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The
Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France; frm, Royaulme de France; french: link=yes, Royaume de France) is the historiographical name or Hyponymy and hypernymy, umbrella term given to various political entities of France in the Middle Ages ...
(french: link=no, Royaume de France) in the
early modern period The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, adve ...
, from the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...
(''circa'' 1500–1550) to the
Revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, suc ...

Revolution
(1789–1804), was a monarchy ruled by the
House of Bourbon The House of Bourbon (, also ; ) is a European of French origin, a branch of the , the royal . Bourbon kings first ruled France and in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the held thrones in , , , and . Spain and have monarchs ...

House of Bourbon
(a Capetian
cadet branch #REDIRECT Cadet branch In history and heraldry Heraldry () is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, ...
). This corresponds to the so-called ''
Ancien Régime The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime, was the political and soc ...
'' ("old rule"). The territory of France during this period increased until it included essentially the extent of the
modern country
modern country
, and it also included the territories of the first French colonial empire overseas. The period is dominated by the figure of the "Sun King",
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the List of longest-reigning mo ...

Louis XIV
(his reign of 1643–1715 being one of the longest in history), who managed to eliminate the remnants of
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disc ...
and established a
centralized state A unitary state is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...
under an
absolute monarch Absolute monarchy (or absolutism as doctrine) is a form of monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. ...
, a system that would endure until the French Revolution and beyond.


Geography

In the mid 15th century, France was significantly smaller than it is today, and numerous border provinces (such as
Roussillon File:wine600.jpg, 200px, Grape pickers near Maury, Pyrénées-Orientales, Maury Roussillon ( , , ; ca, Rosselló ; oc, Rosselhon ) is a historical province of France that largely corresponded to the County of Roussillon and French Cerdagn ...

Roussillon
,
Cerdagne Cerdanya () or often La Cerdanya ( la, Ceretani or ''Ceritania''; french: Cerdagne; es, Cerdaña), is a and of the eastern divided between and . Historically it was one of the . Cerdanya has a land area of , divided almost evenly between Spa ...
,
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
,
Béarn Béarn (; ; oc, Bearn or ''Biarn''; eu, Bearno or ''Biarno''; or ''Bearnia'') is one of the traditional provinces of France, located in the Pyrenees mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest France. Along with the three Northern ...

Béarn
,
Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Foral de Navarra, links=no ; eu, Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea, links=no ), is a Fuero, foral autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous co ...
,
County of Foix The County of Foix (french: Comté de Foix, ; oc, Comtat de Fois) was an independent medieval fief in southern France, and later a province of France, whose territory corresponded roughly the eastern part of the modern ''département'' of Arièg ...

County of Foix
,
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...
,
Artois Artois ( ; ; nl, Artesië; English adjective: ''Artesian'') is a region of northern France. Its territory covers an area of about 4,000 km2 and it has a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras Arras ( , ; pc ...

Artois
,
Lorraine Lorraine , also , , ; LorrainLorrain may refer to: * Claude Lorrain (1600–82), a 17th-century French artist of the baroque style * Lorrain language Lorrain is a dialect (often referred to as patois) spoken by a minority of people in Lo ...
,
Alsace Alsace (, also ; Low Alemannic German Low Alemannic German (german: Niederalemannisch) is a branch of Alemannic German Alemannic, or rarely Alemannish (''Alemannisch'', ), is a group of High German dialects. The name derives from the ancie ...

Alsace
, Trois-Évêchés,
Franche-Comté Franche-Comté (, ; ; Frainc-Comtou dialect, Frainc-Comtou: ''Fraintche-Comtè''; frp, Franche-Comtât; also german: Freigrafschaft; es, Franco Condado; all ) is a cultural and Provinces of France, historical region of eastern France. It is com ...

Franche-Comté
,
Savoy Savoy (; frp, Savouè ; french: Savoie is a cultural-historical region in the Western Alps it, Alpi occidentaligerman: Westalpen , photo=Mont Blanc from Punta Helbronner, 2010 July.JPG , photo_caption=Mont Blanc Mont Blanc (french: Mont ...

Savoy
,
Bresse Bresse is a former French province. It is located in the regions In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, ...

Bresse
,
Bugey The Bugey ( Arpitan: ''Bugê'') is a historical region in the Departments of France, department of Ain in eastern France between Lyon and Geneva. It is located in a loop of the Rhône River in the southeast of the department. It includes the foothil ...
, Gex,
Nice Nice ( , ; Niçard: , classical norm, or , nonstandard, ; it, Nizza ; grc, Νίκαια; la, Nicaea) is the Urban area (France)#List of France's aires urbaines (metropolitan areas), seventh most populous urban area in France and the prefectu ...

Nice
,
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, R ...

Provence
, Corsica and
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
) were autonomous or foreign-held (as by the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
); there were also foreign enclaves, like the
Comtat Venaissin The Comtat Venaissin (; Provençal: , Mistralian norm: , classical norm: ; 'County of Venaissin'), often called the for short, was a part of the Papal States The Papal States ( ; it, Stato Pontificio), officially the State of the Churc ...

Comtat Venaissin
. In addition, certain provinces within France were ostensibly personal fiefdoms of noble families (like the
Bourbonnais Bourbonnais () was a historic province in the centre of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Ov ...

Bourbonnais
,
Marche Marche ( , ) is one of the twenty regions of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alp ...

Marche
,
ForezImage:Armoiries Forez.svg, Coat of arms of Forez Forez is a Provinces of France, former province of France, corresponding approximately to the central part of the modern Loire (department), Loire ''département in France, département'' and a part of ...
and
Auvergne Auvergne (; ; oc, label=Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, a ...
provinces held by the
House of Bourbon The House of Bourbon (, also ; ) is a European of French origin, a branch of the , the royal . Bourbon kings first ruled France and in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the held thrones in , , , and . Spain and have monarchs ...

House of Bourbon
until the provinces were forcibly integrated into the royal domaine in 1527 after the fall of
Charles III, Duke of Bourbon Charles III (17 February 1490 – 6 May 1527) was a French military leader, the count of Montpensier The French lordship of Montpensier (named after the village of Montpensier, Puy-de-Dôme, Montpensier, département in France, départemen ...

Charles III, Duke of Bourbon
). The late 15th, 16th and 17th centuries would see France undergo a massive territorial expansion and an attempt to better integrate its provinces into an administrative whole. During this period, France expanded to nearly its modern territorial extent through the acquisition of
Picardy Picardy (; Picard and french: Picardie, , ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organiz ...

Picardy
,
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organizati ...
,
Anjou Anjou (, ; ; la, Andegavia) was a French province straddling the lower Loire River The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger; la, Liger) is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of , it drains , more than ...
,
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Gulf of Maine to the southeast; and the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Qu ...
,
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, R ...

Provence
,
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
,
Franche-Comté Franche-Comté (, ; ; Frainc-Comtou dialect, Frainc-Comtou: ''Fraintche-Comtè''; frp, Franche-Comtât; also german: Freigrafschaft; es, Franco Condado; all ) is a cultural and Provinces of France, historical region of eastern France. It is com ...

