Coeur, Jacques

Coeur, Jacques

 

Born c. 1395 in Bourges; died Nov. 25, 1456, on the island of Chios. French merchant, financier, and statesman. The son of a wealthy merchant.

Coeur began his career as a coiner of money and then turned to commercial operations in the Mediterranean, chiefly in the Levant. He accumulated a colossal fortune. Coeur built up a chain of silver, copper, and lead mines and founded textile factories. He established commercial offices in Lyon, Rouen, Tours, Paris, Bruges, Florence, and other European cities. Coeur became a creditor to the French king Charles VII, financing French military operations against the English, particularly in Normandy. He also lent money to many highly influential seigniors of France. The considerable privileges he received from the king facilitated his further commercial success. In the 1440’s he acquired great political influence. Upon being appointed royal treasurer (minister of finance), Coeur carried out a number of administrative and financial reforms. In 1441 he was made a nobleman; in 1442 he was included in the royal council. Coeur bought up the huge estates of impoverished nobles in Berry, Bourbonnais, and elsewhere. Court nobles who were in debt to him arranged for Coeur’s arrest in 1451 on charges of high treason. His property was confiscated, but in 1454 he managed to escape from confinement and found refuge in Rome. Pope Callistus III placed him in command of a fleet sent against the Turks. Coeur died on the expedition. Louis XI rehabilitated him posthumously, and part of his property was returned to his heirs.

SOURCE

Les Affaires de J. Coeur: Journal du procureur Dauvet, vols. 1–2. Edited by M. Mollat. Paris, 1952–53. (With bibliography.)