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Cardinal Richelieu – French statesman

Cardinal Richelieu - French statesman. Philippe de Champaigne

Cardinal Richelieu – French statesman. Philippe de Champaigne

Cardinal Richelieu was also known as Red Cardinal. He was Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, an aristocrat and statesman of France. From 1616 to 1617 he was a secretary of state and head of government (chief minister of the king) from 1624 until his death. Richelieu, among other things, was very prolific playwright and his plays were published in the first royal printing house. Historians have viewed Richelieu as either a patriot or a tyrant, and he was later vilified in Alexandre Dumas’s classic novel The Three Musketeers (1844).
Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was born on September 9, 1585 in Paris. He was the fourth of the five children into a family of Francois du Plessis, the lord of Richelieu, and Suzanne de La Porte.
Armand studied grammar and philosophy at the College de Navarre. Later he entered military academy. In 1603 he began serious study of theology.
At the end of 1608 Richelieu arrived in Lucon and became an assiduous bishop.

In 1614 the clergy of Poitou elected him a deputy.
In 1619 Marie de Medici, the king’s mother, rebelled to regain the authority she held previously as regent. Richelieu was recalled to negotiate peace terms. He became a cardinal in 1622 and in 1624 reentered the king’s Council of Ministers.

Louis XIII and cardinal de Richelieu

Louis XIII and cardinal de Richelieu

Richelieu was a patron of the arts and in 1636 founded the Academie franaise to promote French literature. He authored numerous religious and political works.
In 1622, Richelieu became principal of the Sorbonne, sponsoring the college’s renovation and the construction of a chapel.
Cardinal Richelieu died on December 4, 1642 in Paris.
He was fond of cats and was one of the first European owners of Angora cats.
Cardinal Richelieu founded the city and named it after himself, Richelieu, Indre-et-Loire.

Anne of Austria and Cardinal Richelieu

Wife of Louis XIII - Anne of Austria

Wife of Louis XIII – Anne of Austria

The life of celebrated statesman was surrounded by legends, mysteries and incredible stories.
Armand was prepared for a military career but fate decreed otherwise and future Duke became a priest in spring 1607. A few years later, he was presented at the royal court, and charmed the monarch. He had brilliant knowledge, oratorical skills and personal charm. The king awarded him an honorary Order of Holy Spirit and made his bishop. The future Duke was young, handsome and talented. He immediately made friends, become acquainted with influential figures in the royal palace and enchanted the ladies with his refined manners and the ability to speak beautifully.
It is known that Richelieu was married to Rosalia de Roshenuar, but they lived separately and he communicated with her only in letters.
When in 1610 King Henry IV was assassinated, 9-year-old Louis XIII became new French king. The boy’s mother, Marie de Medici, was assigned his regent.
A few years later, Louis appointed bishop as a confessor of his wife, the young Queen Anne of Austria. Anna, who became the wife of the young king, was homesick and unhappy in the marriage. Bishop Richelieu tried to win the favor of the royal wife and became her good friend. Soon grateful Spaniard trusted him the innermost secrets. And confessor told about his secret relationship with the noble ladies and revealed the secret of sensual love.
They said that Richelieu was passionately in love with the queen, who was considered the most beautiful woman of the time. The bishop, one of the most famous lovers of the country, who was desired by the most beautiful and richest women in France, gave his heart to the young queen. He wrote her secret letters, dedicated poems and odes, was ready for everything. The years passed but the queen reminded cool in her feelings to Armand.
Royal priest became the lover of the queen mother, but their affair was short-lived. Six months later, there was a plot against Maria and she was expelled from France. Bishop Richelieu fell out of favor and spent several years in a terrible fear of conspiracies and humiliation. Only in 1624 he returned to the palace, and became an adviser to King Louis XIII, as well as the Chief Minister. He ruled France for long eighteen years. Richelieu’s policy was resolute and quite cruel, but everything he did was done for the benefit of France.

Delaroche Paul. Cardinal Richelieu, 1829

Delaroche Paul. Cardinal Richelieu, 1829

Anne of Austria, who often participated in plots against Richelieu, one day, was seriously fascinated by the young Cardinal Mazarin. At the same time she gave birth to a son, the future King of France Louis XIV. They said that the father of the child was a favorite of the Queen.
Cardinal Richelieu died of pneumonia in December 1642 at the age of 50. Louis XIII died six months later. His young son, Louis XIV, ascended the throne and Queen Anne of Austria became a regent.
Queen ruled the country together with Cardinal Mazarin for several years. When Mazarin died in 1661, her son, Louis XIV, began to rule France alone, and once the most beautiful woman in Europe and a strong love of the great Duke of Richelieu, Anne of Austria went to the monastery of Val de Grace, where she died five years later.

Cardinal Richelieu – French statesman