Week 11

Week 11: Wednesday, January 4, 2017
King Philip le Bel

f0af0cd1fc79dbacda5b2ea999f5e41bParis in 1300 was the center of the world.  No European capital had so dominated western culture since the days of Rome and Athens.  The University of Paris was the destination for every scholar in the Latin language world.  The court of the King of France was considered the most sophisticated in the world and other royal families sent their children to be educated in the court of His Most Christian Majesty.  Presiding over this international center of culture and religion was the spectacular King Philip le Bel–Philip the Handsome, Philip the brilliant, Philip the amazing. Philip embodied this nation at its peak of influence and power. And the fame and celebration of France went to the king's head. And he led the nation to heights of power but also to the extreme edge of tyranny.

REQUIRED READING:

Here is an excellent general history of France that will be very useful for our entire year.

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

MATERIAL ON THE WEB:

Kings of France

12

Week 12: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
100 Years War

The 100 Years War began in 1337, when the very young King of England, Edward III, decided that he was the legitimate king of France rather than the man the French had crowned. Did he have a case? Yes, to an extent. But from the point of view of the French, his claim was fatally flawed because the French did not accept a female sovereign, and his claim came through his French mother. But this objection did not stop the aggressive young English King from proceeding with his war. And in the next 100 years plus, he and his armies ruined France. During the fourteenth century, France went from the position of the number one most powerful nation in all of Europe to total social and political collapse.  At the end of the fourteenth century the French monarchy was in a nation in shambles.  The king, Charles VI, was insane for long periods of time, the court was a pit of violent intrigue, the Queen was a scandal sleeping with whomever she might desire including, it is believed, the king's brother.  The economy was a disaster. The war had ruined it. The very borders of the nation were crumbling. And the Englsih occupied the northern third of the French nation. How did France survive?

REQUIRED READING:

Here is an excellent general history of France that will be very useful for our entire year.

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

RECOMMENDED READING:

The best book on fourteenth-century France is:

Barbara Tuchman,

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reissue edition (July 12, 1987),

ISBN 0345349571

13

Week 13: Wednesday, January 18, 2017
The Black Death

The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53. Although there were several competing theories as to the etiology of the Black Death, analysis of DNA from victims in northern and southern Europe published in 2010 and 2011 indicates that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague.

The Black Death is thought to have originated in the arid plains of Central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road, reaching the Crimea by 1343.] From there, it was most likely carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships. Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population.  In total, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. The aftermath of the plague created a series of religious, social, and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover.[citation needed] The plague recurred occasionally in Europe until the 19th century.  (Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING

The best recent study of the Black Death is this excellent book of 2005 by John Kelly.

John Kelly,

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death,

Harper Pennial paperback, 2005,

ISBN 0060006935

REVIEW:

Amazon.com Review. A book chronicling one of the worst human disasters in recorded history really has no business being entertaining. But John Kelly's The Great Mortality is a page-turner despite its grim subject matter and graphic detail. Credit Kelly's animated prose and uncanny ability to drop his reader smack in the middle of the 14th century, as a heretofore unknown menace stalks Eurasia from "from the China Sea to the sleepy fishing villages of coastal Portugal [producing] suffering and death on a scale that, even after two world wars and twenty-seven million AIDS deaths worldwide, remains astonishing." Take Kelly's vivid description of London in the fall of 1348: "A nighttime walk across Medieval London would probably take only twenty minutes or so, but traversing the daytime city was a different matter.... Imagine a shopping mall where everyone shouts, no one washes, front teeth are uncommon and the shopping music is provided by the slaughterhouse up the road." Yikes, and that's before just about everything with a pulse starts dying and piling up in the streets, reducing the population of Europe by anywhere from a third to 60 percent in a few short years. In addition to taking readers on a walking tour through plague-ravaged Europe, Kelly heaps on the ancillary information and every last bit of it is captivating. We get a thorough breakdown of the three types of plagues that prey on humans; a detailed account of how the plague traveled from nation to nation (initially by boat via flea-infested rats); how floods (and the appalling hygiene of medieval people) made Europe so susceptible to the disease; how the plague triggered a new social hierarchy favoring women and the proletariat but also sparked vicious anti-Semitism; and especially, how the plague forever changed the way people viewed the church. Engrossing, accessible, and brimming with first-hand accounts drawn from the Middle Ages, The Great Mortality illuminates and inspires. History just doesn't get better than that. --Kim Hughes

RECOMMENDED READING

If you would like to read an account of human beings and disease then this small brilliant book from by the greatest living American historian, William McNeill will serve you well. I say the "greatest living..." and of course that is debatable, but for me, I value what William McNeill has done as the highest achievement in history, especially his masterpiece,The Rise of the West. It is still the best one-volume history of Western Civilization. Plagues and Peoples is a very wide rich book. It begins with a short introduction to the anthropological history of humankind and always with an eye to how disease has played its part. The section of the book that will most interest us this week is Chapter Four: The Impact of the Mongol Empire on Shifting Disease Balances, 1200–1500. This chapter is the best analysis of how the Black Death was connected to larger issues of populations and politics. It is worth owning the book if only to go directly to Chapter 4.

