Cardinal Richelieu

''[[Portrait of Cardinal Richelieu|Cardinal de Richelieu]]'' by [[Philippe de Champaigne]], 1642 ([[Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg]]) Armand Jean du Plessis, 1st Duke of Richelieu (; 9 September 1585 – 4 December 1642), known as Cardinal Richelieu,, ; }} was a French statesman and prelate of the Catholic Church. He became known as ''l'Éminence rouge'', or "the Red Eminence", a term derived from the title "Eminence" applied to cardinals and from the red robes that they customarily wear.

Consecrated a bishop in 1607, Richelieu was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1616. He continued to rise through the hierarchy of both the Catholic Church and the French government, becoming a cardinal in 1622 and chief minister to King Louis XIII of France in 1624. He retained that office until his death in 1642, when he was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin, whose career he had fostered. Richelieu became engaged in a bitter dispute with Marie de Médici, the king's mother, and formerly his close ally.

Richelieu sought to consolidate royal power and restrained the power of the nobility in order to transform France into a strong centralized state. In foreign policy, his primary objectives were to check the power of the Habsburg dynasty (reigning notably in Spain and Austria) and to ensure French dominance in the Thirty Years' War of 1618–1648 after that conflict engulfed Europe. Despite suppressing the Huguenot rebellions of the 1620s, he made alliances with Protestant states like the Kingdom of England and the Dutch Republic to help him achieve his goals. However, although he was a powerful political figure in his own right, events such as the Day of the Dupes () in 1630 showed that Richelieu's power still depended on the king's confidence.

An alumnus of the University of Paris and headmaster of the College of Sorbonne, Richelieu renovated and extended the institution. He became famous for his patronage of the arts and founded the , the learned society responsible for matters pertaining to the French language. As an advocate for Samuel de Champlain and New France, he founded (1627) the ; he also negotiated the 1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye under which Quebec City returned to French rule after English privateers took it in 1629. He was created Duke of Richelieu in 1629.

Richelieu is known as the inventor of the table knife. Annoyed by the bad manners that were commonly displayed at the dining table by users of sharp knives (who would often use them to pick their teeth), in 1637 Richelieu ordered that all of the knives on his dining table have their blades dulled and their tips rounded. The design quickly became popular throughout France and later spread to other countries.

Richelieu has frequently been depicted in popular fiction, notably as the lead villain in Alexandre Dumas's 1844 novel ''The Three Musketeers'' and its numerous film adaptations. Provided by Wikipedia
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