This Week in History

Birth of a Wayward Cardinal:

September 9, 1585

The following comes from our text, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. For more information on this and our other texts, please click here.

Triple Portrait of Cardinal Richelieu, by Philippe de Champagne

As long as the Huguenots held political and military power in France, they remained a real threat to the peace and unity of the kingdom. No one, king or Catholic nobleman, had found a solution to the Huguenot problem. In 1624, however, the king appointed Cardinal Richelieu to be prime minister. It was the able and energetic Richelieu who finally ended the religious wars in France and set the stage for the establishment of a strong French kingdom, united under its sovereign.

Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was born September 9, 1585, the third son of a minor nobleman. When Armand was only five, his father died, leaving his estates nearly bankrupt. Through Armand-Jean’s mother’s influence, in 1605 King Henry IV named the young Richelieu bishop of Luçon, a diocese near La Rochelle that was controlled by the Richelieu family. Richelieu was both pious and ambitious. Intent on making his diocese both holy and orderly, he was the first bishop in France to implement the reforms of Trent. But Richelieu was ruthless and single-minded in the pursuit of his policies, and he believed intensely not only in God, but France.