There are many misconceptions related to these events. She did not
"run away" from home: her own testimony, and the later testimony
of the eyewitnesses at the postwar appeal of her case, state that she had
left with her uncle, Durand Lassois, to help his wife during her
She then stayed with family friends, Henri and Catherine Royer, before
convincing the local garrison commander to give her an escort to bring
her to Chinon. Durand Lassois helped her leave on this journey by
paying part of the cost of her horse. She therefore had the help and
consent of a family member.
Another misconception concerns a theological issue. Her pro-English judges predictably accused her of violating the Commandment to "honor thy father and mother", but this is one of her judges' many subtle distortions of doctrine: while the Commandments certainly do require obedience to one's parents under most circumstances, the Bible clarifies the context by quoting Christ as saying that obedience to God can require disobedience to one's parents: "For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" [Matthew 10:35] and "He who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me" [Matthew 10:37]. Medieval books of saints' lives were full of cases in which saints defied their parents in order to obey a Divine calling - a common theme. Joan said that her own 'disobedience' had this motivation, and would therefore not be a violation of medieval Catholic doctrine.
Although she doesn't state when this letter was dictated or where it was sent from, it's assumed that it must have been either during her stop at Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois or after her arrival at Chinon.
The letter itself has not survived; but below is a translation
of her testimony on this subject,
during the trial session on 12 March 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.
Translation and other content Copyright © 2005, Allen Williamson.
All rights reserved.