By Janine Garrisson
A masterful new survey of sixteenth-century France which examines the vicissitudes of the French monarchy through the Italian Wars and the Wars of faith. It explores how the advances made below a succession of robust kings from Charles VIII to Henri II created tensions in conventional society which mixed with monetary difficulties and rising non secular divisions to deliver the dominion as regards to disintegration less than a chain of susceptible kings from Francois II to Henri III. The political challenge 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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Extra info for A History of Sixteenth-Century France, 1483–1598: Renaissance, Reformation and Rebellion
20 With the benefit of hindsight, these risings look more like assaults on those immediately responsible for peasant distress than resistance to the fiscal power of the Crown. Tithe strikes were a feature of the Garonne valley and Languedoc, where ecclesiastical dues weighed particularly heavily on harvests, sometimes verging on 12 per cent of the grain crop. 21 Nor were they unknown in Saintonge and Normandy. Some commentators, following Monluc, have argued that the Protestant pastors attempted to mount the bandwagon by preaching against the tithe.
The career of Robert Estienne (1503-59) was an intellectual odyssey. He ended his days a refugee in Geneva, having published a Hebrew Bible which breached Catholic regulations by including uncanonical books. The printers' employees, journeymen or apprentices, constituted an industrial elite. They could all read. For the most part newcomers to the towns where they worked, they were not integrated into the artisan traditions. And this combination, as Natalie Zemon Davis has shown in the case of Lyon, gave them a real class-consciousness which led them to organise and even to strike in vindication of their grievances.
Large properties accumulated in the hands of the 'land grabbers'. The nobility, as long as they were not themselves hard up, bought farmland and woodland. At the highest levels of society, the great dynasties did not let their State responsibilities obstruct serious land accumulation. Anne de Montmorency kept a close eye on his vast estate, whose annual revenue in the early 1560s was around 140 000 livres, representing a capital value of about 3 million - considerably more than the 250 000 livres capital at the disposal of his father, Guillaume, in 1522.
A History of Sixteenth-Century France, 1483–1598: Renaissance, Reformation and Rebellion by Janine Garrisson