- Discuss Cardinal Mazarin’s goals during his tenure as regent
- Cardinal Jules Mazarin was an Italian cardinal, diplomat, and politician who served as the Chief Minister to the King of France from 1642 until his death in 1661. He functioned essentially as the co-ruler of France alongside the queen during the regency of Anne, and until his death effectively directed French policy alongside the monarch, Louis XIV.
- Mazarin continued Richelieu’s anti-Habsburg policy and laid the foundation for Louis XIV’s expansionist policies. He was critical to the negotiations of the Peace of Westphalia, which left France the most powerful state in continental Europe.
- Towards Protestantism at home, Mazarin pursued a policy of promises and calculated delay to defuse armed insurrections and keep the Huguenots disarmed. However, the Huguenots never achieved any protection.
- As the Crown needed to recover from its expenditures in the recent wars, the increase of taxes contributed to already growing social unrest. The attempt to curb existing liberties resulted in a series of civil wars known as the Fronde.
- Although Mazarin and the king confronted the combined opposition of the princes, the nobility, the law courts (parlements), and most of the French people, they won out in the end. The Fronde was divided into two campaigns, that of the parlements and that of the nobles, and its collapse only strengthened the absolute monarchy.
- Mazarin, as the de facto ruler of France, played a crucial role establishing the Westphalian principles that would guide European states’ foreign policy and the prevailing world order.
Edict of Nantes
An edict signed probably in 1598 by King Henry IV of France that granted the Calvinist Protestants of France (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in the nation, which was, at the time, still considered essentially Catholic. It separated civil from religious unity, treated some Protestants for the first time as more than mere schismatics and heretics, and opened a path for secularism and tolerance. In offering general freedom of conscience to individuals, the Edict offered many specific concessions to the Protestants.
A Catholic theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Jansen, who died in 1638. It was opposed by many in the Catholic hierarchy, especially the Jesuits.
Thirty Years’ War
A series of wars in Central
Europe between 1618 and 1648. Initially a war between various Protestant and
Catholic states in the fragmented Holy Roman Empire, it gradually developed
into a more general conflict involving most of the great powers.
Peace of Westphalia
A series of peace treaties signed between May and October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the independence of the Dutch Republic.
League of the Rhine
A defensive union of more than fifty German princes and their cities along the River Rhine, formed in August 1658 by Louis XIV of France and negotiated by Cardinal Mazarin (then de facto prime minister of France), Hugues de Lionne, and Johann Philipp von Schönborn (Elector of Mainz and Chancellor of the Empire).
A series of civil wars in France between 1648 and 1653, occurring in the midst of the Franco-Spanish War, which had begun in 1635. The king confronted the combined opposition of the princes, the nobility, the law courts (parlements), and most of the French people, yet won out in the end. It was divided into two campaigns, that of the parlements and that of the nobles.
Cardinal Jules Mazarin was an Italian cardinal, diplomat, and politician who served as the Chief Minister to the King of France from 1642 until his death in 1661. After serving in the papal army and diplomatic service and at the French court, he entered the service of France and made himself valuable to King Louis XIII’s chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, who brought him into the council of state. After Richelieu’s death, Mazarin succeeded him as Chief Minister of France. At the time of King Louis XIII’s death in 1643, his successor, Louis XIV, was only five years old, and his mother, Anne of Austria, ruled in his place until he came of age. Mazarin helped Anne expand the limited power her husband had left her. He functioned essentially as the co-ruler of France alongside the queen during the regency of Anne, and until his death Mazarin effectively directed French policy alongside the monarch.
Mazarin continued Richelieu’s anti-Habsburg policy and laid the foundation for Louis XIV’s expansionist policies. During the negotiations of the Peace of Westphalia, which concluded the Thirty Years’ War, Mazarin (together with the queen) represented France with policies that were French rather than Catholic. The terms of the peace treaties ensured Dutch independence from Spain, awarded some autonomy to the various German princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and granted Sweden seats on the Imperial Diet and territories to control the mouths of the Oder, Elbe, and Weser rivers. France, however, profited most from the settlement. Austria, ruled by the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand III, ceded all Habsburg lands and claims in Alsace to France and acknowledged her de facto sovereignty over the Three Bishoprics of Metz, Verdun, and Toul. Moreover, eager to emancipate themselves from Habsburg domination, petty German states sought French protection. This anticipated the formation of the 1658 League of the Rhine, leading to the further diminution of Imperial power.
