Louis XIV - John S. C. Abbott

Birth and Childhood


Louis XIII of France married Anne of Austria on the 25th of November, 1615. The marriage ceremony was performed with great splendor in the Cathedral of Bordeaux. The bride was exceedingly beautiful, tall, and of exquisite proportions. She possessed the whitest and most delicate hand that ever made an imperious gesture. Her eyes were of matchless beauty, easily dilated, and of extraordinary transparency. Her small and ruddy mouth looked like an opening rose-bud. Long and silky hair, of a lovely shade of auburn, gave to the face it surrounded the sparkling complexion of a blonde, and the animation of a brunette.

The marriage was not a happy one. Louis XIII. was not a man of any mental or physical attractions. He was cruel, petulant, and jealous. The king had a younger brother, Gaston, duke of Anjou. He was a young man of joyous spirits, social, frank, a universal favorite. His moody, taciturn brother did not love him. Anne did. She could not but enjoy his society. Wounded by the coldness and neglect of her husband, it is said that she was not unwilling, by rather a free exhibition of the fascinations of her person and her mind, to win the admiration of Gaston. She hoped thus to inspire the king with a more just appreciation of her merits.

Louis XIII., at the time of his marriage, was a mere boy fourteen years of age. His father had died when he was nine years old. He was left under the care of his mother, Mary de Medicis, as regent. Anne of Austria was a maturely developed and precocious child of eleven years when she gave her hand to the boy-king of France. Not much discretion could have been expected of two such children, exposed to the idleness, the splendors, and the corruption of a court.

Anne was vain of her beauty, naturally coquettish, and very romantic in her views of life. It is said that the queen dowager, wishing to prevent Anne from gaining much influence over the mind of the king, did all she could to lure her into flirtations and gallantries, which alienated her from her husband. For this purpose she placed near her person Madame Chevreuse, an intriguing woman, alike renowned for wit, beauty, and unscrupulousness.

Quite a desperate flirtation arose between Anne and little Gaston, who was but nine years of age. Gaston, whom the folly of the times entitled Duke of Anjou, hated Louis, and delighted to excite his jealousy and anger by his open and secret manifestation of love for the beautiful Anne. The king's health failed. He became increasingly languid, morose, emaciate. Anne, young as she was, was physically a fully developed woman of voluptuous beauty. The undisguised alienation which existed between her and the king encouraged other courtiers of eminent rank to court her smiles.

Cardinal Richelieu, notwithstanding his ecclesiastical vows, became not only the admirer, but the lover of the queen, addressing her in the most impassioned words of endearment. Thus years of intrigue and domestic wretchedness passed away until 1624. The queen had then been married nine years, and was twenty years of age. She had no children.

The reckless, hot-headed George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, visited the French court to arrange terms of marriage between Henrietta Maria, sister of Louis XIII., and the Prince of Wales, son of James I. of England. He was what is called a splendid man, of noble bearing, and of chivalric devotion to the fair. The duke, boundlessly rich, displayed great magnificence in Paris. He danced with the queen, fascinated her by his openly avowed admiration, and won such smiles in return as to induce the king and Cardinal Richelieu almost to gnash their teeth with rage.

This flirtation, if we may not express it by a more emphatic phrase, created much heart-burning and wretchedness, criminations and recriminations, in the regal palace. In August, 1628, the Duke of Buckingham, then in England, terminated his wretched and guilty life. He fell beneath the dagger of an assassin. Anne, disdaining all dissimulation, wept openly, and, secluding herself from the gayeties of the court, surrendered herself to grief.

A mutual spirit of defiance existed between the king and queen. Both were wretched. Such are always the wages of sin. Ten more joyless years passed away. The rupture between the royal pair was such that they could scarcely endure each other. Louis himself was the first to inform the queen of the news so satisfactory to him, so heart-rending to her, that a dagger had pierced the heart of Buckingham. After this they met only at unfrequent intervals. All confidence and sympathy were at an end. It was a bitter disappointment to the queen that she had no children. Upon the death of the king, who was in very feeble health, her own position and influence would depend almost entirely upon her having a son to whom the crown would descend. Louis resided generally at the Castle of Blois. Anne held her court at the Louvre.

