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House Richese is a fictional noble family from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert, though the family does not appear in Frank Herbert's work. Their homeworld is the planet Richese, which is described thus in the glossary of Dune:
|“||RICHESE: fourth planet of Eridani A, classed with Ix as supreme in machine culture. Noted for miniaturization. (For a detailed study on how Richese and Ix escaped the more severe effects of the Butlerian Jihad, see The Last Jihad by Sumer and Kautman.)||”|
Before the events of the Prelude to Dune series, Count Ilban Richese married Edwina Corrino, daughter of Padishah Emperor Elrood IX, in 10,090 A.G. Born in 10,070, Edwina was Elrood's child by his second wife, Yvette Hagal. The Count and Edwina had eleven children — six sons and five daughters — one of whom, Helena (b. 10,095), married Duke Paulus Atreides in 10,114. Paulus and Helena's son, Leto I Atreides, was born in 10,140 and was, of course, the father of Paul Atreides. Edwina herself died in 10,123.
In Dune: House Atreides Paulus says that Ilban "had a large family and spent more time with his offspring than watching his business interests. Not surprisingly, his children grew up pampered, and his fortunes fizzled away." It is also mentioned that Helena was unwilling to take Leto to visit her remaining relatives, due to the shame and embarrassment it would bring upon her, of past memories she was trying to forget about her family's history.
Prelude to Dune
Prior to the events of the Prelude to Dune series, House Richese had taken over the valuable melange production operations of the planet Arrakis, the only known source of the all-important spice. However, the vast expenses required for the harvesting of the spice — combined with an economic war with the more advanced House Vernius of Ix — had bankrupted House Richese. After being ousted from the planetary governorship of Arrakis (and replaced by the Harkonnens), House Richese had salvaged some of its respectability through arranged marital alliances with other Houses (Helena's marriage to Paulus Atreides among them).
Though still an important manufacturer of complex technological goods, Richese had fallen behind their competitors, the Ixians, and were forced to produce only cheap, low-quality versions of designs from Ix or the rest of the Imperium. According to Paulus Atreides in Dune: House Atreides, "The Ixians are masters of industrial sabotage and patent appropriation. Nowadays Richesians are only good for making cheap copies, without any innovations."
However, in Dune: House Corrino it was revealed that Richese still had one important asset: "Richesian mirrors, nearly as valuable as spice." The artificial laboratory moon of Korona was built, and for decades "had concealed the proprietary technology for manufacturing mysterious and valuable Richesian mirrors. No other House had been able to duplicate the science of the mirrors, despite numerous attempts at industrial espionage." The "tiny chips of Richesian mirrors could power large scanning devices ... the hoard of reflective units [stored on Korona] would be sufficient to power a small sun."
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen offered House Richese a substantial sum for the confidential use of their Suk doctor, Wellington Yueh, to diagnose the mysterious condition which had made the Baron obese. When Dr. Yueh was unable to cure him, the unscrupulous Baron refused to pay the rest of the arranged fee. Harkonnen's twisted Mentat Piter De Vries secretly alerted Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV to an illegal stockpile of melange kept on Korona.
In 10,175 A.G. Shaddam had started the "Great Spice War" with the secret aim of emptying the spice hoards of the Imperium and eventually destroying Arrakis, thereby ensuring his monopoly based on the synthetic spice of Project Amal. Under the guise of punishing House Richese for their hoard, Shaddam mercilessly destroyed Korona with atomics. A quarter of Richese's population went blind from the resulting light produced by the destruction of the Richesian mirrors stored there. The Tleilaxu were able to provide them with artificial eyes. Shaddam's attack also led to the death of the scientist Haloa Rund (Count Ilban's nephew) and the destruction of Rund's prototype no-field technology.
Hunters of Dune
In Hunters of Dune, Murbella of the New Sisterhood turned to Richese to build a war fleet, under fear that Ix had fallen under the control of the Honored Matres. Richese ultimately paid a terrible price as a consequence of their alliance.