Coeur, James

, an eminent French merchant, was the richest subject in Europe in the fifteenth century. He enjoyed an office of trust in the court of Charles VII. of France, and his industry was of more service to that country, than the boasted bravery of a Dunois or a Maid of Orleans. He had established the greatest trade that had ever been carried on by any private subject in Europe; and since his time Cosmo de Medicis is the only person that equalled him. He had 300 factors in Italy and the | Levant. He lent 200,000 crowns of gold to his master, Charles VII. without which he never could have recovered Normandy; and therefore nothing can be a greater stain to the annals of this reign, than the persecution of so useful a man. After he had represented his prince in foreign states, he was accused of having poisoned the beautiful Agnes Sorel, Charles’s mistress; but this was without foundation, and the real motive of his persecution is not known. He was by the king’s order sent to prison, and the parliament tried him: all that they could prove against him was, that he had caused a Christian slave to be restored to his Turkish master, whom this slave had robbed and betrayed; and that he had sold arms to the sultan of Egypt. For these two facts, one of which was lawful, and the other meritorious, his estate was confiscated, and he was condemned to the amende honorable, and to pay a fine of 100,000 crowns. He found more virtue in his clerks than in the courtiers who ruined him: the former contributed to relieve him under his misfortunes, and one of them particularly, who had married his niece, facilitated his escape out of his confinement and out of France. He went to Rome, where Calixtus III. filled the papal chair, who gave him the command of part of a fleet which he had equipped against the Turks. He died on his arrival at the Isle of Chio, in 1456; therefore Mr. de Voltaire is mistaken in saying, in his “Essay on Universal History,” that “he removed to Cyprus, where he continued to carry on his trade; but never had the courage to return to his ungrateful country, though strongly invited.Charles VII. afterwards restored some part of Coeur’s property to his children. 1