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Patronages et clientélismes 1550-1750 (France, Angleterre, Espagne, Italie)

 | 
Roger Mettam
, 
Charles Giry-Deloison

III. Église et armée

Power and Patronage in the French Army, 1620-1659

David Parrott

Texte intégral

  • 1 André CORVISIER, "Clientèles et fidélités dans l'armée française aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles", in (...)
  • 2 Sharon KETTERING, Patrons, Brokers and Clients in Seventeenth-Century France, Oxford, Oxford Unive (...)

1Little is now left of that traditional interpretation of the ministries of Richelieu and Mazarin which treated them as a bid to centralize and rationalize government, and to destroy or severely restrict the power of traditional institutions which obstructed this process. Even moderate claims for the development of administrative and centralizing power have been overshadowed by the awareness that the persistence of Systems of patronage is vital in explaining the operation of government in seventeenth-century France. Recent studies of provinces and institutions have greatly increased understanding of the ways in which clienteles were assembled, the way in which the influence of provincial supporters was used to advance the policies of central government, and the complex balance of expectations, service and reward at the heart of structures of patronage1 Moreover, historians concerned with patronage point out that in many areas of State policy the creation of a distinction between control through commissioners such as intendants and other "new" developments, and a reliance upon clienteles is artificial; Richelieu and Mazarin would not have regarded these two conceptions of government as incompatible. Commissions were accorded to individuals who were already clients of the ministers, while clientelism facilitated the operations and development of the bureaucratic superstructure by ensuring a nucleus of support within existing institutions2.

2All of this come as a fortunate resolution to a historical problem. It reconciles two apparently incompatible notions of how government operated in seventeenth-century France-informal management can be linked to formal, if gradual, political change. It would seem obvious to apply such a model to the administration and organization of the army under Richelieu and Mazarin, and it seems rather surprising to discover that this has not been done.

  • 3 Louis ANDRÉ, Michel le Tellier et l'organisation de l'armée monarchique, Paris, F. Alcan, 1906.
  • 4 Edict of Abolition: ISAMBERT, Recueil des anciennes lois françaises, 28 vols., Paris, 1821-1833, V (...)
  • 5 The amirauté passed into the hands of the duc de Vendôme in 1649, but had in fact already been ree (...)

3The last substantial work to consider the French army in the period before 1660 was Louis André's 1906 study of Michel Le Tellier3. His work was an exhaustive restatement of the traditional views held by nineteenth-century historians: the period was one of legislative and administrative reform, which turned the army into an instrument of State power. It is easy to undermine such traditional interpretations in the light of subsequent studies of the role of patronage and informal structures of control. It can be pointed out that the reason why the office of the connétable was abolished in 1627 was not, as the Edict of Abolition predictably States, "because the absolute authority that it gives to the holder has lately become very harmful to the King's interest". The problem was clearly related to patronage; in order to absorb the amirauté du Ponant into his new office of grand maître, chef et surintendant de la navigation, Richelieu had given Montmorency grounds to believe that, if he abandoned the amirauté, this would be compensated with the office of connétable on the death of the duc de Lesdiguières. Once having absorbed the admiralty, Richelieu proved unwilling to grant a powerful and influential office such as the connétable to a Grand already possessing considerable provincial power and a far from unconditional supporter of Richelieu's policies and family politique4. Moreover the celebrated abolition of the various offices of amiral, consistently cited as one of the critical steps towards a more accountable military organization, had already been rescinded by the end of the 1640s, and the office had been placed in the hands of one of Richelieu's earlier enemies and victims, the duc de Vendôme5.

  • 6 Louis ANDRÉ, op. cit., stands at the end of a long tradition of attributing practical change to th (...)

4Similarly, it could be shown that much of the argument for state-directed reform within the army rests upon the examination of legislation without any serious consideration of how that legislation would be enforced in practice. Merely citing the detail of oft-repeated ordinances and then invoking an abstraction such as the State, or state service, to explain how the army was subjected to ministerial control, simply evades the problem that needs to be resolved6.

5There would seem to be a clear case that the army ought to be examined in the light of patronage networks on the pattern that has been attempted for other institutions and aspects of French government. By showing how Richelieu and Mazarin built up networks of supporters within the army, it should be possible to provide a more convincing explanation for the way in which the State ultimately Consolidated its control over the military. However, I should like to suggest that this model of control, initially achieved through the creation and deployment of ministerial clienteles, does not transfer well when applied to the army. That these clienteles were created is undeniable; indeed, domination of appointment to officerships was the primary means by which Richelieu and Mazarin sought to control the military establishment in France. However this development has to be placed in a context which severely modifies the conclusions that can be drawn from it, and sets the army apart, to a significant extent, from developments in the rest of the state.

