Cardinal Richelieu. Statesman Or Tyrant? Discuss.

Essay by funnyfckerUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, May 2006

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Richelieu was a French clergyman, noble, and statesman. He was born in 1585. His family, although belonging only to the lesser nobility of Poitou, was somewhat prominent. His father was François Du Plessis, seigneur de Richelieu. He was a soldier and courtier who served as the Grand Provost of France. His mother, Susanne de La Porte, was the daughter of a famous jurist. When he was only five years old, his father died fighting in the French Wars of Religion and left the family in debt. However with the aid of royal grants the family was able to avoid financial difficulties. He was consecrated as a bishop in 1607. He later entered politics, and became Secretary of State in 1616. Richelieu soon rose in both the Church and the state, becoming a cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII's chief minister in 1624. He remained in office until his death in 1642.

Up until the middle of the 17th century, it had become very clear that France was by not a major player in European affairs. Spain was still the most powerful state as it held a strong position over European commerce and economics. However, by 1648, this power would shift, and France would become a strong country and state, in terms of political and economic influence. This transfer of power was aided by a weakening of the Spanish Empire, along with the establishment of an increasingly strong French state. "This establishment of France would begin to occur prior to the religious wars, and would be spearheaded by a strengthening of the centralized government through the development of royal absolutism".

Richelieu was the most significant contributor to this movement, political advisor to the king, Louis XIII, and head of the French Roman Catholic Church. The Cardinal's capable leadership, ambition...