Cat Lovers: Cardinal Richelieu

     This is strange, the infamous Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642) is the last person you would think a cat-lover. This was at the time of the witch trials and cats were linked to witches by superstition. The Cardinal, was owned by fourteen cats yet he was an enthusiastic prosecutor of witches. The cats lived in a special room next to his own bedroom. When he was on his deathbed, the Cardinal wrote in his will that the cats and their two care-takers were to be given a lot of money, a house and provisions and allowed to live peacefully. His wish did not come true, the cats were slaughtered by the Swiss Guard.
       Much is known about the cats, not only their names. There was Soumise, Richelieu's favorite; Mounard le Fougueux, a quarrelsome and capricious cat; Gazette; Ludovic le Cruel, a rat-catcher; Mimi-Paillon, an angora; Felimare, who looked like a tiger; Ludoviska, a Polish cat; Rubis sur L'Ongle, a neat cat who always drank her milk to the last smidgeon; Serpolet, who liked to sun himself; Pyrame and Thisbe, who were called because they liked to sleep curled up in a bundle; Racan and Perruque (Perruque means wig in French. The two kittens had been born in the wig of an academic called Racan and who put on the wig and went to Richelieu. After a while he began to feel scalp pains and upon lifting the wig he found the two kittens. Richelieu insisted upon taking them); and at last we come to Lucifer, a jet black cat probably called Lucifer because of this (Lucifer is the name of the fallen archangel who became Satan).
      In fact Lucifer is a hero, he smuggled persecuted cats from the witch trials to ships and sent them to America. Sailors are more tolerant to cats because "magic spells" are a less real danger to them than rats. Over a thousand cats were successfully deported to the present USA and Canada. Lucifer was not the only one. Another cat, whose name is Aristofanus but who was known as "Mange", saved nearly two thousand by hiding them in an old unused barn. The barn was discovered so Aristofanus had to leave quickly. The cats hid in a dense forest and formed a whole colony that exists to this day. Of the fallen, the most famous are Jonathan (saved over five hundred cats), Pickle (a thousand and a hundred cats) and of course Softie (over a thousand five hundred).

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