6The clientele-building of the cardinals within the army encountered two major obstacles. The first of these was the existing position of the Grands, a relatively small group of immensely powerful nobles, who might possess duchés-pairies, or have claims to princely status on the basis of sovereign territories within France or kinship with foreign sovereign houses. Below this level of what contemporaries would define as the Grands, was a larger group of provincial nobles whose landholdings and provincial influence remained considerable. The power and patronage of both these groups was built into the military structure far more tenaciously and pervasively than in any comparable civil institution. The second obstacle was what might be termed "the problem of the army" from 1635; essentially this was the unprecedented expansion in the size of the forces maintained by France and the immensely long period over which warfare had to be sustained. These two obstacles came together to impose severe limits upon what could be achieved through the creation of ministerial clienteles within the armies.

7As a result the army of the first half of the seventeenth century remained the greatest buttress of the power and position of the traditional great nobility. Moreover the basis on which the cardinals created groups of fidèles within the army weakens the central assumption of the argument that is applied by historians looking at other institutions in the state. Far from preparing the ground for a more formalized System of "bureaucratic" control, the reliance on clienteles positively discouraged steps that might have led towards an army subject to greater direct control. Where "bureaucratic" initiatives were undertaken, they were all too frequently subordinate to, or undermined by, the dominant concern with the maintenance of clienteles.

  • 7 Edicts of Abolition in 1643, 1661: BN Coll. Châtre de Cangé, 25, f° 239, April 1643; Compilation c (...)

8There was nothing innovatory about the use of clientelism as a means to exercise influence and control over the army. The Grands had adjusted quickly and effectively from the maintenance of individual private forces to ensuring that they had a nucleus of loyal supporters within the army maintained by the crown. The comprehensiveness of this transition can be seen, albeit at its most extreme, in the career of Jean-Louis Nogaret de La Valette, the first duc d'Épernon. At the height of his favour with Henri III, Épernon committed himself strongly to the achievement of a role within, rather than independently of, the structure of royal authority; he accumulated a series of positions in the royal household, in the armed forces and in provincial governorships, which he proved willing to exchange or renegotiate as more important charges came his way. The corner-stone of his power within the army was the office of colonel général de l'infanterie française, granted to Epernon in 1584, and elevated to the status of Office de la Couronne. The authority of the colonel général has been exaggerated, not least by reference to those edicts which sought to justify its abolition in 1643 and again in 1661. From 1588, Epernon ceased to have the right to appoint to all offices in the infantry; his authority was limited to certain categories of officers, and was specified as a right of nomination-candidates presented by the colonel général were subject to the consent of the king before appointment. Yet these reservations aside, it remained the case that in the 1630s, Epernon still enjoyed powers of nomination to office which gave him a formidable clientele within the army. Moreover, through his agents, the prevôts des bandes, he possessed a generalized judicial authority over the whole infantry. He was still in a position to strike bargains with, and "to oblige", almost every regimental commander and senior officer in the army7.

  • 8 Guillaume GIRARD, op. cit., gives a number of examples of Epernon's ability to raise troops at his (...)

9Épernon also acted from 1622 to turn Guienne, his governorship, into a Personal power base; the province produced a disproportionately high number of officers and Ncos, while the provincial nobility was prepared to turn out in response to Epernon's requests for military support. On the opposite border of France, the family clung tenaciously to their governorship of Metz. The garrison was entirely Epernon's appointees, and the duke was prepared to raise large forces at his own expense to counter threats to the stronghold-whether from abroad or within France8.

10It might be objected that Epernon's military power and patronage went far beyond that of a "typical" Grand. Certainly the office of colonel général allowed him to create and to maintain a clientele within the army which was particularly stable and pervasive. Ultimately, though, it was not office but provincial influence and a willingness to commit personal funds and credit that lay at the heart of the aristocracy's military role. While Epernon was himself very wealthy and possessed an extended territorial power-base, he was far from unique. A substantial number of nobles with extended territorial bases were equally capable of assembling forces from their estates, levying regiments on their own credit and officering them with lesser noble clients.

  • 9 Roger de BUSSY-RABUTIN, Mémoires, Paris, 1721, 3 vols., vol. I, p. 96; Jacques de Chastenet de PUY (...)