Franche-Comté
,
French Flanders French Flanders (french: La Flandre française; nl, Frans-Vlaanderen; vls, Frans-Vloandern) is a part of the historical County of Flanders The County of Flanders ( nl, Graafschap Vlaanderen; vls, Groafschap Vloandern; french: Comté de Flandr ...
,
Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Foral de Navarra, links=no ; eu, Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea, links=no ), is a Fuero, foral autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous co ...

Navarre
,
Roussillon File:wine600.jpg, 200px, Grape pickers near Maury, Pyrénées-Orientales, Maury Roussillon ( , , ; ca, Rosselló ; oc, Rosselhon ) is a historical province of France that largely corresponded to the County of Roussillon and French Cerdagn ...

Roussillon
, the
Duchy of Lorraine The Duchy of Lorraine (french: Lorraine ; german: Lothringen ), originally Upper Lorraine, was a duchy A duchy, also called a dukedom, is a , territory, , or domain ruled by a or , a high-ranking nobleman hierarchically second to the or i ...

Duchy of Lorraine
,
Alsace Alsace (, also ; Low Alemannic German Low Alemannic German (german: Niederalemannisch) is a branch of Alemannic German Alemannic, or rarely Alemannish (''Alemannisch'', ), is a group of High German dialects. The name derives from the ancie ...

Alsace
and
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
. French acquisitions from 1461–1789: * under
Louis XI Louis XI (3 July 1423 – 30 August 1483), called "Louis the Prudent" (french: le Prudent), was King of France from 1461 to 1483. He succeeded his father, Charles VII of France, Charles VII. Louis entered into open rebellion against his father ...

Louis XI
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, R ...

Provence
(1482),
Dauphiné The Dauphiné (, ; ; oc, Daufinat or ; frp, Dôfenât or ; former English name: Dauphiny) is a former province in Southeastern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of ...

Dauphiné
(1461, under French control since 1349) * under
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
, Trois-Évêchés (1552) * under
Henry IVHenry IV may refer to: People * Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1050–1106), King of The Romans and Holy Roman Emperor * Henry IV, Duke of Limburg (1195–1247) * Henry IV, Duke of Brabant (1251/1252–1272) * Henryk IV Probus (c. 1258–1290), Duke ...

Henry IV
County of Foix The County of Foix (french: Comté de Foix, ; oc, Comtat de Fois) was an independent medieval fief in southern France, and later a province of France, whose territory corresponded roughly the eastern part of the modern ''département'' of Arièg ...

County of Foix
(1607) * under
Louis XIII Louis XIII (; sometimes called the Just; 27 September 1601 – 14 May 1643) was from 1610 until his death in 1643 and (as Louis II) from 1610 to 1620, when the crown of Navarre was merged with the French crown. Shortly before his ninth bi ...
Béarn Béarn (; ; oc, Bearn or ''Biarn''; eu, Bearno or ''Biarno''; or ''Bearnia'') is one of the traditional provinces of France, located in the Pyrenees mountains and in the plain at their feet, in southwest France. Along with the three Northern ...

Béarn
and
Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Foral de Navarra, links=no ; eu, Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea, links=no ), is a Fuero, foral autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous co ...
(1620, under French control since 1589 as part of
Henry IVHenry IV may refer to: People * Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1050–1106), King of The Romans and Holy Roman Emperor * Henry IV, Duke of Limburg (1195–1247) * Henry IV, Duke of Brabant (1251/1252–1272) * Henryk IV Probus (c. 1258–1290), Duke ...

Henry IV
's possessions) * under
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the List of longest-reigning mo ...

Louis XIV
**
Treaty of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
(1648) –
Alsace Alsace (, also ; Low Alemannic German Low Alemannic German (german: Niederalemannisch) is a branch of Alemannic German Alemannic, or rarely Alemannish (''Alemannisch'', ), is a group of High German dialects. The name derives from the ancie ...

Alsace
**
Treaty of the Pyrenees The Treaty of the Pyrenees (french: Traité des Pyrénées, es, Tratado de los Pirineos, ca, Tractat dels Pirineus) was signed on 7 November 1659 on Pheasant Island Pheasant Island (french: Île des Faisans/Île de la Conférence, es, Isl ...
(1659) –
Artois Artois ( ; ; nl, Artesië; English adjective: ''Artesian'') is a region of northern France. Its territory covers an area of about 4,000 km2 and it has a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras Arras ( , ; pc ...

Artois
,
Northern Catalonia Northern Catalonia, ; french: Catalogne (du) Nord ; oc, Catalonha (del) Nòrd; es, Cataluña (del) Norte) French Catalonia or Roussillon refers to the Catalan language, Catalan-speaking and Catalan-culture territory ceded to France by Spain t ...
(
Roussillon File:wine600.jpg, 200px, Grape pickers near Maury, Pyrénées-Orientales, Maury Roussillon ( , , ; ca, Rosselló ; oc, Rosselhon ) is a historical province of France that largely corresponded to the County of Roussillon and French Cerdagn ...

Roussillon
,
Cerdagne Cerdanya () or often La Cerdanya ( la, Ceretani or ''Ceritania''; french: Cerdagne; es, Cerdaña), is a and of the eastern divided between and . Historically it was one of the . Cerdanya has a land area of , divided almost evenly between Spa ...
) **
Treaty of Nijmegen The Treaties of Peace of Nijmegen ('; german: Friede von Nimwegen) were a series of treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international ...
(1678–79) –
Franche-Comté Franche-Comté (, ; ; Frainc-Comtou dialect, Frainc-Comtou: ''Fraintche-Comtè''; frp, Franche-Comtât; also german: Freigrafschaft; es, Franco Condado; all ) is a cultural and Provinces of France, historical region of eastern France. It is com ...

Franche-Comté
,
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...
* under
Louis XV Louis XV (15 February 1710 – 10 May 1774), known as Louis the Beloved (french: le Bien-Aimé), was King of France from 1 September 1715 until his death in 1774. He succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five. Until he reached ...

Louis XV
Lorraine Lorraine , also , , ; LorrainLorrain may refer to: * Claude Lorrain (1600–82), a 17th-century French artist of the baroque style * Lorrain language Lorrain is a dialect (often referred to as patois) spoken by a minority of people in Lo ...
(1766),
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
(1768) Only the Duchy of
Savoy Savoy (; frp, Savouè ; french: Savoie is a cultural-historical region in the Western Alps it, Alpi occidentaligerman: Westalpen , photo=Mont Blanc from Punta Helbronner, 2010 July.JPG , photo_caption=Mont Blanc Mont Blanc (french: Mont ...

Savoy
, the city of
Nice Nice ( , ; Niçard: , classical norm, or , nonstandard, ; it, Nizza ; grc, Νίκαια; la, Nicaea) is the Urban area (France)#List of France's aires urbaines (metropolitan areas), seventh most populous urban area in France and the prefectu ...

Nice
and some other small papal (e.g.,
Avignon Avignon (, ; ; oc, Avinhon, label= Provençal or , ; la, Avenio) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. L ...