William H. McNeill,

Plagues and Peoples,

Doubleday Anchor paperback, first published in 1976. 2005,

ISBN 0385121229

Amazon.com Review

No small themes for historian William McNeill: he is a writer of big, sweeping books, from The Rise of the West to The History of the World. Plagues and Peoples considers the influence of infectious diseases on the course of history, and McNeill pays special attention to the Black Death of the 13th and 14th centuries, which killed millions across Europe and Asia. (At one point, writes McNeill, 10,000 people in Constantinople alone were dying each day from the plague.) With the new crop of plagues and epidemics in our own time, McNeill's quiet assertion that "in any effort to understand what lies ahead the role of infectious disease cannot properly be left out of consideration" takes on new significance.

From the Publisher

McNeill's highly acclaimed work is a brilliant and challenging account of the effects of disease on human history. His sophisticated analysis and detailed grasp of the subject make this book fascinating reading. By the author of The Rise Of The West. Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon. Thought-provoking, well-researched, and compulsively readable, Plagues and Peoples is that rare book that is as fascinating as it is scholarly, as intriguing as it is enlightening. "A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging achievement" (Kirkus Reviews), it is essential reading, offering a new perspective on human history.

Blackdeath

 

14

Week 14: Wednesday, January 25, 2017
King Charles VI

King Charles VI (1368-1422) was only 53 years old when he died, yet he had been the King of France for 42 years. He was a teenager when his father died and he became King of France. His reign began brilliantly with his youth in his favor and extraordinary good looks. For the first ten years, France celebrated its picture-book king with his blond locks and chivalric charm. The one day it all turned into a horror. He was struck with some kind of epileptic fit that left him unconscious. These fits attacked him again and again all during the remaining years of his long reign. During this royal dram, France fell apart. The English conquered more o fthe French countryside, the court fell to fighting, and by the death of the king in 1422, there was almost no France left.

Charles_VI_de_France_-_Dialogues_de_Pierre_Salmon_-_Bib_de_Genève_MsFr165f4

1415 Battle of Agincourt
1422 Death of King Henry VI Death of King Charles VI
1422 King Charles VII succeeds to throne (Charles, 1403-1461)
1429 Joan of Arc comes to Charles at Chinon
1429 July 17, Rheims, coronation of King Charles VII
1431 Burn Joan of Arc in Rouen (The English control Rouen)
1435 Charles signs peace treaty (Treaty of Arras) with Duke Philip III of Burgundy
1451 Louis marries Charlotte of Savoy.
1456 trouble between Charles and son Louis, Louis flees to uncle Duke of Burgundy
1461 Aug 30, death of Charles VII, succession of his son Louis XI (King, 1461-1483)
WARS OF THE ROSES GOING ON IN ENGLAND (Hen VI vs. Ed IV -York)
1461 Louis comes to Paris accompanied by his protector, his uncle Duke Philip of Burgundy (Louis has been living at the court of Burgundy)
1467 death of Duke Philip of Burgundy, son Charles the Bold becomes Duke. he and Louis know each other extremely well since had lived together, Burgundy
1468 Meeting at Peronne, Crisis (Commines) Louis escapes with his life.
1472-1476 War between France and Burgundy.
1476 France/Louis wins.
1476 death of Duke Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in Switzerland battle.
1483 death of King Louis XI. son Charles VIII to throne.
1491 Charles VIII marries the Duchess of Brittany, Anne.
1494 French invasion of Italy led by Charles VIII
1498 death of Charles VIII, cousin Louis of Orleans becomes Louis XII.

15

Week 15: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Joan of Arc

From Wikipedia: "Saint Joan of Arc (French: Jeanne d'Arc; ca. 1412 – 30 May 1431) is a national heroine of France and a Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, claiming divine guidance, and was indirectly responsible for the coronation of Charles VII. She was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court, and burned at the stake when she was nineteen years old. Twenty-four years later, on the initiative of Charles VII, who could not afford being seen as having been brought to power with the aid of a condemned heretic, Pope Callixtus III reviewed the decision of the ecclesiastical court, found her innocent, and declared her a martyr. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is, along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux, one of the patron saints of France.

DVD in class:

"Joan of Arc" 1999
This is an excellent new production starring Leelee Sobieski, Neil Patrick Harris, and Peter O'Toole.

Reviews:
Amazon.com essential video A strong cast, impressive production values, and astute direction distinguish this generally successful dramatization of the tumultuous life of the 15th-century French heroine whose military victories were eclipsed by her martyrdom. At the heart of the story is the conflict between the teenager's simple but fierce faith and the more complex political and theological issues that influence her downfall, a theme fleshed out through the portrayals of the young warrior's liege, the Dauphin (later King) Charles, and the Bishop Cauchon. The feature follows Joan D'Arc's odyssey from peasant obscurity to notoriety as the "Maid of Orleans," spiritual fulcrum for the beleaguered French forces struggling to halt English invaders. As played by Leelee Sobieski (Eyes Wide Shut), her evolution from naive farm girl to seasoned soldier is convincing, as is her gradual awakening to the underlying agendas of church and state. Most critically, Sobieski radiates the young girl's fervent spiritual devotion. Framing Sobieski's focal performance are two equally fine turns from Neil Patrick Harris, who erases his legacy as TV's Doogie Howser, M.D. with a neatly shaded, steely Charles, and Peter O'Toole, who balances his signature reserve and present physical frailty to make Cauchon a moral compass for the story. Having opposed Joan as a threat to orthodoxy, the Bishop recognizes her purity too late; O'Toole turns this moment into a dreadful epiphany that resonates through the story's inevitable, fiery denouement. Fine supporting performances from Peter Strauss, Shirley MacLaine, and Maximillian Schell, plus evocative medieval locations in the Czech Republic, further buttress the story. French-Canadian director Christian Duguay handles the large-scale battle sequences with fluid blocking and smart camera work. --Sam Sutherland

