Cardinal de Richelieu
Cardinal Richelieu (1585 – 1642) is the central focus of this exhibit. Although the young Armand Jean du Plessis did not originally want to have a career in the Church, he did have a thirst for power and saw religious positions as a way of achieving that goal. King Henri III of France and Poland rewarded Richelieu’s father for his military service by granting the family the bishopric of Luçon. In 1606, King Henri IV named Richelieu the Bishop of Luçon , a position he was too young for. As a result, he sought a special dispensation from the Pope in Rome, and became Bishop in 1607.
Richelieu thrived in the French court under the wing of his watchful mentor, Cardinal du Perron, and later, his confidante, Père Joseph, also known as L’Éminence Gris (the Grey Eminence) for his grey robes . After the assassination of Henri IV when Marie de Médicis became Regent of France, Richelieu entered the fold of the royal council as an advisor . In 1616, alongside the Queen’s favourite advisor, Concini, he became a Secretary of State. Though Louis XIII had reached the age of majority two years prior, the true power remained with Marie. It was only after her policies, much of them informed by Concini, proved universally unpopular, that Charles de Luynes, Louis XIII’s favourite advisor, challenged the Queen’s position in a coup that he staged in 1617. Concini was assassinated and the Queen sent into exile. Luynes also cast reasonable doubts on Richelieu so that King Louis XIII exiled him to Avignon. Luynes would continue to be a thorn in Richelieu’s side for many years and though the two men worked together in public, they detested one another in private .
However, his exile was cut short when Marie de Médicis escaped her confinement and formed a rebellion against King Louis XIII around 1619. After her failed coup, the task to reconcile the Queen Mother and her son fell to Cardinal Richelieu. According to Treasure, Richelieu advised the hot-headed Marie not to fight against her son, because she would have no support for the decision . He brokered a peace between them that would take on the form of the Treaty of Angoulême. In 1621, the tide turned further in Richelieu’s favour. Luynes, previously King Louis XIII’s favourite advisor, died, which paved the way for Richelieu to become the most sought-after adviser for the young king . Richelieu became a Cardinal in 1622, and most scholars agree he came to power in 1624 when he became firmly entrenched in his role as the Chief Minister to King Louis XIII.
The Queen Mother may have made her peace with her son Louis, but she did not forgive Richelieu so easily. She publicly disgraced Richelieu on the Day of the Dupes: 30 November 1630. Treasure describes the fact that accounts of this day vary but essentially, Richelieu entered the court to see Marie de Médicis screaming at her son and making charges against Richelieu. Treasure’s account paints the Queen Mother as “hysterical, behaving like an Italian woman at a market stall.” Richelieu lost his nerve, and when it was all said and done, assumed that because Louis XIII did not say anything to him that he would be dismissed. As a result, Marie de Médicis told the Keeper of the Seals, Michel de Marillac, that he would be inheriting Richelieu’s position and power. Instead, Louis XIII summoned Richelieu to a hunting lodge in Versailles where he mentioned a desire to, according to Treasure, “cut the remaining ties to his family feeling .”
Soon after, Marillac was arrested and sent to Châteaudun. He died after a few months there. Despite Richelieu’s many detractors, he recovered from the Day of the Dupes and went on to plant the seeds for absolutism in the monarchy of France, something that would be manifested in the reign of King Louis XIV. Still, Richelieu faced a lifetime of squashing all the oppositions that tried to assert themselves against Louis XIII including that of Henri de Montmorency, a duke, who allied himself in 1632 with Gaston D’Orléans, Louis XIII’s brother, and Charles of Lorraine, another anti-monarchist. Soon after he was found to be a traitor, Montmorency and his followers were sentenced to death and his properties seized .
Richelieu’s main goals were to make France the most powerful nation to preside over all of Europe, to oppose the Habsburg dynasties that ruled both Spain and Austria at the time , and to clamp down on Protestant groups, chiefly the Huguenots, Calvinists, and Jansenists. The Cardinal advocated for France to become an absolute monarchy . Richelieu firmly believed that the only way to successfully govern a country was to ensure that the King was above the law and oversaw all decisions made. To enact this, Richelieu knew he had to seize control of public opinion and turn it in the favour of the monarchy—no easy task considering that the previous two kings of France had both been assassinated. Richelieu turned to a secret weapon of a different kind to help him accomplish his goals—mass printing.
The number of publications in Europe exploded beginning in the 1500s and into the 1600s, notably Bibles and other religious texts. Martin Luther’s famed Ninety-five Theses were said to spark the Reformation throughout Europe, which eventually led to the nationalist movements of individual countries. This change signalled an end to the rule Latin enjoyed as the reigning lingua franca of the era. One of the ways this manifested was through Bibles being published in vernacular languages, such as English, French, and German, in addition to Latin.
