Sixteenth century Europe, like the late twentieth century, did not escape the ravages of ethnic discord. In an examination of the Italian presence in France under the Valois and Bourbon monarchs, Henry Heller explores how the economic power of Italian merchants, bankers, and ecclesiastics provoked a hostile reaction from French humanists, lawyers, and nobles that eventually spread to the Huguenots and the urban Catholic population. He also discusses the important role of anti-Italian xenophobia in the events surrounding the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the Estates-General of Blois in 1576-77, the Catholic League revolt, and the triumph of Henri IV.
Heller links the cultural, moral, and political aspects of anti-Italianism with the rise of economic nationalism among the emergent French middle class. He also sheds light on the origins of the social construction of European anti-Semitism by showing how the language and rhetoric employed by the French against the Italians was similar to that used against Jews elsewhere in Europe. As one of the few studies of ethnic conflict within Renaissance Europe, this ground-breaking work will be indispensable to all scholars of European politics, ethnicity, economics, and history, as well as all those interested in the roots of today's ethnic tensions.
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