President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent call for a debate on national identity generated controversy in France. I use this controversy as a point of departure from which to re-examine the nineteenth-century myth of nationalism that casts the Armagnacs, supporters of Charles VII, as protonationalists. If the type of nationalism that the Armagnacs represented possesses any didactic force today, it is as a negative exemplum. Based on contemporary chronicle representations of the faction revealing how it understood itself and how it was viewed by its enemies, I argue that the Armagnacs are better seen as members of a feuding faction than as early nationalists to conclude that recent debate over national identity would be well served by acknowledging from the outset the fictive nature of what the History of France relates about the trajectory towards national unity and the perennial disagreement over who is French and who is not.


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pp. 5-31
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