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Warrior Pursuits

Noble Culture and Civil Conflict in Early Modern France

Warrior nobles frequently armed themselves for civil war in southern France during the troubled early seventeenth century. These bellicose nobles' practices of violence shaped provincial society and the royal state in early modern France. The southern French provinces of Guyenne and Languedoc suffered almost continual religious strife and civil conflict between 1598 and 1635, providing an excellent case for investigating the dynamics of early modern civil violence. Warrior Pursuits constructs a cultural history of civil conflict, analyzing in detail how provincial nobles engaged in revolt and civil warfare during this period. 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.

Sandberg 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.

About the Author

Brian Sandberg is an associate professor of history at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of War and Conflict in the Early Modern World: 1500–1700.


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

"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."—Renaissance Quarterly

"An important addition to the literature on the nobility of early modern France."—Journal of Social History

"Brian Sandberg has written one of the most important regional studies of France's militarized nobility . . . [A]ll early modern historians will need to read and ponder his conclusions."—War in History

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

"Very good research."—Jonathan Dewald, Journal of Modern History

"A great deal of new and fascinating research on an important topic."—Ronald G. Asch, American Historical Review

"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."—Mack P. Holt, George Mason University

9780801899690 : warrior-pursuits-sandberg
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424 Pages
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