Guillaume d'Estouteville, O.S.B., (1403/1412–1483) was a French Benedictine monk who became a leading bishop and cardinal. He was a survivor of the first outbreak of the Black Death in a generation, which killed many of the clergy of the country as well as the general public. As a result, he held a number of Church offices simultaneously. He has the distinction of being the origin of the oldest extant episcopal lineage within the Catholic Church and the most numerous non-Rebiban lineage.
D'Estouteville was born in 1403 (or 1412) in either Valmont or Estouteville-Écalles in the Duchy of Normandy, a member of the most powerful family in the region. He became a Benedictine monk at the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs in Paris, where he soon became prior. He later became abbot simultaneously of the Abbeys of Mont Saint-Michel (1444-1483), of Saint-Ouen at Rouen and of Montebourg. On 30 March 1439 he was installed as the Bishop of Angers, as well as being named the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Mirepoix. Six months later he was also appointed to head the Diocese of Digne. He was named a cardinal in the consistory of 18 December 1439 by Pope Eugene IV, even before his consecration as a bishop in January 1440. The following year he was additionally appointed as Administrator of the Dioceses of Béziers and Nîmes, which offices he carried out for the next few years.
By January 1450 D'Estouteville had resigned his various offices and become the Administrator of the Diocese of Lodève. He served in this office alone for three years, before also being appointed as bishop of the Diocese of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. In April 1453 he was elevated to the additional office of Archbishop of Rouen. He became Cardinal Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina in 1454, moving permanently to Rome the following year. He was named the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia (1461) and became the Dean of the College of Cardinals (November 1472).
D'Estouteville participated in the papal conclaves that elected Pope Nicholas V, Pope Pius II, Pope Paul II and Pope Sixtus IV, but was absent from Rome during the sede vacante prior to the election of Pope Calixtus III. He served as Camerlengo of the Holy See from 1477 until his death; he was the last non-Italian cardinal to hold the office for nearly five hundred years until Jean-Marie Villot in 1970.
D'Estouteville was sent to France as legate by Pope Nicholas V to make peace between King Charles VII of France and England (1451), and undertook at the instigation of the Inquisitor General Jean Brehal an ex officio revision of the trial of Joan of Arc; he afterwards reformed the statutes of the University of Paris. He then went to preside over the assembly of clergy which met at Bourges to discuss the observation of the Pragmatic Sanction, finally returning to Rome, where he passed almost all the rest of his life.
D'Estouteville was a candidate for the papacy after the death of Pope Calixtus, but he was defeated by Cardinal Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, who became Pope Pius II.
Rouen, Mont Saint-Michel, Pontoise and Gaillon owe the construction of many buildings to his initiative. The cardinal also underwrote the building of the Basilica of St. Augustine in Rome. He then had the remains of Saint Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, brought from Ostia Antica for entombment in a marble sarcophagus he had built for them.
D'Estouteville died in Rome on 22 January 1483. His remains were buried in the Basilica of Sant'Agostino. His heart, however, was removed and taken to be kept in the tomb he had built for himself in the Cathedral of Rouen. A bust of him was placed at the entrance to the sacristy of the basilica.
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.