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CHAPTER VIII.: THE PARLIAMENT UNDER LOUIS XIII., THE MINISTRY OF RICHELIEU, THE FRONDE. - Augustin Thierry, The Formation and Progress of the Tiers État, or Third Estate in France vol. 1 
The Formation and Progress of the Tiers État, or Third Estate in France, translated from the French by the Rev. Francis B. Wells, Two volumes in One (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1859).
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THE PARLIAMENT UNDER LOUIS XIII., THE MINISTRY OF RICHELIEU, THE FRONDE.
Summary: New importance of the Parliament.—Its Popularity—Its interference in Affairs of State.—Remonstrances of 22nd of May, 1615—Insurrection of the Higher Nobility—Ministry of Cardinal Richelieu, his Domestic Policy—Assembly of Notables in 1626—Demolition of the Castles—Ordinance of January, 1629—Foreign Policy of Richelieu—Unpopularity of the Great Minister—Reaction of the Tiers Etat against the Ministerial Dictatorship—Coalition of the Higher Magistracy, the Fronde—Political Act deliberated on by the Four Supreme Courts—Affair of the Barricades—Dictatorial Power of the Parliament—It makes its Peace with the Court—The Fronde of the Princes, its character—Triumph of the Principle of Unlimited Monarchy—Developments of the French Mind—Progress of Enlightenment and Refinement—Influence of the Literary Bourgeoisie.
A new phase in the history of the Tiers Etat commences at this point; the space, which is left vacant in it by the disappearance of the States-General, is filled up by the attempts that are made at a direct interference in the affairs of the kingdom by the parliament. of Paris. This judicial body, summoned in certain cases by the crown to act a political part, took advantage of this usage, from the sixteenth century, to maintain that it represented the States, that it had in their absence the same power as they;* and when all hopes of a reform had been frustrated by the result of their last assembly, the public expectation was turned toward it, never again to be withdrawn, till the day when the ancient system was destined to cease. Recruited for more than three centuries from the élite of the middle classes, placed in the first rank of the high offices of the kingdom, setting the example of integrity and of all the civic virtues, honoured for its patriotism, its lustre, its wealth, and its very pride, the parliament possessed all that was necessary to attract the sympathies and the confidence of the Tiers Etat. Without examining whether its pretensions to be the referee of the legislature and controller of the royal power, were founded on real claims,† the people loved it for its spirit of resistance to the ambition of the favourites and the ministers, for its constant hostility to the nobility, for its zeal in maintaining the national traditions, in screening the state from all foreign influence, and in preserving untouched the liberties of the Gallican church. The titles of August Body, August Senate, Guardian of the Kings, Father of the State, were bestowed upon it; and its rights and power were regarded as equally sacred and equally indisputable as the rights and the power of the crown itself.
Whatever degree of aristocratic character had been introduced into the courts of judicature by the right of inheritance to the appointments, this, far from diminishing their credit with the middle and inferior classes of the nation, was only regarded as an additional proof of their power to protect the rights and interests of all. That effective and permanent power, transmitted from father to son, and preserved intact by pride of class as well as pride of family, seemed a more secure protection for the cause of the weak and oppressed, than the uncertain and transitory prerogatives of the States-General. In reality, the political spirit of the judicial bodies was less liberal and less disinterested than that, with which the elected representatives of the Tiers Etat were animated in the exercise of their powers.* If the parliament held with the last in some respects, it differed from them in others; its most courageous resistance was sometimes selfish, it had some of the vices of the nobility, to which it approximated. But in spite of its irregularities and weaknesses, those who were suffering from abuses, did not cease to have faith in it, and to reckon upon it. It seems as if a voice made itself heard in the depth of the popular mind, saying, These persons belong to us, they cannot wish otherwise than for the good of the people.
The facts, on every occasion, proved to be much below the expectations, and it could not be otherwise. If the supreme courts had the merit of speaking out, their word was without authority. Instituted by the kings for the administration of justice, they had not even the shadow of that national summons, which, whether given or assumed, confers, in some measure or other, the right of acting in opposition to the will of the monarch. As soon as the moment arrived of making action take the place of remonstrances, of opposing means of compulsion to the determined resistance of the government, the parliament found itself without authority and power; it was obliged to pause, or retreat upon auxiliaries more powerful than itself, upon the princes of the blood, upon the factious in the court, upon the discontented aristocracy. When in the name of the public interest it had refused the enrolment of an edict or the suppression of a decree, and maintained an independent and proud attitude in spite of the exile or the imprisonment of its members, its part was performed, unless it had made alliance with the ambition of foreigners in the cause of the people and for the benefit of the kingdom. In this way the most solemn manifestations of patriotism and independence terminated merely in proceedings without a result, or in a civil war, undertaken for the interest and the passions of the powerful. The civic courage, reduced by the sense of its own powerlessness from beginnings which were noble, but from consequences which were paltry or detestable, to lend her services to the intrigues and factions of the nobles—such is, in fine, the history of the political efforts of the parliament. The first of them all, which was, if not the most striking, at least one of the boldest, presented that character, which is found again on a grander scale and with many complications in the events of the Fronde.
