The French Renaissance Court

Robert J. Knecht

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The definitive account of the French court, 1483-1589

The court of France in the sixteenth century has often been seen merely as a focus of political intrigue and conflict, but it was also a cultural center in which the visual arts, music, literature, and sport flourished. This book traces for the first time in English the court’s evolution from a nomadic institution to a more sedentary one over the course of a century that began gloriously for France and ended in the horrors of civil war.
 

Robert Knecht, a renowned expert on Renaissance France, explores the political and cultural importance of the French court through seven reigns from Charles VIII to Henry III, including the tumultuous regency of Catherine de' Medici. Against a sharp precis of political events, he details the structure, daily activities, and festivals of the court. Sumptuously illustrated throughout, this is an enthralling account of an opulent and dynamic institution in which image and representation were key.

Robert Knecht is a former chair of the Society for Renaissance Studies. His previous books include Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I; Catherine de Medici; and The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France.

"Epic in scope, scrupulously researched and compellingly written, this book is the triumphant culmination of a career spent shaping the study of early modern French political and cultural life. It is a definitive work on this pivotal period in French history, and a wonderful achievement." - Jerry Brotton, Queen Mary, University of London, author of The Sale of the Late King's Goods: Charles I and His Art Collection

"Immensely learned and approachably written. Professor Knecht offers us a grandstand view of Renaissance France through the eyes of the court. The book provides a vivid panorama of every aspect of its remarkable court culture and witty, intelligent portraits of the individuals who helped to shape it." - Mark Greengrass, University of Sheffield

"Robert Knecht brings his vast experience and authority in this field to the study of the whole picture of the French Renaissance Court. All the primary evidence is here giving full physical context to political change, religious conflict, and the impact of the leading figures. This is a vivid picture of a world that saw itself as the true centre of Europe." - Maurice Howard, University of Sussex

"Knecht offers a new and all-embracing view of the French Valois court; it comes alive in all its theatricality with major figures etched in brilliant colours. This is an authoritative work and a sprightly, eminently readable account." - Margaret McGowan, author of The Vision of Rome in Late Renaissance France

"This is not merely a study of the Valois court; it is, rather, a remarkable view of French Renaissance politics and culture as seen through the lens of court life." - Sydney Anglo, author of The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe

"The French court was the arbiter of fashion during the ancien régime. Knecht. . .examines the court of that era in order to show its transition from the small, relatively cheap, and higly peripatetic court of the late Middle Ages into the crowded, expensive, and far more sedentary one of the late 16th century. . . .Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice

"Knecht succeeds time and again in balancing a huge variety of illustrative detail, discussions of personalities and artistic or architectural projects, of court ceremonies and details of the courtly day, with emphasis throughout on a series of strong analytical threads." —David Parrott, English Historical Review

‘Knecht weaves his narrative together skilfully and synthesizes the topics and his interpretations into a powerful exploration of the complex and often dangerous life of court, king, courtiers and kingdom…As ever, one is grateful for Professor Knecht’s eloquent and approachable writing style.’ — Penny Richards, French Studies Vol 24 No.1, March 2010

"Knecht's account is packed with information, much of it fascinating both in revealing the peculiarities of the Renaissance and in its detail. The accessible style . . . [offers] a description of the French court in all its early modern glory and excess."—Katherine Crawford, Journal of Modern History

"Experts will have heard of [Knecht's The French Renaissance Court] before this notice appears in print but if anyone interested in princely politics, patronage, or public display in The Renaissance has not so far read this book, now is the time to do so. Francis I, who reigned for more than 30 years, in this report rises well above the Emperor Charles or the Tudors."—Leonard R.N. Ashley, Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

"English speakers who are most familiar with the French court of Louis XVI will find Knecht's account a welcome addition to the historiography of the court for an earlier, much less well-known, period. Given its lucid and accessible style and its many interesting details about the Valois court, the book will have a wide appeal . . . . R. J. Knecht's The French Renaissance Court is a carefully researched, painstakingly constructed, and beautifully put together descriptive history . . . ."—Michael Wintroub, H-France

"Engagingly and illustratively written and meticulously researched, The French Renaissance Court, 1483-1589 is a valuable contribution to the political, cultural, intellectual, and social history of early modern France. Replete with genealogies, a complete bibliography, and colorful illustrations, it will be useful for art historians and historians alike who desire an insightful comparison to studies of other Renaissance courts and monarchical government."—Carolyn Corretti, Sixteenth Century Journal

A 2008 Top Seller in European History as compiled by YBP Library Services

Winner of the 2008 Enid McLeod Book Prize given by the Franco-British Society.
ISBN: 9780300118513
Publication Date: June 30, 2008
440 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
70 b/w + 24 color illus.