Pey Berland
Blessed Pey Berland was the Archbishop of Bordeaux from 1430 until his abdication, during a pivotal time in the history of the city and of Gascony
Gascony is an area of southwest France that was part of the "Province of Guyenne and Gascony" prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; sometimes they are considered to overlap, and sometimes Gascony is considered a...

. During his tenure, the city of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 remained staunchly faithful to the King of England in the last phase of the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

, but the French
France in the Middle Ages
France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

 took the city in 1451.

Education and early career

Berland was born in the hamlet of Saint-Raphael
Saint-Raphaël can refer to the following French communes:* Saint-Raphaël, Dordogne, a French commune in the Dordogne département* Saint-Raphaël, Var, a French commune in the Var départementIt is also the name of:...

 in the parish of Avensan
Avensan is a commune in the Gironde department in southwestern France.-Population:...

 in central Medoc
The Médoc is a region of France, well known as a wine growing region, located in the département of Gironde, on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, north of Bordeaux. Its name comes from Medullicus, or "country of the Medulli", the local Celtic tribe...

. Though a peasant, he was educated early on by a retired local notary
Civil law notary
Civil-law notaries, or Latin notaries, are lawyers of noncontentious private civil law who draft, take, and record legal instruments for private parties, provide legal advice and give attendance in person, and are vested as public officers with the authentication power of the State...

 before moving to Bordeaux to continue his studies and enter the Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. He eventually enrolled in the University of Toulouse
University of Toulouse
The Université de Toulouse is a consortium of French universities, grandes écoles and other institutions of higher education and research, named after one of the earliest universities established in Europe in 1229, and including the successor universities to that earlier university...

 and received a bachelor's certificate in canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

. He was ordained at that point, though still young by the standards of the time, when most boys who entered the church put off priesthood until it was required by their office. He then caught the attention of Francesco Uguccione
Francesco Uguccione
Francesco Uguccione was the Archbishop of Bordeaux from 1384 until his death. He was a lawyer from Urbino and a staunch supporter of the King of England in the Hundred Years' War....

, the old Archbishop of Bordeaux (1384–1412), who drafted him to serve as his personal secretary.

As a secretary of an influential diplomat and cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, Berland travelled extensively in the early 15th century. In Autumn 1408 he accompanied Uguccione to England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, where the cardinal sought to persuade the English to send a delegation to the Council of Pisa
Council of Pisa
The Council of Pisa was an unrecognized ecumenical council of the Catholic Church held in 1409 that attempted to end the Western Schism by deposing Benedict XIII and Gregory XII...

 - then struggling to put an end to the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

. From England, Berland and Uguccione went to Italy
Italian Peninsula
The Italian Peninsula or Apennine Peninsula is one of the three large peninsulas of Southern Europe , spanning from the Po Valley in the north to the central Mediterranean Sea in the south. The peninsula's shape gives it the nickname Lo Stivale...

, and in 1410 the archbishop rewarded Berland with one of the canonries of the Cathedral of Saint-André, which included Bouliac
Bouliac is a commune in the Gironde department in Aquitaine in southwestern France.-Population:...

 opposite Bordeaux on the Garonne
The Garonne is a river in southwest France and northern Spain, with a length of .-Source:The Garonne's headwaters are to be found in the Aran Valley in the Pyrenees, though three different locations have been proposed as the true source: the Uelh deth Garona at Plan de Beret , the Ratera-Saboredo...

 and the associate parishes of Quinsac
Quinsac is the name of several communes in France:* Quinsac, Dordogne, in the Dordogne department* Quinsac, Gironde, in the Gironde department...

 and Lormont
Lormont is a commune in the Gironde department in Aquitaine in southwestern France.It is a suburb of the city of Bordeaux and is adjacent to it on the northeast. Thus, it is a member of the metropolitan Urban Community of Bordeaux.-Etymology:...

. In 1412 the two were in Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 when Uguccione died. Berland supervised his burial and then went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

, before returning once more to Bordeaux.

In 1413 Berland was rewarded post mortem by his old master when Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

, fulfilling a request by Uguccione that "his beloved servant" Berland not be forgotten, granted the canon a prebend. He subsequently rose rapidly in the ecclesiastical ranks of Gascony and, in 1423, he was appointed by the regents of the young Henry VI
Henry VI of England
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars...

 to the Court of Sovereignty, a sort of appellate court
Appellate court
An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court or court of appeals or appeal court , is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal...

, of Gascony, which sat in Bordeaux. In 1430 the archbishop David de Montferrand died and the cathedral chapter readily elected Berland to replace him, which election was unhesitatingly confirmed by Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V , born Odo Colonna, was Pope from 1417 to 1431. His election effectively ended the Western Schism .-Biography:...


Patronage of building and learning

As archbishop, Berland pursued several building projects. He had a new hospital constructed, dedicated to Saint Peter (Saint-Pierre) near Saint-Seurin. The bell tower built at Saint-André in 1440 is still called the Tour Pey Berland today, after its founder; it had been ordered by the chapter in 1429 but it took Berland to get construction underway. Berland was also a patron of the education in his city. In 1441, after years of urging in the Papal curia, Bordeaux was granted its own studium generale
Studium Generale
Studium generale is the old customary name for a Medieval university.- Definition :There is no clear official definition of what constituted a Studium generale...

, a precursor to the University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux is an association of higher education institutions in and around Bordeaux, France. Its current incarnation was established 21 March 2007. The group is the largest system of higher education schools in southwestern France. It is part of the Academy of Bordeaux.There are seven...