On the 28th of March, four days after the dissolution of the States-General, the parliament, with all its chambers assembled, issued a decree, inviting the princes, dukes, peers, and officers of the crown, having a place and a voice in the deliberations of the court to attend there, in order to advise upon the matters which would be proposed for the service of the king, the welfare of the State, and the relief of the people. This convocation, proposed to be held without the command of the king, was an act unknown till then; it excited great expectation in the public mind, the hope of seeing that, which they had vainly promised themselves from the meeting of the States, executed by the supreme courts.* The council of the king was alarmed as by an innovation of a threatening character, and annulling its decree by a counterdecree, it forbad the parliament to proceed further, and the princes and peers to attend at its invitation. The parliament obeyed; but immediately began to draw up remonstrances; a fresh decree of the council ordered it to desist; this time however it did not submit, but continued the work which it had commenced. When the remonstrances were ready, the parliament demanded an audience, that they might be read before the king, and its firmness, supported by public opinion, intimidated the ministers; for nearly a month they were negotiating in order to prevent the reading, but the parliament was immoveable, and its perseverance carried the day. On the 22nd of May it had an audience at the Louvre, and read its remonstrances to the king in council, of which the following are some of the passages:—
“Sire,—This assembly of the chief personages of your kingdom has not been proposed otherwise than subject to the good pleasure of your majesty, to represent to you faithfully by the advice of those who ought to have most information on the subject, the disorder which is day by day increasing and multiplying, it being the duty of the officers of your crown on such occasions to make you acquainted with the evil, in order to obtain the remedy for it by means of your wisdom and royal authority,—a proceeding, Sire, which is not without precedent or without reason. . . . Those who desire to weaken and depress the authority of this body are striving to deprive it of the liberty which your predecessors have continually allowed it, to show you faithfully what they might judge useful for the good of your state. We venture to tell your majesty that it is an ill counsel by which they persuade you to commence the year of your majority by so many commands of absolute power, and to accustom yourself to actions, which good kings, like you, Sire, resort to but on very rare occasions.*
After having presented, according to its custom, the facts of its history, having asserted that it occupied the place of the council of the great barons of France, and that in this character it had at every period interfered in public affairs, the parliament proposed a cahier of reforms, similar to those of the States-General. It asked the king to follow the steps of his father in his domestic and foreign policy, to maintain the same alliances, and to practise the same system of government; to take care that his sovereignty should be secured against ultramontane doctrines, and that a foreign influence should not be insinuated in any way into the management of the affairs of state. It passed in review all the disorders of the administration: the ruin of the finances, the lavish expenditure, the excessive grants and the pensions bestowed by favour, the obstacles placed in the way of justice by the court and the high nobility, the connivance of the royal officers with the farmers of the revenues, and the insatiable greediness of the ministers. It pointed out in prospect the insurrection of the people, reduced to despair, and concluded with these calm but haughty words, “Sire, we very humbly beg your Majesty to permit us to execute the decree of March last, as is so necessary. . . . And in case these remonstrances cannot have their effect, nor the decree be executed through the evil counsels and artifices of those who are interested in them, your Majesty will, if it please you, find it right that the officers of your Parliament should make this solemn protest: that, for the discharge of their consciences towards God and man, for the interest of your service, and the preservation of the State, they shall feel obliged hereafter to name with full freedom the authors of all these disorders, and to make the public acquainted with their conduct.”*
The following day, the 23rd of May, a decree of the council ordered these remonstrances to be erased from the registers of the parliament, and forbad that body to meddle in affairs of state without the order of the king. The parliament demanded a fresh audience; it was refused, and orders were repeated enjoining it to execute the decree of the council. It resisted, employing with tact all the means of delay which its modes of proceeding supplied it with. But, while it was resolutely maintaining the legal contest, those whom it had convoked to its deliberations quitted Paris, and made all their preparations to take up arms. The Prince of Condé, the Duke of Vendôme, the Dukes of Bouillon, Magenne, Longueville, and other great lords, raised the provinces of which they held the government, published a manifesto against the court, and levied soldiers in the name of the young king, who was constrained, as they said, by his ministers. Taking advantage of the uneasiness which was caused by the compliances of the Government towards the Court of Rome, and by its connexion with Spain, they gained over to their party the leaders of the Calvinists;* and the cause of the reformed faith, once associated with that of the aristocratic rebellion, continued compromised by that alliance. In this way was commenced, on the part of the Protestants, that series of mistakes and misfortunes which, terminated by the revolt and the siege of Rochelle, caused them to lose successively all the political and military guarantees with which they had been invested by the edict of Nantes.†
The civil war, for which the remonstrances of the parliament served as the pretext, terminated without any other military achievement than the movements of troops, and extensive pillage committed by the soldiers of the princes engaged in the rebellion. In the treaty of peace concluded at Loudun,* and published under the form of an edict, it was ordained that the decree for the suppression of the remonstrances should remain without effect, that the rights of the supreme courts should be fixed by an agreement between the council of the King and the Parliament, that the King should give his answer within three months to the cahiers of the States-General, and in the same space of time to the famous article of the Tiers Etat upon the independence of the crown.† But all these stipulations of public interest ended in words; there was nothing executed but the secret clauses, which granted to the chiefs of the revolt places of security, honours, and six million francs to divide among them. The malcontents, satisfied by these means, were reconciled to their enemies at court, and matters fell again into the same train of disorder and anarchy as before. The Government, divided and neutralised by the cabals, which quarrelled for it among themselves; a sort of plot, to reduce France to what she was previous to the reign of Henry IV.; attempts which made some remark with a foolish exultation, others with a profound sorrow, that the time of the kings was passed, and that of the nobles had arrived;* the ever ready threat of a dissolution of the administration, and of a dismemberment of the kingdom by the intrigues of the ambitious united to those of the foreigner; these form the spectacle which was offered in the midst of its changes by the government of Louis XII., till the day when a Statesman, marked out in the destinies of France to resume and achieve the political work of Henry the Great, after having glided into power under the shadow of a patronage, seized upon the direction of affairs by main force, by the right of genius.
† Cardinal Richelieu was not so much a minister, in the precise sense of the word, as a person invested with the whole power of the crown. His preponderating influence in the council suspended the exercise of the hereditary power, without which the monarchy must cease to exist; and it seems as if that may have taken place in order that the social progress, violently arrested since the last reign, might resume its course at the instigation of a kind of dictator, whose spirit was free from the influences which the interest of family and dynasty exercises over the characters of kings. By a strange concurrence of circumstances, it happened that the weak prince, whose destiny it was to lend his name to the reign of the great minister, had in his character, his instincts, his good or bad qualities, all that could supply the requirements of such a post. Louis XIII., who had a mind without energy but not without intelligence, could not live without a master; after having possessed and lost many, he took and kept the one, who he found was capable of conducting France to the point, which he himself had a faint glimpse of, and to which he vaguely aspired in his melancholy reveries. It might be said that, beset by the idea of the grand objects which his father had accomplished and designed, he felt himself oppressed by the weight of immense responsibilities, which he could not discharge except at the sacrifice of his liberty as a man and a King. Groaning sometimes under this yoke he was tempted to free himself from it, and then immediately resumed it, overcome by the conscientious sense which he had of the public good, and by his admiration of the intellect, whose magnificent plans promised order and prosperity at home, power and glory abroad.*
In his attempts at innovation, Richelieu, as simple minister, much surpassed the great king who had preceded him, in boldness. He undertook to accelerate the movement towards civil unity and equality so much, and to carry it so far, that hereafter it should be impossible to recede. After the death of Philippe le Bel, the regal power had drawn back in its revolutionary undertaking, and bent beneath a reaction of the feudal aristocracy. After Charles V. there was a backward movement of the same kind; the work of Louis XI. had been nearly lost in the depth of the troubles of the sixteenth century; and that of Henry IV. was compromised by fifteen years of disorder and weakness. To save it from perishing, three things were necessary: that the high nobility should be constrained to obedience to the king and to the law; that Protestantism should cease to be an armed party in the State; that France should be able to choose her allies freely in behalf of her own interest and in that of European independence. On this triple object the king-minister employed his powerful intellect, his indefatigable activity, ardent passions, and an heroic strength of mind.* His daily life was a desperate struggle against the nobles, the royal family, the supreme courts, against all that existed of high institutions, and corporations established in the country. For the purpose of reducing all to the same level of submission and order, he raised the royal power above the ties of family and the tie of precedent; he isolated it in its sphere as a pure idea, the living idea of the public safety and the national interest.*
From this exalted principle he deduced an impassible logic and relentless severities in his exercise of the supreme power. He was as destitute of mercy as he was of fear, and trampled underfoot the respect due to judicial forms and usages. He had sentences of death pronounced by commissioners of his own selection: at the very foot of the throne he struck the enemies of the public interest, and at the same time of his own fortune, and confounded his personal hatreds with the vengeance of the State. No one can say whether or not there was deceit in that assurance of conscience which he manifested in his last moments:* God alone could look into the depth of his mind. We who have gathered the fruit of his labours and of his patriotic devotion at a distance of time—we can only bow before that man of revolution, by whom the ways which led to our present state of society were prepared. But something sad is still attached to his glory: he sacrificed everything to the success of his undertaking; he stifled within himself and crushed down in some noble spirits the eternal principles of morality and humanity.† When we look at the great things which he achieved, we admire him with gratitude; we would, but we cannot, love his character.
