Cardinal Richelieu was a French cleric and politician.
He was born in Paris in 1585. Armand du Plessis (his real name) was the fourth of the five children and the last of the three sons of François du Plessis and of Susanne de La Porte. In 1590, when Richelieu was 5 years old, his father was killed leaving the family in a very difficult financial situation. The resources of the du Plessis family had been limited to the income from the bishopric of Luçon, which King Henry III had granted to François du Plessis.
In order to preserve the family inherited right to the revenues of the bishopric, one of the sons had to become bishop of Luçon. When his brothers, for various reasons, did not become bishops, the hereditary right was threatened, and so Armand took over to help the family.
In 1608, at the age of 23, he was ordained a bishop and later engaged in politics. He soon ascended both to the Catholic Church and to the French government, as in 1622 he became a Cardinal (a high-ranking ecclesiastic figure appointed by the Pope at the College of Cardinals and ranked above any other ecclesiastical person except the Pope) and in 1624 the Prime Minister of Louis XIII.
As a prime minister he tried to make France strong by gathering all power in the hands of the king and his own. Whenever necessary, he was particularly tough to strengthen the position of the King and his own.
A great protector of French literature, he founded the French Academy in 1635.
He died in 1642, at the age of 57 from an illness.