He was born of very humble parentage at Angles-sur-l'Anglin in Poitou, and was first patronized by the bishop of Poitiers. In 1461 he became vicar-general of the bishop of Angers. His activity, cunning and mastery of intrigue gained him the appreciation of Louis XI, who made him his almoner. In 1465 he received the bishopric of Évreux; the king made him le premier du grant conseil, and, in spite of his dissolute life, obtained for him a cardinalate (1468). But in that year Balue was compromised in the king’s humiliation by Charles the Bold at Péronne and excluded from the council. He then intrigued with Charles against his master: their secret correspondence was intercepted, and on April 23, 1469 Balue was thrown into prison, where he remained eleven years, but not, as has been alleged, in an iron cage. In 1480, through the intervention of Pope Sixtus IV, he was set at liberty, and from that time lived in high favour at the court of Rome. In 1484 he was even sent to France as legate a latere. He died at Ancona in 1491.