Article

Regions of Medieval France

Robert F. Berkhofer

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online December 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0099
Regions of Medieval France

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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While there were kings who claimed to rule the western Frankish kingdom after the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843, there was no concept of “France” from the 10th to 12th century, outside of the royal domain (the so-called Île de France, framed by the Seine, Oise, and Marne rivers). See the bibliography Medieval France. Some scholars argue that older administrative divisions (pagi and counties) and political divisions (Austrasia, Neustria, Aquitaine) of the Carolingian Empire persisted in some places and helped define boundaries between areas, while others insist that the later 9th and 10th century witnessed the destruction of the Carolingian pattern of rule and its replacement by new local units of lordship. The most important new units were a variety of principalities. These principalities were ruled by virtually independent dukes and counts, and only slowly became incorporated in the realm by the Capetian kings of France, notably in the 12th and 13th century. Many scholars believe that this process of integration was incomplete at the end of the Middle Ages, even after the last independent principality, Brittany, was formally joined to the realm in 1532. Known as pays in French (meaning country or homeland, from Latin patria), these lordships were foci for rule, socioeconomic structures, and identity during the medieval period and afterwards. Now regions of modern France, they have served as useful (if sometimes controversial) units for historical studies because the continuity of regional “identity” is still an important political question today. Because studies of regions tend to be particular rather than general, there are no comprehensive reference works. On the other hand, local historical societies, research centers, and journals exist in such profusion as to defy any simple listing.

Article.  7762 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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