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Cardinal Richelieu

cardinal richelieu, cardinal richelieu three musketeers
Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu and Fronsac French pronunciation: ​aʁmɑ̃ ʒɑ̃ dy plɛsi; 9 September 1585 – 4 December 1642, commonly referred to as Cardinal Richelieu French: Cardinal de Richelieu kaʁdinal də ʁiʃəljø, was a French clergyman, nobleman, and statesman He was consecrated as a bishop in 1607 and was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1616 Richelieu soon rose in both the Catholic Church and the French government, becoming a cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII's chief minister in 1624 He remained in office until his death in 1642; he was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin, whose career he had fostered

Cardinal de Richelieu was often known by the title of the king's "Chief Minister" or "First Minister" He sought to consolidate royal power and crush domestic factions By restraining the power of the nobility, he transformed France into a strong, centralized state His chief foreign policy objective was to check the power of the Austro-Spanish Habsburg dynasty, and to ensure French dominance in the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe Although he was a cardinal, he did not hesitate to make alliances with Protestant rulers in attempting to achieve his goals While a powerful political figure, events like the Day of the Dupes Jour des Dupes show that in fact he very much depended on the king's confidence to keep this power

As alumnus of the University of Paris and headmaster of the Collège de Sorbonne, he renovated and extended the institution Richelieu was also famous for his patronage of the arts; most notably, he founded the Académie Française, the learned society responsible for matters pertaining to the French language Richelieu is also known by the sobriquet l'Éminence rouge "the Red Eminence", from the red shade of a cardinal's clerical dress and the style "eminence" as a cardinal As an advocate for Samuel de Champlain and of the retention of New France, he founded the Compagnie des Cent-Associés and saw the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye return Quebec City to French rule under Champlain, after the settlement had been taken by the Kirkes in 1629 This in part allowed the colony to eventually develop into the heartland of Francophone culture in North America

He is also a leading character in The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and its numerous film adaptations


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Rise to power
  • 3 Chief minister
  • 4 Thirty Years' War
  • 5 New World
  • 6 Final years
  • 7 Arts and culture
  • 8 Legacy
  • 9 Portrayals in fiction
  • 10 Literary works
  • 11 Honours
  • 12 References
  • 13 Bibliography
  • 14 Further reading
  • 15 External links

Early lifeedit

Born in Paris, Armand du Plessis was the fourth of five children and the last of three sons: he was delicate from childhood, and suffered frequent bouts of ill-health throughout his life His family was somewhat prominent, belonging to the lesser nobility of Poitou:1 his father, François du Plessis, seigneur de Richelieu, was a soldier and courtier who served as the Grand Provost of France,2 and his mother, Susanne de La Porte, was the daughter of a famous jurist3 When he was five years old, his father died fighting in the French Wars of Religion,4 leaving the family in debt; with the aid of royal grants, however, the family was able to avoid financial difficulties At the age of nine, young Richelieu was sent to the College of Navarre in Paris to study philosophy5 Thereafter, he began to train for a military career6 His private life seems to have been typical of a young officer of the era: in 1605, aged twenty, he was treated by Théodore de Mayerne for gonorrhea7

King Henry III had rewarded Richelieu's father for his participation in the Wars of Religion by granting his family the bishopric of Luçon8 The family appropriated most of the revenues of the bishopric for private use; they were, however, challenged by clergymen, who desired the funds for ecclesiastical purposes To protect the important source of revenue, Richelieu's mother proposed to make her second son, Alphonse, the bishop of Luçon9 Alphonse, who had no desire to become a bishop, became instead a Carthusian monk10 Thus, it became necessary that the younger Richelieu join the clergy He had strong academic interests and threw himself into studying for his new post

In 1606 King Henry IV nominated Richelieu to become Bishop of Luçon9 As Richelieu had not yet reached the canonical minimum age, it was necessary that he journey to Rome for a special dispensation from the Pope This secured, Richelieu was consecrated bishop in April 1607 Soon after he returned to his diocese in 1608, Richelieu was heralded as a reformer11 He became the first bishop in France to implement the institutional reforms prescribed by the Council of Trent between 1545 and 156312

At about this time, Richelieu became a friend of François Leclerc du Tremblay better known as "Père Joseph" or "Father Joseph", a Capuchin friar, who would later become a close confidant Because of his closeness to Richelieu, and the grey colour of his robes, Father Joseph was also nicknamed l'Éminence grise "the Grey Eminence" Later, Richelieu often used him as an agent during diplomatic negotiations13

Rise to poweredit

The young King Louis XIII was only a figurehead during his early reign; power actually rested with his mother, Marie de Médicis

