The Capetians: Kings of France 987-1328
This is a lively, highly readable history of France’s transformation from a cluster of warring clans to a unified nation. Jim Bradbury traces the dynasty of Hugh Capet as it creates, through force and diplomacy, much of France as we know it today.
The author first provides a good introduction to the rise of the Capetians then discusses facets of each reign. Those chapters are generally broken into sections on the king’s accession, expansion the demesne, relationship to the Church and other countries, and administrative developments. The closing chapter summarizes military and political achievements as well as cultural and administrative accomplishments. The book includes extensive notes, bibliography, maps, genealogical charts and illustrations.
Bradbury is thoroughly at home with the chroniclers of the period. His candid reflections about their abilities and motivations are entertaining as well as instructive. His narrative is conversational, peppered with gossipy detail that medieval chroniclers thought worthy of recording. The tone throughout is positive as the author makes an excellent case for thinking about the Capetians as leaders in transformation rather than as weak kings unable to control their countrymen. The Capetians is a significant contribution to medieval scholarship—definitely a text to add to your library.