Cardinal Richelieu

Armand Jean du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu (French: [aʁmɑ̃ ʒɑ̃ dy plɛsi]; 9 September 1585 – 4 December 1642), known as Cardinal Richelieu,[lower-alpha 1] was a French clergyman and statesman. He was also known as l'Éminence rouge, or "the Red Eminence", a term derived from the title "Eminence" applied to cardinals, and the red robes they customarily wore.

The Cardinal Duke of Richelieu

First Minister of State
In office
12 August 1624  4 December 1642
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byThe Marquis of Ancre
Vacant (1617–1624)
Succeeded byJules Mazarin
Governor of Brittany
In office
17 April 1632  4 December 1642
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byThe Marquis of Thémines [fr]
Succeeded byQueen Anne
Grand Master of the Navigation
In office
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byThe Duke of Montmorency
Succeeded byThe Marquis of Brézé
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
30 November 1616  24 April 1617
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byClaude Mangot [fr]
Succeeded byThe Marquis of Sillery
Secretary of State for War
In office
25 November 1616  24 April 1617
MonarchLouis XIII
Preceded byClaude Mangot
Succeeded byNicolas Brulart de Sillery
Personal details
Armand Jean du Plessis

(1585-09-09)9 September 1585
Paris, France
Died4 December 1642(1642-12-04) (aged 57)
Paris, France
Resting placeSorbonne Chapel
Alma materCollege of Navarre
ProfessionClergyman, statesman
Cardinal, Bishop of Luçon
Appointed18 December 1606
Installed17 April 1607
Term endedBefore 29 April 1624
PredecessorFrançois Yver
SuccessorEmery de Bragelongne
Consecration17 April 1607
by Anne d'Escars de Givry
Created cardinal5 September 1622
by Pope Gregory XV
Personal details
Previous post(s)
Coat of arms
Styles of
Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu
Reference styleHis Grand Eminence
Spoken styleYour Grand Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Consecrated as a bishop in 1607, he was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1616. He continued to rise in both the Catholic Church and French government, becoming a cardinal in 1622, and Chief minister to Louis XIII of France in 1624. He retained this office until his death in 1642, when he was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin, whose career he had fostered.

Richelieu sought to consolidate royal power and by restraining the power of the nobility, he transformed France into a strong, centralized state. In foreign policy, his primary objective was to check the power of the Habsburg dynasty in Spain and Austria, and ensure French dominance in the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe. Despite suppressing French Protestants, he did not hesitate to make alliances with Protestant states like the Kingdom of England and the Dutch Republic to achieve his goals. Though he was a powerful political figure, events such as the Day of the Dupes, or Journée des Dupes, show this power was still dependent on the king's confidence.

An alumnus of the University of Paris and headmaster of the College of Sorbonne, he renovated and extended the institution. He was famous for his patronage of the arts, and founded the Académie Française, the learned society responsible for matters pertaining to the French language. As an advocate for Samuel de Champlain and New France, he founded the Compagnie des Cent-Associés; he also negotiated the 1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, under which Quebec City returned to French rule after its loss in 1629.

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