Joan of Arc's letter to Clermont-Ferrand, 7 November 1429




Joan of Arc's letter to Clermont-Ferrand, 7 November 1429


According to the archives of Clermont-Ferrand, Joan of Arc had sent a letter to the city's government on 7 November 1429, asking for donations of war materials for the upcoming siege of La-Charité-sur-Loire. Her commander, Lord Albret, sent a similar letter on the same day (as was also the case with the pair of letters sent by them to Riom on November 9th).

The city responded by providing a small amount of such supplies, as noted in the entry.

This entry is included below; an English translation is on the left, notes and commentary on the right. A transcription of the original language is also available.

English Translation1 Notes and Commentary

"Let it be remembered that the Maiden Joan,n1 messenger of God, and my lord of Albret, sent a letter to the town of Clermont on the 7th day of November 1429, making the point that the town should aid them with gunpowder, and projectilesn2 and artillery for the siege of La Charité. And it was ordered by my lords of the Church, financial officials, and inhabitants of the aforesaid town, to send them the items which follow, which were sent to them by Jean Merle, provisioner of my lord the Dauphin,n3 as is evident from his receipt, which is in this register: and firstly, two quintalsn4 of saltpeter, one quintal of sulfur,n5 two cases of projectiles... and for the aforesaid Joan herself, a sword, two daggers, and a battle-axe.n6 And it was written to my lord Robert Andrieu, who is with the aforesaid Joan, that he should present these arms to the aforesaid Joan and Lord of Albret."

Note 1: The "maiden" or "virgin" ("pucelle") was her standard 'nickname', which she explained by saying that she had promised her saints to remain virgin "for as long as it pleases God". She was later canonized by the Church as a "Holy Maiden".
Note 2: The term in the original language, as it was used by 15th century armies, could mean not only arrows but also any type of projectile, such as cannon balls; and by a further extension, it was sometimes used in a manner somewhat analogous to the modern military term "ordnance" (i.e., virtually anything associated with long-range weaponry, including supplies and the weapons themselves).

Note 3: I.e., Charles VII - a "Dauphin" is the heir to the throne.

Note 4: A quintal is a unit weighing a hundred pounds.

Note 5: Saltpeter and sulfur were components of gunpowder.

Note 6: Although she was given quite a number of weapons, she was quoted, by sources on both sides, as saying that she never used them to kill anyone, preferring instead to carry her banner in battle. The gifts of weapons were perhaps meant much like the presentation of a ceremonial sword to a Queen.

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