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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 Franccedilois 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 XIIIs 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 Cardinals capable leadership ambition and strong will helped France to move from a second rate country to a European powerhouse During his reign as first minister Richelieu would accomplish numerous
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