16

Week 16: Wednesday, February 8, 2017
The Renaissance Kings

Joan of Arc saved France. When she died, she left behind a nation revived, but not yet rebuilt. Four kings worked on that project: Charles VII, Louis XI, Charles VIII, and Francis I. During the 100 years that these four kings governed, France began to rebuild its frontiers, its government, and its economy. All four of them contributed to the success of modern France. The one genius among them was Louis XI, one of the most brilliant kings who ever lived. But louis was a man not easy to like. His father began the project, he continued what his father began, and his son continued what he had achieved. Finally, a man who was no genius, Francis I, continued their work almost to the mid sixteenth century.

Charles VII, 1403-1461, reign, 1422-1461

Louis XI, 1423-1483, reign, 1461-1483

Charles VIII, 1470-1498, reign, 1483-1498

Louis XII, 1462-1515, reign, 1498-1515

1415 Battle of Agincourt

1422 Death of King Henry VI Death of King Charles VI

1422 King Charles VII succeeds to throne (Charles, 1403-1461)

1429 Joan of Arc comes to Charles at Chinon

1429 July 17, Rheims, coronation of King Charles VII

1431 Burn Joan of Arc in Rouen (The English control Rouen)

1435 Charles signs peace treaty (Treaty of Arras) with Duke Philip III of Burgundy

1451 Louis marries Charlotte of Savoy.

1456 trouble between Charles and son Louis, Louis flees to uncle Duke of Burgundy

1461 Aug 30, death of Charles VII, succession of his son Louis XI (King, 1461-1483)

WARS OF THE ROSES GOING ON IN ENGLAND (Hen VI vs. Ed IV -York)

1461 Louis comes to Paris accompanied by his protector, his uncle Duke Philip of Burgundy (Louis has been living at the court of Burgundy)

1467 death of Duke Philip of Burgundy, son Charles the Bold becomes Duke. he and Louis know each other extremely well since had lived together, Burgundy

1468 Meeting at Peronne, Crisis (Commines) Louis escapes with his life.

1472-1476 War between France and Burgundy.

1476 France/Louis wins.

1476 death of Duke Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in Switzerland battle.

1483 death of King Louis XI. son Charles VIII to throne.

1491 Charles VIII marries the Duchess of Brittany, Anne.

1494 French invasion of Italy led by Charles VIII

1498 death of Charles VIII, cousin Louis of Orleans becomes Louis XII.

17

Week 17: Wednesday, February 15, 2017
1494: the Year the French Discovered Italy

Charles_VIII_Ecole_Francaise_16th_century_Musee_de_Conde_Chantilly-1

In the last decade of the fifteenth century, the vigorous young King of France seized upon a murky genealogical circumstance to pursue his family's dubious right to the kingdom of Naples. Resisting considerable domestic and international pressure, he assembled the biggest, best-trained, and best-equipped army that Europe had seen since the days of the Roman Empire and pushed over the Alps and descended onto the great plain of the Po.

The coming of the French to Italy, something that had been feared, recommended, debated, and denounced for all of the fifteenth century, moved two Italians forward to share the center stage with King Charles VIII for these early critical days of the invasion: Ludovico Sforza, ruler of Milan, and Piero de' Medici, ruler of Florence. The progress of the French would depend upon the positions taken by these two unpredictable leaders. Ostensibly, Ludovico supported the French and Piero opposed them, but as the days of the invasion passed, the complex relationship between these three men showed how much more there was to the situation than this simple statement of alliances.

The conflict between France and the various independent states that ruled the Italian peninsula in the fall of 1494 is fascinating, but equally intriguing is the personal battle between these three men and the way that they maneuvered their forces, schemed and flattered, conspired and lied, drove ahead and retreated, won and lost, as they attempted to retrieve from the horrors and complexities of this massive invasion their own political power and the tranquility of their state. This personal drama climaxed at the small Tuscan town of Santo Stefano di Magra where for one brief moment the three men met in the midst of their disturbing battle and then went off in three different directions never to meet again.

Behind the clashing egos we find the emergence of a whole new world. As the European mind was undergoing a radical change in the conception of the globe provoked by the news brought back to Spain by Columbus, so now one year after the explorer's return from the Caribbean, the expedition of King Charles VIII and the Italian response to it provoked a radical change within the whole system of European states leaving everything forever transformed. Let us observe this extraordinary moment and witness there the birth of modern diplomacy, modern government, and modern war.

