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Cardinal Mazarin
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Cardinal Mazarin

Jules Mazarin, born Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino; but best known as Cardinal Mazarin (July 14 1602March 9 1661) served as the chief minister of France; from 1642, until his death. Mazarin succeeded Cardinal Richelieu.

As Louis XIII died in 1643, and Louis XIV was only a child — Mazarin functioned essentially as the ruler of France. Although the 5-year-old Louis XIV became king in 1643 (under the regency of queen mother Anne of Austria), Mazarin acted as the ruler of France until his death, in 1661.

Controversy over the Cardinal's policies, and the weakness of the regency, resulted in two civil wars, known as la Fronde (1648-52). Partly, the criticism of Mazarin centred on his nationality — Mazarin was Italian by birth. In addition, he provoked criticism due to the increasing centralization of France (a process begun under Richelieu); as well as to rising taxes, such as the Taille.

Family connections

Cardinal Mazarin's wealth and his niece's beauty, made for notable family connections, marital and extramarital:

His niece Olympe Mancini, Countess of Soissons, was the mother of the famous Prince Eugene.