translated by Allen Williamson

Joan of Arc's letter to Charles VII, March 1429

In her testimony at the Condemnation trial, Joan of Arc mentioned sending a letter to Charles VII from the town of Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois after she arrived there in early March 1429. She said the letter asked for permission to come to Chinon (location of the Royal Court), and predicted that she would be able to recognize Charles.

The letter itself has not survived; but below is a translation of her testimony on this subject, during the trial sessions on February 22nd and 27th, 1431; translated from ms 1119 at la Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée Nationale.
This translation leaves the testimony in its original form - in the third-person voice, as court transcripts of that era were recorded. An English translation is on the left; commentary on the right. A transcription of the original language is also available.  
English TranslationNotes and Commentary

[Session on 22 February 1431]1

"Additionally, Joan said that she went to he whom she calls her kingn1 without hindrance; and after she had arrived at the town of Ste-Catherine-de-Fierboisn2 she first sent word to he whom she calls her king. Then she went to the town of Chateau-Chinon,n3 in which he whom she calls her king was.n4 And she arrived there around the hour of noon, and lodged at a certain inn, and after the midday meal2 she went to he whom she calls her king, who was in the chateau."

[Session on 27 February 1431]3

"Asked whether she was at Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois, she replied yes, and she heard three Masses in one day there,n5 and then she went to the town of Chinon. Additionally, she said that she sent a letter to her king in which it was written that she was sending a message in order to learn whether she should enter the town where her aforementioned king was, and that she had come a good hundred and fifty leagues in order to come to his aid, and that she knew many beneficial things for him. And it seems to her that it was stated in this letter that she would definitely recognize her aforesaid king among all the others."n6

[Article XII of the first set]4

"She additionally said that she came without hindrance to her king, to whom she had previously sent a letter when she was still at Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois."

Note 1: This is the formula which the Condemnation transcript frequently uses whenever Joan made a reference to Charles VII, having been drawn up by pro-English clergy who denied Charles VII's claim to the throne.
Note 2: The village of Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois is located just northeast of Ste-Maure-de-Touraine, and some 20 miles east of Chinon, Joan's destination.

Note 3: Better known as just "Chinon", a town on the Vienne River some two dozen miles southwest of Tours. Charles and his Court were located in the large chateau overlooking the town.

Note 4: Quicherat's transcription differs from the version in ms 1119 at this point; translated, Quicherat's would read: "...then she first sent a message to the town of Chateau-Chinon, in which he whom she calls her king was".



Note 5: According to one of the soldiers who escorted her on this particular journey, she had often asked them to allow her to hear Mass in the towns they passed.5 Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois was one of the few towns in which they allowed this (Auxerre being another), and she seems to have made the most of the opportunity.



Note 6: A number of chroniclers as well as witnesses at the appeal said that she was later able to recognize Charles VII although "he withdrew aside beyond the others" and tried to convince her that one of his lords was the king. She replied (to quote the original Middle-French): "En nom Dieu, gentil prince, c'estes vous et non autre" ("In God's name, noble prince, it is you and none other."6

Return to the Letters Index

Return to the main index page.



Translation and other content Copyright © 2005, Allen Williamson.
All rights reserved.

Letters Index

Main Index