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).