The Fronde By: Emma Lynch, G1

The Fronde was a series of civil wars in France between 1648 and 1653. It involved the combination of princes, nobility, parlements (courts of appeal versus legislative bodies) , and most French people. These groups together opposed King Louis XIV. The long-term result of The Fronde was to strengthen Royal authority but to weaken the economy--it was the emergence of an absolute monarchy.

The Fronde was not a revolution, but merely a revolt because the ideals that were desired were only pertaining to political and social reform; excluding change in economics.

The Fronde did not start with revolutionary goals, nor did it result in a full revolution. It aimed to protect the fundamental freedoms of the people from Royal encroachment and to defend the established rights of the parlements.

Most Importantly, its goal was to fight for the right of the Parlement of Paris to limit the king's power by refusing to register decrees that ran against the peoples' customs. In other words, no laws could run against custom; tradition trumps all.

The Fronde was made up of two parts, a political part, "The Fronde Parlementaire," and a social part, "The Fronde des Nobles."


The first Fronde was sparked by a tax levied on judicial officers in May, 1648. Which provoked the Parlement of Paris to refuse to pay, and to present an emerging scheme of constitutional reforms.

By doing so, this set off the first phase, in which there were scarce military records of--The Fronde of Parlement. Before this event occurred, there was little to no constitutional limit of the monarchy decisions and laws. Therefore, the monarchy could do whatever they pleased at the disposal of the citizens within the country--and even better, they didn't have to offer an explanation of WHY they put certain laws/ordinances into place...what fun.

Parlement of Paris

Because of the Fronde, The Parlement sought to put a constitutional limit on the monarchy by establishing its power to discuss and modify royal decrees. They offered 27 articles for reform. For example: tax reductions, approval of all new taxes by the Parlement, and an end to biased, personal power to imprison others.

This is key in order to define the first part of The Fronde as a revolt, not a revolution because this shows only political change, from being an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy instead. Now, at this time, maybe people would consider this as the start of a revolution because they saw the early political change, but we [as outside forces] clearly can see that nothing will change economically, only politically and socially.


The second Fronde (The Fronde of the Princes--January 1650-September 1653) originated from shifts in some political views, a mix of intrigues, and rivalries. Some citizens wanted more land, and some wanted more political influence and power. The second Fronde actually turned out to be a complete free-for-all bloodbath. It was kind of like the French Hunger Games. Just kidding.

Originally, a famous military general, known as The Great Condé, tried to help the clergy side which included Cardinal Mazarin. But when he failed against the revolutionaries, Condé was disappointed that he was not able to claim some power and with that, he rebelled and was arrested.

Due to his arrest, his fellow friends gathered together bearing arms and decided to rebel, calling their little organization the Fronde of Princes. Or the first war of the princes. Before, society was mainly controlled by the monarchy, for the monarchy. There were no individual opinions or ideas that were publicly announced. But after the nobles' uprising, they called for more selfish, and personal desires. I.E. the want for more power and influence with their societal roles.

(Left) Cardinal Mazarin. (Right) The Great Condé

In total, both the Fronde of Parlement and the Fronde of Princes could not be classified as a revolution because of the lack of economic change. Politically, they pressed for change from an absolute monarchy to-at least-a constitutional monarchy (as stated previously). The second Fronde demonstrates social change in the fact that: it revealed the nobles' selfish interests which they acted upon violently. It was the last serious challenge to the supremacy of the monarchy in France until the Revolution of 1789.

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