Catherine de Médicis - Vol. 2

Catherine de Médicis - Vol. 2

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Catherine de Médicis - Vol. 2

Catherine de Médicis - Vol. 2

Read FREE!

Excerpt

No country could pass through an internal convulsion like the three civil wars about religion without enormous injury. The effects upon France may be briefly suggested in three fields, the spiritual, economic and governmental. That the civil wars bred cruelty, lawlessness and hate is noted by all contemporary writer Their economic effect was no less disastrous. During the generations which saw the close of the fifteenth and the opening of the sixteenth century, France had gone through a remarkable economic expansion. A large part of her soil formerly covered with forest, had been put under cultivation and much of it rented in small farms on long lease. The result of this was not only, as the best economic writer of the beginning of the sixteenth century estimated, that a third part of the kingdom of France was changed from forest to arable land, but that cultivation became on the whole more varied and more careful. France soon had large quantities of grain and wine to export; a progress which appears among other ways in the very noticeable increase of the number of millers and coopers. This increase in agricultural riches went hand in hand with a great increase in commerce. In addition to grain, wine, fruit, meat and fish, France exported raw silk, books, jewelry and furniture and imported large quantities of a very varied list of articles of luxury, so that the writer already cited estimated that "for one merchant in the kingdom in the times of Louis XI there are more than fifty now." (Francis I.) This prosperity had been checked by the foreign wars of Francis I and Henry II, but had rapidly recovered in the interval. It was suspended by the civil wars, which brought devastation, the abandonment of culti-

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