Mazarin: The Crisis of Absolutism in France
When Mazarin became First Minister of France in 1643 he inherited a costly war. Ruinously high taxation, arbitrary and oppressive measures of government and opposition at every level threatened the stability of the state. The king was five years old and a long minority was in prospect. It was a time of crisis. Eighteen years later Mazarin died in office, having survived the successive revolts and civil wars known as the Fronde. His reputation was at its peak, as was the prestige of France, his adopted country. Mazarin's character, however, has been so vilified during the previous, turbulent years that in the popular perception he was a charlatan, a mean-spirited but greedy trifler and an adventurer. Geoffrey Treasure argues that Mazarin was in fact a remarkable statesman, subtle, courageous and incredibly hard-working: a man who inspired devotion and respect among those closest to him, above all the king who would benefit by his tutelage in government.
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