The Capetian Kings of France: Monarchy & Nation, 987-1328

The Capetian Kings of France: Monarchy & Nation, 987-1328

The Capetian Kings of France: Monarchy & Nation, 987-1328

The Capetian Kings of France: Monarchy & Nation, 987-1328

Excerpt

This work has grown out of several years spent in studying the reign of Philip the Fair. The better to understand the events of the period and the documents through which they are known, I found myself compelled to turn back to the origins of the royal house of Capet and to assess the whole significance of its history. But the book itself would probably never have been written had not the Second World War broken out. For I was then required to replace at short notice a colleague called to the colours, and naturally enough I chose as the subject of my lectures the period best known to me.

I originally planned to give a course extending over two sessions. When the events of June 1940 overtook my country, I came to the conclusion that I should still complete this programme. I have always enjoyed the discipline of clarifying and setting forth my thoughts on history; and I was encouraged by the evident interest of some of those to whom I lectured. But there were also newer and stranger reasons behind my decision. In a time of national tragedy I found a source of strength, for myself and my audience, in the study of the beginnings of the French nation and of the actions of its first leaders. Such a study was, I found, not merely an escape from the horrors of contemporary reality. Like those monuments of antiquity which have provided the foundations for a whole series of later edifices, the original structure of France appeared to me so strongly built that it could not be completely destroyed. I hoped that something of this conviction might communicate itself to my readers, when my publisher was courageous enough to undertake publication. And even if his courage were to be ill rewarded, the book itself would always keep for me the character it acquired during the two years in which it was my companion in adversity, the good Samaritan giving me succour in a parched land.

The Capetian Kings of France is not a history of France from . . .

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