2017 William Fredlund All rights reserved

18

Week 18: Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Francis I

loir034King Francis I was born in 1494, the same year that King Charles VIII led a French army into Italy. It was due to a series of surprising family tragedies that left Charles with no living male relatives to succeed him in 1498, and brought about the same situation for King Louis XII, such that in 1515, when Louis died, his distant cousin Francis became King of France at the age of 21. Francis dominated France at the exact same time that Henry VIII was ruling England. The two monarchs met many times and were intensely jealous of each other. Who was taller? Who was the better athlete? Who had more women? The two men were almost exact contemporaries and their two deaths at close to midcentury left each nation in the hands of a child king: Francis II and Edward VI. Francis was the true Renaissance king, devoted to art, devoted to the Italian cultural excellence that we call the Renaissance. Think about one thing: Francis brought Leonardo da Vinci to live his last years in France. What greater devotion could we imagine to Renaissance Italy?

765px-IngresDeathOfDaVinci

19

Week 19: Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Catherine dei Medici

Catherine dei Medici dominated France for almost half a century. While Elizabeth Tudor was ruling England, and Mary was ruling Scot;and, Catherine, the royal wife and mother dominated her adopted country, France, through her three sons. Catherine's French royal husband Henry was born in the Royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude de France (daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany). His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and held prisoner in Spain. To obtain his release it was eventually agreed that Henry and his older brother be sent to Spain in his place. They remained in captivity for three years. Henry married Catherine de' Medici (13 April 1519 – 5 January 1589) on 28 October 1533, when they were both fourteen years old. The following year, he became romantically involved with a 35 year-old widow, Diane de Poitiers. They had always been very close: she had publicly embraced him on the day he set off to Spain, and during a jousting tournament, he insisted his lance carry her ribbon instead of his wife's. Diane became Henry's most trusted confidante and, for the next twenty-five years, wielded considerable influence behind the scenes, even signing royal documents. Extremely confident, mature and intelligent, she left Catherine powerless to intervene. She did, however, insist that Henry sleep with Catherine in order to produce heirs to the throne. When his elder brother, Francis, died in 1536 after a game of tennis, Henry became heir to the throne. He succeeded his father on his 28th birthday and was crowned King of France on July 25, 1547 at Reims.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Leonie Frieda,

Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France,

Harper Perennial; 2.12.2006 edition edition (March 14, 2006),

ISBN 0060744936

 

REQUIRED READING:

Required reading within this collection of essays will be announced later.

Michel de Montaigne,

The Essays: A Selection,

M.A. Screech (translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140446028

Part Two of "Queen Margot" ("La Reine Margot") starring Isabelle Adjani and Daniel Auteil

Amazon.com:

Based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot concerns the events behind infamous Massacre of St. Bartholomew in 16th-century France. Isabelle Adjani plays Margot, betrothed for political reasons to one man (Daniel Auteuil) by her mother (Virna Lisi), while she is, in fact, in love with another (Vincent Pérez). Despite the bond that grows between the reluctant couple, plots are hatching all over the castle against the royals. Adventurous, exciting, erotic, and given strong artistic credibility through its outstanding cast, the film is enthralling and visually sumptuous. Directed by Patrice Chereau, less known outside of France than is the film's producer, Claude Berri (director of Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring). --Tom Keogh

20

Week 20: Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Michel de Montaigne

Wikipedia:
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. Montaigne is known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography — and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers the world over, including Blaise Pascal, René Descartes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Stefan Zweig, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Isaac Asimov, Eric Hoffer, and perhaps William Shakespeare. In his own time, Montaigne was admired more as a statesman than as an author. The tendency in his essays to digress into anecdotes and personal ruminations was seen as detrimental to proper style rather than as an innovation, and his declaration that, 'I am myself the matter of my book', was viewed by his contemporaries as self-indulgent. In time, however, Montaigne would be recognized as embodying, perhaps better than any other author of his time, the spirit of freely entertaining doubt which began to emerge at that time. He is most famously known for his skeptical remark, 'Que sais-je?' ('What do I know?'). Remarkably modern even to readers today, Montaigne's attempt to examine the world through the lens of the only thing he can depend on implicitly — his own judgment — makes him more accessible to modern readers than any other author of the Renaissance. Much of modern literary non-fiction has found inspiration in Montaigne and writers of all kinds continue to read him for his masterful balance of intellectual knowledge and personal story-telling.

REQUIRED READING

Essays to read, see below and note that these Book numbers and essay numbers and titles are the same in all translations so if you have some other edition of the Essays the following will be using the same Book numbers and essay numbers. The Complete Essays from Penguin Classics also has a KINDLE version. This smaller less expensive edition that we use in class does not have a KINDLE version.

