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Title: The end of Richelieu : noble conspiracy and Spanish treason in Louis XIII's France, 1636-1642
Author: Gregory, Charles T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 7305
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Cardinal Richelieu is traditionally accredited with defeating the power of the grands, the upper echelon of the French nobility, as part of his supposedly successful project for monarchical absolutism. Modern historians have recast Richelieu as a nobleman of his time, who advanced himself within the social and political hierarchies through marriage alliances and patronage. He therefore worked hard to forge alliances with the grands rather than trying to destroy them. Yet his ministry was riven by persistent noble conspiracies and rebellions, which have gone largely without systematic investigation. This study examines the nature and causes of that unrest during Richelieu’s final six years, offering a radical re-assessment of the opposition and the politics of the period. Noble conspiracy was not just a by-product of government by a first minister, but reflected the factional nature of Richelieu’s approach. Factional rivalry was exacerbated by the emergence, after 1638, of a struggle for the anticipated regency. After this, Richelieu took a more hostile approach to his adversaries, forcing them to adopt strong countermeasures in order to preserve their positions. Richelieu’s opponents were surprisingly successful in asserting their independence. As well as enjoying widespread domestic support, they allied with the Habsburg powers to engineer military rebellion, posing a major threat to the Cardinal and undermining the war effort against Spain. The Spanish set their stall out for a long-term war, expecting that Richelieu’s opponents would eventually gain power and negotiate peace on more flexible terms. The ability of the grands to re-assert themselves was still a dominant characteristic of French politics. Richelieu’s legacy, on his death in 1642, was a highly volatile political situation in which success was still a long way off for France. These findings suggest the catalytic impact of Habsburg power on France’s internal divisions, which should consequently be seen as integral to the forging of the ancien régime.
Supervisor: Parrott, D. A. Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Early Modern Britain and Europe ; International,imperial and global history ; History of Britain and Europe ; Richelieu; French History; Louis XIII; political conspiracy; Spanish History; Olivares; Philip IV; noble culture; nobility; rebellion; Bouillon; Guise; Soissons; Cinq-Mars; Anne of Austria; court culture