Advertisement

Introduction: France in Crisis, 1620–1675

  • P. J. Coveney
Chapter
  • 11 Downloads

Abstract

The French seventeenth century has been a major interest among European historians since the Second World War. The reason for this, at least in part, is that the seventeenth century saw the formation of the French ancien régime and occupies therefore a determining position in the transformation of the late-medieval constitution in France into the political society we term absolutism. Much of the history, however, remains controversial, even in its widest and deepest issues. Are we indeed justified in speaking in terms of ‘crisis’ in relation to any part of the century? Did the economic expansion of the ‘long sixteenth century’ come to a close in France in the 1630s and 1640s, giving way to a period of economic contraction? What was the relation of the monarchy to the dominant elements within the French state, and what were the relationships between those elements themselves, especially between ‘sword’ and ‘robe’? What was the nature of the constant popular unrest which disturbed France for so long? Was seventeenth-century France still a ‘feudal’ society, in which the political state was merely the instrument of a ‘feudal’ élite in achieving the defeat of the popular masses? Or, conversely, had the monarchy become associated with elements of the bourgeoisie, either through venality or mercantilism, thereby transforming the late-feudal character of the monarchical state by ending the political monopoly of a traditional feudal class?

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    R. Mousnier, Les XVIe et XVIIe siècles (Paris, 1954).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    E. J. Hobsbawm, ‘The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century’, in Past and Present, Nos. 5 and 6 (1954);Google Scholar
  3. reprinted in Crisis in Europe, 1560–1660, ed. T. Aston (London, 1965) pp. 5–58.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    H. R. Trevor-Roper, ‘The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century’, in Past and Present, No. 16 (1959); reprinted in Crisis in Europe, ed. T. Aston, pp. 59–95.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    J. H. Elliott, ‘Revolution and Continuity in Early Modern Europe’, in Past and Present, No. 42 (1969) pp. 35–56.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    I. Schöffer, ‘Did Holland’s Golden Age coincide with a period of crisis?’, in Acta Historiae Neerlandica, I (1966) pp. 82–107.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    A. D. Lublinskaya, French Absolutism: the crucial phase, 1620–1629, trans. B. Pearce (Cambridge, 1968) pp. 4–102.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    P. Goubert, L’Ancien Régime, Vol. II (Paris, 1973) p. 83.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    J. Lynch, Spain under the Habsburgs, Vol. II (London, 1969) p. 10;Google Scholar
  10. J. H. Elliott, ‘The Crisis of the 1590s’, in Imperial Spain, 1469–1716 (London, 1963) pp. 279–95;Google Scholar
  11. also P. Vilar, ‘Le temps de Quichotte’, in Europe, XXXIV (1956) pp. 3–16.Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    See H. G. Koenigsberger’s review-article of Preconditions of Revolution in Early Modern Europe, ed. R. Forster and J. P. Greene (London, 1970), in History, Vol. 57, No. 191 (Oct 1972) pp. 394–8.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    A. Lloyd Moote, The Revolt of the Judges: the Parlement de Paris and the Fronde, 1643–1652 (Princeton, 1971) p. 26 and pp. 36–40.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    R. Mousnier, ‘The Fronde’, in Preconditions of Revolution in Early Modern Europe, ed. R. Forster and J. P. Greene (London, 1970) pp. 131–59.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    J. H. Shennan, Government and Society in France, 1461–1661 (London, 1969) p. 73.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    J. Stoye, Europe Unfolding, 1648–1688 (London, 1969) pp. 80–7.Google Scholar
  17. 22.
    R. J. Knecht, Francis 1 and Absolute Monarchy, Historical Association Pamphlet, General series, No. 72 (London, 1969) p. 28. It is important to note that the largely unnecessary debate on the ‘representative’ character of the French Renaissance monarchy, arising from. J. Russell Major’s Representative Institutions in Renaissance France, 1421–1559, is now firmly concluded against his ‘view that the monarchy of Renaissance France was “popular and conservative” rather than absolute’ (Knecht). Doucet’s interpretation of the ‘absolutist’ tendencies of the sixteenth-century monarchy remains a primary reference.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    M. Marion, Dictionnaire des Institutions de la France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris, 1923; reprinted 1968) p. 257 and pp. 60–1.Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    F. Mauro, Le XVIe Siècle Européen, Aspects Economiques, pp 199–200; R. Doucet. ‘Le grand parti de Lyon au XVIe siècle’, in Revue Historique, CLXXI–CLXXII (1923) pp. 473–513 and 1–41.Google Scholar
