Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was a French Cardinal that rose to power under Louis XIII. He helped France become a strong player in European affairs under his tenure. Appointed First Minster by the King, he is considered to be the world’s first Prime Minister.
Richelieu’s tenure occurred after the start of the 30 Years War in Europe and he made many allies during this time. He sided against the Spanish who were moving swiftly through Europe and much too close to France for his liking. Some of his alliances caused controversy such as his alliance with Sweden where at the time it was illegal to be Catholic.
Richelieu’s contributions were numerous . One of his legacies is evidenced by his checking the power of the aristocracy . He transformed the political power of Feudalism to a centralized bureaucracy and an absolute monarchy.
Another of his accomplishments was his advocacy for the retention of Quebec under French rule and his support of Samuel de Champlain in this endeavor. With the retention of Quebec it allowed the development of Francophone culture in North America.
Some credit Richelieu with inventing the nation-state and nationalism. Historian and philosopher John Ralston Saul called Richelieu the “Father of the modern nation-state, modern centralized power and modern secret service”.
Richelieu’s rise on power was not without controversy. It was a novel concept-a prime minister who was after all a Cardinal. He was a powerful man who believed that church and politics were separate. Richelieu made a notable contribution to France’s history and the development of the country’s political power.