A married life of twenty-two years had passed away, and still the queen had no child. Both she and her husband had relinquished all hope of offspring. On the evening of the 5th of December, 1637, the king, having made a visit to the Convent of the Visitation, being overtaken by a storm, drove to the Louvre instead of Blois. He immediately proceeded to the apartments of the queen. Anne was astonished, and did not disguise her astonishment at seeing him. He, however, remained until the morrow.

[Illustration] from Louis XIV by John S. C. Abbott


Soon after this, to the inexpressible joy of the queen, it appeared that she was to become a mother. The public announcement of the fact created surprise and joy throughout the nation. The king was equally astonished and delighted. He immediately hastened to the Louvre to offer the queen his congratulations.

The queen repaired to St. Germain-en-Laye, about six miles from Versailles, to await the birth of her child. Here she occupied, in the royal palace, the gorgeous apartments in which Henry IV. had formerly dwelt. The king himself also took up his abode in the palace. The excitement was so great that St. Germain was crowded with the nobility, who had flocked to the place in anxious expectancy of the great event. Others, who could not be accommodated at St. Germain, stationed couriers on the road to obtain the earliest intelligence of the result.

On the 5th of September, 1638, the king was greeted with the joyful tidings of the birth of a son. A vast crowd had assembled in front of the palace. The king, in the exuberance of his delight, took the child from the nurse, and, stepping out upon a balcony, exhibited him to the crowd, exclaiming, "A son! gentlemen, a son!"

The announcement was received with a universal shout of joy. The happy father then took the babe into an adjoining apartment, where the bishops were assembled to perform the ordinance of baptism. These dignitaries of the Church had been kneeling around a temporary altar praying for the queen. The Bishop of Meaux performed the ceremony. A Te Deum was then chanted in the chapel of the castle. Immediately after this, the king wrote an autograph letter to the corporation of Paris, announcing the joyful tidings. A courier was dispatched with the document at his highest possible speed.

The enthusiasm excited in the capital surpassed any thing which had ever before been witnessed. The common people, the nobles, the ecclesiastics, and the foreign embassadors, vied with each other in their demonstrations of joy. A few months after, in July, an extraordinary messenger arrived from the pope, to convey to the august mother and her child the blessing of the holy father. He also presented the queen, for her babe, swaddling-clothes which had been blessed by his holiness. These garments were exceedingly rich with gold and silver embroidery. They were inclosed in a couple of chests of red velvet, and elicited the admiration of the royal pair.

The France of that day was very different from that magnificent empire which now stands in intellectual culture, arts, and arms, prominent among the nations of the globe. The country was split up into hostile factions, over which haughty nobles ruled. The roads in the rural districts were almost impassable. Paris itself was a small and dirty city, with scarcely any police regulations, and infested with robbers. There were no lamps to light the city by night. The streets were narrow, ill paved, and choked with mud and refuse. Immediately after nightfall these dark and crooked thoroughfares were thronged with robbers and assassins, whose depredations were of the most audacious kind.

Socially, morally, and intellectually, France was at the lowest ebb. The masses of the people were in a degraded condition of squalid poverty and debasement. Still the king, by enormous taxation, succeeded in wresting from his wretched subjects an income to meet the expenses of his court, amounting to about four millions of our money. But the outlays were so enormous that even this income was quite unavailing, and innumerable measures of extortion were adopted to meet the deficit.

The king was so much gratified by the birth of a dauphin that for a time he became quite reconciled to his beautiful and haughty queen. Two years after the birth of the dauphin, on the 21st of September, 1640, Anne gave birth to a second son, who took the title of Philip, duke of Anjou. The queen and her two children resided in the beautiful palace of Saint Germain-en-Laye, where the princes were born.