The most daring innovators perceive that they need the support of public opinion. Richelieu, before he put his political plans into execution, wished to submit them to the test of a solemn debate, in order that they might be returned to him confirmed by a sort of national sanction. He could not entertain an idea of the States-General: as a member of them in 1614, he had seen their mode of proceeding, and, besides, his notions of absolute authority were repugnant to those great meetings; he looked for the moral support which he desired to an assembly of notables. In the month of November, 1626, he convoked fifty-five persons of his own choice—twelve members of the clergy, fourteen of the nobility, and twenty-seven of the supreme courts, together with a treasurer of France and the prévôt des marchands of Paris. Gaston, the King’s brother, was president, and the Marshals De la Force and De Bassompierre vice-presidents of the Assembly; but the nobles who had seats in it, councillors of State for the most part, belonged to the Administration rather than to the Court. There was not included a single duke, peer, or governor of a province.*
Richelieu himself developed before this meeting of chosen persons, of whom the members of the Tiers Etat formed more than half, the whole plan of his domestic policy.* The initiative of the measures proceeded from the Government, not from the Assembly; one spirit alone pervaded all, the questions as well as the replies; and in the work, of which the cahier of the votes was the result, it would be impossible to decide what share belonged to the minister and what to the notables. Principles of administration in conformity with the spirit of society and with the future destiny of France were laid down by common consent: the assessment to the taxes was required to be such as would not aggrieve the productive and suffering classes; as the mainspring of the prosperity of the nation lies in its industry and commerce, it ought to be provided that that department be made more considerable and held in respect; it was laid down as necessary that the power of the State should have as its base a standing army, in which the promotions should be accessible to all, and which should spread the military spirit in the other classes of the nation as well as the nobles. With respect to the measures promised or required, the chief had for their object the lowering of the expenditure of the State to the level of its receipts, and the reduction of the unproductive expenses to the encouragement of the productive; the increase of the maritime forces, with a view to foreign commerce; the establishment of great commercial companies, and the resumption of the great projects of forming canals in the interior: the security of the industrious guaranteed against the want of discipline among the soldiery, by the strictness of the police and the regularity of payment; lastly, the destruction in all the provinces of the fortresses and castles not available for the defence of the kingdom.*
The assembly of the notables separated on the 24th of February, 1627, and a commission was immediately named to draw up the reforms which had been recently promised, and those which were intended to meet the requirements of the cahiers of the States of 1614, into one body of laws. At the same time the most material and not the least popular of these reforms, the demolition of the fortresses, the quarters of the factious nobles and the soldiery of the civil wars, was commenced. At each decisive epoch of the progress towards the national unity, this kind of destruction had taken place by the authority of the kings. Charles V., Louis XI., and Henry IV. attacked the strongholds in order to check the feudal spirit; in this, as in everything, Richelieu made a vast step towards completing the work of his predecessors. The measures necessary for what we may call the political levelling of the French soil, were intrusted by him to the zeal of the provinces and municipalities, and from one end of the kingdom to the other, masses of the people rose to pull down the battlemented walls, the resorts of tyranny and brigandage, which from generation to generation they had learnt even as children to curse. According to the vivid expression of a distinguished historian, “the cities assailed the citadels, the rural districts the castles, each of them the object of its hatred.” But that order which frequently marks the depth of popular sentiments presided over this great execution which the country performed upon itself; no wanton destruction was committed; the fosses were filled up, the forts rased, with the bastions and everything that supplied a means of military defence—that which could only remain as a monument of the past was left standing.
During this time the commission of legislative reform pursued its work under the presidency of Marillac, the keeper of the seals. The result of it was the ordinance of January, 1629, which was equal in merit, and superior in comprehensiveness to the great ordinances of the sixteenth century. This new code consisted of not less than four hundred and sixty-one articles. It reached all the departments of legislation: civil law, criminal law, general police, ecclesiastical affairs, public instruction, justice, finance, commerce, army, navy. Inspired at once by the national desire, and by the genius of Richelieu, it bore the stamp of that genius, although the great minister did not condescend to assume any share in it, and the opposition of the parliament, raised against that work of deep wisdom, attached to it, by applying a humorous sobriquet, another name than his.*
The object of the ordinance, or rather the code of 1629, was to meet at once the claims of the last States-General, and those of the two assemblies of notables.† Among the provisions adopted in accordance with the cahiers of 1615, the greater part were formed upon that of the Tiers Etat. I shall not make an analysis of them, I shall only observe that in many cases the provision does not come up to, or diverges slightly from, the claim. We perceive that the legislator is studying to conciliate the divergent interests of the orders, and that he is anxious to limit the reform within certain bounds. If the suppression of those feudal privileges, which were enjoyed without a title, and of service which was unduly exacted, was granted to the Tiers Etat, its wish for the enfranchisement of property held in mortmain was not met.* The time of free landed estates was not yet come; that of free cities was passed. The ordinance meets the claim for the emancipation of the municipal government only by evasive terms, and it takes upon itself to decree the uniformity of that government: it requires that all the civil corporations be reduced, as soon as possible, to the model of that of Paris.† To these tendencies towards national unity it joined others not less propitious to the national development. It introduces into the army the democratic principle, by the power given to all of rising to every post; it relaxes in favour of the nobility the ties which bound them exclusively, under penalty of forfeiting their rank, to the profession of arms; it attracts the high bourgeoisie from the ambition of holding the offices of government, towards the interests of commerce; it invites the whole nation to press forward along the ways of active industry. We here give the text of three of these articles:—
“The soldier shall have the power of rising to the appointment and command of companies by his services, from rank to rank, up to that of captain, and still higher, if he proves himself worthy of it.”*
“In order to invite our subjects of every rank and condition to apply themselves to commerce and traffic by sea, and to let them know that it is our intention to raise and honour those who will thus occupy themselves, we ordain that all nobles who, either in their own persons or by agents, shall take a share in vessels, their goods and merchandise shall not forfeit their rank. . . . And that those who are not nobles shall enjoy the privileges of nobility after they have kept up a vessel of two or three hundred tons for five years, so long as they shall continue to keep up the said vessel, provided they had it built in our kingdom, and not otherwise; and in case they die in the trade, after having continued it for fifteen years, we will that their widows enjoy the same privilege during their widowhood; as also their children, provided one of them continues the business of the said trade, and the maintenance of a vessel for the period of ten years. We will, moreover, that the wholesale traders who hold warehouses without selling by retail, or other merchants who shall have been échevins, consuls, or wardens of their companies, be able to take the rank of nobles, and have precedence and place in all public and private assemblies immediately after our lieutenant-generals, counsellors of the presidial courts, and our procureurs généraux of the said courts, and other royal judges who shall be on the spot.”*
“We exhort our subjects, who have means and assiduity for the purpose, to join and unite together to form good and safe companies and associations for commerce, navigation, and trade, in the manner that they shall see best. We promise to protect and defend them, to give them encouragement by special privileges and favours, and to maintain them in every way that they shall desire for the advantageous conduct and success of their trade.”†
All the social ameliorations that could possibly be made applicable to his time were effected by Richelieu, whose intellect embraced everything, whose practical genius omitted nothing, while, with a marvellous ability, he passed from generals to particulars, and from theory to practice. Conducting a multitude of affairs, both great and small, at the same time, and with the same zeal, everywhere present in person or in influence, he possessed, in an unique degree, universality and freedom of mind. Though a prince of the Roman Church, he was desirous that the clergy should be national; though a conqueror of the Calvinists, he struck the blow only at their rebellion, and respected their rights of conscience.* Of noble birth, and imbued with the pride of his order, he acted as if he had received a commission to prepare the way for the reign of the Tiers Etat. The ultimate aim of his domestic policy was that which aggrandised and tended to unclass the bourgeoisie—namely, the progress of commerce and literature, the encouragement both of manual and intellectual labour. Richelieu did not recognise below the Crown any position equal to his own, save that of the writer or the thinker; he wished that a Chapelain or a Gombauld should converse with him on terms of equality. But while by grand commercial schemes and a noble literary institution† he was multiplying places in the State, besides appointments in the courts, in favour of the middle classes, he depressed the ancient liberties of the cities to the level made by an unlimited power. Individual States, municipal constitutions, all that countries associated under the crown had stipulated for as rights, all that the bourgeoisie had created in its heroic days—he trod them all down lower than ever. This was not effected without sufferings to the people—sufferings unfortunately inevitable, but not the less acutely felt on this account—which accompanied from crisis to crisis the birth of our modern civilisation.
