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Richelieu's real name was Armand Jean du Plessis. He was born in Paris in 1585 and was a member of one of the less important noble families. He took the name of Richelieu from one of the estates which his family owned. At the age of twenty one he was given the hereditary title of Bishop of Luçon. Even though he was really too young, the pope consecrated him one year later.
Richelieu turned out to be a competent bishop and worked hard at his job. He was twenty nine when he joined Parliament as the Poitou representative. Here he continued to make a good impression, so much so that Marie de Medici took notice of him. Marie de Medici was acting as regent for the thirteen year old King Louis XIII and she made Richelieu a member of the Royal Council in 1616. His stay on the Council was a short one, however; Louis XIII was jealous of the new and able young advisor. The king convinced his mother to exile Richelieu in 1617.
He was not out of favour for long and returned in 1624 as advisor to the king. He proceeded to literally rule France for the next eighteen years. In addition he returned to France as a cardinal, an honour bestowed on him by the pope in 1622.
His aims were twofold; one, to create a strong and powerful France to dominate the Habsburg Empire and two, to create a strong and powerful monarchy which would rule in the absolute sense. Richelieu was disliked by the people because he imposed heavy taxes and employed harsh and dirty tactics.
Richelieu's aggressive policies achieved his two political ambitions. He did have another side to his character, however. He wrote many books and supported literary people. He was the founder of the French Academy.
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