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Saint Vincent's Reading List XXX: The Geography of Vincent's France

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 6/25/2012 9:49:00 AM

Description Contenant Toutes les Singularitez des Plus Celebres Villes et Places Remarquables du Royaume de France, Avec les Choses Plus Memorables Advenues en Iceluy : Reveu, corrige et auguemente du sommaire de l'estat, cartes des provinces et de quelques portraitz des plus signalees villes du dict royaume, by François Desrues. Rouen: I. Petit, 1611.

Call Number: SpC. 914.404 D474d1611

A full-text version of this volume may be viewed here.

 

Frontispiece

One important contextualization for the work of Vincent de Paul in seventeenth century France is geographical. The map of Vincent’s France is noticeably different from the map of modern France.  The territorial boundaries of the kingdom underwent continual evolution from the Middle Ages and the Treaty of Verdun in 843.  Centuries of expansions and contractions, wars, matrimonial acquisitions, trades, and purchases slowly built up the territorial extent of the kingdom.

In Vincent’s lifetime the accession to the throne of Henry IV brought Henry's ancestral lands in lower Navarre (present-day Béarn, Limousin, Armagnac) into the kingdom. In 1601, through the treaty of Lyon, he added the lands of the present-day department of Ain.

Under Louis XIII and Louis XIV, France set out to limit the serious threat posed by Hapsburg encirclement of the kingdom to the north in Flanders, to the east on the Rhine, and in the south with Spain. This led to more than a century of war with all of its attendant humanitarian and geo-political consequences.

In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years' War, and ratified the annexations by France of several Hapsburg border territories. The border Duchy of Lorraine was also a hotly contested territory during this period. The Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, which ended the long Franco-Spanish War, brought most of the County of Artois back to France, and permanently fixed the border with Spain. 

After Vincent’s death in 1660, Louis XIV would spend much of the rest of his long reign working to expand French borders at the expense of the Hapsburgs.

Woodcut of 17th Century France by Sebastian Munster

The various lands which came to comprise the kingdom typically retained their own dialects, customs, and laws. The geo-political and geo-religious consequences of this patchwork led the Bourbon monarchy to seek not just a geographical unification of the kingdom, but a national unification reflected in the contemporary slogan of "One God. One Faith. One King."

The present volume is a geographical survey of the most important cities and "places remarquables" of the kingdom, published at the beginning of the reign of Louis XIII.  It also contains regional woodcut maps by the famous German cartographer, Sebastian Munster (1448-1552).

   

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St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and  works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.

 

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