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Jacques Cœur

Cœur, Jacques (zhäk kör) [key], c.1395–1456, French merchant prince and adviser of King Charles VII, who made him chief of finances and sent him on important diplomatic missions. His reforms restored order to the confused financial situation brought about by the Hundred Years War. Cœur established French trade in the Levant, employed agents throughout the Orient, owned factories and mines in France and abroad, and rivaled the great Italian merchant republics. Through his monopolies he amassed a fabulous fortune, but he spent a large part of it to finance the campaigns that ultimately drove the English from France. In 1451 he was arrested on the charge, concocted by his debtors and enemies, of having poisoned Agnès Sorel. He was sentenced (1453), after an unfair trial, to imprisonment and a fine of several million francs. In 1454–55 he escaped to Rome. He died in Chios while leading a papal fleet against the Ottomans. His house in Bourges, which still stands, is one of the finest examples of secular medieval architecture.

See A. B. Kerr, Jacques Cœur (1927).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies


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