THE FRONDE

Battle of the Faubourg St Antoine (1652) by the walls of the Bastille, Paris.

Reception of the Grand Condé at Versailles following his victory at Seneffe. The Grand Condé advances towards Louis XIV in a respectful manner with laurel wreaths on his path, while captured enemy flags are displayed on both sides of the stairs. It marked the end of Condé’s exile, following his participation to the Fronde.

The Battle of Seneffe took place on 11 August 1674, during the 1672–1678 Franco-Dutch War near Seneffe in present-day Belgium. It was fought by a French army commanded by Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and a combined Dutch-Imperial-Spanish force led by William of Orange. While a clear French victory, both sides suffered heavy losses and it had little impact on the outcome of the war in the Low Countries.

The Peace of Westphalia, as we have seen, had not included France and Spain. France was still animated with the ancient spirit of rivalry, while Spain, on the other hand, though terribly exhausted, found in the aspect of affairs, some hopeful and encouraging circumstances. The state of her foreign relations was favourable. The peace which she had concluded with the United Netherlands had diminished the number of her enemies; on the side of England, now approaching the close of her long civil war, there was nothing to be dreaded; and though the German branch of the House of Austria was precluded by the peace from lending her any open assistance, yet she might reckon on the good wishes, and even the secret aid, of the Emperor Ferdinand II. Above all, the Cabinet of Madrid was encouraged by the domestic troubles which then agitated France.

The sedition of the Fronde, though it nearly caused a revolution in France, is important in the general affairs of Europe only as crippling for some years the power of that country, and ranging the military talents of Condé on the side of Spain.

Although the victories of Condé and Turenne had gratified the national vanity and thrown a lustre on the administration of Anne of Austria and Mazarin, they had not been purchased without many sacrifices and privations. As a financier Mazarin had no skill, and Eméri, his agent, was entirely unscrupulous. The taxes had been everywhere increased, and in some places, as Languedoc, it had been necessary to levy them by force. But it was the Parisians, and especially the sovereign courts, that had been chiefly incensed by the tyrannical proceedings of the cabinet. In 1644 Eméri had thought proper to revive an obsolete edict, passed in 1548, soon after the invasion of Charles V, and inspired by the fear that the capital might be besieged, by which it was forbidden to erect any buildings outside the walls of Paris. Its operation, however, had subsided with the alarm which gave it birth, and the vacant space had been covered with the dwellings of the poorer classes of the population. The proprietors were now called upon to pay a tax in proportion to the space occupied; and, in case of non-compliance, they were threatened with the demolition of their houses. The president Barillon and several others, who pleaded in favour of these poor people, were snatched from their homes and incarcerated. Barillon was carried to Pinerolo in Piedmont, where he soon after died. Among other ways of raising money, Mazarin resorted to a forced loan, and put a duty on all articles of consumption entering Paris. This last measure, as it touched the pockets of all, may be regarded as the principal cause of the disturbances which followed. Having thus disgusted the citizens, his next step was to alienate the magistrates. The guaranty of hereditary succession to offices that had been purchased, renewable every nine years, expired on January 1st, 1648; and Mazarin, to insure the submission of the Parliament, and compel them to register his edicts, refused to renew it. As there were between 40,000 and 50,000 families in France dependent on these places, the discontent thus occasioned may be imagined. New magistrates were created, and the old ones were only continued in their places at a sacrifice of four years’ income. In order, however, not to offend the whole Parliament, the edict was confined to such chambers as were not strictly courts of justice; as theChambre des Comptes, the Cour des Aides, and the Grand Conseil. But these chambers called upon the Parliament to defend their rights; and by an Arret d’Union, deputies from all the chambers were summoned to meet together in the Chambre de St. Louis, and consult for the common good. The Arret was annulled by the Royal Council, yet the self-constituted chamber continued its sittings, and instead of confining itself to questions concerning the interest and jurisdiction of the Parliament, it now announced its object to be nothing less than the reformation of the State.

