Henri IV.
Foreign Policy
Louis XIV
Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy under Henri IV.

LOUIS XIII. ascended to the throne in 1610 and was declared of age in 1614. France enjoyed years of peace, both external and internal. CARDINAL RICHELIEU, as prime minister, was in charge of the country's foreign affaires. The 30 YEARS WAR broke out in 1618, soon escalating from a conflict over Bohemia into a war between the Catholic party (the Austrian, Spanish Habsburgs and Bavaria) against the Protestant Party (the Dutch Republic, Germany's Lutheran principalities). The Austrian side emerged victorious, and Richelieu's policy was to provide the anti-Habsburgs faction with French support without actually committing France to the war. This was achieved by secret treaties in which France provided subsidies - first to Denmark, then to Sweden (1631, TREATY OF BAERWALD). With Gustavus Adolphus II., Richelieu had found an ally capable of defeating the Habsburg forces. That his allies were Lutheran and he a Catholic cardinal, did not bother him; the goal of French foreign policy was to break the chain of (Spanish) Habsburg possessions surrounding France.

Richelieu died in 1642; he was succeeded by CARDINAL MAZARIN (1642-1661). In 1635 France directly entered the war (French forces had been engaged in Italy since 1632). Spanish forces were defeated in the BATTLE OF ROCROI (in modern Belgium) in 1643. The French established an alliance with BAVARIA (1631), which was to last into the 19th century.
In the PEACE OF WESTPHALIA, France gained the Sundgau and other minor territories in the Alsace, exclaves at that time. A peace between France and Spain was not signed until 1659 - the PEACE OF THE PYRENEES, in which Spain ceded the ROUSSILLON and ARTOIS.

Richelieu turned France into a colonial power, acquiring MARTINIQUE and GUADELOUPE by purchase (1635).

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
Timeline French Foreign Policy : Louis XIII., Louis XIV., from France Diplomatie
DOCUMENTS Map : Peace of the Pyrenees 1659, from Shepherd's Historical Atlas 1923, posted by Perry Castaneda Library, features only territories ceded to France
Map : Treaty of Westphalia, 1648, from Shepherd's Historical Atlas 1923, posted by Perry Castaneda Library, features only territories ceded

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

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