With regard to the foreign policy of the great minister, this part of his work, which is not less admirable than the other, has in addition the singular merit of never having lost any of its virtue by the lapse of time or the revolutions of Europe—of being as vigorous and as national after two centuries as on its first day. It is the same policy which since the fall of the empire and the restoration of constitutional France has not ceased to form, if I may use the expression, a part of the conscience of the country. The maintenance of independent nationalities, the enfranchisement of those which are oppressed, respect for the natural ties which form the community of race and language, peace and friendship with the weak, war with the oppressors of general freedom and civilisation, all those duties which our democratic liberalism imposes on itself, were implicitly comprised in the plan of foreign policy which was dictated to a king, by a statesman whose ideal of domestic policy was that of absolute power.*
Upon the question of the rights of France to an enlargement of territory, by which she may obtain her definite frontiers, a question frequently proposed for three centuries, and still pending at the present time, Henry IV. said, I heartily wish that those who speak the Spanish language may remain to Spain; those who speak the German to Germany; but all those who speak the French ought to belong to me.”* A contemporary of Richelieu, perhaps one of his confidants, represents him as saying, “The aim of my ministry has been this: to re-establish the natural boundaries of Gaul, to identify Gaul with France, and to make modern Gaul co-extensive with ancient.”† From these two principles, combined together gether and modifying each other, will proceed, when the proper season shall arrive, the final settlement of the extent of the French soil as possessed by us, by a legitimate and perpetual title in the name of the two-fold right of nature and of history.
The conception of a new political system of Europe, founded upon the balance of rival powers, and in which France should exercise, not for her own advantage, but for the maintenance of the common independence, the ascendancy which had been carried off by Spain—this conception of Henry the Great, which vanished like a dream at his death, was carried into effect by Richelieu by means of negotiations and victories. When the minister of Louis XIII. died, worn out with patriotic labours,* the work was almost completed; perseverance and tact, joined to striking successes in war,† brought about in less than five years the fundamental act of European reorganization, the glorious treaty of Westphalia.‡ This part of the work of the great statesman, his foreign policy, is that which was best understood in his own times, and appeared to eminent minds pure without alloy:* with regard to the rest there was doubt or repugnance. Public opinion reacted against the revolutionary action of his power, as it did after the reign of Louis XI. The very classes which were destined to profit most from the levelling of the aristocratic privileges and the order imposed on all alike, were less struck with the future which was prepared for them, less sensible of the excellence of the object, than indignant at the violence of the means employed, and shocked by the excess of arbitrary power.
This reaction of the Tiers Etat against the ministerial dictatorship, that is to say, against the boldest innovations that had been introduced in the exercise of the royal power, was that which caused and fed the civil wars of the Fronde. I here approach one of the most curious and at the same time best-known events of the seventeenth century, an episode vividly touched upon in Memoirs which are read by everyone, and in our times studied deeply by some distinguished writers;* I shall not even make a summary of it; the plan of this essay is to pass quickly over the points where history speaks, and to pause over those where she is silent. In the four years which are occupied by the movement of the Fronde, there are two distinct epochs: the one presents, externally at least, the characteristics which are peculiar to the constitutional revolutions of modern times; the other does little else than reproduce the aspect of the troubles of the reign of Louis XIII., and some traces, almost effaced, of the troubles of the League. The first alone completely enters into the history of the Tiers Etat, and must occupy an important place in it; and it is to this that I shall confine my remarks.
It is known under what circumstances the four supreme courts, that is to say, the Parliament, the Court of Exchequer, the Court of Aids, and the Great Council, leagued together, in the month of June, 1648, to resist the royal power, exercised during the minority of Louis XIV. by his mother and Cardinal Mazarin. It is known that that coalition of the judicial bodies, which was formed, in the name of their private interest, for the maintenance of the annual payment free from all deduction,* soon applied itself to the defence of the public interests and the reform of the state. The signal of opposition given by the chief magistracy rallied round it all that had suffered, or were still suffering from the dictatorial government, which was imposed on France by Richelieu, and continued to be maintained after him, without his power of mind and talent.† Not only were wounded interests aroused, but opinions, consciences, passions, a multitude of various elements, the remains of the past or the germs of the future, contributed to this fermentation of feelings. The just grievances of the people, overwhelmed with taxes, and the rancour of the nobility whose privileges had been diminished; the traditions of liberty, both of the States-General and the provinces or cities, and the idea of a superior liberty, drawn from classical studies and the progress of modern intelligence; a want more or less vaguely recognised of legal guarantees and a regular constitution; lastly, the working of minds which were stimulated by the example then offered by England,—such were the united springs of action which gave to the events of the first Fronde* their character of power and novelty; such was the source which gave rise to a change in the character of the conflict, which was so frequently excited between the court and those who possessed the right to the appointments in the judicature.
