CARDINAL IN ARMOR by Burke Wilkinson
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One part history, one part legend, and one part Alexandre Dumas:"" such is the reputation of Richelieu that the author seeks to correct in this fully-researched biography, an appropriate successor to his Helmet of Navarre (1965), the story of Henry IV. Against the background of seventeenth century France, Richelieu appears as a man of his time, successful because his ambition and cunning were applied to advancing the ""right idea,"" the idea of absolute kingship. Mr. Wilkinson makes no apology for Richelieu as a churchman, noting that ""being a high-ranking cleric was...simply another road to the center of power;"" he does seem to justify some of the Cardinal's bloodier deeds by citing instances of his beneficence. On the whole, however, this is a balanced treatment which frequently uses Richelieu's own words to reveal his character. It's skillfully organized and briskly written, and conveys a clear understanding of complex events and characters. (The many-faceted portrait of Louis XIII is outstanding.) Children who need to know will find what they need, and children who want to know will want to know even more.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1966
Publisher: Macmillan