. In 1442 he founded a college in his birth town of Saint-Raphael. This college was a prototype of the later diocesan seminary and in Berland's day it trained twelve young men for the priesthood. Berland bequeathed all his books to the college and he also created a fund to help purchase books for poor students at other institutions.

Hundred Years' War

Politically, Berland was resistant to French efforts to control Bordeaux and he strongly supported English sovereignty. While the French kings claimed ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Bordeaux by the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges
Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges
The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, issued by King Charles VII of France, on July 7, 1438, required a General Church Council, with authority superior to that of the pope, to be held every ten years, required election rather than appointment to ecclesiastical offices, prohibited the pope from...

, Berland rejected it. During the period from 1434 to 1451 his leadership was essential, as the mayor of the time, Gadifer Shorthose
Gadifer Shorthose
Gadifer Shorthose was the English mayor of Bordeaux from 1434 until 1451. He was a weak leader and the city passed out of English lordship and into France during his mayorship....

, was weak-willed and short-sighted. During that time Berland did not deem it wise to leave his diocese; rather he sent a delegation to the Council of Basel.

On 16 July 1442 Robert Roos and Thomas Bekynton, Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishop of Bath and Wells
The Bishop of Bath and Wells heads the Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells in the Province of Canterbury in England.The present diocese covers the vast majority of the county of Somerset and a small area of Dorset. The Episcopal seat is located in the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in...

, arrived in Bordeaux as ambassadors of the English king. The next day they took letters from Henry VI promising aid, once they had had them translated, to Berland, who read them from the pulpit the next day. The citizens were stirred to action to help defend their city while they awaited help from England. Berland travelled to England on 26 July with letters from the ambassadors. He sent his physician back to Bordeaux in October, but he himself remained in England for the twofold purpose of assuring the king of the loyalty of his Gascon subjects and of keeping the plight of the Bordelais on his mind.

On 1 November 1450, a day remembered as La Male Journade ("the bad day") in Bordelais history, the citizens of Bordeaux, along with English men-at-arms and Gascon knights, sallied forth to defend the city from the encroaching armies of Amanieu of Orval, Poton de Xaintrailles, and Jean Bureau
Jean Bureau
Jean Bureau was the Master Gunner of the French artillery under Charles VII during the final years of the Hundred Year's War. Bureau was born in Champagne, but later moved to Paris, where he worked for the English government during the occupation. In 1439 Charles VII made Bureau master of...

. The Gascon defenders were routed and many citizens lost heir lives. Berland is said to have retreated into his chamber for two days to pray after seeing the mass of bodies being returned to the city. Bordeaux was forced to come to terms before a long siege began. On 12 June 1451, the Estates of Bordeaux, represented by Pey Berland, signed a treaty with the French, represented by Xaintrailles. On 30 June, at a ceremony held in the cathedral, Pey Berland and the leading men of Bordeaux swore oaths of fealty
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas , is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God.In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between...

 to Charles VII of France
Charles VII of France
Charles VII , called the Victorious or the Well-Served , was King of France from 1422 to his death, though he was initially opposed by Henry VI of England, whose Regent, the Duke of Bedford, ruled much of France including the capital, Paris...

 and so the French, led by Dunois, in return recognised the privileges of Bordeaux.

Relationship with the French

It is likely that the French pressured Berland to renounce his bishopric in order that they could fill it with a more amenable Frenchman. On 7 December 1451, he made a public protest at the acts of the commission of the French seneschal
A seneschal was an officer in the houses of important nobles in the Middle Ages. In the French administrative system of the Middle Ages, the sénéchal was also a royal officer in charge of justice and control of the administration in southern provinces, equivalent to the northern French bailli...

 of Guyenne
Guyenne or Guienne , , ; Occitan Guiana ) is a vaguely defined historic region of south-western France. The Province of Guyenne, sometimes called the Province of Guyenne and Gascony, was a large province of pre-revolutionary France....

. He ordered the commissary, Georges de Bassac, not to hold any further audiences under pain of excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 or, probably worse, a fine. On 7 July 1452, Berland took an oath at the altar of his church that he would never abandon or renounce his archbishopric and wished to die an archbishop. Nevertheless, he refrained from any anti-French activities for the duration of his episcopate and honoured his oath of 1451.

In September 1456 Pey Berland finally did retire from his archdiocese. He moved to live in his hometown of Saint-Raphael, at the college he had founded there. He died there in January 1458.


Berland's fame in Bordeaux did not die quickly. In the reign of Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

, the French monarchy made a conscious attempt to draw the Bordelais into a French allegiance, by championing the canonisation of Berland. At the inquest held by the Church to determine his suitability for sainthood, the witnesses remembered his personal holiness, pastoral concern for his flock, and his love of learning and scholarship. He was reported always to have worn a hair shirt and to have forgone sleeping in his bedroom — out of chastity — after it had been occupied by the visiting Earl of Huntingdon
Earl of Huntingdon
Earl of Huntingdon is a title which has been created several times in the Peerage of England. The title is associated with the ruling house of Scotland, and latterly with the Hastings family.-Early history:...

 and his wife. He was generous and on more than one occasion saved the inhabitants of the city by his charity during a time of famine. He was merciful enough to forgive a man who stole his precious plates because he did not want to expose him to contempt. The love of his fellow citizens for him is undeniable, in light of the witness preserved in the rolls of the inquest for his canonisation, held within a lifetime of his death. Efforts at his canonisation fell through after Louis's death and he was called instead Bienheureux Berland.


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