11Richelieu's concern to subject the army to more effective ministerial authority through the use of patronage in appointments, and the attempt to choose senior officers from amongst supporters of his family and State policies, inevitably brought him into competition with these existing structures of patronage controlled by the Grands. As elsewhere in the state, the manipulative skill of both Richelieu and then Mazarin, and the extent to which the were able to monopolize access to the crown, permitted them to create substantial officer-clienteles within the army. Discontented individuals in the 1630s spoke of the king "counting for nothing" in appointment to office. Everything depended on the will of Richelieu or one of his ministerial team9. Such contemporary comments should be handled with caution: Louis XIII was far too interested in the practical detail of warfare to renounce a Personal role in military appointments. Moreover the patronage of the great nobility did not simply fade away, and it would be a mistake to assume that Richelieu was doing anything fundamentally new or that he could entirely eliminate the competition of other potential patrons. Indeed, the cardinal, with his own military office of surintendant de la navigation, his territorial base in Poitou and Brittany, his personal regiments and cavalry companies, should be seen as simply the greatest of a number of great military patrons.

12Moreover, it is not sufficient to suggest that we are simply discussing the development of a new clientele-structure which was expanding and competing with a mass of other existing Systems. It is also necessary to place the efforts of the cardinals in the context of fundamental change in the nature of the army as it expanded from the 1630s.

  • 10 Projet to price the levy of 125,000 troops in the course of the 1635 campaign: AAE, Mémoires et do (...)

13The Habsburg victory at Nördlingen in September 1634 created a series of political shifts which ultimately brought France to her declaration of open war against Spain in May 1635. Initial reports of the battle created consternation, but a clear revival of French confidence is evident from early 1635. The scale of preparations for open war was very substantial - far greater than would have been required for purely defensive campaigns. In the wake of a Franco-Dutch victory at Aveins, three days after the declaration of war, Richelieu expressed his belief that Madrid could not long delay unconditional negotiations10.

14Yet within months this optimism was shattered, and the vision of war as a stabilizing force which would ensure domestic acquiescence in victorious ministerial policies lay in ruins. Even traditional accounts of the Franco-Spanish war have not minimized the extent of the initial French setbacks, above all the disasters of 1636, the "Year of Corbie". Yet in the light of the superiority of French resources, of the continued effectiveness of her allies, and above all, of the confidence with which she entered the war after the successes of the preceding years, the absence of any real and lasting tournant militaire is apparent. It was not that France was threatened with outright defeat, for the resources of the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs were far too overstretched and weakened to achieve this. On the other hand, she had become involved in an immensely long and costly conflict, from which it seemed increasingly unlikely that a satisfactory peace settlement would be obtained.

15The shattering of ministerial aspirations at the outset of the war with the Habsburgs is crucial to subsequent government policies. For failure to achieve a decisive breakthrough abroad kept the ministry vulnerable and isolated at home, and ensured that significant parts of the political classes remained hostile and unreconciled to Richelieu's government. Most importantly, it had a decisive effect upon ministerial policy aimed at the control or reform of the army.

  • 11 For a discussion of real military strengths, based on the surviving records of revues carried out (...)
  • 12 Richard BONNEY, The King's Debts, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1981, pp. 164-198; Françoise BA (...)

16The real size of the French armies of the 1630s and 1640s has been consistently exaggerated through a willingness to take estimates for total annual recruitment and budgeting as if this corresponded to the real number of soldiers under arms at any one time. The actual size of the army being maintained after 1635 fluctuated wildly, but would average at around 70-80,000 troops in each campaign, spread amongst some six or seven campaign theatres and a number of garrisons11. While this is around half the size of the army frequently attributed to Richelieu and Mazarin, even this reduced force was in practice beyond the financial capacities of the French state. The problem was not one of theoretical financial resources, but of the financial System. Locked into an ever-steepening spiral of borrowing and debt-servicing, the actual resources that the crown could devote to its military needs represented a decreasing proportion of its apparent revenues12. The State could pay only a proportion of the costs of feeding, equipping and providing wages for its troops; in some years of particular crisis, this proportion was very small indeed. While in previous conflicts, expenditure had certainly exceeded revenues, the critical problem after 1635 was duration: the short-term expedients, which had helped the State to meet its military costs in the past, merely aggravated the longer-term problem of funding a twenty-five-year war.

  • 13 Fritz REDLICH, The German military enterpriser and his work force, a study in European economic an (...)

