The fêtes of 1612–1615 in History and Historiography
Historians have always been rather harsh on the Spanish marriages. According to numerous contemporaries, these marriages were very unpopular: with Gallicans who were afraid of papal intervention, of the Jesuits and a potential French Inquisition; with the princes who were against the assumption of the regency by Marie de Médicis, a woman and a foreigner, and they rebelled; and with the Huguenots who regarded the Spanish alliance, made tangible by the marriages, as a threat and as a declaration of war, and who could not forgive the ‘reversal of alliances’ that followed the murder of Henri IV. To the hostility demonstrated towards the Italians was added anti-Spanish prejudice. The war with Spain, the long infertility of Anne d’Autriche (suspected of treason), then her regency, her liaison with Mazarin, then the Fronde – all generated bad feeling. And so historians, even with the benefit of the passing centuries, and especially in the nineteenth century when republicanism and anti-clericalism conjoined with xenophobia and misogyny, have been unfavourable to these marriages and to the extravagant expenditure on the attendant fêtes, and to the two queens. 2Their commentary on the marriages of 1612-15, offers a vantage point from which to consider their historical methodology. And ours. Confronted by an ‘event’ how do historians react?