It is the measure of Richelieu's greatness that it should be so difficult to imagine the growth of the French monarchy, or the development of Europe in the seventeenth century, without him.
The Cardinal was a personality so dominating and so impressive that in his lifetime almost every event in Europe, however remote, would be ascribed to his secret interference. He was credited wrongly by the English with having provoked the Scots Wars of 1638 and 1640, and rightly by the ?Spaniards with organising the Portugese and Catalan revolts of the same period. His spies and agents covered Europe no less than his police system covered France. In the imagination of his contemporaries he was the cunning spider seated all-powerful in the midst of an enormous web of intreague." - From Chapter 1
During the eighteen years that Cardinal Richeliu served as first minister to King Louis XIII, the power or the monarchy in France was entrenchedso firmly that it survived sunshaken through the long and perilous minority of Louis XIV old when his father died. During those eighteen years of his influence, France became the foremost power in Europe and the fountainhead of European art. His administration produced profound changes that are still being felt today in France and all of Europe: "the account," says the author, "is not yet closed." [via]