A company of French Guards, commanded by Captain Montigni, protected the castle. Madame de Lausac was the governess of the two children. The title by which the king's brother was usually designated was simply Monsieur. But for these children of the king, the crown, upon the death of the monarch, would descend immediately to Monsieur, the king's brother. The morals of the times were such that the king was ever apprehensive that some harm might come to the children through the intrigues of his brother. Monsieur lived in Paris. The king left orders with Madame de Lausac that, should his brother visit the queen, the officers of the household should immediately surround the dauphin for his protection, and that Monsieur should not be permitted to enter the palace should he be accompanied by more than three persons.

[Illustration] from Louis XIV by John S. C. Abbott


To Montigni, the captain of the guard, the king gave half of a gold coin, of which he retained the other half. Montigni was commanded to watch over the persons of the princes with the utmost vigilance. Should he receive an order to remove them, or to transfer them to other hands, he was enjoined not to obey that order, even should it be in the handwriting of his majesty himself, unless he at the same time received the other half of the broken coin.

The king, as we have mentioned, had been for some time in feeble health. Early in the spring of 1643 he became seriously ill. The symptoms were so alarming as to lead the king, as well as his friends, to think that death could not be far distant. There are few men so hardened as to be able to contemplate without some degree of anxiety death and the final judgment. The king was alarmed. He betook himself to prayer and to the scrupulous discharge of his religious duties.

In preparation for the great change, he repaired to Saint Germain to invest the queen with the regency when he should die. His brother, Monsieur, who had taken the title of the Duke of Orleans, and all the leading nobles of the court, were present. The king, pale, emaciate, and with death staring him in the face, was bolstered in his bed. Anne of Austria stood weeping by his side. She did not love her husband—she did love power; but the scene was so solemn and so affecting as to force tears into all eyes. The dauphin was then four and a half years old. He was declared king, with the title of Louis XIV., under the regency of his mother until he should attain his majority.

The next day, April 21st, the christening of the dauphin with his new title took place with great state in the chapel of the palace. After the celebration of the rite, the dauphin was carried into the chamber of his dying father, and seated upon the bed by his side. The poor king, dying in the prime of life, was oppressed with the profoundest melancholy. There was nothing in the memory of the past to give him pleasure; nothing in the future to inspire him with well-grounded hope. Turning to the little prince, who had just been christened with the royal title, he inquired,

"What is your name, my child?"

"Louis XIV.," the dauphin promptly replied.

"Not yet," said the king, sadly, shaking his head; "but pray God that it may soon be so."

A few more days of sickness and suffering passed away, during which it was almost hourly expected that the king would die. Death often comes to the palace invested with terrors unknown in the cottage. Beneath his sceptre all gradations and conditions of rank disappear. The sufferings of the king were such that he longed for release.

On the 13th of May, as the shades of evening were gathering around his dying bed, he anxiously inquired of his physicians if it were possible that he could live until morning. They consulted together, and then informed him that they did not think it possible.

"God be praised!" the king replied. "I think it is now time that I should take leave of all whom I love."

The royal household was immediately assembled around the couch of the dying monarch. He had sufficient strength to throw his arms around the neck of the queen, and to press her tenderly to his heart. In such an hour past differences are forgotten. In low and broken tones of voice, the king addressed the queen in a few parting words of endearment.

The dauphin was then placed in his arms. Silently, but with tearful eyes, he pressed his thin and parched lips to both cheeks and to the brow of the child, who was too young to comprehend the solemn import of the scene.

His brother, Monsieur, the duke of Orleans, the king had never loved. In these later years he had regarded him with implacable hostility. But, subdued by the influences of death, he bade that brother an eternal adieu, with even fond caresses. Indeed, he had become so far reconciled to Monsieur that he had appointed him lieutenant general of the kingdom, under the regency of Anne of Austria, during the minority of the dauphin.

Several of the higher ecclesiastics were present, who had assisted in preparing him to die. He affectionately embraced them all, and then requested the Bishop of Meaux to read the service for the dying. While it was being read he sank into a lethargy, and never spoke again. He died in the forty-second year of his age, after a reign of thirty-three years, having ascended the throne when but nine years old.

