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Jean-Allarmet de Brogny

French Cardinal (1342-1426)

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Brogny, JEAN-ALLARMET (or JEAN-ALOUZIER) DE.—a French Cardinal, b. in 1342 at Brogny, in Savoy; d. at Rome, 1426. Biographers are not agreed as to his parentage and real name. According to some he belonged to a peasant family of Brogny, called Allarmet; others say he was descended from the d’Alouzier, a noble house in Comtat-Venaissin. It is certain, however, that the future cardinal was a swineherd, when two monks, struck by his open disposition and thoughtful answers, took him with them to Geneva, and procured for him an education which was completed at the University of Avignon. Despite the friendship and the inducement of Marcossay, Bishop of Geneva, young Allarmet retired to the Chartreuse of Dijon, where his merits soon became widely known. When Robert of Geneva was elected pope by the faction hostile to Urban VI, Allarmet joined him at Avignon, either having been sent by the Duke of Burgundy or called by Robert himself.

At Avignon favors were bestowed upon him in quick succession by the so-called Clement VII; the Bishopric of Viviers, in 1380, the dignity of Cardinal, in 1385, and shortly after, the exalted office of Chancellor of the Holy See. Robert’s successor, Peter of Luna, who called himself Benedict XIII, sanctioned all these preferments and even promoted Allarmet from Viviers to Ostia-Velletri, one of the suburbican dioceses. There is no doubt that at that time Cardinal de Brogny, like St. Peter of Luxemburg and St. Vincent Ferrer, considered the French obedience as legitimate. However, his thorough orthodoxy soon caused him to change his views. As early as 1398 he had left Avignon as a silent protest against the unapostolic spirit of that court. The elusive tactics of Gregory XII and Benedict XIII were met by him with more than a silent protest. He inaugurated the neutral party and brought about the Council of Pisa which resulted in the election of Alexander V (1409).

The new pope confirmed de Brogny in his double dignity of Bishop of Ostia and Chancellor of the Church. In the latter capacity he presided over Alexander‘s funeral and also over the conclave which elected John XXIII (1410). John held de Brogny in the highest esteem. The Metropolitan See of Arles having become vacant, he disregarded the candidate elected by the Arlesian chapter and appointed Cardinal de Brogny perpetual administrator of that see. This appointment was intended as a means of recovering the rights of the Church of Arles usurped by the Counts of Provence during the confusion consequent on the schism. The new metropolitan did not disappoint his patron. With the might of right he fought the usurpers till the last claim of the venerable see was secured. Cardinal de Brogny then left his diocese in care of the two Fabri and proceeded on a still more delicate mission. Owing to the obstinacy of the contestants, the Council of Pisa had really left the Church with three popes instead of one. Moreover, to the evils of schism John Hus was adding that of heresy. The Council of Constance was convened to meet this double difficulty, and after the withdrawal of John XXIII, de Brogny, in virtue of his title of Chancellor, presided over the sessions of the Council and evinced sterling qualities.

In behalf of unity, he did not hesitate to vote for the deposition of the three popes, two of whom had been his personal friends. No doubt he could have secured the election for himself, had he so desired; but he threw the weight of his influence in favor of Colonna, who took the name of Martin V. If John Hus remained contumacious and was condemned, it was not de Brogny’s fault. The Protestant Senebier writes in his “Histoire littdraire de Geneve”:—”In the letters of John Hus we find a conversation with the prelate [de Brogny] who endeavored to conquer him by such arguments as compassion, meekness, and Christian charity suggested”.

In his old age de Brogny asked to be translated from Ostia to Geneva, but only his remains reached the beloved place of his youth; they were laid to rest in the chapel of the Machabees which had been added to the old cathedral by the cardinal himself. De Brogny is variously known in history as Cardinal of Viviers, Cardinal of Ostia, sometimes Cardinal of Arles, and Cardinal de Saluces. He founded the Dominican convents of Tivoli and Annecy; the maladrerie or lepers’ hospital, of Brogny; part of the Celestines‘ monastery of Avignon; and, above all, the College of St. Nicholas, affiliated to the University of Avignon, and endowed with twenty scholarships for destitute students. Soulavie, president of St. Nicholas College, published (Paris, 1774) a “Histoire de Jean d’Alouzier de Brogny” of which only fifty copies were printed.


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