November 9th, 2011, 11:38 PM
Exactly what it says on the tin. Perhaps they might come in on the Royalist side, turning the tide of war. Is it plausible?
November 9th, 2011, 11:55 PM
Not really. Cardinal Richelieu, and his successor Cardinal Mazarin, who were very much running the show in France at the time of the English Civil Wars, were far more interested in countering the Hapsburgs of Austria and Spain. During the first English Civil War France's attention was almost entirely consumed by the Thirty Years War, whose outcome was still very much in the balance. There simply were not the resources available to send an army to England while fighting in the Pyrenees, the Low Countries, and on the Rhine.
At the conclusion of the Thirty Years War, France was financially exhausted, and more importantly, still at war with Spain. During the Second English Civil War France was still engaged in fighting on two fronts, and Spain's armies were still at this time formidable. Just as importantly, France was undergoing its own Civil War, The Fronde, during the Third English Civil War, again, on top of and largely in conjunction with the war against Spain.
In fact, France was far more interested in allying with whomever came out on top of the English Civil War than intervening on behalf of one side or the other. Cardinal Mazarin was open to allying with the Commonwealth, and later the Protectorate when it suited his purposes, since they had a common enemy in Spain.
The Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) ended War with Spain, and in some ways terminated the need for an alliance with the Protectorate. In some ways this cleared the way for the Restoration, since a France that was still at war with Spain and allied to the Protectorate might have been unwilling to see its formidable army and fleet disbanded for the sake of a new monarch.
To conclude, there really were no times when France had the power available to intervene in the English Civil War, except at great "Opportunity Cost." The benefits of intervening would have been limited, and in the long term, therefore not attractive to a country fighting on all fronts to defend its national interests. A French intervention would probably take the form of intervening on the side of the King though, as Charles I was married to the sister, and later aunt of the King of France.
That being said, an early intervention on the side of Charles I could easily tip the scales against the Parliamentarians, since neither side had more than a few professional soldiers. The effect of such an intervention on the English popular opinion would be hard to gauge. On the one hand it would be an army of "Papists" supporting the King, on the other hand those same "Papists" were fighting against Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and arguably the Pope himself.
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