Cardinal Richelieu's Contribution to the Growth of the French State

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Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was born in 1585, and would become the future chief minister of the French monarchy from 1624 to 1642. When he was born, on his cot was the motto, Regi Armandus, meaning "Armand for the King" . This statement would arguably become one of the truest statements in history, as Richelieu would eventually play a very important part in firmly establishing the power of the French monarchy over its subjects and the power of France as a world power . Richelieu has been seen by different historians in two ways; one being a ruthless despot who would do whatever he possibly could to achieve his goals, and the other being of a brilliant politician who transformed France into one of the greatest and most powerful nations and monarchies in the world. However, some historians, such as Knecht argue that both of these views are interlinked. The Machiavellian principle, "the ends justify the means", applies greatly to Cardinal Richelieu, as he was a very ambitious politician, and would do anything that he saw as possible to strengthen the position of France and the king. Koenigsberger argues that, in relation to the wars of religion, "royal authority was restored largely by the energy of Louis XIII's chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu" .

Richelieu had many advantages being chief minister. One of these advantages was that he was a cardinal. The Catholic Church was an extremely powerful institution in France, and with one of their representatives in such a high position of parliament, it would be in the church's interest to support him wholly for their own ends. Wedgwood also argues that the church "would not readily tolerate an attack upon its main representative in council" . Theoretically, with the support of...

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...out of touch with its people. After his death, his policies were continued and this had a detrimental effect in the long run.

In conclusion, although Cardinal Richelieu's policies contributed greatly to the growth of the French state and monarchy, they also led to its decline with the French revolution in 1789.

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C. V. Wedgwood: Richelieu and the French Monarchy

English Universities Press LTD, Aylesbury 1965

G. R. R. Treasure: Seventeenth Century France

Rivingtons (Publishers) Limited, London 1966

Elizabeth Wirth Marvick: Louis XIII

Yale University Press, USA 1986

Orest A. Ranum: Richelieu and the Councillors of Louis XIII

Oxford University Press, London 1963

R. J. Knecht: Richelieu

Longman Group UK LTD, Essex 1991

H. G. Koenigsberger: Early Modern Europe 1500 - 1789

Pearson Education LTD, Essex 1987
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