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The Cardinal, the Prince, and the Crisis of the ’Fronde’

David Parrott

David Parrott, 1652. The Cardinal, the Prince, and the Crisis of the ’Fronde’, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020.

ISBN : 9780198797463

David Parrott’s book offers a major re-evaluation of the last year of the Fronde - the political upheaval between 1648 and 1652 - in the making of seventeenth-century France. In late December 1651, Cardinal Mazarin defied the order for his perpetual banishment, and re-entered France at the head of an army. The political and military crisis that followed convulsed the nation, and revived the ebbing fortunes of a revolt led by the cousin of the young Louis XIV, the prince de Condé. The study follows in detail the unfolding political and military events of this year, showing how military success and failure swung between the two sides through the campaign, driving both cardinal and prince into a progressive intensification of the conflict, while simultaneously fuelling a quest for compromise and settlement which nonetheless eluded all the negotiators’ efforts. The consequences were devastating for France, as civil war smashed into a fragile ecosystem that was already reeling under the impact of the global cooling of the ’Little Ice Age’. 1652 raises questions about established interpretations of French state-building, the rule of cardinal Mazarin and his predecessor, Richelieu, and their contribution to creating the ’absolutism’ of Louis XIV.


1. Rethinking 1652
2. Mazarin’s Fall
3. Condé’s Miscalculation and Mazarin’s Gamble (Autumn 1651 to March 1652)
4. Towards Stalemate (March to August 1652)
5. The Cost of Civil War
6. Autumn 1652 : The Brink of the Precipice ?
Conclusion : Transactional Politics and the Cankered Decade : France in the 1650’s

David Parrott is Professor of Early Modern History and Fellow and Tutor at New College, University of Oxford. He has researched and written extensively on early modern military and political history. His previous publications include a study of the French army during the ministry of Cardinal Richelieu, and The Business of War, a study of military contracting and private enterprise in early modern Europe. Between 2013 and 2016 he held a Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, which allowed him to undertake the research for this book.