With regard to the celebrated act, which resulted from the deliberations of the sixty deputies of the supreme courts, and which was like a charter of rights imposed upon the royal power under the form of a decree of the parliament;† its importance, in whatever way it may be judged, cannot be overlooked. As to its form, it was an usurpation of the legislative power, attempted by means of the traditional privilege of remonstrance; as to its real grounds, this kind of fundamental law was in accordance with our modern charters, in giving express guarantees against arbitrary taxation and arbitrary detention of person. Its text conveys,—“no imposts and taxes shall be made, except by virtue of edicts and declarations fully and duly confirmed in the supreme courts, with liberty of votes. . . . None of the king’s subjects, of whatever rank and condition he may be, shall be allowed to be detained prisoner beyond twenty-four hours without being examined according to the ordinances, and handed over to his proper judge.”* Besides the veto in questions of finance, the supreme court assumed the same right on the creation of new offices; and thus armed against every law which might have modified their composition, they became in fact the first power of the state.†
If—a thing impossible—the crown, then vanquished, had resigned itself to such conditions, the government of France would have become a monarchy, modified by the legal action of the judicial corporations elevated into political powers. It cannot be a subject of doubt at the present day, that the establishment of such a power, more regular than an unlimited monarchy, would have been less beneficial to the future interests of the country than that monarchy. In this rough sketch of revolution, that which it displays in common with our feelings, is the spirit which inspired it for a moment, the democratic instinct which certain pamphlets of the day disclose, and which pervades the speeches which were delivered by the members of the parliament. In the speech of one of the most moderate we find such maxims as these: Kings are the equals of other men, according to the common principle of nature; it is their authority alone which distinguishes them. The authority which sovereigns possess depends upon the submission of their subjects. Kings are responsible for their position and their power to the various classes of men who obey them, and of whom the nobles form the smallest portion. The duties of magistrates, the industry of artisans, the endurance of soldiers, the labour of all who work, contribute to the establishment and the preservation of the crown. Without the people governments could not exist, and the monarchy would be only an idea.*
According to the constant course of revolutions there was in the Fronde a moment of crisis, when the government, remitting its resistance, made some imperfect concessions, and when a formidable voice, that of the public, replied, It is too late.* It was then that the violence of action succeeded to the legal struggle, and after a stroke of policy on the part of the court, that day of insurrection occurred in Paris, which, renewing one of the most famous of the League, was likewise called the day of the barricades. A similar name calls forth at a later date on the page where it figures in history, more than the interest of curiosity, for it brings home to ourselves reminiscences of anguish and mourning. In reading the circumstances of the 27th of August, 1648, as described in the memoirs of the time, we pause with melancholy thoughts when we meet with details of the following kind, “Everybody, without exception, took up arms; children of five or six years old were seen with daggers in their hands; mothers were seen who themselves supplied their children with them; there were more than twelve hundred barricades crected in Paris in less than two hours, lined with flags and with all the arms which the League had left fit for use. In the street Neuve Nôtre Dame, among other things I saw a lance which certainly belonged to the times of the old wars with the English, dragged along rather than carried, by a little boy eight or ten years old.”*
But if the arms of the Leaguers, then seen again in the hands of the people of Paris, were old, it was at the voice of new passions and in behalf of new principles; the popular spirit of 1618 belonged less to the past than to the future. A power entirely plebeian and purely political had just raised itself in the face of the royal power, not in order to conquer it on this occasion—the time was not yet ready for that—but almost immediately to settle down into itself, to gain uninterrupted strength by the toil of thought, and to reappear with an irresistible force in the days of 1789.
The royal declaration of October the 24th, 1648,* marked for the Fronde a second moment of crisis, corresponding with that point which revolutions reach, when the government accepts the agreements which necessity imposes upon it, but without real submission to circumstances and without good faith. A halting time full of distrust and uneasiness led to the extreme period of the revolutionary movement, to the usurpation of all the authority in Paris, by the parliament having for its auxiliaries the municipal magistrates. The measures which were then taken in the name of the public safety; the raising taxes and regular troops, the organization of the defence and the police of the city; the appeal of the federative union, addressed to all the parliaments and cities of the kingdom, prove that the coalition of the magistracy was wanting neither in boldness nor energy;† its onward progress continued as long, as nothing but the excited sympathies of the bourgeoisie and the people was required to aid it; the rock on which it made shipwreck was the alliance which the force of circumstances obliged it to make with the interests and passions of the great nobles. The effect of that assistance, more than dangerous, was to draw it away from the ways of integrity and patriotism; when this was perceived it recoiled. It was to the honour of the Parliament that it replied with indignation and disgust to those who proposed to give the support of the enemies of France to the popular cause. Constrained to choose between an unyielding opposition and the duty of a wholly loyal citizen, it did not hesitate; it made its peace with the court, rather than make a compact with Spain.*
A singularly remarkable fact in the history of the Fronde is the contemptuous reception which the common classes gave to the convocation of the States-General summoned for the 15th of March, 1649.† That appeal of the royal power to the national authority of the three orders, whom it took as umpire in its quarrel with the Parliament, was listened to by the nobility, but not by the Tiers Etat; neither the bourgeoisie nor the rural population attended at the elections—their political faith was no longer there; undeceived as to the purity of those assemblies, where the privileged classes counted two voices to one, they preferred making a new experiment, under the conduct of the magistrates of their own order.‡ The municipal corporations recognised the supreme authority of the Parliament;* that of Paris, with its prévôt des marchands, its échevins, its counsellors, its syndics of industrial corporations, its quarteniers, its colonels and captains of militia, formed the executive power for the administration of the laws which were made by the supreme body.† It is an employment not devoid of interest to follow, in the official registers, the acts of that power which seized upon the Bastille, and which partook in some degree of the character of the famous commune of Paris.‡
It was, doubtless, a day of pride for the bourgeoisie of Paris, when a prince of the blood appeared before the municipal magistrates, and said that, having embraced their party and that of the parliament, he came to dwell among them, in order to occupy himself with their common interests;* when grands seigneurs took the oath as generals of the forces of the Fronde, and when women remarkable for rank and beauty installed themselves in the Hôtel de Ville as hostages for the fidelity of their husbands; but on that day the plebeian attempt against absolute power lost its character for dignity and originality—it began to be an imitation of that which was witnessed under the Regency of Marie de Medicis. All that the insurrection had of sincerity in its spirit and of gravity in its deportment disappeared, when factious courtiers, their morals, and their interests were admitted to have a place in it.
The peace concluded at St. Germain, on the 30th of March, 1649, between the court and the parliament,† closed that which may be called the logical period of the Fronde, that is to say, the point at which the movement of opinion and the revolutionary action departed from a principle—the need of fixed laws in order to advance towards an object of social interest—the establishment of guarantees against arbitrary power. The final act of that peace sanctioned afresh the great concession which had been already made, the interference of the parliament of Paris in public affairs, especially in questions of taxation. In this way the absolute system ceased, in order to make way for a system of judicial control; but that change, which enervated the whole administrative government, far from giving rise to a better state of things, and pacifying France, produced nothing but anarchy. It was the fate of the parliament in the two preceding centuries to excite in the nation desires of lawful liberty, and at the same time to be incapable of satisfying them by anything efficacious or real. In the first year of the Fronde, its part had a certain greatness, but the result showed that it had fallen from its dominant position, no longer directing, governing itself with difficulty, by turns violent and timid, the accomplice, in spite of itself, of the ambition of the nobles, which was allied to the passions of the multitude. Three years of civil war for mere questions of personal interest, a confusion of aristocratic plots and popular tumults, of madness and frivolity, the scandals of a shameless gallantry joined to those of the rebellion by selfishness, and an appeal made to the foreigner, glorious names suddenly sullied with the crime of treason to France,* lastly, a massacre contrived against the higher bourgeoisie by demagogues in the pay of princes* —such are the scenes which fill up and complete the history of the Fronde, from April, 1649, to September, 1652. Stupid or repulsive, they are sad to read, and still more to relate.
