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Status, Power, and Identity in Early Modern France: The Rohan Family, 1550-1715 (Hardback)
  • Status, Power, and Identity in Early Modern France: The Rohan Family, 1550-1715 (Hardback)

Status, Power, and Identity in Early Modern France: The Rohan Family, 1550-1715 (Hardback)

Hardback 264 Pages / Published: 31/03/2015
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In Status, Power, and Identity in Early Modern France, Jonathan Dewald explores European aristocratic society by looking closely at one of its most prominent families. The Rohan were rich, powerful, and respected, but Dewald shows that there were also weaknesses in their apparently secure position near the top of French society. Family finances were unstable, and competing interests among family members generated conflicts and scandals; political ambitions led to other troubles, partly because aristocrats like the Rohan intensely valued individual achievement, even if it came at the expense of the family's needs. Dewald argues that aristocratic power in the Old Regime reflected ongoing processes of negotiation and refashioning, in which both men and women played important roles. So did figures from outside the family--government officials, middle-class intellectuals and businesspeople, and many others. Dewald describes how the Old Regime's ruling class maintained its power and the obstacles it encountered in doing so.

Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
ISBN: 9780271066165
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 522 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm


"Jonathan Dewald has established himself as the premier historian of the early modern European nobility. With this book, he delivers a microhistory of one of its leading and most interesting families. He uncovers not only how the Rohan managed to maintain their prominence in the face of the vicissitudes of fortune and multiple challenges that confronted them across several crucial generations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but also, perhaps most intriguingly, how reinvention, self-fashioning, and historical awareness were part and parcel of their continued success as one of France's preeminent clans. Dewald wears his learning lightly, making this book both indispensable for scholars and eminently accessible to students."

--Robert A. Schneider, Indiana University

"An epic account of one of France's most notable--and notorious--families. Writing with flair and an eye for detail, Jonathan Dewald shows how the Rohan amassed power in the sixteenth century and pulled themselves back from the brink of dynastic disaster in the seventeenth century, which saw the great commander Henri de Rohan and his brother, the duc de Soubise, in exile without male heirs. In a perfect blend of political and cultural history, this startling new account of the house of Rohan weaves together public and private histories to elucidate the fragility of social standing, the fortunes spent to acquire or maintain it, and the provincial estates, esteemed bloodlines, military exploits, and family myth-making that produced both hard cash and social capital. A must-read for anyone interested in French aristocratic society."

--Kate van Orden, Harvard University

"Jonathan Dewald's new monograph throws a multifaceted light on one of the leading grandee families of early modern France. . . . Dewald's important study establishes with clarity and erudition how the egos of high-ranking nobles helped to shape early modern France and Europe, and shows how their grandiose actions would prompt their overthrow in the wake of the revolution."

--Joanna Milstein, Renaissance Quarterly

"In this lively historical account of how the distinguished and powerful Rohan family was established in early modern France, Jonathan Dewald tracks the amazing array of cultural moves and social strategies that were deployed over generations by family members--both the men and the women--equally charged with attaining the crucial social capital for building the dynastic base from which they worked to preserve their social status amid ups and downs, including political blows from the outside and intrafamilial rivalries, scandals, and litigation on the inside. These riveting stories are historical gems that easily rival fictional competitors."

--Sarah Hanley, University of Iowa

"No historian has more authority than Jonathan Dewald to write about an early modern French ducal family. Here is his chef d'oeuvre. By exploring the importance of family myths of origin, and the lives of dedicated servants, Dewald had done what he has never done before: the history of a family as a micro-state society. The firmness and clarity of the social and economic aspects of the Rohan dynasty reach deeper than the Rohan and their managers knew."

--Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University

"Dewald's descriptive explications of the Rohan nobles' characters and lives capture the atmosphere of the time, colorfully conveying the dynamics of court life, political maneuverings, violence, and honor. This work is a welcomed addition to the field of early modern French history."

--Carolyn Corretti, Sixteenth Century Journal

"Powerfully argued and written with his customary elegance and precision, as well as with an eye for the telling example, Status, Power, and Identity in Early Modern France: The Rohan Family, 1550-1715 confirms Dewald's status as one of the leading scholars of early modern elites."

--Charles Lipp, American Historical Review

"Jonathan Dewald's Status, Power, and Identity in Early Modern France demolishes the myth of comfortable stability for the Ancien R gime elite, providing a template for future studies of elites in any society. Using careful analysis of all forms of social capital, his innovative methodology reveals the intricate exchanges among king and aristocrats undergirding the French monarchical state. His emphasis on the Rohan women, in particular, should open up new research perspectives on gender and continuities of aristocratic power. This new classic of social and political analysis freshens a debate launched a generation ago by Sharon Kettering and will open the twenty-first-century conversation on how to analyze clientage, status, and power."

--James Collins, Georgetown University

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