II. Essay One
The state which we today call France has undergone significant change since its origins as the territory of Gaul. Between the years 480 and 1780, this territory was reshaped in terms of both its physical boundaries and its inhabitants and rulers, creating a rich history of the nation of modern France.
First, in order to analyze the evolution of the state of France, it is necessary to define the concept of the state. A ‘state’ is a territory, defined by physical or imagined boundaries, containing a population of people that is governed by a select few of those people. Within the state, the government has authority and the power to impose their power on the rest of the ...view middle of the document...
Following the accession of Pepin III in the mid-750s, the Carolingian Dynasty was born, and with it came a new era of conquest and expansion. Following Pepin’s death in 768, the Frankish kingdom was divided between his sons Carloman and Charlemagne. Charlemagne annexed Carloman’s half of the kingdom after Carloman’s death in 771, and would prove to be one of those most aggressive Frankish rulers in terms of expansion. Charlemagne not only kept the initial Frankish territory as one landmass, but also aggressively expanded eastward into what is now present-day northern Italy in the 770s and western Germany in the 780s. Charlemagne is known for uniting a considerable portion of Western Europe and for serving as both the Frankish king and the Emperor of the Frankish Empire, a position he held from 800 until 814.
After Charlemagne’s death in 814 and his son Louis’s death in the 840s, there was significant conflict over who was the rightful Frankish king: each of Louis’s three sons claimed the throne. In 843, the Treaty of Verdun ended this conflict, dividing Charlemagne’s empire into three distinct kingdoms: one in what is present-day Germany, one in what is present-day Italy, and of course, one in what is present-day France. The effects of this division were drastic, as the once-unified empire under Charlemagne became fragmented and severely decentralized. One of Louis’s sons, Charles, inherited the Gallic portion of the empire that would become France. Charles, through a series of actions during his rule in the late ninth century, would rule France and parts of Italy, while the Carolingian ruler in Germany (Charles’s brother Louis) would maintain the dynasty there.
The Carolingian dynasty continued operating in this way until the 980s, when the Capetian dynasty was established. With the accession of Hugh Capet in 987 and the establishment of the Capetian Dynasty, a new era was born in France. The Capetian dynasty, which through different houses would rule France for nearly a millennium, began with Hugh, who ruled the area immediately around Paris before establishing a French kingdom. Under Hugh Capet and the rest of the Capetians of the House of Capet (until the early 14th century), the territory of France began to take shape: it extended from the Pyrenees to the English Channel, and stopped at the Germanic kingdoms in the East.
Over the next few centuries, there were various internal conflicts within France and some international conflicts that determined changes in territory. By the 1300s, a new house of the Capetian dynasty (Valois) was in power, and the disarray of the Holy Roman Empire allowed France to intrude on Germanic lands to the East. The Hundred Years’ War, waged between France and England from 1337 to the 1450s, saw various changes in territory for France: the French lost significant portions of its western and northern borders to England in the 1360s, including important holdings like Brittany and Burgundy. France would earn...