolmakers persuaded the government to ban the fabric. The law failed to stem the cotton tide. As the historian Fernand Braudel noted, some woolmakers then thought outside the box: they proposed sending prostitutes in cotton clothing to wander Paris streets, where police would publicly strip them naked. In theory, bourgeois women would then avoid cotton for fear of being mistaken for prostitutes and forcibly disrobed. This novel form of protectionism was never put into place."

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