Mazarin, Jules (Giulio Mazarini; 1602–1661)

views updated May 11 2018

MAZARIN, JULES (Giulio Mazarini; 16021661)

MAZARIN, JULES (Giulio Mazarini; 16021661), diplomat, cardinal, and first minister during the regency of King Louis XIV of France. Born near Pascina outside Rome on 14 July 1602, Mazarin was the eldest son of six children. He received an early Jesuit education in Rome and then pursued further studies in Spain. With the patronage and support of the Colonna family, who had ties to the court of Pope Urban VIII (reigned 16231644), he initially entered into the papal army in 1624, but by the late 1620s instead took the initial vows of a cleric and became a papal diplomat.

In 1630, while serving as an envoy for the papal court in the negotiations that sought an end to the war between Spain and France over the disputed succession of the crown of Mantua, Mazarin traveled to France to meet with Cardinal Richelieu, King Louis XIII's first minister. Mazarin's deft negotiating skills endeared him to the powerful French royal minister and helped to secure temporary peace between Spain and France.

Thanks to his success in the Mantua affair, the pope sent Mazarin to Paris in 1634 as his ambassador (nuncio) to the French court with the goal of realizing a lasting peace settlement between Spain and France. While in Paris, Richelieu and Mazarin began a mutually beneficial political relationship. In 1635, however, Richelieu adopted a policy of continued war with Spain in the context of the Thirty Years' War; Mazarin had failed in his mission to bring peace, and the pope recalled him. Once back at the papal court, Mazarin maintained his political ties to France and actively represented French interests there.

In 1638, in gratitude for his work on behalf of France in Rome, Louis XIII pressed the pope to promote Mazarin to cardinal; he received the cardinal's hat 16 December 1641. As his nomination for cardinal was in the making, Louis XIII and Richelieu invited Mazarin to France to enter into the service of the French king. Mazarin left Rome, never to return, and arrived in Paris in January 1640.

In the service of the French crown, Mazarin's diplomatic goals remained the same: to secure peace between Spain and France. His initial years in France, however, proved to be ones of domestic political instability and crisis with the death of Richelieu in December 1642 closely followed by that of Louis XIII in May 1643. The succession of the five-year-old Louis XIV to the throne in 1643 ushered in a regency government with the acting regent, the Spanish Queen Anne of Austria, holding the political authority of the king in trusteeship until he reached the age of majority when he could assume the full powers of the crown. As Richelieu's protégé and Louis XIV's godfather, Mazarin became the first minister; together, he and the queen worked as close political partners trying to stabilize the weak and vulnerable regency government. Although contemporaries and scholars alike have speculated that an even more intimate bond developed between the first minister and queen, there is no conclusive evidence as to the exact nature of their relationship.

With Mazarin and Anne of Austia at the helm of the government, a complex series of domestic revolts, collectively called the Fronde, developed in France, beginning in 1648 and lasting until 1653. The revolts began with the judges of the parlement or law court in Paris, spread to gain backing among some key nobles and princes, and then found popular support in Paris as well as the provinces. Although the causes of the revolts were rooted in varied and complex issues involving royal authority, including the levying of new taxes, the perceived abuse of royal authority in dealings with the parlement, and the crown's reliance on royal commissioned officers (intendants) in the outlying provinces, the revolts of the Fronde did specifically target Mazarin and Anne of Austria, seeking to remove these "foreigners" from power. During the crisis, pamphlets called "Mazarinades" circulated throughout France. These often-satirical pamphlets fueled the revolts as they contained scathing criticisms of Mazarin, Anne of Austria, and the regency government. The revolts of the Fronde forced Anne of Austria and Louis XIV, along with Mazarin, to flee Paris in 1649. Mazarin remained in exile from France during much of the Fronde, but continued to work with Anne of Austria and other noble factions loyal to their cause to bring an end to the revolts in 1653. The coronation of sixteen-year-old Louis XIV at Rheims Cathedral in June 1654 and Mazarin's return to Paris marked the end of the crisis and the full restoration of the first minister.

Even in the midst of the Fronde, Mazarin continued to direct France's foreign policy. He played an important part in the negotiations for the Peace of Westphalia at the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648. Despite this treaty, which brought peace to much of warring Europe, the war between France and Spain continued. Mazarin pursued a policy of allying with German princes and England against the Habsburgs in an effort to force peace with Spain. Under the terms of the Peace of the Pyrenees in 1659, Mazarin finally secured his long-term goal of peace between France and Spain. The marriage of Louis XIV to the Spanish princess Marie-Thérèse in 1660 sealed the peace.

