France History: Late Middle Ages

After the first phase (1341–43) of the War of the Breton Succession, the English tried in vain to force a quick decision despite significant military victories at Crécy (1346; today Crécy-en-Ponthieu) and Maupertuis (1356, capture of King John II). The plague (from 1348), requests for a say and plans for state reform by the estates (from 1355) and peasant revolts (Jacquerie, 1358) shook the country, to which Charles V the Wise (1364-80) gave a new government based on rational principles. His untimely death plunged France into a political crisis under the reign of the Dukes of Anjou, Berry and Burgundy, exacerbated by Charles VI’s inability to rule due to illness . When Duke John the Fearless of Burgundy his rival Ludwig murder of Orléans was (1407), the conflict resulted in between houses Orléans (“Armagnac”) and Burgundy (“Bourguignons”) to civil war, during which Burgundy in 1414 an alliance with Henry V. of England closed. The Hundred Years War entered a new phase (1415 victory of the English in the battle of Azincourt, occupation of Paris, 1420 recognition of Henry V as King of France by the estates, 1428/29 siege of Orléans and intervention of Joan of Arc).

The coronation of Charles VII (1429) did not turn the tide, but it did stabilize the French defenses, which were sufficient to recapture Paris after the peace treaty with Burgundy in Arras (1435). In the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (1438), Charles VII. the relationship between the French monarchy and the Roman curia on the basis of Gallican freedoms: among other things, appellations to Rome were restricted, and the right to make proposals for ecclesiastical positions and free canonical election were related to one another; the Pope saw himself subordinate to the council. The estates declared mercenary recruitment to be the sole royal right and approved a permanent direct tax (taille royale) for this purpose. On this basis, Charles VII initiated a major army reform in 1445, which, with the orderly companies, created an early form of the standing army. This army conquered Normandy in 1449 and Guyenne in 1453 and brought about the end of the Hundred Years War. Of all her mainland holdings, England remained only in Calais (until 1559). Charles VII strengthened the power of the crown also inside, v. a. by the subordination of the sidelines of the royal house after the victory over the aristocratic revolt of the Praguerie (1440). In the last years of Charles VII’s reign, the heir to the throne, Louis, increasingly came into opposition and in 1456 fled to Flanders under the protection of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. His assumption of government as Louis XI. (1461–83) was accompanied by disappointed reform hopes; In the “Ligue du Bien public” the aristocratic opposition (Houses Alençon, Anjou, Armagnac, Bourbon, Bretagne) gathered under the leadership of Burgundy since 1465. This league could Louis XI. split by military and diplomatic counter-moves, but kept the new Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold (1467-77), as a determined opponent who used the well-organized forces of his rich and powerful state against the crown and through his marriage to Margaret of York (Sister Edward IV of England) renewed the Anglo-Burgundian alliance. The Treaty of London (1474) aimed at the end of the Valois monarchy, but Louis XI. reached in the Peace of Picquigny (near Amiens, 1475) the settlement with Edward IV and his final renunciation of the French crown; two years later, the death of Charles the Bold opened up access to Burgundy. Check to see more about France and other countries in the world.

Louis XI. led a strict personal regime and drew all important decisions to himself. Extensive tax collections served to finance the enlarged army, pension and subsidy policy. In order to make such burdens bearable, Ludwig XI. Trade, commerce and traffic, which brought the cities to his side against the nobility. After Ludwig’s death – his son and successor Charles VIII was underage – his daughter Anna and her husband Peter von Beaujeu (later Duke of Bourbon) ruled at the head of a council set up by the Estates General in 1484. Under the leadership of Duke Franz II. The aristocratic opposition gathered by Brittany failed, the marriage of the heiress Anna of Brittany to the German King Maximilian I was prevented by French military intervention and Anna was forced to marry Charles VIII of France (1491); after his death she became the wife of his successor Ludwig XII. (1498).

The aim of this marriage policy was to finally bring Brittany to the French crown domain (only realized de jure in 1532) and thus to complete the unity of France.

The economy, which was badly hit by the plague and war damage in the course of the 15th century, recovered only slowly, with the crown having considerable influence. Paris had retained its position as the capital and with 200,000 residents (mid-15th century) remained the center of administration, economy and intellectual life (university), but also a political force that was never contested in the future. Economically weakened aristocracy and sometimes bankrupt cities became dependent on the king, who, through his tax system refined during the war, had the means that for the first time allowed a large-scale state economic policy aimed at a closed economy. In 1466/72 the French silk industry was founded in Lyon and Tours;

France History - Late Middle Ages