France in the early sixteenth century was undergoing changes in several aspects of society. The discovery of the New World, the spread of the Renaissance out of Italy, and the challenges of the Reformation cast Western Europe into turmoil. Like the rest of Europe, France was coping with radical shifts in long-held beliefs about the world and mankind's place in it. Poised on the brink of war in Italy and with the Holy Roman Empire for much of François I's reign, the French nobility was simultaneously coping with cultural, religious, and social changes. These changes were augmented by the early attempts at centralization of the administrative power of the monarchy, which led to the venality of offices and the emergence of a new group within the nobility. All of these factors acted together as a catalyst to push French society in its development from a feudal society of orders towards the evolution of an absolute monarchy, although the early sixteenth century was a transitional phase. This transitional period was characterized by the shift from a political system based on direct feudal ties between the king and a clearly defined noble class and the exchange of land for military service, to a system based on the exchange of power and position for loyalty and service.