Feudal France (Between 987 and 1108) Part II

The monarchy therefore has the difficult moves in this northern France, tangled with powerful fiefdoms capable of each rising to a position of command. In the meantime, however, the rest of France escapes the kings, the area between the Loire and the Mediterranean where we are not really talking about France, but about Aquitaine. The Loire divides the country where French is spoken from that where the Occitan language is spoken; and Aquitaine retains all its separatist traditions and its princes look to the kings of Paris as equals. Apart from that, the life of Brittany takes place, agitated from 952 to 1066 by civil strife, determined by the desire of various feudatories to secure the ducal crown. Even the Bretons ignore the monarchy of Paris and consider themselves a nation in itself. To the east the dukes of Normandy and the counts of

In the century X around the main feudal lords moves a cloud of minor or minimal feudal lords; in the following century the political situation is worse in one respect. In the century X everywhere a cloud of feudalism, but there still exists a public institution that seems to embrace everything: the monarchy. But slowly a work of general concentration takes place; a number of gentlemen manage to extend their authority. The development process leads to the formation of feudal regional states: Duchy of Normandy, Aquitaine, County of Anjou, etc. The backbone of the general state is the dynasty: intact succession is taken care of, adopting the primogeniture and abolishing divisions. Female succession is also eliminated. Each baron gathers around him the minor feudatars of the region which he transforms into his employees; there is mention of real provincial feudal assemblies, in which the prince appears as the representative of this regional unit. We try to organize the state better; to create a ducal or count administration by fighting the anarchist instincts of the small feudatories, favoring the clergy and the city bourgeoisies. France returns polycentric. Instead of affirming his claims as absolute monarch, the Capetian king is satisfied, faced with this situation, to be, recognized or not, the feudal ruler of all the vassal princes of France. The right of the king, supreme lord, to the homage of all the feudatars is proclaimed; theorists are left with the task of theorising about the feudal structure of the monarchy. Theories that give little boredom to the feudalists who appear confident of their real power, but which serve to recreate an ideal unity with feudal France. It is important that France once again feel itself one, to admit a center of national life in the monarchy of Paris.

According to ehistorylib, the decline of the Capetian monarchy is maximum under the reign of Philip I (1060-1108). The king is hostile to the Gregorian movement; he does not participate in the first crusade at all. He barely managed to resist in 1087 the Duke of Normandy and the King of England united to overthrow it definitively. His marriage to the Countess of Anjou, living the wife of one and the husband of the other, brought him excommunications, interdict and popular reproach. Instead, the provincial dynasties prevail. The counts of Flanders have beautiful figures such as Baldwin V and Roberto il Gerosolimitano. The dukes of Normandy, after having from the century. French West dominated X to XI, they rose to maximum power when William the Conqueror managed to become king of England in 1066; the counts of Anjou after Folco Nerra, have magnificent samples in Goffredo Martello (1040-1060), in Folco V (1109-1129) and in Goffredo il Bello (1129-1151), who overthrow the protruding feudatories, abandon the possessions of Aquitaine and give the state an organization and a well balanced unit. In Burgundy the dukes, from Ugo I to Odo I, to Ugo II, dealt with organizing the duchy with institutions of peace and justice. The duchy of Aquitaine has powerful and famous princes throughout Europe in William VIII and William IX; the counts of Toulouse from the middle of the century. XI  are masters of Provence and dominate a large country from the Garonne to the Maritime Alps, and since the power of the Dukes of Aquitaine closes the horizon of the interior for them, they throw themselves into the Christian expeditions of Spain and Syria.

Almost all of these great principalities, at one moment at least, appear to pose as representatives of French general interests. The Counts of Flanders fought on the Scheldt and the Rhine with the empire; the dukes of Normandy set out to conquer England; the dukes of Aquitaine consecrate many forces to expeditions to Castile; the counts of Toulouse devoted themselves to Mediterranean politics. But their life is usually dominated by the narrow interests of the region. Now this regional base will soon prove insufficient as a structure of the local feudal state. The dynasts themselves, by overthrowing riotous feudality or transforming it into a regular and permanent feudal institution, unwittingly undermine the foundations of their power. The favor accorded to the city bourgeoisies will open up broader hopes for them.

Feudal France (Between 987 and 1108) 2