Front Matter Gauls Defeat Romans Vercingetorix Saints of France Attila, Scourge of God Story of Clovis Sons of Clovis Mayors of the Palace Charles the Hammer Pepin the Short Charlemagne in Lombardy Defeat at Roncesvalles Emperor of the West Louis the Pious War of Three Brothers Louis the Stammerer Paris defies the Sea Kings Rollo the Viking Hugh Capet Becomes King Bishop Betrays the Duke Robert the Pious The Peace of God Harold Visits Duke William William Sails to England The Battle of Hastings Peter the Hermit First War of the Cross Louis the Fat and Laon King Fights his Vassal Second War of the Cross French Queen of England How Normandy Was Lost Albigenses War Battle of Bouvines Story of Hugh de La Marche Reign of St. Louis St. Louis's last Crusade Peter the Barber Knights vs. Weavers Pope vs. Philip the Fair Sons of Philip the Fair Philip VI vs. Flanders Battle and Plague King vs. Charles the Bad The Jacquerie Stephen Marcel Betrays Paris Charles V and du Guesclin Du Guesclin Fights for France The Madness of Charles VI The Battle of Agincourt The Maid of Orleans End of Hundred Years' War King vs. Charles the Bold Troubles of Duchess Mary Charles the Affable Knight Without Reproach Battle of the Spurs Francis I, Gentleman King King Taken Prisoner Duke of Guise Defends Metz Calais Returns to France The Riot of Amboise Huguenot and Catholic St. Bartholomew Massacre War of the Three Henries The Protestant King Edict of Nantes Reign of Favorites Taking of La Rochelle Power of the Cardinal-King Reign of Louis XIV The Man in the Iron Mask The Height of Power Edict of Nantes Revoked War of Spanish Succession

History of France - H. E. Marshall

How a Great Lady Besieged Orleans
Louis XIV (Queen Mother, Regent) [1643-1715]

A few weeks before Louis XIII died his little son, who was scarcely five years old, was baptized.

"Can you tell me your name now?" asked his father, the next day.

"I am called Louis XIV," said the little boy.

"Not yet, not yet, my son," murmured his father sadly, hurt by the answer.

But the little boy did not know what he said, and did not mean to hurt his father, for when some one asked him if he would like to be King he answered, "No."

"Not even if your father died?':

"If my father dies," said the little Dauphin, "I will throw myself into the grave too."

But now his father was dead, and little five-year-old Louis was King. Of course he could not rule, and so his mother, Queen Anne, became Regent.

To the surprise of every one she took for her chief adviser Cardinal Mazarin, an Italian, the friend and follower of the great Richelieu. The Queen herself was a Spaniard. Thus strange to say France was ruled by two foreigners, the one an Italian and the other a Spaniard.

Mazarin was very different from Richelieu. Instead of being proud and imperious he was humble and gentle. Richelieu went straight to his end, overturning and sweeping away whatever stood in his path. Mazarin went round about, and tried to gain his end by flattery and smooth words. He slid into power almost before people knew it. "He found himself at the head of all the world," said one who lived in those days, "when all the world thought he was beneath their feet."

When Louis XIII died France was still at war with Spain and with the Empire. But France had now two splendid generals. One was Conde, a descendant of that Conde of whom we have already heard. He was at this time only twenty-two. But he gained so many battles that he is known as the Great Conde. He was dashing and eager, loved danger, and fought his battles with careless courage.

The other was Turenne. He was ten years older, no less brilliant than Conde, but more calm, and more careful of his soldiers' lives. He did not love danger as Conde did. It is even said that before a battle he always felt nervous and trembled. Then he would speak to his body. "You tremble, carcase," he would say, "but if you knew where I am about to lead you, you would tremble still more." But indeed Turenne did his body an injustice. For when danger was there he neither trembled nor was afraid.

These two generals, sometimes together, sometimes apart, won so many victories that at length the German Emperor was glad to make peace. This peace was called the Peace of Westphalia because it was signed at Munster and Osnabruck, two towns in Westphalia. By it France gained the whole of Alsace except Strasburg, which remained a free town. The Protestant provinces of Germany also gained much freedom, and became almost independent of the Emperor. His power was thus so much lessened that he was no longer a great danger to France.

But hardly was the war with Germany at an end when civil war began in France. This was brought on by Mazarin's misrule.

The misery of the people had been great in the time of Richelieu, for they had to pay for all his wars. Their misery was greater still under Mazarin, for although Mazarin loved money he was not clever in managing it. He loved money and he stooped to the lowest means in order to win it for himself. But while he grew rich the people starved, and at last they burst into rebellion.

This civil war was called the Fronde. It was so called from the name of the slings with which the boys used to play in the streets of Paris, and which had been forbidden by the police. It was given the name almost in scorn, for although all the great people of the time joined in the strife it seemed as if no one knew very well what he was fighting for. They were all like children quarrelling for they knew not what, and they constantly changed sides, now fighting with, now against, each other.

