This book provides a clear and well-informed guide to French history from the early Middle Ages to the present - from Charlemagne to Chirac. It offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive study of French history available. Among the book's central themes are the relationship between state and society, the impact of war and such crucial questions as who possessed political power and how this power was used. It takes account of the great figures in French history, among which Philip Augustus, Henri IV, Louis XIV, Robespierre, Napoleon, de Gaulle and also the findings of social historians concerned with ordinary people, social structures, beliefs, and economic activity. This second edition, substantially re-written to take account of recent research, includes a new chapter on contemporary France - a society and political system in crisis as a result of globalisation, international terrorism, racial tension and a loss of confidence in political leaders.