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Why was Richelieu's foreign policy so politically divisive from 1624-42?

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Why were questions of foreign alliances and foreign policy so politically divisive during Richelieu's ministry? Introduction Questions of foreign alliances and foreign policy during Richelieu's ministry were intensely complex. When Richelieu came to office in 1624, he faced a variety of problems which would shape the decisions he made over foreign issues. French military weakness and domestic discontent in terms of religion and economics amplified political division over foreign policy and foreign alliances. Richelieu's task was made more problematic because of the Huguenots, the d�vots and the potential economic burden of an aggressive foreign policy.1 Domestic and foreign policy were inextricably linked during Richelieu's ministry. The increasing power of both branches of the House of Habsburg in Europe also plagued Louis XIII and Richelieu throughout the period. Habsburg influence in Europe forced France to develop foreign alliances which would secure its frontiers and a foreign policy which would ensure domestic stability. The course of Richelieu's foreign policy however, was not wholly popular in France. Before discussing the precise details of Richelieu's foreign policy it is necessary to assert the overall aim of the cardinal. Throughout his ministry, Richelieu sought a Europe in which large powerful states and smaller duchies and kingdoms could peacefully coexist, regardless of religious or political differences. Hermann Weber notes 'the attainment of peace was the main objective throughout this era, and the programme was conceived and diplomatically articulated in countless avis, memoranda, and directives.'2 The political division over foreign policy lies in both the strategy implemented by Louis XIII and Richelieu to achieve peace and the character of their vision of peace, not in the notion of peace itself. Weber importantly notes that even though Richelieu justified his actions in terms of eventually achieving a lasting peace, this in fact never materialised.3 This essay is an attempt to analyse the political division over foreign policy and foreign alliances throughout Richelieu's ministry. ...read more.


The d�vot argument was that the king's reputation could be won domestically, and the threat of rebellion because of increased taxation was a real threat.18 Despite the reservations of the king's council Louis XIII and Richelieu continued the campaign and by July 1630 fortune began to favour the French. The deaths of Charles-Emmanuel in Savoy and Spinola at Casale, and the encroachment of Gustavus Adolphus in Germany weakened France's enemies.19 By October it appeared the status quo in Europe was reinstated, but it was Richelieu's rejection of this which caused enormous political divisions in France. Richelieu's unexpected rejection of peace came as a result of his belief that it would compromise his plan for a European coalition to counterweigh Habsburg influence. The continuation of the march on Casale and direct confrontation with the Spanish was extremely controversial. Richelieu's critics argued that his actions meant the prospect of a potentially endless conflict with the Habsburgs.20 The criticism culminated in the Day of the Dupes, in which Louis XIII's faith in Richelieu was reinstated and eventually the Treaty of Cherasco was signed in 1631; a far more favourable agreement than that which had been proposed a year earlier. Richelieu's subsequent purge of his political opposition tightened his grip on French foreign policy. The War of Mantuan Succession is vital because it embodies division in France over both the practical and religious issues involved in confrontation with the Habsburgs. Richelieu's retention of power after the Day of the Dupes in 1630 is of great concern to understanding French foreign policy thereafter. Louis XIII and Richelieu's rejection of the terms at Regensburg defined subsequent foreign policy. The negative responses to Richelieu's foreign polices and alliances continued in the 1630s, and the French alliance with Sweden in the form of the Protestant Gustavus Adolphus embodied the new direction in which France headed. The prospect of open war with the Habsburgs increased; and with it the fear of the destruction of French political and religious power in Europe. ...read more.


p.105 7 Robert Bireley, The Jesuits and the Thirty Years' War: Kings, Courts and Confessors, (Cambridge, 2003) p.63 8 Church, Richelieu and Reason of State, pp.107-108 9 A. Lloyd Moote, Louis XIII, The Just, (Berkeley, 1989) pp.180-181 10 R.J. Knecht, Richelieu, (London, 1991) pp.89-90 11 Moote, Louis XIII, p.183 12 Knecht, Richelieu, pp.90-92 see also for extensive analysis of War of Mantuan Succession, David Parrott, 'The Mantuan Succession, 1627-31: A Sovereignty Dispute in Early Modern Europe, The English Historical Review, Vol.112, No.445 (Feb., 1997), pp.20-65 13 J. H Elliott, Richelieu and Olivares, (Cambridge, 1984) pp.96-97, See also for problem of La Rochelle, R.A Stradling, 'Prelude to Disaster; the Precipitation of War of the Mantuan Succession, 1627-29', The Historical Journal, Vol. 33, No.4. (Dec. 1990), pp.777-785 14 Quoted in Paul Sonnino, Mazarin's Quest- The Congresso f Westphalia and the Origins of the Fronde 1643-8, (Harvard, 2008) p.13 15 Elliott, Richelieu and Olivares, p.98 16 See Knecht, Richelieu, pp. 92-94 and Berc�, The Birth of Absolutism, pp 123-125 17 Elliott, Richelieu and Olivares, p.105 18 Elliott, Richelieu and Olivares, pp.106-107 19 Berc�, The Birth of Absolutism, p.125 and Dacid Parrott, Richelieu's Army: War, Government and Society in France, 1624-1642, (Cambridge, 2001) pp.99-100 20 Elliott, Richelieu and Olivares, p.108 21 D. J Sturdy, Richelieu and Mazarin: A Study in Statesmanship, (London, 2004) p.54 22 Knecht, Richelieu, p.98 see also for Swedish military success Moote, Louis XII, p.233 23 Bireley, The Jesuits and the Thirty Years War, p.190 24 Sturdy, Richelieu and Mazarin, p.55 25 Parrott, Richelieu's Army, pp.104-105 26 Moote, Louis XIII, pp.234-235 27 Berc�, The Birth of French Absolutism, pp.128-129 28 See David Parrott, 'The causes of the Franco-Spanish War 1635-59' in Jeremy Black (ed.), The Origins of War in Early Modern Europe, (Edinburgh, 1987) 29 Church, Richelieu and Reason of State, pp.386-387 30 Quoted in Church, Richelieu and Reason of State, p.403 31 Richard Bonney, 'France's "war by diversion"', in Geoffrey Parker (ed.) The Thirty Years' War, (London, 1984)p.149 32 Sturdy, Fractured Europe, p.134 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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