Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis, duc de

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Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis, duc de

(Cardinal Richelieu) (ärmäN` zhäN dü plĕsē` dük də rēshəlyö`), 1585–1642, French prelate and statesman, chief minister of King Louis XIII, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Consecrated bishop of Luçon (1607), he was a delegate of the clergy to the States-General (1614). In 1616, through the favor of the king's mother, Marie de' MediciMarie de' Medici
, 1573–1642, queen of France, second wife of King Henry IV and daughter of Francesco de' Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. She was married to Henry in 1600. After his assassination (1610) she became regent for her son Louis XIII.
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, he became a secretary of state. He went into exile with Marie after the king freed himself from her influence with the aid of the duc de LuynesLuynes, Charles d'Albert, duc de
, 1578–1621, constable of France, minister and favorite of King Louis XIII. With the king's collaboration he caused the assassination of Concino Concini (1617), took over the government, and forced Marie de' Medici into exile.
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. The death (1621) of Luynes and the reconciliation of Louis XIII and Marie restored Richelieu to favor. In 1622 he was made cardinal, and he became chief minister in 1624. The growing jealousy of Marie and the great nobles endangered his position, and in 1630 Marie supported a conspiracy against Richelieu. She was unable to win the king's support, however, and was exiled. Richelieu then had full control of the government. His domestic policy aimed at consolidating and centralizing royal authority, which had as its corollary the destruction of the power of the Huguenots and the great nobles. The HuguenotsHuguenots
, French Protestants, followers of John Calvin. The term is derived from the German Eidgenossen, meaning sworn companions or confederates. Origins

Prior to Calvin's publication in 1536 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion,
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 were humbled by the capture of La Rochelle (1628); the peace of Alais (1629) ended their special political privileges—without, however, denying them religious toleration. Conspiracies of the nobles, who invariably found a figurehead in the king's brother Gaston d'OrléansOrléans, Gaston, duc d'
, 1608–60, son of King Henry IV and Marie de' Medici, younger brother of Louis XIII. He took part in many of the conspiracies of the great nobles against Louis XIII's minister, Cardinal Richelieu, and several times fled from France.
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, were rigorously suppressed. In foreign affairs, Richelieu reacted against Marie de' Medici's pro-Hapsburg diplomacy in favor of the traditional French anti-Spanish and anti-Austrian policy. To this end he strengthened the army and the navy, made alliances with the Netherlands and the German Protestant states, and subsidized Gustavus IIGustavus II
(Gustavus Adolphus), 1594–1632, king of Sweden (1611–32), son and successor of Charles IX. Military Achievements

Gustavus's excellent education, personal endowments, and early experience in affairs of state prepared him for his crucial role
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 of Sweden against the Holy Roman Emperor in the Thirty Years WarThirty Years War,
1618–48, general European war fought mainly in Germany. General Character of the War

There were many territorial, dynastic, and religious issues that figured in the outbreak and conduct of the war.
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. In 1635 he formed an active alliance with Sweden and Bernhard of Saxe-WeimarBernhard of Saxe-Weimar
, 1604–39, Protestant general in the Thirty Years War, duke of Weimar. Under Ernst von Mansfeld and the margrave of Baden, Bernhard fought against the imperial forces in defense (1622) of the Palatinate.
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, and France entered the Thirty Years War. Although Richelieu died before the peace was signed (1648; see Westphalia, Peace ofWestphalia, Peace of,
1648, general settlement ending the Thirty Years War. It marked the end of the Holy Roman Empire as an effective institution and inaugurated the modern European state system.
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), the terms agreed to were in general conformity to his aims. In France, the war resulted in heavy taxation; this, combined with Richelieu's poor management of finances, depleted the treasury and caused dissatisfaction with his rule. Overseas, however, he encouraged commercial capitalism, organizing companies to trade in the Indies and Canada. He was a patron of the arts and the founder of the French Academy. Among his literary works are his memoirs (1650) and the Testament politique (1688, tr. 1961).

Bibliography

See biographies by R. Lodge (1896, repr. 1970), C. Burckhardt (tr. 1940), and J.-V. Blanchard (2011); studies by F. C. Palm (1922, repr. 1970), C. V. Wedgwood (1949, rev. ed. 1962), G. R. R. Treasure (1972), E. W. Marvick (1983), and J. Bergin (1985).

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