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How Richelieu chose names for his 12 cats, and what a cruel fate befell them after his death
How Richelieu chose names for his 12 cats, and what a cruel fate befell them after his death

In a Soviet cartoon where D'Artagnan and his Musketeer friends turned into dogs, they are confronted by the Cardinal's cats. This image for the cardinal's supporters was not chosen by chance. Cardinal was a big fan of cats, and at first this seriously challenged the existing attitude to cats as to the offspring of the devil, which he has to endure around him except for the sake of fighting mice.

What is value to one, then to others - to be thrown away

In Ancient Russia, cats appeared in the tenth-eleventh centuries - they arrived with the Byzantine priesthood. The beast was rare and useful, valued dearly and the relationship demanded a careful attitude. Back in the 14th century, the fine for a stolen cat was equal to the fine for a stolen ox. Not the same attitude towards cats was in Europe. Here cats were considered unclean, suspected of having intercourse with the devil, and were often accused of being work for witches.

Nevertheless, out of necessity - there were a lot of rats and mice in crowded places - cats were kept everywhere. But they tried not to indulge and not be seduced by gentle purrs. The most trustworthy were cats with stripes on the forehead, folding into the letter M - it was believed that this is the sign of the Madonna, that is, the Mother of God. Such a cat does not know the devil, the Europeans believed.

In Paris, at a summer fair as early as the sixteenth century, during the cardinal's youth, the crowd was entertained by the mass burning of cats in the squares. They made a fire, hung over it a sack full of cats screaming in horror - already this part seemed very funny to the Parisians, and then they threw this net down into the flames. The animals died terribly, writhing in pain - and the bursts of laughter from the crowd showed that the crowd found the writhing hilarious.

There are opponents, allies and cats

As you know, Cardinal Richelieu believed that he did not and could not have friends. He usually only mentioned two categories of relationships in his life: opponents and allies. In these camps, anyone could go over to the opposite side. In fact, there were two more types of relationships in Richelieu's life: with ladies and with cats.

Even if the cardinal's ladies were too many for a person of the clergy - it is believed that he had three permanent mistresses, moreover, at the same time - then there were too many cats for a Frenchman in general. The cardinal could make the excuse that in his abode there are a lot of papers that cannot be spoiled with mouse teeth, which means that many cats are needed. But he did not even think to hide that he adores cats.

There were always several furry creatures in the cardinal's house at once. They eased the knee pains suffered by His Eminence, eased the condition when he took to bed from a severe cold, and simply brightened up his spare moments. The cats especially helped during the headache attacks that pursued Richelieu all his life. Is it any wonder he valued them so highly? It is suspected that it was because of his love for cats that Richelieu had to constantly smear himself under his nose with special fragrant lipstick - so as not to suffer from a characteristic smell.

At least twelve of the cardinal's furry pets are known by name. And the choice of names shows His Eminence as a person with a sense of humor.

The cardinal's love for cats has become the talk of the town

Lucifer and company

It is well known that it was Cardinal Richelieu who created the French press. He started publishing a newspaper, modeled on the Italian daily newspaper newsletter. In his newspaper, he published anonymously, of course, himself - but also the French king, and a number of other interesting persons. The cardinal's newspaper focused not on individual financial news, like Italian news, but on global social processes. It dispersed instantly - people knew perfectly well who was writing for the only publication in France so far, and were eager to find out what this time came out of the pen of this or that powerful person. Is it any wonder that Richelieu called his most curious kitty the newspaper?

A pitch-black cat - one of those who were usually accused of witchcraft and Satanism - Richelieu called Lucifer. The hottest and most irritable cat was called the Flame Highlander, Munar le Fugo. The cat, who loved to deal with rats, was nicknamed Louis the Cruel. The name of the cat, who never left a drop of milk in the bowl, referred to the expression "payer rubis sur l'ongle" - her name was Rubei sur l'ongle, literally "ruby pin".

Probably, the name of the cat Serpolet also showed some character traits - this is the French name for creeping thyme, also known as the Virgin's herb, which in Richelieu's time was added to incense at church services.

The cats, which were brought to the cardinal from other countries, stood apart. The cat from England, who had to cross the sea, Richelieu called in Latin "sea cat" - Felimare. Affectionate and beautiful Angora woman from Turkey was called “darling-sweetheart” - Mimi-Payon. The cat, brought from Poland, was called Ludoviska - apparently, this is how the cardinal perceived the Polish name "Ludwika", it is also in the diminutive form "Ludwisia".

The cat and the cat, who loved to sleep, hugging each other, the cardinal called Pyramus and Theisba, as the legendary ancient Babylonian lovers, about whom Ovid wrote. The history of this couple was very popular in Europe during the time of the cardinal. Two more brothers-cats were named Rakan and Parik. According to legend, they fell out from under the playwright Rakan's wig right at the cardinal's reception - Rakan, hurrying to Richelieu, did not notice that the kittens fell asleep in the wig, and pulled it over his head.

And Richelieu's favorite kitty was Sumiz, that is, resigned. She allowed herself to be stroked and squeezed whenever the cardinal wanted it. In general, the cardinal personally raised his cats, so that they were all faithful to him and loved him most tenderly, but the affectionate Sumiz stood out even against their background.

Alas, all the cats of the cardinal after his death, ignoring his dying requests, were burned, and in Paris they again began to entertain themselves, throwing cats into the fire during the summer fair. This fun was enjoyed by the young King Louis XIV - the son of Louis XIII, whom the cardinal served. The money that Richelieu left for the maintenance of the cats was appropriated by his successor, Cardinal Mazarin.

Of course, the figure of the cardinal is not limited to communicating with cats. Cardinal Richelieu as a man of the era: What happened during his reign in the world and in Russia

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