Essays to read for class:
Start with Montaigne's Note to the Reader, p. 3
BOOK ONE (I)
8. On Idleness
26. On the Education of Children
31 On Cannibals 39 On Solitude
BOOK TWO (II)
1. On the Inconsistencies of Our Actions
BOOK THREE (III)
2. On Repentance

Michel de Montaigne,

The Essays: A Selection,

M.A. Screech (translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140446028

PICTURES

A visit to Bordeaux, the wine region, and the chateau of Montaigne

All

Week 11: Wed., Jan. 4, 2017
King Philip le Bel

f0af0cd1fc79dbacda5b2ea999f5e41bParis in 1300 was the center of the world.  No European capital had so dominated western culture since the days of Rome and Athens.  The University of Paris was the destination for every scholar in the Latin language world.  The court of the King of France was considered the most sophisticated in the world and other royal families sent their children to be educated in the court of His Most Christian Majesty.  Presiding over this international center of culture and religion was the spectacular King Philip le Bel–Philip the Handsome, Philip the brilliant, Philip the amazing. Philip embodied this nation at its peak of influence and power. And the fame and celebration of France went to the king's head. And he led the nation to heights of power but also to the extreme edge of tyranny.

REQUIRED READING:

Here is an excellent general history of France that will be very useful for our entire year.

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

MATERIAL ON THE WEB:

Kings of France

Week 12: Wed., Jan. 11, 2017
100 Years War

The 100 Years War began in 1337, when the very young King of England, Edward III, decided that he was the legitimate king of France rather than the man the French had crowned. Did he have a case? Yes, to an extent. But from the point of view of the French, his claim was fatally flawed because the French did not accept a female sovereign, and his claim came through his French mother. But this objection did not stop the aggressive young English King from proceeding with his war. And in the next 100 years plus, he and his armies ruined France. During the fourteenth century, France went from the position of the number one most powerful nation in all of Europe to total social and political collapse.  At the end of the fourteenth century the French monarchy was in a nation in shambles.  The king, Charles VI, was insane for long periods of time, the court was a pit of violent intrigue, the Queen was a scandal sleeping with whomever she might desire including, it is believed, the king's brother.  The economy was a disaster. The war had ruined it. The very borders of the nation were crumbling. And the Englsih occupied the northern third of the French nation. How did France survive?

REQUIRED READING:

Here is an excellent general history of France that will be very useful for our entire year.

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

RECOMMENDED READING:

The best book on fourteenth-century France is:

Barbara Tuchman,

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century,

Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reissue edition (July 12, 1987),

ISBN 0345349571

Week 13: Wed., Jan. 18, 2017
The Black Death

The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53. Although there were several competing theories as to the etiology of the Black Death, analysis of DNA from victims in northern and southern Europe published in 2010 and 2011 indicates that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague.

The Black Death is thought to have originated in the arid plains of Central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road, reaching the Crimea by 1343.] From there, it was most likely carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships. Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population.  In total, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. The aftermath of the plague created a series of religious, social, and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover.[citation needed] The plague recurred occasionally in Europe until the 19th century.  (Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING

The best recent study of the Black Death is this excellent book of 2005 by John Kelly.

John Kelly,

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death,

Harper Pennial paperback, 2005,

ISBN 0060006935

REVIEW:

Amazon.com Review. A book chronicling one of the worst human disasters in recorded history really has no business being entertaining. But John Kelly's The Great Mortality is a page-turner despite its grim subject matter and graphic detail. Credit Kelly's animated prose and uncanny ability to drop his reader smack in the middle of the 14th century, as a heretofore unknown menace stalks Eurasia from "from the China Sea to the sleepy fishing villages of coastal Portugal [producing] suffering and death on a scale that, even after two world wars and twenty-seven million AIDS deaths worldwide, remains astonishing." Take Kelly's vivid description of London in the fall of 1348: "A nighttime walk across Medieval London would probably take only twenty minutes or so, but traversing the daytime city was a different matter.... Imagine a shopping mall where everyone shouts, no one washes, front teeth are uncommon and the shopping music is provided by the slaughterhouse up the road." Yikes, and that's before just about everything with a pulse starts dying and piling up in the streets, reducing the population of Europe by anywhere from a third to 60 percent in a few short years. In addition to taking readers on a walking tour through plague-ravaged Europe, Kelly heaps on the ancillary information and every last bit of it is captivating. We get a thorough breakdown of the three types of plagues that prey on humans; a detailed account of how the plague traveled from nation to nation (initially by boat via flea-infested rats); how floods (and the appalling hygiene of medieval people) made Europe so susceptible to the disease; how the plague triggered a new social hierarchy favoring women and the proletariat but also sparked vicious anti-Semitism; and especially, how the plague forever changed the way people viewed the church. Engrossing, accessible, and brimming with first-hand accounts drawn from the Middle Ages, The Great Mortality illuminates and inspires. History just doesn't get better than that. --Kim Hughes

RECOMMENDED READING

If you would like to read an account of human beings and disease then this small brilliant book from by the greatest living American historian, William McNeill will serve you well. I say the "greatest living..." and of course that is debatable, but for me, I value what William McNeill has done as the highest achievement in history, especially his masterpiece,The Rise of the West. It is still the best one-volume history of Western Civilization. Plagues and Peoples is a very wide rich book. It begins with a short introduction to the anthropological history of humankind and always with an eye to how disease has played its part. The section of the book that will most interest us this week is Chapter Four: The Impact of the Mongol Empire on Shifting Disease Balances, 1200–1500. This chapter is the best analysis of how the Black Death was connected to larger issues of populations and politics. It is worth owning the book if only to go directly to Chapter 4.

