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Fronde (frôNd), 1648–53, series of outbreaks during the minority of King Louis XIV, caused by the efforts of the Parlement of Paris (the chief judiciary body) to limit the growing authority of the crown; by the personal ambitions of discontented nobles; and by the grievances of the people against the financial burdens suffered under cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin.

The Fronde of the Parlement

This period (1648–49) began when the parlement rejected a new plan for raising money, proposed by Anne of Austria, mother of and regent for Louis XIV, and her adviser, Cardinal Mazarin. The scheme would have required that the magistrates of the high courts (except the parlement) give up four years' salary. The high courts, including the parlement, opposed the proposal and drafted a reform document limiting the royal prerogative. The government, in retaliation, arrested several members of the parlement, notably Pierre Broussel, but the Parisian populace rose in protest and barricaded the streets (Aug., 1648). Anne and Mazarin were forced to yield and Broussel was released.

Meanwhile, the Peace of Westphalia (Oct., 1648), which ended the Thirty Years War, freed the royal army to take action against the Fronde. Anne, the king, and Mazarin secretly left Paris (Jan., 1649), and the city was blockaded by royal troops under Louis II, prince de Condé (see Condé, Louis II de Bourbon, prince de). Louis's brother, Armand de Conti (see under Conti, family) and his sister Mme de Longueville were among the leaders of the Fronde. Other leaders were Frédéric Maurice de Bouillon and Paul de Gondi (later Cardinal de Retz). A compromise peace was arranged between the parlement and the regent at Rueil in Mar., 1649.

The Fronde of the Princes

The prince de Condé, having aided Cardinal Mazarin and Louis XIV's regent Anne, expected to control them. His overbearing attitude and intrigues caused his arrest in Jan., 1650, and precipitated a second outbreak, the Fronde of the Princes, or the New Fronde. Mme de Longueville called on Marshal Turenne for aid in releasing her brother. Government troops defeated Turenne and his Spanish allies at Rethel (1650), but Mazarin was forced to yield when Retz, Mme de Chevreuse, Gaston d'Orléans, and François de Beaufort all united in demanding Condé's release.

Mazarin fled to Germany in Feb., 1651, but the victorious nobles soon quarreled among themselves, and Condé left Paris to take up open warfare against the government. Although joined by Gaston d'Orléans, Beaufort, Conti, and the provincial parlements of S France, Condé lost the principal support of Turenne, who went over to the government's side after Louis XIV reached his majority. In Dec., 1651, Mazarin was recalled. Condé concluded an alliance with Spain, but was defeated by Turenne at the Faubourg Saint-Antoine beneath the walls of Paris; he was saved by Mlle de Montpensier, who admitted him and his army into Paris. His arrogant conduct there alienated the people.

As the Fronde disintegrated, Mazarin once more left France to clear the air for a reconciliation. In October the king returned to Paris; Mazarin followed in Feb., 1653. The princes soon made peace with the government, except for Condé, who commanded the Spanish forces against France until the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659; see Pyrenees, Peace of the). The Fronde was the last attempt of the nobility to resist the king by arms. It resulted in the humiliation of the nobles, the strengthening of royal authority, and the further disruption of the French economy.


See A. L. Moote, The Revolt of the Judges: The Parlement of Paris and the Fronde, 1643–1652 (1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a series of antiabsolutist uprisings in France that lasted from 1648 to 1653. The Frondeurs came from various social strata and at times pursued divergent goals.

Oppressive taxes and the hardships brought by the Thirty Years’ War of 1618–48 led to many uprisings by the peasants and the urban lower classes. The tax policy of Cardinal Mazarin’s government aroused the opposition of the parlement of Paris and the bourgeois circles associated with that body. The parlement formed a temporary bloc with popular antifeudal forces and demanded several reforms, some of which were bourgeois in nature.

Mazarin’s attempt to arrest opposition leaders, such as P. Broussel, provoked a mass armed uprising, which broke out in Paris on Aug. 26–27, 1648. Mazarin took the young Louis XIV out of the insurgent capital, and royal troops blockaded the city in January and February 1649. The Parisians were supported by a number of provinces, but the Parisian bourgeoisie and the parle-ment’s noblesse de robe (hereditary nobles who acquired their rank by holding a high state office), frightened by the upsurge of the popular movement and the radical character of pamphlets and leaflets that were being printed, entered into negotiations with the royal court.

In 1649 the Fronde of the parlement came to an end, but popular disturbances continued. At the beginning of 1650 leadership of the opposition was assumed by reactionary court circles, who merely wanted to pressure the government into granting them such benefits as pensions and lucrative posts; this phase of the Fronde was known as the Fronde of the princes. The insurgent noblemen and princes, supported by retinues of gentry and by foreign (Spanish) troops, made use of the peasant uprisings and the democratic movement in the cities. During the Fronde of the princes the most revolutionary elements of the French bourgeoisie attempted to continue the struggle against absolutism; thus, in Bordeaux the Fronde assumed in this period the character of a bourgeois-democratic republican movement.

In 1651 the aristocratic Frondeurs succeeded in forcing the resignation and exile of Mazarin, who soon returned to France with hired troops. A prolonged civil war ensued. By the end of 1652, Mazarin, by means of bribes and concessions, had persuaded most of the aristocratic Frondeurs to effect a reconciliation. Their leader, the prince de Conde, who in 1651 had gone over to the service of the Spanish king, was forced to leave Paris, despite the military support of Spanish detachments. By mid-1653 the resistance in the most stubborn and radical center of the Fronde— Bordeaux—had been suppressed.

The defeat of the Fronde led to a feudal reaction in the French countryside from the 1650’s to the 1670’s and facilitated the establishment of Louis XIV’s autocracy.


Porshnev, B. F. Narodnye vosstaniia vo Frantsii pered Frondoi (1623–1648). Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Capefigue, J. Richelieu, Mazarin, la Fronde et le règne de Louis XIV, vols. 1–8. Paris, 1835–36.
Courteault, H. La Fronde à Paris. Paris, 1930.
Kossmann, E. H. La Fronde. Leiden, 1954.
Lorris, P. G. La Fronde. Paris, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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