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France in the Middle Ages 987-1460: From Hugh Capet to Joan of Arc

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631189459
ISBN-10: 0631189459
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

An important and prolific French medievalist advances the revisionist thesis that the French state and nation were effectively formed by the early 1200s and not, as many scholars assert, a century later. Duby focuses his book on the period of his own specialized research and closely examines key contemporary sources to show how monarchs of the Capetian house, and notably the 12th-century rulers culminating in Philip II Augustus(1180-1223), used ideas of lordship and kingship to achieve power over their realm. The final two medieval centuries Duby covers more thinly. This smooth English translation is recommended to both college and public libraries.
- Richard C. Hoffmann, York Univ., North York, Ontario
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Superb ... a great historian offers a fresh interpretation of one of the formative periods of French history." L'Histoire

"Superb ... a pleasure to read ... an invaluable work of history and reference" La Voix du Nord

"Duby has already changed our conception of medieval Europe. Extensively illustrated, with clear and helpful genealogical tables, this is a boldly written book, impeccably translated by Juliet Vale, that will stimulate discussion among specialists and non=specialists alike." The Jerusalem Post


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (December 8, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631189459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631189459
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on September 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Once upon a time, France did not exist. Julius Caesar said the land of the Gauls (tribes the Greeks called Keltoi) was divided into three parts and he set out to conquer them all. Caesar was probably speaking of the area known today as France, as well as parts of Switzerland, Germany, and the Low countries. Caesar subdued many tribes in living in the land of the Gauls, but only the southern part was ever completely romanized -- Gallia Narbonensis. When the Roman Empire collapsed, Northern Gaul was once again dominated by warriors known as Franks.
George Duby begins his story in the year 987 A.D. and ends it in 1460 with the success of the Capetians who in defeating Henry VI, finally drove the English from their land. During this 500 year period, France developed from a land composed of small settlements and huge swaths of rural farmland and wilderness to a network of villages and towns centered on commerce and trade. In 987 A.D. Duby says power was tied to geneology, but by the end, wealth was also a major factor.
Duby not only addresses the Middle Ages of 987 to 1460 A.D., but he comments on how he as an historian went about reconstructing his story from contemporary materials available from various sources. So, this is not only a history book, it is a book on historiography of sorts. For example, Duby says the use of various Latin words in various documents could mean many different things. How does the historian know what these terms imply? The underlying meaning of Latin words changed over time, just as English words we use today have changed meaning over time.
My favorite section of the book is "The Village." Around 1,000, villages as they came to be known, did not exist in France.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume by Georges Duby (1919-1996), distinguished professor emeritus of the Collège de France, was written about ten years before his death. It is an excellent resource and a good introduction to French medieval history for the serious student of French history. His argument is especially strong in connecting the evolving French political, economic, and intellectual movements to counter-developments in historic events and thought. It is part of a larger series on French history that was commissioned to celebrate the Millennium, and his section, despite its title, is a short introduction that introduces his real expertise in the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, with a short wrap-up of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The choice of Joan of Arc to represent the fifteenth century is meant to connect to the next volume (written by Leroy Ladurie) and to demonstrate the continuing romantic influence of the symbolism of the Middle Ages--especially through adaptation of sacred symbols to modern and secular movements and national allegiance. Duby's historical narrative voice is lively, engaging, intelligent, humble, and authoritative. I like his voice, so I enjoyed the book. Overall, the book is one which would stimulate discussion and cause serious students to want to inquire further, while providing excellent insights from an important French historian.
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Format: Paperback
This well written and interesting book is essentially narrative and analysis of the development of the French monarchy under the Capetian kings. This is not a general survey of medieval French history. DUby does describe other developments such as economic expansion and some intellectual developments, but mainly in the context of how these changes impacted the emergence of a relatively powerful monarchy. Duby opens with a description of the Frankish monarchy on the eve of Capetian accession to power, stressing the fragmented limited nature of royal power, the importance of the Carolingian inheritence, and the crucial role of the church. The following narrative describes the gradual accumulation of power by a succession of Capetian kings, several of them clearly very competent rulers. Important themes are the construction of a relatively powerful feudal state, increasing professionalization of the royal bureaucracy, the strong relationship of the French monarchy and the Church with the latter increasingly become a partial adjunct of the Crown, and to some extent, good luck in terms of dynastic succession. Duby is particularly good on the role of the Church, the emerging power of the Papacy, and the sacral role of the monarchy. Also interesting is Duby's discussion of the heterogeneity of what became France, particularly the distinctive society of the South.
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