17But the inflation of army size and the problems of supplying and paying these forces were common to all armies of the period. France was by no means unique, and her Habsburg enemies were not models of efficiency in the financing of their armies. Yet in crucial respects the means employed by the ministers to raise and to control the army placed it at a disadvantage in comparison with the forces of other European States. This military disadvantage in turn rendered any change in military organization more unattainable. For elsewhere in Europe these problems were faced by an unprecedented resort to sophisticated Systems of military enterprise13. The governments made use of the credit of entrepreneur-colonels, accorded them a high degree of autonomy in the raising and maintenance of their units, and conceded that the units were therefore, at least in part, the property of the commanding officer. By accepting entrepreneurship and the military levy of taxes to meet the financial commitments of the unit commanders, Austria, Sweden, Spain and the larger German States could keep armies in being that far exceeded their available State revenues and resources.

18However the French crown was not prepared to take this typical step of sanctioning overt military entrepreneurship amongst its own subjects: the experiences of civil war up to 1629 left it reluctant to encourage private military activity by its own subjects. For similar reasons it would not establish an explicit System of venality for the allocation of officerships. The façade of a System that appointed officers as salaried employees of the crown on the basis of their "preeminent" merit was to be maintained.

  • 14 James B. WOOD, The Noblesse of the Election of Bayeux, 1463-1666, Princeton, Princeton University (...)

19In practice, appointment was governed by patronage, whether emanating from the minister himself, his government colleagues, or from influential Grands. But while expressed fidelité would be one crucial criterion in the ministers' willingness to grant military office to petitioners, this was not the only factor taken into account. Military service remained crucial to the self-and corporate perception of the established or aspiring noble. Association with the noblesse d'épée was still a potent social Symbol, theoretically linking the princes of the royal blood down to the most modest provincial noble of established lineage through their shared membership of a warrior culture. Military service proved a means to validate this membership or, in the case of those with wealth but without established lineage, to associate themselves with the traditional values of a noble caste. There was, throughout the seventeenth century, a continuous demand for officerships - not necessarily viewed as a permanent career, but as a means to validate or claim "true" noble status14.

  • 15 Contrast the formal and unspecific commissions given to prospective French officers for the recrui (...)

20Faced with substantial competition for available posts, the ministers tended to apply a second criterion in their appointment of officers to newly created units - a willingness on the part of the prospective officer to accept part or all of the costs of recruiting the unit and its subsequent maintenance. An officer offered not merely his fidelité to the ministry, but in many cases his financial credit for the initial levy and the subsequent maintenance of the unit. But unlike his entrepreneurial counterpart elsewhere in Europe, the officer received no reciprocal rights in return for his initial, or subsequent, payments. He was not recognized as the proprietor of the unit, he had no right to nominate a successor, nor to claim compensation for his outlay in the event that the unit was disbanded15.

21With the exception of less than a dozen prestigious entretenue (permanently maintained) infantry regiments and some thirty cavalry companies, the ministry accepted an immense wastage amongst newly created units, many of which survived only one campaign before being subjected to réformation, or disbandment, on the grounds that the numbers of operational soldiers had fallen below a reasonable level. As the ordinary unit commander would receive no compensation in this eventuality and would simply lose his command, it was in his interests to keep the unit at an "effective" strength. The chief threat he faced was from shortages of basic supplies and wages, resulting from inadequate central funding, which would push the existing levels of desertion amongst the ordinary soldiers up to epidemic levels. As a result there was constant pressure on the commander of a unit, and quite possibly on the subordinate officers if they wished to remain in service, to use their own credit to make good these financial shortfalls from the centre.

  • 16 Louis ANDRÉ, op. cit., pp.234-267.

22The ministry was attempting to solve two problems at once: to establish a clientele within the officer-corps who owed their positions to ministerial support. But at the same time to find means of exploiting the funds of these officers to fill some of the gap between the costs of the army and the financial support that the crown could make available. As the army expanded beyond the financial resources of the crown, these two objectives came into conflict with each other. Neither the prospect of enhanced social prestige, nor a sense of obligation to the ministerial patron, could reconcile the holders of officerships to large-scale financial exploitation. One direct consequence was an unparalleled level of officer absenteeism. When the officers were present with the units, their concern, quite justifiably perhaps, was to recoup their enforced financial contributions through a wide variety of corrupt practices surrounding the claimed strength of their units16.

23The worst effects of absenteeism, corruption and indiscipline might have been restrained by an independent and effective administration operating within the army. Had a centrally-dependent structure of supervisory administrators been created, then established patronage relationships could have been made to function more in favour of the ministry. But the ministry had inherited a military administration of alarming complexity, ineffectiveness and corruption which was almost entirely based upon venal office, but which could not be overridden without further weakening control over the running of the army. The risk of an alliance of the disaffected, linking officers and military administrators, was for too serious for Richelieu to launch a direct bid for greater direct authority over the army.

  • 17 Richard BONNEY, Political Change in France under Richelieu and Mazarin, 1624-1661, Oxford, Oxford (...)

