Jean Rolin VI

The life and death of Jean Rolin VI, research done out of personal interest. Under permanent construction.

Jean VI Rolin ( ? – 4 April 1501)


Jean Rolin VI was the illegitimate son of the cardinal of Autun, Jean Rolin (1408-1483), who, in his turn, was the son of famous chancellor Nicolas Rolin (1376-1462).

Cardinal Jean Rolin, father of Jean VI
Nicolas Rolin, grandfather of Jean VI

Jean did not leave a great mark on history so there does not seem to be a contemporary portrait of him. (I may have a possible source, though, but this will require additional research.

Jean VI’s date of birth is unknown, probably in the 1450ies, though some sources state 1460. His birth place is perhaps Avignon of Venaissin, at least, that is what his legitimation papers state. Sometimes Rolin is spelled Rollin, Raolin or Raulin. Jean may be spelled Jehan. His number can appear as Jean II, to distinguish him from the cardinal. It can appear as III or as VI to distinguish him from the other Jeans in the Rolin family. In Latin his name may be written as Johannes Rolini, or Joannes Junior.

The genealogy of the Rolins is not very clear, though – often incomplete – genealogy charts with attempts at creating a tree can be found online.Unfortunately they often do not offer the source of their data.

Both Nicolas and his children had a number of illegitimate children. Traditionally, in the Autun ecclesiastical tradition, Jean Rolin VI was thought to be the son of cardinal Rolin’s brother, Antoine, lord of Aymeries and chamberlain of Charles the Bold. In reality he was the son of the cardinal and a nun of Avignon, Raymonde (Remonde) de Roussy (Roucy), with whom he had a longterm relationship. I could not find any other information about Raymonde de Roussy. A couple older sources erroneously list Nicolas Rolin and Raymonde de Roussy as his parents. Jean VI was legitimised by Charles VIII in 1485, after the death of both his parents, as is apparently stated on the legitimation documents.  


During his initial years he lived the life of a gentleman at the court of Burgundy and must have shown prowess in physical activities. He is said to have won a jousting tournament organised by Jean de Luxembourg during the Chapter of the Golden Fleece at Valenciennes in May 1473.

In 1473, he is cited as advisor-clerk of the Parliament of Malines, installed by Charles the Bold. Olivier de la Marche lists him among the members of the Parliament in his chronicles. On this much newer painting depicting the Great Council of Mechelen under Charles the Bold, currently located in Mechelen, he is depicted sitting on the right. The two other men marked by squares are also relevant for my research, but not in this chapter.

After the death of Charles the Bold Jean VI remained in the service of Margaret of York, became master of requests of the duke of Austria and appeared at the side of Mary of Burgundy.

In 1480 his life took a turn and he went for an ecclesiastical career. He must have attended the university of Paris, because in 1481, he was director of the Navarre college. He had a doctor’s degree in utroque jure

In 1481 he became prior of Saint-Marcel de Chalon and abbott of Saint-Martin of Autun when his father resigned. He was appointed by Maximilian and Mary as their ambassador for Rome with Justus, bishop of Ceuta and Claude Carondelet, dean of Besançon.

In 1482 he obtained a prebend at the collegiate church of Beaune and became dean of the collegial church of Semur-en-Brionnais. In 1484 he became dean of Autun through recommendation by the new bishop Antoine de Chalon.

His election as bishop was supported by the Prince of Orange, Jean de Chalon, who called him his cousin (note to self to check in what way they were related, I haven’t figured this out yet).

He partook regulary in the Etats de Bourgogne (1483, 1485, 1490, 1493).

In 1484 the Etats appointed him ambassador with the king which allowed him to approach the crown. He became counselor of the king and entered the Parliament of Paris, first as a clerk-counselor but he quickly worked his way up by becoming President of Inquiries and, in 1496 at the latest, President of the Chamber of requests, which allowed him to obtain from the chapter of the Notre Dame de Paris, even though he was not a member, a house of the cloister. In 1494 he was in Lyon as one of the attorneys of the archbishop André d’Espinay.

