1902 Encyclopedia > Cardinal de Richelieu

Cardinal de Richelieu
(also known as: Cardinal Richelieu; Armand Jean de Plessis Richelieu)
French statesman and cardinal

RICHELIEU, ARMAND DU PLESSIS, CARDINAL DE (1585-1642), the greatest French statesman of the 17th century. As the chief events of his life have been recorded in connexion with the sketch of his political career in the article FRANCE (vol. ix. pp. 567-570), it only remains briefly to mention here some matters of second-ary importance. In the early days of his courtiership when he retired for a time to Avignon Richelieu wrote two religious works which attained to considerable popu-larity—Principaux points de la foy deffendus contre I'escrit adressé au roy par les quatre ministres de Charenton (1617), and La méthode la plus facile et assurée de convertir ceux qui sont separes de l'Église (Paris, 1651). After he became master of France, his desire for distinction as a man of letters and especially as a dramatic author led him to resort to various devices that were as undignified and ludicrous as they were high-handed and arbitrary. In the life of Corneille it has already been told how he employed " five poets " to " wash his dirty linen " (as Voltaire described the similar service he rendered to Frederick the Great), and how he attempted to revenge himself on Corneille, the greatest of the five, by causing the French Academy to pass a hostile verdict on the Cid. Even this high treason against art may perhaps be for-given in consideration of the practical services the cardinal rendered to the cause of literature. Les Thuileries, La Grande Pastorale, Mirame, and the other plays, over whose fate he trembled as over the result of an embassy or a campaign, have long been forgotten ; but a permanent. interest attaches to his Mémoires and correspondence (though owing to his way of working with substitutes and assistants it has been a difficult task to settle how much of what passes under his name is authentic) :—Mémoire d'Armand du Plessis de Richelieu, êvêque de Luçon écrit de sa main, l'année 1607 ou 1610, alors qu'il méditait de paraître à la cour, edited by Armand Baschet, 1880 ; L'Histoire de la Mére et du Fils, (i.e., of Mary do' Medici and Louis XIII.), Amsterdam, 1730, extending from 1610 to 1624, frequently attributed to Mézeray ; Mémoires from 1624-1638, published in Petitot's collection (Paris, 1823) ; Journal de M. le Cardinal de Richelieu, 1680-1631 (Amsterdam, 1664, 2 vols.); Testament politique du Cardinal de Richelieu (Paris, 1764) ; Les lettres, instruc-tions diplomatiques, et papiers d'état du Cardinal de Richelieu, collected and edited by M. Avenel, and forming five volumes of the Collection de documents inédits sur l'histoire de France (Paris, 1853-56).

Besides the older works of Aubery (1660) and Leclerc (1694) see A. Jay, Hist, du ministère de Richelieu, 1815 ; Capefigue, Richelieu, Mazarin, la Fronde, he, 1844 ; Caillet, L'administration en France sous Richelieu, 1860 ; Martineau, Le Cardinal de Richelieu, 1865; Topin, Louis XIII. et Richelieu,, 1877 ; Sainte-Beauve, Causeries du lundi, vol. vii.

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