Avignon
) and foreign possessions would be acquired later. (For a map of historic French provinces, see
Provinces of France The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until the National Constituent Assembly (France), National Constituent Assembly adopted a more uniform division into Departments of France, departments (''départements'') and Arrondissements of Fr ...

Provinces of France
). France also embarked on exploration, colonisation, and mercantile exchanges with the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...
(
New France New France (french: Nouvelle-France) was the area colonized by France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its extends from the to the a ...

New France
,
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
,
Martinique Martinique ( , ; gcf, label=Martinican Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and ...

Martinique
,
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe (; ; gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and voca ...
,
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ; french: Haïti ), officially the Republic of Haiti (; ), and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and J ...

Haiti
,
French Guiana French Guiana ( or ; french: link=no, Guyane ) is an overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity A single territorial collectivity (french: collectivité territoriale ''unique'') is a chartered subdivision of France ...

French Guiana
), India (
Pondicherry Pondicherry (), List of renamed places in India, now known as Puducherry (), is the Capital city, capital and the most-populous city of the Puducherry (union territory), Union Territory of Puducherry in India. The city is in the Puducherry dis ...
), the Indian Ocean (
Réunion Réunion (french: La Réunion, ; previously ''Île Bourbon''; rcf, label= Reunionese Creole, La Rénion) is an island in the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five ocean The ocean (also the or t ...

Réunion
), the Far East, and a few African trading posts. Although
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
was the capital of France, the later Valois kings largely abandoned the city as their primary residence, preferring instead various
châteaux
châteaux
of the
Loire Valley The Loire Valley (french: Val de Loire, link=no, ), spanning , is a valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Mos ...
and Parisian countryside.
Henry IVHenry IV may refer to: People * Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1050–1106), King of The Romans and Holy Roman Emperor * Henry IV, Duke of Limburg (1195–1247) * Henry IV, Duke of Brabant (1251/1252–1272) * Henryk IV Probus (c. 1258–1290), Duke ...

Henry IV
made Paris his primary residence (promoting a major building boom in private mansions), but
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the List of longest-reigning mo ...

Louis XIV
once again withdrew from the city in the last decades of his reign and
Versailles The Palace of Versailles ( ; french: Château de Versailles ) is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about west of Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, mo ...

Versailles
became the primary seat of the French monarchy for much of the following century. The administrative and legal system in France in this period is generally called the
Ancien Régime The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime was the political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms o ...
.


Demography

The
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bact ...

Black Death
had killed an estimated one-third of the population of France from its appearance in 1348. The concurrent
Hundred Years' War The Hundred Years’ War (french: link=yes, La guerre de Cent Ans; 1337–1453) was a series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of and during the . It originated from disputed claims to the between the English and the French roy ...
slowed recovery. It would be the early 16th century before the population recovered to mid-14th-century levels. With an estimated population of 11 million in 1400, 20 million in the 17th century, and 28 million in 1789, until 1795 France was the most populated country in Europe (even ahead of
Tsardom of Russia The Tsardom of Russia or Tsardom of Rus' (russian: Русское царство, translit=Russkoye tsarstvo, later changed to: ), also externally referenced as the Tsardom of Muscovy, was the centralized Russian state from the assumption of the ...
and twice the size of
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
or the
Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands), commonly referred to in historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was ...
) and the third most populous country in the world, behind only China and India. These demographic changes also led to a massive increase in
urban Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities. Urban may also refer to: General * Urban (name), a list of people ...
populations, although on the whole France remained a profoundly rural country.
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
was one of the most populated cities in Europe (estimated at 400,000 inhabitants in 1550; 650,000 at the end of the 18th century). Other major French cities include
Lyon Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, ...

Lyon
,
Rouen Rouen (, ; or ) is a city on the River Seine in northern France. It is the prefecture of the Regions of France, region of Normandy (administrative region), Normandy and the Departments of France, department of Seine-Maritime. Formerly one of ...

Rouen
,
Bordeaux Bordeaux ( , ; Gascon language, Gascon oc, Bordèu ) is a port city on the river Garonne in the Gironde Departments of France, department in Southwestern France. The municipality (Communes of France, commune) of Bordeaux proper has a popula ...

Bordeaux
,
Toulouse Toulouse ( , ; oc, Tolosa ) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...

Toulouse
, and
Marseille Marseille ( , , ; also spelled in English as Marseilles; oc, Marselha ) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langua ...

Marseille
. These centuries saw several periods of epidemics and crop failures due to wars and climatic change. (Historians speak of the period 1550–1850 as the "
Little Ice Age The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) also known as the Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate Climate is the ...
".) Between 1693 and 1694, France lost 6% of its population. In the extremely harsh winter of 1709, France lost 3.5% of its population. In the past 300 years, no period has been so proportionally deadly for the French, both World Wars included.


Language

Linguistically, the differences in France were extreme. Before the Renaissance, the language spoken in the north of France was a collection of different dialects called Oïl languages whereas the written and administrative language remained
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
. By the 16th century, there had developed a standardised form of
French
French
(called
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from ...
) which would be the basis of the standardised "modern" French of the 17th and 18th century which in turn became the lingua franca of the European continent. (In 1539, with the
Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts The Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts (french: Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts) is an extensive piece of reform legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating Promulgation is the formal proclamation ...
,
Francis I of France Francis I (french: François Ier; frm, Francoys; 12 September 1494 – 31 March 1547) was King of France from 1515 until his death in 1547. He was the son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy. He succeeded his first cousin once ...
made French alone the language for legal and juridical acts.) Nevertheless, in 1790, only half of the population spoke or understood standard French. The southern half of the country continued to speak
Occitan language Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolv ...
s (such as Provençal), and other inhabitants spoke
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
,
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
,
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
(
West Flemish West Flemish (''West-Vlams'' or ''West-Vloams'' or ''Vlaemsch'' (in French-Flanders), nl, West-Vlaams, french: flamand occidental) is a collection of dialects spoken in western Belgium and the neighbouring areas of France and Netherlands. West ...
), and
Franco-Provençal Franco-Provençal (also Francoprovençal, Patois, Gaga, Savoyard, Arpitan or Romand) is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance languages, Gallo-Romance originally spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland and northwestern Italy. Franco ...
. In the north of France, regional dialects of the various
langues d'oïl The ''langues d'oïl'' (; ) are a dialect continuum A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a series of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighboring varieties are mutually intelligible In linguistics ...
continued to be spoken in rural communities. During the French revolution, the teaching of French was promoted in all the schools. The French used would be that of the legal system, which differed from the French spoken in the courts of France before the revolution. Like the orators during the French revolution, the pronunciation of every syllable would become the new language. France would not become a linguistically unified country until the end of the 19th century.


Administrative structures

The Ancien Régime, the
French
French
term rendered in English as "Old Rule", "Old Kingdom", or simply "Old Regime", refers primarily to the
aristocratic Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: A ...
,
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...
and
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

political
system established in France from (roughly) the 15th century to the 18th century under the late Valois and
BourbonBourbon may refer to: Food and drink * Bourbon whiskey, an American whiskey made using a corn-based mash * Bourbon barrel aged beer, a type of beer aged in bourbon barrels * Bourbon biscuit, a chocolate sandwich biscuit * A beer produced by Brass ...

