The Foundations of French Nationality: Land, Race, Language
The France we know as a historical entity came into existence in the ninth century, with the disruption of Charlemagne's empire. The event, of such magnitude in retrospect, passed unnoticed at the time. The treaty of Verdun ( 843) which separated France from Germany and Lotharingia was not a new departure: it was the rule with the Franks to divide the royal dominions among the heirs. It took nearly half a century ( 843-887) for the partition to become final; both Charles the Bald and Charles the Fat restored the unity of the empire. It took another hundred years ( 887-987) for a new dynasty finally to supersede the enfeebled Carolingians. When, in 987, Hugh Capet was elected to the throne, no one could have prophesied that his descendants would rule for eight hundred years, and keep up their claims to the French crown for two centuries longer. Heredity was not then an established principle; and it was still possible either for the Western Empire to be restored, or for the French kingdom to be split up into independent principalities. The Capetian line endured, the domain increased, and France became a reality: a dynasty at first, then a nation.
With the growth of French consciousness came a desire to extend the life of the country into an ever-deepening antiquity. France attempted, at the same time and by the same process, to forge her future and reconstruct her past: roots grew as well as branches. The Capetians enhanced their dignity by considering themselves as the legitimate heirs of the Carolingians: so the first Louis in the new line chose to call himself Louis VI, and the first Charles, Charles IV. The Carolingians themselves had gradually supplanted the Merovingians; they had changed the person of the monarch, not the principles and traditions of the mon
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: France:A Modern History. Contributors: Albert GuÉrard - Author. Publisher: University of Michigan Press. Place of publication: Ann Arbor, MI. Publication year: 1959. Page number: 3.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.