RICHELIEU: The Thrust for Power by Philippe Erlanger

RICHELIEU: The Thrust for Power

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Richelieu's early years, unlike those of most statesmen, are as interesting as his years of power, for they are spiced with the same intrigue, the same ambitions, the same inhumanly complex motivations, and the same precarious balances. Mr. Erlanger, in this popular, but not ""popularized,"" treatment of Richelieu's life prior to his accession to power in 1624 (at age thirty-nine, when he became First Minister to Louis XIII), succeeds to a large extent in disentangling for the reader the web of contradictions that was the Great Cardinal. One may feel at times that the disentanglement is dependent upon a certain naivete (e.g., Richelieu ""never doubted that he was serving God by serving his representative on earth""), but, by and large, Erlanger demonstrates objectivity as well as acumen by unravelling the enigma of Richelieu's relations with Marie de'Medici, for example, and in shedding some welcome light on the personality of Father Joseph, Richelieu's factotum and the original eminence grise. This is not the authoritative work that is, for instance, Wedgwood's Richelieu and the French Monarchy; yet it is sufficiently sound, and sufficiently complementary from both the chronological and ideological viewpoints, to serve as an adequate companion-volume to that standard work.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1968
Publisher: Stein and Day