War and Government in the French Provinces

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Few studies of the history of provincial France have hitherto spanned the conventional medieval/early-modern divide, and David Potter's detailed examination of war and government in Picardy, a region of France hitherto neglected by historians, has much to say about the development of French absolutism. Picardy emerged as a province after the conquests effected by Louis XI between 1470 and 1477, but its character was profoundly shaped by the impact of the Habsburg-Valois Wars between 1521 and 1559. Picardy became the most exposed frontier region of the French kingdom and suffered repeated devastations, which culminated in the 1550s. Though the province had in the main no regularly organised estates and was relatively close to the centres of royal government and power, it had to be incorporated in the kingdom by inducements to its numerous nobility and urban oligarchies. Its experience of the first period of absolutism provides an enlightening contrast with that of other, more outlying provinces: the Picard nobility was notable for the extent of its participation in the army, the court and the government of France. David Potter provides a detailed analysis of the organisation of French military power in the province and the effects of war on town and countryside, and the work concludes with Picardy about to enter a new and difficult period of civil war.
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Editorial Reviews

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'… the produce of outstandingly wide archival research. … he is superbly equipped to analyse the intricate dynamics of warfare, politics and administration … this study makes a very valuable contribution to our understanding of the development of the early-modern state.' Archives
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521431897
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/17/1993
  • Pages: 412
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
Notes on transcriptions of documents, units of money and measures
Introduction 1
1 Return to allegiance: Picardy and the Franco-Burgundian Wars, 1470-93 29
2 The provincial governors and politics 65
3 The governors' staff and household 92
4 The Picard nobility and royal service 113
Gouverneurs et capitaines 117
Criteria of appointment and contacts at court 127
The lesser nobility as royal commissaires 140
5 Military organisation in Picardy during the Habsburg-Valois wars 155
The cavalry 158
The infantry 168
The war commissariat 179
Army finance 182
Provisioning 188
6 'Les fruictz que la guerre rapporte': the effects of war on the
Picard countryside, 1521-60 200
7 War, taxation and the towns 233
The administrative structures 233
The scale of taxation: taille royale 241
Military taxes: the solde des gens de pied 246
Sales taxes 247
Forced loans and special levies 250
Political negotiations and patronage 254
The crown and municipal office 258
8 Peace negotiations and the formation of the frontier in Picardy, 1521-60 265
Conclusion 294
Appendices 308
Bibliography 343
Index 380
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