Early Modern France

History 166A

Fall 2010
219 Dwinnelle
Day & Time: 
TuTh 3:30-5P

This course surveys the history of France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the renaissance monarchy of Francis I through the splendors and miseries of Louis XIV's absolutism. The focus is on the construction of French identit(ies) and the political theory and practice of "absolutism," but along the way the course introduces students to a variety of traditional and new historical approaches to French social and rural history, religious history, cultural history, but also environmental history, and the history of cartography. The course is document-based, and requires students to read and write (15-20 pp total) about a variety of textual and visual sources, including diaries, wills, royal edicts, official correspondence, engravings, paintings, engineering plans, maps, and of course literary and philosophical texts (when we sample great works from the Renaissance to the Classical Age -- from Rabelais and Calvin to Descartes, Moliere, and La Fontaine). France in the early modern period is a paradigm and a laboratory in which we'll investigate the world historical transformations of European expansion, the Reformations and Religious Wars, modern science, engineering, and the birth of the absolutist state. The course is open to students from all disciplines and at all levels and does not require French.