In 1614, the clergymen of Poitou asked Richelieu to be one of their representatives to the States-General14 There, he was a vigorous advocate of the Church, arguing that it should be exempt from taxes and that bishops should have more political power He was the most prominent clergyman to support the adoption of the decrees of the Council of Trent throughout France;15 the Third Estate commoners was his chief opponent in this endeavour At the end of the assembly, the First Estate the clergy chose him to deliver the address enumerating its petitions and decisions16 Soon after the dissolution of the Estates-General, Richelieu entered the service of King Louis XIII's wife, Anne of Austria, as her almoner17

Richelieu advanced politically by faithfully serving the Queen-Mother's favourite, Concino Concini, the most powerful minister in the kingdom18 In 1616, Richelieu was made Secretary of State, and was given responsibility for foreign affairs16 Like Concini, the Bishop was one of the closest advisors of Louis XIII's mother, Marie de Médicis The Queen had become Regent of France when the nine-year-old Louis ascended the throne; although her son reached the legal age of majority in 1614, she remained the effective ruler of the realm19 However, her policies, and those of Concini, proved unpopular with many in France As a result, both Marie and Concini became the targets of intrigues at court; their most powerful enemy was Charles de Luynes20 In April 1617, in a plot arranged by Luynes, King Louis XIII ordered that Concini be arrested, and killed should he resist; Concini was consequently assassinated, and Marie de Médicis overthrown21 His patron having died, Richelieu also lost power; he was dismissed as Secretary of State, and was removed from the court21 In 1618, the King, still suspicious of the Bishop of Luçon, banished him to Avignon There, Richelieu spent most of his time writing; he composed a catechism entitled L'Instruction du chrétien22

In 1619, Marie de Médicis escaped from her confinement in the Château de Blois, becoming the titular leader of an aristocratic rebellion The King and the duc de Luynes recalled Richelieu, believing that he would be able to reason with the Queen Richelieu was successful in this endeavour, mediating between her and her son23 Complex negotiations bore fruit when the Treaty of Angoulême was ratified; Marie de Médicis was given complete freedom, but would remain at peace with the King The Queen-Mother was also restored to the royal council

After the death of the King's favourite, the duc de Luynes, in 1621, Richelieu began to rise to power quickly The year after, the King nominated Richelieu for a cardinalate, which Pope Gregory XV accordingly granted on 19 April 162224 Crises in France, including a rebellion of the Huguenots, rendered Richelieu a nearly indispensable advisor to the King After he was appointed to the royal council of ministers on 29 April 1624,25 he intrigued against the chief minister, Charles, duc de La Vieuville23 On 12 August of the same year, La Vieuville was arrested on charges of corruption, and Cardinal Richelieu took his place as the King's principal minister the following day, although Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld nominally remained president of the council Richelieu was officially appointed president in November 162926

Chief ministeredit

Henri Motte's depiction of Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle

Cardinal Richelieu's policy involved two primary goals: centralization of power in France27 and opposition to the Habsburg dynasty which ruled in both Austria and Spain28 Shortly after he became Louis' principal minister, he was faced with a crisis in Valtellina, a valley in Lombardy northern Italy To counter Spanish designs on the territory, Richelieu supported the Protestant Swiss canton of Grisons, which also claimed the strategically important valley The Cardinal deployed troops to Valtellina, from which the Pope's garrisons were driven out29 Richelieu's early decision to support a Protestant canton against the Pope was a foretaste of the purely diplomatic power politics he would espouse in his foreign policy

To further consolidate power in France, Richelieu sought to suppress the influence of the feudal nobility In 1626, he abolished the position of Constable of France and ordered all fortified castles razed, excepting only those needed to defend against invaders30 Thus, he stripped the princes, dukes, and lesser aristocrats of important defences that could have been used against the King's armies during rebellions As a result, Richelieu was hated by most of the nobility

Letter of Cardinal Richelieu to Claude de Razilly asking him to do everything in his power to relieve Ré Island in the Siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, July 1627

Another obstacle to the centralization of power was religious division in France The Huguenots, one of the largest political and religious factions in the country, controlled a significant military force, and were in rebellion31 Moreover, the King of England, Charles I, declared war on France in an attempt to aid the Huguenot faction In 1627, Richelieu ordered the army to besiege the Huguenot stronghold of La Rochelle; the Cardinal personally commanded the besieging troops32 English troops under the Duke of Buckingham led an expedition to help the citizens of La Rochelle, but failed abysmally The city, however, remained firm for over a year before capitulating in 1628