Bourbon
dynasties. The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts (like the
Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts The Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts (french: Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts) is an extensive piece of reform legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating Promulgation is the formal proclamation ...
), internal conflicts and civil wars, but they remained a confusing patchwork of local
privilege Privilege may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''Privilege'' (film), a 1967 film directed by Peter Watkins * ''Privilege'' (Ivor Cutler album), 1983 * ''Privilege'' (Television Personalities album), 1990 * ''Privilege (Abridged) ''Privile ...
and historic differences until the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
took place in a radical time suppression of administrative incoherence.


Economy


Culture


Political history


Background

The Peace of Etaples (1492) marks, for some, the beginning of the early modern period in France. After the
Hundred Years' War The Hundred Years’ War (french: link=yes, La guerre de Cent Ans; 1337–1453) was a series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of and during the . It originated from disputed claims to the between the English and the French roy ...
(1337–1453) and the
Treaty of Picquigny The Treaty of Picquigny was a peace treaty negotiated on 29 August 1475 between the Kingdom of England and the France in the Middle Ages, Kingdom of France. It followed from an invasion of France by Edward IV of England in alliance with Duchy of ...
(1475)—its official end date—in 1492 and 1493,
Charles VIII of France Charles VIII, called the Affable (french: l'Affable; 30 June 1470 – 7 April 1498), was King of France The monarchs of the Kingdom of France ruled from the establishment of the West Francia, Kingdom of the West Franks in 843 until the fall ...
signed three additional treaties with
Henry VII of England Henry VII ( cy, Harri Tudur; 28 January 1457 – 21 April 1509) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the begins with , who initially ruled , one of the which later made up modern England. Alfred styled himself King of ...
,
Maximilian I of Habsburg
Maximilian I of Habsburg
, and
Ferdinand II of Aragon Ferdinand II of Aragon ( an, Ferrando; ca, Ferran; eu, Errando; es, Fernando; 10 March 1452 – 23 January 1516), also called ''Ferdinand the Catholic'', was King of Aragon from 1479, King of Sicily (as Ferdinand II) from 1469, List of monar ...
respectively at Étaples (1492),
Senlis Senlis () is a Communes of France, commune in the northern French Departments of France, department of Oise. The monarchs of the early French dynasties lived in Senlis, attracted by the proximity of the Chantilly, Oise, Chantilly forest. It is kno ...
(1493) and in Treaty of Barcelona (1493), Barcelona (1493). As the 15th century drew to a close, French kings could take confidence in the fact that England had been mostly driven from their territory and so they could now embark on an expansionist foreign policy. The invasion of Italy by Charles VIII in 1494 began 62 years of war with the Habsburgs (the Italian Wars).


Foreign relations


Wars

Despite the beginnings of rapid demographic and economic recovery after the
Black Death The Black Death (also known as the Pestilence, the Great Mortality or the Plague) was a bubonic plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bact ...

Black Death
of the 14th century, the gains of the previous half-century were to be jeopardised by a further protracted series of conflicts, the Italian Wars (1494–1559), where French efforts to gain dominance ended in the increased power of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors of Germany. In 1445, the first steps were made towards fashioning a regular army out of the poorly disciplined mercenary bands that French kings traditionally relied on. The medieval division of society into "those who fought (nobility), those who prayed (clergy), and those who worked (everyone else)" still held strong and warfare was considered a domain of the nobles. Charles VIII marched into Italy with a core force consisting of noble horsemen and non-noble foot soldiers, but in time the role of the latter grew stronger so that by the middle of the 16th century, France had a standing army of 5000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry. The military was reorganized from a system of legions recruited by province (Norman legion, Gascon legion, etc.) to regiments, an arrangement which persisted into the next century. However, the nobility and troops were often disloyal to the king, if not outright rebellious, and it took another army reform by Louis XIV to finally transform the French army into an obedient force. Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, seeking an ally against the Republic of Venice, encouraged
Charles VIII of France Charles VIII, called the Affable (french: l'Affable; 30 June 1470 – 7 April 1498), was King of France The monarchs of the Kingdom of France ruled from the establishment of the West Francia, Kingdom of the West Franks in 843 until the fall ...
to invade Italy, using the House of Valois-Anjou, Angevin claim to the throne of Naples, then under Aragonese control, as a pretext. When Ferdinand I of Naples died in 1494, Charles invaded the peninsula. For several months, French forces moved through Italy virtually unopposed, since the ''condottieri'' armies of the Italian city-states were unable to resist them. Their sack of Naples finally provoked a reaction, however, and the League of Venice was formed against them. Italian troops defeated the French at the Battle of Fornovo, forcing Charles to withdraw to France. Ludovico, having betrayed the French at Fornovo, retained his throne until 1499, when Charles's successor, Louis XII of France, invaded Lombardy and seized Milan. In 1500, Louis XII, having reached an agreement with
Ferdinand II of Aragon Ferdinand II of Aragon ( an, Ferrando; ca, Ferran; eu, Errando; es, Fernando; 10 March 1452 – 23 January 1516), also called ''Ferdinand the Catholic'', was King of Aragon from 1479, King of Sicily (as Ferdinand II) from 1469, List of monar ...
to divide Naples, marched south from Milan. By 1502, combined French and Aragonese forces had seized control of the Kingdom; disagreements about the terms of the partition led to a war between Louis and Ferdinand. By 1503, Louis, having been defeated at the Battle of Cerignola and Battle of Garigliano (1503), Battle of Garigliano, was forced to withdraw from Naples, which was left under the control of the Spanish viceroy, Ramón de Cardona. French forces under Gaston of Foix, Duke of Nemours, Gaston de Foix inflicted an overwhelming defeat on a Spanish army at the Battle of Ravenna (1512), Battle of Ravenna in 1512, but Foix was killed during the battle, and the French were forced to withdraw from Italy by an invasion of Milan by the Swiss, who reinstated Maximilian Sforza to the ducal throne. The League of Cambrai, Holy League, left victorious, fell apart over the subject of dividing the spoils, and in 1513 Venice allied with France, agreeing to partition Lombardy between them. Louis mounted another invasion of Milan, but was defeated at the Battle of Novara (1513), Battle of Novara, which was quickly followed by a series of Holy League victories at Battle of La Motta (1513), La Motta, Battle of the Spurs, Guinegate, and Battle of Flodden, Flodden, in which the French, Venetian, and Scottish forces were decisively defeated. However, the death of Pope Julius left the League without effective leadership, and when Louis' successor, Francis I of France, Francis I, defeated the Swiss at Battle of Marignano, Marignano in 1515, the League collapsed, and by the treaties of Noyon and Brussels, surrendered to France and Venice the entirety of northern Italy. The elevation of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles of Spain to Holy Roman Emperor, a position that Francis had desired, led to a collapse of relations between France and the Habsburgs. In 1519, a Spanish invasion of
Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Foral de Navarra, links=no ; eu, Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea, links=no ), is a Fuero, foral autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous co ...

