A History of Sixteenth-Century France, 1483–1598: by Janine Garrisson

By Janine Garrisson

A masterful new survey of sixteenth-century France which examines the vicissitudes of the French monarchy throughout the Italian Wars and the Wars of faith. It explores how the advances made less than a succession of sturdy kings from Charles VIII to Henri II created tensions in conventional society which mixed with financial difficulties and rising non secular divisions to carry the dominion just about disintegration less than a chain of susceptible kings from Francois II to Henri III. The political trouble culminated in France's first succession clash for hundreds of years, yet used to be resolved via Henri IV's well timed reconnection of dynastic legitimism with spiritual orthodoxy.

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Little by little they were turned into scapegoats, made responsible for the evils of the times, authors of misfortunes which the traditional mind could explain only in terms of fate or divine vengeance and chastisement. Witches therefore became scapegoats who had to die for the sake of the parish, village, or township. But it needed a spark to inflame opinion against them. This came from the city, where, since the late fifteenth century, lay and clerical intellectuals had set about exposing the malevolent efforts of satanic powers, whose agents were above all women, to subvert the order of earth and heaven.

At its annual fairs, the market in financial paper was so perfectly oiled that it scarcely developed any further throughout the entire Ancien Regime. The merchant bankers came there from throughout the kingdom and beyond, as the biggest deals could only be managed at the Lyon fair. Credit was available not only for major international traders but also for major luxury consumers. Gentlemen, churchmen and courtiers spent huge sums in keeping up appearances, and regularly had recourse to the bankers of Lyon, Paris and Rouen, as well as to their humbler counterparts in provincial centres and lesser towns.

Jean-Pierre Seguin has identified in the reigns from Louis XII to Henri II some 116 such items produced in Paris, 70 in Rauen, 42 in Lyon, and 7 in Toulouse, among others. But the place of imprint tells us nothing about their impact, as they circulated throughout the kingdom in the baggage of salesmen, satisfying the thirst for information of the highest and lowest in society. Towns as Social Centres The towns, which were centres for the circulation of the written word, also resounded with the voice of the preacher.

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