Nobleman, statesman, clergyman, Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642) was quite an accomplished individual who had great influence on the politics of France. Elected King Louis XIII’s chief minister in 1624, Richelieu held a great amount of power in his hands. He was chiefly concerned with the centralization and political success of France.
In an attempt to reduce the power in the hands of the nobility, he ordered all fortifications not needed for the defense of the borders to be destroyed. This included many private fortresses and castles belonging to the nobility, an action that did not endear him to them. He did not allow his religious convictions to get in the way of what he thought was the political good of France.
During the Thirty Years’ War, France was concerned about the growing victories of the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, against the Protestant forces. There had been tensions between France and the Holy Roman Empire because northern Italy, if captured by the Hapsburgs, would provide a link between the Holy Roman Empire and Hapsburg Spain, and thus encircle France. In 1629, Cardinal Richelieu tried to balance power in the war by financially supporting the entrance of Sweden into the war. Richelieu had allied Catholic France with Protestant Sweden, putting religion, the catalyst of the war, in the backseat.
A Cardinal, Richelieu was perhaps not as concerned with religion as pertained to politics as he should have been. He suffered criticism for his move in allying with the Protestant powers, but he succeeded in diverting the basis of the war away from religion and toward the political struggle between France and the Holy Roman Empire. Even though he was a high-ranking clergyman, his first and foremost objective was the success of France.