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University of Toronto St. George
Anthony Cantor

Richelieu and Absolutism Du Plessis de Richelieu (1585-1642) Louis XIII (1610-43) Marie de Medici La Rochelle Gaston d’Orleans Castelnaudry intendant lettres de cachet -forger of Absolutism in France: Richelieu, who made the system work -Richelieu: in Thirty Years War, saved Protestant Germany from overly-zealous House of Habsburg managed to stop chaos of France after Henry IV’s death saved France from complete encirclement by House of Habsburg -Richelieu served King -Henry’s wife was Marie de Medici, lived only for her own pleasure, despised her son the king Louis XIII was thought to be an idiot, so the Queen Marie decided for France to be ruled by her favourites at court, including many Italians (they drove Louis XIII to distraction, he hated his mother & these of her friends, so finally at 16-years-old he ordered the murder of the Queen’s favourite & Louis also demanded that his mother leave court) -Louis XIII decided to become King at 16, but decided it would be necessary to have a mentor Pope worked w/him at making Huguenots leave France first person Louis identified as his chief minister: Arman Richelieu, lied to Pope Paul V to be the Bishop of Lucent saw that this was a chaotic opportunity to build a careerbecame ideal reforming bishop, worked hard, which captured the attention of powerful people in the locality who would be useful when the region had to be represented at the Estates General -1614: Louis called the Estates General, Richilieu was identified as part of Marie de Medici’s circle, so R. then returned to recover his career but the King saw him as dangerous & exiled him to Avignon Richilieu was able to recover & grow in power: the Queen, detesting her son, climbed out of a window at her chateau & joined a group who was trying to rekindle civil wars that divided Fr. The King thought there was only one person who could make Queen Marie switch sides, & that was Richilieu, who was sent to see the Queen & convince her to abandon civil war though R. had nothing to bargain w/, he rode to see her & he was able to convince her to abandon the civil war & make some peace w/ her son & that Fr. would be reunited under House of Bourbon (King made him a Cardinal, Prince of Roman Church), 1624: appointed chief minister of the crown -Louis XIII knew when he had to follow the advice of others, & gave Richilieu more & more responsibilities, giving him essentially independent power in the kingdom -Richlieu said: 1) we have to control the Protestant (Huguenots), 2) weaken/destroy power of ancient feudal nobility b/c they were dangerous to the king, 3) the House of Habsburg had to be controlled -problem of Huguenots was left over from Wars of Religion, but effect of this war had weakened Protestant authority: paranoid group who felt they were being oppressed by the majority -Richilieu had almost no religious prejudice, but he did fear the Protestants b/c he saw that they could divide France, leading to civil war, & he was afraid of any place that could be a Trojan Horse for France’s Enemies R. decided there had to be a showdown, put together an army & entered Protestant territory & entered La Rochelle Oct. 1628: people were starved, so they had to give up & told Cardinal he’d won, but then all of Catholic Europe expected Richilieu to kill & enslave a bunch of them, but he didn’t do those things, he actually allowed them to keep their , weapons (reaffirmed Edict of Nantes), also extended privileges given to Catholic clergy to Protestant ministers, he also allowed Huguenot army to leave La Rochelle w/ weapons wanted to ensure this would last forever: all Protestants wouldn’t be prosecuted & all Catholic wouldn’t be prosecuted (general amnesty), only required that walls of La Rochelle be torn down -rest of Europe was incredulous: Richilieu was giving Protestants full civil wars, Pope was horrified & much of Protestant Europe was amazed, Richilieu saw no problem w/ 2 religions existing together, realized well-being of kingdom was ultimate raison d’etre (citizenship was something you do publicly, religion is something you do @ home) also saw that these were superb economic advantages to France, Protestants worked hard, saved money, skilled in trades, had an education system (good citizens who’d add to economic well-being of France, so he was willing to tolerate them) great noble
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