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Issue 10 – Easter 2022



This month's letters and comments.


Gladden Pappin’s brilliant exposition of Cardinal Richelieu’s reason of state shows how much there is to be learned from the French statesman’s anti-Machiavellian domestic policy for a politics of the common good, in which state power is used to ensure that private interests do not harm the common wellbeing. Pappin is notably silent, however, on Richelieu’s foreign policy. Strengthening the French state meant not only limiting the factional power of the French elites at home, it also meant weakening the power of France’s great continental rival: the Holy Roman Empire. Richelieu broke the remains of Protestant power in France, but he tragically supported Protestant power in Europe as a means to weakening the Habsburgs. Thus, while securing the unity of France, Richelieu helped bring the unity of Western Christendom out of reach. Had Richelieu allied with the Empire against the Protestants, it is quite possible that the Counter-Reformation could have been completed, and Germany, England, and Sweden restored to the true Faith. That he did not, shows that, at least in foreign policy, he was not quite as anti-Machiavellian as we would like.

Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.

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