The League was designed to check the House of Austria in central Germany. In 1659, Mazarin made peace with Habsburg Spain in the Peace of the Pyrenees, which added Roussillon and northern Cerdanya—as French Cerdagne—in the far south, as well as part of the Low Countries, to French territory.
Towards Protestantism at home, Mazarin pursued a policy of promises and calculated delay to defuse armed insurrections and keep the Huguenots disarmed. For six years they believed themselves to be on the eve of recovering the protections of the Edict of Nantes, but in the end they obtained nothing. Mazarin was also more consistently an enemy of Jansenism, more for its political implications than out of theology.
As the Crown needed to recover from its expenditures in the recent wars, the increase of taxes contributed to already growing social unrest. The nobility refused to be taxed, based on their old liberties or privileges, and the brunt fell upon the bourgeoisie.The Fronde began in January 1648, when the Paris mob used children’s slings (frondes) to hurl stones at the windows of Mazarin’s associates. The insurrection did not start with revolutionary goals but aimed to protect the ancient liberties from royal encroachments and to defend the established rights of the parlements—courts of appeal rather than legislative bodies like the English parliaments. The movement soon degenerated into factions, some of which attempted to overthrow Mazarin and reverse the policies of his predecessor, Cardinal Richelieu, who had taken power for the Crown from great territorial nobles, some of whom became leaders of the Fronde.
In May 1648, a tax levied on judicial officers of the Parlement of Paris provoked not merely a refusal to pay but also a condemnation of earlier financial edicts and a demand for the acceptance of a scheme of constitutional reforms framed by a united committee of the parlement (the Chambre Saint-Louis), composed of members of all the sovereign courts of Paris. The military record of what would be known as the First Fronde (the Fronde Parlementaire) is almost blank. In August 1648, Mazarin suddenly arrested the leaders of the parlement, whereupon Paris broke into insurrection and barricaded the streets. The royal faction, having no army at its immediate disposal, had to release the prisoners and promise reforms, and on the night of October 22 it fled from Paris. However, France’s signing of the Peace of Westphalia allowed the French army to return from the frontiers and put Paris under siege. The two warring parties signed the Peace of Rueil (1649) after little blood had been shed.
The peace lasted until the end of 1649. In January 1650, an armed rebellion (the onset of what would know known known as the Second Fronde or the Fronde des nobles) followed the arrests of several nobles by Mazarin. By April 1651, after a series of battles, the rebellion collapsed everywhere. A few months of hollow peace followed and the court returned to Paris. Mazarin, an object of hatred to all the princes, had already retired into exile. His absence left the field free for mutual jealousies, and for the remainder of the year anarchy reigned in France.
In December 1651, Mazarin returned to France with a small army. The war began again, but this time some leaders of the rebellion were pitted against one another. After this campaign the civil war ceased, but in the several other campaigns of the Franco-Spanish War that followed, two great soldiers leading the Fronde were opposed to one another: Henri, Viscount of Turenne, as the defender of France and
Louis II, and Prince de Condé as a Spanish invader. In 1652, an insurrectionist government appeared in Paris. Mazarin, feeling that public opinion was solidly against him, left France again. Although in exile, he was not idle, and reached an agreement with Turenne. Turenne’s forces pursued Condé’s, who in 1653 fled to the Spanish Netherlands. Louis XIV, now of age to claim his throne, re-entered Paris in October 1652 and recalled Mazarin in February 1653. The last vestiges of resistance in Bordeaux fizzled out in the late summer of 1653.
Following the end of the Thirty Years’ War, Mazarin, as the de facto ruler of France, played a crucial role establishing the Westphalian principles that would guide European states’ foreign policy and the prevailing world order. Some of these principles, such as nation-state sovereignty over its territory and domestic affairs and the legal equality among states, remain the basis of international law to this day.
The French people suffered terribly in the Fronde, but the wars achieved no constitutional reform. The liberties under attack were feudal, not of individuals, and the Fronde in the end provided an incentive for the establishment of royalist absolutism, since the disorders eventually discredited the feudal concept of liberty. Royal absolutism was reinstalled without any effective limitation. On the death of Mazarin in 1661, Louis XIV assumed personal control of the reins of government and astonished his court by declaring that he would rule without a chief minister.