This major study of ten towns located along the river systems surrounding Paris in the fifteenth century lies at the intersection of several fields which have developed in the past few decades in medieval urban history, notably: the impact of the rise of regnal or regional capitals; the nature of urban networks and the economic life of small towns. The communities in question are Mantes, Meulan, Pontoise, Poissy, Saint-Denis, Meaux, Lagny, Melun, Corbeil and Étampes. The research investment in this book (based on a 2014 doctoral thesis) is impressive, and includes the records of the royal administration at various levels, the surviving Parisian material, the archives of the major ecclesiastical establishments of the region and the muniments of the small towns themselves, where these are available (e.g. Mantes). After an opening section which considers the natural features which made the Parisian region a seedbed of urban development, and within that the hierarchies which characterized this urban network, Guittonneau goes on to examine the legal and institutional means by which the Parisian prévôté des marchands exercised control over the region (Part II). A fascinating third section replete with detailed case studies traces human interactions between the capital and its surrounding urban network. The study concludes with a final section considering political aspects of relations between the small towns in question and higher powers, in particular the king and the Parisian authorities. Guittonneau succeeds in demonstrating the existence of an urban network of small towns which lived in the shadow of the great city and which was inevitably closely tied to the economic and political power of the capital, especially in times of war, but which was also open to interactions and influences with communities and powers further afield, such as Lancastrian Rouen or the cities under Burgundian rule in the north. It is a pity there is no place in the bibliography for G.L. Thompson’s valuable study of Paris and its people under English rule (1990) or his work on the town of Saint-Denis (1989), one of the author’s chosen subjects, but in so many other respects this book constitutes a substantial contribution to the study of fifteenth-century France, and late medieval urban history more generally. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of French History. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
French History – Oxford University Press
Published: May 24, 2018
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