Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Richelieu, Armand Jean Duplessis, Cardinal de (1585-1642), was of noble family and was born in Paris. He studied at the Colleges of Navarre and Lisieux, and would have entered the army but that his elder brother, Bishop of Lucon, resigned his see, and it was decided that the younger brother should obtain it. Henry IV. consented to the arrangement, and Richelieu began to study with that object, taking his doctor's degree at the age of 20. In 1607, with some hesitation, the Pope consecrated him, and soon after he was elected to the States-General by the Poitou clergy as their deputy. He was favoured by Marie de Medicis, and in 1616 was appointed Secretary of State, and soon gained great ascendency over the young Louis XIII. and his mother. When Marie de Medicis incurred the displeasure of the Court, he was banished, but he cleverly effected a reconciliation, and was before long recognised as the most powerful man in France. In 1622 he was created a cardinal, and in 1624 took his seat on the Supreme Council. Till his death, eighteen years later, he practically governed France. One of his most cherished plans was to curtail the power of the nobles and render the crown more independent and powerful, and in this he succeeded. The encroachments of the nobility were stopped, and they became dependent on the king, instead of the reverse, which had for some time previous been the case. Richelieu, being quite unscrupulous, considered any means justifiable, and sent many a noble head to the scaffold and the dungeon. He next subdued the Calvinists, and in person laid siege to their stronghold, La Rochelle, which he captured. He, however, had only a political purpose, and allowed them freedom to follow their religion without molestation. His greatest service to France, perhaps, was the humbling of the house of Austria, which then had enormous influence in Europe. To gain his ends he roused the Protestants against the Austrian emperor, and in several countries and by all manner of devious methods worked at the sapping of Austria's power. He finally reduced it to the subordinate position it had held before the death of Charles V. The closing years of his life saw the rise of Cinq-Mars' conspiracy, but Richelieu triumphed, and the conspirators were punished. He founded the French Academy and did much for France. It was largely due to him that Germany, Spain, and Savoy were kept in check so long. He was buried in the Sorbonne, where he had been educated.