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Mazarin’s Quest

Mazarin’s Quest

The Congress of Westphalia and the Coming of the Fronde

Paul Sonnino

ISBN 9780674031821

Publication date: 11/30/2008

In a provocative study, Paul Sonnino examines the diplomatic negotiations that took place in Westphalia from 1643 to 1648, which brought an end to the agonizing civil and religious conflict of the Thirty Years’ War.

Sonnino steps back from myriad historical readings of Westphalia to take the diplomats’ intentions and interactions strictly on their own terms. He places the reader alongside the pivotal figure of French minister Jules Cardinal Mazarin as he maneuvers for gain. The narrative thus offers a firsthand experience of the negotiations as they played out, as well as a penetrating look into the character, personality, and ideas of the crafty cardinal. Although Mazarin acquired the province of Alsace—making him a hero to French nationalists—he had a much more successful peace within his grasp, but lost it when he insisted on annexing the Spanish Low Countries. Sonnino also offers a new interpretation of the origins of the Fronde, linking the French domestic revolt to foreign policy, in Mazarin’s failure to secure peace with Spain.

Based on unprecedented archival documentation, Mazarin’s Quest provides an original and illuminating look at one of the most complicated diplomatic gatherings of all time.


  • Paul Sonnino has established himself as the premier historian of diplomatic relations in early modern Europe. Based on a complete mastery of the documentation, including the often referred to, but never completely edited, carnets of Cardinal Mazarin, this book is an important and brilliantly crafted work on a key moment and figure in European history. Mazarin's Quest is both a great story and a major accomplishment.

    —Orest Ranum, emeritus, Johns Hopkins University


  • Paul M. Sonnino is Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Book Details

  • 330 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press