After a shock which, for the time it lasted, had extended little below the surface, French society settled down upon its new bases—the unity and absolute independence of the government. The principle of unlimited monarchy was proclaimed more undisguisedly than ever in the midst of a general silence;† and the work of Richelieu, maintained by a minister of less ability, was yet able to be passed intact from the hands of the last into the hands of a king. On the day on which Louis XIV. declared in council that he intended to assume the government in person,‡ fifty-one years had elapsed since the death of Henry IV., and in this interval, by means of the order which had been powerfully established or ably maintained by the ministerial dictatorship, the social and moral state of France had made immense advances. At its escape from the civil wars of the sixteenth century, the nation, henceforward withdrawn from the double current of religious passions, which had dragged it in opposite directions into the great European contest, fixed its thoughts upon itself, and applied itself to look for its original position in the political and intellectual order of things. Thence sprung for the seventeenth century, two simultaneous tendencies, which consisted, the one in rendering the influence of France free and personal abroad; the other in developing the French spirit in its peculiar individuality, and its native character.
In the preceding century, the revival of letters had been a movement of ideas common to the whole of civilised Europe; it plunged us, as well as neighbouring countries, into the study and imitation of antiquity; but it did not create for us a national literature—that work was to come later. It commenced as soon as the country had marked out its part as an European power; our language was fixed at the same time that the grounds of our policy were laid, and the reform of Malherbe was contemporaneous with the projects of Henry IV. While these projects were being accomplished by Richelieu and Mazarin, French intelligence discovered its proper courses, and marched along them with a giant’s step; it reached the highest of philosophic systems, the sublime in poetry, and the perfection of prose; it presented to the admiration of mankind three names of imperishable greatness, Descartes, Corneille, and Pascal.
To the revolution of ideas, which in France impressed philosophy, literature, and art with the national character,* was joined a revolution of manners. In the ardour of this new movement of intellectual life, we observe high polished society organising itself on an entirely new footing. Talent was henceforth reckoned in it as equal to all other distinctions; men of letters without birth entered it, no longer as domestics or protégés of princes and nobles, but from a personal claim. The conversation of both men and women, extended by fashion itself to subjects of the most elevated and important kind, founded that power of the salons which was to be exercised among us in concert with that of books.† In a word, the literary bourgeoisie gained in the world of leisure the influence which it already enjoyed in the world of business; it was mixed up with anything, and had in a manner its advanced posts everywhere.
From this class proceeded at once in the seventeenth century the political agitation caused by the Fronde, and the religious agitation caused by Jansenism—an attempt at internal reform of Catholic dogma and discipline, a doctrine more strict in respect to belief, and more liberal in respect to authority—which was one of the moral springs of the revolt of the judicial corporations against the absolute power. This doctrine, without political weight, but rendered illustrious by the great characters and great minds which maintained it, holds a considerable though doubtful position in the history of the Tiers Etat.* Connected with the successive efforts of the parliamentary opposition, it supplied food to the spirit of discussion up to the middle of the seventeenth century, up to the time when that spirit was transported, with an unheard of audacity and power, into the sphere of philosophy, where, far above all tradition, it soared, to seek, in order to bring down into the law, the eternal principles of reason, justice, and humanity.
[* ]The Parliament spoke of itself as the States-General on a small scale.
[† ]In its remonstrances to Louis XIII. (1615), the parliament boasts of holding the place of the Council of Princes and Barons, who from all antiquity were near the persons of the kings, in the same manner as the government, and it adds: as a proof of this, the princes and peers of France have always had a place and deliberative voice in it, and in it also have been confirmed the laws, ordinances, and edicts, creations of offices, treaties of peace, and other most important affairs of the Kingdom, of which also letters-patent have been sent to it, to take them into deliberation, with full liberty of debate, to examine into their merits, to make reasonable modification in them, yes, even that which has been allowed by our States-General ought to be confirmed in our court, in which is the place of your royal throne, and the bed of your sovereign justice.” (Des Etats généraux, etc., t. xvii., iie partie, p. 142.)
[* ]An instance of this is seen in 1615, in connexion with the annual payment, from which resulted the hereditary right to the offices. The chamber of the Tiers Etat had demanded the abolition of it, although the majority of its members were officers of the judicature. The parliament, as soon as the cahiers had been presented to the King, assembled to protest against that reform, and to denounce at the same time the abuses of the administration, making also a strange medley of the public, and its own peculiar interest. “On Monday, the ninth day of the said month of March, there was a great difference in the parliament on account of the paulette, and many other affairs of importance, for which that great and august body wished to provide. . . . They made answer that they had taken their places in order to give advice on affairs, not for the sole object of the paulette, but of the kingdom, which was ruled and governed at the will of two or three ministers of State, who upset the regulations and the laws of the monarchy. . . . Such, then, are the opinions of those who do not particularly regard the general benefit of the State (as what was stated the preceding day seemed to promise); the most zealous acted for the public good, the rest aimed their blows and their arrows only at the individual interest of the officers, in order to prevent the extinction of the annual payment, under faith of which many flattered themselves to be secure of appointments, as of a possession hereditary and patrimonial” (Relation de Florimond Rupine, iiie partie, p. 130, 131, and 137.)
[* ]The members of the parliament assembled to proceed with the remainder of their opinions, in order to make some decision upon what was to be done, and taken into deliberation among them. All France had its eyes fixed upon this great Areopagus, and was all attention to learn with applause what the conclave of the first senate in Europe would effect, at a time so desperate and corrupt, at which it was believed that it would make up for the defect of the weakness and pusillanimity of the States, which had only spoken hesitatingly, and under direction, and according to the will of those who had not desired from the deputies anything but the approbation and confirmation of that which had been arrnaged and managed in the government since the death of the late king. . . . I pray God to illumine their minds with the rays of his Holy Spirit, to kindle and strengthen their courage, to make them do more good to the poor people than the States have done. (Relation de Flor. Rapine, iiie partie, p. 141, and 143.). These words, written with a reference to an assembly of all the chambers prior to the 28th of March, are applicable, with still stronger reason, to the decision of that day.
[* ]Des Etats Généraux, etc., t. xvii, 2e partie, p. 141—144.
[* ]Des Etats Généraux, p. 172 and foll.
[* ]The Dukes of Rohan, Soubise, La Trémouille, and even the Duke of Sully.
[† ]. . . Wishing to give all the satisfaction in his power to his subjects of the so-called reformed religion, upon the demands and petitions which have been presented to him on their part, for that which they have considered to be necessary for them, as well for the liberty of their consciences, as for the security of their persons, fortunes, and property, . . . his said Majesty, besides that which is contained in the edict which he has newly decided upon, . . . has granted and promised to them, all the places, cities, and castles which they held up to the end of the month of August last, in which there shall be garrisons, by the list which shall be prepared of them and signed by His Majesty, shall remain in their custody under the authority of, and in obedience to, His said Majesty, for the space of eight years, to be counted from the day of the publication of the said edict; and for the others which they hold, where there shall not be garrisons, there shall be no alteration or innovation. . . . And when this space of the said eight years is expired, although His Majesty be free from his promise in regard to the said cities, and they obliged to give them up to him again, nevertheless he has still granted and promised that if in the said cities he continues after the said time to keep garrisons there, or to leave a governor there in command, that he will not dispossess him who shall be there, provided it be to put another in his stead. (Articles annexed to the Edict of Nantes, Dumont, corps diplomatique, t. v., ire partie, p. 557 and 558.)
[* ]The 6th of May, 1616.
