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Historical Communities
Cities, Erudition, and National Identity in Early Modern France
Book cover for 'Historical Communities: Cities, Erudition, and National Identity in Early Modern France' by Hilary J. Bernstein
Publisher: Brill
Publication Date: 2021

Historical Communities reveals the importance of urban history writing in early modern France, from the 1560s to the 1660s, both for individual towns and the French kingdom. Grounded in published and manuscript works, archival sources, correspondence, and research notes, the book demonstrates how historical traditions mattered to city inhabitants and how local elites combined historical narratives with social and political objectives. Numerous conflicts emerged, including debates regarding city origins, the early French Church, noble genealogies, and the memory of the French Wars of Religion. Simultaneously, provincial scholars maintained active contacts within the Republic of Letters, grounding local research and writing in developing erudite methodologies and making them integral to the ongoing process of forging a French historical identity.