Front Matter France Long Ago The Gauls In France The Priests of the Gauls Sailor Stories Conquests of the Gauls Two Great Battles Caesar in Gaul Gaul under the Romans First Christian Martyrs Patron Saint of France Franks Come to Gaul The First Kings Conquests of Clovis Clotaire and His Relatives Two Rival Queens Good King Dagobert The Saracens Checked End of the Merovingians Charlemagne's Wars Charlemagne's Manners Charlemagne, Emperor Feudalism Troublesome Sons The Strassburg Oath Normans Besiege Paris Last of the Carolingians The Year One Thousand Robert's Two Wives Wealth of the Clergy The First Crusade A Love Story The Second Crusade More Crusades The Battle of Bouvines Blanche of Castile The Sixth Crusade The Reign of Louis IX Effect of the Crusades The Battle of the Spurs End of Knights Templar The Hundred Years' War The Siege of Calais The Battle of Poitiers Seven Years of Misery The Brave du Guesclin Achievements of Charles V Charles VI Misrule in France The Disgraceful Treaty Joan to the Rescue Orleans and Rheims Joan's Martyrdom Charles's Successes The Crafty King Louis XI Louis XI's Reign Achievements of Louis XI Charles VIII The Second Italian War Death of Louis XII Francis I Rivalry of Kings Achievements of Francis I End of Francis's Reign Reign of Henry II A Young King and Queen Catherine's Regency The Forced Wedding Massacre of the Huguenots Death of Charles IX An Effeminate King he Battle of Coutras The Murder of the Guises Winning a Crown Conversion of Henry IV Henry IV's Second Marriage Death of Henry IV The Minority of Louis XIII Rule of the Favorites Richelieu and Louis XIII End of Louis XIII's Reign Beginning of a Great Reign Wars of the Fronde Death of Mazarin Versailles The Iron Mask Louis XIV's Campaigns Madame de Maintenon Later Wars of Louis XIV The Spanish Succession The Age of Louis XIV

Story of Old France - Helene Guerber

Death of Mazarin

Louis XIV is noted for having been very handsome in his youth, with a profusion of curling golden hair, which he wore long, a style his courtiers promptly imitated, resorting to wigs when nature did not provide them with sufficiently luxuriant locks. Owing to an illness which left him nearly bald in youth, Louis XIV also wore wigs, which became larger and curlier as time went on. All the portraits of the day, therefore, show us smooth or mustached faces, fairly embedded in clustering curls, which only experienced hairdressers could keep in order.

Besides natural good looks, Louis had also charming manners, on which he greatly prided himself. His courtiers related with bated breath that he even took off his hat to a chambermaid, if he happened to meet one on his way! Not only did Louis's courtesy win him many friends, but it was imitated by all around him, the nobles in particular striving to become as polite and dignified as their king. Thus "grand manners" became the rule at court and in all fashionable assemblies in France.

Louis XIV at an early age began to show great fondness for female society, and soon fell desperately in love with one of Mazarin's nieces. The cardinal realized that a King of France must contract a royal alliance, so he promptly broke up this love affair by sending his niece away. When the young king heard that his ladylove was to leave court, he was broken-hearted; but the damsel hotly reproached him for his idle tears at parting, exclaiming indignantly, "You are king, and do nothing but weep, so I must go away!"

Mazarin hoped for a marriage between Louis XIV and Maria Theresa, one of the Spanish princesses, or infantas, and in the treaty of the Pyrenees he secured an agreement to bring this about. He then hastened to the queen mother's room, announcing triumphantly, "Madam, we have both peace and the Infanta!" for he knew how greatly such tidings would please Anne of Austria, who had bewailed the long quarrel with Spain.

But before the marriage could be concluded, the young Spanish princess had to renounce all right to the Spanish crown, that is to say, promise that neither she nor her children would ever claim it. Mazarin, however, shrewdly arranged that this renunciation should be valid only in case the queen's huge dowry were paid in full; and as the Spanish court failed to pay, this promise was considered invalid later on.

When all had been settled, the court proceeded in state to the frontier to welcome the new queen, and the marriage was celebrated when the king was only twenty years old. Though Louis's young wife was undeniably handsome, he never felt great interest in her, and soon began to neglect her, thus setting a pernicious example to his court and people.

Mazarin, who steered the ship of state so cleverly through the troubled waters occasioned by the end of the Thirty Years' War and the Fronde, somewhat neglected French finances, navy, and commerce during the nineteen years of his ministry. But this neglect was not wholly intentional, for he was generally anxious to do his best for his adopted country, and often said, "My heart is French, though my language is not."

Many interesting anecdotes are related about him. For instance, when pressed for time, Mazarin once promised to give audience to one of the many petitioners constantly besieging his door, if the man would make known his wants in two words. As soon as admitted, this man stared at the cardinal, then at the fire, and gasped, "Cold! hungry!" With ready wit Mazarin rejoined, "Fire! bread!" and dismissed the petitioner after bestowing upon him a pension sufficient for his immediate needs.



Mazarin was a great lover of letters and art, and during his lifetime accumulated considerable wealth and many art treasures, including a number of pictures by the old masters. He was so fond of these masterpieces that, on learning his end was near, he had them all brought to him in turn, and took leave of them, saying, "Farewell, dear pictures that I have loved so dearly and that have cost me so much!" Then he arranged that the majority of them should always remain in France; and many of the art treasures now in the Louvre are due to him.

In his last talk with his young king, the prime minister gave him good advice, saying impressively: "Sire, know how to respect yourself, and you will be respected. Never have a prime minister, but employ Colbert whenever you require the assistance of an adviser at once intelligent and devoted." A few moments later, he added, "I owe you everything. Sire, but I believe I am canceling my obligations to your Majesty by giving you Colbert."

Mazarin is also known as the founder of a fine library, and of the College of the Four Nations, as well as for having annexed to France three important provinces (Artois, Alsace, and Roussillon).