[† ]See the edict delivered at Blois in the month of May, 1616. Recueil des anciennes Lois Francaises, t. xvi., p. 83.
[* ]Mémoires de Sully, collection Michaud, 2e Serie, t. ii. p. 388.
[* ]See the Testament Politique of the Cardinal de Richelieu.
[* ]When your Majesty decided upon admitting me at the same time into your counsels, and a great share of your confidence in the direction of your affairs, I can say with truth that the Hugonots divided the government with you, that the nobles conducted themselves as if they had not been subjects, and the most powerful governors of the provinces as if they had been supreme in their offices. . . . I can say, further, that the foreign alliances were despised; particular interests preferred to public; in a word, the dignity of your royal Majesty was so lowered, and so different from what it ought to be, by the fault of those who had then the principal conduct of our affairs, that it was impossible to recognise it. (Testament Politique de Richelieu, ire partie, p. 5, Amsterdam, 1788.)
[* ]The public interests ought to be the sole object of the prince and of his councillors. (Ibid, 2e partie, p. 222.)—To believe, that because they are sons, or brothers of the King, or princes of the blood, they can trouble the kingdom with impunity, is to deceive themselves. It is more reasonable to consider the security of the kingdom and the royal power, than to have regard to their positions. . . . The sons, brothers, and other relations of the King’s are subject to the laws as much as the rest, and especially when it is a question of high-treason. (Mem. du Cardinal de Richelieu, collection Michaud, 2e serie, t. viii., p. 407.)
[* ]The priest asking him if he forgave his enemies, he replied that he had none except those of the State. (Mém. de Montglat, collection Michaud, 3e série, t. v. p. 133. See also Mém. de Montchal, Rotterdam, 1718, p. 268.)
[† ]Cardinal Richelieu turned into crimes that which constituted the virtues of the Mirons, Harlays, Marillacs, Pibracs, and Fayes in the past century. Those martyrs of the State, who, by their good and holy principles, did more to dissipate factions than the gold of Spain and England did to produce them, were the defenders of the doctrine for the maintenance of which the President Barillon was imprisoned by Cardinal Richelieu at Amboise, and it is he who began to punish magistrates for having advanced truths in behalf of which their oaths oblige them to expose their very lives. (Mém. du Card. de Retz, Collect. Michaud et Poujoulat, p. 50.)
[* ]The opening session took place on the second of December, in the grand hall of the Tuilleries.
[* ]See his speech, and that of Marillac, the keeper of the seals, in the procès verbal of the Assembly of 1626. Des Etats généraux, &c., t. xviii., p. 207 and following.
[* ]In the Recherches of Forbonnais, t. i., p. 205, see the extracts which he gives of the resolutions of the Assembly; see also the declaration of the King on the first of March, 1627; Des Etats Généraux, &c., t. xviii., p. 292 and following.
[* ]The lawyers pretended to ridicule the ordinance of 1629 by calling it Code Michaud, from the christian name of its compiler, Marillac, the keeper of the seals. (Upon the parliamentary opposition to this ordinance, see the Memorials of the Cardinal de Richelieu, Collect. Michaud et Poujoulat, 2e série, t. vii., p. 587 and following.)
[† ]That of 1617, of which I have not made mention, and that of 1626.—Ordinance upon the petitions of the States assembled at Paris in 1614, and of the Assembly of notables who met at Rouen and at Paris in 1617 and 1626. (Recueil des Anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvi., p. 223 and following.)
[* ]Ordinances of 1629, article 206 and 207.—See above, Chapter viii., the analysis of the cahier of 1615.
[† ]We ordain that the elections of the Prévôts des marchands, mairies, échevins, capitouls, jurats, consuls, procureurs, syndics, . . . and other offices of the cities be filled in the accustomed manner, without interest and monopoly, by persons most suitable and capable of exercising such offices for the benefit of our service, the repose and security of the said cities.—And, in order to maintain our subjects in the greatest order and tranquillity, we will and ordain that the corporations and town-halls, and the manner of their assemblies and administration be reduced throughout our kingdom, as far as possible, to the form and manner of that of our good city of Paris. . . . (Ordinance of 1629, article 412.)
[* ]Ordinance of 1629, article 229.
[* ]Ordinance of 1629, article 452.
[† ]Ibid, article 429.
[* ]In the conditions of the treaty of Alais, 28th of June, 1629, the edict of Nantes was confirmed, and solemnly sworn to by the King.
[† ]See the letters-patent of January, 1635, for the establishment of the French academy; the letters for creating the office of superintendent of the navy and navigation, October, 1626; the letters of July and November, 1634; and the edict of March, 1642, for the formation and support of a West Indian Company. (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvi., p. 418, 194, 409, 415, et 540.)
[* ]It will be seen with what words of sympathy for the cause of European emancipation I express his interference in the affairs of Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. At each military or diplomatic occurrence, the business is to enfranchise a prince or a people from the oppression of the Spaniards, from the tyranny of the house of Austria, from the terror caused by the insatiable greediness of that house, the enemy to the peace of Christendom, to arrest its usurpations, to make it give up what it had usurped in Switzerland or in Italy, to guarantee all Italy from its unjust oppression, to watch over the safety of all Italy, to save and secure against the house of Austria the rights of the princes of the empire. (Testament Politique du Cardinal de Richelieu, ire partie, Chap. ier., p. 9, 10, 14, 15, 18, 24, 25, and 26.)
[* ]Histoire du règne de Henri le Grand, by Mathieu, t. ii., p. 444.
[† ]Hic ministerii mei scopus, restituere Galliæ limites quos natura præfixit . . . confundere Galliam cum Franciâ, et ubicumque fuit antiqua Gallia, ibi restaurare novum. (Testamentum politicum, ap. Petri Labbe Elogia sacra, &c., ed 1706, p. 253 and following.) The work which contains these remarkable words, and which appeared less than a year after the death of the Cardinal, is an eulogium, interspersed, according to all appearance, with words taken as they are reported from his lips. Richelieu loved to open himself to his friends; he dictated much to those who surrounded him, and, as has been seen in the case of Napoleon, curious persons took notes of his conversations.
[* ]The fourth of December, 1642.
[† ]The victories of Rocroi, Nordlingen, and Lens.
[‡ ]Signed at Munster, the 24th October, 1648.
[* ]Voiture, in one of his letters, placed himself, in order to judge of Richelieu while still living, at the point of view from which posterity would regard him “when, in two hundred years hence, those who come after us shall read in our history that Cardinal Richelieu . . . . If they have a drop of French blood in their veins, and any love of the glory of their country, shall they be able to read these things without a feeling of admiration of him; and, in your opinion, will they love or esteem him less, because that in his time the revenues shall be paid in a little later at the Hotel de Ville, or that some new officials shall have been placed in the Court of the Exchequer? All great things are expensive.” (Letter lxxiv., edition of 1704, p. 179.)
[* ]M. de Saint-Aulaire, Histoire de la Fronde; and M. Bazin, Histoire de France sous le ministère du Cardinal Mazarin.
[* ]This payment, the condition on which the right of inheritance to appointments rested, was only established for a period of nine years. At its expiration in 1648, the edict, by which it was renewed for the ordinary term, imposed upon the officers of the corporations the deduction of four years’ salary.