Cardinal Richelieu understood the power of mass printing early on . Even though the literacy rate in France at the time was restricted mostly to royalty, the clergy, and the nobility  of the country. Books, except for texts used in schools, were considered a luxury item as they were expensive to produce. Pamphlets, however, were cheaper to create and did not require features that added to the expense of their production, such as binding. In addition, they were portable and easier to distribute in marketplaces and streets . In her seminal text about Early Modern France, scholar and historian Natalie Zemon Davis notes that city-dwellers were more likely than country peasants to understand French and that the professions with the very highest literacy rates at the time who weren’t royalty or clergy were apothecaries, surgeons, and printers.
In 1631, Richelieu helped to fund the publication of Gazette de France , later Le Gazette, the country’s first newspaper. He worked very closely with the editor, his personal friend Théophraste Renaudot , a physician by trade who had followed Richelieu and Père Joseph to Paris in the early 1600s, which was also when he converted from Protestantism to Catholicism. He also served as the personal physician to King Louis XIII.
Censorship was another tool the Cardinal used to maintain control over the books being published in France. The use of censors to inspect every book printed in France did not originate with Richelieu, but rather came a century earlier from the Department of Theology at Sorbonne University. Nonetheless, Richelieu utilized the network of censors to filter out any books that promoted Protestantism or negative sentiments against the monarchy.
Another way Cardinal Richelieu exercised his control over mass printing in France was to nominate and garner support for his choice of a yearly position called the King’s Printer (Imprimeur du Roi) . The famous printing families in France organized themselves into monarchy-like dynasties including the Estiennes, the L’Angeliers, and the Cramoisy family. Richelieu’s favourite was a printer named Sébastien Cramoisy, a long-standing printer for the Jesuits, who won the coveted position of King’s Printer in 1633 .
In addition to his close relationship with the King’s Printers, Richelieu created a network of his own writers. Treasure points to the fact that Richelieu “pressed his views through the pens of pamphleteers, notably Fancan .” Other writers that Richelieu hired to discredit his critics included Jean Sirmond, Jean de Silhon , and Paul Hay du Chastelet . Richelieu shrewdly recruited influential members to his network of spies and “greyhounds,” luring them, according to Henri-Jean Martin, “…by offering big rewards—a bishopric, control of a monastery, even a red hat.” 
There is also evidence to support that Richelieu was not above hiring his own lampoonists, like some of the ones previously mentioned, to slander his enemies and to use propaganda as a tool to control public opinion, both of himself and of the monarchy .
In any discussion of Cardinal Richelieu, it would be remiss not to mention his devotion and support of the arts, particularly the theatre at a time when it was not considered “in vogue” to do so. A more important achievement, however, was that Richelieu – along with several other prominent men of letters of the time – founded the Académie Française (French Academy)in 1635 as well as being one of its main patrons. The primary goal of the Académie was to promote and foster the literary identity in France, and part of this mandate included a push to standardize the French language, particularly in the categories of spelling and grammar .
The Cardinal also created publications of his own, including Instruction du chréstien (1618), Iournal de Cardinal de Richelieu (Journal of Cardinal Richelieu) (1649), and Testament Politique (Political Testament)(1680), both published posthumously. According to historian Henry Bertram Hill, Richelieu thought of the latter as a document to be used after his death, “for policy-making and the management of your [King Louis XIII] realm ” but the document was meant as an instructional guide for the king and not intended for public consumption. During his exile, in 1618 and 1619, Richelieu published Les Principaux Points de la Foi de l’Eglise Catholique (The Principal Points of the Faith of the Catholic Church), a study of Protestantism written in French .
Iournal de Monsieur le cardinal duc de Richelieu : qu'il a faict durant le grand orage de la cour en l'année 1630 & 1631
Similarly to the Memoirs of the Queen Mother, this book is not a journal or diary of Cardinal Richelieu. Rather, it is a summary of the major court documents involving him. The book openly calls Marie de Médicis a liar, claims that she exaggerated what Cardinal Richelieu did to her, and says that Richelieu told another member of the royal council, Boutillier, about the Queen Mother’s maltreatments. He goes on to call her complaints false.
The second section details Marie's complaints against Madame de Combalet, one of the nieces of Cardinal Richelieu. Through his influence, Marie de Médicis bestowed upon Madame de Combalet the title of duchess, making her full name Marie Madeleine de Vignerot du Pont de Courlay, Duchesse d’Aiguillon. As the book continues, it goes on to details the Queen Mother's major grievances, including the fallout from the Day of the Dupes. It is worth noting that Cardinal Richelieu may have tasked someone else, possibly one of the writers in his stable, to compile this book, as it was published in 1649, a few years after his death at the end of 1642.