Obtaining the seat of Autun was not easy. Before his death, Antoine de Chalon had assured Olivier de Vienne, canon of Lyon, of the episcopal seat and the candidate had the support of pope Alexander VI. Nevertheless, the canons who had not been consulted, went against this, encouraged by the French king Louis XII and they decided to choose their own bishop. On 8 June 1500 they elected their dean Jean Rolin, whose name had been suggested by the king. As a compensation Olivier de Vienne was offered the Dean’s office but he resigned very quickly. His premature disappearance enabled a quick arrangement. By papal Bull, Jean II Rolin obtained the bishop’s seat in November 1500 after the death of Olivier de Vienne.

His mandate was short-lived. On 8 June 1501 he received the pallium from the bishop of Chalon. According to the accounts of the cathedral’s chapter he occupied the same cloister house while he was dean and bishop.

He died on the 4th of August in 1501. In his will he requested to be buried in the St Lazare cathedral; in de chapel of the Holy Cross, which was dedicated to Saint Martin. He had specified that he wanted a modest funeral, under the protection of Saint Lazarus, in the presence of six foundlings and thirty-one poor, and prayers by the Friars Minor who had recently established in the city. He had arranged for anniversary masses in the monasteries of the city, at St Martin, St Symphorien and St Andoche.

Arms: azure with three gold keys in pale with the devise Tibi soli – A toi seul.

Arms (in French): ” D’azur à 3 clefs d’or en pal (alias: posées 2&1; alias 2 en chef 1 en pointe) ” armes brisées.

The arms of Jean Rolin in ms 116 of Autun. The manuscript originally belonged to Jean’s father. The arms were modified in the book later on. Unfortunately it is very worn.


Sometimes Jean would accompany his father. The cardinal would refer to him as his nephew.

During his term Jean Rolin received Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne. There was a procession that reached as far as the Porte des Marbres and the bishop offered the royal couple two gold statues of St. Lazarus.

In the Middle Ages Autun was a small city. a large part of the population were religious.

Functions of Jean VI (in French, from Wikipedia – to be revised)

1473 – Conseiller clerc au Parlement de Malines

1481 – Directeur du Collège de Navarre à Paris, docteur in utroque jure[réf. nécessaire]

1481 – Prieur du prieuré Saint-Marcel-lès-Chalon et abbé de l’abbaye Saint-Martin d’Autun sur résignation de son père.

1481 – Ambassadeur de Maximilien et Marie d’Autriche à la cour de Rome

1481 – Protonotaire apostolique

1483 – Participe aux États de Bourgogne

1484 – Ambassadeur des États de Bourgogne, auprès du roi de France

1485 – Participe aux États de Bourgogne

1490 – Participe aux États de Bourgogne

1493 – Participe aux États de Bourgogne

1494 – Procureur de l’archevêque de Lyon André d’Espinay

1496 – Président de la Chambre des requêtes au Parlement de Paris

The tournament of the Golden Fleece at Valenciennes

The tournament of Valenciennes

According to a number of sources Jean VI Rolin won the jousting tournament organised by Jean de Luxembourg for the Chapter of the Golden Fleece at Valenciennes, in May 1473. There seems to be some confusion about the year of the tournament. It was not in 1472, but 1473.

As this seemed a bit strange (a bastard jousting bishop?), I wanted to do some additional research. This fact is mentioned on Fasti Eclisiae Gallicanae and repeated on Wikipedia. A couple other internet sources attribute the winning of the tournament to different Jean Rolin, a legitimate son of Antoine. In those sources the legitimate son is mentioned as Jean Rolin d’Aymeries, seigneur of Lens and Vitteaux, land he received from Louis XI. A genealogy on the internet states he was married to Charlotte de Chalon and had no children.

On, the information is repeated, one of these sources probably borrowed from the other. There are no other sources I currently have access to, to verify the life, death and burial place of Jean Rolin, son of Antoine. Charlotte de Salon does also not lead to more links. However, it looks like a de Chalon may have been related to Jean VI in some way, see above.

