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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 a number of the debatable theories of the interval: kingdom development, the Aristocracy and clientage and the Reformation and discusses them with complete consciousness to the nearby variety of France. It additionally introduces the reader to fresh examine at the courtroom and executive set within the context of the fundamental social and financial routine of the interval. it truly is argued that the elemental identification of France as a state was once bolstered below the aegis of monarchical legitimacy sponsored through the the Aristocracy and the church, atmosphere the trend for the remainder of the Ancien Regime.

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Such legitimacy could be sought in other realms by acceptance of the quod omnes tangit principle and the interaction with representative asselublies or it could be generated by the appeal to Roman law principles, the 'fundamental law' of legitimate kingship and the cultivation of the public imagery of supremacy in ceremonial. On balance, the French monarChy took the latter road, and also relied on symbolic messages in order to reinforce its legitimacy. E. Schramm, in a major study of monarchy, who showed that to understand it, we have to look at both the 'symbols of power' like crowns, sceptres and vestments as well as 'gestures' by which rulers communicated what they thought themselves to be and what their subjects expected of them.

92 Until the late fifteenth century, Fawtier argued, it was impossible to establish a clear visual image of France. Writers were aware of certain general characteristics, of course, as when Commynes observed that France, bordering as it did Flanders and Germany in the north and Italy and Spain in the south, 'part of the country being hot, and part of it cold, our people are of two complexions'. Commynes, indeed, though he was fully aware of the cultural diversity of the France of his time, had no doubt about its institutional unity under the crown.

Indeed, there were customary lists of duchies, counties and cities. The assimilation of the idea of the kingdom in that of a great seigneurie was a powerful tool in the hands of medieval administrators. 95 Traditional empirical estimations made the kingdom 22 days' journey from north to south and 16 from west to east at the widest point while, locally, it was possible to state that Normandy was six days' long and four wide. 96 Louis XII even commissioned a geometrician, Louis Boulenger of Albi, to measure his kingdom and learned from this that the distance from Saint-:Jean de Luz to Geneva was 200 leagues, as was that from Boulogne to Marseille, while the circumference of the kingdom was 800 leagues (of 4 million pas).

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