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Éminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France
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Éminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  128 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Chief minister to King Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu was the architect of a new France in the seventeenth century, and the force behind the nation's rise as a European power. Among the first statesmen to clearly understand the necessity of a balance of powers, he was one of the early realist politicians, practicing in the wake of Niccolò Machiavelli. Truly larger than lif ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Walker Books
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Apr 05, 2013 Marks54 rated it liked it
This is a biography of Cardinal Richelieu that focuses on his rise to power and the period when he was the powerful minister to King Louis XIII. It is a fascinating story of a supremely talented man in precisely the right place at the right time to make the most of his talents. The focus is clearly on Richelieu and his career, with less attention paid to the broader historical context or to the longer term impacts of his rule. It is also largely a descriptive account, worrying about what the fac ...more
An impressive history of an interesting and mysterious man.

Most impressions of Richelieu are from Dumas and The Three Musketeers - a powerful, conniving, 'grey eminence' who was more powerful than the King of France. Dumas had plenty to work with - Richelieu was a colorful figure who restored a centralized French government, fought wars and allied with Protestant nations in equal turns, and paved the way for the raw power of Louis XIV - a shewd political animal, indeed.

This biography gives a str
Mixed feelings, as usual. I'm aware Richelieu is not the mustache-twirling villain Dumas would like us to believe he is (though now that I say that, I am absolutely certain he twirled his mustache), and so I was hoping for a more human look at him. Instead I got glimpses of him and a lot of 17th-century European history, which, if you are not aware, is the worst. It's endless wars fought by infinite factions which may or may not be religious and which will be different two weeks later. Difficult ...more
Jul 17, 2015 John rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Interesting biography/history of the career of Cardinal Richelieu of Three Musketeers fame. I was pleasantly surprised that the conspiracies mentioned in the Three Musketeers were for the most part true, but of course without D'Artagnan.

I listened to the book on audio and it held my interest. The constant scheming and plotting between King Louis, his brother, his wife, and his mother was fascinating. There are 3 particularly gruesome executions described (the executioners unfortunately were fill
Adam Ford
Apr 18, 2014 Adam Ford rated it liked it
Not a bad book, but clearly biased in favor of His Red Eminence.

The good: It is very interesting to see how the first modern government (sorta) come to become. Cardinal Richelieu was the first modern Prime Minister, running the government while the Head of State (in this case Louis XIII, and, while he was too young to rule, his mother as regent) was free to banquet and hunt and chase favorites.

The book also did a good job explaining how Cardinal Richelieu's decision to ally with the Protestant
Jun 25, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it
Eminence tells the story of the man that was made infamous by Dumas in the Three Musketeers. This very readable biography gives a nice overview of the Cardinal Richelieu’s life and his ability a politician and statesman. He had a rocky career balancing himself between the Queen Mother and the King eventually becoming a chief statesman. His list of victories from crushing the Hugenots but providing them a way out with religious tolerance in exchange for taking down their defenses to forming treat ...more
Feb 02, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My habit, lately, has been to randomly snag promising-looking books from the "New" shelves at my library. Having enjoyed "The Three Musketeers" while in high school, I got very excited to see this on the shelf. Of course, it had to come home with me.

