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On Tour with His Red Eminence ~Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu by Laurel A. Rockefeller and Meet the Author

I’m so excited to have this book, and to have Laurel again here!

The book is His Red Eminence ~Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu by Laurel A. Rockefeller Genre, a Historical Fiction.

Priest. Lover. Statesman.
Cardinal Armand-Jean du Plessis, duc de Richelieu is one of the most famous — or infamous politicians of all time. Made a villain in the popular Dumas novel, “The Three Musketeers,” the real man was a dedicated public servant loyal to king and country. A man of logic and reason, he transformed how we think about nations and nationality. He secularized wars between countries, patronized the arts for the sake of the public good, founded the first newspaper in France, and created France as the modern country we know today.

Filled with period music, dance, and plenty of romance, “His Red Eminence” transports you back to the court of King Louis XIII in all its vibrant and living color.

Includes eight period songs, plus prayers, a detailed timeline, and extensive bibliography so you can keep learning.

From the author of the best-selling “Legendary Women of World History” series.

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“The king calls into His Presence, Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, bishop of Luçon,” summoned the herald.

Obediently, Richelieu emerged from the crowded courtiers and bowed in front of the king, “Your Majesty! How may I be of service?”

King Louis stood up from his throne, “There is someone here to see you.” Motioning, a monk appeared and kneeled before the king, “I believe you know my guest, François-Joseph le Clerc du Tremblay?”

Armand smiled, “Père Joseph! Salut! Comment ça va, mon ami?”

Père Joseph embraced him, “Ça va bien, Armand! It is good to see you!”

“What brings you to court?”

“A special mission from Pope Gregory XV.”

“Oh?”

King Louis stepped towards Richelieu and patted him on the back, “You’ve been awarded a very special honour in gratitude for your service to my crown.”

Père Joseph placed the scarlet biretta of a prince of the church on Armand’s head, “By order of Pope Gregory XV on the fifth of September in the year of our Lord sixteen twenty-two, you are named to the college of cardinals.”

King Louis half-giggled with pride, “Congratulations Cardinal Richelieu.”

“A mighty gift indeed and a great honor, especially coming from both of you,” bowed Cardinal Richelieu as he struggled to keep his composure.

“The pope has more gifts for you which I’ve sent to your apartment, though perhaps the king has better accommodations to offer you that are better suited for a prince of the church?” suggested Père Joseph.

“That is an excellent idea, Père Joseph!” agreed King Louis.

“Most kind of you. Too kind. Please, Your Majesty may I retire from Your Presence? I am suddenly feeling indisposed and would prefer to suffer my illness in private if I may?” begged Cardinal Richelieu.

“You conceal it well, Your Eminence. But perhaps your Anne might know of something to help you feel better? Please tell me you brought her to Paris? For a woman she is the most excellent physician!” prattled the king.

“She will be most glad to hear you speak so favourably of her,” bowed Cardinal Richelieu as he quickly backed away from the royal presence. Feeling weak in his knees and terrified of the biretta on his head, Armand raced through the Louvre. Crossing the street to Notre Dame de Paris, he lit a candle and tried to pray. Sensing him from a far, Anne walked up behind him and knelt beside him. Armand began to weep. Anne caressed him comfortingly. Overcome with terror and foreboding, he clung to her, kissing her wildly until his deeper instincts took hold. Weeping, he lowered her to the floor, his hands and body set in motion by his blinding terror, love, and sorrow, the sounds of his sobs mingling with those her body and his made in response to his lovemaking. Armand’s body started to glow softly and uncontrollably with warmth and power. Anne held him close to her as his entire body trembled and he poured himself into her, half-screaming.

Anne brushed away his tears as she felt his completion and with it the waves of both physical and spiritual energy she knew would come of it, “C’est accompli, Mon Eminence.”

Cardinal Richelieu met her eyes, his gaze blinded by his tears, “Je ne comprends pas.”

Anne kissed him, “God has blessed you, Your Eminence.” Aware of their surroundings, Anne broke his embrace and sat up, “Come! This is no place for a priest, let alone a cardinal to be found like this. If someone were to see us like this …”

Armand took a deep breath, awestruck at her composure when he himself was still caught up in the emotions that drove his recklessness, “…agreed!  You are so good to me. Yielding always to what I want and need and never complaining. I don’t deserve you.”

