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Richelieu Richelieu was a French cardinal and statesman who more than anyone else promoted absolutism in France and laid the foundations of the countrys 17th-century grandness He was born in Paris on September 9 1585 and set out on a military career In order to retain the bishopric of Luon in the family however Richelieu switched to theology and at age 22 was ordained a bishop As a representative to the Estates-General in 1614 he found a grip in political life and soon won the favor of the queen mother of France Marie de Mdicis Richelieu became Secretary of State in 1616 but fell into political disfavor the following year and along with the queen mother was banished from court Reconciliation in 1622 brought him a cardinals hat and in 1624 he became King Louis XIIIs chief minister After 1630 when Marie de Mdicis unsuccessfully intrigued to have her former protg removed from his position Richelieu was the virtual ruler of France To assure friendly relations with England Richelieus first important measure was to arrange a marriage between the kings sister Henrietta Maria and the Prince of Wales Charles I of England To restore the prestige of France in the affairs of Europe and to limit the further growth of Habsburg power already entrenched in Spain and Austria Richelieu next made alliances with and gave encouragement to the Dutch and German enemies of the dynasty To gain strategic strongholds in Italy and frustrate the Habsburgs there he involved France in a fight with Austria and Spain when the succession to the throne in Mantua was in question In 1631 he subsidized the invasion of Germany by the defender of the Lutheran cause Gustav II Adolph king of Sweden Still later Richelieu made France an active ally of the German Protestants by committing French troops to fight in the Thirty Years War Meanwhile viewing the power of the French Huguenots as a threat to the absolute
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