This is an interesting, highly readable, examination of the cardinal's life. It skips back and forth a bit in the beginning of the book, and it is unclear how Richelieu came to power--sometimes, it was simply a matter of being in the right place at
Robert Jones
Mar 02, 2015 Robert Jones rated it liked it
Eminence was good, but not quite as good as I was hoping it would be. Rather than providing a snapshot of French history, or of the Thirty Years' War, Blanchard simply provides an account, year-by-year, of Cardinal Richelieu's life and career. It's exactly what the book promised, but I was still a little disappointed. This book is not an entry-level introduction to the topic; you're better off ignoring it unless you have some preexisting knowledge, or an interest in Cardinal de Richelieu.
Jason Goetz
Apr 13, 2015 Jason Goetz rated it really liked it
Didn't know much about Richelieu before reading this--so it was useful on several different levels. I am not sure whether the author is the best person to write this, however, and felt it lacking in several ways. Also the conclusion, especially the last sentence, is totally lame--if you are going to do that, just leave the sentence out. Better to leave the reader wanting more than wanting less.
Dec 31, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I couldn't connect well with this biography, despite enjoying the subject. The writing style seemed a bit stilted, and the biography itself read like a string of dates with corresponding events. Perhaps this is a great work of history -- Blanchard certainly respects his primary sources. Not a terrible book, but nothing very spectacular either.
Alexey Ryzhankov
Jun 09, 2015 Alexey Ryzhankov rated it it was ok
Short and one-sided the book still provided some interesting facts and stories about Richelieu's personal and political life. Still I would recommend reading his memoirs over this.
Mar 22, 2013 Mackay rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history, france
Have to admit, shamefully, that most of my direct knowledge of Richelieu came from Dumas. While that picture isn't wrong, it's not as complete as it might be. The portrait here is of a man with a strong drive to power and prestige (perhaps prestige first, with power as the avenue to achieve it), who was not, as Kissinger said, the father of diplomacy, for he was often short-sighted and mistaken in his diplomacy, succeeding in making enemies of all but his king. For this reader, the man who emerg ...more
Peter Bradley
Sep 30, 2014 Peter Bradley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Gary McMurtrey
Feb 02, 2016 Gary McMurtrey rated it liked it
Interesting and a good companion to " The Three Musketeers".
Apr 09, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it
A thorough overview of the architect of modern France that is hard to find in engish. The footnotes are outstanding and add quite a bit to an already interesting subject. I enjoyed it and while its not exhaustive it does give a very well done primer. It touches on some of the controversies of his tenor as well as mentions other historians points of view, while saying that this is a very positive review of the man and tends to defend him a bit. Well worth reading if your interested in the 30 year ...more
John Hall
Jun 30, 2015 John Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A triumph!

A smart, unbiased treatment of one of most misunderstood people in French history. Indeed it presents amazing insights into Louis XIII and his court, especially his mother Marie de Medici. A most read for those interested in 16th century history.
Sandra Strange
You have to be into history to love this book. I liked it because Richelieu is such a fascinating figure, religious and Machiavellian at the same time, a man who was forced to walk the very narrow ledge on the brink of disaster (and almost stepped off many times) through civil wars, bloody religious wars, machinations of jealous courtiers, etc, etc. If you've ever loved The Three Musketeers, Richelieu is one of the major characters, and the history in this book gives the background of that novel ...more
Interesting take on one of the most powerful men in French history. Well researched and sourced, but I couldn't help have a feeling the author was trying to paint him as a victim almost, doing what he had to survive. That said it was fairly even in its portrayal of Richelieu and Louis XIII - good for an insight into that monarch, and his horrible mother Marie Medici.
Catherine McClelland
Feb 23, 2015 Catherine McClelland rated it really liked it
Not really the villain of the Three Musketeers but more of a Walsingham to Louis XIII.
Apr 17, 2012 Rw rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rw by: Michelle Hartel @ Swarthmore College
Extraordinary view of the famous statesman and Cardinal. Not the villain portrayed by Dumas in his novels. Gripping. Also, written by an astute academic, the book is unexpectedly very readable and never overly erudite. Really enjoyed every page, hard to put down. Insightful implementation of Machiavelli's "The Prince".
Monique Perisutti
Aug 19, 2015 Monique Perisutti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a bit dissapointing,it is fun to read but that is all.
Lauren Albert
The audience for this book is definitely a reader who knows a lot more about 17th century European history than I do. It was interesting but I found myself constantly lost in the politics--Blanchard does seem to assume a lot of prior knowledge.
Aug 27, 2013 Christine rated it it was amazing
An excellent biography---very well-written and easy to read, as well as informative and thoughtful. I'd highly recommend this book as a biography or an easy window into the time when France developed into a prominent European power.
May 20, 2012 Louise rated it liked it
This is a once over lightly, but for the general reader, it's a slog. There is a lot on the Cardinal's military career (conflict here?) and how he dispatched with his rivals, but little on how he earned his reputation for statecraft.
Apr 18, 2012 !Tæmbuŝu marked it as to-read
Shelves: history, france, biography
Reviewed by Foreign Affairs
Jul 31, 2012 Michele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
It was gave a lot of history, but it seemed somewhat disjointed. I've read other non fiction that was a lot more cohesive.
Dave Steinbrunn
May 16, 2014 Dave Steinbrunn rated it really liked it
Interesting history of the cardinal and of France during this time period. Was an easy read, which is unusual for history books.
Jul 15, 2013 Tom rated it liked it
Detailed to a fault, but ponderous and slow. Worth the time for a scholar of French history but hardly engaging.
Yiyuk Alatorre
it was well written, but just another history book. Wish it could have gone further and let me know what made him tick.
Jun 13, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
An excellent book--well-written, succinct, interesting, and informative. Highly recommended.
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