Front Page Titles (by Subject) 98.: The Fronde and the French Aristocracy - Judgments on History and Historians
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
98.: The Fronde and the French Aristocracy - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Fronde and the French Aristocracy
In France the princes of the blood, the bigwigs, and all the other nobles after the Middle Ages were incapable of forming a true aristocracy.
The crown, which long ago achieved a de facto absolutism (the fight with England had made French royalty a war royalty), either is strong enough to keep everyone in check or to make them take what it gives them, or it is weak, and then everything breaks down into egoistic factions. No organic form for a permanent, legal counterbalance to royal absolutism has ever been able to take shape. Out of turbulence again and again the power of the crown rises to the top, and again everyone eats at its table.
The Fronde was noteworthy as the last clear occasion for the nobles to show themselves capable of forming a true political aristocracy which would have become a lasting force for legal freedom, a genuine organ in the life of the state. Independence here never manifested itself as law, but as the privilege of a caste and prerogative of the individual.
However, instead of true political effectiveness as a group, every individual only wanted to create or preserve “importance” for himself. The relationship of the Fronde to the Paris parlement and especially to the peuple was a ruthless or scurrilous one. Under intelligent leadership the whole movement could have used the favoring wind which undeniably was blowing over from the English Revolution.