Reviews of Books

T. F. TOUT
1898 English Historical Review  
Lea Etots de Normandie. Leurs origines et lenrs developpements au xh* siede. Par ALFBED COVTLLE. (Paris: A. Picard et fils. 1894.) THE obscurity of the origin of the provincial estates in France is clearly indicated by the divergent theories on the subject which M. Coville has summarised at the beginning of his book. But it is by the patient bringing together of the scattered scraps of information that bear on the genesis of each one of these institutions that the general theory will be found
more » ... ory will be found at last, and the method of M. Coville, though less ambitious and rapid, is at least more sure and scientific than the brilliant guesses of M. Callery. The chief materials for the history of the estates of Normandy are to be sought not in the province itself, but in the fragments of the archives of the Parisian Chambre des Comptes, which are now mostly to be found in the Bibliotheque Nationale. From these remnants, from the uncertain and halting testimony of such few chroniclers as notice the estates at all, and from occasional indications in municipal and departmental collections, M. Coville has constructed, with great skill, patience, and method, a history of the origin and early development of the Norman estates which is likely ever to remain the authoritative book on the subject. He has done for the estates of the northern duchy all that M. Cadier has done for the estates of Beam. His excellent book, read in connexion with M. C. de Beaurepaire's ' Etats de Normandie sous la domination anglaise,' which was published so long ago as 1859, will tell us all that we can hope to know on the history of representative institutions in medieval Normandy. The three estates of Normandy had no connexion with the ancient baronial councils of the Norman dukes. These assemblies ceased after the absorption of Normandy in the royal domain, and for more than a century there is no trace of any assembly of the Norman magnates. Some pains had, however, been taken, both by Philip Augustus and St. Louis, to secure for the Normans the enjoyment of their ancient franchises, but the grasping and aggressive policy of Philip the Fair paid no heed to their promises, and imposed maltoltes and other impositions that were bitterly resented. Hence Normandy took a conspicuous part in bringing about the feudal reaction that marked the short reign of Louis X. It obtained as its reward the Charte Normande of 1815, by which the royal right of taxing Normandy was strictly limited. M. Coville's close examination and explanation of this document should have prevented it being described by the recent historian of Philippe le Long as a stillborn charter like those given at the same time to the Borgundians and the Picards. 1 But for the moment it had no very great results, until in 1889 Philip of Valois, on the eve of the Hundred Years' War, was forced to ratify the charter by the pressure of the prelates and barons of Normandy. Henceforth the occasional and scattered meetings of the Norman magnates crystallised into the three estates of Normandy. At their first full meeting in March 1889 the estates granted Philip and bis son John, now duke of Normandy, men and money destined to bring about a new Norman conquest of England. The grandiose expedition never came off, but the danger to England did not altogether pass away until 1840, when the great fleet collected and equipped by the Normans for this pnrpose was
doi:10.1093/ehr/xiii.li.569 fatcat:znr4d2f7ardmvfpo6qgx63ihku