Given France's role in European history and the events that took place there during the Middle Ages, it's surprising that there are so few surveys of French history during this period. In that respect, it's fortunate that Georges Duby's is as good as it is. In it he provides a survey of French social and political history from the accession of Hugh Capet in 987 to the death of Joan of Arc, arguing that the modern French state developed not during the late 13th and 14th centuries as previous studies suggested, but during the earlier reigns of Louis VII and Philip Augustus instead. Because of this, his narrative of political developments concentrates heavily on this period, with the rest of the era covered in a more selective and almost idiosyncratic manner. This diminishes the value of Duby's work in some respects, but as an interpretive explanation of the development of France as a nation it is quite good, covering as it does not just the emergence of the French state but the development of social institutions and the critical role of the Catholic Church during these centuries as well. It's a book that readers seeking to learn about both France and the Middle Ages can profit from reading, though one that will leave some gaps that might have to be filled in by other, more specialized works.