The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Friday 5 October 2007

The genealogy of the eight Dukes of Richelieu 1629-1952.

The title of Duke of Richelieu, Peer of France, was created the 26 November 1629 for Armand-Jean du Plessis,  Cardinal of Richelieu by King Louis XIII of France.

The du Plessis family and thus the Cardinal of Richelieu’s coat of arms were :

A silver ground, with three chevrons of crimson.

Being an ecclesiastic and therefore a celibate, the Cardinal clearly could not transmit his titles to direct descendants, but got permission from the King that they should be passed to his elder grand-nephew, Armand Jean de Vignerot, grandson of his elder sister Francoise (1577-1615), who had married Rene de Vignerot, Lord of Pont-Courlay († 1625).
This young (then 3yrs) Armand Jean de Vignerot finally (at 18yrs) added to his name the family name of the Cardinal (du Plessis), adopted the Cardinal's coat of arms (silver with three chevrons of crimson “without the mixing of any others”), and accepted the title of Duke of Richelieu and Peer of France by letters patent from King Louis XIV in 1657.

Apart from direct successions, two other reversions of the ducal title took place; one in in 1822 and the other in 1879.
Armand Emmanuel of Plessis, 5th Duke of Richelieu, died in 1822 without heir, but had got permission that the title of Duke of Richelieu be passed to the son of his half-sister Simplicie and Antoine-Pierre de la Chapelle de Saint-Jean de Jumihac, with reversion in descent to his younger brother in the case where he died without male heir, which did indeed occur in 1879. The title then passing to his nephew. The title became finally extinct in 1952.

First Duke
1629-1642: Armand Jean du Plessis (1585-1642), Cardinal, 1st Duke of Richelieu, principal Minister of State under Louis XIII.

Second Duke
1657-1715: Armand Jean de Vignerot du Plessis (1639-1715), 2nd Duke of Richelieu, grand-nephew of the precedent.

Third Duke
1715-1788: Louis François Armand de Vignerot du Plessis (1696-1788), 3rd Duke of Richelieu, Marshall of France, son of the precedent.
A famous soldier, seducer and lothario. He is the inspiration for the Vicomte de Valmont in the 1782 epistolatory novel 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' by Laclos, and for Mr. Lovelace in the earlier 1748 novel 'Clarissa' by Richardson.

Fourth Duke
1788-1791: Louis Antoine Sophie de Vignerot of Plessis, Duke of Richelieu, son of the precedent.

Fifth Duke
1791-1822: Armand Emmanuel de Vignerot of Plessis (1766-1822), 5th Duke of Richelieu, president of the Council and minister of Foreign Affairs, then Prime Minister of France, son of the precedent.  
The Château is returned to the 5th Duke and the du Plessis family in 1805 in a damaged state after the Revolution. The 5th Duke had fled the guillotine to St. Petersburg, where he was delegated to found the new city of Odessa on the Black Sea for Catherine the Great, before returning finally to France to a major political career following the eventual defeat of Napoleon I.

Sixth Duke
1822-1879: Armand François Odet de la Chapelle de Saint-Jean de Jumilhac (1804-1879), 6th Duke of Richelieu, great-nephew of the precedent.  
In 1832 the Château de Richelieu is demolished and sold off for building materials by a trader called Boutron, and the domaine falls into disrepair.

Seventh Duke
1879-1880: Marie Odet Richard Armand de la Chapelle de Saint-Jean de Jumilhac (1847-1880), 7th Duke of Richelieu, nephew of the precedent. 
He is married to heiress Alice Heine of New Orleans USA.
Michael Heine, father of Alice, has restored what remained of the Château and Domaine for his now-enobled daughter and her short-lived first husband, the 7th Duke.  Later Alice marries into the royal family of Monaco and becomes the Princess of Monaco (preceding compatriot Grace Kelly in this rôle!).

Eigth Duke
1880-1952: Marie Odet Jean Armand de la chapelle de Saint-Jean de Jumilhac (1875-1952), 8th and last Duke of Richelieu, son of the precedent.  Married Elinor Douglas Wise of Baltimore USA. No issue. In 1930 he donates the Château Park to the Universities of Paris and the  Sorbonne in memory of their foundation by the first Duke.

NB. : The name of Vignerot, original brother-in-law of Cardinal Richelieu, and of his
descendants, can also be spelt Vignerod.

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