Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis of Cinq-Mars

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Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis of Cinq-Mars.jpg
The Execution of Cinq-Mars and de Thou.

Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis de Cinq-Mars (1620 – September 12, 1642) was a favourite of King Louis XIII of France who led the last and most nearly successful of the many conspiracies against the king's powerful first minister, the Cardinal Richelieu.

Cinq-Mars was the son of Marshal Antoine Coiffier-Ruzé, marquis d'Effiat, a close friend of Richelieu, who took the boy under his protection on his father's death in 1632.


In 1639 Louis XIII had no favourite. Richelieu had introduced the young Cinq-Mars to Louis, hoping the king would take Cinq-Mars as a lover[citation needed], apparently with success: Tallemant des Réaux in his Historiettes (chapter on Louis XIII) cites Fontrailles, who relates a scene where the king and his minion Cinq-Mars went to bed together. The cardinal believed he could easily control Cinq-Mars. Instead, Cinq-Mars pressed the king for important favours and tried to convince the king to have Richelieu executed. Cinq-Mars brought some French nobility into revolt, but the effort failed. He also tried to get support for the rebellion from Philip IV, the king of Spain; Richelieu's spy service caught him doing so. Richelieu then had Cinq-Mars imprisoned and beheaded in the Place des Terreaux in Lyon. Tallemant relates that the king showed no emotions concerning the execution: he said "Je voudrais bien voir la grimace qu'il fait à cette heure sur cet échafaud" (I would like to see the grimace he is now making on these gallows).


Alfred de Vigny wrote a novel Cinq-Mars, inspired by the story of the marquis, and published in 1826. Charles Gounod wrote an opera of the same name which premiered on April 5, 1877.

A famous 19th Century historical painting by Paul Delaroche shows Cardinal Richelieu in a gorgeous barge, preceding the boat carrying Cinq-Mars and De Thou to their execution.

For historical accounts, consult Basserie, La conjuration de Cinq-Mars (Paris, 1896) and Bazin, Histoire de France sous Louis XIII (Paris, 1846).

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