William H. McNeill,

Plagues and Peoples,

Doubleday Anchor paperback, first published in 1976. 2005,

ISBN 0385121229

Amazon.com Review

No small themes for historian William McNeill: he is a writer of big, sweeping books, from The Rise of the West to The History of the World. Plagues and Peoples considers the influence of infectious diseases on the course of history, and McNeill pays special attention to the Black Death of the 13th and 14th centuries, which killed millions across Europe and Asia. (At one point, writes McNeill, 10,000 people in Constantinople alone were dying each day from the plague.) With the new crop of plagues and epidemics in our own time, McNeill's quiet assertion that "in any effort to understand what lies ahead the role of infectious disease cannot properly be left out of consideration" takes on new significance.

From the Publisher

McNeill's highly acclaimed work is a brilliant and challenging account of the effects of disease on human history. His sophisticated analysis and detailed grasp of the subject make this book fascinating reading. By the author of The Rise Of The West. Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon. Thought-provoking, well-researched, and compulsively readable, Plagues and Peoples is that rare book that is as fascinating as it is scholarly, as intriguing as it is enlightening. "A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging achievement" (Kirkus Reviews), it is essential reading, offering a new perspective on human history.

Blackdeath

 

Week 14: Wed., Jan. 25, 2017
King Charles VI

King Charles VI (1368-1422) was only 53 years old when he died, yet he had been the King of France for 42 years. He was a teenager when his father died and he became King of France. His reign began brilliantly with his youth in his favor and extraordinary good looks. For the first ten years, France celebrated its picture-book king with his blond locks and chivalric charm. The one day it all turned into a horror. He was struck with some kind of epileptic fit that left him unconscious. These fits attacked him again and again all during the remaining years of his long reign. During this royal dram, France fell apart. The English conquered more o fthe French countryside, the court fell to fighting, and by the death of the king in 1422, there was almost no France left.

Charles_VI_de_France_-_Dialogues_de_Pierre_Salmon_-_Bib_de_Genève_MsFr165f4

1415 Battle of Agincourt
1422 Death of King Henry VI Death of King Charles VI
1422 King Charles VII succeeds to throne (Charles, 1403-1461)
1429 Joan of Arc comes to Charles at Chinon
1429 July 17, Rheims, coronation of King Charles VII
1431 Burn Joan of Arc in Rouen (The English control Rouen)
1435 Charles signs peace treaty (Treaty of Arras) with Duke Philip III of Burgundy
1451 Louis marries Charlotte of Savoy.
1456 trouble between Charles and son Louis, Louis flees to uncle Duke of Burgundy
1461 Aug 30, death of Charles VII, succession of his son Louis XI (King, 1461-1483)
WARS OF THE ROSES GOING ON IN ENGLAND (Hen VI vs. Ed IV -York)
1461 Louis comes to Paris accompanied by his protector, his uncle Duke Philip of Burgundy (Louis has been living at the court of Burgundy)
1467 death of Duke Philip of Burgundy, son Charles the Bold becomes Duke. he and Louis know each other extremely well since had lived together, Burgundy
1468 Meeting at Peronne, Crisis (Commines) Louis escapes with his life.
1472-1476 War between France and Burgundy.
1476 France/Louis wins.
1476 death of Duke Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in Switzerland battle.
1483 death of King Louis XI. son Charles VIII to throne.
1491 Charles VIII marries the Duchess of Brittany, Anne.
1494 French invasion of Italy led by Charles VIII
1498 death of Charles VIII, cousin Louis of Orleans becomes Louis XII.

Week 15: Wed., Feb. 1, 2017
Joan of Arc

From Wikipedia: "Saint Joan of Arc (French: Jeanne d'Arc; ca. 1412 – 30 May 1431) is a national heroine of France and a Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, claiming divine guidance, and was indirectly responsible for the coronation of Charles VII. She was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court, and burned at the stake when she was nineteen years old. Twenty-four years later, on the initiative of Charles VII, who could not afford being seen as having been brought to power with the aid of a condemned heretic, Pope Callixtus III reviewed the decision of the ecclesiastical court, found her innocent, and declared her a martyr. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is, along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux, one of the patron saints of France.

DVD in class:

"Joan of Arc" 1999
This is an excellent new production starring Leelee Sobieski, Neil Patrick Harris, and Peter O'Toole.

Reviews:
Amazon.com essential video A strong cast, impressive production values, and astute direction distinguish this generally successful dramatization of the tumultuous life of the 15th-century French heroine whose military victories were eclipsed by her martyrdom. At the heart of the story is the conflict between the teenager's simple but fierce faith and the more complex political and theological issues that influence her downfall, a theme fleshed out through the portrayals of the young warrior's liege, the Dauphin (later King) Charles, and the Bishop Cauchon. The feature follows Joan D'Arc's odyssey from peasant obscurity to notoriety as the "Maid of Orleans," spiritual fulcrum for the beleaguered French forces struggling to halt English invaders. As played by Leelee Sobieski (Eyes Wide Shut), her evolution from naive farm girl to seasoned soldier is convincing, as is her gradual awakening to the underlying agendas of church and state. Most critically, Sobieski radiates the young girl's fervent spiritual devotion. Framing Sobieski's focal performance are two equally fine turns from Neil Patrick Harris, who erases his legacy as TV's Doogie Howser, M.D. with a neatly shaded, steely Charles, and Peter O'Toole, who balances his signature reserve and present physical frailty to make Cauchon a moral compass for the story. Having opposed Joan as a threat to orthodoxy, the Bishop recognizes her purity too late; O'Toole turns this moment into a dreadful epiphany that resonates through the story's inevitable, fiery denouement. Fine supporting performances from Peter Strauss, Shirley MacLaine, and Maximillian Schell, plus evocative medieval locations in the Czech Republic, further buttress the story. French-Canadian director Christian Duguay handles the large-scale battle sequences with fluid blocking and smart camera work. --Sam Sutherland