Navarre
, nominally a French fief, provided Francis with a pretext for starting a general war; French forces flooded into Italy and began a campaign to drive Charles from Naples. The French were outmatched, however, by the fully developed Spanish tercio tactics, and suffered a series of crippling defeats at Battle of Bicocca, Bicocca and Battle of the Sesia (1524), Sesia against Spanish troops under Fernando d'Avalos. With Milan itself threatened, Francis personally led a French army into Lombardy in 1525, only to be defeated and captured at the Battle of Pavia; imprisoned in Madrid, Francis was forced to agree to extensive concessions over his Italian territories in the "Treaty of Madrid" (1526). The inconclusive third war between Charles and Francis began with the death of Francesco II Sforza, the duke of Milan. When Charles' son Philip II of Spain, Philip inherited the duchy, Francis invaded Italy, capturing Turin, but failed to take Milan. In response, Charles invaded
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, R ...

Provence
, advancing to Aix-en-Provence, but withdrew to Spain rather than attacking the heavily fortified
Avignon Avignon (, ; ; oc, Avinhon, label= Provençal or , ; la, Avenio) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. L ...

Avignon
. The Truce of Nice ended the war, leaving Turin in French hands but effecting no significant change in the map of Italy. Francis, allying himself with Suleiman the Magnificent, Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire, launched a final invasion of Italy. A Franco-Ottoman fleet captured the city of
Nice Nice ( , ; Niçard: , classical norm, or , nonstandard, ; it, Nizza ; grc, Νίκαια; la, Nicaea) is the Urban area (France)#List of France's aires urbaines (metropolitan areas), seventh most populous urban area in France and the prefectu ...

Nice
in August 1543, and laid siege to the citadel. The defenders were relieved within a month. The French, under François, Count d'Enghien, defeated an Imperial army at the Battle of Ceresole in 1544, but the French failed to penetrate further into Lombardy. Charles and Henry VIII of England then proceeded to invade northern France, seizing Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne and Soissons. A lack of cooperation between the Spanish and English armies, coupled with increasingly aggressive Ottoman attacks, led Charles to abandon these conquests, restoring the status quo once again. In 1547, Henry II of France, who had succeeded Francis to the throne, declared war against Charles with the intent of recapturing Italy and ensuring French, rather than Habsburg, domination of European affairs. An early offensive against Lorraine (duchy), Lorraine was successful, but the attempted French invasion of Tuscany in 1553 was defeated at the Battle of Marciano. Charles's abdication in 1556 split the Habsburg empire between Philip II of Spain and Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand I, and shifted the focus of the war to Flanders, where Philip, in conjunction with Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, defeated the French at Battle of St. Quentin (1557), St. Quentin. England's entry into the war later that year led to the French capture of
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
, England's last possession on the French mainland, and French armies plundered Spanish possessions in the Low Countries; but Henry was nonetheless forced to accept the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, in which he renounced any further claims to Italy.


The Wars of Religion

Barely were the Italian Wars over, when France was plunged into a domestic crisis with far-reaching consequences. Despite the conclusion of a Concordat of Bologna, Concordat between France and the Papacy (1516), granting the crown unrivalled power in senior ecclesiastical appointments, France was deeply affected by the Protestant Reformation's attempt to break the unity of Roman Catholic Europe. A growing urban-based Protestant minority (later dubbed ''Huguenots'') faced ever harsher repression under the rule of Francis I's son Henry II of France, King Henry II. After Henry II's unfortunate death in a joust, the country was ruled by his widow Catherine de' Medici and her sons Francis II of France, Francis II, Charles IX of France, Charles IX and Henry III of France, Henry III. Renewed Catholic reaction headed by the powerful dukes of Guise culminated in a Massacre of Vassy, massacre of Huguenots (1562), starting the first of the French Wars of Religion, during which English, German, and Spanish forces intervened on the side of rival Protestant and Catholic forces. Opposed to absolute monarchy, the Huguenots Monarchomachs theorized during this time the right of rebellion and the legitimacy of tyrannicide. The Wars of Religion culminated in the War of the Three Henrys (1584-1598), War of the Three Henrys in which Henry III of France, Henry III assassinated Henry I, Duke of Guise, Henry de Guise, leader of the Spanish-backed Catholic League (French), Catholic league, and the king was murdered in return. After the assassination of both Henry of Guise (1588) and Henry III (1589), the conflict was ended by the accession of the Protestant king of Navarre as
Henry IVHenry IV may refer to: People * Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1050–1106), King of The Romans and Holy Roman Emperor * Henry IV, Duke of Limburg (1195–1247) * Henry IV, Duke of Brabant (1251/1252–1272) * Henryk IV Probus (c. 1258–1290), Duke ...

Henry IV
(first king of the Bourbon dynasty) and his subsequent abandonment of Protestantism (Expedient of 1592) effective in 1593, his acceptance by most of the Catholic establishment (1594) and by the Pope (1595), and his issue of the toleration decree known as the Edict of Nantes (1598), which guaranteed freedom of private worship and civil equality.


France in the 17th and 18th centuries

France's pacification under
Henry IVHenry IV may refer to: People * Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1050–1106), King of The Romans and Holy Roman Emperor * Henry IV, Duke of Limburg (1195–1247) * Henry IV, Duke of Brabant (1251/1252–1272) * Henryk IV Probus (c. 1258–1290), Duke ...

Henry IV
laid much of the ground for the beginnings of France's rise to European hegemony. One of the most admired French kings, Henry was fatally stabbed by a Catholic fanatic in 1610 as war with Spain threatened. Troubles gradually developed during the regency headed by his queen Marie de Medici. France was expansive during all but the end of the 17th century: the French began trading in India and Madagascar, founded Quebec and penetrated the North American Great Lakes and Mississippi, established plantation economies in the West Indies and extended their trade contacts in the Levant and enlarged their merchant marine. Henry IV's son
Louis XIII Louis XIII (; sometimes called the Just; 27 September 1601 – 14 May 1643) was from 1610 until his death in 1643 and (as Louis II) from 1610 to 1620, when the crown of Navarre was merged with the French crown. Shortly before his ninth bi ...
and his minister (1624–1642) Cardinal Richelieu, elaborated a policy against Spain and the German emperor during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) which had broken out among the lands of Germany's Holy Roman Empire. An English-backed Huguenot rebellion (1625–1628) defeated, France intervened directly (1635) in the wider European conflict following her ally (Protestant) Sweden's failure to build upon initial success. After the death of both king and cardinal, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) secured universal acceptance of Germany's political and religious fragmentation, but the Regency of Anne of Austria and her minister Cardinal Mazarin experienced a civil uprising known as the Fronde (1648–1653) which expanded into a Fronde, Franco-Spanish War (1653–1659). The
Treaty of the Pyrenees The Treaty of the Pyrenees (french: Traité des Pyrénées, es, Tratado de los Pirineos, ca, Tractat dels Pirineus) was signed on 7 November 1659 on Pheasant Island Pheasant Island (french: Île des Faisans/Île de la Conférence, es, Isl ...
(1659) formalised France's seizure (1642) of the Spanish territory of
Roussillon File:wine600.jpg, 200px, Grape pickers near Maury, Pyrénées-Orientales, Maury Roussillon ( , , ; ca, Rosselló ; oc, Rosselhon ) is a historical province of France that largely corresponded to the County of Roussillon and French Cerdagn ...

