Louis XIII (1601–1643), king of France, who ruled through Cardinal Richelieu during the accretion of absolute power to the monarchy.
Louis was born at Fontainebleau on Sept. 27, 1601, the eldest child of Henry IV, the first Bourbon king, and Marie de Médicis. He was brought up under the harsh regime of his governess, Madame de Montglat, and, from 1609, of his governor, the Marquis de Souvré. He despised the bastard children of Henry IV, who also inhabited the royal nursery.
His mother, who became regent after the murder of Henry IV in 1610, gave him little affection. A shy youth, he placed his confidence in Charles d'Albert, the future Duke de Luynes. D'Albert was his falconer and indulged Louis' taste for hunting. Despite the opposition of the great nobles, the regent married Louis XIII to Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III of Spain, in 1615. Though barely 14, Louis was obliged to consummate the marriage and consequently conceived an early distaste for feminine sexuality. Louis ended the regency in April 1617 by rebelling against his mother and her Italian favorite, Concino Concini, Marquis d'Ancre, and with the aid of d'Albert arranged the latter's murder.
Louis imprisoned his mother and relied on d'Albert, whom he made a duke and peer and, later, constable of France.
From 1619 he began to take an interest in his queen, who subsequently endured three miscarriages. Marie de Médicis escaped from imprisonment and inspired two revolts, both of which were ended by negotiation. In 1621 and 1622 the King led his forces against the Huguenots, who resisted his attempt to restore Catholicism in Béarn and French Navarre. The Duke de Luynes died during this war, and for a time Louis used the chancellor, Sillery, and then the financial minister, La Vieuville, as his chief advisers. He was suspicious of Cardinal Richelieu, whom he regarded at first as his mother's protégé. However, in 1624 the King admitted him to the royal council, and within a few months Richelieu was allowed supreme control of the government. But throughout his reign, Louis XIII's cold reserve and inherent dignity never allowed his minister to forget who was king.
Cardinal Richelieu's position was insecure for some years, and both he and the King suffered from poor health. Louis' policy was to check Habsburg power in Spain, Italy, and Germany and suppress the independence of the nobility and the Huguenots. Richelieu fulfilled these objectives with increasing success. France long subsidized the Protestant powers of Europe to fight the Habsburgs in the Thirty Years' War, but in 1635 the King was obliged to declare full-scale war against Spain.
The anti-Habsburg policy provoked the opposition of the ultra-Catholics (dévots), who were associated with the queen mother. The King's brother, Gaston, Duke d'Orléans, hoped to obtain the crown and thus encouraged resistance to Richelieu. On Nov. 10, 1630, the so-called Day of Dupes, Marie de Médicis seemed to have reestablished her ascendancy after a scene in which Louis dismissed Richelieu. However, the Cardinal was restored the next day. Both Marie and Gaston subsequently withdrew to exile.
Louis quarreled in the early 1620s with Anne of Austria over her confidante, the Duchess de Chevreuse, who was at the center of numerous conspiracies. His coldness to his wife increased after 1625, when she permitted indiscretions by the Duke of Buckingham. The King developed an abiding, platonic friendship with Louise de Lafayette and continued to visit her after her withdrawal to a convent in 1637.
The King preserved public appearances toward the Queen during the war with Spain, although he knew she was in touch with the enemy. In August 1637, Louis authorized Richelieu to have her interrogated and her apartments searched. In December 1637 a storm obliged the King to stay with her in the Louvre. The future Louis XIV was born in September 1638.
In 1639, Louis XIII developed an affection for an 18-year-old courtier, Henri d'Éffiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars. Cinq-Mars was showered with honors but was subsequently found to be treasonably negotiating with Spain. At Richelieu's instigation Louis authorized his favorite's execution in September 1642. The Cardinal died three months later. The King fell ill at St.-Germain-en-Laye in February 1643 and died there of tuberculosis on May 14 (Salmon, J. H. M. "Louis XIII (France) (1601–1643)." Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Online, 2012. Web. 31 Jan. 2012)