Henri IV.
Domestic Policy
Louis XIV.
Domestic Policy

Domestic Policy under Louis XIII. and in the early years of Louis XIV.'s reign

LOUIS XIII. ascended to the throne in 1610 and was declared of age in 1614. France enjoyed years of peace, both external and internal. At first, the queen mother, MARIE DE MEDICI, was regent. The ESTATES GENERAL were convebed in 1614/15 (for the last time until 1789). In 1624 CARDINAL RICHELIEU was appointed prime minister, a position he held until his death in 1642, then succeeded by CARDINAL MAZARIN (1642-1661).
Richelieu's political program was to tame the nobles, to weaken the Huguenots. With the 30 YEARS WAR providing an opportunity for the extension of French influence, Richelieu (and after him Mazarin) increased the army, from 20,000 to 250,000 in the 1650es. A great burden for the state (although in those days, armies at wartime lived of the land they occupied), taxes had to be raised several times. As taxes were collected by tax-farmers and many official offices were sold, Richelieu introduced the INTENDANTS, government supervisers sent into the provinces to check if those entrusted with the administration acted within the limits set by regulations and instructions.
Richelieu used other means to raise the state income, among them monetary devaluation (having minted coins of lower weight or lower silver content), of increasing the number of state offices sold.

Peace the Huguenots enjoyed in France had not long survived Henri IV.'s reign; the Huguenot stronghold of BERGERAC was taken by royal forces in 1621. In 1627 the city of LA ROCHELLE (France's "protestant capital") asked the English for troops which landed on the island of Re; French forces laid siege to La Rochelle; the city fell in 1628, a severe blow to the Huguenot party in France.
Richelieu died in 1642, Louis XIII. shortly after (1643). Now infant Louis XIV. was crowned king, age 5; his mother ANNE OF AUSTRIA was regent. Cardinal Mazarin, Richelieu's hand-picked successor, continued the former's policies. In 1648, he faced strong opposition in Paris, the FRONDE, a combination of groups dissatisfied with government - the nobility with a policy intending to reduce their influence, as well as with taxation, the Paris bourgeoisie with high taxation and a seemingly never-ending war, both sides encouraged by events in the Dutch Republic (which gained her independence in 1648) and in England (where the forces of Parliament were victorious in the English Civil War that year).
When Mazarin proclaimed that the state coffers were empty and state officials would not be paid for the next 4 years, open resistance, lead by the PARLEMENT DE PARIS, broke out' Mazarin had to flee the capital, but continued to function as prime minister.; he returned in 1652. The Fronde lacked coherence; unable to agree on a common policy and to establish new or use existing institutions in order to shape state policy, emotions calmed down and the administration continued.

Biography of Armand-Jean du Plessis, Duke de Richelieu, from Catholic Encyclopedia
The Political Career and Personal Qualities of Richelieu, paper by Orlin Damyanov
Biography of Jules Mazarin, from Catholic Encyclopedia
The Fronde, from infoplease
La Fronde, timetable, from Histoire de France
History of La Rochelle, from Charente Maritime; Historique de l'hotel du ville, from la rochelle info, in French
Article La Rochelle from Catholic Encyclopedia
Chronologie Louis XIII., from france diplomatie
DOCUMENTS Richelieu's Political Testament, 1624, from Hanover College (should be 1642)
Richelieu et le redressement de l'autorite royale; Richelieu expose ses principes de gouvernement, from cliotexte, excerpts from his political testament, written before 1642, in French, scroll fown
Memoires du cardinal de Retz, chef de la fronde de 1648 a 1652, excerpt, from cliotexte, in French, scroll down
Edict of 1626 Ordering the Demolition of the Feudal Castles in France, from Hanover College
Documents on the Fronde, from Revoltes et Revolutions dans l'Histoire de l'Humanite, in French
Documents on Agitation/unrest 1636-1642, from Revoltes et Revolutions dans l'Histoire de l'Humanite, in French
Image of Cardinal Mazarin, from CUNY
Alexandre Dumas, The Siege of La Rochelle (1627), from The Three Musketeers

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 9th 2004

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