24In consequence, although the intendant d'armée was to emerge as the key administrator operating under commission within the army corps, this office remained far more circumscribed in practice than its provincial counterpart. Moreover one of the most obvious patronage relationships in the army is that between commander and intendant: large numbers of intendants d'armée served as, or became, the fidèles or clients of their commanders: Machault and Condé; Choisy and Gaston d'Orléans; Balthazar and Schomberg; Verthamont and Épernon. Numerous intendants had been granted their commissions at the request of their commander-patrons, not as a ministerial means to shadow or restrain the commanders17.

  • 18 For example, Pierre GRILLON, Les papiers de Richelieu, Paris, Padone, 1975-, 6 vols, Vol. III, pp. (...)

25The key to the success or failure of military operations in this situation lay with informal mechanisms of support and control. Above all, it lay with the high command. Had the scale of the war-effort been more restricted, then it would have been possible for the cardinal ministers to take command in person and alleviate some of the worst problems. The 1627-1628 siege of La Rochelle was generally regarded as the most successful military operation of the period, a success that was substantially due to Richelieu's personal efforts: his consistent direction, his deployment of private credit to meet immediate shortages of funds or supplies, and his ability to mobilize clients and supporters within and outside of the army to meet particular contingencies18. From 1635, however, France was fighting her war on at least six different fronts, sometimes more, and it was increasingly impractical for the ministers to leave Paris to take control of one particular army.

  • 19 Denis Louis Martial AVENEL, ed, Lettres, instructions diplomatiques et papiers d'État du Cardinal (...)

26So in most cases, the ministry needed the support and the active cooperation of the aristocratic high command. At the most basic level, this involved expectations that they too would be prepared to advance their personal wealth and credit - albeit on a much larger scale than the ordinary officers - to keep the armies in being. Willingness to do this became a reason in itself for military appointment; Henri II de Condé had a notoriously undistinghished career in comparison with his talented son, the Grand Condé. His employment by Richelieu partly reflected his high status: he was the only prince of the blood on whose cooperation Richelieu could rely. Equally importantly, Condé was openly discussed by the ministers as someone prepared to subsidize campaigns heavily from his own resources, a critical factor in determining his regular appointment19.

  • 20 AAE, Mémoires et Documents. Fonds France 823, f° 58, 31 August 1636.
  • 21 Nicholas FESSENDEN, op. cit., pp. 262-263; Robert HARDING, Anatomy of a Power Elite. The Provincia (...)

27Not all of the commanders were so prepared to accept an open-ended financial commitment. Richelieu's relative, the maréchal de Brézé, wrote numbers of frustrated letters about the costs connected with his service, and went so far as to resign his governorship of Calais in 1636, claiming that he could no longer sustain the expenses of the garrison20 Yet those aristocrats whose political loyalty was under suspicion or who were anxious to bind themselves more closely to the ministry, were frequently prepared to make heavy financial commitments on behalf of their forces. Precise quantification of this financial commitment would vary considerably from one individual or family to another: to take the case of the duc d'Épernon, he maintained two infantry regiments up to, and probably beyond, his disgrace in 1638-1639. He also kept at least two cavalry companies in his name-though these would customarily be paid for out of his gratuities as governor of Guienne21. His wider financial commitment to campaigns in which he was involved, from the devastation of the countryside around Montauban in 1625 through to the preparations for the invasion of Spain in 1638, is consistent and substantial. Troops were regularly raised at his own expense and supplies obtained on his credit. In both 1637 and 1638, Richelieu and his ministers clearly intended that the campaign in Guienne should be waged with local troops and at the expense of the province. Epernon was authorized to collect local taxes for this purpose, though these were to be levied in addition to the taxes already due from the province. Caught between the central government's desire to evade financial responsibility for the campaign and the inevitable resistance of the local population to additional taxation, it would have been impossible to have made any progress without Epernon's willingness to commit his own funds.

  • 22 Kirsten NEUSCHEL, Word of Honor: Interpreting noble culture in sixteenth-century France, Ithaca, C (...)