France seemed to be on the eve of a revolution, and the scenes then passing in England might well inspire the Queen and her minister with dread. After a little attempt at violence, Mazarin yielded, and allowed the Chamber of St. Louis to proceed. Nothing seemed wanting to the success of the movement but sincere and resolute leaders. But these were not forthcoming. The two chiefs of the Parliament, the advocate-general Omer Talon and the president Mole, were honest, well-intentioned men, but not of the stuff which makes revolutionists. How could a thorough reform proceed from the Parliament?—men with bought places which they regarded as an estate with succession to their heirs; bred up in all the forms of legal etiquette, and imbued with an unbounded reverence for the royal prerogative. Many, indeed, among the French nobles were willing to promote any disturbance that might overthrow Mazarin; for, if the people hated the Cardinal for his financial measures, the nobles both detested and despised him for his personal character. As a foreigner, both ignorant and neglectful of the ancient laws and customs of the country, Mazarin was naturally an object of suspicion and dislike. At the head of the malcontent nobles was the King’s uncle, Gaston d’Orleans. But the Catiline of the Fronde was the young and profligate abbe Francis Paul de Gondi, afterwards the celebrated Cardinal de Retz. Gondi, Count of Retz, of Italian origin, had come into France with Catharine de’ Medici, and had, as we have seen, been one of the principal advisers of the St. Bartholomew. Since that period the family had been in almost hereditary possession of the archbishopric of Paris, and at the time of which we write the uncle of the Abbe Gondi was in the enjoyment of that dignity. The nephew had attached himself to the Duke of Orleans, and Mazarin had endeavored to gain him by making him Coadjutor to his uncle, and consequently successor to the archbishopric; an unlucky step for Mazarin, since this post gave the abbe great influence with the Parisian clergy, and enabled him to excite, through the pulpits, the fanaticism of the populace. The Coadjutor and the nobles with whom he acted had, however, no real sympathy either with the people or the Parliament; they were actuated only by vanity and self-interest, and the desire to wring as much as possible from the fears of the Court. Perhaps the only sincere leader of the movement was Broussel, an aged counsellor of the Parliament; a man of small means, but whose firmness and resolution made him the idol of the populace. After passing through a period marked by endless intrigues, the Court, supported by the éclat of Condé’s victory at Lens, caused some of the noisiest orators of the Parliament, and among them Broussel, to be arrested; upon which the people rose, barricaded the streets, and compelled his release. Seeing that the populace were no longer under the control even of the Parliament, the pride of Anne of Austria began to yield to the influence of fear, and to the advice of the unfortunate Henrietta of England, who since 1644 had been living in France. By the declaration of October 24th, 1648, one of the crises of the Fronde, the Queen conceded all the demands of the Parliament. Thus, on the very same day when the French policy was completely successful abroad by the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia, the government at home was in a state of dissolution; and that triumph of diplomacy —so much were the minds of the people engrossed with their domestic affairs—passed almost unheeded.

The support of Condé, who had returned to Paris in September crowned with the prestige of victory, and had helped to bring about the arrangement with the Parliament, was contested by Mazarin and the Coadjutor. Condé was, however, a dangerous confederate. His character, except on the field of battle, did not show to much advantage; his judgment was unsteady, his temper violent and overbearing. As he had a great contempt for the Parisians, and detested the lawyers, the Court found little difficulty in buying him by the alienation of some of the royal domains. His conduct towards the Parliament soon brought matters to a crisis. That body having been convened for December 16th, to consider how the Court performed its engagements, some of the members complained of the quartering of troops in the neighborhood of Paris. Condé, who attended the meeting as one of the guarantors of the Declaration of October, replied with threatening words and gestures, which were resented with a storm of groans and hisses. Condé, in great irritation, now went to the Queen, and pressed her to allow him to attack Paris; and after some deliberation it was resolved that, while the Spanish war was interrupted by the winter, Paris should be reduced to obedience by military force. On January 6th, 1649, Anne of Austria gave the signal by retiring with the Court to St. Germain. A civil war was now begun. Condé blockaded Paris, and the Parliament on their side, after treating with contempt a royal order to transfer themselves to Montargis, declared Mazarin an enemy of France, and ordered him to quit the Court in twenty-four hours, and the kingdom in a week. They allied themselves with the other Parliaments of the kingdom, and took into their service many nobles with their retainers; among whom may be named Condé’s brother, the Prince of Conti, the Dukes of Longueville, Elboeuf, Brissac, Bouillon, Beaufort, and the Marquis de la Boulaye. The Parisians chose Conti for their generalissimo; but they were no match for regular troops under a general like Condé. They were defeated in every skirmish; by February they began to feel the effects of famine; and on March 11th they were glad to conclude a peace with the Queen, through the mediation of the Duke of Orleans, which, from its being negotiated at the former seat of Richelieu, has been called the Peace of Rueil.

