Medieval France: A Companion to French Studies

Medieval France: A Companion to French Studies

Medieval France: A Companion to French Studies

Medieval France: A Companion to French Studies

Excerpt

The aim of this volume is to present to the reader within a moderate compass a survey of the history (political, military, naval, economic), language, literature, and art of Medieval France. An initial chapter on geography serves as a setting both for this and for the companion volume on Modern France. The volume is the work of ten writers, of whom, as was inevitable, a considerable majority are Frenchmen. To the ready and generous cooperation of these latter special thanks are due, particularly to M. Langlois, to whom the heaviest task has fallen. In his chapter on the political history of France the reader may trace the gradual development of the monarchy from Hugh Capet, who had practically no power outside his own province of the Ile-de-France and the neighbouring districts, to Charles VIII, of whom, while still a boy, Philippe de Commines declared that he was "more feared and better obeyed and served by his subjects than any other prince on the earth." He said this with reference to the meeting of the States-General at Tours in 1484, which, representing, as it did, every province except Brittany, gave a signal proof of that unity which has ever since been France's greatest strength.

Another feature, besides the growth of monarchy and national unity, which cannot fail to impress itself on the reader of M. Langlois's chapter is the marvellous recuperative power shown by France after the Hundred Years' War. In an arresting passage M. Langlois compares the condition of the whole country during that war with that of the devastated area at the present day, and he points out that in spite of the greater effectiveness of modern artillery "war was formerly even more murderous, because of the epidemics and famine which modern . . .

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