Composed in 1648, the book lists no place of publication, nor a printer. As recorded in the bibliographic entry for this book, it is quite possible that Sébastien Cramoisy printed this book anonymously, as he was known to publish the works of Cardinal Richelieu beginning in 1614, and as Richelieu's works would be considered royal documents, it would not be a surprise if a King's Printer produced this work for him in Paris.
Also notably missing is the privilège du Roi, which, as recorded in the bibliographic notes, Richelieu would not have needed because of his position as Chief Minister to King Louis XIII. The title page claims that Richelieu wrote this book by his own hand, but that could also be a bending of the truth.
 G.R.R. Treasure, Cardinal Richelieu and the Development of Absolutism (London, England: Adam & Charles Black, 1972), 12
 Carl J. Burckhardt, Richelieu: his rise to power, trans. Edwin and Willa Muir (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), 69.
 Ibid, 73
 G.R.R. Treasure, Cardinal Richelieu and the Development of Absolutism (London, England: Adam & Charles Black, 1972), 31
 Ibid, 33
 Ibid, 114
 Ibid, 118
 Henry Bertram Hill, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1961), vii: “…his purpose was to destroy the power of the Hapsburg states, Austria and Spain, which had so long encircled and threatened France.”
 Ibid: In 1652 – 17 years after Cardinal Richelieu’s death – France emerged as strongly absolutist and became a dominant power in Europe.
 Henri-Jean Martin. Livre, Pouvoirs et Société A Paris Au XVIIe siècle, 1598-1701 (Genève: Droz, 1999), 272.
 Nobility at the time could also include the bourgeoisie. This class included physicians but also philosophers and writers. It is interesting to note that printers were expected to be literate, but a surprising number were not. As a result, the printing guilds and syndics added literacy as a basic requirement to that particular trade sometime in the late 1500s.
 Natalie Zemon Davis. Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1975), 210.
 Henri-Jean Martin. Le livre français sous l'Ancien Régime (Paris: Promodis, 1987), 135.
 After both Richelieu and Louis XIII died, Renaudot lost the ability to practice medicine in Paris because he faced criticism from other academic physicians. In 1646, Cardinal Mazarin, Richelieu’s successor, allowed for Renaudot to become Historiographer Royal to Louis XIV.
 Henri-Jean Martin. Le livre français sous l'Ancien Régime (Paris: Promodis, 1987), 134: “Désormais, Richelieu contrôla lui-même la nomination des nouveaux imprimeurs du roi.” (English : from that point forward, Richelieu himself controlled the nomination of new printers of the king)
 Jane McLeod. Licensing Loyalty: Printers, Patrons, and The State in Early Modern France (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011), 41: After being named the King’s Printer in 1633, Cramoisy was further named to the position of official printer of the Archbishop of Paris and several religious orders.
 G.R.R. Treasure, Cardinal Richelieu and the Development of Absolutism (London, England: Adam & Charles Black, 1972), 33. See also: Henri-Jean Martin. Livre, Pouvoirs et Société A Paris Au XVIIe siècle, 1598-1701 (Genève: Droz, 1999), 272: “…et le célèbre Fancan, le chanoine de Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, qui fit longtemps figure de confident du Cardinal et composa, en sa faveur et sous ses directions, de nombreux pamphlets hostiles aux Espagnols et favorable aux protestants…” (English: the famous Fancan, the canon (a religious dignitary) of Saint-Germain L’Auxerrois, who was a confidant for Cardinal Richelieu for a long time and composed—in his favour and under his directions—numerous hostile lampoons against the Spanish and favourable to Protestants).
 Ibid. See also: Henri-Jean Martin. Print, Power, and People in 17th-Century France, transl. David Gerard. (Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, 1993), 293-294.
 Ibid, 292.
 Henri-Jean Martin. Le livre français sous l'Ancien Régime (Paris: Promodis, 1987), 133.
 Henri-Jean Martin. Print, Power, and People in 17th-Century France, transl. David Gerard. (Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, 1993), 293: “In 1636 Boisrobert, Richelieu’s devoted ally, heard that a group of literati were in the habit of meeting at Conrart’s residence, home of the King’s secretary. He was interested enough to ask for an invitation to join them, liked what he heard, and reported back to Richelieu. From this modest beginning the idea of an Academy sprang, and although enthusiasm was not general, who could resist the Cardinal once he was convinced of something?"
See also: Henri-Jean Martin. Print, Power, and People in 17th-Century France, transl. David Gerard. (Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, 1993), 294: “…the principal object of the Académie is the promotion of the French language…to compile a grammar, to codify principles of rhetoric and poetry, and above all to create an official dictionary."
 Henry Bertram Hill, The Political Testament of Cardinal Richelieu (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1961), 5.
 G.R.R. Treasure, Cardinal Richelieu and the Development of Absolutism (London, England: Adam & Charles Black, 1972), 30