28As important as financial support in filling the vacuum left by the inadequacy of central direction, was the status and authority of the commanders as traditional patrons. Paradoxically, the ministers needed these rival networks of loyalty as a crucial part of the glue that held the army together. Those lesser officers appointed to the regiments and companies of the aristocratic commanders were occasionally sheltered from some of the direct financial costs of keeping their soldiers fed, equipped and paid a basic subsistence. Moreover, the officer-corps was made up of a nobility for whom notions of acting, and being seen to act, honourably, were crucial to self-perception and their standing with those of similar rank. Such honour could be demonstrated by active allegiance to a more honourable, that is to say higher-ranking, noble. While loyalty to the crown certainly existed, it had an abstract quality compared to the direct commitment that could be shown to a great aristocrat who was physically present with the army in which the lesser noble was serving. Assisting the commander in the achievement of his military goals, partly by courage and self-sacrifice, but also by the maintenance of discipline and military effectiveness in the individual units, could be seen an active assertion of his honour. This moral aspect of clientelism should not be overlooked in the battle to overcome the disaffection and independence of the lesser officers22. If the king or chief minister had been present with the army, then this aspect of allegiance would have worked in their favour. In their absence, it would have been short-sighted, even if it had been possible, to try to break the ties of fidelité and honour which bound clienteles of junior officers to their commanders. Appeals to honour made by the commanders to their officers were a significant means by which campaigns were kept going in the face of setbacks, shortages and, all too often, the sense of abandonment by the ministry.

  • 23 For example, AAE, Correspondance politique. Savoie, 31, f° 100, Harcourt to de Noyers, 23 Septembe (...)

29While the cardinals and their ministers may have allocated significant numbers of officerships in the first instance, almost all promotions in the field stemmed from the commanders. In the wake of any minor advantage achieved against the enemy, the crown and the ministry were deluged with requests by the commander for promotions - either to fill places vacated by death or wounding, or to give consideration to those whose service had been meritorious. Such requests could be rejected or held up, but they were put forward in the first place by the commander, who represented the means by which officers might hope to get themselves promoted, or transferred to a more prestigious unit23.

  • 24 See, for example, the instructions that Surintendant Bullion sent to Michel le Tellier accompanyin (...)

30Richelieu and Mazarin proved reluctant to impose any thoroughgoing administrative supervision over the army through civilian agents. While the commanding officers played something of an intermediary role between officers and ministers, their sympathies, ultimately, lay almost always with their officers. It was far from the case in practice that any civilian official acting on behalf of the central government with an army corps could expect unconditional support from the commanders in enforcing unpopular policies on the army. Where co-operation between senior officers and civil agents was good, it usually reflected the position of the senior administrator, often the intendant, as the selected client of the commander. The commander acted in practice as a further line of defence against whatever aspirations the central government might have had to subject the army to a greater degree of control24.

  • 25 Victor BELHOMME, Histoire de l'infanterie en France, Paris, H. Charles-Lavauzelle, 1893-1902, 5 vo (...)
  • 26 Henri de CAMPION, Mémoires, ed Marc Fumaroli, Paris, Mercure de France, 1990; MICHAUD et POUJOULAT (...)

31But to a greater extent than with the provincial governors, who shared a somewhat analogous position, there was the obvious danger that reliance upon the patronage networks of the commanders to keep the army corps effective gave these commanders the potential to draw their clients, and possibly the entire army, into opposition to the ministers and their policies. In 1619, acting on behalf of the Queen Mother, Épernon had used his position as colonel général to draw large numbers of officers from the vieux regiments into revolt25. A more informal risk that officers in the army would be loyal to the commander, not the crown, was present throughout the period. Those conspiracies against Richelieu which resulted in a military challenge to his authority were all able to draw upon numbers of officers whose loyalty was to their commander and patron. The memoirs of a Campion or a Montrésor show clearly how strongly imbued was the ethos of Personal loyalty to an aristocratic patron, even when his policies were felt to be wholly misguided26.

  • 27 Jean BÉRENGER, Turenne, Paris, Fayard, 1987, pp. 163-166, 177-179.

32In exceptional cases, the threat could extend to the entire army; in the chaotic circumstances of 1649, it was a cause of real concern to Mazarin that Turenne would pull his army back from the frontier and use it on behalf of the Frondeurs. This was a repetition of an earlier period of uncertainty in 1641 about how Turenne would commit his army during the revolt of the prince de Soissons and Turenne's brother, the duc de Bouillon27.

33The concern to neutralize such threats led to a variety of damaging expedients. Attempts were made to ensure that a trusted commander or a relative of the ministers was placed alongside another whose loyalty or commitment was suspect. Command would either be divided on an ad hoc basis, leading inevitably to disagreements and confrontations, or would be exercised by the two or more generals in turn, frequently on alternate days. Some talented figures - Toiras, the comte de Soissons, the duc de Rohan, Épernon's eldest son, the duc de Candale, were conspicuously excluded from major commands. Others, no more incompetent than some of their "loyalist" contemporaries, were squeezed out of power, or disgraced on dubious charges of disloyalty: notoriously the maréchal de Marillac, Bernard de La Valette, the maréchal de La Mothe-Houdancourt. A negative aspect of the desire of Richelieu and Mazarin to draw great military aristocrats into their families through marriage may well have been the hope that this would serve to neutralize the military threat that they could pose.