Anne found her feet, “No you don’t—but you have me anyway. Will you walk me home, Eminence?”

Armand found his feet and put back on his head the biretta awarded to him, “Yes, of course.”  Walking calming through the church together, they both breathed with relief as the doors closed behind them and they headed for home.

About the Author

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is author of over twenty books published and self-published since August, 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide. 

With her lyrical writing style, Laurel’s books are as beautiful to read as they are informative.

In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series.

Cardinal Richelieu—the Musical

Hymns, Carols, and Popular Music in “His Red Eminence.”

By Laurel A. Rockefeller

“C’est un rempart que notre Dieu, une invincible armure. Notre délivrance en tout lieu, notre défense sûre. Satan, notre ennemi, en fureur s’est promis. D’user de son pouvoir. Pour vaincre et décevoir. Sur terre il n’y a plus d’abri,” sang Anne Rochefeuille as she played the harpsichord in the main drawing room of the Palais Cardinal, Cardinal Richelieu’s grand palace built just north of the Louvre and bequeathed to King Louis XIII upon his death on the 4th of December 1642. Though Americans rarely hear it in French, the first verse of the above hymn is well-known by Protestants around the world as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther.  It is, like so many songs in this latest biography, an unusual choice for the story of France’s greatest and most transformative first minister.

Jean-Armand du Plessis, cardinal and duc de Richelieu transformed France into the first truly modern and secular state of the western world. Still essentially a collection of feudal states owing nominal loyalty to the king of France when he took up the bishopric of Luçon in 1608, the cardinal’s ability to put aside religious considerations in favour of complete subordination of the French people and its institutions to the king had inevitable cultural implications as well. Carefully patronizing writers, poets, dramatists, painters, sculptors, architects, composers, musicians, and other artisans, regardless of his personal opinions about their creations, his patient efforts carefully moved French culture into the celebrated baroque era we associate with King Louis XIV.

In my new biography, “His Red Eminence, Jean-Armand du Plessis de Richelieu,” I celebrate the cardinal’s life through music. Eight songs in French, Latin, and English fill these pages, helping the story to come alive. Given my habit for setting scenes during the Christmas holiday season, there are of course Christmas carols, more than any other book so far. 15th century French carol “Noël Nouvelet” makes an appearance, as does “Adeste Fideles” which was originally written by French monks in the medieval era but not translated to English as “O Come All Ye Faithful” until Victorian times.

Two decidedly English songs make an appearance: the 16th century English “Coventry Carol” is heard for the first time in one of my books as does the medieval version of the popular song “Quoth John to Joan.”

Popular French music arrives in the form of Pierre Guédon’s “Aux plaisirs, aux délices.”  Guédon’s music is very special because it’s one of the few surviving songs we have specific to King Louis XIII’s reign instead of dating to either the Valois dynasty or Louis XIV’s reign.

Aux plaisirs, aux délices, bergères,

Il faut ètre du temps ménagères,

Car il s’écoule et se perd d’heure en heure;

Et le regret seulement en demeure.

A l’àmour, aux plaisirs, au bocage

Employez les beaux jours de votre àge.

But perhaps the most poignant of the two popular music pieces in this book is also the most familiar.  “Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie” by Thoinot Arbeau is a love song written at the end of the 16th century. Popular with re-enactors, it is slow, stately and full of quiet passion. Just the sort of song that rises to the many diverse occasions found in not only this beautiful biography, but many of the Legendary Women of World History biographies as well. 

We first encounter “Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie” in 1618 during Armand-Jean’s exile in Avignon when best friend Anne Rochefeuille sings the first two verses. Then, in 1628, facing the horrors of war and missing home and the love waiting for him in Paris, Armand-Jean sings verses three through eight for us, allowing us to hear the song in full. Drama arises when his song is overheard by Father Joseph, his “grey eminence” as history remembers him. For one of the most consistent sources of drama in this biography is the constant question by those around the good cardinal as to whether or not, and if so who, is he taking to his bed as his lover.

Historically, the question is never proven either way but rather is a matter of persistent rumour spanning his entire adult life.