As both a father figure and political mentor, Mazarin prepared Louis XIV to govern France by tutoring him in the craft of kingship and by providing the king with loyal advisors and able ministers, such as Michel Le Tellier and Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who would serve the crown after Mazarin's death. Mazarin died 9 March 1661 in the palace of Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris, leaving a legacy of a stronger, more stable France in domestic and international politics. Upon the death of his beloved first minister, godfather, and tutor, Louis XIV announced that he would name no other first minister, marking the clear advent of his personal rule as king.

See also Anne of Austria ; Colbert, Jean-Baptiste ; France ; Fronde ; Louis XIII (France) ; Louis XIV (France) ; Mantuan Succession, War of the (16271631) ; Pyrenees, Peace of the (1659) ; Richelieu, Armand-Jean Du Plessis, cardinal ; Thirty Years' War (16181648) ; Westphalia, Peace of (1648) .


Bergin, Joseph. "Cardinal Mazarin and his Benefices." French History 1 (1987): 326.

Bonney, Richard. "Cardinal Mazarin and the Great Nobility during the Fronde." English Historical Review 96 (1981): 818833.

. Political Change in France under Richelieu and Mazarin 16241661. Oxford and New York, 1978.

Bonney, Richard, ed. Society and Government under Richelieu and Mazarin. Basingstoke, U.K., 1988.

Dethan, Georges. The Young Mazarin. London, 1977. Translation of Mazarin et ses amis (Paris, 1981).

Goubert, Pierre. Mazarin. Paris, 1990.

Treasure, Geoffrey. Mazarin: The Crisis of Absolutism in France. London and New York, 1995.

Sara E. Chapman

Mazarin, Jules

views updated May 08 2018


Cardinal, prime minister of France (164361) who continued the work of richelieu and prepared for the reign of louis xiv; b. Pescina, in the Abruzzi Apennines, July 14, 1602; d. Paris, March 9, 1661. His father, Pietro Mazzarini, came to Rome from Palermo and entered the service of the colonna family. Giulio (Jules) entered the Roman College at about seven years of age and after his studies accompanied Cardinal Colonna in Spain for three years. On his return he began his career in the army of the Papal States. In 1627, as a captain, he performed several diplomatic missions to states that had an interest in the succession of Mantua, and at this time he first visited France, where he met Richelieu (1630). He acquired fame in October 1630 by gaining a truce between Spanish and French troops ready to fight for the fortress of Casale. His work at the Treaty of Cherasco in 1631 allowed France to retain Pignerol.

Rise to Power. In 1632 he left the military for the clergy, became canon of the Lateran, auditor of the legate of Avignon (and later vice-legate), and was nuncio extraordinary in France (163436). He gained the trust of Richelieu, who asked Urban VIII to make him ordinary nuncio to Paris. When Urban refused, Richelieu had the king name Mazarin for the cardinal's hat reserved for France in the coming consistory. After three years Urban yielded, and Mazarin became a cardinal in the consistory of Dec. 16, 1641. He was then in France, and Richelieu wanted to send him to Rome to care for French interests, but Richelieu died, and louis xiii appointed him to the royal council. When Louis died three months later, the regent, Anne of Austria, made Mazarin prime minister. France was then in the midst of a war against the empire and Spain. The victories of Rocroy, Fribourg, and Nordlingen enabled Mazarin, after difficult negotiations, to impose on the emperor the Treaties of westphalia, which gave France control of Alsace and bridgeheads on the Rhine and gave the German princes political and religious autonomy. But Spain continued the war, counting on the exhaustion of France and the discontent caused by taxation.