Immediately after the death of the king, Anne of Austria held a private interview with Monsieur, in which they agreed to co-operate in the maintenance of each other's authority. The Parliament promptly recognized the queen as regent, and the Duke of Orleans as lieutenant general, during the minority of the dauphin.

The Duke de Grammont, one of the highest nobles of France, and a distinguished member of the court of Louis XIII., had a son, the Count de Guiche, a few months older than the dauphin. This child was educated as the play-fellow and the companion in study of the young king. One of the first acts of Anne of Austria was to assemble the leading bodies of the realm to take the oath of allegiance to her son. The little fellow, four and a half years old, arrayed in imperial robes, was seated upon the throne. The Count de Guiche, a very sedate, thoughtful, precocious child, was placed upon the steps, that his undoubted propriety of behavior might be a pattern to the infant king. Both of the children behaved remarkably well.

Soon after this, at the close of the year 1643, the queen, with her household, who had resided during the summer in the palace of the Louvre, took up her residence in what was then called the Cardinal Palace. This magnificent building, which had been reared at an enormous expense, had been bequeathed by the Cardinal Richelieu to the young king. But it was suggested that it was not decorous that the king should inhabit a mansion which bore the name of the residence of a subject. Therefore the inscription of Cardinal Palace  was effaced from above the doorway, and that of Palais Royal  placed in its stead. The palace had cost the cardinal a sum nearly equal to a million of dollars. This ungrateful disregard of the memory of the cardinal greatly displeased his surviving friends, and called forth earnest remonstrance. But all expostulations were in vain. From that day to this the renowned mansion has been known only as the "Palais Royal." The opposite engraving shows the palace as left by the cardinal. Since his day the building has been greatly enlarged by extending the wings for shops around the whole inclosure of the garden.

Louis XIV. was at this time five years old. The apartments which had been occupied by Richelieu were assigned to the dauphin. His mother, the queen regent, selected for herself rooms far more spacious and elegant. Though they were furnished and embellished with apparently every appliance of luxury, Anne, fond of power and display, expended enormous sums in adapting them to her taste. The cabinet of the regent, in the gorgeousness of its adornments, was considered the wonder of Paris.

[Illustration] from Louis XIV by John S. C. Abbott


Cardinal Mazarin had also a suite of rooms assigned him in the palace which looked out upon the Rue des bons Enfans. These households were quite distinct, and they were all surrounded with much of the pageantry of royalty. The superintendence of the education of the young prince was intrusted to the cardinal. He had also his governor, his sub-governor, his preceptor, and his valet de chambre, each of whom must have occupied posts of honor rather than of responsibility. The Marchioness de Senecey, and other ladies of high rank, were intrusted with the special care of the dauphin until he should attain the age of seven years.

Thus the court of the baby-king was quite imposing. From his earliest years he was accustomed to the profoundest homage, and was trained to the most rigid rules of etiquette. The dauphin early developed a fondness for military exercises. Very eagerly he shouldered the musket, brandished the sword, and beat the drum. The temperament of his brother Philip, the duke of Anjou, was very different: he was remarkably gentle, quiet, and affectionate. Gradually the baby-court of the dauphin was increased by the addition of other lads. The young king was the central luminary around whom they all revolved. By them all the dauphin was regarded with a certain kind of awe, as if he were a being of a superior, almost of a celestial race. These lads were termed "children of honor." They always addressed the king, and were addressed in return, with the formality of full-grown men. One day a little fellow named Lomenie delighted the king with a gift. The king was amusing himself with a cross-bow, which for the time being happened to be in special favor. He loaned the bow for a few moments to Lomenie. Soon, however, anxious to regain the valued plaything, he held out his hand to take it back. His governess, the Marchioness de Senecey, said to him, aside,

"Sire, kings give what they lend."

Louis, immediately approaching his companion, said, calmly, "Monsieur de Lomenie, keep the cross-bow. I wish that it were something of more importance; but, such as it is, I give it to you with all my heart."

