Do not let all the details in this introduction overwhelm you. You should be aware of the following:
(1) Collins' goal is to consider the development of the early modern French state.
(2) He does this by examining three functions/aspects/systems: the judiciary, the military, and taxation.
(3) He questions, indeed dismisses as a myth, the concept of absolute monarchy. As you read through the book, pay attention to the theme of absolutism. Sometimes Collins mentions it explicitly; at other times the theme of absolutism is implicit. Is Collins justified in attacking the notion of absolutism?
(4) Social structures are vital to Collins' analysis of state development. On p. 4, he identifies two social systems: a society of orders, a society of classes. Keep these in mind as you read the entire book. What does Collins mean by these terms?
1. Identify and explain the historical significance of: nobility of the sword, nobility of the robe, seigneur, sieur, compagnie d'ordonnance, Assembly of Notables, paulette, élections, généralité, Sully, Devouts, Good Frenchmen
2. What principal taxes did French people pay?
3. How did Henry IV consolidate his hold on the monarchy? How did he reform government?
Two paintings of Caridnal Richelieu by Philippe de Champaigne: Triple Portrait, the Cardinal standing. More paintings by the same artist.
4. Identify and explain the historical significance of Louis XIII, Richelieu, Marie de Medici, Gaston d'Orléans, clientage, Code Michaut, master of requests, intendant, Montmorency, Chalres of Nevers, Day of Dupes
5. What is the significance of Map 1.1 (p. 32)?
6. Notice the great diversity that exists within each of the Three Estates. What is the significance of the divisions within each estate? In what ways was French society stable and unstable?
7. Collins asks the key questions that inform this chapter on p. 30:
What sort of changes took place in the 1620s and 1630s? Did they alter the dynamic between French society and the state? What was the nature of French society? Did social changes mandate a new state structure?
Another question posed by Collins on p. 44 is also important:
Why did the late 1620s and early 1630s prove so decisive in the evolution of the French state?
How would you answer these questions? Does Collins provide enough information for substantive and convincing answers?
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