France in the Middle Ages
The Kingdom of France in the Middle Ages (roughly, from the 5th century to the middle of the 15th century; for the period before Hugh Capet's accession to the throne, see Francia and Carolingian Empire) was marked by the expansion of royal control by the House of Capet (987–1328); their struggles with the virtually independent principalities (duchies and counties, such as the Norman and Angevin regions) that had developed following the Viking invasions and through the piecemeal dismantling of the Carolingian Empire and West Francia (843–987); the creation and extension of administrative/state control (notably under Philip II Augustus and Louis IX) in the 13th century; the rise of the House of Valois (1328–1589) and the protracted dynastic crisis of the Hundred Years' War with the Kingdom of England (1337–1453) compounded by the catastrophic Black Death epidemic (1348), which laid the seeds for a more centralized and expanded state in the early modern period and the creation of a sense of French identity.Up to the 12th century, the period saw the elaboration and extension of the seigneurial economic system (including the attachment of peasants to the land through serfdom); the extension of the feudal system of rights and obligations between lords and vassals; the so-called ""feudal revolution"" of the 11th century during which ever smaller lords took control of local lands in many regions; and the appropriation by regional/local seigneurs of various administrative, fiscal and judicial rights for themselves. From the 13th century on, the state slowly regained control of a number of these lost powers. The crises of the 13th and 14th century led to the convening an advisory assembly, the Estates General, and also to an effective end to serfdom.From the 12th and 13th centuries on, France was at the center (and often originator) of a vibrant cultural production that extended across Europe, including: the transition of Romanesque architecture to Gothic architecture (originating in 12th-century France) and Gothic art; the foundation of medieval universities (such as the universities of Paris (recognized in 1150), Montpellier (1220), Toulouse (1229), and Orleans (1235)) and the so-called ""Renaissance of the 12th century""; a growing body of secular vernacular literature (including the chanson de geste, chivalric romance, troubadour and trouvère poetry, etc.) and medieval music (such as the flowering of the Notre Dame school of polyphony from around 1150 to 1250 which represents the beginning of what is conventionally known as Ars antiqua).