CONDITIONED FOR CONFLICT
France passes its peak and enters on Its century-long decline. A new world power begins to emerge. A growing tension between New France and New England. The crafty dealings of La Barre and the ineffectiveness of Denonville end in an act of treachery that cuts deeply into the prestige of France.
It was a changed France to which Frontenac was returning, a France that had reached the apex of its power. It stood uncertain on that pinnacle, still confident of its great destiny but increasingly unsure how to achieve it.
Even Louis the Magnificent was not completely happy. He knew himself to be the undisputed monarch of his world. France was dominant, and he dominated France. He could say with perfect truth, "L'état c'est moi," and there was no one with the will or the force to question it successfully. Yet the enemies that every absolutism engenders were increasing in numbers, both at home and abroad, and such friends as he once had were slipping away. Glory would last his time. It would continue with the semblance of the same magnificence for three quarters of a century to come. But there it would end, snuffed out at last by the impatient guillotine in the Place de la Révolution.
No one would have guessed, least of all Louis, that England, the traditional foe, was moving just as surely to an age that would be as glorious as his own. There was little to show it. For years Louis might almost have been said to hold England in the palm of his hand. Charles II of England owed much to France. It had given him asylum when his own country had driven him out. When at last he returned to his throne he was still glad to accept the uncertain bounty of Louis. For all his faults, Charles II remembered his friends. If in doing so he made his kingdom subservient to that of his