FH’s Latest Publications

These are Dr. James B. Collins‘ latest publications:


The State in Early Modern France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 2nd edition.

Collins examines recent debates on ‘absolutism’; presents a fresh interpretation of the Fronde and of French society in the eighteenth century; includes additional material on French colonies and overseas trade; and ties recent theoretical work into a new chapter on Louis XIV. He argues that the monarchical state came into being around 1630, matured between 1690 and 1730 and, in a new final chapter, shows that the period May 1787 to June 1789 was an interregnum, with the end of the Ancien Régime coming not in 1789 but with the dissolution of the Assembly of Notables on 25 May 1787.


From Tribes to Nation: The Making of France, c. 500 to 1799. Toronto: Wadsworth Publishing, 2002.

Description forthcoming.






The Ancien Régime and the French Revolution. Toronto: Wadsworth Publishing, 2002.

Description forthcoming.





Classes, Estates, and Order in Early Modern Brittany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

This book uses the Breton experience to address two fundamental historiographical issues: the meaning of absolutism and the nature of early-modern French society. It abandons the old framework that opposed orders to classes, and instead seeks to find the central meaning of the evolution of the French state in the maintenance of order (especially the preservation of property). Professor Collins’s main purpose, illustrated by his fusion of economic, social and institutional approaches, is to combine social and political/institutional history, so long separated in works on this field. Contrary to much received wisdom, Professor Collins argues that absolutism was more facade than reality, and that French society was much more mobile than generally believed.



La Bretagne dans l’État monarchique. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2006. French translation of Classes, Estates, and Order, with proceedings of a one-day conference held in May 2004, in honor of its tenth anniversary.

The Fiscal Limits of Absolutism: Direct Taxation in Early Seventeenth-Century France. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

Early Modern Europe: Issues and Interpretations. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2005. Co-edited with Dr. Karen Taylor.


Articles (most recent)

  • “Pierre Goubert,” in French Historians 1900-2000 New Historical Writing in Twentieth Century France, P. Daileader and P. Whalen, eds. (NY and London: John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
  • “Pierre de Saint Jacob,”  in French Historians 1900-2000 New Historical Writing in Twentieth Century France, P. Daileader and P. Whalen, eds. (NY and London: John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
  • “The Constitution of the Third May (1791) in European context,” Lex est Rex in Polonia et in Lithuania. (Warsaw: Supreme Constitutional Tribunal of Poland, 2009), 119-144. The Supreme Constitutional Tribunal hosted a series of conferences in 2007-08 on this theme. They published the essays in Polish and an English-language version is in press.
  • “County Republicans” and the Concept of Active Citizenship in Sixteenth-Century Poland and France,” in Citizenship and Identity in a Multinational Commonwealth: Poland-Lithuania in Context, 1550-1772, ed. K. Friedrich and B. Pendzich (Leiden: Brill, 2009), ch. 8.
  • “La campagne bourguignonne à la fin du XVIIe siècle,” in Campagnes en mouvement en France du XVIe au XIXe siècle. Autour de Pierre de Saint Jacob, ed. A. Follain, (Dijon: Éditions Universitaires de Dijon, 2008), 235-250.
  • “Guerres et fiscalité” in Actes du colloque d’Avallon. Vauban, opposant et réformateur, ed. J. Bart (Avallon: Cercle Condorcet de l’Avallonnais, 2008).

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