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A Social and Cultural History of Early Modern France

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  • Date Published: May 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521709569

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About the Authors
  • A magisterial history of French society between the end of the middle ages and the Revolution by one of the world's leading authorities on early modern France. Using colorful examples and incorporating the latest scholarship, William Beik conveys the distinctiveness of early modern society and identifies the cultural practices that defined the lives of people at all levels of society. Painting a vivid picture of the realities of everyday life, he reveals how society functioned and how the different classes interacted. In addition to chapters on nobles, peasants, city people, and the court, the book sheds new light on the Catholic church, the army, popular protest, the culture of violence, gendered relations, and sociability. This is a major new work that restores the ancien régime as a key epoch in its own right and not simply as the prelude to the coming Revolution.

    • The only up-to-date survey to include the entire period from the end of the Middle Ages to the outbreak of revolution
    • By a leading authority on early modern France
    • Sheds new light on the lives of the French people at all levels of society
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    Awards

    • Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009

    Reviews & endorsements

    'William Beik culminates his years of scholarship with a stunning picture of the social groupings, political dynamics, beliefs and customary practices of early modern France. We look at France from its provinces and its center, we see it through the eyes of peasants, townsfolk, and nobles. We savor the difference between its village tax-payers, its enterprising tax-collectors, and its sumptuously supported king and his courtiers. Especially, Beik gives us a lucid analysis of how the whole political and social system worked, its tensions and means of equilibrium, its sources of resistance and renewal. By the end we understand both the self-congratulation of the French elite and the deep dissatisfaction that led to revolution.' Natalie Zemon Davis, University of Toronto and author of Society and Culture in Early Modern France

    'Drawing on a lifetime engagement with the subject, William Beik has written a masterly analysis of early modern France. He combines an eye for gritty detail and out-of-the-way examples drawn from ordinary lives with an informed grasp of the key questions which puzzle historians. The result is an exemplary survey, which students and scholars at all levels will warmly appreciate.' Colin Jones, Queen Mary University of London author of The Great Nation: France 1715–99

    'William Beik, one of the preeminent historians of early modern times, offers here a remarkable synthesis of two generations of early modern French historiography. Beik's highly readable and comprehensive text integrates contemporary scholarship on French cultural history with the social history insights of the great Annalistes, showing us how to tether cultural and political developments to their social base. The French have the perfect word for it: incontournable.' James Collins, Georgetown University and author of The State in Early Modern France

    'Aimed squarely at advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students, as well as those looking for a thorough and reliable introduction to the past several decades of scholarship, A Social and Cultural History of Early Modern France, provides a thoughtful, well-written, and consistently engaging synthesis of a prodigious amount of scholarship on a vast array of topics.' H-France, www.h-france.net

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521709569
    • length: 420 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.67kg
    • contains: 40 b/w illus. 1 map 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: France and its population
    1. Rural communities and seigneurial power
    2. Peasant life, agriculture, and social distribution
    3. Domination by the nobility
    4. City life and city people
    5. The monarchy and the new nobility
    6. Ecclesiastical power and religious faith
    7. Warfare and society
    8. Social bonds and social protests
    9. Traditional attitudes and identities
    10. Emerging identities - education and the new elite
    11. Monarchs and courtly society
    12. Aristocracy's last bloom and the forces of change
    A brief synopsis of early modern French history
    Genealogy of the kings of France.

  • Author

    William Beik, Emory University, Atlanta
    William Beik is Emeritus Professor of History at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. His previous publications include Urban Protest in Seventeenth-Century France: The Culture of Retribution (1997) and Louis XIV and Absolutism: A Study with Documents (2000).

    Awards

    • Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009

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