My belief is that he did have a lover, a woman whom he loved and faithfully took to bed for over twenty years. But more than a vessel for his sexual appetites, she was best friend, confidant, nurse, and intellectual equal.  She was everything for Armand-Jean du Plessis that Katharina von Bora was for Martin Luther almost a century before—except of course that du Plessis could not marry her in the church without stepping down from the priesthood and his only means of supporting himself. Even after becoming a cardinal in 1622 and first minister of France in 1644, Richelieu’s economic survival depended on him keeping secret what the true nature of his relationship with his Anne really was. If the truth were ever discovered, the scandal stood to cost him not only his position (and the money he depended on to live), but his life as well.

With this dramatic context in mind, I invite you to enter King Louis XIII’s court with all its music and dance and courtly romance and intrigues to meet the real man you never knew from reading Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers.”

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16 replies »

  1. Thank you! A small note: since original publication in March, there have been a few small changes in the music. I deleted a couple of verses of Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie from the La Rochelle chapter. But more notably, I switched to a different translation of the Lutheran hymn to match the sheet music I found. In April, 2019 I was asked to sing the song for a radio program and therefore needed to be able to sight read the lyrics to the notation on the page. I can of course post those new lyrics here if anyone wishes to see them.

    Unless you purchased the book already, you will not notice any differences. With paperbacks, look at the print date on the final page of the book. Any copy printed before 25 April, 2019 can rightfully be considered a rare book.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Here are all four verses as they appear in the appendices. Verses 1, 2, and 4 are in the scene.

        C’est un rempart que notre Dieu,
        Une invincible armure,
        Notre délivrance en tout lieu,
        Notre défense sûre.
        Satan, notre ennemi,
        En fureur s’est promis
        D’user de son pouvoir
        Pour vaincre et décevoir.
        Sur terre il n’y a plus d’abri.

        Seuls, nous perdons à chaque pas
        Notre force est faiblesse.
        Mais un héros pour nous combat:
        Dieu le soutient sans cesse.
        Quel est ce défenseur?
        C’est Christ, notre Sauveur,
        Jesus, Dieu des armées!
        Ses tribus opprimées
        Connaissent leur libérateur.

        Que les démons, forgeant des fers,
        Pour accabler l’Eglise.
        Ta Sion brave les enfers,
        Sur le rocher assise.
        Constant dans son effort,
        En vain, avec la mort,
        Satan peut seliguer;
        Tous deux seront défaits.
        Il suffit d’un mot du Dieu fort.

        Dis-le, ce mot victorieux
        Dans toutes nos détresses,
        Répands sur nous du haut de cieux
        Tes divines largesses.
        Qu’on nous ôte nos biens!
        Qu’on serre nos liens!
        Seigneur, nous avons foi.
        Bien plus forte est ta loi,
        Et ton royaume est pour les tiens.

        You can hear that musical performance at the ~21 minute mark of the radio interview which I posted to youtube: https://youtu.be/8eeqHy5tf1U

        Liked by 1 person

      • My pleasure, Ms. Mackade. Is there any other information, perhaps more song lyrics or the prayers and their translations, you would like to see as well? As with the Legendary Women of World History series books, the appendices on Eminence are massive and collect extremely useful information together that you usually will not find nearly so conveniently.

        Liked by 1 person

      • More of a question, actually. As novelists, there’s always something of ourselves that drips into the pages. Does it happens to you, too, while writing about and of those amazing women or, now, with Richelieu? Or, being a biography, you keep yourself as hidden as possible?

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      • It depends on the biography really. Sometimes I find myself remembering a past life (I believe in reincarnation) and choosing a past life as one of the biography subjects. When that happens, yes, of course there is a great of me in the biography because she and me are the same soul.

        When it’s not a past life, the “me” that comes through is more through empathy than anything else. As a rule, I strive to be as objective as possible and hidden as possible. Religion is a major area where I stay hidden. You would never know from reading “Mary Queen of the Scots,” “Catherine de Valois,” or even “Eminence” that I was raised Evangelical Christian, much less that I have completely left Christianity in favour of other spiritual traditions that do not depend on a written “scripture.” It’s not my spirituality that counts — it’s theirs. Hence I communicate what THEY believed and how THEY felt about these things. That doesn’t mean my background fails to inform the work of course. As a child I was required to memorize the New Testament extensively and I find I tend to know the Bible much better than most devout Christians do. But the people on the page are as historical as possible, recreated as best as the historical facts and my psychology education (I was pre-counseling in university) permits me.

