Richelieu, Armand Jean Du Plessis De

Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis de, a noted French ecclesiastic and statesman, was born at Paris, Sept. 5, 1585, and was educated for the military profession at the College de Navarre. His eldest brother resigning the bishopric of Lucon, Richelieu decided to take holy orders in order to succeed to that office. In 1607 he was consecrated bishop of Lucon, and for some time devoted himself zealously to the duties of his office. At the States-General, 1614, being appointed one of the representatives of the clergy, he secured the favor of the queen mother — Marie de Medicis — by an address delivered in the presence of the young king, Louis XIII. He was appointed almoner to the queen mother, and in Nov. 1616, entered the council as secretary of state. In 1617 Mary was banished to Blois, and he followed her thither, but was ordered to retire to Avignon. When the queen mother was recalled to the court she reinstated Richelieu in favor, and from that time he grew in power. Having strengthened his position by the marriage of his niece with the nephew of the duke De Luynes, he received the cardinal's hat in 1622, reentered the state council, and soon after rose to the premiership. The administration of Richelieu was memorable for several great measures, of which the first and most lasting was that by which the remains of feudalism were swept away and the absolute authority of the sovereign was established. In the pursuit of this object his most powerful adversary was Gaston, the duke of Orleans, brother of the king. But Richelieu triumphed over him, and even the queen mother was obliged to bow before his unbending spirit and to withdraw into exile at Cologne. Another enterprise was the overthrow of the Huguenots as a political party and a rival of the throne of France. He conducted in person (1628) the siege of Rochelle, but is said to have secured for the Huguenot party a certain measure of toleration, and to have used his success against them with moderation. In 1631 Richelieu was raised to the dukedom and peerage. In the external relations of France the great object of Richelieu's measures was the abasement of Austria. With this view he did not hesitate to foment the internal disaffections of Germany, even allying himself with the German Protestants, and assisted Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, the great champion of Protestantism. He also took part with the disaffected Spanish provinces in the Netherlands, and favored the Catalonians and Portuguese when they shook off the Spanish yoke. At last Austria was humbled, Portugal was separated from Spain (1640), French influence predominated in Catalonia, England was in full revolution, and France quiet and prosperous. His administration was again threatened by intrigues at court or treason in the camps. Richelieu, however, vindicated his power, and in 1642 came into Paris in triumph, carried on a litter, escorted by an army, and surrounded by the utmost pomp. Two months afterwards — Dec. 4, 1642 — he died, and was buried at the Sorbonne, where his mausoleum (the celebrated Girardon's masterpiece) may be seen. Busy with affairs of state, with war abroad, and dissension, plots, and treason at home. Richelieu nevertheless promoted arts and sciences, founded the Jardin du Roi (now Jardin des Plantes), also the French Academy and the royal printing office, built the Palais Royal, and rebuilt the Sorbonne. He also found time to write several works and two plays — Mirame, a comedy, and La Grande Pastorale. He is regarded as the author of Memoires du Cardinal de Richelieu (first published complete by Petitot [Paris, 1823]): — Le Testament Politique (1764, 2 vols.): — and of Le Journal de M. le Cardinal de Richelieu (Amst. 1649, 2 vols.). His theological works are, La Defense des Principaux Points de la Foi Catholique, etc. (1617): — Instruction du Chretien (1619). See Aubery, Memoires du Cardinal de Richelieu (1660); Jay, Histoire du Ministere de Richelieu; Capefigue, Richelieu et Mazarin (1836); Martin, Histoire de France; Michelet, Histoire de France; Violart, Histoire du Ministere de Richelieu (1649); Caillet, L'Administration en France sous Richelieu (1861, 2 vols.); Robson, Life of Cardinal Richelieu (1854); Sully, Memoires; Retz, Memoires.

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