Court Scene with Cardinal Richelieu is a sketch that appears in "How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away," the third episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.


A judge (Terry Jones) speaks to the defendant, Harold Larch (Eric Idle), inviting him to deliver a closing statement before he delivers the sentence. Larch cites that he has a wife and six children, and pleads the judge not to take away his freedom. He then begins slipping into a Laurence Olivier impression, poetically and dramatically describing how freedom is the thing that every man holds most dear, shouting, "What goddess doth the storm toss'd mariner offer her most tempestuous prayers to?" When he finishes his monologue, the annoyed judge reminds Larch that he's only in for a parking violation.

Mr Bartlett (John Cleese), the court barrister, arrives, having just now found a suitably kosher car park. He then calls Mrs Fiona Lewis (Graham Chapman) to the stand, a pepperpot who rambles on with annoying gossip about another couple's expensive wedding and their child in Rhodesia, their goldfish who's being taken care of by the Bratbys, who never actually got married, and the husband's in the KGB if you ask her, though he says he's a tree surgeon, but she does not trust him because his liver is so squeaky at night, and his mother's been much better since her head was removed.

Bartlett becomes so annoyed at the irrelevant chatter of his witness that he pushes her out of court still in mid-sentence. He then explains that his next witness will clarify things, calling upon the late Arthur Aldridge, who is not completely dead yet, but that he is feeling "not at all well," the coffin being merely a precaution. Bartlett then interrogates Mr Aldridge, who responds by knocking once for yes, twice for no. When Bartlett suggests to him that he is dead, Aldridge stops responding. After looking into the coffin, Bartlett declares that he has no further questions to the witness. The judge is now even more confused, especially since Bartlett is ignoring the fact that Larch already pleaded guilty. Bartlett continues and suggests that his testimonies will eventually reveal an unspeakably fiendish and complex web of lies and intrigue. The judge accuses him of just stretching out the trial because he is too embarrassed to admit he is lost. Bartlett will have none of it, and to demonstrate his theory, he calls upon his final defence, Cardinal Armand de Plessis de Richelieu (Michael Palin), as a character witness. Richelieu states that Larch is a wonderful human being and Bartlett holds that since Richelieu is such a pious and devout minister, his testimony is cause for clemency. The judge holds that the sentence is just a thirty shilling fine.

Suddenly, Inspector Dim (Chapman) from Scotland Yard arrives and demands to interrogate Richelieu, thereafter tricking the cardinal into admitting that he did, in fact, die in December of 1642, much to Richelieu's chagrin. Dim goes on to prove that he is not Cardinal Richelieu at all, but none other than Ron Higgins, professional Cardinal Richelieu impersonator. The court is impressed, and the judge suggests that Dim could be something much better than a police officer with an intellect like his. Dim launches into an impromptu sing-along about how if he were to leave the Criminal Investigation Department, he should like to become a window cleaner. The rest of the court finds this very entertaining, joining in the chorus after a few lines. Bartlett, in the spur of the moment, launches into another song about how if he weren't a barrister, he would be an engine driver, but stops after a few seconds upon noticing the court conversely finds his singing completely insane and innapropriate. Upon this, the sketch is concluded when a knight in full armour (Terry Gilliam) arrives and smacks Bartlett on the head with a rubber chicken.

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