Cardinal Richelieu


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Power and the Pursuit of Wealth

Joseph Bergin

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Cardinal Richelieu (1583-1642) did more than anyone else to lay the foundations of the French hegemony in Europe and of absolute monarchy in his own country.  He was a spokesman for power politics, the idea of raison d’état, and the right of rulers to the unquestioning obedience of their subjects.  He was, in addition, one of the richest men in the entire history of France.  Joseph Bergin’s study of his wealth—the first full-scale analysis of the fortune of a leading political figure of the ancient régime—reveals the multiple connections that existed at that time between the tenure of political office and the accumulation of individual and family wealth.
“A brilliant, fascinating, and elegantly written book.”—American Historical Review
“Bergin’s study of Richelieu’s fortune achieves the unexpected feat of adding substantially to our knowledge of one of the most important figures in French history, largely through the exploitation of a group of hitherto unused documents…. Well-constructed and elegantly written…. The book’s great virtue is…that it places Richelieu within the social and economic context of his time.”—Robin Briggs, Times Literary Supplement
“Here is a vivid and fascinating guide to the financial basis of high society in Louis XIII’s France, and a precise account of how Richelieu gained and maintained his position in government…. A meticulous and scholarly examination of the fortune accumulated by one man, it sheds much light on the more general topic of the nature and means of noble wealth and influence in the early seventeenth century.”—Roger Mettam, History Today

"A model of how to study religious history."—Douglas Johnson, The Spectator

"Written with admirable clarity and directness this study enlightens us on the Counter Reformation as a whole. . . . Dr. Bergin’s excellent book shows us how, even if one studies one single Catholic magnate, one should be studying religion in its widest sense."—Douglas Johnson, Times Educational Supplement

"All students of this period will be indebted to him for his meticulous restoration to prominence of a hitherto neglected leader of the Catholic Reformation."—David Parker, French History

"Anyone who wishes to understand religious reforms or political history in early modern France must read this excellent book."— J. Michael Hayden, Sixteenth Century Journal

"The book is solidly based on a vast number of sources, including an impressive range of archival materials. Thus he is able to provide a highly detailed examination of several aspects of church administration and reform."—Frederic J. Baumgartner

"[This book is] clear, highly readable, and indispensable for studying the period."—Choice

"[A] well-researched, finely crafted book. . . . A subtle, penetrating account of the politics of ecclesiastical reform that reveals at least as much about the inner workings of the French Church in the early Bourbon period as it does about the Cardinal himself."—Thomas E. Kaiser, Social History

"This is an excellent book that makes an important contribution to our knowledge of the French Counter Reformation and at the same time offers broad insights into the administrative and structural characteristics of the early modern French church. It rescues from obscurity a long-neglected leader of the French Counter Reformation who was well-known and widely influential in his own time and explains the intellectual background of his reforms."—Barbara B. Diefendorf, American Historical Review

"Since his death Francois Cardinal de La Rochefoucauld has been ’suspended somewhere between the pious veneration of a few and the neglect of the many.’ Joseph Bergin supplies for this neglect a meticulously researched account written in a clear narrative style which makes his scholarly study of La Rochefoucauld’s role in the French Counter-Reformation church pleasant as well as highly informative reading. . . . This book belongs in the library of scholars, students, and anyone interested in French ecclesiastical history of this period."—F. Ellen Weaver, Church History
ISBN: 9780300048605
Publication Date: March 11, 1990
350 pages, 6 x 9