Laurels! The word baccalaureate comes from the Latin root berry graduation, which means “laurel wreath”, explains Marie-Odile Mergnac, author of a History of the baccalaureate (Editions Archives et Culture, 2008). This traditional ornament brings glory to the one who receives it. Mergnac adds: “In the Middle Ages, the bachelor was an apprentice knight.” The term “referred to a young nobleman who was studying a little rough,” adds Anne Grondeux, a researcher in linguistics at the CNRS.
“From 1282, we find the first mentions of bachelor, graduate in theology and the arts, at the time of the creation of the University of Paris.”, She continues.
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The linguist Maurice Tournier attributes the official birth of the term baccalaureate to King François Ier (1494-1547), who under this name founded a new order of university chivalry reserved “for deserving men of letters and sciences”. The first diploma named baccalaureate was created in 1808 by Napoleon.
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