Joan of Arc's letter to Rheims, 28 March 1430


This is the last known letter dictated by her, dated March 28, 1430 at Sully-sur-Loire, just before she set out on her final series of campaigns, addressed "To my very dear and good friends the men of the Church, magistrates, bourgeois, and inhabitants and laborers of the town of Rheims" ("A mes tres chiers et bons amis les gens de eglise, echevins, bourgeois et habitans et manens de la bonne ville de Reims").
This letter contains her third known signature. The body text again was recorded by a scribe, but the signature is believed to have been something that she herself had learned over time, as evidenced by the gradual improvement from one example to the next.

An English translation is on the left; notes and commentary on the right. A transcription of the original language is also available.  
English TranslationNotes and Commentary
Very dear and good friends, may it please you to know that I have received your letters, which mention how word had been brought to the king that there were a multitude of traitors in the city of Rheims. Please know that it was certainly true that he had been told there were many who belonged to a conspiracy [duplicated phrase] and who would have betrayed the city and brought in the Burgundians.n1 But thereafter the king learned otherwise because you had sent him assurances, for which he is well pleased with you.n2 And know that you are in his favor, and if you will have to fight, he will aid you in the event of a siege. And he well knows that you have much suffering to endure from the hardships which these treasonous Burgundian enemies inflict on you; so he will deliver you, if it pleases God, very soon - that is to say, as soon as is feasible.n3 So I beg and request, very dear friends, that you defend the city [crossed-out phrase] for the king and that you keep good watch. You will soon hear my good news in greater detail.n4 I will not write any more for the present except that all of Brittany is [now] Frenchn5 and the Duke must send threen6 thousand soldiers to the king, paid for twon7 months. I commend you to God, may He watch over you. Written at Sully on the 28th of March.
[signed] "Jehanne" ("Joan")n8

 

Note 1: This is confirmed by (for example) the register of Jean Rogier, which states that Charles VII had received "ominous reports" saying that there were people in Rheims who had undertaken to open the gates of the city to the Burgundians on the "day of the Holy Sacrament".1

Note 2: This is confirmed again by the above source, which says that Charles VII had remained assured of the citizens' loyalty despite the reports he was receiving.2

Note 3: Charles' government was abiding by the truce with the Duke of Burgundy which was in effect at that time. The Royal Court would not admit that the Burgundians had "diverted and deceived us" until early May.3

Note 4: Since she left Sully-sur-Loire for another military campaign very shortly after this letter was sent, this comment about her "good news" may be a reference to the coming campaign and perhaps a planned visit to Rheims itself.4

Note 5: This refers to an agreement with Duke Jean V of Brittany.5

Note 6: The text is difficult to read for this number, but is probably the numeral III.6

Note 7: Another difficult spot in the text, which is probably the numeral "II".7

Note 8: Written as a signature in a different hand than the body text of the letter. The writing on this signature is an improvement over the previous two on 9 November 1429 and 16 March 1430: e.g., the leading 'J' is now fully rounded.


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