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Covering the centuries between the disintegration of the Carolingian empire and the rise of the French monarchy, this book traces the long period of gestation that ended with the emergence of the kingdom of France as a recognizable political entity capable of inspiring the loyalty of its peoples. The author describes the emergence in the late ninth and tenth centuries of principalities and lesser political units in which the personal qualities or resources of the rulers permitted them to command obedience. In the eleventh century, the threat of political fragmentation led princes to establish sounder theoretical foundations for their authority in legal and administrative procedures. The twelfth-century kings of France, hitherto little more than princes of the Ile-de-France, exploited the state-building activities of their princes to re-establish their own lordship over all the princes, counts, and bishops within their realm. At the same time, they contrived to identify themselves in their subjects' imaginations with the dawning sense of French community. By 1180 the kingdom of France was firmly established, both on the map of Europe and in the minds of its inhabitants.