A bright child, Armand-Jean du Plessis studied theology as a teen and at the young age of 21 was appointed Bishop of Lucon. In 1622 he was made a cardinal and from there rose to become head of the Royal Council and prime minister of France. King Louis XIII was a weak ruler and Richelieu filled the void, more or less running the empire via his advice to the king. A clever politician and strategist, Richelieu expanded royal power, punished dissent harshly, and built France into a great European power. At the same time he supported the arts and learning and founded the famous French Academy. Novelist Alexandre Dumas made Richelieu a crafty villain in his 1844 book The Three Musketeers, and Richelieu's name has since become synonymous with political intrigue and ambitious power "behind the throne."
Richelieu is also called the Red Eminence, or in French L’Eminence Rouge.
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