Opposition from the Fronde. Trouble did break out in the Fronde in 1648 and almost ruined Mazarin several times. When the Parlement of Paris protested against tax laws in 1648, the regent arrested a particularly violent councilor, Broussel. Barricades were then thrown up in Paris, and Mazarin had to yield, promising to suppress the intendants and lettres de cachet. In early January 1649 the court secretly left Paris, as Parlement and the archbishop coadjutor, Paul de Gondi, raised troops against the king, and Mazarin was declared a disturber of the peace. The king's army besieged Paris, but peace was restored only when Mazarin allied with the royal princes, Condé and the king's brother and brother-in-law. When they sought to impose their authority on the royal council, however, Mazarin allied with Parlement and had them arrested. A new Fronde then broke out. The provinces rebelled and the princes' troops confronted those of the king. Parlement finally turned against Mazarin, who had to seek safety in flight to the empire as a price had been placed on his head (1651). The Queen and her ministers continued to receive Mazarin's advice from abroad. The court again left Paris, and troops restored order in the provinces. Mazarin rejoined the court but left a second time to allow the king to enter Paris, Oct. 21, 1652. The die-hard Frondeur Cardinal de retz (Paul de Gondi, coadjutor of Paris) was arrested December 19 by order of the young king, and on February 3 Mazarin returned to the capital. Former Frondeurs submitted or went abroad, as did Condé, who went over to the service of Spain.

The Spanish War. Mazarin then had to finish the war against Spain. He gained an alliance with Cromwell, and Turenne's victory over Condé at the Dunes (June 14, 1657) hastened the end of the war. Mazarin persuaded the king to renounce his love for Maria Mancini, the cardinal's niece, in favor of a Spanish marriage to seal the peace. The Treaty of the Pyrenees, signed Nov. 7, 1659, gave France Artois and Roussillon, which Richelieu had already occupied. Louis XIV married the Infanta Maria Teresa, June 9, 1660. For all practical purposes, Austria had lost her preponderance in Europe to France, and the French nobility and parlements gave way to an absolute monarchy.

As the Italian minister of a Spanish regent, Mazarin brought to fruition the work of Richelieu. He was adaptable and better able to raise great hopes than to inspire fear. Aside from his trust in his own destiny, his great strength was that he could always rely on the support of the queen, who was so close to him that there were rumors of a secret marriage between them. This hypothesis had no basis of fact, nor did the attacks in pamphlets (Mazarinades) against the private life of the cardinal.

Relations with Rome. Mazarin, a cardinal deacon, never received Holy Orders. The king made him bishop of Metz, but he resigned the see before he was consecrated. His relations with Rome were not smooth. Innocent X was elected against his explicit instructions, and he could not conceal his irritation. He supported his former protectors, the two cardinals barberini, against the pope. He was unwilling for Cardinal de Retz, who became archbishop of Paris while imprisoned at Vincennes, to govern his diocese. He criticized Innocent X and Alexander VII for sympathy with Spain and kept them out of negotiations for the Treaties of Westphalia and the Pyrenees. Nonetheless, in the Jansenist quarrel he presided over the assemblies of bishops that received the bull condemning the five propositions of the augustinus, and he encouraged the Assembly of the Clergy of 1660 to require the clergy to sign its formula (see assemblies of french clergy). During his ministry the Council of Conscience was instituted to assure good episcopal appointments, and at one time vincent de paul was called to it. Mazarin obtained the dissolution of the compagnie du saint-sacrement, which vowed a secret fight against libertines and heretics. Protestants could but praise his rule, depending as it did on the Protestant princes of Germany and later on Cromwell.

The Bibliothèque Mazarin. Louis XIV, whose political education Mazarin supervised, let him govern until his death. The immense fortune he amassed and the precious collections he carefully accumulated were divided among his relatives. But the Bibliothèque Mazarin and the Bibliothèque Nationale still hold many valuable books that he acquired and then made available to scholars by bequeathing them to the Collège des Quatre Nations, which he had founded. It was in the Mazarin Library that the famed Latin Bible of 42 Lines was found. This folio of 1282 pages in two columns of 42 lines is known as the Mazarin Bible. Its printing, first ascribed to Johann Gutenberg (d. c. 1468), was more likely set by his partner Johann Fust and his son-in-law Peter Schöffer, who continued Gutenberg's printing establishment in Mainz

Bibliography: j. mazarin, Lettres du cardinal Mazarin pendant son ministère, ed. a. chÉruel and g. d'avenel, 9 v. (Paris 18721906). For lack of a definitive study of Mazarin, one should consult general histories: a. chÉruel, Histoire de France pendant la minorité de Louis XIV, 4 v. (Paris 18791880); Histoire de France sous le ministère de Mazarin (16511661), 3 v. (Paris 1882). g. dethan, "Mazarin avant le ministère," Revue historique 227 (1962) 3366. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Mazarin: Homme d'état et collectionneur (Paris 1961). s. skalweitt, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 7:217.

