Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duke of Richelieu and of Fronsac (1585 –1642) , was a French clergyman and statesman. He was consecrated as a bishop in 1607 and was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1616. Richelieu rose to the heights of both the Catholic Church and the French government, becoming a Cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII’s chief minister in 1624.
Richelieu looms large in Tom’s memoir but makes no direct appearance – an éminence grise (a term originally used to describe one of Richelieu’s own advisors). His plotting provides the backdrop to the latter stages of Tom’s memoir – as the cardinal seeks to advance the Roman Catholic cause in war-torn Europe – and his secret agents make their deadly mark.
Richelieu’s role in the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham has been speculated upon extensively, not least in Dumas’s classic novel: The Three Musketeers. What is clear is that there was little love lost between the Cardinal and the Duke after Buckingham switched sides in Richelieu’s offensive against the Protestant Huguenots.