Although the Huguenots suffered a major defeat at La Rochelle, they continued to fight, led by Henri, duc de Rohan Protestant forces, however, were defeated in 1629; Rohan submitted to the terms of the Peace of Alais33 As a result, religious toleration for Protestants, which had first been granted by the Edict of Nantes in 1598, was permitted to continue, but the Cardinal abolished their political rights and protections34 Rohan was not executed as were leaders of rebellions later in Richelieu's tenure; in fact, he later became a commanding officer in the French army

On the "Day of the Dupes" in 1630, it appeared that Marie de Médicis had secured Richelieu's dismissal Richelieu, however, survived the scheme, and Marie was exiled as a result

Habsburg Spain exploited the French conflict with the Huguenots to extend its influence in northern Italy It funded the Huguenot rebels in order to keep the French army occupied, meanwhile expanding its Italian dominions Richelieu, however, responded aggressively; after La Rochelle capitulated, he personally led the French army to northern Italy to restrain Spain On 26 November 1629, he was created duc de Richelieu and a Peer of France

In the next year, Richelieu's position was seriously threatened by his former patron, Marie de Médicis Marie believed that the Cardinal had robbed her of her political influence; thus, she demanded that her son dismiss the chief minister35 Louis XIII was not, at first, averse to such a course of action, as he personally disliked Richelieu16 Despite this, the persuasive statesman was able to secure the king as an ally against his own mother On 11 November 1630, Marie de Médicis and the King's brother, Gaston, duc d'Orléans, secured the King's agreement for the dismissal Richelieu, however, was aware of the plan, and quickly convinced the King to repent36 This day, known as the Day of the Dupes, was the only one on which Louis XIII took a step toward dismissing his minister Thereafter, the King was unwavering in his political support for him

Meanwhile, Marie de Médicis was exiled to Compiègne Both Marie and the duc d'Orléans continued to conspire against Richelieu, but their schemes came to nothing The nobility also remained powerless The only important rising was that of Henri, duc de Montmorency in 1632; Richelieu, ruthless in suppressing opposition, ordered the duke's execution Richelieu's harsh measures were designed to intimidate his enemies He also ensured his political security by establishing a large network of spies in France as well as in other European countries

Thirty Years' Waredit

Cardinal Richelieu by Robert Nanteuil Cardinal Richelieu Bronze Medal 1631 by Warin Obverse

Before Richelieu's ascent to power, most of Europe had become enmeshed in the Thirty Years' War 1618–1648 France was not openly at war with the Habsburgs, who ruled Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, so subsidies and aid were provided secretly to their adversaries37 He considered the Dutch Republic as one of France's most important allies, for it bordered directly with the Spanish Netherlands and was right in the middle of the Eighty Years War with Spain at that time Luckily for him, Richelieu was a bon français, just like the king, who had already decided to subsidize the Dutch to fight against the Spanish via the Treaty of Compiègne in June 1624, prior to Richelieu's appointment to Prime minister in August38 That same year, a military expedition, secretly financed by France and commanded by Marquis de Coeuvres, started an action with the intention of liberating the Valtelline from Spanish occupation In 1625 Richelieu also sent money to Ernst von Mansfeld, a famous mercenary general operating in Germany in English service However, in May 1626, when war costs had almost ruined France, king and cardinal made peace with Spain via the Treaty of Monçon39 This peace quickly broke down after tensions due to the War of Mantuan Succession40

In 1629, the Emperor Ferdinand II subjugated many of his Protestant opponents in Germany Richelieu, alarmed by Ferdinand's growing influence, incited Sweden to intervene, providing money41 In the meantime, France and Spain remained hostile due to Spain's ambitions in northern Italy At that time northern Italy was a major strategic item in Europe's balance of powers, serving as a link between the Habsburgs in the Empire and in Spain Had the imperial armies dominated this region, France's very existence would have been threatened by Habsburg encirclement Spain was meanwhile seeking papal approval for a universal monarchy When, in 1630, French diplomats in Regensburg agreed to make peace with Spain, Richelieu refused to support them The agreement would have prohibited French interference in Germany Thus, Richelieu advised Louis XIII to refuse to ratify the treaty In 1631, he allied France to Sweden, who had just invaded the empire, in the Treaty of Bärwalde41

Military expenses placed a considerable strain on the King's revenues In response, Richelieu raised the gabelle salt tax and the taille land tax42 The taille was enforced to provide funds to raise armies and wage war The clergy, nobility, and high bourgeoisie were either exempt or could easily avoid payment, so the burden fell on the poorest segment of the nation To collect taxes more efficiently, and to keep corruption to a minimum, Richelieu bypassed local tax officials, replacing them with intendants officials in the direct service of the Crown43 Richelieu's financial scheme, however, caused unrest among the peasants; there were several uprisings in 1636 to 163944 Richelieu crushed the revolts violently, and dealt with the rebels harshly45