This peace, though ultimately abortive, arrested France on the brink of destruction. Turenne, who had been directed to remain with his army in Swabia till the spring, in order to insure the execution of the Peace of Westphalia, had signified to the Court his disapproval of the siege of Paris; had told Mazarin to rely no longer on his friendship, and had ended by placing himself and his army at the service of the Parliament and the public. Such a step on the part of Turenne seems almost inexplicable, except, perhaps, from some personal resentment against Mazarin, and the desire to recover Sedan for his family, confiscated by Richelieu in 1642. The Archduke Leopold, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, emboldened by these troubles, had advanced with his forces as far as the Aisne between Laon and Rheims; but on learning the peace of Rueil, he recrossed the frontier, and he and his lieutenants subsequently took Ypres and St. Venant. To wash out this disgrace, Mazarin directed against Cambrai the troops which had blockaded Paris, united with the ancient army of the Rhine; but Harcourt, who commanded (Condé had refused the post), though he gained some small successes, failed in the main enterprise. Meanwhile all was anarchy in France. In the provinces order and authority were shaken to their foundations; the taxes could not be regularly levied, and it was difficult to find money even for the expenses of the King’s household. Provence and Guienne were in a state of revolt; Paris and its Parliament were still restive. It cannot be doubted that the consummation of the English rebellion had some influence on these troubles. At Paris it was the universal topic. Nothing was talked of but liberty and a republic; the monarchy, it was said, had grown decrepit, and must be abolished.

As the best method of quelling these disturbances and procuring a little money, the Queen, with the young king, returned to Paris, August 18th, accompanied by Mazarin and Condé, and were well received by the Parisians. But Condé, by his pride and insolence, soon rendered himself insupportable, not only to the Queen and Mazarin but also to the Fronde. The Cardinal availed himself of this latter circumstance to ruin the Prince. He persuaded Condé that the Coadjutor and the Duke of Beaufort, now one of the chief demagogues of Paris, intended to assassinate him. Condé’s carriage was actually fired at while passing over the Pont Neuf, and a valet killed. Mazarin has been suspected of having concerted this affair; however that may be, he at least knew how to avail himself of it. Condé denounced the outrage to the Parliament, and involved himself in an implacable quarrel with the heads of theFronde. Thus deprived of supporters, Condé became an easy victim to the arts of Mazarin. It was determined to arrest him, together with his brother Conti, and his brother-in-law Longueville. The promise of a cardinal’s hat for Gondi procured for the Court the assistance of the Fronde; the Duke of Orleans consented to the measure, and the three princes, when on the point of leaving a council that had been held at thePalais Royal, were arrested, and quietly conducted to Vincennes (January 18th, 1650). It is said that the order for this arrest had been obtained from Condé himself, onpretence that it was to be used against some other person. This was the second crisis of the sedition. The old Fronde had expired; its leaders had sold themselves to the Court; but in its place sprang up the new Fronde, called also, from the affected airs of its leaders, the Petits Maîtres. The beautiful Duchess of Longueville was the soul of it, aided by her admirer, Marsillac, afterwards Duke de la Rochefoucauld, and by the Duke of Bouillon. On the arrest of her husband and her brother, the duchess had fled to Holland, and afterwards to Stenai; where she and Bouillon’s brother, Turenne, who styled himself the “King’s Lieutenant-General for the liberation of the Princes”, entered into negotiations with the Archduke Leopold. Bouillon himself had retired intoGuienne, which province was alienated from the Court because Mazarin maintained as its governor the detested Epernon. In July, Bouillon and his allies publicly received a Spanish envoy at Bordeaux. Condé’s wife and infant son had been received in that city with enthusiasm. But on the approach of Mazarin with the royal army, the inhabitants of Guienne, alarmed for their vintage, now approaching maturity, showed signs of submission; after a short siege, Bordeaux surrendered, on condition of an amnesty, in which Bouillon and La Rochefoucauld were included; and the Princess of Condé was permitted to retire (October 1st).

