Posts Tagged ‘The Three Musketeers’

Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis de (1585-1642)

Richelieu called the Red Eminence (L’Eminence Rouge)and feared. He was crafty and ruthless in his attempt to lift France from medieval backwardness to the glory she was destined for. He dominated French politics from 1610 till his death.
A bright child, Armand-Jean du Plessis studied theology as a teen and at the young age of 21 was appointed Bishop of Luçon. In 1622 he was made a cardinal and from there rose to become head of the Royal Council and prime minister of France in 1624. He was adviser to the widow of Henri IV and her son Louis XIII. King Louis XIII was a weak ruler and Richelieu filled the void, more or less running the empire. He established royal absolutism in France by suppressing the political power of the Huguenots. The siege and capture of Rochelle, which he conducted in person (1628) was followed by the submission of other Huguenot strongholds. Richelieu, however, secured for the Huguenot body a certain measure of religious toleration. His astuteness is evident in the way he used his success in this conflict with moderation.
He reduced the influence of the nobles by blowing up their castles and banning private armies. In foreign policy, he sought to weaken Habsburg control of Europe and involved France in the Thirty Years’ War. Though France was a Catholic country he supported Protestant countries in order to diminish the hold of the Catholic league of states. The asuteness of his foreign policy saw France emerge at the end of Thirty Years War as the most powerful nation in Europe. In order to cut the power of Spain he supported the Portuguese in their struggle for independence. Devious and brilliant, he increased the power of the Bourbon dynasty and established orderly government in France.
One of the less known but of far reaching influence he exerted was in the way he encouraged arts. He founded the Académie Française and rebuilt the Sorbonne.
He brought innovation in administering the kingdom through superindents of regions who exerted extensive powers but were directly responsible to the central government that was in himself.
He encouraged road and canal constructions throughout the length and breadth to spur trade and industry. He also encouraged French colonial expansion in the Far East,India and the West indies.
Ever since Dumas’ novel Three Musketeers (1844)in Richelieu’s name has become synonymous with political intrigue and ambitious power “behind the throne.”


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