The Battle of Lens

Because he openly aligned France with Protestant powers, Richelieu was denounced by many as a traitor to the Roman Catholic Church Military action, at first, was disastrous for the French, with many victories going to Spain and the Empire46 Neither side, however, could obtain a decisive advantage, and the conflict lingered on after Richelieu's death Richelieu was instrumental in redirecting the 30 Years' War from the conflict of Protestantism versus Catholicism to that of nationalism versus Habsburg hegemony47 In this conflict France effectively drained the already overstretched resources of the Habsburg empire and drove it inexorably towards bankruptcy48 The defeat of Habsburg forces at the Battle of Lens, and their failure to prevent French invasion of Catalonia effectively spelled the end for Habsburg domination of the continent, and the Spanish prime minister Olivares' personal career48 Indeed, in the subsequent years it would be France, under the leadership of Louis XIV, who would attempt to fill the vacuum left by the Habsburgs in the Spanish Netherlands, and supplant Spain as the dominant European power

New Worldedit

When Richelieu came to power, New France, where the French had a foothold since Jacques Cartier, had no more than 100 permanent inhabitants49 Richelieu encouraged Louis XIII to colonize the Americas by the foundation of the Compagnie de la Nouvelle France in imitation of the Dutch West India Company Unlike the other colonial powers, France encouraged a peaceful coexistence in New France between Natives and Colonists and sought the integration of Indians into colonial society5051 Samuel de Champlain, governor of New France at the time of Richelieu, saw intermarriage between French and Indians as a solution to increase population in its colony52 Under the guidance of Richelieu, Louis XIII issued the Ordonnance of 1627 by which the Indians, converted to Catholicism, were considered as "natural Frenchmen":

"The descendants of the French who are accustomed to this country New France, together with all the Indians who will be brought to the knowledge of the faith and will profess it, shall be deemed and renowned natural Frenchmen, and as such may come to live in France when they want, and acquire, donate, and succeed and accept donations and legacies, just as true French subjects, without being required to take no letters of declaration of naturalization"53

The 1666 census of New France, conducted some 20 years after the death of Cardinal Richelieu, showed a population of 3,215 habitants in New France, many more than there had been only a few decades earlier, but also a great difference in the number of men 2,034 and women 1,18154

Final yearsedit

Cardinal Mazarin depicted here in 1660, age 58 succeeded Richelieu in office

Towards the end of his life, Richelieu alienated many people, including Pope Urban VIII Richelieu was displeased by the Pope's refusal to name him the papal legate in France;55 in turn, the Pope did not approve of the administration of the French church, or of French foreign policy However, the conflict was largely healed when the Pope granted a cardinalate to Jules Mazarin, one of Richelieu's foremost political allies, in 1641 Despite troubled relations with the Roman Catholic Church, Richelieu did not support the complete repudiation of papal authority in France, as was advocated by the Gallicanists56

As he neared death, Richelieu faced a plot that threatened to remove him from power The cardinal had introduced a young man named Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, marquis de Cinq-Mars to Louis XIII's court57 The Cardinal had been a friend of Cinq-Mars' father57 More importantly, Richelieu hoped that Cinq-Mars would become Louis' favourite, so that he could indirectly exercise greater influence over the monarch's decisions Cinq-Mars had become the royal favourite by 1639, but, contrary to Cardinal Richelieu's belief, he was not easy to control The young marquis realized that Richelieu would not permit him to gain political power58 In 1641, he participated in the comte de Soissons' failed conspiracy against Richelieu, but was not discovered59 Then, the following year, he schemed with leading nobles including the King's brother, the duc d'Orléans to raise a rebellion; he also signed a secret agreement with the King of Spain, who promised to aid the rebels60 Richelieu's spy service, however, discovered the plot, and the Cardinal received a copy of the treaty61 Cinq-Mars was promptly arrested and executed; although Louis approved the use of capital punishment, he grew more distant from Richelieu as a resultcitation needed

Painting by Philippe de Champaigne showing Cardinal Richelieu on his deathbed

However, Richelieu was now dying For many years he had suffered from recurrent fevers possibly malaria, strangury, intestinal tuberculosis with fistula, and migraine Now his right arm was suppurating with tubercular osteitis, and he coughed blood after his death, his lungs were found to have extensive cavities and caseous necrosis His doctors continued to bleed him frequently, further weakening him62 As he felt his death approaching, he named Mazarin, one of his most faithful followers, to succeed him as chief minister to the King63

