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The secret of the career of Cardinal Mazarin: How to get help from Richelieu himself and who are the wonderful "mazarinets"
The secret of the career of Cardinal Mazarin: How to get help from Richelieu himself and who are the wonderful "mazarinets"

Mazarin, whatever the fiction writers have written about him, seems to be a pretty handsome person. Ambitious, dexterous, cautious and calculating, he still does not give the impression of a person who puts political intrigue above all else. The same image, apparently, took shape among the contemporaries of the Italian cardinal. Love and hate, as those close to the court wrote, in Mazarin there was exactly as much as was necessary to achieve the goal. However, for “his own”, this ambitious person was no less useful, and also pleasant in communication, and therefore the queen, and the sisters and nieces, and the king's pupil paid the cardinal with their loyalty.

Intelligence, charm, diplomacy and a little luck: the secret of Mazarin's career

He was born on July 14, 1602 in the city of Peschina, the Italian region of Abruzzo, 120 kilometers from Rome. Giulio Mazarin's father was a small landowner, but it was rumored that the child was born from his mother's connection with Philippe Colonna, a member of a much more powerful family that Mazarin Sr. served. This, perhaps, explains the fact that the formation of Giulio was taken under the patronage of the Colonna family. Perhaps, however, the natural ability of the young Mazarin to charm the interlocutor and direct his actions in a direction favorable to himself played a role here.

D. Dumontier. Mazarin, papal envoy in Paris (engraving)

After studying at a Jesuit college, he was sent to the University of Madrid, where he studied law. But he did not study there for long, because he fell under the influence of a dubious company, and the alarmed father returned Giulio home. Further education Mazarin received in Rome. A cute and elegant young man, also distinguished by intelligence and eloquence, began to move up the career ladder, becoming in 1628 the secretary of the papal nuncio in Milan, looking for compromises between the interests of the conflicting parties and the leading military operations of the powers. At the beginning of 1630, Mazarin first met Cardinal Richelieu. And in October, it was the Italian who brought the message of peace and the signing of an agreement between the French and Spanish sides to the battlefield near the town of Casale.

Mazarin's appearance on the battlefield with a peace document was very impressive

Mazarin's further career is already completely connected with France - in 1634 he served as a papal legate in Paris, at the same time directing his already considerable fortune to arrange the future of his two sisters. Each was given a large dowry, and each in marriage gave birth to Mazarin's nephews and nieces, who in the future will become one of the tools in his plan to conquer power.

Mazarin - head of the French kingdom

F. de Champagne. Louis XIII

During his path to the sole rule of the French kingdom, Mazarin changed several positions, all of them were associated with diplomacy and the constant receipt of information that would play into the hands of the actual head of state - Cardinal Richelieu. It was through his patronage that Mazarin himself received the title of cardinal in 1641. The Italian became one of the most valuable employees of Richelieu, and before his death he expressed his will to King Louis XIII - to include Mazarin into the Royal Council.

F. de Champagne. Cardinal de Richelieu

Richelieu died in 1642, and six months later the king was gone, and his young son Louis XIV was in power, and in fact - the regency council headed by the queen mother, Anne of Austria. Mazarin received the post of first minister of France. Aware of the hatred that Anna felt for Richelieu for many years, the courtiers expected disgrace in relation to his most loyal henchman, but this did not happen. Being only a year older than Mazarin, having retained her beauty by that time, she, apparently, immediately felt an attraction to the Italian - one way or another, rumors spread around Paris about the relationship between the queen and the cardinal. After many years of unsuccessful marriage, Anna was rewarded with a relationship in which she felt loved and respected, and it cannot be said that there was only one calculation on the part of Mazarin - apparently, he was honest with the queen regarding his political ambitions and met with her sides understanding and support.

