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Cardinal Jules Raymond Mazarin (Italian: Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino; July 14, 1602 - March 9, 1661) was an Italian-born prelate, diplomat and statesman who served the Papacy and the French crown. He was chief minister of the Kingdom of France, mostly during the regency of Anne of Austria following the death of King Louis XIII, and effectively became the most powerful man in the kingdom between 1643 and Louis XIV's full assumption of power in 1661 upon his death.

Coming from a humble family originating in the Abruzzo mountains, he studied among the Jesuits. His proximity to the powerful Colonna family helped him get closer to his times' elites. His father sent him off to Spain out of fear of his gambling habits, but then he came back to Italy to study law. He then came to serve the Papacy as an infantry captain during the Thirty Years' War. When he was sent to France for diplomatic work in 1630, Louis XIII and his chief minister Cardinal Richelieu noticed him. Richelieu saw great potential in him and mentored him, offering him financial support and helping him to become a cardinal without him having become a priest first (which was a rare but tolerated occurence within the Church).

Upon Richelieu's death in 1642, Mazarin succeeded him as chief minister to Louis XIII, and he assumed the regency along with dowager Queen Anne of Austria upon Louis' death in 1643 when Louis XIV was 5 years old. He was frequently attacked for his foreign origins and wealth, and faced and successfully crushed revolting factions in the period of the Fronde, one of the worst eras of Civil War France went through prior to the Revolution. He was also a patron for the arts and literature, authors such as Jean de La Fontaine and Molière started flourishing partly thanks to him. When Louis XIV eventually assumed power upon Mazarin's death in 1661 and made Jean-Baptiste Colbert his chief minister (thereby ending the streak of clergymen running the show), he inherited a pacified kingdom and solidified royal authority, allowing him to consolidate his absolute monarchical powers.

Since he held the same position in real life and played a similarly crucial role in shaping the Kingdom of France, Mazarin is often portrayed as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute to Richelieu in fiction taking place after the latter's death, with Historical Villain Upgrade, a veneer of Foreign Ruling Class and elements of Sinister Minister included in some cases. Again, it helps that Richelieu mentored him.


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