A unit of length in the French-speaking world, primarily used for textiles. It played a role similar to that of the ell in England.
In France, at least as early as the 13th century – 19th century, a unit of length used for cloth.
From the 16th through the 18th centuries it was generally described as 3 pied, 7 pouce, 8 lignes, but according to the Abbé Hauy¹, a determination by the Academy in 1742 found it to be 3 pied, 7 pouce, 10⁵⁄₆ lignes, or about 1188.45 millimeters.
There were many local and regional variants, some as small as 554 mm (at Landau, Bas-Rhin) and others as large as 1949 mm (at Dinan, Côtes-du-Nord).
With the establishment of the metric system the aune was abolished, but by the decree of 12 February 1812 establishing the système usuelle, the aune usuelle was given the value 120 centimeters (about 47.24 inches).
1. René Just Abbé Hauy.
Instruction sur les mesures déduites de la grandeur de la terre, uniformes pour tout la république, et sur les calculs relatifs à leur division décimale.
In Belgium, the aune de Brabant was 695.642 millimeters (Doursther, 1840), but generally taken in commerce as 700 mm.
The law of 1820 adopting the metric system defined the aune = 1 meter. However, according to Kennelly¹, in 19th century practice the aune became ²⁄₃ meter.
1. Arthur E. Kennelly,
Vestiges of Pre-metric Weights and Measures Persisting in Metric-System Europe 1926-1927.
New York: Macmillan, 1928.
In Haiti, 20th century (UN 1966), a unit of length, approximately 1.40 meters (approximately 1.53 yards).
In the Seychelles and Mauritius, 20th century (UN 1966), a unit of length, about 1.191 meters (about 1.303 yards).
On the island of Jersey, a unit of length, 4 feet.
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Last revised: 27 July 2001.