In 987, when Hugh Capet took the throne of France, founding a dynasty which was to rule for over 300 years, his kingdom was weak and insignificant. But by 1100, the kingdom of France was beginning to dominate the cultural nd religious life of western Europe. In the centuries that followed, to scholars and to poets, to reforming churchmen and monks, to crusaders and the designers of churches, France was the hub of the universe. La douce France drew people like a magnet even though its kings were, until about 1200, comparatively insignificant figures. Then, thanks to the conquests and reforms of King Philip Augustus, France became a dominant force in political and economic terms as well, producing a saint-king, Louis IX, and in Philip IV, a ruler so powerful that he could dictate to popes and emperors. Spanning France's development across four centuries, Capetian France is a definitive book. This second edition has been carefully revised to take account of the very latest work, without losing the original book's popular balance between a compelling narrative and an fascinating examination of the period's main themes.
This is a solid, albeit old-fashioned, history, one which keeps the political changes at the fore, eschewing trends of the past forty years that seek to present the viewpoints of those not in power. The country of France is treated in detail in the chapter on regional trends; the rest of the book describes the kings, their reigns and responsibilities. Hallam (director of public services, public record office, National Archives, London) and Everard (history, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge), perhaps under the influence of an editor, have divided their work into very short (often two or three sentences) paragraphs which greatly inhibits the flow of this otherwise competent work. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)