Roussillon
after the crushing of the ephemeral Catalan Republic and ushered a short period of peace. For most of the reign of
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the List of longest-reigning mo ...

Louis XIV
(1643–1715), France was the dominant power in Europe, aided by the diplomacy of Richelieu's successor (1642–1661) Cardinal Cardinal Mazarin, Mazarin and the economic policies (1661–1683) of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Colbert. Colbert's attempts to promote economic growth and the creation of new industries were not a great success, and France did not undergo any sort of industrial revolution during Louis XIV's reign. Indeed, much of the French countryside during this period remained poor and overpopulated. The resistance of peasants to adopt the potato, according to some monarchist apologists, and other new agricultural innovations while continuing to rely on cereal crops led to repeated catastrophic famines long after they had ceased in the rest of Western Europe. Prior to Louis XIV's reign, French soldiers frequently went into battle barefoot and with no weapons. On the other hand, France's high birthrate until the 18th century proved beneficial to its rulers since it meant the country could field larger armies than its neighbors. In fact, the king's foreign policy, as well as his lavish court and construction projects, left the country in enormous debt. The Palace of Versailles was criticized as overly extravagant even while it was still under construction, but dozens of imitations were built across Europe. Renewed war (the War of Devolution 1667–1668 and the Franco-Dutch War 1672–1678) brought further territorial gains (
Artois Artois ( ; ; nl, Artesië; English adjective: ''Artesian'') is a region of northern France. Its territory covers an area of about 4,000 km2 and it has a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras Arras ( , ; pc ...

Artois
and western Flanders and the free county of Burgundy, left to the Empire in 1482), but at the cost of the increasingly concerted opposition of rival powers. French culture was part of French hegemony. In the early part of the century French painters had to go to Rome to shed their provinciality (Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain), but Simon Vouet brought home the taste for a classicized baroque that would characterise the French Baroque, epitomised in the Académie de peinture et de sculpture, in the painting of Charles Le Brun and the sculpture of François Girardon. With the Palais du Luxembourg, the Château de Maisons and Vaux-le-Vicomte, French classical architecture was admired abroad even before the creation of
Versailles The Palace of Versailles ( ; french: Château de Versailles ) is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about west of Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, mo ...

Versailles
or Perrault's Louvre colonnade. Salon (gathering), Parisian salon culture set standards of discriminating taste from the 1630s, and with Blaise Pascal, Pascal, Descartes, Pierre Bayle, Bayle, Pierre Corneille, Corneille, Jean Racine, Racine and Molière, France became the cultural center of Europe. In an effort to prevent the nobility from revolting and challenging his authority, Louis implemented an extremely elaborate system of court etiquette with the idea that learning it would occupy most of the nobles' time and they could not plan rebellion. By the start of the 18th century, the nobility in France had been effectively neutered and would never again have more power than the crown. Also, Louis willingly granted titles of nobility to those who had performed distinguished service to the state so that it did not become a closed caste and it was possible for commoners to rise through the social ranks. The king sought to impose total religious uniformity on the country, repealing the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The infamous practice of dragonnades was adopted, whereby rough soldiers were quartered in the homes of Protestant families and allowed to have their way with them. Scores of Protestants fled France, costing the country a great many intellectuals, artisans, and other valuable people. Persecution extended to unorthodox Catholics like the Jansenists, a group that denied free will and had already been condemned by the popes. Louis was no theologian and understood little of the complex doctrines of Jansenism, satisfying himself with the fact that they threatened the unity of the state. In this, he garnered the friendship of the papacy, which had previously been hostile to France because of its policy of putting all church property in the country under the jurisdiction of the state rather than of Rome. Cardinal Mazarin oversaw the creation of a French navy that rivaled England's, expanding it from 25 ships to almost 200. The size of the army was also considerably increased. Starting in the 1670s, Louis XIV established the so-called Chambers of Reunion, courts in which judges would determine whether certain Habsburg territories belonged rightfully to France. The king was relying on the somewhat vague wording in the Treaty of Westphalia, while also dredging up older French claims, some dating back to medieval times. Through this, he concluded that the strategically important imperial city of Strassburg should have gone to France in 1648. In September 1681, French troops occupied the city, which was at once strongly fortified. As the imperial armies were then busy fighting the Ottoman Empire, they could not do anything about this for a number of years. The basic aim of Louis' foreign policy was to give France more easily defensible borders, and to eliminate weak spots (Strassburg had often been used by the Habsburgs as a gateway into France). Following the Whig establishment on the English and Scottish thrones by the Dutch prince William III of England, William of Orange in 1688, the anti-French "Grand Alliance (League of Augsburg), Grand Alliance" of 1689 was established. With the Turks now in retreat, the emperor Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold could turn his attention to France. The ensuing War of the Grand Alliance lasted from 1688–1697. France's resources were stretched to the breaking point by the cost of fielding an army of over 300,000 men and two naval squadrons. Famine in 1692–1693 killed up to two million people. The exhaustion of the powers brought the fighting to an end in 1697, by which time the French were in control of the Spanish Netherlands and Catalonia. However, Louis gave back his conquests and gained only
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ; french: Haïti ), officially the Republic of Haiti (; ), and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and J ...

Haiti
. The French people, feeling that their sacrifices in the war had been for nothing, never forgave him. The battles of Barfleur and La Hougue, Battle of La Hougue (1692) was the decisive naval battle in the war and confirmed the durable dominance of the Royal Navy of England. In November 1700, the severely ill Spanish king Charles II of Spain, Charles II died, ending the Habsburg line in that country. Louis had long waited for this moment, and now planned to put a Bourbon relative, Philip, Duke of Anjou, on the throne. Essentially, Spain was to become an obedient satellite of France, ruled by a king who would carry out orders from Versailles. Realizing how this would upset the balance of power, the other European rulers were outraged. However, most of the alternatives were equally undesirable. For example, putting another Habsburg on the throne would end up recreating the empire of Charles V, which would also grossly upset the power balance. After nine years of exhausting war, the last thing Louis wanted was another conflict. However, the rest of Europe would not stand for his ambitions in Spain, and so the War of the Spanish Succession began, a mere three years after the War of the Grand Alliance. The disasters of the war (accompanied by another famine) were so great that France was on the verge of collapse by 1709. In desperation, the king appealed to the French people to save their country, and in doing so gained thousands of new army recruits. Afterwards, his general Marshal Villars managed to drive back the allied forces. In 1714, the war ended with the treaties of Utrecht and Rastadt. France did not lose any territory, and there was no discussion of returning Flanders or Alsace to the Habsburgs. While the Duke of Anjou was accepted as King Philip V of Spain, this was done under the condition that the French and Spanish thrones never be united. Finally, France agreed to stop supporting Jacobite pretenders to the English throne. Just after the war ended, Louis died, having ruled France for 72 years. While often considered a tyrant and a warmonger (especially in England), Louis XIV was not in any way a despot in the 20th-century sense. The traditional customs and institutions of France limited his power and in any case, communications were poor and no national police force existed. Overall, the discontent and revolts of 16th- and 17th-century France did not approach the conditions that led to 1789. Events such as the Frondes were a naïve, unrevolutionary discontent and the people did not challenge the right of the king to govern nor did they question the Church. The reign (1715–1774) of
Louis XV Louis XV (15 February 1710 – 10 May 1774), known as Louis the Beloved (french: le Bien-Aimé), was King of France from 1 September 1715 until his death in 1774. He succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five. Until he reached ...

