Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss

CARDINAL RICHELIEU, 1631

WARIN, Jean: France, 1631, Lead, 53 mm
Obv: Bust of Richelieu (r)    .ARMANDVS IOAN. CARD. DE RICHELIEV.
Rev: A Genius directs the revolution of the planets around the world    . MENS SIDERA VOLVIT. (His Intellect Makes the Stars Revolve)
Exergue:  .1631.
Signed:  I. WARIN.
Ref: Jones II,192/187; Kress 108/576; Molinari 67/251; Mazerolle-Varin I, 87/13; Forrer VI, p.369 (illustrated);  Europese Penningen # 1773;  The Medal, No. 11;  Weiss BW535

Armand-Jean du Plessis (1585-1642), Cardinal de Richelieu in 1622,  a French cardinal and statesman, was the chief minister to Louis XIII of France.  His greatest achievements were the establishment of the basis of royal absolutism in France and restoration of the prestige of the French kingdom after the lengthy domination of Europe by the Spanish Hapsburgs. Richelieu became a protege of Marie de Medici and chaplain to Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII. He became a cardinal in 1622 and was appointed chief of the royal council in 1624. Although he suppressed the military and political power of the Huguenots, he tolerated Protestant religious practices. He alienated many powerful Catholics, however, by his policy of placing the interests of the state above all else. For example, in the Thirty Years' War, he formed alliances with Protestant powers against the Hapsburgs. As a result Cardinal Richelieu made powerful enemies, especially among the nobility and devout Catholics and survived several aristocratic plots against him. At home, he reduced the power of the French nobility by creating officials dependent on the patronage of the crown in order to govern the provinces. He encouraged industry and foreign trade, but the cost of war against Hapsburg Spain drained the royal finances, and the use of church revenues led to conflict with Pope Urban VIII. Richelieu accumulated a huge personal fortune, some of which went to support the foundation of the Academie Francaise. On his death he was succeeded as first minister by his own protege, Cardinal Jules Mazarin. (from Ency. World Hist.)

Jean Warin produced this medal to flatter Richelieu and to win him over to his side when Warin was accused of forgery.  The reverse of this medal refers to Richelieu's success in dealing with the intrigues against him.   The medal suggests that it is the Cardinal's intellect which governs the motion of celestial bodies (Jones).

LINK to portrait of Cardinal de Richelieu by Philippe de Champaigne (from National Gallery)

LINK to biography of Cardinal de Richelieu (from lucidcafe)

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