Saint Vincent’s Reading List LXIV: Cardinal Richelieu and the “Day of Dupes”

Journal de Monsieur le Cardinal Duc de Richelieu, Qu’il a Fait Durant le Grand Orage de la Cour, és Années 1630, & 1631, by Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duke of Richelieu. Paris, 1652.

Call Number: SpC. 944.032 R528j1652

View a digitized copy of this book here.


After his assassination, Henry IV’s grand dreams for France and his dynasty depended on his son Louis XIII. Unfortunately, Louis was not the visionary, strong-willed, battle-hardened, hands-on leader his father had been. Easily swayed by both his mother and court favorites, Louis’ early reign did little to strengthen France or the power of the monarchy. This situation began to change with the ascendancy of Armand-Jean du Plessis, the Bishop of Lucon, and later the Cardinal and Duc de Richelieu.

Cardinal Richelieu’s growing influence on the king set Richelieu against Louis’ mother Queen Marie de Medici and her supporters. The Queen—who had served as regent until 1617—had been estranged and later reconciled with her son. As the force of Richelieu’s leadership and the king’s trust in him grew the Queen-Mother sought to undermine the prelate’s influence in the king’s council. The power-struggle came to a head in November 1630, in a stormy scene at the Luxembourg palace in Paris. Marie de Medici used her knowledge of the king’s personality to try to get him to choose definitively between her and the cardinal. The king seemed to lean toward siding with his mother.

La journée des Dupes
The Day of the Dupes, with Richelieu on the left, Marie in the center, and Louis slouching in his chair.

While Marie and her supporters celebrated their presumed victory over Richelieu, the king retreated to his favorite hunting lodge at Versailles. Cardinal Richelieu was wise enough to follow him there, and present his case without the manipulative presence of the Queen Mother. In the end, Louis XIII sided with Richelieu. He exiled his mother from France; they were never to see each other again. Richelieu made short work of the queen’s supporters, including the two Marillac brothers (Louise de Marillac’s uncles).

During the remaining thirteen years of the reign of Louis XIII, the leadership of Cardinal Richelieu (acting as First Minister) set France and the Bourbon monarchy firmly on the path of achieving the vision of Henry IV at home and abroad. There was no doubt now that the power behind the throne was Cardinal Richelieu.

The present volume—published in 1652 during the Fronde—purports to tell the story of the tumultuous events of 1630-1631 from the viewpoint of the cardinal, using his journal and other personal documents.



St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s John T. Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.

One Reply to “Saint Vincent’s Reading List LXIV: Cardinal Richelieu and the “Day of Dupes””

  1. Slouching in his chair? Can you not see the anger there? The artist hasn’t done a bad job. It was a horrific scene.

    Louis did not exile his mother from France. She left – he simply didn’t let her return once she took herself into enemy territory. This was in 1632, and they had seen each other many times in the interim.

    It is hardly fair to say he was not visionary, battle-hardened, etc, when he became king at eight years old, not as an adult who had long been involved in the Wars of Religion. As it happens, it was Louis who finished those wars; he was, as an adult, every bit the soldier his father was, as witnessed by soldiers who knew them both, such as Bassompierre. As for the early years of his reighpn, he was busy surviving an atrocious upbringing – sexual abuse by everyone from his father down included – and having to take power from his mother and Concini by force, when he was all of fifteen. He was no cipher as an adult, nor some sort of de facto junior partner to Richelieu. Their relationship was subject to enormous strains, but at its core the King and Cardinal were, as well as master and servant, friends.

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