Richelieu died on 4 December 1642, aged 57 His body was embalmed, and interred at the church of the Sorbonne During the French Revolution, the corpse was removed from its tomb, and the mummified front of his head, having been removed and replaced during the original embalming process, was stolen It ended up in the possession of Nicholas Armez of Brittany by 1796, and he occasionally exhibited the well-preserved face His nephew, Louis-Philippe Armez, inherited it and also occasionally exhibited it and lent it out for study In 1866, Napoleon III persuaded Armez to return the face to the government for re-interment with the rest of Richelieu's body An investigation of subsidence of the church floor enabled the head to be photographed in 18956465

Arts and cultureedit

Richelieu was a famous patron of the arts An author of various religious and political works most notably his Political Testament, he sent his agents abroad66 in search of books and manuscripts for his unrivaled library, which he specified in his will, leaving it to his great-nephew fully funded, should serve, not merely his family but to be open at fixed hours to scholars; the manuscripts alone numbered some 900, bound as codices in red Morocco with the cardinal's arms The library was transferred to the Sorbonne in 166067 He funded the literary careers of many writers He was a lover of the theatre, which was not considered a respectable art form during that era; a private theatre was a feature of the Palais-Cardinal Among the individuals he patronized was the famous playwright Pierre Corneille68 Richelieu was also the founder and patron of the Académie française, the pre-eminent French literary society69 The institution had previously been in informal existence; in 1635, however, Cardinal Richelieu obtained official letters patent for the body The Académie française includes forty members, promotes French literature, and remains the official authority on the French language Richelieu served as the Académie's protector Since 1672, that role has been fulfilled by the French head of statecitation needed

Cardinal de Richelieu, by Philippe de Champaigne ca 1642 Bust of Cardinal Richelieu by Gianlorenzo Bernini

In 1622, Richelieu was elected the proviseur or principal of the Sorbonne70 He presided over the renovation of the college's buildings, and over the construction of its famous chapel, where he is now entombed As he was Bishop of Luçon, his statue stands outside the Luçon cathedralcitation needed

Richelieu oversaw the construction of his own palace in Paris, the Palais-Cardinal71 The palace, renamed the Palais Royal after Richelieu's death, now houses the French Constitutional Council, the Ministry of Culture, and the Conseil d'État The Galerie de l'avant-cour had ceiling paintings by the Cardinal's chief portraitist, Philippe de Champaigne, celebrating the major events of the Cardinal's career; the Galerie des hommes illustres had twenty-six historicizing portraits of great men, larger than life, from Abbot Suger to Louis XIII; some were by Simon Vouet others were careful copies by Philippe de Champaigne from known portraits;72 with them were busts of Roman emperors Another series of portraits of authors complemented the library The architect of the Palais-Cardinal, Jacques Lemercier, also received a commission to build a château and a surrounding town in Indre-et-Loire; the project culminated in the construction of the Château Richelieu and the town of Richelieu To the château, he added one of the largest art collections in Europe and the largest collection of ancient Roman sculpture in France The heavily resurfaced and restored Richelieu Bacchus continued to be admired by neoclassical artists73 Among his 300 paintings by moderns, most notably, he owned Leonardo's Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, The Family of the Virgin by Andrea del Sarto, the two famous Bacchanales of Nicolas Poussin, as well as paintings by Veronese and Titian, and Diana at the Bath by Rubens, for which he was so glad to pay the artist's heirs 3,000 écus, that he made a gift to Rubens' widow of a diamond-encrusted watch His marble portrait bust by Bernini was not considered a good likeness and was banished to a passageway74

The fittings of his chapel in the Palais-Cardinal, for which Simon Vouet executed the paintings, were of solid gold—crucifix, chalice, paten, ciborium, candlesticks—set with 180 rubies and 9,000 diamonds75 His taste also ran to massive silver, small bronzes and works of vertu, enamels and rock crystal mounted in gold, Chinese porcelains, tapestries and Persian carpets, cabinets from Italy and Antwerp and the heart-shaped diamond bought from Alphonse Lopez that he willed to the king When the Palais-Cardinal was complete, he donated it to the Crown, in 1636 With the Queen in residence, the paintings of the Grand Cabinet were transferred to Fontainebleau and replaced by copies, and the interiors were subjected to much rearrangementcitation needed

Michelangelo's two Slaves were among the rich appointments of the château Richelieu, where there were the Nativity triptych by Dürer and paintings by Mantegna, Lorenzo Costa and Perugino, lifted from the Gonzaga collection at Mantua by French military forces in 1630, as well as numerous antiquitiescitation needed


