The story of Cardinal Richelieu is one of high drama, ruthless ambition and political intrigue. This biography reveals the extent of this great 17th century statesman's scheming to gain state control over all cultural activities in order to further his aim of unifying France. By the time he had died, in 1642, his efforts had led to the creation of an academy, the official protectorship of the Sorbonne, the promotion of the theatre, the erection of magnificent buildings and the assiduous collection of works of art, all of which helped to mould the country into a cultural unity and remain Richelieu's most enduring legacy.
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The study of history brings with it two great pleasures. The first is the satisfaction we feel on discovering how similar the past is to the present... the second is the fascination we can experience when we see how deep the differences really are between the present and the previous centuries...there should be an eager readership for a life of Richelieu, the greatest "chief executive" of them all. Anthony Levi, the author of this valuable new biography, is an expert in the theology, moral theory and literary history of the period; unlike most historians he pays careful attention to the religious side of Richelieu's nature. In the end, perhaps, we are left with the third great pleasure of history-reading: the poignant pleasure of discovering that, no matter how much we know about a figure in the past, we can never be entirely sure of what was going on inside that person's head. -- Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 1, 2000
This book is written without frills and with Richelieu-esque discipline. Yet so colourful is the material and so shrewd Levi's eye for detail that this is an assured and enjoyable introduction to the cardinal that succeeds in its aim of showing how he made France. -- Sunday Times, Sept. 24, 2000
Until recently, biographies of Richelieu have tended to treat him as a statesman who was only incidentally - or hypocritically - a man of the cloth. This new portrait offers a persuasive alternative to such a one-sided and anachronistic view. This is a learned and highly intelligent biography, and it has done an in estimable service in uncovering the religious underpinnings of so much of the cardinal's political life and thought. A form of godliness - complex, flawed and inconsistent, perhaps, but genuine and affecting every aspect of his existence - was never very far away from Richelieu's lifelong quest for gloire et grandeur. -- Literary Review, Oct. 2000
Anthony Levi is editor of the magisterial two-volume Guide to French Literature (Beginnings to 1789 and 1789 to Present.)
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Book Description Constable, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 94801908