In the north, the Frondeurs, with their Spanish allies, seemed at first more successful. In the summer Leopold had entered Champagne, penetrated to FertéMilon, and some of his marauding parties had even reached Dammartin. Turenne tried to persuade the Archduke to march to Vincennes and liberate the princes; but while he was hesitating, Gaston transferred the captives to Marcoussis, whence they were soon after conveyed to Havre. Leopold and Turenne, after a vain attempt to rouse the Parisians, retreated to the Meuse, and laid siege to Mouzon. The Cardinal himself, like his patron Richelieu, now assumed the character of a general. Uniting with his troops in the north the army of Guienne, he took up his quarters at Rethel, which had been captured by Du Plessis Praslin. Hence he ordered an attack to be made on the Spaniards, who were entirely defeated; many of their principal officers were captured, and even Turenne himself narrowly escaped the same fate (December 15th). The Cardinal’s elation was unbounded. It was a great thing to have defeated Turenne, and though the victory was Du Plessis’, Mazarin assumed all the credit of it. He forgot that he owed his success to the leaders of the old Fronde, and especially to the Coadjutor; he neglected his promises to that intriguing prelate, though Gondi plainly declared that he must either be a prince of the Church or the head of a faction. Mazarin was also imprudent enough to offend the Parliament; and he compared them with that sitting at London, which, indeed, was doing them too much honor. The Coadjutor went over to the party of the princes, dragging with him the feebleminded Orleans, who had himself been insulted by the Queen. Thus was produced a third phase of this singular sedition— the union of the old Fronde with the new. The Parliament now clamoured for the liberation of the princes. As the Queen hesitated, Gaston bluntly declared that the dismissal of Mazarin was necessary to the restoration of peace; while the Parliament added to their former demand another for the Cardinal’s banishment. Mazarin saw his mistake, and endeavored to rectify it. He hastened to Havre in order to liberate the princes in person, and claim the merit of a spontaneous act. But it was too late; it was plain that he was acting only by constraint. The princes were conducted back in triumph to Paris by a large retinue sent to escort them. On February 25th, 1651, their innocence was established by a royal declaration, and they were restored to all their dignities and charges.

Mazarin, meanwhile, who saw that for the present the game was lost, retired into exile: first into Bouillon, and afterwards to Brühl on the Rhine, where the Elector of Cologne offered him an asylum. From this place he corresponded with the Queen, and continued to direct her counsels. The anarchy and confusion which ensued in France were such as promised him a speedy return. Châteauneuf had ostensibly succeeded to his place; but Orleans and Condé ruled supreme, and ministers were dismissed and appointed at their pleasure. The Parliament in its turn wanted to establish a republic of the robe, and passed the most violent resolutions, which the Queen, who was a sort of prisoner at the Palais Royal, was obliged to confirm. Anne’s situation—who was subjected on the one side to the dictation of the princes, on the other to the threats of the Parliament—became intolerable and the Coadjutor availed himself of her distress to push his own interests. He promised to procure the recall of Mazarin on condition of receiving a cardinal’s hat: a fact which can scarcely be doubted, though he pretends in his Memoirs that he made no such engagement. To relieve herself from her embarrassments, the Queen Regent resolved to declare her son of age when he should have completed his thirteenth year, on September 6th. This step would release her from of the rule of the Duke of Orleans; and at the same time her son would be able to confirm all that Mazarin had done in his name. Already in address, figure, and bearing, the youthful Louis XIV was admirably fitted to sustain the part of a king; and everybody acknowledged that he was formed to rule a people which loves to see absolute power fitly represented, and surrounded with pomp and splendour. On the day after his birthday, his majority was declared in a solemn Lit de Justice; but he was compelled to promise that Mazarin should never return, and thus to inaugurate his reign with a falsehood. In the same assembly was also published a Justification of Condé; yet that prince absented himself from the ceremony on the ground that the calumnies of his enemies prevented him from appearing before the King. By his haughtiness and violence he had again completely isolated himself. He had separated from the leaders of the Fronde; he had offended both the Court and the Parliament; nay, he had even alienated Turenne, who hastened to reconcile himself with the Queen and Mazarin. Anne had been advised again to arrest Condé; but he got notice of it, and fled to St. Maur. He had now no alternative but to throw himself into the arms of the enemies of his country.

