Matthias Waechter - History of France

The Search for Unity and Expansion: Today, France appears to be the perfect example of a unitary state. However, its history is characterised by great diversity: In his new book, Matthias Waechter, Historian and Director General of CIFE, traces the “History of France”, one of the oldest nations in Europe, from the Middle Ages to the present day. He introduces the main political, cultural and societal traits of each epoque and explains how France became what it is today.

In geographic and climatic terms, the French territory stretches from the Mediterranean to the Alps up to the plains of the north and the Atlantic. Also, the language and culture of France are historically more diverse than they may seem, ranging from the Breton, Flemish and the Basque to the language of the south, the Langue d'Oc. Moreover, politically, France appears like an experimental ground for political models of order, from absolute kingship to constitutional monarchy and autocracy to the egalitarian republic. Furthermore, the history of France did not merely take place within its present borders.

A History of France must therefore be national, European and global at the same time. In his book, Matthias Waechter focuses on two leitmotifs that in the course of history sometimes stimulated each other and at other times were in contradiction: the search for unity and the desire for expansion.

Matthias Waechter, “Geschichte Frankreichs” is published in the series C.H.BECK Wissen and is available in German.

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