A good alternative source, as they are contemporary and often by first hand witnesses, are the chronicles. Especially Olivier de la Marche had the reputation of being accurate at recording this type of events and he does give an elaborate description of the chapter of the Golden Fleece at Valenciennes but is not very elaborate on this particular fact. Unfortunately authors copying the facts from Olivier, add errors and more confusion.

One source I found (unfortunately I forgot to write down who the source was) writes the following: “Jean Raulin de Poligny, fils ainé du Chancelier Raulin, remporta aussi le prix, des joutes qui se firent à Valencienne en 1473, à la tenue d’un Chapitre de la Toison d’Or.” The eldest son of Nicolas named Jean was the cardinal who would have been 65 at the time. It seems a bit unlikely that he would have gone jousting at Valenciennes.

Another source writes the following: “JEAN RAULIN Chevalier, nommé fils du Seigneur d’Aimeries par Olivier de la Marche, remporta suivant cet Auteur, le prix des joutes qui se firent à Valencienne, à la fête de la Toison d’Or de l’an 1473. & fut pere de George.” This adds another problem. According to the information about Jean and Charlotte below, they had no children. One of the children of Antoine had a son George, but the father was called François.

Olivier de la Marche describes the event as follows: “Et, ce jour, messier Jehan de Lucembourg tint unes joustes contre tous venans, et fut merveilleusement pompeulx et accompaigne de sa personne. Et gaigna, ce jour, le prix messier Jehan Raolin, aisné filz du seigneur d’Emeries”. Jehan Raolin, eldest son of the lord of Aymeries. There is no doubt about the name, but about the parents. Did Jehan VI pose as the son of Antoine or did Antoine also have a son Jehan? There sure were a lot of Jeans in the Rolin family. If the family was a bit vague about Jean’s origins, Olivier would not have known the truth either, especially as the cardinal kept calling him his nephew. As for location, Jean was a member of the Council of Mechelen in 1473, so he was in the North that year.

In a manuscript of the 17th century (Jules Chifflet, Besançon), the following genealogy is listed:

As you can see the cardinal has been very active, but Jean is not listed among his children. This does not really solve the problem.

In (14) (See sources below), it is stated that Antoine had 6 children, with Jean (or Jan in Dutch) and Jacques (or Jacob in Dutch) mentioned first. However, it is Louis who will inherit most of his father’s goods.

In order to solve this conundrum a number of facts will have to be investigated:

  1. Did Antoine Rolin indeed have a legitimate son named Jean?
  2. If he did, why did Louis inherit most of Antoine’s goods?
  3. What is the source of the deed of land by Louis XI?
  4. What is the source of his burial place?
  5. What is the source of his marriage to Charlotte de Salon?
  6. Are there other sources with information about the tournament of Jean de Luxembourg. at Valenciennes?


Due to Covid restrictions my access to sources is limited right now. These are the sources I used so far (not exhaustive):

Autun – Denis Grivot (book) (1)

Divers chroniclers, a.o. Olivier de la Marche, Jean de Haynin, Molinet, Chastellain, Phlippes de Comines, etc. (2)

Jean VI Rolin – Wikipedia (FR and EN) (internet) (3)

Jean III Rolin – loose documents concerning Jean and his father and grandfather (Personal documentation) (4)

Missel d’Autun – Ms 116, Autun (internet) (5)

La Splendeur des Rolin (6)

Histoire de Chalon-sur-Saune – Victor Fouque (7)

L’artiste et le clerc – Fabienne Joubert (8)

Généalogie des Rolin – Etienne Pattou (9)

Etude Historique sur le Chancellier Rolin et sur sa famille – Charles Bigarne (10)

Généalogie des Rolin (internet) (11)

Les Manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520 – Flammarion (12)

Receuil généalogique universel – Jules Chifflet (17th century) – Besançon (13)

Mannen met macht. Edellieden en de Moderne Staat in de Bourgondisch-Habsburgse landen, ca. 1475 – ca. 1530) – C.H.L.I. Cools (2000) (14)

L’art flamand & hollandais, numéro consacré aux primitifs français – H. Hymans – J.E. Buschmann, Anvers (1904) (15)


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