Cardinal’s Loot

J.M. Roberts

  • Cardinal Richelieu: Power and the Pursuit of Wealth by Joseph Bergin
    Yale, 341 pp, £20.00, November 1985, ISBN 0 300 03495 4
  • Rich and Poor in Grenoble 1600-1814 by Kathryn Norberg
    California, 366 pp, £31.95, October 1985, ISBN 0 520 05260 9
  • France 1789-1815: Revolution and Counter-Revolution by D.M.G. Sutherland
    Collins/Fontana, 493 pp, £14.95, October 1985, ISBN 0 00 197178 6

Richelieu has long been seen as the founder of the absolute monarchy of France, but has hardly, until now, been studied as a millionaire. Yet Dr Bergin came to his theme almost by accident. While looking for something entirely different in the Paris archives, he noticed in the catalogue a reference to five volumes of materials relating to Richelieu’s affairs. A year later he called them up to begin ‘a short article on Richelieu’s revenues’. Slowly, the magnitude of the task of explaining anything about his subject dawned on him. He was caught, as many historians have been, by his documents. And now we have this remarkable study, the most comprehensive that exists of the personal finances of France’s greatest 17th-century statesman – indeed of any 17th-century notable.

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