This course will examine the complex and often tumultuous processes that established France as one of the preeminent political, cultural and economic powers in Europe and the Atlantic from the sixteenth through the middle of the eighteenth centuries. In the process, we will examine the consequences of the Reformation and the Wars of Religion on French society; the growth of the royal state and the emergence of what some historians have termed “royal absolutism”; changes in elite and popular culture; and the constantly evolving relationship between center and periphery, both in the French provinces and the kingdom’s disparate colonies in New France (Canada), Louisiana and the Caribbean. By the end of the semester, students should be able to:


The following books are available at the bookstore and have also been placed on reserve at the library:


N.B.: Additional required readings (marked with an “**”) are available on 2-hour reserve at the library. Some readings are also available online. Links are provided in the schedule of readings. Readings marked “##” are available on-line at:

All students, especially those considering writing a final research paper on French colonial society, are strongly encouraged to explore the France in America/La France en Amérique website (, which includes extensive collections of books, prints, maps and other materials (in French and English) drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Required Assignments

Conference: Regular conference attendance and participation is expected. It goes without saying that you are expected to come to conference having done the reading for that day and prepared with questions, observations and/or ideas to discuss. If you must miss a conference, please try to let me know in advance.

Leading conference: Students will be asked to lead conference (in pairs) on several occasions during the semester. Conference leaders should meet to discuss their plans and should consult with the instructor in advance.

First essay (due Fri. Feb 10th@ 5pm): A 3 pg. essay on a topic to be distributed in advance. No additional reading or research will be required.

Midterm essay (due Mon. Mar. 20th @ 5pm): A 5-7 pg. essay on a topic to be distributed in advance. No additional reading or research will be required.

Final essay (due Weds. May 10th @ 5pm): A 10-15 pg. research essay on a topic to be chosen in consultation with me.

Policies: I do grant extensions, but never on the day a paper is due (except in the case of serious emergencies). If you need additional time, you must contact me more than 24 hours before the paper is due, provide a reasonable explanation for your request and an alternate due date. I reserve the right to refuse any extension, so just getting in touch with me does not in itself guarantee an extension. I write fewer comments on late papers and will consider the extra time an advantage, consequently expectations will be raised accordingly.