This course examines the complex and often tumultuous processes that established France as one of the preeminent legal, political, cultural, and economic powers in Europe and the Atlantic from the sixteenth through the middle of the eighteenth centuries. In the process, we will examine the consequences of the advent of the Renaissance, the Italian Wars, and the Wars of Religion on French society; the growth of the royal state and the emergence of what some historians have termed “royal absolutism”; changes in elite and popular culture; and the constantly evolving relationship between center and periphery, both in the French provinces and the kingdom’s disparate colonies in New France (Canada), Louisiana and the Caribbean.