This was a speech of a boy of five years old to a companion of the same age. When the dauphin reached his seventh birthday, a great change took place in his household. All his female attendants were withdrawn, and he was placed exclusively under the charge of men. It is said that this change was at first the occasion of much grief to him. He had become much attached to many of the ladies, who had devoted themselves to the promotion of his happiness. We are told that he was greatly chagrined to find that none of the gentlemen of his court could tell him any of those beautiful fairy tales with which the ladies had often lulled him to sleep. In conference with the queen upon the subject, it was decided that M. Laporte, his first valet de chambre, should read to him every night a chapter of a very popular history of France. The dauphin soon became greatly interested in the narrative. He declared that he, when he grew up, would be a Charlemagne, a St. Louis, a Francis First, and expressed great abhorrence of the tyrannical and slothful kings.

The pleasure which the little king took in these historical readings daily increased. Cardinal Mazarin accidentally found out what was going on, and was greatly displeased. He was anxious that the intellectual powers of the king should not be developed, for the cardinal desired to grasp the reins of government with his own hands. To do this, it was necessary that the king should be kept ignorant, and should be incited only to enervating indulgence.

Scornfully the cardinal remarked, "I presume the governor of the king must put on his shoes and stockings, as I perceive his valet de chambre is teaching him history."

The young king entertained an instinctive aversion to the proud cardinal, who assumed imperial airs, and who was living in splendor far surpassing that of the regent or of the child-king. Those who surrounded the prince were equally inimical to the cardinal-minister, who, in that age of superstition and fanaticism, had attained such power that the regent herself stood in awe of him.

Henrietta, queen of England, wife of the unfortunate Charles I., was a daughter of Henry IV., and sister of Louis XIII. She was consequently aunt to the dauphin. The troubles in England, which soon led to the beheading of the king her husband, rendered it necessary for her to escape to France. Her brother, Monsieur, duke of Orleans, went to the coast to receive his unhappy and royal sister. As they approached Paris, the queen regent and her son the king rode out to meet them. Henrietta took a seat in the same carriage with their majesties, and returned with them to the Louvre. The pallid cheeks and saddened features of the English queen proclaimed so loudly the woes with which she was stricken as to exert universal sympathy.

The young king at seven years of age was tall, muscular, and excelled in all physical exercises; but the villainous cardinal had endeavored in every way to dwarf his intellect, so that his mind remained almost a blank. Both the young king and his brother at this early age had acquired a very remarkable degree of courtly grace. A chronicler of the times, speaking of the bearing of Louis at a court wedding, says,

"The king, with the gracefulness which shines in all his actions, took the hand of the Queen of Poland, and conducted her to the platform, where his majesty opened the dance, and was followed by nearly all the princes, princesses, great nobles, and ladies of the court. At its termination, the king, with the same grace and majestic deportment, conducted the young queen to her place. The king then danced a second time, and led out the Duke of Anjou with such skill that every one was charmed with the polite bearing of these two young princes."

Early in the year 1646, the king, not yet quite eight years old, was conducted upon what was singularly called his first campaign. The queen and her son repaired to Amiens, where they sojourned for a short time with the army, and established a very brilliant court. When the army left Amiens for Flanders, the regent and her son returned from their campaign.

The infant court of the monarch was now established at Paris. The ambitious cardinal had brought from Italy several little children, his relatives, the eldest of whom had attained but her twelfth year. They were immediately introduced to the court of Louis XIV. The wealth of the cardinal was such, and his influence so great, that, young as these his nieces were, they were instantly surrounded by admirers. The Duke of Orleans, who hated the cardinal and all that belonged to him, bitterly remarked,

"There is such a throng about those little girls that I doubt if their lives are safe, and if they will not be suffocated."

The boy-king, however, notwithstanding his dislike for the cardinal, received the little girls with that gallantry for which throughout life he was distinguished.

Very early he began to develop quite a positive character. On one occasion the courtiers were speaking in his presence of the absolute power exercised by the sultans of Turkey. Several very striking examples were given. The young prince, who had listened attentively, remarked,

"That is as it should be; that is really reigning."

