Joseph, Father

Joseph, Father (François Leclerc du Tremblay), 1577–1638, French Capuchin monk, a confidant and agent of Cardinal Richelieu, generally known as the Éminence Grise [gray eminence]. Combining the elements of a mystic and of a Machiavellian politician, he devoted his life with equal energy to missionary work and to the shady and delicate diplomatic negotiations with which Richelieu entrusted him. He dreamed of a crusade against the Turks and of the restoration of Roman Catholicism throughout Europe, yet he lent his services to a policy that strengthened Protestantism and the Ottoman Empire at the expense of the Catholic house of Hapsburg. Rumors ascribed to him an evil influence over the cardinal. It is more likely, however, that Father Joseph was a pliable instrument in the cardinal's hands and that his influence on the events that led to the entry of France into the Thirty Years War has been vastly exaggerated. Unlike his master, Father Joseph sought no material rewards. He is the subject of a study by Aldous Huxley, Grey Eminence (1941, repr. 1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies