LEMERCIER, Jacques
(b. ca. 1584, Pontoise, d. 1654, Paris)

Aerial view

begun 1631
Photo
Richelieu (Indre-et-Loire)

Cardinal Richelieu's ambition was not limited to the building of a château at Richelieu. He wished also to found a town which should bear his name, and he therefore ordered Lemercier to prepare a completely new scheme according to which the village of Richelieu would be enlarged to a township planned and executed according to the most rational principles. This project was carried out, and Richelieu still stands today as one of the most consistent examples of town-planning on a small scale. The town forms a rectangular grid with a main street forming the long axis and connecting two squares, and the houses are of uniform design, built of brick with stone quoins. But Richelieu overlooked the fact that there was no good economic reason why there should be a town on that particular site, and though he used every means to persuade people from neighbouring districts to migrate to Richelieu, he had little success, and the town seems always to have been as deserted as it is today.