chapter  9
71 Pages

1627: ‘An ambition to serve faithfully both my King and country’

Buckingham blamed Richelieu for the repudiation of the agreement which Bassompierre had concluded on Louis XIII’s behalf, and his view was widely shared, both at home and abroad. Writing from Paris, the Venetian ambassador told his government that to disinterested observers it seemed that Bassompiere had shown exceptional skill and prudence in carrying out his difficult task. Indeed it was these very qualities that had brought about his downfall, for ‘Cardinal Richelieu wants to rule this kingdom alone and cannot support the growing fortune of the Marshal’. This belief, that Richelieu’s main concern was to preserve his shaky hold on power, was confirmed by William Lewis, one of Buckingham’s agents in Paris. ‘The Cardinal,’ he reported, ‘finding no safety in the envies of this court and the variability of this prince’s favour, sought out his props at Rome, where he is now established.’ Lewis added that the marked change of course on the part of Richelieu — whom he had earlier heard described as a man who put reason of state in the saddle and religion in the crupper (I’etat en selle et la religion en crouppe) — must indicate that Richelieu had decided to throw in his lot with the Devots. Whereas previously there had been nothing of the cardinal about him except his red hat, now he was truly the Pope’s agent: he might talk of reason of state, but this was only a mask to conceal his true intentions.1