- Pierre Cauchon
Pierre Cauchon (b. 1371 in
Rheims, d. December 1442 in Rouen), bishop of Beauvais. A strong partisan of English interests in France during the latter years of the Hundred Years' War, his role in arranging Joan of Arc's downfall led most subsequent observers to condemn his extension of secular politics into an ecclesiasticaltrial. The verdict was overturned in 1455.
Cauchon came from a middle class family in
Rheims. He entered the clergy as a teenager and went to Pariswhere he studied at the University. Cauchon was a brilliant student in the liberal arts. He followed with studies in Canon law and theologyand became a priest.
By 1404 Cauchon was
curéof Égliselles and sought a post near Rheims. He defended the university of Paris in a quarrel against Toulouse. Cauchon sought advancement through noble patronage. Cauchon allied himself with Duke John the Fearlessof Burgundyand later his successor Philip the Good.
In 1407, Cauchon was part of a mission from the crown of France to attempt to reconcile
The Great Schismbetween rival claimants to the papacy Boniface IXand Gregory XII. Although the delegation failed to achieve its goal, it raised Pierre Cauchon's prestige as a negotiator.
Upon Cauchon's return, he found Paris in turmoil over the assassination of the Duke of Orléans under orders from John the Fearless. Many suspected that the unpopular duke of Orléans had been having an affair with Queen Isabeau. University theologians sympathized with John the Fearless and even published a justification of the murder as
tyrannicideunder the theory that the duke of Orléans had been planning to usurp the throne.
The choice of the Burgundian party
The Estates General opened in 1413 to raise funds for an expected war against the English. Cauchon formed part of a commission charged with proposing sanctions and reforms. The next year, Cauchon became the official ambassador of the duke of Burgundy. Bishop Cauchon supported the election of Pope
Martin V. Shortly afterward, Cauchon became archdeacon of Chartres; canon of Rheims, Châlons, and Beauvais; and chaplain of the duke of Burgundy. Cauchon took part in the royal marriage negotiations surrounding the Treaty of Troyes. He became bishop of Beauvais in 1420.
Alliance with the English
Bishop Cauchon spent most of the next two years in service to the king. Cauchon returned to his diocese with the deaths of Charles VI and Henry V. He departed from a visit to
Rheimsin 1429 when Joan of Arcand the French army approached for the coronation of Charles VII. Cauchon had always allied with the opposition to Charles VII. Shortly after the coronation, the French army threatened Cauchon's diocese. Cauchon went to Rouen, seat of the English government in France.
regent, John, Duke of Bedford, was anxious to preserve his nephew Henry VI's claim to the throne of France. Cauchon escorted Henry VI from Londonto Rouenas part of a clerical delegation. Shortly after he returned, he learned that Joan of Archad been taken captive near Compiegne. The Burgundiansheld her at the keep of Beaulieunear Saint-Quentin.
Cauchon played a leading role in negotiations to gain Joan of Arc from the Burgundians for the English. He was well paid for his efforts. Cauchon claimed jurisdiction to try her case because Compiegne was in his
The trial of Joan of Arc
The goal of Joan of Arc's trial was to discredit her, and by implication to discredit the king she had crowned. Cauchon organized events carefully with famous ecclesiastics, many of whom came from the pro-English University of Paris. A mission to Joan's native village of
Domrémytried in vain to uncover adverse rumors about her.
The trial opened on
21 February, 1431. During the first week of legal proceedings, the duchess of Bedford confirmed Joan's virginity. This prevented the court from charging Joan with witchcraft. The principal weakness in Joan's defense was her decision to wear male clothes. The court exploited Joan's religious visions to impute accusations of sorcery.
Concerned for the regularity of the proceeding, bishop Cauchon forwarded an inflammatory bill of indictment to Paris in order to obtain the opinion of university clerics. In the meantime, the trial continued. Joan was unwilling to testify on several subjects. The court considered torture and gave her a tour of the torture chamber. Shortly afterward, she fell ill, possibly from food poisoning. The court decided against torture because of her poor health. The political risks of her dying in prison before a conviction were too great. The university returned what Cauchon considered a favorable opinion. The court proceeded to official admonition so that the defendant could make repentance.
The Duke of Bedford summoned Bishop Cauchon on
13 May, irritated by the expense and slowness of the trial. Cauchon then had the idea of setting up a situation designed to crack Joan's will. Led to the field of the abbey of Saint-Ouen, he publicly summoned her to abjure her heresy. Threatened with immediate execution, she agreed. Shortly afterward she recanted. The English burned her at the stake on 30 May, 1431.
Cauchon could not hope to go back to Beauvais, which had fallen under French control. Cauchon was interested in a vacancy at the archbishop's palace at Rouen. Facing heartfelt opposition, he gave up that project. In December, Cauchon accompanied the Cardinal of Winchester to crown young king Henry VI in Paris. Finally Cauchon obtained an appointment at
Arthur de Richemontreturned to favor with Charles VII in 1436, Cauchon went as ambassador to the Council of Basel. Cauchon was active for the unsuccessful English side in the peace negotiations that ended in reconciliation between the French and the Burgundians.
Cauchon divided his later years between his new diocese and a residence in Rouen. His last action was to finance construction of a vault at the cathedral Saint-Pierre de Lisieux. Cauchon died abruptly of heart failure at the age of 71 on
15 December, 1442in Rouen. He was buried in the Saint-Pierre cathedral at the vault he patronized.
George Bernard Shawin his 1923 play " Saint Joan", Cauchon's body was later dug up and thrown into a sewer; in fact it was Jean d'Estivet, one of the promoters of the trial, who was found dead in a sewer.
History of France
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Pierre Cauchon — Pierre Cauchon, lat. Calconeus (* um 1370 in Reims; † 18. Dezember 1442 in Rouen) führte als Bischof von Beauvais und amtlicher Berater des neunjährigen englischen Königs Heinrich VI. den Vorsitz des geistlichen Gerichtshofs im… … Deutsch Wikipedia
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CAUCHON (P.) — CAUCHON PIERRE (1371 env. 1442) Universitaire parisien, licencié en droit canonique, docteur en théologie, Pierre Cauchon est nommé en 1403 recteur de l’université de Paris. L’un des membres actifs du parti réformiste, gallican et bourguignon,… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Cauchon — is a surname, and may refer to:*Pierre Cauchon (1371 1442), bishop of Beauvais *Joseph Édouard Cauchon (1816 – 1885), Quebec politician *Martin Cauchon (born 1962), Canadian politician … Wikipedia
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