BEFORE his death Richelieu had himself designated Giulio Mazarini, called Mazarin in his adopted country, as the man best qualified to carry on his policy. Born in Sicily of humble parentage, Mazarin had nevertheless received an excellent education at Rome and in Spain. For a short time he had followed the profession of arms, but soon found his true vocation in the diplomatic service of the Court of Rome. Before Casale, in 1630, he had negotiated an arrangement between France and Spain, which ultimately brought the Mantuan War to a conclusion. From 1634 to 1636 he served as Nuncio Extraordinary in France, and in 1639 he formally entered the service of France and was naturalised. He did good work, especially as an envoy in Piedmont, and was rewarded in 1641 by the Cardinalate. The King now called him to his councils and announced his choice to the Parlements of France.
Louis at first made a point of showing that the death of Richelieu caused no change. A sudden rupture would have implied that the dead Minister had been the true ruler of France. The existing officials were retained in power. The late Cardinal's offices were distributed among his relations. Armand de Wignerod, now Duke of Richelieu, became General of the Galleys and Governor of Havre. Armand de Maillé- Brézé, now Duke of Fronsac, received the office of Superintendent of Navigation, and the command of Brouage. The Marshal de La Meilleraye inherited the government of Britanny. But the difference was soon felt. The Cardinal's enemies were liberated from their prisons, or returned from exile. Gaston of Orleans appeared at Court and was later allowed to be reunited to his wife, Margaret of Lorraine. The families of Vendôme and Guise came back to France. The body of the late Queen- Mother was brought from abroad and interred at Saint-Denis. The new rule was milder and more conciliatory.
The foreign policy of France was not changed. Great efforts were made to continue the war with vigour, especially on the northern frontier, where the King himself proposed to take the command. Guébriant was strengthened and encouraged to propose an effective plan