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The Black Death had killed an estimated one-third of the population of France from its appearance in 1348. It would be the early 16th century before the population recovered to mid-14th century levels.

With an estimated population of 11 million in 1400, 20 million in the 17th century, and 28 million in 1789, until 1795 France was the most populated country in Europe (even ahead of Russia and twice the size of Britain or the Netherlands) and the third most populous country in the world, behind only China and India.

Henry IV made Paris his primary residence (promoting a major building boom in private mansions), but Louis XIV once again withdrew from the city in the last decades of his reign and Versailles became the primary seat of the French monarchy for much of the following century.

The administrative and legal system in France in this period is generally called the Ancien Régime.

In the past 300 years, no period has been so proportionally deadly for the French, both World Wars included.

Linguistically, the differences in France were extreme.

In the north of France, regional dialects of the various langues d'oïl continued to be spoken in rural communities.

The period is dominated by the figure of the "Sun King", Louis XIV (his reign of 1643–1715 being one of the longest in history), who managed to eliminate the remnants of medieval feudalism and established a centralized state under an absolute monarch, a system that would endure until the French Revolution and beyond.The administrative and social structures of the Ancien Régime were the result of years of state-building, legislative acts (like the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts), internal conflicts and civil wars, but they remained a confusing patchwork of local privilege and historic differences until the French Revolution took place in a radical time suppression of administrative incoherence.The Peace of Etaples (1492) marks, for some, the beginning of the early modern period in France.Other major French cities include Lyon, Rouen, Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Marseille.These centuries saw several periods of epidemics and crop failures due to wars and climatic change.

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