34However at the bottom line was the dependence of the ministry upon its commanders and their position as patrons, figures of authority and sources of financial support. This gave the aristocracy itself a powerful bargaining counter in its dealings with the ministers, above all, in permitting them to weather the short-term vicissitudes of factional politics. While military commitments would not provide unconditional protection to a family involved in opposition to ministerial rule, it could provide a vital base from which the family could defend its interests in the long term.

35The overall consequence of Richelieu and Mazarin's development of military patronage, and dependence upon this as the basis of their authority within the army, was that the military became more, not less, independent of the centre. The price of personal loyalty was respect for the interest and authority of the

36In the rest of the State, extensive clienteles were certainly developed, but they were supplemented by a nucleus of public, "bureaucratic" officials who gradually came to play a key role in the direction of provincial government. Yet in the army, the traditional mechanism of control through great aristocratic patrons and their supporters was maintained. Bureaucratie developments were subordinated to a concern to keep a potentially fragile structure of patronage intact. It was effectively impossible for the cardinals, committed to a war whose scale and duration they had not anticipated, to break out of a military System that left immense authority and political bargaining power in the hands of the military aristocracy. It seems reasonable to suggest that one fundamental reason for the survival and pervasiveness of traditional sources of authority within the ancien régime state was the continued presence of an army that had escaped any early subjection to centralized control.

Notes

1 André CORVISIER, "Clientèles et fidélités dans l'armée française aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles", in Hommage à Roland Mousnier. Clientèles et fidélités en Europe à l'époque moderne, ed. Yves Durand, Paris, P.U.F., 1981, pp.213-236; William BEIK, Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth-Century France. State Power and Provincial Aristocracy in Languedoc, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985; Roger METTAM, Power and Faction in Louis XIV’s France, Oxford, Blackwell, 1988.

2 Sharon KETTERING, Patrons, Brokers and Clients in Seventeenth-Century France, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1986, pp. 232-237.

3 Louis ANDRÉ, Michel le Tellier et l'organisation de l'armée monarchique, Paris, F. Alcan, 1906.

4 Edict of Abolition: ISAMBERT, Recueil des anciennes lois françaises, 28 vols., Paris, 1821-1833, Vol. XVI, p.198. Anecdotal evidence that Richelieu offered the Constableship to the Prince de Soissons as part of the dowry for marriage to Mme de Combalet; Vittorio SIRI, Anecdotes du ministère du Cardinal de Richelieu et du règne de Louis XIII, Amsterdam, 1717, p.320. Edict of abolition repeated in April 1643, BN, coll. Châtre de Cangé, 25, f° 239, April 1643.

5 The amirauté passed into the hands of the duc de Vendôme in 1649, but had in fact already been reestablished for Anne of Austria from 1646; BN, Fr. 4223, f° 3, 4 July 1646; f° 8, 1649.

6 Louis ANDRÉ, op. cit., stands at the end of a long tradition of attributing practical change to the content of ordinances. More recently, Douglas C. BAXTER, Servants of the Sword: French Intendants of the Army, Urbana, Illinois University Press, 1976, takes a similar approach.

7 Edicts of Abolition in 1643, 1661: BN Coll. Châtre de Cangé, 25, f° 239, April 1643; Compilation chronologique contenant un recueil en abrégé des ordonnances... qui concernent la justice, la police et les finances, Paris, 1715, p. 2127, p.1661. Guillaume GIRARD, Histoire de la vie du duc d'Épernon, Paris, 1655, p. 35, pp. 270-271; Léo MOUTON, Un Demi-Roi: Le Duc d'Épernon, Paris, Perrin, 1922, p. 142; Nicholas FESSENDEN, Épernon and Guyenne. provincial politics under Louis XIII, Columbia University Ph.D. Dissertation, 1972, pp. 199-202.

8 Guillaume GIRARD, op. cit., gives a number of examples of Epernon's ability to raise troops at his own expense, p.280, pp.334-335, 452-453; A.M.R. Vicomte de NOAILLES, Épisodes de la guerre de Trente Ans, Paris, Perrin, 1906-1913, 3 vol., vol. I, Le Cardinal de La Valette, lieutenant général des armées du roi, 1635 à 1639, p. 83, quotes from a letter of Épernon's written in 1619, claiming that he had spent 100.000 écus of his own funds on maintaining troops for royal service since 1610. Epernon's Personal control of Metz survived a number of challenges in this period from both Henry IV and Richelieu; Guillaume GIRARD, op. cit., pp.250-253; Nicholas FESSENDEN, op. cit., p 86 et sq.

