The Pebble in the Pond is Still Rippling

In 13 History on 2011/08/12 at 7:00 AM
In a previous post entitled “Ironies of History”, I wrote the following to which I wish to add a few more thoughts:

Excerpt from my previous post:
“Saint Francis de Sales said to the young cleric, Richelieu, “My son, leave Versailles and return to your parish and be a good priest.”  However, Richelieu succumbed to the pomp of the court of Versailles.  As he grew in power and wealth, Richelieu was powerfully impressed by a simple cleric called Vincent de Paul.  When Richelieu died, he left all his fortune to St. Vincent de Paul to feed the poor.  St. Vincent’s soup kitchens in Paris fed 20,000 persons a day, all of whom were starving veterans of the Thirty Years’ War, in which Catholic Cardinal Richelieu, putting his power before God, had given aid to the Protestant forces to defeat the Catholic forces.  Question: Do you think he bought himself a ticket a heaven?”

Additional thoughts:
When Richelieu and St. Vincent de Paul met in 1619, Richelieu was a bishop, seething with ambition.  By 1622 Richelieu was back in court and active in intrigues and politics.  By 1624 he was prime minister of France.

His unwavering goal, no matter what the cost, was always to make France the greatest power in the world, supplanting Spain.  And achieve it, he did.  It was Cardinal Richelieu who set France on the course of absolutism that eventually triggered the tsunami of the French Revolution.  Having first met his goal of making the king absolute and then centralizing the government in the hands of the king, he then proceeded to achieve his third and final goal: the weakening the Hapsburg monarchy, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. In accomplishing this last goal, however, Richelieu did irreparable damage to the Church.

The seventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica states that the Protestant Reformation was the work of the Princes in Germany and one prince in England.

In England, Henry the Eighth made himself the Head of the Catholic Church because of his lust for Anne Boleyn.  However, in the Holy Roman Empire, the protestant movement was the work of the princes who lusted after absolute power in their individual fiefs and, therefore, wished to weaken the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor.  Lutheranism was their means of doing so.

In the first three phases of the Thirty Years War, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor and the Catholic forces had successfully defeated the Protestant forces.  Deliberately, Richelieu sent aid to the Protestant forces.  They defeated the three-time victorious Empire forces, leaving the Holy Roman Empire divided into Catholic and Lutheran camps.  This division subsequently prevented the unification of Germany into one nation until 1871.

Balance of Power is the name given to the ensuing activity of the nations jockeying for position.  Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State during the Nixon administration, wrote his Doctoral Dissertation on this topic and saw himself as a type of Metternich, the Austrian Prime Minister who presided over the Congress of Vienna which tried to undo the damage of the French Revolution and the Napoleon Era by returning to the days of absolutism and maintaining that status quo.

In a way, one can say that Richelieu threw into the pond the pebble that caused ripples of revolution: the French Revolution and its backlash, the Napoleon Era.  And, these ripples of revolution turned into waves of protest, dividing Christendom into Catholic and Protestant pools.  These waves of protest have continued until present, lashing at Protestant Christians, who have divided and continue to divide themselves into thousands of denominations.  That little pebble started a ripple: a ripple that has led to political instability, religious division and, ultimately, moral impotence.


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