In the mid-seventeenth century a series of revolts occurred in France due to conflicts in the government. These uprisings came to be known as The War of the Fronde. This term was derived from the French word "fronde" which means "sling." The early frondeurs used slings to shoot stones through the windows of government supporters. Someone compared these rebels to "children with slings, who let fly stones and then hide or run away" (Wolf 1). There were two major uprisings, the first of which is called the Fronde of Parliament and the second is the Fronde of the Princes.
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The Fronde of Parliament took place between 1648 and 1649. Three of the major causes leading up to the first fronde were 1) the Parliament of Paris tried to limit the power of King Louis XIV. 2) the nobility was threatened by the king and wanted more of a voice in the government. 3) the people were unhappy with the tax burdens they had dealt with under Cardinal Richelieu and Cardinal Mazarin. The fronde began when Anne of Austria (Louis XIV's mother) and Cardinal Mazarin (Anne's advisor) introduced a new proposal to raise money for the financial backing of the Thirty Years' War. This plan would require the government officials to give up four years' salary. Parliament and the high courts rejected the plan and drafted another plan limiting the royal authority. In retaliation Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin ordered the arrest of the leaders of parliament who had opposed them. The populous protested by barricading the streets of Paris until Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin were forced to release the government officials they had arrested. Meanwhile the Thirty Years' War ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and the royal troops were now available to suppress the fronde. Louis XIV, Anne of Austria, and Cardinal Mazarin secretly fled the city as the royal army occupied the streets of Paris. A compromise was finally reached between parliament and the royal family in March of 1649.
The Fronde of the Princes began as a conflict between Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Conde, and Cardinal Mazarin. Prince de Conde was an outstanding French general in the Thirty Years' War and assisted the royal family during the first fronde. In payment for his aid, he expected to control Anne of Austria, the eleven year old Louis XIV, and Cardinal Mazarin. The Prince de Conde's plots to seize power resulted in his arrest in January of 1650. Conde's sister, Madame de Lonqueville, called on Marshal Turenne to gather his Spanish allies in order to release her brother. The government forces defeated Turenne and the Spanish troops. However, Cardinal Mazarin was forced to release Conde when a number of nobles united demanding his release. Cardinal Mazarin then fled to Germany in February, 1651 and Conde attempted to overthrow the government with open warfare. As soon as Louis XIV was old enough to claim the full power of the throne, Marshal Turenne abandoned Conde and supported the French government. Conde formed an alliance with Spain but was defeated by Turenne. After the defeat, the fronde disintegrated and the humiliated princes reconciled with the government . Conde, however, refused to make peace and commanded a Spanish army against France until the Peace of the Pyrenees in 1659. With the fronde defeated, Louis XIV was able to establish an undisputed monarchy, but the French economy continued to suffer.
The Columbia Encyclopedia,Fifth Edition . Columbia University Press, 1993.
The Hutchinson Dictionary of World History . Helicon Publishing Ltd., 1998.
Moote, A.L. .The Revolt of the Judges: The Parleme Paris and the Fronde, 1643-1652
Wolf, John B. . "The Fronde" Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol. 10. CD-ROM. 2-28-96.
Edited by: Ligia Mazzoni, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
Researched by: Patrick Moongthaveephongsa, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
Written by: Eve O'Keefe-Mann, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
13 October 1998
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