At a meeting of his principal adherents held at Chantilli, Condé resolved upon war; and he proceeded at once to his government of Berri, and thence to Bordeaux (Sept. 22nd). Through his agent, Lenet, he had procured the support of the Spanish Government, which, besides promising considerable sums of money, engaged to send thirty vessels and 4,000 men to Bordeaux, while 5,000 more were to join the prince’spartizans at Stenai. Eight Spanish ships actually arrived soon after in the Gironde with troops and money; but ultimately Spain, always in want of means, did nothing of importance. The defection of Turenne spoilt Condé’s plans, who wanted Turenne to march on Paris from the north, while he himself advanced from the south. The majority of Louis was also unfavourable to Condé; he had now to fight against the King in person, and the King’s name was a tower of strength. Louis and his mother were with the royal army, which was commanded by the Count d’Harcourt. The struggle lasted during the month of November. Condé, worsted in every encounter, offered to treat on the basis of Mazarin’s return; but the Cardinal, who saw that that event depended not on the Prince, refused to negotiate. He had quitted Brühl, towards the end of October, for Hui, in the territory of Liége, whence he had advanced to Dinant. He was in correspondence with the governors of provinces and places in the north of France, who were for the most part his creatures. La Vieuville—the same whom Richelieu had ousted—had again obtained the direction of the finances, and forwarded money to Mazarin; with which he levied soldiers in the electorate of Cologne and bishopric of Liége, After some anxious hesitation, Anne wrote to Mazarin, authorizing him to return “for the succour of the King” (Nov. 17th). The Parliament were furious, and unanimously opposed his return. They were now in a singular situation. On the one hand they were obliged to pronounce Condé guilty of high treason; on the other they were drawing up the most terrible resolutions against the minister who governed both the Queen and country. They had to oppose on one side absolute power and ministerial despotism; on the other an oligarchy of princes, united only by selfish views, and utterly regardless of the national interests.

Meanwhile Mazarin pursued his march, and penetrated by Rethel into Champagne. At this news the Parliament issued a decree, confiscating his estates, and even the income of his prebends. They caused his palace in Paris, together with the library and furniture, to be sold; and out of the proceeds they offered a reward of 150,000 livres to whomsoever should bring him to justice, “alive or dead”. Nevertheless, Mazarin continued his advance towards Poitiers, where the Court was then residing. His guards wore his own colours (green). The King went a league out of the town to meet him, and the very next day he assumed the ostensible direction of affairs. Fortune, however, seemed once more to turn. Condé, reinforced by the troops of the Duke of Orleans, and leaving his brother Conti and the Count de Marsin as his representatives in Guienne, marched against the royal forces under Hocquincourt, and defeated them near Bleneau (April 7th, 1652). The royal army would have been annihilated, had not Turenne arrived in time to save it. At this juncture, Charles II of England, who had fled to France with his brother, the Duke of York, endeavored to bring about an accommodation between the French Court and the princes; but a conference held at St. Germain, towards the end of April, had no result.

Condé having marched upon Paris, the stream of war was diverted towards the capital. During two or three months, Condé and Turenne displayed their generalship by countermarches and manoeuvres about Paris, while the Court went from place to place. At length on July 2nd, Turenne ventured an attack on Condé, who had entrenched himself in the faubourg St. Antoine. The young King, accompanied by Mazarin, had come to the heights of Charonne to see the issue; and Turenne, although from the strength of Condé’s position, he would willingly have declined a battle, was neither willing to disappoint Louis, nor to awaken the suspicions of the mistrustful Cardinal. The Prince never displayed better generalship than on this occasion; yet he was on the point of being overcome, when he was saved by an unexpected accident. The Parliament, which had declared its neutrality, had entrusted the command of the Bastille to Mademoiselle de Montpensier, called in the Memoirs of those times La Grande Mademoiselle, the stout-hearted daughter of the Duke of Orleans, who had distinguished herself by the defence of that city against the Royalists. She took, with great valour but little judgment, a distinguished part in these wars; and it was said that her object was to compel the King to marry her, though he was eleven years her junior. While her father shut himself up in the Luxembourg, and would give no orders, Mademoiselle exhorted the citizens to stand by the Prince, and directed on the royal troops the guns of the neutral fortress which she commanded, the first of which she is said to have fired with her own hand. Even this circumstance, however, would not have saved Condé, had she not persuaded the citizens to open the gates and admit him and his troops; when Turenne was compelled to retreat. Louis XIV never forgave the Princess, who afterwards severely expiated her conduct.

The result of this victory was that Paris declared in favour of the princes; a provisional government was organized in that capital; the Duke of Orleans, though Louis was of age, was declared Lieutenant-General of the kingdom; and Condé, who still kept up his connection with Spain, was appointed generalissimo of the forces. The King having retired to Pontoise, summoned thither the Parliament of Paris, declaring null and void all that they should do in the metropolis. Only a few score members appeared at Pontoise, but they assumed all the functions of the Parliament. Louis had found himself compelled to announce his willingness that Mazarin should retire; but as the Cardinal was very loath to quit his post, the Parliament of Pontoise, by concert with the Court, drew up a remonstrance beseeching the King to remove every pretext for disaffection by dismissing his minister; and Louis, after pronouncing a pompous eulogium on Mazarin, permitted him to retire (Aug. 10th). The Cardinal now fixed his residence at Bouillon, close to the frontier.