  20. G. Livet, Les Guerres de Religion (Paris, 1966) pp. 102–4 gives an account of the disastrous effects of the wars on the economic life of Lyons. The scale of financial decline in later sixteenth-century Lyons is suggested by the fact that in 1575 there were eleven Italian banking houses in the city and that by the end of the century there was only one.Google Scholar
  21. 26.
    C. W. Cole, Colbert and a Century of French Mercantilism (New York, 1939) Vol. I. pp. 27–82.Google Scholar
  22. 27.
    G. Pagès, La Monarchie d’Ancien Régime en France (Paris, 1928);Google Scholar
  23. R. Mousnier, La Vénalité des offices sous Henri IV et Louis XIII (Paris, 1945); also infra, Chapter 3, pp. 94–7.Google Scholar
  24. 30.
    N. M. Sutherland, The French Secretaries of State in the Age of Catherine de Medici (London, 1962).Google Scholar
  25. 31.
    Orest Ranum, Richelieu and the Councillors of Louis XIII (Oxford, 1963).Google Scholar
  26. 32.
    P. Goubert, The Ancien Régime (London, 1973), being the translation of Vol. I only of the author’s L’Ancien Régime, ‘La Société’ (Paris, 1969). The second volume, ‘Les Pouvoirs’, has not yet been translated and no translation is as yet announced.Google Scholar
  27. 34.
    See J. H. Shennan, The Parlement de Paris (London, 1968) p. 151, for map giving frontiers of the areas of jurisdiction, the ‘ressorts’ of the Parlement de Paris and the provincial Parlements. Google Scholar
  28. 35.
    R. Mousnier, J.-P. Labatut, Y. Durand, Deux Cahiers de la Noblesse, pour les Etats-Généraux de 1649–1651 (Paris, 1965).Google Scholar
  29. 40.
    R. Mousnier, Lettres et Mémoires adressés au Chancelier Séguier, 1633–1649 (Paris, 1964) Vol. I. p. 27: ‘Comme tous, les Séguier cherchaient á faire remonter très haut leur noblesse, dans une société où la meillure noblesse est celle qui se perd dans la nuit du temps. En 1642, une généalogie imprimée à Paris, chez P. Rocolet, imprimeur et libraire du Roi, rattachait les Séguiec à un certain Arnaud Séguier, seigneur de Saint-Geniers en 1129.’Google Scholar
  30. 41.
    R. Mandrou, La France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Nouvelle Clio (Paris, 1967) p. 120.Google Scholar
  31. 43.
    R. Mandrou, Louis XIV en son temps, 1661–1715 (Paris, 1973) pp. 19–20.Google Scholar
  32. 44.
    R. Mettam, French History and Society (London, 1974) p. 5.Google Scholar
  33. 45.
    G. Pagès, ‘Autour du “Grand Orage”: Richelieu et Marillac, deux politiques’, in Revue Historique, CLXXIX (1937) pp. 63–97.Google Scholar
  34. 48.
    M. Prestwich, English Historical Review, LXXXI (1966) pp. 565–72.Google Scholar
  35. 50.
    R. Mousnier, Lettres et Mémoires adressés au Chancelier Séguier, 1633–1649, 2 vols. (Paris, 1964).Google Scholar
  36. 51.
    A. D. Lublinskaya, Vnutrenniya Politika Frantsuzskogo Absolyutizma, 1633–1649 (The Internal Politics of French Absolutism, 1633–1649) (Moscow, 1966).Google Scholar
  37. 52.
    See especially Degarne, ‘Etudes sur les soulèvements provinciaux en France avant la Fronde’, in XVIIe Siècle (1962) pp. 3–18;Google Scholar
  38. Pillorget, ‘“Les Cascaveoux”: l’insurrection aixoise de l’automne, 1630’, in XVIIe Siècle (1964); also, ‘Essai d’une typologie des mouvements insurrectionnels ruraux survenus en Provence de 1596 à 1715’, in Actes du Congrès National des Sociétés savantes, Strasbourg et Colmar (1967);Google Scholar
  39. also, Foisil, La Révolte des Nu-Pieds et les Révoltes Normandes de 1639 (Paris, 1970).Google Scholar
  40. 54.
    L. Bernard, ‘French Society and Popular Uprisings under Louis XIV’, in French Historical Studies (1964) pp. 454–74.Google Scholar
  41. 56.
    P. Goubert, in Histoire économique et sociale de la France, Vol. 2 1660–1789 (Paris, 1970) pp. 41–2;Google Scholar
  42. R. Mandrou, La France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Nouvelle Clio (Paris, 1967) p. 103.Google Scholar
  43. 57.
    R. Mandrou, ibid., p. 65; J. Meuvret, ‘Les crises de subsistance et la démographie de la France d’Ancien Régime’, in Population (1946) pp. 643–50;Google Scholar
  44. P. Goubert, Beauvais et le Beauvaisis de 1600 à 1730 (Paris, 1960);Google Scholar
  45. P. de Saint-Jacob, Les Paysans de la Bourgogne du Nord au dernier siècle de l’Ancien Régime (Paris, 1960).Google Scholar
  46. 58.
    R. Mandrou, ibid., p. 66; E. Le Roy-Ladurie, Les Paysans de Languedoc, 2 vols. (Paris, 1966).Google Scholar
  47. 59.