"Yes, sire," pertinently replied Marshal d'Estrees, "but two or three of those sultans have, within my memory, been strangled."

The Prince de Condé inquired of Laporte, the first valet of the king, respecting the character his young majesty was developing. Upon being told that he was conscientious and intelligent, he replied, "So much the better. There would be no pleasure in obeying a fool, and no honor in being commanded by a bad man."

Cardinal Mazarin, the prime minister, who looked with jealousy upon any development of superior intelligence in the dauphin, said to Marshal de Grammont, "Ah! sir, you do not know his majesty. There is enough stuff in him to make four kings and an honest man."

There had gradually sprung up a deadly feud between the court, headed by the tyrannical minister Mazarin on the one side, and by the Parliament on the other. The populace of Paris were in sympathy with the Parliament. Many of the prominent nobles, some even of royal blood, detesting the haughty prime minister, espoused the Parliamentary cause. There were riots in Paris. Affairs looked very threatening. Mazarin was alarmed, and decided to escape from Paris with the court to the palace of St. Germain. There he could protect the court with an ample military force. He thought, also, that he should be able to cut off the supply of provisions from the capital, and thus starve the city into subjection.

It was necessary to move with much caution, as the people were greatly agitated, were filling the streets with surging crowds, and would certainly prevent the removal of the king should they suspect the design. The night of the 5th of January was selected as a time in which to attempt the escape. The matter was kept profoundly secret from most of the members of the royal household.

At three o'clock in the morning a carriage was drawn up in the gate of the royal garden. The queen regent, who, to avoid suspicion, had retired to bed at the usual hour, had in the mean time risen and was prepared for her flight. The young king and his brother were awoke from their sleep, hurriedly dressed, and conveyed to the carriage in waiting. The queen regent, with several other prominent members of the court, descended the back stairs which led from the queen's apartment and joined the children. Immediately one or two other carriages drove up, and the whole party entered them, and by different routes, through the dark and narrow streets, left the city. It was a short ride of about twelve miles.

Other prominent members of the court, residing in different parts of the city, had been apprised of the movement, so that at five o'clock in the morning twenty carriages, containing one hundred and fifty persons, drove into the court-yard of the palace. One of the ladies who accompanied the expedition, Mademoiselle Montpensier, gives the following graphic description of the scene:

"When we arrived at St. Germain we went straight to the chapel to hear mass. All the rest of the day was spent in questioning those who arrived as to what they were doing in Paris. The drums were beating all over the city, and the citizens had taken up arms. The Countess de Fiesque sent me a coach, and a mattress, and a little linen. As I was in so sorry a condition, I went to seek help at the Chateau Neuf, where Monsieur and Madame  were lodged; but Madame had not her clothes any more than myself. Nothing could be more laughable than this disorder. I lodged in a large room, well painted and gilded, with but little fire, which is not agreeable in the month of January. My mattress was laid upon the floor, and my sister, who had no bed, slept with me. Judge if I were agreeably situated for a person who had slept but little the previous night, with sore throat and violent cold.

"Fortunately for me, the beds of Monsieur and Madame arrived. Monsieur had the kindness to give me the room which he vacated. As I was in the apartment of Monsieur, where no one knew that I was lodged, I was awoke by a noise. I drew back my curtain, and was much astonished to find my chamber quite filled by men in large buff skin collars, who appeared surprised to see me, and who knew me as little as I knew them.

"I had no change of linen, and my day chemise was washed during the night. I had no women to arrange my hair and dress me, which is very inconvenient. I ate with Monsieur, who keeps a very bad table. Still I did not lose my gayety, and Monsieur was in admiration at my making no complaint. It is true I am a creature who can make the best of every thing, and am greatly above trifles. I remained in this state ten days, at the end of which time my equipage arrived, and I was very glad to have all my comforts. I then went to lodge in the chateau Vieux, where the queen was residing."