The Richelieu Bacchus continued to be admired by neoclassical artists, Louvre Museum76

Richelieu's tenure was a crucial period of reform for France Earlier, the nation's political structure was largely feudal, with powerful nobles and a wide variety of laws in different regions77 Parts of the nobility periodically conspired against the King, raised private armies, and allied themselves with foreign powers This system gave way to centralized power under Richelieu78 Local and even religious interests were subordinated to those of the whole nation, and of the embodiment of the nation — the King Equally critical for France was Richelieu's foreign policy, which helped restrain Habsburg influence in Europe Richelieu did not survive to the end of the Thirty Years' War However, the conflict ended in 1648, with France emerging in a far better position than any other power, and the Holy Roman Empire entering a period of decline

Richelieu's successes were extremely important to Louis XIII's successor, King Louis XIV He continued Richelieu's work of creating an absolute monarchy; in the same vein as the Cardinal, he enacted policies that further suppressed the once-mighty aristocracy, and utterly destroyed all remnants of Huguenot political power with the Edict of Fontainebleau Moreover, Louis took advantage of his nation's success during the Thirty Years' War to establish French hegemony in continental Europe Thus, Richelieu's policies were the requisite prelude to Louis XIV becoming the most powerful monarch, and France the most powerful nation, in all of Europe during the late seventeenth centurycitation needed

Richelieu is also notable for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power He censored the press,79 established a large network of internal spies, forbade the discussion of political matters in public assemblies such as the Parlement de Paris a court of justice, and had those who dared to conspire against him prosecuted and executed The Canadian historian and philosopher John Ralston Saul has referred to Richelieu as the "father of the modern nation-state, modern centralised power and the modern secret service"

Richelieu's motives are the focus of much debate among historians: some see him as a patriotic supporter of the monarchy, while others view him as a power-hungry cynic The latter image gained further currency due to Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, which depicts Richelieu as a self-serving and ruthless de facto ruler of France

Despite such arguments, Richelieu remains an honoured personality in France He has given his name to a battleship and a battleship class

His legacy is also important for the world at large; his ideas of a strong nation-state and aggressive foreign policy helped create the modern system of international politics The notions of national sovereignty and international law can be traced, at least in part, to Richelieu's policies and theories, especially as enunciated in the Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years' War

A less renowned aspect of his legacy is his involvement with Samuel de Champlain and the fledgling colony along the St Lawrence River The retention and promotion of Canada under Richelieu allowed it — and through the settlement's strategic location, the St Lawrence – Great Lakes gateway into the North American interior — to develop into a French empire in North America—parts of which eventually became modern Canada and Louisiana

Portrayals in fictionedit

As of April 2013, the Internet Movie Database lists ninety-four films and television programs in which Cardinal Richelieu is a character Richelieu is one of the clergymen most frequently portrayed in film, notably in the many versions of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers He is usually portrayed as a sinister character, but the 1950 Cyrano de Bergerac shows Richelieu played by Edgar Barrier in a scene not from Rostand's original verse drama, as compassionate to Cyrano's financial plight, and playfully having enjoyed the duel at the theatre Charlton Heston, Tcheky Karyo, Stephen Rea, Tim Curry, Christoph Waltz, Vincent Price, and Peter Capaldi are just a few of the actors to have portrayed Cardinal Richelieu on film and television

The 1839 play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, portrayed Richelieu uttering the now famous line, "The pen is mightier than the sword" The 1935 Cardinal Richelieu, a semi-fictional film treatment of incidents in his career with George Arliss in the role, was based on the play

Raymond Massey played Richelieu in Under the Red Robe 1937, based on Stanley J Weyman's swashbuckling novel of the same title Likewise an earlier 1923 silent film was produced Under the Red Robe directed by Alan Crosland

Poet Christopher Logue portrayed Richelieu in the Ken Russell film, The Devils 1971, based on Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun He is depicted as cruel and scheming, the true power behind the throne, and also as wheelchair-bound, although at the time of the events depicted, Richelieu was not bed-ridden, as he later became

Other portrayals include:

  • Peter Capaldi in the television series The Musketeers 2014

Literary worksedit

  • Political Testament
  • The principal points of the faith of the Catholic Church defended 1635


Styles of
Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal de Richelieu
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Many sites and landmarks were named to honor Cardinal Richelieu They include:80