[† ]Since the death of Louis XIII. of happy memory, although the princes, grand seigneurs, and officers, in consequence of their reminiscences of the enormous acts of injustice and intolerable evils which have been done to them, and to the whole kingdom, by those who had invested themselves with the absolute power near the King’s person, under the name of first minister of State, have protested loudly that no individual should be any more allowed thus to raise himself upon the shoulders of the King, and for the oppression of the people; nevertheless, by the too great forbearance which they have had, it is come to pass that a foreigner named Jule Mazarin has installed himself in this supreme office. (La Requête des Trois Etats presentée à M.M. du Parlement, en 1648. (A Pamphlet of the day.) Mémoires d’Omer Talon, collection Michaud, 3e serie, t. vi., p. 316.)
[* ]That of 1648 and 1649.
[† ]Deliberations decreed in the assembly of the supreme courts, held and commenced in the chamber of St. Louis, the 30th of June, 1648. (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvii., p. 72, and following.)
[* ]Deliberations des Cours Souveraines, &c., articles 3 and 6.—The third article pronounced the penalty of death upon every person employed in the assessement or in the recovery of taxes not verified; the sixth article was called, the article of public security.
[† ]That there shall be no creation of offices allowed for the future, whether in the judicature or exchequer, except by edicts confirmed in the supreme courts with the full freedom of votes, for any cause and occasion, or under any pretext whatever, and that the ancient establishment of the said supreme bodies shall not be allowed to be changed or altered. (Ibid, article 19.)
[* ]Mémoires d’Omer Talon, Collect. Michaud, 3e serie, t. vi., p. 259.—I have here and there slightly altered the original text, in order to render it clearer, by freeing it from its oratorical form, or phrases a little antiquated.
[* ]See the edicts delivered in the course of July, 1648, and especially the declaration of the King, confirmed in the Parliament on his bed of justice the last day of the month, and entitled, “Reglement sur le fait de la justice, police, et finances, et le soulagement des sujets du roi.” (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvii., p. 84, and following.)
[* ]Mémoires du Cardinal de Retz, Collect. Michaud, 3e série, t. i., p. 67. The appearance of Paris could scarcely be recognised; all the population, young and old, even little children from twelve years old, had arms in their hands. . . . We observed from the palace to the Palais-Royal eight barricades made by chains stretched across the places where they were required, by beams placed crosswise, by barrels filled with pavement, earth, or stones; besides, almost all the approaches by the cross-streets were likewise barricaded, and at each barricade a guard consisting of twenty-five or thirty men, armed with all kinds of weapons. All the citizens said boldly that they were in the service of the Parliament. . . . . It was strange to hear the officers of the household say in the very palace of the King, “All is right—they will give you your counsellors.” And in the French guards, the soldiers openly declared that they would not fight against the citizens, and that they would lower their arms, so great was the contempt of the government. (Mémoires d’Omer Talon, Ibid, t. vi., p. 265—266.)
[* ]The declaration of the King, regulating the conduct of justice, police, finance, and relief of the subjects of his Majesty. (Mémoires d’Omer Talon, Collection Michaud, 3e serie, t. vi., p. 293.) This ordinance is merely the confirmation of the articles deliberated upon in the chamber of Saint Louis. (See above, p. 242.)
[† ]Next the court deliberated on the means of the public safety, and for that purpose decreed to raise a million francs. (Mémoires d’Omer Talon, Ibid., t. vi., p. 321.)—Decree of Parliament which declares Cardinal Mazarin an enemy to the King and the State, and orders troops to be raised, 8th January, 1649.—Ditto, forbidding all captains and soldiers to approach within twenty leagues of Paris, and enjoining on cities, boroughs, and communes to come up to prevent them, 10th January.—Ditto, ordering the use of private property necessary to fortify the faubourgs of Paris by intrenchments, 12th January.—Letter of the Parliament of Paris to the other Parliaments of the kingdom, 18th January.—Letter to the baillis, sénéchaux, maires, échevins, and other officers of the kingdom, the same date.—Decree of the Parliament of Paris, which orders that all the public funds within its jurisdiction shall be paid into the coffers of the Hotel de Ville, 29th January.—Decrees by which it declares its junction with the Parliaments of Provence and Normandy, 28th January, and 5th February. (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xviii., p. 115, 118, 119, 121, 141, and 155; Registres de l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris pendant la Fronde, publiés par M.M. Leroux de Liney et Douet d’Arcy, t. ier, p. 129 and 155.)
[* ]11th March, 1649.
[† ]See the circular letter of the King for this convocation, 23rd January, Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvii., p. 144. See also the letters of 4th April, 1651, ibid., p. 241 and 242.
[‡ ]A decree of the Parliament of Britanny touching the convocation of the States-General, and that of the particular States of the province, is as follows:—“The court . . . has decreed that the King shall be humbly petitioned to allow that the order observed from time immemorial for the convocation of the States-General be inviolably kept, and that they be only assembled by letters-patent certified by parliament, and to suspend the holding of the States of the province; and, meanwhile, (the court) prohibits and forbids all persons, of whatever quality or condition they may be, to attend there, and to assemble under pretence of the said States.” (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvii., p. 160)—There were only some imperfect elections, and the meeting of the States was adjourned indefinitely; after two years, and at the instance of the nobility, it was ordered afresh, with a new choice of deputies for the 8th of September, 1651. But this time, as the other, the elections, especially those of the Tiers Etat, did not take place throughout France. (See Ibid, p. 250, and following.)
[* ]Among the cities whose adhesion was declared, may be reckoned those of Normandy, Provence, Poitou, Guyenne, Languedoc, Amiens, Péronne, Mézières, Mans, Rennes, Angers, Tours, and many others.
[† ]The political decrees of Parliament were terminated with this formula:—Enjoined on the Prévôt des Marchands and échevins to see it executed; and the ordinances of the city in general bear this:—“Conformably to the decree of our Lords of the Court of Parliament.” See the Registres de l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris, published by MM. Leroux de Liney, and Douet d’Arcy.
[‡ ]Ibid., t. ier, p. 102, 130, and passim.
[* ]The Prince de Conti. Registres de l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris, p. 118.
[† ]See the treaty signed at Ruel the 11th of March, and the edict for the re-establishment of the public peace, enrolled the 1st of April. Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvii., p. 161 and 164.
[* ]Turenne and the great Condé.
[* ]Massacre at the Hôtel de Ville, 4th July, 1652.
[† ]We have made, and make, very express prohibitions and interdictions to the members of our said court of Parliament hereafter to take cognisance of the general affairs of our State, and of the management of our finances, or to make any order and encroachment, on account of this, upon those to whom we have committed the administration of them, under penalty of disobedience; declaring from this time null and void everything which has been heretofore, or may be hereafter resolved upon and decreed upon this subject in the said body to the prejudice of these presents, and we decree that in this case our other subjects pay no attention to them. (Declaration of October 21, 1652; Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xvii., p. 300.)
[‡ ]The 9th of March, 1661.
[* ]The name of Poussin must be added to the three great names already cited.
[† ]See the writing of Ræderer, entitled, Mémoire pour servir à l’Histoire de la Société Polie en France.
[* ]See the work of M. Sainte-Beuve, entitled, Port-Royal.