        Does that answer the question? How can I clarify?

        Liked by 1 person

      • It does, thank you! I like biographies of the great characters who made history, and I do because it’s a way for them to step away from the historical relevance and become “human”. So thank you for bringing them to life, so that we can know them better!

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  2. Areas where you see the most “me” in my books: inclusion of music, poetry, and dancing. I was a re-enactor in the Society for Creative Anachronism for about twenty years before I gave it up (the SCA is very cliquish and I suffered bullying the entire time I was in the group). I sang, I danced, I learned to spin with a drop spindle. I threw axes and knives sometimes and I shot a bow. I judged brewing competitions. Most famously, I studied falconry and parrot aviculture. I was SCA expert on parrots in the middle ages. Hence you see that “hands on” background in the book. The featured dance in “Eminence” is Black Nag which is one of my absolute favourites — Washer Woman Bransle (featured in “Mary Queen of the Scots”) is another favourite. Obviously I highlight in greatest detail the dances I actually know how to dance.

    In “Hypatia of Alexandria” you see me in the early scene where she’s trying to spinning. That too is my hands-on experience at work. I spin — but badly. Sharing an early love of science with Hypatia, I think it likely that her experiences at the spindle and mine are similar. The hours I’ve spent fighting the wool and trying to spin it evenly become hers. But it makes the story stronger, don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hand-on is the best way to learn or appreciate a skill or craft. I’m a firm believer in it as a teaching tool. That’s why the cliques in groups like the SCA are such an issue. In local groups insisting that newcomers study the same things or pursue personaes from the same times/places as the rest — that destroys the educational opportunities for everyone. It’s good to study something different. it’s an EDUCATIONAL GROUP — learning is the POINT. But how much are you going to learn if everyone is doing the exact same thing?

    The middle ages and renaissance is like ice cream: it’s boring if you only eat the same flavour and in the same way all the time. The theory of the SCA based on its official statement of purpose on http://www.sca.org is like Baskin Robbins ice cream where you can study anything you want between the fall of the Roman Empire and the death of Queen Elizabeth Tudor of England and pick anywhere in the world you want within that time space. But in practice, all you ever get is plain vanilla or plain chocolate by itself in a bowl. And if you don’t want your ice cream that flavor served that way they will pick on you until either you give in or you leave.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you. Hence six of my biographies to date fall within the SCA’s 600 to 1600 scope. However, local groups tend to insist on getting very narrow and specific. Let’s say your current interest was 16th century Italy and France. You wanted to know more about Catherine de Medici and you wanted to know about Queen Mary Stuart’s time as Queen of France. You loved the dresses and found Italian dances from the time — like galliards and “la volta” sections of galliards fascinating and fun (Queen Elizabeth Tudor certainly enjoyed them). But your local group only cared about 12th century England and they were mostly interested in martial arts — in what they call in the SCA “heavy weapons fighting.” That local group would give you a very hard time because you didn’t want to put on armor and fight. Because the Angevins and early plantagenets were not your passion.

        The most recent group I played with before I gave it up had a problem with me dancing — because the people in charge of it were “stick jocks” (people who love the fighting I just described) and if you didn’t want to fight or physically couldn’t manage it — they didn’t want you around.

        I found that the further from England you picked in terms of culture of interest, the more they picked on you. Hence I remain likely the only person in the SCA’s 50+ year history to play a nuzhen (Manchu) from the northeast of what is now China. Officially I am “Lady Biya” in the group. “Biya” is Manchu for “the moon” and yes, I can write it in the Old Jurchen character script, a language almost completely obliterated by the Mongols.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you, I’m always weary of narrow minded people. I like a little bit of everything, I think it makes everything more interesting, and it broadens your horizon oven a certain time. If I’m interested in 16th century Italy, I want to know all about it. Not just the dresses. Not just the weapons. All, so I can have a 360 degree angle on it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Me too! That shows in the Legendary Women of World History series and in “Eminence.” My biographies are unique in that they tend to give you a 360 degree scope of each time, place, and person. They sing. They dance. They celebrate holidays. They worship (or perhaps weren’t religious and hid that fact). They quarreled with their mates, their friends, and families. They become REAL PEOPLE in ways that traditional non-fiction format never let you see even while I stick to the facts very closely. Definitely worth reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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