Front Page Titles (by Subject) 38.: France and the Idea of Unification - Judgments on History and Historians
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38.: France and the Idea of Unification - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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France and the Idea of Unification
To what extent and in whom was this idea really alive at that time? To what extent has it been recognized as desirable only by later developments and subsequently imputed to the fifteenth century?
Royalism in France, to the extent that it was a way of thinking, came into being through the regimes of Philip Augustus and Louis IX, and subsequently maintained itself primarily because the crown was the banner against England. After the great strife it came forward again in favor of Charles VII.
However, very large regions of France may have remained unaffected by it, and their rulers, the great crown vassals, were permanent opponents of royalty.
That royalty in general more nearly represented the interests of France was known to few, because as yet there was no France in the sense in question. A mere frame of mind would not have brought it into being, either. But probably everyone felt the burdensomeness of the crown.
The significance of Louis XI consisted in his laying, through harsh compulsion (which had already been started by Charles VII), that firm foundation on which later there could be established the habituation to royalty, the firm reliance on it, and the building up of the interests which were identical with it, as well as the safeguarding of business and intercourse by the police and the courts.
In this respect Louis XI represents modern France, much against the will and taste of the France of his time. But later Charles VIII and Louis XII had the newly formed royalism of interests and views to enjoy.
Royalism had existed even from the thirteenth century, as had an all French way of thinking, but with the restriction of all sorts of internal intractability; it was this that was changing now.
Large regions still regarded it as a matter of honor to have a special intermediate ruler. As Comines reports, the Normans had always believed that such a large duchy requiert bien un duc [had great need of a duke].
With even more assurance the Dukes of Brittany and their country asserted their independence, de facto and on the basis of certain views of the rights of states.
Louis differed from the Italian tyrants in his great national power aims. He probably studied and admired those tyrants only in regard to means of power. According to Chastelain, p. 190,* he is supposed to have secretly sent for two Venetians to inform him about the Venetian regime.
The Italians’ worry about Louis XI was an idle one, because they did not know how greatly he was overburdening himself with things to do at home.
[* ]No further reference in original. (Translator’s note.)