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The west Frankish kingdom of Charles the Bald, which he had received in 843 as his portion of his grandfather's great empire, is geographically the genesis of modern France. In the century of disorder and confusion following the partition of Charlemagne's realm into three kingdoms, government fell into the hands of powerful vassals. From the first, therefore, great lords in France exercised the functions of independent rulers. In 987 they chose one of the weaker of their number, Hugh Capet (987-996), to be king. He and his successors faced two great problems in establishing nationhood in France: how to recover and unite the territories by wrestling control of the land from the great barons; and how to create and develop an effective central government. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section V: The Rise of Capitalism and the National State to 1500. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.