It was a time when a shining king rose as symbol of an era--Francis I, of the perfect knight ""sans peur et sans reproche""--Bayard. It was a time when wars of expansion were ""the most important fact of life"" and when the ideal of a universal Christian republic was replaced by the reality of a European balance of power. It also witnessed the birth and growth of printing and with it labor unrest. In France, the court lived Joyfully under the aegis of Francis, the quintessential Renaissance man, while country gentlemen sported in their own mode on the great estates. Scholars promoted New Learning in the face of Scholasticism; the Church rocked in its confrontation with Luther and Calvin. Colonists and explorers touched on the Southern and Northern extremes of the New World (Villegagnon in Brazil, Cartier in search of the Northwest Passage); travelers--in pursuit of health, wealth, or salvation made their way to spas, Rome, and in unusual instances, the Holy Land still in the hands of the Infidel. The author presents this scene with discernment: the enlivening incidental, the significant fact are both present. She is particularly good in her social history, that of court and country, the familial influences on Francis I; M. de Montaigne in Italy Sound overview, good semi-popular treatment.