Richelieu, cardinal Armand Jean du Plessis

(1585-1642)
   First minister of France, Cardinal Richelieu was educated in the Collège de Navarre, Paris, in the military arts and at the Collège de Calvi in theology. He received the bishophric of Luçon in Poitou in 1607, and the cardinalate in 1622. He came to the attention of Marie de' Medici, regent to Louis XIII of France, and was appointed secretary of state in 1616. In 1624, after his successful mediation between Marie and her son, Richelieu was promoted to first minister. Though it was through Marie's intervention that he had obtained the post, his relations with her eventually became strained and she and the Duke of Orleans unsuccessfully conspired against him.
   In his capacity as first minister, Richelieu was able to secure for France a position as the leading power of Europe. He restricted the power of the feudal nobility and severely punished those who tried to rebel against the monarchy. In 1627, he seized La Rochelle, a Huguenot stronghold and, by 1629, defeated the French Protestants, abolishing with the Peace of Alais their political rights and protections. To check Marie de' Medici's pro-Hapsburg policies, he strengthened the French army and navy and made the necessary alliances with Protestant states to prevent the further expansion of Hapsburg dominion. Cardinal Richelieu was well known for his art patronage. He was the protector of the Sorbonne University, had its buildings restored, and its chapel built by Jacques Lemercier.He was also the patron of Simon Vouet and Philippe de Champaigne.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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