Cardinal Richelieu

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Related to Cardinal Richelieu: Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Cardinal Mazarin
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Richelieu, Cardinal


(Armand-Jean du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu). Born Sept. 5, 1585, in Paris; died there Dec. 4, 1642. French statesman and cardinal (from 1622).

In 1624, Richelieu became head of the royal council and de facto ruler of France. Attempting to strengthen absolutism, he took La Rochelle (1628) and the southern fortresses (1629) from the Huguenots, who had set up a state within the state. He deprived the Huguenots of the political rights granted them under the Edict of Nantes (1598), but he maintained freedom of religion, as well as certain privileges enjoyed by the Huguenot bourgeoisie (the Edict of Mercy, 1629). In 1632, Richelieu suppressed a feudal rebellion in Languedoc and executed the Duke of Montmorency, the governor general. Richelieu ordered the destruction of the nobles’ castles, excluding those located along the country’s borders. Supervision of provincial governors was increased, and the rights of the provincial estates, parliaments, and tax collection authorities were greatly limited. Administrative duties were transferred to the provincial intendants.

Richelieu considered his principal foreign-policy task to be the struggle against the Hapsburgs, against whom he waged a “covert” war by supporting their enemies, the German Protestant princes, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden. In 1635 he took France into the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). The creation of a navy and reorganization of the army contributed to French victories.

In economics Richelieu pursued a mercantilist policy, expanding the French colonization of Canada and promoting French trading companies in the West Indies, including Santo Domingo, as well as in Senegal and Madagascar. To strengthen absolutism and broaden foreign policy, Richelieu increased the oppressive tax burden and harshly suppressed popular movements provoked by his tax policy, including many urban uprisings in the 1620’s, 1630’s, and 1640’s, as well as uprisings by the Croquants (1624, 1636–37) and the Va-nu-pieds (“the barefoot ones,” 1639). In his Political Testament, Richelieu stated the basic principles of the policy of French absolutism.

In literature and art, Richelieu promoted the development of French classicism. He founded the Académie Française.


Maximes d’état …. Paris, 1880.
Mémoires, vols. 1–10. Paris, 1908–31.
Testament politique [7th ed.]. Paris, 1947.


Liublinskaia, A. D. Frantsiia v nach. XVII v. Leningrad, 1959.
Liublinskaia, A. D. Frantsuzskii absoliutizm v pervoi treti XVII v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Hanotaux, G. Histoire du cardinal de Richelieu, vols. 1–6. Paris [1932–47].
Hauser, H. La Pensée et l’action économique du cardinal de Richelieu. Paris, 1944.
Saint-Aulaire, A. F. de. Richelieu [2nd ed.] Paris, 1960.
Méthivier, H. Le Siècle de Louis XIII. Paris, 1964.
Burckhardt, C. J. Richelieu. Bern [1971].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Beam maintains throughout that the cultural shifts of the early seventeenth century resulted from diverse influences well established by the time Cardinal Richelieu patronized theater after 1635.
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Plantier, 'Mme Rene Levesque', 'Felicite Parmentier', 'Reine des Violettes', 'Tuscany Superba', 'Charles de Mills', 'Cardinal Richelieu', 'Gloire de France', Rosa Mundi, 'Belle de Crecy' and 'William Lobb' entered my garden over the next few years.
However, his starting point is to establish the reputation which Ussher enjoyed at the end of his career, where his wide learning but also his moderate and agreeable personality earned him admirers from the likes of William Laud, Thomas Wentworth and Peter Heylyn, but more unexpectedly from a wider body of churchmen and statesmen including Cardinal Richelieu, William Prynne and Oliver Cromwell.
The Triple Portrait of Cardinal Richelieu from London (right) is one of many foreign loans.
In his Political Testament, Cardinal Richelieu advised Louis XIII that to achieve greatness he must "ruin the Huguenot party, humble the pride of the nobles, and raise the name of the king among foreign nations by maintaining a powerful navy." Richelieu's commitment to naval power is verified in his coat of arms, which includes an anchor, and in the maritime motifs that adorned his Paris residence.
As Dumas must have noticed, on page eleven of his work Courtilz mentions Athos, Porthos and Aramis as being Musketeers, in the same breath: they are summoned to Paris by Treville, Captain of the Musketeers, to take on Cardinal Richelieu's guards like professional gunslingers brought in to settle a turf war; and that quite by chance, a hot-headed young Gascon, d'Artagnan, arrives in the capital at the same moment.
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The story of Guy Fawkes's plot to blow up Parliament in London in 1605 is accepted without demur (463-64); the papal schism initiated by Hippolytus is extended to 1439 (117, presumably the year 239 or thereabouts is intended); Vatican I is dated to 1879 instead of 1870 (651, though the correct date is given on 659); Cardinal Richelieu is wrongly described as a Capuchin friar (474); some 150 bishops and monks, rather than "fifty bishops," attended the Cyrilline council at Ephesus in 431 (126); crusades continued to be called long after 1459 (264)--witness the battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Paroled, he took his case to the French court, beseeching the King and Cardinal Richelieu not to forsake his colony.
From the Corcoran Gallery, with its restored 18th-century Parisian parlor room, to the Textile Museum, proud owner of French paisley patterns, to the Spy Museum, which houses artifacts on Cardinal Richelieu's espionage network, nearly every gallery could, with a rummage through its closets, devise relevant exhibits.