Even the great ladies of the time took part. The King's cousin, the Duchess of Montpensier, a very splendid princess, led her own army and was surrounded by other ladies as her officers. She was so gay, and beautiful, and masterful that she was called La Grande Mademoiselle, or the Great Lady. And, it was said, that although she was more than ten years older than the King she meant to marry him and become Queen.

Meanwhile she fought against him. It is told how once she arrived at Orleans to find the gates shut against her. It was her father's own city, the place from which he took his title of Duke of Orleans, and the haughty lady was much enraged that she was not allowed to enter freely.

For three hours she marched up and down in front of the gates. From the walls the people shouted at her, "Hurrah for the King! None of your Mazarin!" The Governor was more polite. He sent her sweetmeats, but he would not open the gates.

At length the boatmen on the Loire offered to break open for the Princess a gate which led to the river. Greatly delighted, she told them to be quick, and meanwhile scrambled up a mound to look on and encourage them in their work. The mound was covered with briars and thorns and beset with hedges. But this great lady thought nothing of such difficulties. She jumped the hedges and scrambled through the thorns and briars till she reached the top.

The stalwart boatmen meanwhile hammered away at the stout planks of which the gate was made, and at length smashed a hole in it. But to reach the gate from the river was not easy. The men made a bridge of boats. In the second was placed a shaky old ladder with a broken rung. But nothing daunted, the Great Lady climbed up. At the top just outside the gate there was a great deal of mud. So one of the men lifted her up, carried her across the mud, and pushed her through the hole in the gate. She was quickly followed by her lady officers, breathless, excited, muddy.

As soon as the Great Lady's head appeared in the opening, drums began to beat and the French people cheered. They were delighted with the plucky, pretty lady who had thus stormed their town. Lifting her up they carried her shoulder high through the streets, while the people crow y ded round cheering, and kissing her hands. At length with great difficulty Mademoiselle persuaded them to set her down. "I assure you I can walk quite well," she said. Thus without firing a shot Orleans was taken.

But the war was not all bloodless. There was a good deal of fighting. Several times peace was made, and as many times the war burst forth again.

Mazarin was forced to flee, not only from Paris, but from France. The Queen and the little King also fled from Paris to the Palace of St. Germain. Here they had to suffer much from cold and even from hunger. They, who had been used to every luxury, and to be cared for and waited on at every turn, had now to suffer many hardships. Here there was no state and little comfort. They had not even beds, and were obliged to sleep on the floor on bundles of straw. They had no money with which to buy food for their servants, less still to pay their wages. So many of them had to be sent away. The Queen pawned even the crown jewels in order to buy food and clothes for herself and the little King.

But at length the Fronde, after lasting about four years, really came to an end. The Queen and the little King returned to Paris and to luxury. Mazarin, about whom all the disturbance had been, returned, too, more powerful than ever.

The Fronde was the last attempt of the people of France to lessen the power of the King. Charles the Fat had begun the work of making the King absolute, Louis XIV finished it. He was an absolute monarch. He did as he liked, and neither nobles, clergy, nor people could gainsay his word.

Meanwhile it was still Mazarin who ruled in the King's name. Now that the Fronde was over he turned his attention to the war with Spain, which was still going on.

During the Fronde the great Conde had fought first on one side and then on another. At length, thinking himself ill-used at home, he proved traitor to his country France and went over to Spain. Now he led a Spanish army against his own countrymen and his old comrades in arms. Turenne was sent to fight him.

Conde well knew what a splendid general he had to face. "Have you ever seen a battle?" he asked an English prince who was with the Spanish army.

"No," replied the prince.

"Then you are going to see how one is lost," said Conde. And in fact Conde did lose the battle and others after it. Still the war went on for several years. But the King of Spain at length asked for peace, and the Peace of the Pyrenees was signed.

By this France gained some more land, and a marriage was arranged between the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa and Louis XIV. Many of the Spaniards were not pleased with this marriage. For the King of Spain had only one son, and he was very sickly and not likely to live. The Spaniards were afraid that if he died Louis might claim the Spanish throne for his wife and thus unite Spain to France. They hated the thought of this. So they made him promise never to claim the Spanish throne.

This Louis promised. But Mazarin arranged that if the Spaniards failed to pay Maria Theresa's wedding dowry this promise was to be of no avail. Now Mazarin knew very well that the King of Spain had no money, for he had used it all in his many wars. It was very likely then that the wedding dowry would never be paid, and Louis would thus be freed from his promise.

France was now at peace. The great Conde came back as if he had never been away. The King received him and talked kindly to him as if he had never done anything against his country. And when next there was fighting Conde and Turenne fought side by side and not against each other.

Mazarin was now at the height of his glory, having triumphed over all enemies both at home and abroad. He did not live long, however, to enjoy his triumph, but died less than a year after the King's marriage to the Spanish Princess.