1661: Cardinal Mazarin – The Italian who Succeeded Richelieu

1661: Cardinal Mazarin – The Italian who Succeeded Richelieu
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Unlike Richelieu, Cardinal Mazarin was an Italian by Birth, and his birth name was Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino.

Cardinal Mazarin, the long-time leading man of French state politics, died in Vincennes near Paris on this day in 1661, aged 58. Mazarin succeeded his patron Cardinal Richelieu as the French Chief Minister. Mazarin was around 17 years younger than Richelieu, and of Italian origin.

He was born in the small Italian town Pescina in a picturesque part of the Apennines in 1602. His birth name was Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino, but he later changed it to the more French-sounding Jules Raymond Mazarin. Mazarin’s brother Michele also became a cardinal, while his father Pietro was a Sicilian nobleman.

Jules became the French Chief Minister in 1642, immediately after Richelieu’s death. King Louis XIII died only five months later, leaving the four-year-old Louis XIV as the new king. Mazarin acted as regent together with Anne of Austria, the boy’s mother. He therefore de facto ruled France until Louis XIV came of age.

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