Type of paper: Book Review

Topic: Negotiation, Politics, France, Power, Prestige, Relationships, Ambassador, Reason

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2020/12/06

Cardinal Richelieu, the French bishop, was famous for using his political and administrative skills to rise to power and maintain it for a long time. In his approach to politics and religion Richelieu preferred reason to a mere force. Pursuing the political career, Richelieu quickly rose from the member of the council of the state in 1616 to a Chief Minister in King Louis XIII government (Berridge, Keens-Soper & Otte, 2001 p. 71). The Thirty Years’ War had serious implications for France’s international position; therefore, Richelieu opted to use not only a military power of France, but also diplomatic methods to maintain the balance of powers and France’s geopolitical position. During his political career Richelieu pursued two goals – to attain internal unity in France and create peace between all Christian countries. As for the enemies, Richelieu preferred waiting their weakening till France could make the final blow (as in the case of Habsburgs). Richelieu’s great accomplishment was making France a mediator between Catholics and Protestants, which ensured the growing geopolitical role of France. Being realist in his aspirations, Richelieu often turned to diplomacy or ‘continuous negotiation’ as he called this process (Berridge, Keens-Soper & Otte, 2001 p. 72).
Richelieu’s main diplomatic and political ideas can be found in his book Testament Politique, which is divided into two equally important parts – the first on Louis XIII reign and the state of French political institutions and the second one on questions of political strategy and tactics. Key diplomatic ideas of Richelieu are presented in the chapter called “The Need for Continuous Negotiation in Diplomacy”. He claims that uninterrupted negotiation is an integral part of the state’s well-being (Berridge, Keens-Soper & Otte, 2001 p. 74). Under the term of ‘continuous negotiation’ Richelieu had in mind two things – to have diplomats everywhere including Rome and to have those diplomats pursue agreement in all possible affairs. Richelieu understood that political sphere is changing rapidly; therefore, it is impossible to dictate the speed of reaching the agreement. The true value of ‘continuous negotiation’ approach lies, according to Richelieu, in the power of reason and language (Berridge, Keens-Soper & Otte, 2001 p. 75). Although negotiation itself does not secure positive outcome of the discussion, its continuity shows good intentions and a desire to come to a mutually acceptable conclusion, and allows both sides to provide their arguments in this or that question. Not only continuous negotiation helps to avoid unpleasant surprises from other states, it also maintains prestige of the state and its inclusion to the system of international relations. Elliott, summarizing Richelieu’s way of thinking, says that prestige brings power; power brings prestige, and prestige can make resorting to arms unnecessary if used skillfully (Berridge, Keens-Soper & Otte, 2001 p. 75). Richelieu’s method of negotiating is based on the assumption that negotiation should be not only continuous, but also consistent; therefore, there should be only one body responsible for it. To be more concrete, Richelieu gave all negotiating power to the Ministry of External Affairs, a method widely used in the modern states (Berridge, Keens-Soper & Otte, 2001 p. 77). Richelieu also offered several criteria of a good diplomat. According to Richelieu, a ambassador should always be well-informed, know the true value of words and how to put them in written documents. Finally, Richelieu emphasized on the importance of monarch’s keeping to his word in order to secure prestige. As an official monarch’s representative, ambassador who concludes agreements binds monarch to follow them; therefore, it is strongly prohibited for ambassador to exceed his authority.
Despite all their positive sides, negotiations can be a costly enterprise. Maintaining ambassadors throughout the world is very expensive not saying that different countries may be quite insecure to conduct diplomatic relations. The second point of criticism is the fact that reason has never been universal; therefore, it may sometimes be impossible to reach conclusion due to a different vision of the same problem by two sides (Berridge, Keens-Soper & Otte, 2001 p. 81). In addition, the continuity of negotiations can result in bad agreements. To sum up the chapter one needs to say that Richelieu offered a quite working scheme of maintaining diplomatic relations in early modern Europe seeing to the advantages of ‘continuous negotiation’ way more than all possible drawbacks such system may have.


Berridge, G., Keens-Soper, H., & Otte, T. (2001). Diplomatic theory from Machiavelli to Kissinger. Houndsmill, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 06) Cardinal Richelieu Book Review. Retrieved August 20, 2022, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/cardinal-richelieu-book-review/
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Cardinal Richelieu Book Review. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/cardinal-richelieu-book-review/. Published Dec 06, 2020. Accessed August 20, 2022.

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