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Warrior Pursuits

, 424 pages

12 halftones, 1 line drawing

October 2010


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Warrior Pursuits

Noble Culture and Civil Conflict in Early Modern France

This cultural history of civil warfare in early seventeenth-century France examines how warrior nobles’ practices of violence shaped provincial society and the royal state.

Warrior Pursuits analyzes in detail how provincial nobles engaged in revolt and civil warfare in southern France between 1598 and 1635. The southern French provinces of Guyenne and Languedoc suffered almost continual religious strife and civil conflict in this period, providing an excellent case for investigating the dynamics of early modern civil violence. Brian Sandberg’s extensive archival research on noble families in these provinces reveals that violence continued to be a way of life for many French nobles, challenging previous scholarship that depicts a progressive "civilizing" of noble culture. He argues that southern French nobles engaged in warrior pursuits—social and cultural practices of violence designed to raise personal military forces and to wage civil warfare in order to advance various political and religious goals. Close relationships between the profession of arms, the bonds of nobility, and the culture of revolt allowed nobles to regard their violent performances as "heroic gestures" and "beautiful warrior acts." Warrior nobles represented the key organizers of civil warfare in the early seventeenth century, orchestrating all aspects of the conduct of civil warfare—from recruitment to combat—according to their own understandings of their warrior pursuits.

Building on the work of Arlette Jouanna and other historians of the nobility, Sandberg provides new perspectives on noble culture, state development, and civil warfare in early modern France. French historians and scholars of the Reformation and the European Wars of Religion will find Warrior Pursuits engaging and insightful.

Brian Sandberg is an assistant professor of history at Northern Illinois University.

"Sandberg's solid study certainly complements the work of Arlette Jouanna and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie and should be welcomed and praised for offering English-speakers a (rather rare) glimpse of Renaissance Languedoc and Guyenne."

"Sandberg has gathered a prodigious quantity of information and documentationthat shifts attention from the oft-told story of a relentlessly centralizing monarchy to the fluid, insecure, and bellicose behavior of a regional nobility."

"This is a well-documented study of nobles in southwestern France, and it successfully does what even the best books on early modern military history rarely even attempt: it bridges the divide between military and cultural history."

"Very good research."

"A remarkable work... Brian Sandberg's study is a major contribution to the history of nobility in Modern France."

"A great deal of new and fascinating research on an important topic."

"An important addition to the literature on the nobility of early modern France."

"An important addition to the literature on the nobility of early modern France."

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