By David Potter

A survey of French historical past from the reign of Louis XI to the outbreak of the Wars of faith that isolates the various arguable theories of the interval: kingdom development, the Aristocracy and clientage and the Reformation and discusses them with complete recognition to the neighborhood variety of France. It additionally introduces the reader to fresh learn at the courtroom and executive set within the context of the elemental social and monetary hobbies of the interval. it truly is argued that the elemental id of France as a kingdom was once strengthened lower than the aegis of monarchical legitimacy sponsored by way of the the Aristocracy and the church, atmosphere the development for the remainder of the Ancien Regime.

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Du royaume et monarchie des jranr;ois (1551, published 1561) led him to formulate a new and distinctive view of French history - argued that the major institutions of France and especially its liberties, were derived from 'Germanic' traditions. Dumoulin is important for the rigorous legal basis that he built into an historical understanding of French identity (incidentally conceiving of France as a 'mixed monarchy'). Curiously, though, even the acute Dumoulin INTRODUCTION: FRENCH SOCIETY 23 affected to believe in the historical existence of Francus, seeing in his existence the guarantee of the all-important longevity of the French monarchy.

The work of Colette Beaune and Bernard Guenee has made clear that the national loyalties that already existed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were profoundly monarchical in theme. The concept that all French were subjects of the king rather than his vassals of various kinds, that the king was 'emperor in his kingdom' and that the church in France should be autonomous under the king encouraged royal jurists to think in universal terms about the scope of royal legislation. The preambles to the brevets de tailles sent to the elections and provincial estates often provided in effect public manifestos of royal policies.

As late as 1532, a French diplomat claimed that an expedition to the east was planned as his master was rightfully emperor of Constantinople. However, the conventional wisdom was perhaps best summed up by Jean du Tillet; although the 1566 presentation copy to Charles IX of his great work showed Charles VIII with the imperial crown which had become embedded in royal imagery by that time, of the imperial title itself he could write: 'it is not more eminent than that of king, which sounds better and sweeter'.

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