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52 If historians have largely overlooked barricade events prior to May 12, 1588, it has been in part because earlier incidents produced no obvious sequel and appeared to be without lasting historical consequence. In contrast, the Day of the Barricades in Paris can be shown to have had a far-reaching impact, both in the capital and beyond. The city registers document what we might call “barricade consciousness”: an emerging awareness on the part of residents of the power that chains, barrels, and paving stones had placed in their hands. Over the months that followed the 1588 uprising, Paris was kept on almost constant alert by apprehensive municipal authorities, who ordered the chains to be inspected three times by spring 1589. As the king’s army approached the city in early July of that year, deputies were commanded to collect 2,000 casks from inns, taverns, and wine merchants’ shops. These were to be stored in the suburbs, where they would be available for the construction of barricades should an attack materialize. A similar alarm was issued on August 31, less than a month after the assassination of Henri III. This time, militia colonels and captains were ordered to fill barrels with earth and position them in front of houses in the central districts, but not to deploy them to block streets without express orders of the prévôt de marchands.1 Although none of these scares resulted in the actual construction of barricades in Paris, the technique was rapidly spreading to new locations, thanks to the activities of the Holy Union. Lyon, the second largest city in the realm and another Leaguer stronghold, reacted to the killing of the duc de Guise and his brother the cardinal by revolting against the king. On February 23, 1589, residents spent the night building barricades. Though their mobilization was poorly orga3 The Barricades of the Fronde The disappearance of [royal councilor Pierre] Broussel caused Parisians to become deranged, to run through the streets crying out that they were done for, that they must have their protector, that they would gladly die for his cause. They assembled, stretched chains across all the streets, and in a few hours had set up barricades in every quarter of the city. Françoise de Motteville, Mémoires The Barricades of the Fronde 53 nized and short-lived, its impact was immediately felt in the next most populous of French cities; the historian Antoine de Ruffi says that the news of barricades going up in Lyon was what caused Marseille to join the Holy League.2 Two years later, Marseille itself would build its first barricades when control over the city was being disputed by rival factions of the League.3 And in 1594, it was again Lyon’s turn to resort to the use of barricades as part of a protest concerning the Spanish succession.4 Thus, in the span of five short years, a spree of barricade construction had broken out, involving each of the country’s three largest cities. After a thirty-year lull, Bordeaux and Dijon were the next regional centers to be added to the list of sites adopting the new tactic (in 1625 and 1630 respectively). A series of related incidents in southwestern France, offshoots of the rural tax protest movement known as the jacquerie des Croquants, provided the first occasion, in 1635, on which multiple barricade events were recorded in a single year. These continued through 1637, by which time a reproducible pattern of behavior involving barricade construction seemed well established. It was based, however, on small to medium-sized events, none of which could even remotely compare with the 1588 insurrection. What was needed to enshrine the barricade as part of a uniquely French repertoire of collective action was for it to be associated with some new event of major proportions that would validate the tactic’s claim to historical significance. That event occurred in 1648 in circumstances reminiscent in certain respects of those we have encountered in earlier eras. Parisians of that period, like contemporaries of Etienne Marcel, had to endure their own unrelenting cycle of violent conflict, known as the Thirty Years’ War, even as the reverberations of the Reformation still managed to give these struggles a religious cast that recalled the Wars of Religion. Though the treaty of Westphalia brought hostilities among major continental nations to an end by October of that year, the French monarchy remained in financial disarray, exhausted by decades of war...


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