Behind the scenes

How do I get started researching Renaissance France?

To research a historical novel set during Renaissance France that includes actual historical figures, you can follow these steps:

Identify the time period and setting:
Determine the specific time period within the Renaissance era in France that your novel will be set in. This could be during the reign of a particular monarch, a significant event, or a specific location. Understanding the broader historical context will help you identify the major historical figures and events relevant to your story.


Identify the time period and setting:

Gather general background information: Begin by reading books, articles, and reputable online sources that provide an overview of the Renaissance in France. Look for information on politics, society, culture, art, literature, religion, and any other relevant aspects that might impact your story. This will give you a foundation to build upon.

Identify key historical figures:
Make a list of the historical figures you intend to include in your novel. These could be monarchs, statesmen, artists, writers, scholars, or any other personalities who played significant roles during the Renaissance in France. Research their biographies, accomplishments, and their relationships with other figures of the time. Note any major events they were involved in or notable characteristics that can help you bring them to life in your novel.

Gather general background information:


Identify key historical figures:

Consult primary and secondary sources: Primary sources are documents, letters, diaries, and other firsthand accounts from the period. Seek out original documents or translated versions that can provide insights into the thoughts, actions, and experiences of the historical figures you are writing about. Additionally, explore secondary sources such as academic books, scholarly articles, and well-researched historical works that delve into specific aspects of the Renaissance in France. These sources will help you gain a deeper understanding of the era and the people you are writing about.

Consult primary and secondary sources:

Visit libraries, museums, and archives: Libraries, museums, and archives often hold valuable resources for historical research. Pay a visit to local libraries or research institutions that specialize in Renaissance history. Explore their collections, access rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts related to the time period and the specific figures you are interested in. Take notes, capture relevant images, and gather any additional material that can enrich your understanding and descriptions in the novel.

Visit libraries, museums, and archives:

Immerse yourself in the era: To truly capture the essence of Renaissance France, immerse yourself in the culture, art, and literature of the time. Read works by influential writers, study the artwork produced during the era, and listen to music that was popular at the time. Understanding the broader cultural milieu will help you create an authentic atmosphere in your novel.

Immerse yourself in the era:

Connect with experts and historians: Reach out to experts, historians, or scholars who specialize in Renaissance France. Attend conferences or workshops related to the period and engage in discussions with knowledgeable individuals. They can provide valuable insights, recommend specific sources, and clarify any historical ambiguities or inaccuracies you may encounter during your research.

Visit historical sites:
If possible, visit locations in France that are relevant to your novel’s setting and time period. Walk the streets, explore historical buildings, visit museums, and immerse yourself in the physical spaces associated with the Renaissance. This firsthand experience can provide inspiration and a deeper connection to the environment you are recreating in your novel.

Connect with experts and historians:


Visit historical sites:

Organize and synthesize your research: As you gather information, organize it in a way that makes sense to you. Create a system to keep track of your research notes, citations, and sources. This will help you access information easily as you write and ensure accuracy in your historical references.

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Organize and synthesize your research:

Remember to strike a balance between historical accuracy and storytelling. While it’s important to be faithful to the historical facts and personalities, you also have the creative license to bring your characters to life and construct an engaging narrative.