By JOAN YOUNG
Richelieu and His Age by Carl J. Burckhardt (Allen and Unwin, 35s.).
WilN France's great king lenry IV was stabbed by Ravaillac, it seemed that his constructive work would die with him. During the Regency of Marie de Medici for her son Louis XIII, the country was torn by civil strife and exploited by her foreign favourites and the turbulent nobility.
Carl I. Burckhardt in this book, first published in 1940 and now reissued, traces the career of the man who brought order out of this chaos, curbed the nobility, strengthened the monarchy, and secured the country's frontiers. The portrait of Richelieu is both penetrating and sympathetic. We follow him from when he spoke at the Estates General of 1614, through the time of patiently waiting and scheming, until he emerged with
power—power he retamed until his death.
The policies of Richelieu not only created modem France, but affected the course of European history. All this Mr. Burckhardt analyses brilliantly. His assessment of the forces of the Counter Reformation and of Protestantism is also interesting and unbiased.
The account of the Siege of La Rochelle makes exciting and moving reading. Richelieu fought the Huguenots not for their beliefs, but because, as a state within a state, he saw them as a menace to national unity.