    R. Mandrou, ibid., p. 70; M. Venard, Bourgeois et paysans au XVIIe siècle: recherches sur le rôle des bourgeois parisiens dans la vie agricole au sud de Paris au XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1957).Google Scholar
  48. 60.
    See especially P. Goubert, ‘Recent theories and research in French Population between 1500 and 1700’, in Population in History, ed. D. V. Glass and D. E. C. Eversley (London, 1965) pp. 457–73; J. Meuvret, ‘Demographic Crisis in France from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century’, in Population in History, pp. 507–22.Google Scholar
  49. 70.
    H. Hauser, ‘Le Colbertisme avant Colbert’, in Revue bourguignonne de l’ens. sup., XIII pp. 3–69; also P. Goubert, Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen (London, 1970) p. 117.Google Scholar
  50. 72.
    The initial work, comparable in some ways to that of E. J. Hamilton on American bullion imports, was that of Nina Bang, Tabellen over Skipsfart og Varetransport gennen oresund, 1497–1660 (Copenhagen, 1906–1922), which was followed by a second work on the period 1661–1783 completed by K. Horst (Copenhagen, 1930–1945).Google Scholar
  51. For subsequent research, see A. Christensen, Dutch Trade and the Baltic about1600 (1940);Google Scholar
  52. also, importantly, P. Jeannin, ‘Les Comptes du Sund’, in Revue historique, CCXXXI (1964) pp. 55–102 and pp. 307–40.Google Scholar
  53. 73.
    H. Chaunu and P. Chaunu, Séville et l’Atlantique, 1504–1650 (Paris, 1955–1960).Google Scholar
  54. 74.
    P. Deyon, Amiens, capitale provinciale au XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1967); also ‘Variations de la production textile aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles’, in Annales (1963) pp. 939–55.Google Scholar
  55. 75.
    P. Goubert, op. cit., p. 336; also J. Delumeau, L’Alun de Rome (XVe–XIXe siècle) (Paris, 1962).Google Scholar
  56. 76.
    A. D. Lublinskaya, French Absolutism: the Crucial Phase, 1620–1629, trans. B. Pearce (Cambridge, 1968) p. 329.Google Scholar
  57. See D. Parker, ‘The Social Foundations of French Absolutism, 1610–1630’, in Past and Present (Nov 1971) pp. 67–89, for an adverse critique of Lublinskaya’s theories. In support of Porshnev, he claims that ‘feudal social relations’ remained ‘dominant’ in the seventeenth century and that therefore, in terms of Marxist theory, the bourgeoisie were ‘feudalised’. He rejects both Mousnier. and Lublinskaya for implying ‘in different ways’ that an ‘embourgeoisement’ of the monarchy resulted either from venality or from the economic policies of the absolutist state (p. 88).Google Scholar
  58. 80.
    R. Mousnier, ‘L’évolution des institutions monarchiques en France et ses relations avec l’état social’, in XVIIe Siècle (1963), p. 64; also, ‘Etat et commissaire. Recherches sur la création des intendants des provinces (1634–1648)’, in Forschungen zu Staat und Verfassung: Festgabe für Fritz Hartung (Berlin, 1958) pp. 325–44.Google Scholar
  59. 90.
    J. H. Shennan, The Parlement de Paris (London, 1968) p. 264.Google Scholar
  60. 92.
    L. Goldmann, Le Dieu Caché (Paris, 1955); also R. Mandrou, La France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Nouvelle Clio, p. 121.Google Scholar
  61. 95.
    Cited P. Goubert, Louis XIV et Vingt Millions de Français (Paris, 1965) p. 65.Google Scholar
  62. 97.
    P. Sonnino, ‘The Dating and Authorship of Louis XIV’s Mémoires’, in French Historical Studies (1964) pp. 303–37. The rehabilitation of the Mémoires as a valid expression of Louis XIV’s own mind, initiated by the work of J. Longnon in the 1920s, has been consolidated by Sonnino’s research. See also his introduction to his edition and American translation of the work, Mémoires for the Instruction of the Dauphin (New York, 1970).Google Scholar
  63. 98.
    Translated from Mémoires de Louis XIV, ed. J. Longnon (Paris, 1927) p. 37.Google Scholar
  64. 106.
    J. H. Shennan, Government and Society in France, 1461–1661 (London, 1969), pp. 65–6.Google Scholar
  65. 112.
    Mme de Sévigné, Correspondance, ed. R. Duchêne, Vol. I (Paris, 1972) p. 106.Google Scholar
  66. 114.
    M. Marion, Dictionnaire des Institutions de la France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris, 1923; reprinted 1968) p. 522.Google Scholar
  67. 118.
    P. Clément, ed., Lettres, instructions et mémoires de Colbert (Paris, 1861–82) Vol. IV, pp. 27–43.Google Scholar
  68. 131.
    J. Lough, ed., Locke’s Travels in France, 1675–1679 (London, 1953) p. 156.Google Scholar
  69. 133.
    e.g. H. G. Judge, Louis XIV (London, 1965) p. 89.Google Scholar
  70. 139.
    G. Pagès, Les Origines du XVIIIe siècle au temps de Louis XIV (1680–1715) (Centre de Documentation universitaire, Paris, 1961) p. 23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. Coveney

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations