The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 4, 2011

December 4, 1585

Cardinal Richelieu (September 9, 1585 to December 4, 1642) is associated with cats. This powerful French minister during the reign of Louis XIV,  is said to have enjoyed the sight of kittens, and kept them around to combat a melancholic streak the Cardinal possessed. There are several stories. One reads that Richelieu provided for his cats in his will. Which seems to contradict the character that is also said to have disposed of his kittens when they reached the age of three months.  They would be discarded and fresh kittens obtained to entertain one of the most powerful men in the world.  (Recall that in this pre-vehicular era, cats had different options, and while it sounds dreadful that someone would discard cats, it was in a different setting.   No doubt the life of a stray cat was difficult but not for the same reasons we consider today. And, cats were valuable in that they controlled vermin. Nowadays we have poorly controlled and wastefully applied pesticides to do what cats used to do, in the cleanest possible manner.) Actually it is hard to pin down the facts of Richelieu's infatuation with felines. Similar stories are told of other powerful English and French ministers.

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