[p. blet]

Jules Mazarin

views updated May 21 2018

Jules Mazarin

The French statesman Jules Mazarin (1602-1661) was the chosen successor of Richelieu. He governed France from 1643 until his death and laid the foundations for the monarchy of Louis XIV.

Jules Mazarin was born Giulio Mazarin on July 14, 1602, at Pescina, a village in the Abruzzi, Italy. He began his career as a soldier and diplomat in the service of the Pope. In this capacity he met Cardinal Richelieu in 1629 and decided to transfer his allegiance to him. He earned Richelieu's regard by acting in the French interest rather than the Pope's in certain treaty negotiations. He went to France as papal nuncio in 1636 and was naturalized as a French subject in 1639. In 1641 Richelieu persuaded the Pope to make Mazarin a cardinal, though he was not a priest.

Before Richelieu died in December 1642, he recommended Mazarin to Louis XIII as his successor, and the king accepted. Louis XIII died in May 1643, and the regent for the 5-year-old Louis XIV was his widow, Anne of Austria. The nobility welcomed the change. Anne was known to have been Richelieu's enemy, and Mazarin, though acknowledged as his nominee, was universally regarded as soft, ingratiating, and harmless. To everyone's utter astonishment, Anne confirmed Mazarin as first minister, and it soon became clear that she was in love with him. It is possible, though there is no proof, that later they were secretly married. They remained intimate friends and allies to the end of Mazarin's life.

Mazarin's task was to maintain the royal authority established by Richelieu and to win the war against France and Spain that he had started. Austria was humbled at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648; the war with Spain dragged on until 1659. The maintenance of royal authority was the most difficult task. Nobles who had reluctantly given way to Richelieu would not accept his successor, who was despised as a lowborn foreigner and thought to be weak-willed. The country was bitter at the taxes imposed by Richelieu to support the war, and its mounting resentment found dangerous expression in the Parliament of Paris, whose opposition was supported by all classes in the city.

To suppress the defiance that immediately arose in Paris, Mazarin had to call on the Prince de Condé, a cousin of the King and a very successful general. Finding himself indispensable, Condébecame intolerably greedy and arrogant, and Mazarin finally had him and his friends arrested. The result was that the civil war that had already broken out became much worse, and several times it appeared as if Mazarin could not survive.

This war was called the Fronde, a name used to this day in France to denote irresponsible opposition. Paris, led by its Parliament, had rebelled in 1648. When this revolt was settled a year later, it was soon followed by the break with Condé. More humane than Richelieu, Mazarin imprisoned his enemies but did not put them to death, and as a result he could not make himself feared. The Fronde dragged on until 1653, but in the end, thanks to his own cleverness, the Queen's loyalty, and the mistakes of his enemies, Mazarin was completely victorious.

For the rest of his life Mazarin was the unchallenged master of France. His final triumph came with the Peace of the Pyrenees in November 1659. France had finally defeated Spain and was rewarded with territorial acquisitions and the fateful marriage of Louis XIV to a Spanish princess. When Mazarin died on March 9, 1661, he had accomplished his task as he saw it. He had also accumulated a colossal fortune for himself.

In some ways Mazarin was a worthy successor to Richelieu. Behind a mask of affability, he was equally resolved to tolerate no opposition; his method of eliminating it was more devious and much less bloody but equally effective. As far as any man could have done, he fulfilled Richelieu's declared purpose of making "the king supreme in France, and France supreme in Europe." But, unlike Richelieu, he took no interest in the economic or cultural development of France. Once the Fronde was over, the country simply stagnated. The recovery that came in the 1660s was essentially the work of Jean Baptiste Colbert, whom Mazarin had picked out and recommended to the King.

Further Reading

There is no adequate biography of Mazarin. James Breck Perkins, France under Mazarin, with a Review of the Administration of Richelieu (1886), and Arthur Hassell, Mazarin (1903), contain biographical information, but both are dated. For an excellent general history of the period see John Laugh, An Introduction to Seventeenth Century France (1954).

Additional Sources

Treasure, G. R. R. (Geoffrey Russell Richards), Mazarin: the crisis of absolutism in France, London; New York: Routledge, 1995. □