Valois Guyenne: A Study of Politics, Government, and Society in Late Medieval France

At the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453, France's Valois government faced the urgent task of securing the exposed former English province of Gascony. Robin Harris draws on central and local sources to identify its methods, and in doing so casts new light on how France was governed between the end of the Hundred Years War and the beginning of the Italian Wars. The study shows that although fear of the King's wrath inhibited real conspiracy and rebellion, there was a limit on the royal government's effective control. The great noble houses of the region had to be rewarded with patronage and pensions, and this complicated network of terror and rewards, overlaid with a conservative administrative-judicial system, made the Valois government in some measure the victim of its own success: the greater the stability the fewer the opportunities for binding the powerful by redistributing the confiscated possessions of the rebellious. Dr Harris argues that it took Charles VIII's launching in 1494 of his great and fateful Italian venture, with accompanying opportunities for patronage and prestige, finally to secure Guyenne, and to re-establish control over France. Dr ROBIN HARRISread modern history at Exeter College, Oxford.