At a very early hour in the morning the news was circulated through the streets of Paris that the court had fled from the city, taking with it the young king. The excitement was terrible, creating universal shouts and tumults. All who were in any way connected with the court attempted to escape in various disguises to join the royal party. The populace, on the other hand, closed the gates, and barricaded the streets, to prevent their flight. In the midst of this confusion, a letter was received by the municipal magistrates, over the signature of the boy-king, stating that he had been compelled to leave the capital to prevent the seizure of his person by the Parliament, and urging the magistrates to do all in their power for the preservation of order and for the protection of property. The king also ordered the Parliament immediately to retire from the city to Montargis.

The Parliament refused to recognize the order, declaring "that it did not emanate from the monarch himself, but from the evil counselors by whom he was held in captivity." Upon the reception of this reply, the queen regent, who had surrounded her palace at St. Germain with a thousand royal troops, acting under the guidance of Mazarin, issued a decree forbidding the villages around Paris sending into the capital either bread, wine, or cattle. Troops were also stationed to cut off such supplies. This attempt to subdue the people by the terrors of famine excited intense exasperation. A decree was promptly issued by the Parliament stating,

"Since Cardinal Mazarin is notoriously the author of the present troubles, the Parliament declares him to be the disturber of the public peace, the enemy of the king and the state, and orders him to retire from the court in the course of this day, and in eight days more from the kingdom. Should he neglect to do this, at the expiration of the appointed time all the subjects of the king are called upon to hunt him down."

At the same time, men-at-arms were levied in sufficient numbers to escort safely into the city all those who would bring in provisions. The Parliament, from the populace of Paris, could bring sixty thousand bayonets upon any field of battle. Thus very serious civil war was inaugurated.

As we have mentioned, many of the nobles, some of whom were allied to the royal family, assuming that they were not contending against their legitimate sovereign, the young king, but against the detested Mazarin, were in cordial co-operation with the Parliament. The people in the rural districts were also in sympathy with the party in Paris.

The court party was now called "The Mazarins," and those of the Parliament "The Fronde." The literal meaning of the word fronde is sling. It is a boy's plaything, and when skillfully used, an important weapon of war. It was with the sling that David slew Goliath. During the Middle Ages this was the usual weapon of the foot soldiers. Mazarin had contemptuously remarked that the Parliament were like school boys, fronding in the ditches, and who ran away at the approach of a policeman. The Parliament accepted the title, and adopted the fronde  or sling  as the emblem of their party.

There were now two rival courts in France. The one at St. Germain was in a state of great destitution. The palace was but partially furnished, and not at all capable of affording comfortable accommodations for the crowd which thronged its apartments. Nothing could be obtained from Paris. Their purses were empty. The rural population was hostile, and, while eager to carry their products to Paris, were unwilling to bring them to St. Germain. Madame de Motteville states in her memoirs "that the king, queen, and cardinal were sleeping upon straw, which soon became so scarce that it could not be obtained for money."

The court of the Fronde was assembled at the Hotel de Ville in Paris. There all was splendor, abundance, festive enjoyment. The high rank of the leaders and the beauty of the ladies gave éclat to the gathering.

Cardinal Mazarin was not only extortionate, but miserly. He had accumulated an enormous property. All this was seized and appropriated by the Fronde. Though there were occasional skirmishes between the forces of the two factions, neither of them seemed disposed to plunge into the horrors of civil war.

The king sent a herald, clad in complete armor and accompanied by two trumpeters, to the Parliament. The Fronde refused to receive the herald, but decided to send a deputation to the king to ascertain what overtures he was willing to make. After a lengthy conference a not very satisfactory compromise was agreed upon, and the royal fugitives returned to Paris. It was the 5th of April, 1650. A Te Deum was chanted with great pomp at the cathedral of Notre Dame.

"Thus terminated the first act of the most singular, bootless, and, we are almost tempted to add, burlesque war which, in all probability, Europe ever witnessed. Throughout its whole duration society appeared to have been smitten with some moral hallucination. Kings and cardinals slept on mattresses, princesses and duchesses on straw. Market-women embraced princes, prelates governed armies, court ladies led the mob, and the mob, in its turn, ruled the city."