Anna of Austria not only ensured Mazarin the position of first minister, but also actually transferred power over the country to him

For the next few years, Mazarin became virtually the sole ruler of France. His policy was distinguished by a balanced and consistent approach to solving state problems, thanks to his ability to communicate, he enlisted the support of many significant figures in the highest spheres of power, was distinguished by great religious tolerance - during his reign in France not a single sorcerer or heretic was convicted, he was not persecuted for his religious beliefs of the Huguenots. Mazarin continued the policy of increasing taxes, and immediately after receiving the powers of the "right hand" of the queen-regent, he freed from exile and imprisonment those who were sent there under Richelieu. Both of these factors played an important role in the outbreak of the troubles of 1648-1653 - the Fronde, when political opponents, merchants, artisans, and peasants took up arms against the Italian and his monopoly on power. Folk art then gave rise to "mazarinads", satirical and often obscene epigrams to the queen's lover.

P. Mignard. Portrait of Giulio Mazarin

The Duke de Beaufort, Prince of Condé, Duke Gaston of Orleans managed to achieve the expulsion of Mazarin to Cologne, but from there he continued to influence political reality through the Anne of Austria. Thanks to cunning and calculation, he was able to sow discord between the guiding figures of the Fronde, and their positions were significantly weakened, in contrast to the strength of Mazarin, who still ruled the country through Anna and the king. After Louis XIV came of age, in 1653, the Italian returned to Paris in triumph.

S. Lebrun. Louis XIV

Political intrigue and concern for the interests of the family

A very important political achievement of Mazarin was the establishment of order in foreign policy, which became possible primarily thanks to the "mazarinets" - the cardinal's nieces discharged from Italy, who helped his uncle to secure agreements with mutually beneficial marriages. The girls, of whom there were seven, were very pretty, grew up and were brought up together with the young king with the participation and care of Anne of Austria, therefore, it is no wonder that they were very close to the royal family. Several of Mazarin's nieces in different years were in love with Louis. He had especially tender feelings for Maria Mancini, who had a great influence on him and whom he dreamed of marrying. But Mazarin and the queen were adamant - marriage was to become an important tool in foreign policy, and therefore Maria Theresa of Spain was destined for Louis's wife.

S. Lebrun. Wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa, Mazarin on the right

However, Maria, like her other sisters and cousins, was also favorably married by the cardinal - to the constable of Naples, Prince Lorenzo Colonna. Maria Mancini lived a long life and died in the same year with her first lover, the French king Louis XIV. To his other niece, Hortense, Mazarin inherited the title - the cardinal had no children of his own.

Hortense and Maria Mancini

As for the Italian himself, there is no consensus regarding his marital status.According to the testimony of many contemporaries who left their memoirs, he and Anna of Austria entered into a legal marriage at the very beginning of their relationship - which remained secret. If the love affair of the queen and the cardinal was taken for granted by the people, due to the norms of that time, then Mazarin, as the official spouse of the French queen, would not have been tolerated.

R. Nantale. Mazarin in the gallery of his palace

Meanwhile, in many letters and memoirs, information was provided confirming the version that the relationship between Anna and the cardinal was legal, and not sinful. In addition, Mazarin was a "lay cardinal", he did not accept the ordination of a priest before taking office, and therefore he had a formal opportunity to marry. By the end of his life, the Italian had serious ambitions regarding the place of the Pope, but these plans were no longer fulfilled. destined. Mazarin died in 1661 from a long illness that made it impossible for him to move independently, but did not affect his brilliant intellect. In turn, dying, he recommended Louis XIV, the future Sun King, who during Mazarin's life remained in fact a pawn, a successor to his place - Colbert.

Mazarin Library in Paris

Giulio Mazarin left behind a large collection of books that formed the basis of the oldest public library in France. He built his collection from scratch, after all his books were lost during the Fronde. Anne of Austria died five years after the death of Mazarin, and the era of the brilliant reign of Louis XIV began.

Why Versailles was built and which palace inspired the king to build a new residence, here.

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