  • Richelieu, Indre et Loire, a town founded by the Cardinal
  • Avenue Richelieu, located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada;
  • The provincial electoral district of Richelieu, Quebec;
  • Richelieu River, in Montérégie, Quebec
  • A wing of the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
  • Rue de Richelieu, a Parisian street named in the Cardinal's honor, and places located in this street, as the Paris Métro station Richelieu-Drouot, or the historical site of the Bibliothèque nationale de France
  • Four warships of the French Navy
Ships of the French Navy named Richelieu
Ironclad Richelieu 1873 
The Tanche, similar to the auxiliary submarine hunter Richelieu 1915 
The battleship Richelieu 1939 
The nuclear carrier Charles De Gaulle ordered as "Richelieu" 


  1. ^ Bergin, pp 14–15
  2. ^ Treasure, p 3
  3. ^ Bergin, pp 18–19
  4. ^ Bergin, p 24
  5. ^ Bergin, p 55
  6. ^ Wedgwood, p 187
  7. ^ Bergin, p 58; Trevor-Roper, p 66
  8. ^ Bergin, p 57
  9. ^ a b Bergin, p 61
  10. ^ Bergin, p 62
  11. ^ Munck, p 43
  12. ^ Bergin, pp 132–133
  13. ^ Wedgwood, p 189
  14. ^ Bergin, p 130
  15. ^ Bergin, p 133
  16. ^ a b c Treasure, p 4
  17. ^ Bergin, p 135
  18. ^ Pardoe, pp 103–104
  19. ^ Collins, p 45
  20. ^ Pardoe, p 23
  21. ^ a b Parker, 1984, p 130
  22. ^ Bergin, p 99
  23. ^ a b Parker, 1984, p 199
  24. ^ Gregory, p 219
  25. ^ Lodge & Ketcham, 1903, p 85
  26. ^ Dyer, 1861, p 525
  27. ^ Zagorin, p 9
  28. ^ Wedgwood, p 188
  29. ^ Wedgwood, p 195
  30. ^ Collins, p 48
  31. ^ Zagorin, p 16
  32. ^ Zagorin, p 17
  33. ^ Zagorin, p 18
  34. ^ Zagorgin, p 18
  35. ^ Pardoe, p 176
  36. ^ Munck, p 44
  37. ^ Wedgwood, p 270
  38. ^ A Lloyd Moote: "Louis XIII, the Just", p 135-136, p178/ Wikipedia page Treaty of Compiègne 1624
  39. ^ A Lloyd Moote, p179-183, esp 182
  40. ^ Wedgwood, p 247
  41. ^ a b Parker, 1984, p 219
  42. ^ Collins, p 62
  43. ^ Collins, p 53
  44. ^ Munck, p 48
  45. ^ Zagorin, pp 8–12
  46. ^ Wedgwood, p 452
  47. ^ Henry Bertram Hill, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu, p vii, supports general thesis
  48. ^ a b Wedgwood, p 450
  49. ^ Cercle Richelieu
  50. ^ "Le grand atout de la France est d’avoir mis en place des conditions favorisant les établissements stables, grâce aux alliances avec les peuples autochtones" Cercle Richelieu 1
  51. ^ Kenneth M Morrison, The Embattled Northeast: The Elusive Ideal of Alliance in Abenaki-Euramerican Relations, 1984, p94 2
  52. ^ Roger L Nichols, Indians in the United States and Canada: A Comparative History, 1999, p32 3
  53. ^ Acte pour l'établissement de la Compagnie des Cent Associés pour le commerce du Canada, contenant les articles accordés à la dite Compagnie par M le Cardinal de Richelieu, le 29 avril 1627 4
  54. ^ "Statistics for the 1666 Census" Library and Archives Canada 2006 Retrieved 2010-06-24 
  55. ^ Perkins, p 273
  56. ^ Phillips, p 3
  57. ^ a b Perkins, p 195
  58. ^ Perkins, p 198
  59. ^ Perkins, p 191
  60. ^ Perkins, p 200
  61. ^ Perkins, p 204
  62. ^ Cabanès, "Le Medecin de Richelieu", pp 16–43, for a full account of his medical history
  63. ^ Treasure, p 8
  64. ^ Fontaine de Resbecq pp 11–18; Cabanès, "L'Odyssée d'un Crane"; Murphy, 1995
  65. ^ "A Photograph of the Head of Cardinal Richelieu Taken Two Hundred and Fifty Years After Death" Medical Library and Historical Journal 4 2: 184–185 1906 PMC 1692471  PMID 18340911 
  66. ^ Jacques Gaffrel in Italy and Jean Tileman Stella in Germany – Bonnaffé p 13
  67. ^ Bonnaffé, pp 4, 12
  68. ^ Auchincloss, p 178
  69. ^ Elliot, 1991, p 30
  70. ^ Pitte, p 33
  71. ^ Alexander, 1996, p 20
  72. ^ Bonnaffé :7ff notes other portrait galleries assembled by Richelieu's contemporaries, pp 10ff
  73. ^ The young Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres made a careful drawing of it
  74. ^ "Le petit cabinet de passage pour aller à l'appartement vert" Bonnaffé :10
  75. ^ Bonnaffé :16
  76. ^ "Louvre Museum" Cartelenlouvrefr Retrieved 2010-10-14 
  77. ^ Collins, p 1
  78. ^ Collins, p 1 – although Collin does note that this can be exaggerated
  79. ^ Phillips, p 266
  80. ^ Carl J Burckhardt, Richelieu and His Age 1967 vol 3, appendix