9 Roger de BUSSY-RABUTIN, Mémoires, Paris, 1721, 3 vols., vol. I, p. 96; Jacques de Chastenet de PUYSEGUR, Les Guerres du règne de Louis XIII et de la minorité de Louis XIV, Paris, Librairie de la Société bibliographique, 1883, 2 vols., vol. I, p. 250. See also AAE, Mémoires et Documents. Fonds France 811, f° 312, 26 August 1634, where it is suggested that Richelieu is assumed to be responsible for any regimental promotion that does not reflect the normal pattern of seniority.

10 Projet to price the levy of 125,000 troops in the course of the 1635 campaign: AAE, Mémoires et documents. Fonds France, 811, f° 120, 7 November 1634. For Richelieu's optimism after Aveins: AAE, Mémoires et documents. Fonds France, 814, f° 157, 11 June 1635.

11 For a discussion of real military strengths, based on the surviving records of revues carried out with the individual army corps, see David PARROTT, The Administration of the French Army during the Ministry of Cardinal Richelieu, University of Oxford Ph.D. Dissertation, 1985, pp. 90-118.

12 Richard BONNEY, The King's Debts, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1981, pp. 164-198; Françoise BAYARD, Le monde des financiers au XVIIe siècle, Paris, Flammarion, 1988, pp. 28-68.

13 Fritz REDLICH, The German military enterpriser and his work force, a study in European economic and social history, Wiesbaden, F. Steiner, 1964, 2 vols.

14 James B. WOOD, The Noblesse of the Election of Bayeux, 1463-1666, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1980, pp. 82-85, gives an indication of the extent to which the local nobility participated in short-term military activity.

15 Contrast the formal and unspecific commissions given to prospective French officers for the recruitment of native units, with the detailed and legalistic documents that formed the basis of the contrats with foreigh entrepreneurs in French service: AN, Al 32, doc. 122, 8 July 1636; standard commission en blanc for the levy of a company of carabins; AN, Al 32, doc. 73, 10 May 1636: articles for the capitulation that the King accords to Colonel Streff.

16 Louis ANDRÉ, op. cit., pp.234-267.

17 Richard BONNEY, Political Change in France under Richelieu and Mazarin, 1624-1661, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 267.

18 For example, Pierre GRILLON, Les papiers de Richelieu, Paris, Padone, 1975-, 6 vols, Vol. III, pp. 64-68, 12/13 February 1628: details of substantial provision for the funding of the siege.

19 Denis Louis Martial AVENEL, ed, Lettres, instructions diplomatiques et papiers d'État du Cardinal de Richelieu, Paris, collection Documents inédits sur l’histoire de France, 1853-1877, 8 vols., Vol. DI, p. 290, 28 April 1629; AAE, Mémoires et documents. Fonds France, 1631, f° 150, 26 September 1639.

20 AAE, Mémoires et Documents. Fonds France 823, f° 58, 31 August 1636.

21 Nicholas FESSENDEN, op. cit., pp. 262-263; Robert HARDING, Anatomy of a Power Elite. The Provincial Governors of Early Modem France, New-Haven-London, Yale University Press, 1978, pp. 49-50.

22 Kirsten NEUSCHEL, Word of Honor: Interpreting noble culture in sixteenth-century France, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1989, pp. 93-100; Robert HARDING, op. cit., pp. 25-26.

23 For example, AAE, Correspondance politique. Savoie, 31, f° 100, Harcourt to de Noyers, 23 September 1640.

24 See, for example, the instructions that Surintendant Bullion sent to Michel le Tellier accompanying his commission of intendancy, 11 September 1640; Narcisse-Léonard CARON, Michel Le Tellier, son administration comme intendant d'armée en Piémont, 1640-1643, Paris, G. Pedone-Lauriel, 1880, pp. 4-7.

25 Victor BELHOMME, Histoire de l'infanterie en France, Paris, H. Charles-Lavauzelle, 1893-1902, 5 vols., ol. I, p. 327.

26 Henri de CAMPION, Mémoires, ed Marc Fumaroli, Paris, Mercure de France, 1990; MICHAUD et POUJOULAT, Nouvelle collection des mémoires relatifs à l'histoire de France, 3rd ser., 10 vols. Paris, 1838, vol. II, pp 183-241 (Montrésor).

27 Jean BÉRENGER, Turenne, Paris, Fayard, 1987, pp. 163-166, 177-179.

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