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Author copy:This textbook for classroom use provides a bird's eye view of social change in France during 'the long seventeenth century' from 1589 to 1715, that is, the reigns of the first three bourbon kings, Henri IV, Louis XIII and Louis XIV. It provides an originasl perspective on social change by examining changes in social solidarities, the personal bonds and loyalties acting as adhesive forces in holding society together and counteracting widespread instability and fragmentation. Solidarities included rank, honour, and reputation; family, household and kinship; faith and church; state and obedience the king; seigneurial and patron-client ties; sociability; work-related ties; and regional ties such as neighbourhood and village loyalties. Changes in solidarities included the proliferation of nuclear family ties at the expense of extendd kinship ties, while the indirect power and influence of women continued to be important. The demographic crisis and stagnation encouraged labour mobility, which with absentee landlordism helped to undermine traditional rural ties. Urban ties of neighbourhood, sociability, and work proliferated with rapid urbanisation.
There was a significant transformation in the traditional role of the nobility, while a new emphasis upon loyal obedience to the king and an emerging national consciousness changed how the French saw themselves. A resurgent Catholicism sought to reform the church by imposing Tridentine orthodoxy, and eliminating Protestant heresy and Jansenist heterodoxy. Individuals on the margins of society such as beggars, vagrants, and criminals, who lacked many of the ties and solidarities characterizing the rest of society, are discussed in the last chapter. France by 1715 had become a more peaceful, civilized place in which to live, and this book discusses some of the reasons why. Written in a colourful, descriptive style.