  • Alexander, Edward Porter Museums in Motion: an introduction to the history and functions of museums Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield 1996
  • Auchincloss, Louis Richelieu Viking Press 1972
  • Bergin, Joseph The Rise of Richelieu Manchester: Manchester University Press 1997
  • Blanchard, Jean-Vincent Eminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France Walker & Company; 2011 309 pages; a biography
  • Bonnaffé, Edmond Recherches sur les collections des Richelieu Plon 1883 French
  • Cabanès, Augustin "Le Médecin de Richelieu – La Maladie du Cardinal" and "L'Odyssée d'un Crane – La Tête du Cardinal", Le Cabinet Secret de l'Histoire, 4e serie Paris: Dorbon Ainé 1905 French
  • Collins, James B The State in Early Modern France Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1995
  • Dyer, Thomas Henry The history of modern Europe from the fall of Constantinople: in 1453, to the war in the Crimea, in 1857 J Murray 1861
  • Elliott, J H Richelieu and Olivares Cambridge: Canto Press 1991
  • Fontaine de Resbecq, Eugène de Les Tombeaux des Richelieu à la Sorbonne, par un membre de la Société d'archéologie de Seine-et-Marne Paris: Ernest Thorin 1867 French
  • Lodge, Sir Richard, and Ketcham, Henry The life of Cardinal Richelieu AL Burt 1903
  • Munck, Thomas Seventeenth Century Europe, 1598–1700 London: Macmillan 1990
  • Pardoe, Julia The Life of Marie de Medici, volume 3 Colburn 1852; BiblioBazaar reprint 2006
  • Parker, Geoffrey Europe in Crisis, 1598–1648 London: Fontana 1984
  • Perkins, James Breck Richelieu and the Growth of French Power Ayer Publishing 1971
  • Phillips, Henry Church and Culture in Seventeenth Century France Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1997
  • Pitte, Jean-Robert La Sorbonne au service des humanités: 750 ans de création et de transmission du savoir, 1257–2007 Paris: Presses Paris Sorbonne 2007 French
  • Treasure, Geoffrey Richelieu and Mazarin London: Routledge 1998
  • Trevor-Roper, Hugh Redwald Europe's physician: the various life of Sir Theodore de Mayerne Yale: Yale University Press 2006 ISBN 978-0-300-11263-4
  • Wedgwood, C V The Thirty Years' War London: Methuen 1981
  • Zagorin, Perez Rebels and Rulers, 1500–1660 Volume II: Provincial rebellion: Revolutionary civil wars, 1560–1660 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1992

Further readingedit

  • Belloc, Hilaire 1929 Richelieu: A Study London: J B Lippincott 
  • Burckhardt, Carl J 1967 Richelieu and His Age 3 volumes trans Bernard Hoy New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 
  • Church, William F 1972 Richelieu and Reason of State Princeton: Princeton University Press 
  • Kissinger, Henry 1997 Diplomacy 
  • Levi, Anthony 2000 Cardinal Richelieu and the Making of France New York: Carroll and Graf 
  • Lodge, Sir Richard 1896 Richelieu PDF London: Macmillan 
  • Murphy, Edwin 1995 After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses New York: Barnes and Noble Books 
  • O'Connell, DP 1968 Richelieu New York: The World Publishing Company 
  • Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal et Duc de 1964 The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu trans Henry Bertram Hill Madison: University of Wisconsin Press CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link

External linksedit

  • Damayanov, Orlin 1996 "The Political Career and Personal Qualities of Richelieu"
  • Goyau, Georges 1912 "Armand-Jean du Plessis, Duke de Richelieu" The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII New York: Robert Appleton Company
  • Schiller, Friedrich von 1793 The History of the Thirty Years' War Translated by A J W Morrison
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Jacques de Veny d'Arbouze
Abbot of Cluny
Succeeded by
Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti
Political offices
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Title last held informally by the marquis d'Ancre
Chief Minister to the French Monarch
Succeeded by
Cardinal Mazarin
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