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Cardinal Richelieu
Cardinal Richelieu.jpg
Historical Figure
Nationality: France
Religion: Catholicism
Date of Birth: 9 September 1585
Date of Death: 4 December 1642
Occupation: Nobleman, statesman
Relatives: Duchesse d'Aiguillon (niece)
Charles de La Porte (cousin)
1632 series
POD: May, 1631
Appearance(s): 1632 through ?
Type of Appearance: Direct
Occupation: Noblemen, statesman
Affiliations: League of Ostend

Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (September 9, 1585 – December 4, 1642), was a French clergyman, noble, and statesman.

Consecrated as a bishop in 1607, he later entered politics, becoming a Secretary of State in 1616. Richelieu soon rose in both the Church and the state, becoming a cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII's chief minister in 1624. He remained in office until his death in 1642; he was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin.

The Cardinal de Richelieu is considered to be the world's first Prime Minister in the modern sense of the term. He sought to consolidate the royal power of the monarchy and crush domestic factions. To that end, he imposed authoritarian measures. His chief foreign policy objective was to check the power of the Habsburg dynasty.

He was the main antagonist in The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père. His portrayal was extremely negative, and probably unfair.

Cardinal Richelieu in 1632[]

After Grantville appeared in the past, Cardinal Richelieu declared himself (and by extension France) an enemy of the United States of Europe, as he saw the threat the radical ideas of the USE and the Americans posed to his nation. He hatched several plots against the New United States (NUS), as well as Gustavus Adolphus.

Richelieu showed a pattern of using up-time information to identify people who had shown exceptional talent in the OTL, and elevating them "ahead of time".

1632: First Moves Against Grantville[]

Richelieu soon gained a new ally, Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, who had lost part of his hereditary claims in Thuringia to the new republic. He also agreed to a demand from Spain to allow troops in the Spanish Netherlands to march on the NUS, and bribed Bernard to take his troops out of Spain's path. Richelieu realized that the Spanish would be defeated, which fit in with his policy of humbling the Habsburg dynasty. The attack would be a feint in any event. Concurrent to these plans, Richelieu and Albrecht von Wallenstein drew up an additional scheme to attack Grantville in mid-1632, using Croat mercenaries. As the Cardinal explained to his intendant, Etienne Servien, he could tolerate a poor Sweden, he could tolerate a republic in Germany, but he could not tolerate an alliance that would generate a rich Sweden with resources in Central Europe.

Richelieu also sought to crush the Abrabanel family both in Thuringia and elsewhere, and the Croat attack was designed to target Jews.

The attack failed due to a combination of Grantville's firearms and the timely arrival of Gustavus in his guise of Captain Gars. In response, the NUS and Gustavus revised their arrangement into the Confederated Principalities of Europe.

The Ostend War[]

In 1633, Richelieu had arranged a meeting with Rebecca Abrabanel. She gifted him with a Siamese kitten, which delighted him. During the conversation, Richelieu claimed that his characterization of the Ring of Fire, the Americans, and their modern marvels as products of "witchcraft" was a misunderstanding, an error that verged close to Manicheanism.

He stated that his studies of the histories he'd been able to obtain justified his conclusion that discarding the authority of monarchies and aristocracies in favor of rule by the people had allowed the rise of regimes, often despotic ones, which had wreaked havoc upon the world. He also pointed out that the original timeline's United States had been willing to destroy German cities in World War II. Overall, Richelieu claimed that the Ring of Fire was a divine event meant to serve as a warning of the perils of a future not based "on the sure principles of monarchy, aristocracy, and an established church". For all intents and purposes, he was issuing a declaration of war. He did offer the Americans an escort to the Spanish Netherlands, and offered to arrange passage through Spanish territory to the Dutch Republic, if they went by land. When they went by ship, he arranged for their ship to be attacked by pirates, but that attack was easily beaten off.

Richelieu began aiding Habsburg Spain, hoping to involve Spain in a more directly in Germany, a situation he'd previously avoided. Consequently, he arranged the formation of the League of Ostend, which involved both Catholic and Protestant powers. The League's first success was the defeat of the Dutch fleet, which was aided by Richelieu having borrowed the idea of "sealed orders" from up-time fiction. This was considered necessary because Richelieu had been supporting the Dutch as part of his anti-Habsburg policies, and needed for them to believe that he was still supporting them. The success of this move laid the Netherlands open to a successful invasion by a Spanish expeditionary force in 1633. Concurrently, the League attacked in the Baltic Sea, sending a combined Dutch and French army to attack overland, and a combined fleet of French, English and Danish ships to cut Gustavus off from the Baltic Sea lines of communications (SLOCs) in an attempt to starve him out and cut him off from Sweden.

Richelieu had a long habit of making military appointments for reasons related to France's political faction fights. More often than not, these appointments were not for the best when considered in military terms. This had an effect on the French army's performance in the Ostend War.

After the French army was crushed at the Battle of Ahrensbök and the League of Ostend collapsed following the surrender of Denmark, Richelieu faced opposition from within France led by Gaston Jean-Baptiste, duc d'Orleans.

After the war[]

In the aftermath of the Ostend War, Turenne's cavalry was the only force he had that was both reliable and intact, and he needed to keep them in Paris.

Later in 1634, some months after the "Galileo Affair", he was able to secure the elevation of Giulio Mazarini to cardinal, and to have him naturalized as Jules Mazarin.[1]

As time went on, Richelieu's control of France became shakier. Even a year and a half after Ahrensbök, he faced widespread dissatisfaction and unrest, as he was seen as having led France into a disaster. Still, his power came from the King, and he apparently retained that support.[2]

In January of 1636, Richelieu's ability to act abroad was still seriously curtailed. Given the tense internal political situation, he had to keep what reliable troops he had close at hand. While he continued to monitor the reports about the USE coming from his spies, and knew of the upheaval caused by Axel Oxenstierna, he knew that he could do nothing to influence events in the USE.[3]

With the situation deterioating both at home and abroad, Gaston and his supporters were able to enact a coup against Richelieu. King Louis is assassinated while Richelieu was heavily injured

D'Artagnan and his friends were able to get Richelieu out of France and into the USE


  1. References in "Lucky at Cards", in Ring of Fire II, indicate that this took place some months before the end of 1634.
  2. 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Prologue
  3. 1636: The Saxon Uprising, ch. 23
Political offices (OTL)
Preceded by
Title last held informally by Concino Concini
Chief Minister to the French Monarch
Succeeded by
Jules Mazarin