Week 16: Wed., Feb. 8, 2017
The Renaissance Kings

Joan of Arc saved France. When she died, she left behind a nation revived, but not yet rebuilt. Four kings worked on that project: Charles VII, Louis XI, Charles VIII, and Francis I. During the 100 years that these four kings governed, France began to rebuild its frontiers, its government, and its economy. All four of them contributed to the success of modern France. The one genius among them was Louis XI, one of the most brilliant kings who ever lived. But louis was a man not easy to like. His father began the project, he continued what his father began, and his son continued what he had achieved. Finally, a man who was no genius, Francis I, continued their work almost to the mid sixteenth century.

Charles VII, 1403-1461, reign, 1422-1461

Louis XI, 1423-1483, reign, 1461-1483

Charles VIII, 1470-1498, reign, 1483-1498

Louis XII, 1462-1515, reign, 1498-1515

1415 Battle of Agincourt

1422 Death of King Henry VI Death of King Charles VI

1422 King Charles VII succeeds to throne (Charles, 1403-1461)

1429 Joan of Arc comes to Charles at Chinon

1429 July 17, Rheims, coronation of King Charles VII

1431 Burn Joan of Arc in Rouen (The English control Rouen)

1435 Charles signs peace treaty (Treaty of Arras) with Duke Philip III of Burgundy

1451 Louis marries Charlotte of Savoy.

1456 trouble between Charles and son Louis, Louis flees to uncle Duke of Burgundy

1461 Aug 30, death of Charles VII, succession of his son Louis XI (King, 1461-1483)

WARS OF THE ROSES GOING ON IN ENGLAND (Hen VI vs. Ed IV -York)

1461 Louis comes to Paris accompanied by his protector, his uncle Duke Philip of Burgundy (Louis has been living at the court of Burgundy)

1467 death of Duke Philip of Burgundy, son Charles the Bold becomes Duke. he and Louis know each other extremely well since had lived together, Burgundy

1468 Meeting at Peronne, Crisis (Commines) Louis escapes with his life.

1472-1476 War between France and Burgundy.

1476 France/Louis wins.

1476 death of Duke Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in Switzerland battle.

1483 death of King Louis XI. son Charles VIII to throne.

1491 Charles VIII marries the Duchess of Brittany, Anne.

1494 French invasion of Italy led by Charles VIII

1498 death of Charles VIII, cousin Louis of Orleans becomes Louis XII.

Week 17: Wed., Feb. 15, 2017
1494: the Year the French Discovered Italy

Charles_VIII_Ecole_Francaise_16th_century_Musee_de_Conde_Chantilly-1

In the last decade of the fifteenth century, the vigorous young King of France seized upon a murky genealogical circumstance to pursue his family's dubious right to the kingdom of Naples. Resisting considerable domestic and international pressure, he assembled the biggest, best-trained, and best-equipped army that Europe had seen since the days of the Roman Empire and pushed over the Alps and descended onto the great plain of the Po.

The coming of the French to Italy, something that had been feared, recommended, debated, and denounced for all of the fifteenth century, moved two Italians forward to share the center stage with King Charles VIII for these early critical days of the invasion: Ludovico Sforza, ruler of Milan, and Piero de' Medici, ruler of Florence. The progress of the French would depend upon the positions taken by these two unpredictable leaders. Ostensibly, Ludovico supported the French and Piero opposed them, but as the days of the invasion passed, the complex relationship between these three men showed how much more there was to the situation than this simple statement of alliances.

The conflict between France and the various independent states that ruled the Italian peninsula in the fall of 1494 is fascinating, but equally intriguing is the personal battle between these three men and the way that they maneuvered their forces, schemed and flattered, conspired and lied, drove ahead and retreated, won and lost, as they attempted to retrieve from the horrors and complexities of this massive invasion their own political power and the tranquility of their state. This personal drama climaxed at the small Tuscan town of Santo Stefano di Magra where for one brief moment the three men met in the midst of their disturbing battle and then went off in three different directions never to meet again.

Behind the clashing egos we find the emergence of a whole new world. As the European mind was undergoing a radical change in the conception of the globe provoked by the news brought back to Spain by Columbus, so now one year after the explorer's return from the Caribbean, the expedition of King Charles VIII and the Italian response to it provoked a radical change within the whole system of European states leaving everything forever transformed. Let us observe this extraordinary moment and witness there the birth of modern diplomacy, modern government, and modern war.

