Richelieu. A Role of Action and its Legacy
Title: Richelieu. A Role of Action and its Legacy
Author: D'ALBIS, Cécile
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2011/26
Biography, a difficult and ambiguous genre, the most popular in all of literature, has played such an important role in the meaning of the individual self in western civilization. Its history has also followed the main crises of history, challenging its relationship to narration and fiction. It has been criticized many times, even if history seems incapable of dealing without it. Perhaps biography is even more difficult to handle and justify when the man whose life you are trying to puzzle out is a wellknown and emblematic politician, as is the case of Armand Jean du Plessis, best known as Cardinal de Richelieu (1585-1642). First Minister of King Louis XIII for 20 years, from 1624 to his death in 1642, he (willingly or not) carried out, promoted and witnessed some of the most significant political and social changes in French and European history. Richelieu has been so often portrayed, criticized and glorified over the centuries that his personality, and even the very reasons for his actions, sometimes seem to us to be covered with a thick coat of finish, like an old painting to be restored. How did Richelieu construct his own image: as a public man, an authoritarian Minister and a Cardinal, occupying the summit of the pyramid of wealth and patronage, an inveterate art collector, but also a Christ-like suffering servant of the king? I attempt to show how he wove together different social, political and personal qualities, in a way that enabled him to stay in his position, and also to legitimize his actions in an epoch of major changes.
Subject: Armand Jean du Plessis cardinal duc de Richelieu; biography; historical methodology; seventeenth century France; political action
Type of Access: openAccess