Cardinal Richelieu

His Grand Eminence
The Duke of Richelieu
Cardinal de Richelieu mg 0053.jpg
Cardinal de Richelieu by Philippe de Champaigne (1642)
First Minister of State
In office
12 August 1624 – 4 December 1642
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byThe Marquis of Ancre
Vacant (1617–1624)
Succeeded byJules Mazarin
Governor of Brittany
In office
17 April 1632 – 4 December 1642
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byThe Marquis of Thémines
Succeeded byQueen Anne
Grand Master of the Navigation
In office
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byThe Duke of Montmorency
Succeeded byThe Marquis of Brézé
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
30 November 1616 – 24 April 1617
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byClaude Mangot
Succeeded byThe Marquis of Sillery
Secretary of State for War
In office
25 November 1616 – 24 April 1617
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byClaude Mangot
Succeeded byNicolas Brulart de Sillery
Personal details
BornArmand Jean du Plessis
(1585-09-09)9 September 1585
Paris, Île-de-France, France
Died4 December 1642(1642-12-04) (aged 57)
Paris, Île-de-France, France
Alma materCollege of Navarre
ProfessionClergyman, statesman
Cardinal, Bishop of Luçon
Consecration17 April 1607
by Anne d'Escars de Givry
Created Cardinal5 September 1622
by Pope Gregory XV
Personal details
Previous post
SignatureCardinal Richelieu's signature

Cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis, 1st 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 d(ə) ʁiʃ(ə)ljø]), 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 College of 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.

Richelieu has been depicted in popular fiction frequently, most notably as a leading character in Alexandre Dumas's novel The Three Musketeers and its numerous film adaptations.

Early life

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 jurist.[3] 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 philosophy.[5] Thereafter, he began to train for a military career.[6] 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 gonorrhea.[7]

King Henry III had rewarded Richelieu's father for his participation in the Wars of Religion by granting his family the bishopric of Luçon.[8] 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 Luçon.[9] Alphonse, who had no desire to become a bishop, became instead a Carthusian monk.[10] 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 Luçon.[9] 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 reformer.[11] He became the first bishop in France to implement the institutional reforms prescribed by the Council of Trent between 1545 and 1563.[12]

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 negotiations.[13]

Other Languages
العربية: ريشيليو
asturianu: Richelieu
azərbaycanca: Kardinal Rişelye
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кардынал Рышэльё
Հայերեն: Ռիշելյե
Bahasa Indonesia: Kardinal Richelieu
қазақша: Ришелье
Simple English: Cardinal Richelieu
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu
українська: Кардинал Рішельє
اردو: رشیلیو
中文: 黎塞留