A Flash of Scarlet Part VI

Being implicated in the coup Marie de Medici had attempted against her son, things did not look favorable for Richelieu. No one, not even the Capuchin friar, Tremblay, could persuade Louis to allow him back at court. At this point Richelieu again donning a submissive pose, asked the King to name a place of exile and he was sent to Avignon. During the year he spent there, he wrote the famous catechism, “Instruction du Chretien”which would be read across the country every Sunday at mass. Marie, ever dependent on Richelieu,  continued to push for the post of Cardinal which was granted in 1622. The King having returned from war,  presented the red biretta at a ball in Lyon. Thence Richelieu would be dressed ceremonially as such; a Prince of the Church.


Cardinal Richelieu -Armand Jean du Plessis -(Phillippe de Champaigne)

The scarlet color  represented the willingness to shed your blood for Christ, although Richelieu stated that the color he now wore would always remind him of the vow he took to shed his blood in the service of the Queen (Marie). The “cappa magna” or great cape had a very long train on it (as in a bride’s train) which had to be carried, quiet magnificent.

He maintained his post at the head of Marie de Medici’s household which enabled him to provide well for the members of his family. He continued to be protector of the Sorbonne and acquired the land and manor of the family home.  Louis was unable to find a First Minister who could control the royal finances at the time and after the then Minister, Le Vieuville asked that Richelieu be appointed in an advisory capacity to the council, Richelieu refused. After some thought, Louis realized that something had to be done. Le Vieuville was arrested for disrespecting the king’s authority and the people of France welcomed someone they felt they could trust because he was a religious man. They were worn down from years of poverty and war just as Richelieu was worn down from his long and uncertain climb to the top . His problems with migraines still persisted. The King was a somewhat enigmatic character who could just as soon go riding off into the forests on extreme hunting forays as go to war. The nobles were still out of control and violence prone, dueling was a major cause of death at the time and the aristocracy was always looking for ways to tap the King’s fortunes for themselves. The Protestants were agitating the people for religious reform and the country was surrounded by Habsburg powers , in particular Spain, whose fortunes by now were dwindling. Had Richelieu learned enough to prove himself to the King and people?






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