After the Reduction : re-structuring Norman political society and the Bien Public, 1450-65
This thesis describes the political establishment in Normandy after its reduction to the obedience of Charles VII in 1449-50. The consequences of the edict of Compiègne for landholders are illustrated, whether they were Valois partisans being restored under its terms or native Normans who had remained in the Lancastrian obedience. Compiègne was more rigorously applied than has been supposed and was an essential justifying pillar of the provincial regime. The dilapidation of the seigneurial economy in consequence of war and depopulation caused acute problems. In combination with the practicalities of implementation of Compiègne, this advantaged the personnel of the provincial political establishment. The institutional basis of the regime is outlined, with the Echiquier and the grande sénéchaussée discussed in detail. Royal government was articulated through informal structures and substantial advantages accrued to courtier magnates with influence over royal institutions. The role of patronage is highlighted. The provincial garrison is central to the investigation of clientage within the nobility. The ordonnance companies of several magnates are discussed and examples given of the uses to which the crown might put magnate and princely influence. A detailed account of the retinue of grand sénéchal Pierre de Brézé shows how affinity complemented office in rooting him in Normandy. The demolition of Charles VII's Norman regime on the accession of Louis XI contributed to the slide into the Bien Public. The onset of the crisis is discussed in terms of the political choices of Norman magnates, provincial particularism and abortive royal tax reform. The Norman apanage regime of 1465-66 was too incoherent to stabilise a relationship with Norman political society. The Bien Public ruined the medium term prospects for the re-establishment of stability among the cadres of royal power. The Norman ordonnance companies are tabulated and identifications of their hommes d'armes attempted. Some four hundred biographical notices on Norman officers and gens d'armes are appended.