2017 William Fredlund All rights reserved

Week 18: Wed., Feb. 22, 2017
Francis I

loir034King Francis I was born in 1494, the same year that King Charles VIII led a French army into Italy. It was due to a series of surprising family tragedies that left Charles with no living male relatives to succeed him in 1498, and brought about the same situation for King Louis XII, such that in 1515, when Louis died, his distant cousin Francis became King of France at the age of 21. Francis dominated France at the exact same time that Henry VIII was ruling England. The two monarchs met many times and were intensely jealous of each other. Who was taller? Who was the better athlete? Who had more women? The two men were almost exact contemporaries and their two deaths at close to midcentury left each nation in the hands of a child king: Francis II and Edward VI. Francis was the true Renaissance king, devoted to art, devoted to the Italian cultural excellence that we call the Renaissance. Think about one thing: Francis brought Leonardo da Vinci to live his last years in France. What greater devotion could we imagine to Renaissance Italy?

765px-IngresDeathOfDaVinci

Week 19: Wed., Mar. 1, 2017
Catherine dei Medici

Catherine dei Medici dominated France for almost half a century. While Elizabeth Tudor was ruling England, and Mary was ruling Scot;and, Catherine, the royal wife and mother dominated her adopted country, France, through her three sons. Catherine's French royal husband Henry was born in the Royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude de France (daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne, Duchess of Brittany). His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and held prisoner in Spain. To obtain his release it was eventually agreed that Henry and his older brother be sent to Spain in his place. They remained in captivity for three years. Henry married Catherine de' Medici (13 April 1519 – 5 January 1589) on 28 October 1533, when they were both fourteen years old. The following year, he became romantically involved with a 35 year-old widow, Diane de Poitiers. They had always been very close: she had publicly embraced him on the day he set off to Spain, and during a jousting tournament, he insisted his lance carry her ribbon instead of his wife's. Diane became Henry's most trusted confidante and, for the next twenty-five years, wielded considerable influence behind the scenes, even signing royal documents. Extremely confident, mature and intelligent, she left Catherine powerless to intervene. She did, however, insist that Henry sleep with Catherine in order to produce heirs to the throne. When his elder brother, Francis, died in 1536 after a game of tennis, Henry became heir to the throne. He succeeded his father on his 28th birthday and was crowned King of France on July 25, 1547 at Reims.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Leonie Frieda,

Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France,

Harper Perennial; 2.12.2006 edition edition (March 14, 2006),

ISBN 0060744936

 

REQUIRED READING:

Required reading within this collection of essays will be announced later.

Michel de Montaigne,

The Essays: A Selection,

M.A. Screech (translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140446028

Part Two of "Queen Margot" ("La Reine Margot") starring Isabelle Adjani and Daniel Auteil

Amazon.com:

Based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot concerns the events behind infamous Massacre of St. Bartholomew in 16th-century France. Isabelle Adjani plays Margot, betrothed for political reasons to one man (Daniel Auteuil) by her mother (Virna Lisi), while she is, in fact, in love with another (Vincent Pérez). Despite the bond that grows between the reluctant couple, plots are hatching all over the castle against the royals. Adventurous, exciting, erotic, and given strong artistic credibility through its outstanding cast, the film is enthralling and visually sumptuous. Directed by Patrice Chereau, less known outside of France than is the film's producer, Claude Berri (director of Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring). --Tom Keogh

Week 20: Wed., Mar. 8, 2017
Michel de Montaigne

Wikipedia:
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. Montaigne is known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography — and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers the world over, including Blaise Pascal, René Descartes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Stefan Zweig, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Isaac Asimov, Eric Hoffer, and perhaps William Shakespeare. In his own time, Montaigne was admired more as a statesman than as an author. The tendency in his essays to digress into anecdotes and personal ruminations was seen as detrimental to proper style rather than as an innovation, and his declaration that, 'I am myself the matter of my book', was viewed by his contemporaries as self-indulgent. In time, however, Montaigne would be recognized as embodying, perhaps better than any other author of his time, the spirit of freely entertaining doubt which began to emerge at that time. He is most famously known for his skeptical remark, 'Que sais-je?' ('What do I know?'). Remarkably modern even to readers today, Montaigne's attempt to examine the world through the lens of the only thing he can depend on implicitly — his own judgment — makes him more accessible to modern readers than any other author of the Renaissance. Much of modern literary non-fiction has found inspiration in Montaigne and writers of all kinds continue to read him for his masterful balance of intellectual knowledge and personal story-telling.

REQUIRED READING

Essays to read, see below and note that these Book numbers and essay numbers and titles are the same in all translations so if you have some other edition of the Essays the following will be using the same Book numbers and essay numbers. The Complete Essays from Penguin Classics also has a KINDLE version. This smaller less expensive edition that we use in class does not have a KINDLE version.

Essays to read for class:
Start with Montaigne's Note to the Reader, p. 3
BOOK ONE (I)
8. On Idleness
26. On the Education of Children
31 On Cannibals 39 On Solitude
BOOK TWO (II)
1. On the Inconsistencies of Our Actions
BOOK THREE (III)
2. On Repentance

Michel de Montaigne,

The Essays: A Selection,

M.A. Screech (translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140446028

PICTURES

A visit to Bordeaux, the wine region, and the chateau of Montaigne