Professor Major's aim in these articles has been to stimulate new assessments of the political, constitutional and social history of France in the 15th - 17th centuries. The first group examines the nature of the Renaissance monarchy, its strengths and its weaknesses and lack of effective controls. The next group explores the issue of why the Estates General, and some of the provincial estates, failed to develop in France, in marked contrast to the triumph of representative government in England. Finally, the author turns to the question of how the nobles succeeded in remaining the dominant social class. On the one hand, he traces the evolution of a patron-client relationship which compensated for the decay of the feudal ties of the Middle Ages; on the other, he challenges assumptions made of a decline in nobles' incomes, and contends that, so long as they held on to their lands and could escape the depredations of war, for most of the period they actually benefited from a marked increase in real income.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; The Renaissance monarchy; The Renaissance monarchy as seen by Erasmus, More, Seyssel and Machiavelli; Popular initiative in Renaissance France; The third estate in the Estates general of Pontoise, 1561; The assembly at Paris, summer 1575; ; The electoral procedure for the Estates general and its social implications, 1438-1651; The payment of the deputies to the national assemblies, 1484-1627; The loss of royal initiative and the decay of the Estates general, 1421-1615; Henry IV and Guyenne: French representative assemblies; The crown and the aristocracy; Noble income, inflation, and the Wars of religion; Bastard feudalism and the kiss; The revolt of 1620: ties of fidelity; Index.