Jacques Cœur was born into a wealthy family in Bourges toward the end of the 1300s. For a dozen years, he served as finance minister to the French king Charles VII (b. 1403), who reigned for nearly 40 years (1422-1461). At the age of 15, Charles had fled Paris and taken refuge in Bourges. His father, king Charles VI, had lost his mind, and Burgundian forces had invaded Paris. Both the English and the Burgundians contested the young prince's claim to the throne of France. The prince was finally coronated as king Charles VII in 1429, two years before Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by the English in Rouen (Normandy).
Ten years later the king appointed Jacques Cœur as the Grand Argentier (finance minister) of his realm. Cœur had raised a lot of money for the king, who was known as le petit roi de Bourges at the time. That money helped Charles re-take the territories in northern France, including Paris, that had been seized by English forces after the battle of Azincourt in 1415.
In 1443, Cœur started construction on a grand residence for himself in Bourges. By 1451, he was embroiled in controversy and accused of corruption by his rivals. The king put him in prison and then banished him from the kingdom. He died during a naval battle in the Greek Isles in 1456. His house in Bourges is described as "palatial" and "full of delights" in the Cadogan Loire guidebook. The Michelin Guide Vert says it is « l'un des plus beaux et des plus somptueux édifices civils de l'époque gothique. » The photos here show some details of the carved stone figures that adorn its exterior walls. All the photos can be enlarged...
My friend Cheryl took the photos in September 2003, which was the first time she visited us in Saint-Aignan. She lived in California and came to stay with us again in 2006, 2008, and 2011 before her health failed and she passed away in 2016.