Louis XV
saw an initial return to peace and prosperity under the regency (1715–1723) of Philip II, Duke of Orléans, whose policies were largely continued (1726–1743) by Cardinal Fleury, prime minister in all but name. The exhaustion of Europe after two major wars resulted in a long period of peace, only interrupted by minor conflicts like the War of the Polish Succession from 1733–1735. Large-scale warfare resumed with the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748). But alliance with the traditional Habsburg enemy (the "Diplomatic Revolution" of 1756) against the rising power of Britain and Prussia led to costly failure in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) and the loss of France's North American colonies. On the whole, the 18th century saw growing discontent with the monarchy and the established order. Louis XV was a highly unpopular king for his sexual excesses, overall weakness, and for losing Canada to the British. A strong ruler like Louis XIV could enhance the position of the monarchy, while Louis XV weakened it. The writings of the philosophers such as Voltaire were a clear sign of discontent, but the king chose to ignore them. He died of smallpox in 1774, and the French people shed few tears at his passing. While France had not yet experienced the industrial revolution that was beginning in England, the rising middle class of the cities felt increasingly frustrated with a system and rulers that seemed silly, frivolous, aloof, and antiquated, even if true feudalism no longer existed in France. Anti-establishment ideas fermented in 18th-century France in part due to the country's relative egalitarianism. While less liberal than England during the same period, the French monarchy never approached the absolutism of the eastern rulers in Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Constantinople in part because the country's traditional development as a decentralized, feudal society acted as a restraint on the power of the king. Different social classes in France each had their own unique set of privileges so that no one class could completely dominate the others. Upon Louis XV's death, his grandson Louis XVI became king. Initially popular, he too came to be widely detested by the 1780s. Again a weak ruler, he was married to an Austrian archduchess, Marie Antoinette, whose naïvety and cloistered/alienated Versailles life permitted ignorance of the true extravagance and wasteful use of borrowed money (Marie Antoinette was significantly more frugal than her predecessors). French intervention in the US War of Independence was also very expensive. With the country deeply in debt, Louis XVI permitted the radical reforms of Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune, Turgot and Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, Malesherbes, but noble disaffection led to Turgot's dismissal and Malesherbes' resignation in 1776. They were replaced by Jacques Necker. Necker had resigned in 1781 to be replaced by Charles Alexandre de Calonne, Calonne and Étienne Charles Loménie de Brienne, Brienne, before being restored in 1788. A harsh winter that year led to widespread food shortages, and by then France was a powder keg ready to explode. On the eve of the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
of 1789, France was in a profound institutional and financial crisis, but the ideas of the Enlightenment had begun to permeate the educated classes of society. On 1792 September 21 the French monarchy was effectively abolished by the proclamation of the French First Republic.


Monarchs

Valois Dynasty#Valois, Valois (1328–1498) *
Louis XI Louis XI (3 July 1423 – 30 August 1483), called "Louis the Prudent" (french: le Prudent), was King of France from 1461 to 1483. He succeeded his father, Charles VII of France, Charles VII. Louis entered into open rebellion against his father ...

Louis XI
* Charles VIII of France, Charles VIII ''After Charles VIII the Affable, the last king in the Valois Dynasty#Valois (direct), direct Valois line, three other branches of the House of Capet reigned in France until the fall of the
Ancien Régime The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime, was the political and soc ...
in 1792:'' Valois Dynasty#Valois-Orléans, Valois-Orléans (1498–1515) * Louis XII of France, Louis XII Valois Dynasty#Valois-Angoulême, Valois-Angoulême (1515–1589) * Francis I of France, Francis I *
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...
and Catherine de' Medici * Francis II of France, Francis II * Charles IX of France, Charles IX * Henry III of France, Henry III
House of Bourbon The House of Bourbon (, also ; ) is a European of French origin, a branch of the , the royal . Bourbon kings first ruled France and in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the held thrones in , , , and . Spain and have monarchs ...

House of Bourbon
(1589–1792) *
Henry IVHenry IV may refer to: People * Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1050–1106), King of The Romans and Holy Roman Emperor * Henry IV, Duke of Limburg (1195–1247) * Henry IV, Duke of Brabant (1251/1252–1272) * Henryk IV Probus (c. 1258–1290), Duke ...

Henry IV
* the Regency of Marie de Medici *
Louis XIII Louis XIII (; sometimes called the Just; 27 September 1601 – 14 May 1643) was from 1610 until his death in 1643 and (as Louis II) from 1610 to 1620, when the crown of Navarre was merged with the French crown. Shortly before his ninth bi ...
and his minister Cardinal Richelieu * the Regency of Anne of Austria and her minister Cardinal Mazarin *
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the List of longest-reigning mo ...

Louis XIV
* the Régence of Philip II, Duke of Orléans, Philip II of Orleans *
Louis XV Louis XV (15 February 1710 – 10 May 1774), known as Louis the Beloved (french: le Bien-Aimé), was King of France from 1 September 1715 until his death in 1774. He succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five. Until he reached ...

Louis XV
* Louis XVI of France, Louis XVI


Social history

France in the Ancien Régime covered a territory of around , and supported 22 million people in 1700. At least 96% of the population were peasants. France had the largest population in Europe, with European Russia second at 20 million. Britain had nearly six million, Spain had eight million, and the Austrian Habsburgs had around eight million. France's lead slowly faded after 1700, as other countries grew faster.


Rural society

In the 17th century rich peasants who had ties to the market economy provided much of the capital investment necessary for agricultural growth, and frequently moved from village to village (or town). Geographic mobility, directly tied to the market and the need for investment capital, was the main path to social mobility. The "stable" core of French society, town guilds people and village laboureurs, included cases of staggering social and geographic continuity, but even this core required regular renewal. Accepting the existence of these two societies, the constant tension between them, and extensive geographic and social mobility tied to a market economy holds the key to a clearer understanding of the evolution of the social structure, economy, and even political system of early modern France. Collins (1991) argues that the Annales School paradigm underestimated the role of the market economy; failed to explain the nature of capital investment in the rural economy; and grossly exaggerated social stability.


