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]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "7. The Making of France as a National State. Pt. V: The Rise of Capitalism and the National State to 1500." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 39-43.