The King, who had betaken himself to Turenne’s army at Compiegne, and received from all sides assurances of loyalty and devotion, offered an amnesty to Condé and the Parisians; but though all desired peace, none were inclined to trust an offer dictated by the influence of the detested Cardinal. Condé, however, though the Dukes of Wurternberg and Lorraine had marched to his assistance, began to find his position untenable. All the magistrates of Paris had been changed; the Court had gained the Coadjutor, by procuring for him from the Pope a cardinal’s hat; and while Condé despaired of the favour of the higher classes, de Retz caballed against him with the lower. The Parisians had sent some deputies to the King at Pontoise, who were delighted with their reception. Condé felt that it was time to fly. He quitted Paris for Flanders about the middle of October, and in the following month accepted from the Spanish general, Fuensaldana, the baton of generalissimo of the forces of Philip IV, with the red scarf which he had vanquished at Rocroi and Lens: thus degenerating from a rebel into a renegado. About the same time, the Queen and Louis XIV entered Paris, escorted by the troops of Turenne. At their approach the Duke of Orleans retired to Blois, where he spent the remainder of his life in the obscurity befitting it. Mademoiselle de Montpensier was relegated to Bois le Comte; Broussel was incarcerated, and about a dozen members of the Parliament were banished to various places. An edict of amnesty was published, from which, however, the Prince of Condé, the Duke of Beaufort, and other leaders of the Fronde, were excepted. Subsequently, in 1654, Condé was sentenced to death by the Parliament, as a traitor.

Mazarin, however, still remained in exile. He could not yet rely on the disposition of the Parisians, especially so long as the arch intriguer, the Cardinal de Retz, remained among them. But that subtle prelate at length outwitted himself. The Queen on entering Paris had received him very graciously, and even attended one of his sermons at St. Germain l’Auxerrois. Deceived by these appearances, de Retz put too high a value on his services. In order to get rid of him, the Court offered him the management of the affairs of France at Rome; but De Retz demanded in addition, honors, governments, and money for his friends; and when these were refused, he began to negotiate with Condé. But the time for such pretensions was past. On December 19th, after paying a visit to the Queen, he was arrested by a captain of the guard, and confined at Vincennes; whence he was afterwards removed to Nantes. This was the end of his political career; for though he contrived to escape from Nantes, whence he proceeded into Spain, and afterwards to Rome, he was not allowed to return to France during the lifetime of Mazarin. De Retz has preserved a great reputation chiefly through his literary talent. As a politician he had no patriotic, nor even definite views; he loved disturbances, partly for their own sake, partly for the advantage he derived from them. After the pacification of Paris, the malcontents in the provinces were soon reduced. Bordeaux, where the Fronde had revived under the name of L’Ormée, was one of the last places to submit.

While these things were going on, Mazarin had joined Turenne and his army near Bar; and towards the-end of January, 1653, he set out for Paris, which he entered February 3rd. Louis XIV went out in state to meet him, and gave him a place in his own carriage. It is said that the Cardinal had distributed money among the leaders of the mob to cheer him on his entrance; it is certain that he was not only received with acclamation by the populace, but also feasted by the magistrates. The jurists of the Parliament displayed servility, and he received the visits of some of those very counsellors who had set a price upon his head. Such was the end of the Fronde; a movement without grandeur or possible result, whose sterility only confirmed the power of the King and of the minister. From this time till the end of his life Mazarin reigned with absolute power; for he maintained the same influence over the young King as he had previously exerted over Louis’s mother. His avarice and despotism grew worse than before. The management of the finances was intrusted to the most unworthy persons, among whom Fouquet astonished Europe by his magnificence. Mazarin made the interests of France subordinate to his own avaricious views, and his plans for the advancement of his family. Fortune seemed to favour all his enterprises. His nieces, the Mancini, celebrated for their beauty, were all married into princely houses; and Louis XIV himself was with difficulty dissuaded from giving his hand to one of the six.

The Fronde is the last occasion on which we find the French nobles arrayed in open war against the Crown. Henceforth they became the mere satellites of the Court, whose power was supported, and whose splendour was increased, by their presence. While these events were taking place in France, King Charles I was publicly executed on the scaffold, January 20th, 1649; the House of Peers, as well as the monarchy, was abolished, and the government of the kingdom conducted by the Commons; Cromwell gradually assumed the supreme power, both military and civil, and after reducing the Royalists by his victories in Ireland, Scotland, and England, and reviving by his vigorous foreign policy the lustre of the English name, he finally, in December, 1653, caused himself to be named “Lord Protector”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.