Women and families

Very few women held any power—some queens did, as did the heads of Catholic convents. In the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment, the writings of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau gave a political program for reform of the Ancien Régime, founded on a reform of domestic mores. Rousseau's conception of the relations between private and public spheres is more unified than that found in modern sociology. Rousseau argued that the domestic role of women is a structural precondition for a "modern" society. Within early modern society, women of urban artisanal classes participated in a range of public activities and also shared work settings with men (even though they were generally disadvantaged in terms of tasks, wages and access to property.) Salic law prohibited women from rule; however, the laws for the case of a regency, when the king was too young to govern by himself, brought the queen into the center of power. The queen could assure the passage of power from one king to another—from her late husband to her young son—while simultaneously assuring the continuity of the dynasty.


Education for girls

Educational aspirations were on the rise and were becoming increasingly institutionalized in order to supply the church and state with the functionaries to serve as their future administrators. Girls were schooled too, but not to assume political responsibility. Girls were ineligible for leadership positions and were generally considered to have an inferior intellect to their brothers. France had many small local schools where working-class children—both boys and girls—learned to read, the better "to know, love and serve God". The sons and daughters of the noble and bourgeois elites, however, were given quite distinct educations: boys were sent to upper school, perhaps a university, while their sisters (if they were lucky enough to leave the house) were sent for finishing at a convent. The Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment challenged this model, but no real alternative presented itself for female education. Only through education at home were knowledgeable women formed, usually to the sole end of dazzling their salons.


Stepfamilies

A large proportion of children lived in broken homes or in blended families and had to cope with the presence of half-siblings and stepsiblings in the same residence. Brothers and sisters were often separated during the guardianship period and some of them were raised in different places for most of their childhood. Half-siblings and stepsiblings lived together for rather short periods of time because of their difference in age, their birth rank, or their gender. The lives of the children were closely linked to the administration of their heritage: when both their mothers and fathers were dead, another relative took charge of the guardianship and often removed the children from a stepparent's home, thus separating half-siblings. The experience of step-motherhood was surrounded by negative stereotypes; the Cinderella story and many other jokes and stories made the second wife an object of ridicule. Language, theater, popular sayings, the position of the Church, and the writings of jurists all made stepmother a difficult identity to take up. However, the importance of male remarriage suggests that reconstitution of family units was a necessity and that individuals resisted negative perceptions circulating through their communities. Widowers did not hesitate to take a second wife, and they usually found quite soon a partner willing to become a stepmother. For these women, being a stepmother was not necessarily the experience of a lifetime or what defined their identity. Their experience depended greatly on factors such as the length of the union, changing family configuration, and financial dispositions taken by their husbands.Sylvie Perrier, "La Maratre Dans La France D'ancien Regime: Integration Ou Marginalite?" ["The Stepmother in Ancien Régime France: Integration or Marginality?] ''Annales De Demographie Historique'' 2006 (2): 171–88 in French By a policy adopted at the beginning of the 16th century, adulterous women during the ancien régime were sentenced to a lifetime in a convent unless pardoned by their husbands and were rarely allowed to remarry even if widowed.


French exploration and colonies

* Age of Discovery * French colonization of the Americas * French colonial empires


Literature

* French Renaissance literature * French literature of the 17th century * French literature of the 18th century


Art

* French Renaissance * French Baroque and Classicism * French Rococo and Neoclassicism


See also

* French Enlightenment * Paris in the 17th century * Paris in the 18th century


Notes


References and bibliography

* Behrens, C.B.A. ''Ancien Régime'' (1989) * Cobban, Alfred. ''A history of modern France: vol 1 1715–1799'' (1963
free to borrow
* Doyle, William, ed. ''The Oxford Handbook of the Ancien Régime'' (2012) 656 p
excerpt and text search
32 topical chapters by experts * Doyle, William, ed. ''Old Regime France: 1648–1788'' (2001
excerpt and text search
* Holt, Mack P. ''Renaissance and Reformation France: 1500–1648'' (2002
excerpt and text search
* Jones, Colin. ''The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon, 1715–99'' (2002)
excerpt and text search
*
Scholarly bibliography by Colin Jones (2002)
* Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel. ''The Ancien Régime: A History of France 1610–1774'' (1999), political surve
excerpt and text search


Political and military

* Baker, Keith, ed. ''The Political Culture of the Old Regime'' (1987), articles by leading scholars * Black, Jeremy. ''From Louis XIV to Napoleon: The Fate of a Great Power'' (1999) * Briggs, Robin. ''Early modern France 1560–1715'' (1977
Free to borrow
* Collins, James B. ''The State in Early Modern France'' (2009
excerpt and text search
* Knecht, R.J. ''The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France''. (1996). * Lynn, John A. ''The Wars of Louis XIV, 1667–1714'' (1999
excerpt and text search
* Major, J. Russell. ''From Renaissance Monarchy to Absolute Monarchy: French Kings, Nobles & Estates''. (1994). * Perkins, James Breck. ''France under Louis XV'' (2 vol 1897
online vol 1online vol 2
* Potter, David. ''A History of France, 1460–1560: The Emergence of a Nation-State'' (1995) * Tocqueville, Alexis de. ''Ancien Régime and the French Revolution'' (1856; 2008 edition
excerpt and text search
* Wolf, John B. ''Louis XIV'' (1968), the standard scholarly biograph
online edition


Society and culture

* William Beik, Beik, William. ''A Social and Cultural History of Early Modern France'' (2009
excerpt and text search
* Davis, Natalie Zemon. ''Society and culture in early modern France'' (1986
free to borrow
* Farr, James Richard. ''The Work of France: Labor and Culture in Early Modern Times, 1350–1800'' (2008
excerpt and text search
* Goubert, Pierre. ''Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen'' (1972), social history from Annales School * Goubert, Pierre. ''The French Peasantry in the Seventeenth Century'' (1986
excerpt and text search
* * McManners, John. ''Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France.'' Vol. 1: ''The Clerical Establishment and Its Social Ramifications''; Vol. 2: ''The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion''(1999) * Van Kley, Dale. ''The Religious Origins of the French Revolution: From Calvin to the Civil Constitution, 1560–1791'' (1996) * Ward, W.R. ''Christianity under the Ancien Régime, 1648–1789'' (1999).


In French

* Bély, Lucien. ''La France moderne: 1498–1789''. Collection: Premier Cycle. Paris: PUF, 1994. * Bluche, François. ''L'Ancien régime: Institutions et société''. Collection: Livre de poche. Paris: Fallois, 1993. * Jouanna, Arlette and Philippe Hamon, Dominique Biloghi, Guy Thiec. ''La France de la Renaissance; Histoire et dictionnaire''. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 2001. * Jouanna, Arlette and Jacqueline Boucher, Dominique Biloghi, Guy Thiec. ''Histoire et dictionnaire des Guerres de religion''. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1998. * Pillorget, René and Suzanne Pillorget. ''France Baroque, France Classique 1589–1715''. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1995. * Viguerie, Jean de. ''Histoire et dictionnaire du temps des Lumières 1715–1789''. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1995.


External links


French Pamphlet collection
documents significant events and periods in French history throughout the 17th-20th centuries, at the University of Maryland Libraries {{DEFAULTSORT:Early Modern France States and territories established in 1492 Early Modern France,